Aletho News

ΑΛΗΘΩΣ

Deconstructing the Almighty Russian Hackers Myth

By Patrick ARMSTRONG | Strategic Culture Foundation | 15.12.2017

Sometimes things can be made more complicated than they really are. And such is the case with the story that the Russian government hacked the Democratic National Committee so as to help Trump become president.

In July 2016 Wikileaks released a number of documents showing that the nomination of Hillary Clinton as the Democratic candidate for president had been rigged. A month earlier the DNC had announced it had been “hacked” and the cybersecurity company it hired announced that the Russians had done it – one of the reasons they gave was that the hackers had helpfully left the name of the Polish founder of the Soviet security forces as a clue.

Since then, this story has been broadly accepted and it has spun on and on for eighteen months. But it doesn’t really make any sense.

Let us pretend that Moscow wanted Trump to win. Let us further pretend that Moscow thought that there was a chance that he could win despite the fact that almost all news outlets, pollsters and pundits were completely confident that he could not. And let us pretend that Moscow thought that, with its thumb on the scale, Trump could make it. And, the fourth if, let us pretend that Moscow decided to put its thumb on the scale.

How to do it? Let us pretend (number five) that the strategy was to try and discredit Clinton. Let us further assume (this assumption is the one that’s probably true) that Moscow has very good electronic intelligence capacities. So, we imagine the scene in headquarters as they look for an approach; they quickly find one that is very good, a second that is pretty good and a third area that is worth digging around in.

The Russians would know all about the Uranium One matter where, as even the Clinton-friendly NYT admitted, “a flow of cash made its way to the Clinton Foundation“. It would be very easy for them to package this as a case of Secretary of State Clinton selling US policy for personal profit. Russian intelligence organisations would have a great deal of true information and would find it easy to manufacture material to fill in any gaps in the story. Presented as a case of corruption and near treason, the story could have done a great deal of damage to her. And, given that it had happened six years earlier, all the details would have been known and ready to be used. It would have been a very powerful attack that even the complaint media would have had difficulty ignoring.

We know, and it’s very likely that the Russians did too, that she ran a private e-mail server on which there were thousands and thousands of official communications. The server was very insecure and we can assume that Russia’s signals intelligence (and everyone else’s, for that matter) had penetrated it. Think of all the real material from that source that could be revealed or twisted to make a scandal. That would make quite a campaign. Further, it is a reasonable assumption that Russian intelligence would have some of the thousands of e-mails that were “bleached”. There would be enough material for a months-long campaign of leaks.

Finally, Hillary Clinton has been in public life for many years and there would have been ample opportunities, and, many would say, ample material in her scandal-plagued career, for the construction of many campaigns to weaken her appeal.

So, a preliminary look would suggest that there were several angles of attack of which Uranium One would be the easiest and most effective. But, failing that, or as a supplement to that, there was plenty of embarrassing and incriminating material in her illicit private server. Now we have to pretend (number six), contrary to the universal practice of security organs in all times and places, that the (always assumed in the story to be implacably hostile) Russians would decide to forgo the chance of compromising a future POTUS in favour of a harebrained scheme to get another elected.

But we’re supposed to believe that they did. The Russians, the story goes, with all this potential material, with a solid hit with Uranium One, decide instead to expose the finagling inside the Democratic Party structure. And to expose it too late to make any difference. As I said at the beginning, sometimes things are easier to understand when you, as it were, turn them upside down.

In the middle of June 2016 the DNC admits that its documents have been obtained – a “hack” they insist – and almost immediately, “Guccifer 2.0” pops up to claim responsibility and the DNC’s experts (Crowdstrike) claim Russia was behind it. A month passes before Wikileaks releases the first batch of DNC documents showing the extent of the manipulation of the process by Clinton – who had, according to most counts – already secured the nomination about two weeks before. A couple of days before the release, Trump gets the Republican nomination and a couple of days after that Clinton easily wins the Democratic nomination by a thousand-vote majority.

So, the first thing that should have occurred to the observer (but didn’t) was, if the Russians had had this incriminating evidence that the Democratic Party nomination had been fixed in Clinton’s favour, wouldn’t it have been more useful to put it out at a time when Sanders who was, after all, the swindled one, might have been able to do something about it? Instead those supposedly clever Russian state hackers dropped the news out at a time when it made very little difference. No difference in fact: Clinton got the nomination and there was no comeback from Sanders’ people.

So, the “Russian hackers” made their arrow, shot it, hit the target and… no one cared. The people who devoutly believe in the Russian hacking story now have to explain (but don’t) why the Russian state, apparently so determined to bring Clinton down, didn’t immediately hit her with the Uranium One documents and anything else they had that could feed the flames of scandal.

But, as we all know, they didn’t. While long rumoured, and even briefly reported on, we only learned of Uranium One in a big way in October 2017 and the fact that her server contained Special Access material (the very highest classified secrets) was confirmed authoritatively only in November 2017. If the Russians had really had this sort of information and the hostility to Clinton that we’re incessantly told that they had, two years earlier would have been the time.

So, on the one hand we are supposed to believe that the Russian government is so clever that it can hack anything, has innumerable social media trolls that influence elections and referendums around the world (“control the American mind“), drives a “fake news” campaign at a fraction of the cost but with far greater effectiveness than the massed legions of the Western media, is a threat to practically everything we hold sacred… but is too stupid to get it right. Possessing great and powerful secrets and a stunningly powerful machine to spread them, it chooses to fire a damp squib too late to make any difference and passes up the chance to have a compromised US president for it to control.

In other words, it’s nonsense: we don’t really need the forensics of VIPS; we don’t need to argue with people who say it’s fake news about Seth Rich, or that Assange is a Putinbot, or carefully ignore Murray. Those efforts are useful enough but they’re not necessary. In any case, the Russia story is a Gish gallop and a whole academy of wise men and women couldn’t keep up with the latest. (Robert Parry bravely attempts to list the most prominent ones from the Vermont power facility, through all 17 agencies to 14th not 4th.)

Just common sense will do it: if the Russians had wanted to bring Hillary Clinton down, they had far more powerful charges which they could have detonated much earlier. It is not plausible that all they had was the [DNC] rigging evidence and that they then deployed it too late to have an effect.

Or, maybe they’re not so all-competent in which case all the other stuff we’ve had shoved down our throats for months about “Russian information warfare” is even bigger nonsense.

December 15, 2017 Posted by | Corruption, Deception, Russophobia, Timeless or most popular | , | Leave a comment

Moscow senses Trump’s travails could be ending

By M.K. Bhadrakumar | Asia Times | December 15, 2017

The ongoing investigation by the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s Special Counsel Robert Mueller over Russia’s alleged interference in the US election is sputtering. The role of the FBI and the Justice Department in boosting Hillary Clinton’s election prospects last November can no longer be shoved under the carpet.

The email correspondence between top FBI agent Peter Strzok and a bureau lawyer Lisa Page, who were working on the 2016 election (besides having an extramarital affair), suggests that they were fired up with messianic zeal to ensure that somehow Hillary won – and, importantly, that Trump lost. And they probably had ‘in-house’ meetings with then-No. 2 in the FBI Andrew McCabe, presently acting director, who subsequently handpicked Mueller as special counsel.

The same folks appear to have used the alibi of the infamous anti-Trump “dossier” compiled by former British spy Christopher Steele (which was commissioned by the Clinton campaign) to obtain a warrant in mid-2016 from a secret federal court to conduct surveillance of a Trump-campaign official – although the FBI dismissed Steele’s work as “salacious and unverified” in congressional testimony.

The Clinton campaign research project (Steel’s ‘dossier’) involved a Russia analyst who’s the wife of the Obama Justice Department’s associate deputy attorney general. Serious questions arise regarding the role of the Obama FBI and Obama Justice Department – gross misuse of official machinery to boost Hillary’s campaign. Yet, Mueller seems unperturbed that this unsavory aspect is inextricably linked to the alleged Russian interference.

Then, there is the sideshow about Hillary’s emails investigation. The grand jury was denied access to material evidence; Justice Department collaborated with Hillary’s defense lawyers to rein in the FBI from examining digital evidence (and providing immunity grants to suspects) and violated established legal and ethical rules. And the FBI statement exonerated Hillary well before the investigation was complete and key witnesses were yet to be interviewed.

Above all, there was the famous tarmac meeting between Obama attorney general Loretta Lynch and Hillary’s husband Bill Clinton just days before his wife sat for a perfunctory FBI interview, after which the agency’s director announced the decision not to charge her.

Breathtaking climax approaching

This is truly a Kafkaesque situation. The President’s opponent who lost the 2016 election apparently wields more influence to leverage the Washington establishment. Isn’t Trump paying a heavy price for winning the election? A breathtaking climax is approaching. Trump is unlikely to dismiss Mueller for being a partisan and the latter should have recused himself.

It would not be easy to find an attorney of standing in America whom Bill Clinton wouldn’t have known or palled with during his extraordinary political career, to conduct a thorough investigation into his wife’s activities. But if the prospect of a full investigation into Hillary sails into view, the formula for a truce will emerge.

The international community has high stakes in the outcome. The time between now and March will be most thrilling. If a ceasefire in the American civil war is declared by March, when President Vladimir Putin is certain to obtain a renewed six-year mandate in the Russian presidential election, a new beginning may still be possible in Russian-American relations and world politics may change course.

Any old observer of Kremlin politics would have sensed it in his bones that the friendly remarks about Trump by the Russian leadership in recent days wouldn’t have been mere indulgence in politeness. In a nationally televised interview two weeks ago, Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev made flattering remarks about Trump: “To speak about the outward impression, he (Trump) is a well-wishing political figure who wants to establish full-fledged contacts and perceives absolutely everything adequately.” Yet, Medvedev’s own characterization a few days earlier was that present Russia-US tensions are comparable to the 1980s.

Notably, Putin openly complimented Trump by commending the US’s economic performance – also during a nationally televised news conference on Thursday. This is when anti-US feelings are running high in Russia. Putin, in particular, could have easily tapped into ‘anti-Americanism’ to boost his re-election bid. But he’s doing the exact opposite.

Both Medvedev and Putin may have signaled (with an eye on Washington) to the Russian people that there is new thinking in the Kremlin regarding the future trajectory of relations with the US.

Indeed, Trump promptly took note of Putin’s flattering remarks and called him on the phone immediately to deliver a personal word of thanks. And this is despite the Trump National Security Advisor HR McMaster’s characterization of Putin’s Russia last weekend as an incorrigible revisionist power that is hell-bent on upending the international order.

Most important, the Kremlin has moderated its stance on Jerusalem by distancing itself from the Turkish position – although the Russian Foreign Ministry statement on December 7 was equally critical of Trump’s decision. On Thursday, the Kremlin spokesman spoke cryptically and refused to elaborate.

Back channels seem to be at work between Moscow and Tel Aviv on the one hand and Tel Aviv and Washington on the other. The Kremlin’s calculus on Israel is highly complex. Many elements are at work – Jewish lobby among Russian elites, powerful oligarchs, ethnic Russians’ role in Israeli politics, Moscow’s perception of Israel as a driver of US policies in the Trump administration, etc.

Indeed, Russian self-interest invariably comes first and last in any given situation, and the Kremlin has reason to hope that Israel can swing a course correction in US policies toward Russia. No doubt, Trump’s friendly phone call to Putin last night was an extraordinary gesture on the eve of his unveiling of the new US national security strategy.

Suffice to say, Muller’s investigation into the Russian interference in the 2016 election can phenomenally change the climate of US-Russia relations.

December 15, 2017 Posted by | Corruption, Deception, Timeless or most popular | , , | Leave a comment

Why America’s Law Enforcement Empire Resembles Secret Police in a Dictatorship

By Philip M. GIRALDI | Strategic Culture Foundation | 14.12.2017

Secret police are characteristic of dictatorships, or so goes the conventional thinking on the subject. Police in democracies operate for the most part transparently and within a set of rules and guidelines that limits their ability to gratuitously punish citizens who have done nothing wrong. If a policeman operating under rule-of-law steps out of line, he can be held accountable. That is also conventional thinking.

But what happens when an ostensibly “democratic” police force becomes corrupted and starts doing things that are outside its zone of responsibility, and does so to benefit a political relationship that will in turn protect those who have broken the law under cover of carrying out their official duties? That is the characteristic of what we have been calling a “deep state,” where forces drawn generally from the political class and security services conspire together to control what the public is allowed to know while also manipulating nuisances like elections to make sure that the “correct” outcome emerges.

Indeed, deep state operating in a democracy or republic is far more dangerous that the secret police in a dictatorship. That is because in a system where the forces of the state are all-powerful, nearly everyone expects that what they read and what the government says is all a lie. In a democratic system there is what intelligence officers would refer to as plausible denial, which means that even when the government is behaving very badly much of the public will believe that it is acting honorably because they want to trust that the system works. And when the deep state includes management of the media, many citizens will likewise believe what they are reading or hearing is honest reporting, even when it is not.

Due to the events of the past year in particular, many Americans have become convinced that there now exists something like a secret police operating in the United States that is a fusion of some political dealmakers with certain politicized elements in the intelligence and security services. However one regards President Donald Trump and his former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn, there is nevertheless something odd in terms of how they have been investigated and, in the case of Flynn, legally entrapped to convict him of lying to the FBI to force him to cut a deal with the Special Counsel inquiry headed by Robert Mueller.

Consider how, even though meeting with Russians is not illegal, Trump and his associates have been subjected to secret investigation of their Russian ties for nearly two years without any revelations apart from the fact that it was Israel, not Russia, that colluded to undermine White House policy. FBI Director James Comey’s antics during the primaries and electoral campaign, in which he first exonerated and then complained about Hillary Clinton while at the same time validating a dossier full of largely questionable information about Donald Trump’s dealings with Russia provides clear evidence of an organization that has lost its bearings and has become a politicized agent of an incumbency that has itself become corrupted and believes itself to be above the law. And then there is the Central Intelligence Agency’s own John Brennan working with the FBI to undermine the Trumps, illegally digging up dirt from the liaison intelligence partners in Europe and the Middle East.

America’s law enforcement empire has all the characteristics of secret police in a dictatorship. It is not transparent in its actions, has a history of bending the rules to obtain convictions, and its officers are rarely held accountable. It has also been politicized. And to be sure, one should recognize that there are two additional factors driving the growth and transformation of the national security state in the U.S. First is the intense dislike that the top levels of the American intelligence and police agencies have for Donald Trump personally, a contempt that Trump himself has largely earned by his scorn for much of the government that he inherited. Second is the “trust the authorities” culture that has grown up since 9/11, reinforced by fearmongering on the part of the government to justify executive overreach and enabled through anti-terror legislation that has unleashed the CIA, FBI and National Security Agency (NSA) to act with impunity while suffering no consequences whatsoever.

December 14, 2017 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Corruption, Full Spectrum Dominance, Timeless or most popular | , , | 1 Comment

Advocating for Israel pays well: Salaries of nonprofit heads

Rabbi Marvin Hier (center) and his wife Marlene with actor Dustin Hoffman at the premiere of “Against the Tide” on February 4, 2009 in Los Angeles. The Hiers and their son receive total annual compensation of $1.4 million.
If Americans Knew | December 12, 2017

Heads of nonprofits that support Israel receive compensation in the hundreds of thousands of dollars up to, in a few cases, over a million dollars.

Politicians reaping money from the Israel lobby (e.g. Tom Cotton received close to a million dollars from the Emergency Committee for Israel; Haim Saban and his wife donated $11.5 million to pro-Clinton super PACs, along with large sums to the Clinton Foundation) are not the only ones to benefit from supporting Israel.

Executive directors of nonprofits that support Israel receive compensation in the hundreds of thousands of dollars up to almost $2 million.

The Forward recently compiled a list of their earnings. It reported that Marvin Hier of the Simon Wiesenthal Center received $818,148 and that his spouse and his son also work for the center, giving them an annual total $1.4 million.

According to the Forward the Hiers were not alone in surpassing a million dollars compensation – in 2016, the CEO of the Jewish Community Federation of Cleveland received compensation of $1.3 million, and in 2014 the CEO of Boston’s Jewish federation received almost $2 million.

Below are some members of the Forward’s list for 2016

(All the individuals below head up organizations that spend part or all of their time in activities supportive of Israel):

Simon Wiesenthal Center
$818,148
American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee
$735,1811
American Israel Public Affairs Committee
$720,194
The Associated: Jewish Community Federation of Baltimore
$664,489
Jewish Federations of North America
$636,559
Combined Jewish Philanthropies of Greater Boston
$634,572
Republican Jewish Coalition
$632,950
Birthright Israel Foundation
$609,0561
Jewish United Fund/Jewish Federation of Metro Chicago
$564,955
Jewish Community Federation of Cleveland
$546,515
Anti-Defamation League
$545,441
American Jewish Committee
$539,016
UJA Federation of Jewish Philanthropies of New York
$530,000
Jewish Federation Council of Greater Los Angeles
$525,594
Greater Miami Jewish Federation
$519,436
Jewish Federation of South Palm Beach County
$507,430
Hillel: The Foundation for Jewish Campus Life
$495,307
Jewish Federation of Greater Washington
$487,4501
Foundation for Jewish Camp
$460,501
The Israel Project
$460,160
Conference of Presidents Of Major Jewish Organizations
$452,693
Jewish Community Federation of San Francisco
$449,7502
Zionist Organization of America
$448,063
Jewish Community Centers Association of North America
$445,0002
Jewish National Fund
$435,011
Jewish Federation of Greater Philadelphia
$432,199
Hadassah
$409,818
B’nai Brith International
$405,708
United Jewish Federation of Pittsburgh
$351,7981
United Jewish Communities of MetroWest New Jersey
$352,236
American Jewish World Service
$330,000
Center for Jewish History
$325,0002
Jewish Federation of Metropolitan Detroit
$323,065
Jewish Institute for National Security Affairs
$315,0003
CLAL (National Jewish Center for Learning and Leadership)
$309,7343
Jewish Federation of Greater Atlanta
$308,5781
CLAL (National Jewish Center for Learning and Leadership)
$289,9843
J Street
$259,203
Stand With Us
$246,127
ORT America
$235,0001
Bend The Arc
$233,579
Americans for Peace Now
$228,866
Agudath Israel of America
$220,058
Jewish Council for Public Affairs
$205,160
Hazon
$202,811
Keshet
$153,462
Israeli-American Council
$135,6723

For full list go to The Forward.

December 12, 2017 Posted by | Corruption, Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Timeless or most popular | , , , | 1 Comment

Mayor Killed in Mexico, 3rd in Less Than a Month

teleSUR | December 10, 2017

Mexican Mayor Jose Santos Hernandez was killed on Friday afternoon, the third murder of its kind this month. The other two murders took place in Veracruz.

Officials said gunmen intercepted Santos’ car, forced him from the vehicle – in which he was traveling with family – and killed him.

He is the sixth mayor killed so far this year, an AFP report stated.

Mexico’s murder rate has soared extraordinarily and has put the Latin American country on track to reach a historically high death figure by the closing of 2017, which would surpass 2011 and 2012 ‘war on drug’ numbers.

There have been almost 24,000 murders reported at the end of October.

Data from the National Association of Mayors reveals that approximately 50 mayors have been murdered since 2003 and 82 since 2006.

Half of the murders are committed in the states of Oaxaca, Michoacan, Veracruz and Guerrero.

Veracruz is regarded as one of the most violent states in the country.

December 10, 2017 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Corruption | , | Leave a comment

Flynn Case Highlights Deep Political Corruption of US Security Services

By Philip M. GIRALDI | Strategic Culture Foundation | 07.12.2017

Former US National Security Adviser Michael Flynn is cooperating with the Special Counsel Robert Mueller to determine whether Donald Trump’s associates colluded with Russian government officials during the 2016 electoral campaign and also in the two months before president-elect Trump assumed office on January 20th. Flynn has pleaded guilty to lying to Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) special agents regarding two late December telephone exchanges with former Russian Ambassador to the US Sergey Kislyak.

The first call was initiated at the request of Trump son-in-law Jared Kushner and related to Russia’s possible use of its United Nations Security Council veto to stop a resolution condemning Israel’s illegal settlements, as the Barack Obama Administration had decided to abstain to send a message of disapproval to Tel Aviv. If Russia had agreed, which it did not, it would have meant conniving with Moscow to do something sought by Israel and opposed by the elected government still in power in Washington.

The second call possibly was requested by Donald Trump himself and was made while Flynn was lying on a beach in the Dominican Republic. It sought Russian agreement not to escalate the tit-for-tat expulsions of diplomats that had been set in motion by the outgoing Obama administration. Russia delayed any possible expulsions, eventually implementing them when the Trump administration proved unable to mitigate other sanctions put in place by Obama. Both phone calls took place after the American election. Neither had anything to do with possible collusion regarding the election.

Flynn’s admission that he was lying is believed to be part of an agreement with Mueller, presumably eliminating a possible jail sentence and reducing the actual penalty to payment of a fine. Mueller will undoubtedly seek Flynn’s evidence confirming that he and both Kushner and Trump were all acting in violation of the Logan Act of 1799, which they quite possibly had never heard of, that bars private citizens from negotiating with foreign governments on behalf of the United States. At the time of the phone calls, neither Flynn nor Kushner nor Trump held any actual government office, but it should also be pointed out that no one has ever been convicted under the Logan Act and the de facto status of an incoming administration as a precedent for engaging with foreign powers has never been tested.

The Logan Act aside, the real purpose of the investigation is to “get” Russia and its President Vladimir Putin. If it were otherwise, Mueller would be looking hard at the Israeli connection since it is clear from the time line that Israel had approached Kushner who then asked Flynn to make the phone call. The New York Times described the sequence of events as “Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu asked the Trump transition team to lobby other countries to help Israel…” The Israeli overture is a clear example of actual foreign government interference in United States politics and foreign policy, but the interference was by Israel and not by Russia.

The Flynn case is also a prime example of how the American security services have been politically corrupted, but it is unlikely that Mueller will have any interest in that aspect of the case as the investigation itself has become little more than a political witch hunt in which the Washington-New York Establishment is seeking to explain why its candidate lost in November. Flynn was interviewed by the FBI regarding his two phone conversations on January 24th shortly after he assumed office as National Security Adviser. During his interview, he was not made aware that the Bureau already had recordings and transcripts of his phone conversations, so, in a manner of speaking, he was being set-up to fail. Mis-remembering, forgetting or attempting to avoid implication of others in the administration would inevitably all be plausibly construed as lying since the FBI knew exactly what was said.

The argument used to justify the possible Flynn entrapment by the FBI, i.e. that there was unauthorized contact with a foreign official, is in itself curious as such contact is not in itself illegal. And it also opens the door to the Bureau’s investigating other individuals who have committed no crime but who find that they cannot recall details of phone calls they were parties to that were being recorded by the government. That can easily be construed as “lying” or “perjury” with consequences that include possible prison time.

December 7, 2017 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Corruption, Timeless or most popular | , , , | Leave a comment

US Bows to Israeli/Saudi Alliance in Blaming Iran

By Ted Snider | Consortium News | November 29, 2107

At first, American officials couldn’t believe it. In 1993, the Israelis began pressuring the Clinton administration to view Iran as the greatest global threat. Only a short time earlier, in the 1980s, Israel had been cooperating with the Iranians militarily and selling them weapons to fight Iraq in the Iran-Iraq War.

Back then, the Israelis were Iran’s best lobbyists in Washington, pushing the Reagan administration to talk to Iran, to sell arms to Iran, and even to ignore Iran’s tough talk on Israel. In that process, Israel was aided by a group of staunchly pro-Israeli officials within the Reagan administration whom we now know as the neoconservatives.

In 1981, just months after Iran had held 52 American diplomatic personnel hostage for 444 days, senior State Department officials Robert McFarlane and Paul Wolfowitz were advocating on behalf of the Israeli desire to sell Iran weapons. That initiative, which was continued by McFarlane when he became President Reagan’s National Security Advisor, ultimately led to the Iran-Contra scandal of 1986 when Reagan’s secret approval of U.S. arms shipments to Iran became public.

Yet, even in the wake of that scandal and the end of the Iran-Iraq War in 1988, the neoconservatives who remained influential under Reagan’s successor, President George H.W. Bush, pressed ahead with the goal of getting the U.S. to warm its relations with Iran. Iraq’s defeat at the hands of the U.S. military and its allies in the Persian Gulf War of 1990-91 further reduced the Arab threat to Israel’s security and encouraged more thinking about a possible U.S.-Iranian détente.

The Bush-I administration’s 1991 “National Security Strategy of the United States” said the U.S. was open to “an improved relationship with Iran,” a country that a 1991 National Intelligence Estimate said was “turning away from revolutionary excesses . . . toward more conventional behavior.”

However, in 1993, with the Clinton administration in power, the Israelis changed their tune, urging the U.S. government to find Iran lurking behind every terrorist attack, every conflict and every threat.

There appear to have been several factors leading to this Israeli switch – from the fact that the Cold War was over and thus Arab states that had relied on Soviet weaponry were weakened; that Iran-backed Hezbollah was challenging Israel’s military occupation of southern Lebanon; and that Israel could no longer profit from Iran’s desperate need for weapons (with the war with Iraq over and Iran’s treasury depleted) while the Arab oil states offered a more lucrative opportunity for both geopolitical and financial gain.

Hooked on the Money

Israeli leadership had found the billions of dollars from arms sales to Iran useful in maintaining Israel’s large military/intelligence infrastructure as well as Israel’s development of Jewish settlements inside Palestinian territories on the West Bank. With that cash source gone, Israel began recalculating its longstanding Periphery Strategy, which had called for countering Arab pressure from close-in states by cultivating relations with non-Arab regional powers on the periphery, such as Iran and Turkey.

There were also two other seismic events that altered the geopolitical landscape. The Cold War was over and Saddam Hussein’s Iraq had been humiliated in the Persian Gulf War. While the Israelis saw both events as positive, there were unintended consequences. The end of the Cold War meant the exit of the Soviet Union from the Middle East: that left Israel’s traditional Arab enemies even more enfeebled and the U.S. government less worried about losing influence in the oil-rich region. Iran also emerged as relatively stronger than Iraq due to Iraq’s failed invasion of Iran and its catastrophic defeat after its invasion of Kuwait.

Israel’s 1992 elections also brought Yitzhak Rabin, Shimon Peres and the Labor Party to power, raising the possibility of finally reaching a peace accord with the Palestinians and thus the possibility of more normalized relations with the Arab world. In turn, that raised the potential for more lucrative arrangements with oil-rich sheikdoms by, in effect, renting out the Israel Lobby to the Sunni-ruled Gulf states so they could push their historic conflict with the Shiites whose power base was Iran.

“There was a feeling in Israel that because of the end of the Cold War, relations with the U.S. were cooling and we needed some new glue for the alliance,” Efraim Inbar of the Begin-Sadat Center told Trita Parsi. “And the new glue was radical Islam.”

But it was a very selective kind of radical Islam: not the kind Saudi Arabia was financing and exporting through Wahhabi fundamentalism and violent jihadists like those in Al Qaeda, but Iran’s radical Shiite Islam. Selling Iran as the number one global terror threat gave birth to a new Middle East enemy that replaced the Soviet Union and reinflated Israel’s value to the U.S. in the region. “Iran,” Inbar went on to explain, “was radical Islam.”

A New Alliance

For the first time, an alliance between Israel, Saudi Arabia and the United States became possible with Iran as the designated enemy. The Israeli-Saudi relationship has evolved mostly in secret over the past couple of decades but has popped into view in recent years as Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his inner circle have emphasized the common interests – especially animosity toward Iran – that they share with Saudi Arabia.

Netanyahu has recently referred to this Israeli-Saudi alliance when he said that Iran was driving Israel into cooperative arrangements with what he called “the modern Sunni states.” He referred to “a new alliance between Israel and Islamic states. … The good news is that the other guys are getting together with Israel as never before. It is something that I would have never expected in my lifetime.”

Nine months ago, Netanyahu delivered the same message when he said “for the first time in my lifetime, and for the first time in the life of my country, Arab countries in the region do not see Israel as an enemy, but, increasingly, as an ally.”

Though the Israeli-Saudi relationship is rarely spoken of out loud, Israeli Energy Minister Yuval Steinitz admitted recently that Israel “has ties that are . . . partly covert with many Muslim and Arab countries.” Saudi Arabia was the only one he specifically named. According to Reuters, he said those ties are fueled by “common concerns over Iran.”

But there are other foundations for this relationship. For years, Saudi Arabia sought to buy influence in Washington’s policy circles regarding the Middle East but was largely unsuccessful because Israel had cornered that market and Israel’s influential American supporters demonized lobbyists, academics and others who took Saudi money. Eventually, it became clear to Saudi Arabia that it made more sense to rent out Israel’s sophisticated lobbying apparatus rather than to fight it.

Investigative journalist Robert Parry reported that Saudi money helped seal this Israel-Saudi alliance, with the Saudis giving Israel billions of dollars and Israel reciprocating by giving Saudi Arabia added influence in Washington.

But Official Washington was surprised in the 1990s when Israel’s turnabout began — and Iran went from being a misunderstood nation tilting toward moderation to the world’s leading sponsor of terrorism. Despite some bewilderment, U.S. policymakers soon readjusted their rhetoric as the legendary Israeli influence operations carried the day. Shiite Iran became the new terror threat, even after the 9/11 attacks that were organized by Al Qaeda, a Sunni fundamentalist group associated with Saudi Arabia.

The Islamic State

The gap between the facts on the ground – the recognition that Al Qaeda and Islamic State remain the real chief terror threats from radical Islam – and the propaganda of principally blaming Iran for terrorism has led to a quandary for U.S./Israeli propagandists. They want to focus Americans’ fury on Iran and its allies, Syria and Hezbollah, but it is Saudi-and-Gulf-connected terror groups, such as Al Qaeda and Islamic State, that were chopping off heads of innocents and sponsoring terrorist attacks in the U.S. and Europe.

That disconnected reality explains why America’s response to the emergence of the Islamic State can best be characterized as confused and bizarre. Though the Obama administration claimed it was taken by surprise by the Islamic State’s emergence in Iraq and Syria, it really wasn’t. Rather, policymakers had sought to persuade the American public on the need for a “regime change” conflict in Syria, an Iranian ally. This strategy went back years.

A WikiLeaks-released cable dated Dec. 13, 2006, and written by the charge d’affaires of the U.S. embassy in Damascus to the Secretary of State recommended that the U.S. “coordinate more closely with” Egypt and Saudi Arabia in a policy to weaken President Bashar al-Assad’s government in Syria and “to play on Sunni fears of Iranian influence.” The cable also recognized that Islamist extremists were “certainly a long-term threat” to the Syrian government.

Over the years, there was little change in this inconvenient truth that jihadists were playing a crucial role in achieving these geopolitical goals.  For instance, in a December 2009 cable, then Secretary of State Hillary Clinton stated that “Saudi Arabia remains a critical financial support base for al-Qaeda, the Taliban . . . and other terrorist groups.”

By Aug. 12, 2012, the U.S. government knew explicitly that Islamic extremists were the engine in the Syrian insurgency. A classified Defense Intelligence Agency Information Intelligence Report unambiguously declares that “The salafist [sic], the Muslim Brotherhood, and AQI [al-Qaeda in Iraq, later ISIS and the Islamic State] are the major forces driving the insurgency in Syria.”

Section 8.C. of the report astonishingly predicts that “If the situation unravels there is the possibility of establishing a declared or undeclared salafist principality in eastern Syria.” Section 8.D.1. of the report goes on specifically to say that “ISI could also declare an Islamic State through its union with other terrorist organizations in Iraq and Syria.”

So, the U.S. government knew that the Islamic extremists drove the Syrian insurgency that Washington and its regional allies were supporting. U.S. intelligence analysts also had a surprisingly good idea what the possible outcome of that support was.

Yet, to advance the regional goals of the Israeli-Saudi tandem – i.e., the overthrow of the Syrian government because of its ties to Iran – the U.S. government was, in effect, supporting the very terrorists the war on terror was meant to eradicate.

Selling Al Qaeda

At times, senior Israeli officials made clear their preferences for Sunni extremists over more moderate Arabs associated with Shiite-ruled Iran. For instance, in September 2013, then-Israeli Ambassador to the United States Michael Oren told the Jerusalem Post that Israel favored the Sunni extremists over Syria’s largely secular President Bashar al-Assad.

“The greatest danger to Israel is by the strategic arc that extends from Tehran, to Damascus to Beirut. And we saw the Assad regime as the keystone in that arc,” Oren said in the interview. “We always wanted Bashar Assad to go, we always preferred the bad guys who weren’t backed by Iran to the bad guys who were backed by Iran.” He said this was the case even if the “bad guys” were affiliated with Al Qaeda.

Oren reiterated this position in June 2014 at an Aspen Institute conference. Speaking as a former ambassador, Oren said Israel would even prefer a victory by the Islamic State, which was then massacring captured Iraqi soldiers and beheading Westerners, than the continuation of the Iranian-backed Assad in Syria.

“From Israel’s perspective, if there’s got to be an evil that’s got to prevail, let the Sunni evil prevail,” said Oren, who is now a member of the Knesset and part of Netanyahu’s government.

Other senior Israelis have expressed similar sentiments. Sima Shine, who is in charge of Iran for Israel’s Ministry of Strategic Affairs, urged Assad’s removal even if that might turn Syria over to extremists. “The ‘devil we know’ is worse than the devil we don’t,” she said in June 2013. “If Bashar remains in power, that would be a huge achievement for Iran.”

So, in 2014, when Islamic State jihadists advanced through Syria and Iraq and knocked on the door of Lebanon, their success should not have come as a surprise to President Obama and other U.S. policymakers. Today’s Iraq, Syria and Lebanon have in common that they are Iran’s three principal allies in the region.

In other words, the Islamic State’s interests largely corresponded to those of Israel, Saudi Arabia and the U.S.: isolating and weakening Iran. Only the Islamic State’s shocking excesses of videotaped beheadings of Americans and other captives – as well as its military successes inside Iraq – forced President Obama’s hand in committing U.S. forces to stop the Islamic State onslaught.

Obsessed with Assad

Still, America has long been bent on removing Assad from Syria. The coincidence of Islamic State and American interests in this regard is revealed in section 8.C of the DIA report: “there is the possibility of establishing a declared or undeclared salafist principality in eastern Syria (Hasaka and Der Zor), and this is exactly what the supporting powers to the opposition want, in order to isolate the Syrian regime, which is considered the strategic depth of the Shia expansion (Iraq and Iran).”

So, the Islamic State’s advance into this region was consistent with American (and more to the point, Israeli and Saudi) interests because these Sunni extremists would block the supply lines from Iran to Lebanon’s Hezbollah. Thus, initially at least, the U.S. government acquiesced to the Islamic State and Al Qaeda’s Nusra Front taking the lead in damaging or destroying Iran’s allies in Syria.

And Iran suspected as much. According to Iran expert Trita Parsi, the Iranians believed that the initial relaxed approach by the U.S. government toward the Islamic State and Al Qaeda’s Nusra Front was because those militants were the point of the spear against pro-Iranian Shiite influences in not only Syria but Iraq and Lebanon as well.

So, the Saudi government provided the “clandestine financial and logistic support to Isis and other radical groups in the region,” according to a leaked Hillary Clinton email on Sept. 17, 2014.

Less than a month later, on Oct. 2, 2014, Vice President Biden told a seminar at Harvard’s Kennedy School that “the Saudis, the emirates … poured hundreds of millions of dollars and tens of thousands of tons of military weapons into anyone who would fight against Assad except that the people who were being supplied were Al Nusra and Al Qaeda and the extremist elements of jihadis.”

The DIA report also named the Gulf States as among the “supporting powers” of the Syrian opposition. And at a May 2015 meeting between President Obama and the Princes of the Gulf Cooperation Council, according to David Ignatius of the Washington Post, “Obama and other US officials urged Gulf leaders who are funding the opposition to keep control of their clients, so that a post-Assad regime isn’t controlled by extremists from the Islamic State or al-Qaeda.”

However, with the Israel lobby redirecting Official Washington’s ire toward Iran, more political space was created for these Saudi-connected terror groups to carry out the regime change missions in Syria and elsewhere.

And Israel didn’t just prefer a victory in Syria by the extremists of Al Qaeda and the Islamic State. United Nations observers in the Golan Heights reported witnessing cooperation between Israel and Syrian rebels, and Israel has frequently bombed Syrian targets (and here and here).

Netanyahu also reported that Israel has hit Hezbollah forces fighting against the Islamic State and Al Qaeda in Syria dozens of times. Recently, it has been revealed that Israel also provided funding, food and fuel to Syrian rebels fighting Assad.

Lebanon’s Crisis

But the Syrian “regime change” strategy didn’t work. With help from Iran and Hezbollah and Russia’s intervention in 2015, Assad and his army not only survived but routed the Islamic State, Al Qaeda’s Nusra and other jihadists from major urban strongholds. Instead of Iran losing an ally in the region, Iran emerged with a stronger alliance and greater influence.

This setback, however, has not changed the Israeli-Saudi priorities; it has only made them more intense. As the outcome in Syria became more apparent, the anti-Iran gun sight pivoted to Lebanon. The recent confusing events in Lebanon, like the earlier ones in Syria, are best made sense of by looking through the gun barrel that is targeted on Iran.

On Nov. 4, after being summoned to Saudi Arabia, Lebanese Prime Minister Saad al-Hariri unexpectedly and mysteriously resigned. Hariri’s resignation came just one day after a meeting in Beirut with Ali Akbar Velayati, a senior foreign policy advisor to Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei, that was reportedly very positive. Velayati praised Hariri and reaffirmed Iran’s support for his coalition government.

Yet, a day later, speaking from Saudi Arabia, Hariri claimed his resignation was catalyzed by fear of an Iranian-Hezbollah assassination. But the Lebanese army said “it had not uncovered any plans for assassinations in Lebanon.” Neither had the army. So, why resign?

The clue may be provided by Saudi State Minister for Gulf Affairs, Thamer al-Sabhan, who expressed Saudi Arabia’s desire for “toppling Hizbullah.” He promised that “The coming developments will definitely be astonishing.” He said the desire was not just his own, and that people “will see what will happen in the coming days.”

The Saudis said Hariri resigned because Hezbollah had “hijacked” his coalition government. Al-Sabhan called Hezbollah “the Party of Satan.”

Hassan Nasrallah, the head of Hezbollah, said that the resignation was “imposed on Prime Minister Hariri” by the Saudis. Nasrallah said Hezbollah did not want Hariri to resign, having been a part of Hariri’s coalition government for almost a year. Lebanese President, Michel Aoun, seemed to share Nasrallah’s suspicion, insisting that he would not accept Hariri’s resignation until Hariri returned to Lebanon from Saudi Arabia because his “resignation must be voluntary.”

In Lebanon, there was the suspicion that Hariri was held under house arrest. On Nov. 10, President Aoun told a meeting of foreign ambassadors that Hariri had been “kidnapped.”

Now, having finally returned to Lebanon after a French intervention brought him to Paris, Hariri met with President Aoun who asked him “to temporarily suspend submitting [his resignation] and to put it on hold ahead of further consultations on the reasons for it.” Hariri agreed.

Israel seems to have applauded Saudi Arabia’s Lebanese action and reaffirmed the Iranian motivation behind it. Prime Minister Netanyahu said that “The resignation of Lebanese Prime Minister Hariri and his statements are a wake-up call for the international community to act against Iranian aggression.”

Netanyahu also made a rare public acknowledgement of the Israeli-Saudi alliance when he said that Iran was driving Israel into cooperative arrangements with what he called “the modern Sunni states,” referring to “a new alliance between Israel and Islamic states.” According to reporting by Israel’s Channel 10, a leaked classified cable from the Israeli foreign ministry to Israeli ambassadors reveals that Israel ordered them to support Saudi Arabia’s efforts and to rally support for Hariri’s resignation.

Iran has also suggested that President Trump and the United States approve of this Lebanese intervention. The resignation of the Lebanese Prime Minister came days after Trump’s son-in-law Jared Kushner visited Saudi Arabia on a trip that was not made known publicly.

Yemen’s Tragedy

While this new alliance took aim at Iran by targeting Assad in Syria and Hezbollah in Lebanon, it also has targeted a Shiite spin-off sect, the Houthis in Yemen. Since 2015, the Saudis have been bombing and blockading Yemen, the Middle East’s poorest country. But on Nov. 5, Saudi Arabia expressed outrage after intercepting a ballistic missile fired by Houthi forces in Yemen toward Riyadh. The Saudis accused Iran of providing the missile and ordering the attack – and called this an “act of war” by Iran and Hezbollah.

General Mohammad Ali Jafari, the commander of the Iranian Revolutionary Guards, called the charge against Iran “baseless,” as did Iran’s ambassador to the United Nations, Gholamali Khoshroo. Even Saudi officials were calling the missile a Yemeni Burqan 2H missile when it was intercepted. The Houthis said they fired the missile in response to the long-running Saudi bombardment that included a recent attack that killed 26 people.

Despite these denials of Iranian responsibility and the context of Saudi Arabia’s air war, U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations. Nikki Haley called on the U.N. to hold Iran accountable for violating U.N. Security Council resolutions by supplying the missile. She called on the U.N. to take “necessary action” against Iran.

The U.S. government has consistently rationalized the Saudi bombardment of Yemen as necessary to thwart Iranian influence in the Persian Gulf. U.S. accusations about Iran allegedly supplying the Houthis with weapons hang precariously on an “assessment” that Iran has used fishing boats to smuggle weapons into Yemen.

However, according to investigative journalist Gareth Porter, the U.S. was never able to produce any evidence for the link between Iran and the Houthis because the boats were stateless, and their destination was Somalia, not Yemen. An earlier ship was, indeed, Iranian but was not really carrying any weapons.

The Houthis also are allied with former President Ali Abdullah Saleh who maintains control over the army, so the Houthis could get all the weapons they need from local arms supplies, including military bases stocked with American-made weapons.

And just as Iran does not substantially arm the Houthis, so it does not control them. In fact, they have proven to be beyond Tehran’s efforts to influence them. In 2014, the Iranians specifically discouraged the Houthis from capturing the Yemeni capital, Sanaa. However, the Houthis captured the city anyway, demonstrating Iran’s lack of control.

A U.S. intelligence official told The Huffington Post that “It is wrong to think of the Houthis as a proxy force for Iran.” Yemen specialist Gabriele vom Bruck has called Iran’s influence over the Houthis “trivial.” She said the Houthis want to be independent, not controlled by Iran: “I don’t think the Iranians have influence in their decision-making.” To the extent that Iran is involved in Yemen at all, that involvement came as a result of the devastating Saudi air war.

Dating back to the Obama administration, the U.S. government has made the Saudi aerial bombardment of Yemen possibleThe U.S. refuels the Saudi bombers in flight, supplies the bombs and provides targeting intelligence.

This U.S. complicity in what is widely regarded as a humanitarian catastrophe has continued into the Trump administration. A White House statement as recently as Nov. 24 reaffirmed U.S. support for Saudi Arabia, declaring: “We remain committed to supporting Saudi Arabia and all our Gulf partners against the Iranian Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps’ aggression and blatant violations of international law. Backed by the Iranian Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, the Houthi rebels have used destabilizing missile systems to target Saudi Arabia.”

The statement again reveals, not only the alliance with Saudi Arabia and the silence about its devastating bombing attacks, but the strategy of turning Yemen’s human tragedy into another excuse to blame Iran. The Iranian foreign ministry said the White House statement “clearly and without question proves America’s participation and responsibility in the atrocities committed by Saudi Arabia in Yemen”.

Bahrain & Qatar

Washington’s Saudi-Israeli-supplied blinders on the Middle East carry over to other regional conflicts, too. For instance, in 2011, protesters in Bahrain demanded a true constitutional monarchy, the resignation of the Prime Minister, greater civil liberties and a real elected parliament. Though Bahrain has a parliament, it is actually governed by the U.S.-backed dictator, King Hamad ibn Isa Al Khalifa, whose family has ruled Bahrain for over 200 years. The prime minister, the king’s uncle, is the longest reigning prime minister in the world, in power now for nearly 40 years.

Bahrain’s population is about 70 percent Shiite, though the ruling family, the government, the army and the police are all Sunni. The Shia have long been victims of discrimination. And the government maintains its control through repression, including the use of torture. Bahrain is located between Sunni Saudi Arabia and Shiite Iran and is seen by the U.S. as a strategically located check on Iranian influence and power.

Though the Obama administration touted itself as a big proponent of the “Arab Spring” and its promised democratization, Washington sided with the Bahraini dictators against the majority of the Bahraini people.

Days after mass arrests and beatings of protesters, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Admiral Mike Mullen, went through with his planned visit to Bahrain where he reaffirmed the U.S.’s strong commitment to its military relationship with Bahrain and called Bahrain’s response to the protests “very measured.” Mullen stressed the U.S.-Bahrain “partnership” and “friendship.”

On the same day, Secretary of Defense Robert Gates also gave full support to the Khalifa dictatorship. The U.S. continued to support the regime and to call for “stability” and “reform”: two words that are code for standing by dictatorships.

To help put down the protests in Bahrain, 1,000 Saudi troops invaded Bahrain across a causeway that connects the countries. The Obama administration remained silent.

Qatar also has suffered under the new Saudi-Israeli alliance because Qatar has pursued a more independent foreign policy than Saudi Arabia likes and now faces a Saudi-led siege as a consequence. Former British diplomat Alastair Crooke explained that Qatar’s principal sin is seeking peaceful coexistence with Iran.

When Washington asked Saudi Arabia to make reasonable proposals for the termination of the siege, Saudi Arabia included the demand that Qatar break all ties with Iran.

In other words, many of the most important events of the past several years are best explained as attempts to weaken Iran by weakening its proxies or allies or by setting up situations that appear to implicate Iran to justify hostility toward Iran.

A problem, however, has been that the major terrorist groups that have infuriated the American public are not Iranian-linked Shiites but rather Saudi-connected fundamentalist Sunnis. Still, the claim that “Iran is the chief sponsor of terrorism” has become a rote and routine refrain from both Republicans and Democrats – as well as the U.S. mainstream media.

Much as Russia now gets blamed for every negative turn in Western democracies, Iran is the all-purpose villain whenever anything goes wrong in the Middle East. Yet, to understand these conflicts and crises, it is best to view them through the perspective of the hostility that the Saudi-Israeli alliance directs toward Iran and the acquiescence of U.S. governments, regardless of which party is in power.

November 29, 2017 Posted by | Corruption, Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Timeless or most popular, Wars for Israel | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Honduras in limbo as election results suddenly shift

Press TV – November 29, 2017

Honduras was in a state of limbo on Tuesday as presidential election results began to trickle in after a 24-hour delay, with a TV host’s surprise lead suddenly starting to plunge, prompting him to claim that electoral fraud was taking place.

President Juan Orlando Hernandez, who won US praise for helping tackle the flow of migrants and deporting drug cartel leaders, was favored to win before the Sunday vote in the poor Central American nation with one of the world’s highest murder rates.

But a delayed, partial count on Monday morning pointed toward an unexpected victory for TV entertainer Salvador Nasralla, 64. Inexplicably, election authorities then stopped giving results for more than 24 hours.

When, under mounting criticism from international election monitors over a lack of transparency, the electoral tribunal began updating its website again, the tendency rapidly began to change.

In a television interview on Tuesday evening, an angry Nasralla said the election was being stolen from him and asked his supporters to flock to the capital, Tegucigalpa, to protest.

“We’ve already won the election,” he said. “I’m not going to tolerate this, and as there are no reliable institutions in Honduras to defend us, tomorrow the Honduran people need to defend the vote on the streets.”

Nasralla accused the conservative president of plotting to rig the vote, saying his “survival instinct” was hijacking democracy.

He also said Hernandez was colluding with the army and the electoral authorities to forge new result sheets and give himself the edge in the Sunday presidential election.

“He controls the media. He’s going to have the result sheets he wants validated and change the will of the people.”

“He’s trying to sow chaos so he can declare a state of emergency and take control with the help of his people and the army.”

The Electoral Observation Mission of the Organization of American States (EOM/OAS) in Honduras urged people to remain calm and wait for official results, which it said should be delivered as quickly and transparently as possible.

“The credibility of the electoral authorities and the legitimacy of the future president depend on this,” it said in a statement.

On Tuesday evening, Nasralla’s original five-point lead had thinned to under 2 percentage points, with nearly 71 percent of ballots counted, according to the election tribunal.

Nasralla said in a later television interview that the election tribunal was only counting ballots from regions where Hernandez had won, skewing the results and giving the false sense that the president was heading for victory. He asked the tribunal to include ballots from regions where he was stronger.

The election in this poor, gang-plagued country has turned into a drawn-out showdown between Nasralla, 64, and Hernandez, 49, who is going for four more years in office despite a constitutional limit of just one term.

Both candidates have declared victory, but the results are far from clear.

Hernandez’s conservative National Party — which controls the executive, legislative and judicial branches of government — contends that a 2015 Supreme Court ruling allows his re-election.

Nasralla and his coalition, the Opposition Alliance Against the Dictatorship, have denounced the incumbent’s bid, saying the court does not have the power to overrule the 1982 constitution.

Difficult negotiations

On Tuesday, Hernandez reiterated that he had won, and refused to concede, telling supporters they should wait for final results.

“The result is more than clear,” he said at the presidential residence. “It is important for everyone to be patient, for everyone to be considerate with Honduras.”

After Hernandez spoke, thousands of his blue-clad supporters gathered outside the presidential residence to celebrate his supposed victory.

“We won the election with Juan Orlando Hernandez, and we won’t let them remove him from power,” said 35-year-old housewife Maria Aguirre, who hailed from a rough neighborhood on the outskirts of Tegucigalpa.

Meanwhile, two European diplomats who spoke on condition of anonymity said the election tribunal’s delay was due to difficult negotiations between Hernandez’s National Party and Nasralla’s alliance. Behind closed doors, the parties were discussing immunity from prosecution for current officials and how to carve up positions in government, the diplomats said.

But in an interview on Tuesday, Nasralla denied he was in talks with the National Party.

He vowed to review whether to keep US troops stationed at a base in the country if he wins the election but also promised to deepen security cooperation with the US.

Hernandez’s National Party appears set to retain control of Congress in the election, giving it the second-most important perch in the country.

The European Union’s chief observer for the election, Marisa Matias, urged election officials to maintain an open channel of communication as they finalized the results.

The electoral body had been so certain Hernandez would win that it showed unprecedented transparency during the contest, one of the diplomats said. That left the body with little room to maneuver when Nasralla came from nowhere to take a strong lead.

Nasralla is backed by former president Manuel Zelaya, who was ousted in 2009 after he proposed a referendum on his re-election. The possible return to a position of influence for one-time leftist Zelaya risks fueling concern in Washington.

Situated in the heart of Central America’s “Northern Triangle,” where gangs and poverty are rife, Honduras has one of the highest murder rates in the world Hernandez was credited with lowering the murder rate and boosting the economy, but he was also hurt by accusations of ties to illicit, drug-related financing that he denies.

November 29, 2017 Posted by | Corruption, Deception | , | Leave a comment

Ex-Israel soldier heading child prostitution ring deported from Colombia

MEMO | November 29, 2017

A former Israeli soldier was deported from Colombia for alleged links to a criminal network suspected of drug trafficking, child prostitution and tax offenses that spanned across several countries in Latin America.

Forty-three-year-old Assi Moosh was expelled by Colombia and returned to Tel Aviv under escort by immigration officers last weekend. In a statement confirming the deportation, security officials said: “Police in Santa Marta, capital of the Magdalena department, hereby announce the removal of an Israeli citizen who owns a spa hotel frequented by many foreign tourists. Deportation procedures have been commenced as per law and will be carried out due to the Israeli’s conduct, which has harmed Colombia’s national security.”

Colombian news agencies reporting on the deportation revealed details surrounding the expulsion of Moosh who was exposed as being part of a group of ex-Israeli soldiers that had turned a small fishing village in Taganga into a “sex and drug den” from their base in a luxury resort that was known to locals as “little Israel”.

El Heraldo, a regional newspaper, revealed Moosh as the head of an “international network of human trafficking, micro-trafficking and sex tourism”. The Israeli gained a reputation locally for organising private parties in a room within his hotel. From their base in “little Israel” Moosh is reported to have run similar clubs exploiting drugs and children in Cartagena, Bogotá, Medellín, Ecuador, Mexico and Brazil.

Local sources reported that Moosh was arrested when he arrived in the immigration office in Santa Marta accompanied by a group of armed men. It’s believed that he had been trying to obtain Colombian citizenship.

According to the national police, Moosh had raised suspicion after it was discovered that his permits for tourism and hotel operation were obtained through a third party, enabling him to carry out criminal activities undetected for a decade.

Locals are said to be “relived” by the arrest. Residents told journalists that Moosh “had been one of those who destabilised the social order of the people.” Many felt he should have been arrested long ago.

The mystery for many locals, according to El Heraldo, was the Benjamin hotel. Residents of Taganga described the resort as a “bunker” run by Moosh “exclusively for Jews”. While it’s unlikely that many of the locals would have actually seen the inside of the luxury resort, the feeling that it was an unwelcome place for non-Israelis has even been reported by visitors on TripAdvisor. “Not Israeli? Forget about it” wrote one visitor who had given the hotel two stars in the review. “First off this is a good hotel/hostel but if you are not from Israel I wouldn’t go there, my wife and I were made to feel very uncomfortable even had people come up to us and say ‘are you from Israel?’ I said ‘no’ to their reply ‘then why would you come here’.”

Reports of how “ex-soldiers turned a Colombia fishing town into a sex and drug den” had been on the media’s radar for a while. In February Colombia Reports uncovered the tension within the popular tourist region caused by the Benjamin hotel. The report found that “Benjamin [hotel] employs and accommodates almost exclusively Israeli citizens, and was officially opened by 20 rabbis brought over especially from Israel”.

Security in the hotel is reportedly coordinated by a Willington Vasquez, who, according to the report is also known as “Manuel, a former member of a paramilitary death squad”. Locals from Taganga complained that the Israeli “tourism entrepreneurs” were running a drug trafficking network and prostitution business.

The friction between locals in Taganga and the Israelis was also reported in 2012. “Four Israeli ex-soldiers are the new ‘masters’ of Taganga” was the headline in the El Tiempo. The paper alleged that the Israeli “businessmen” were selling cocaine and sexually exploiting young girls.

A journalist from El Tiempo investigating the allegations spoke with local officials, residents and the Israeli businessmen who pleaded innocence saying that “the community is wrong, everything is false”.

But the report proved otherwise. The authorities said that they were clear “several Israeli ex-soldiers who arrived in that village” were “leaders of criminal gangs”. The authorities complained that the Israelis took over social premises, violated rules on tax payments and permits and were involved in selling drugs and sexually exploiting children.

The ex-Israeli soldiers became known as “the untouchables”. El Tiempo journalists travelled to the area and established that some of them were living in a concrete mass, guarded by eight security cameras. Others carry arms and move in 4×4 trucks with the Israeli flag.

Testimonies from villagers and local authorities, who, El Tiempo said requested anonymity for fear of reprisals, exposed the drug and prostitution industry that had blighted the small fishing village.

Their standoff with the ex-Israeli soldiers led locals to create a committee and to request help from the Santa Marta administration.

Mayor of Santa Marta at the time, Carlos Caicedo, told El Tiempo that the situation in Taganga is serious and that he will ask the Israeli embassy and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to review the legal status of the ex-military personnel settled in the Benjamin hotel.

Residents of Taganga appealed to their government to end the criminal activity in their village and a request was also made to the Israeli embassy, according to El Tiempo, to sanction the criminal behaviour of its nationals.

As for Moosh, it’s reported that Colombian authorities have imposed sanctions on him which prevent him from returning to country for at last ten years.

Read also: Israel killed 14 Palestinian children in 2017

November 29, 2017 Posted by | Corruption | , , | 10 Comments

Bombing Afghanistan for Peace and Prosperity

By Brian CLOUGHLEY | Strategic Culture Foundation | 29.11.2017

In May this year the Carnegie Endowment for Peace assessed that “The security environment in Afghanistan is still precarious… the government remains heavily dependent on foreign aid… the combination of a weakening Afghan regime and an unchecked Taliban resurgence could lead to the catastrophic collapse of the Afghan government and state…”

It is essential that a policy be constructed in order to move the country towards security, peace and prosperity, and this, so far, has involved an increase in US combat troops and expansion of the aerial bombing campaign.

According to the US Air Force, 3,554 bombs and rockets were directed at targets in the first ten months of 2017, including 653 in October, the greatest number since November 2010. Some of the most recent strikes were on 10 supposed drug-production facilities in Helmand Province, and the complexity and expense of the operation were considerable.

The commander of foreign forces in Afghanistan, US General John Nicholson, told the media that the attacks were “a demonstration of our new authorities… And specifically, in striking northern Helmand and the drug enterprises there, we’re hitting the Taliban where it hurts, which is their finances.”

According to Nicholson there are 400-500 opium production facilities in Afghanistan, so there is some way to go before the drug evil is eradicated at the factory stage, and if the effort to destroy them is confined to air power, the cash cost is going to be prodigious.

The bombing included strikes by some Afghan air force Tucano aircraft, but the main assault was by the US Air Force which for the first time in Afghanistan used its F-22 Raptor aircraft, flown from the United Arab Emirates, and B-52 strategic nuclear bombers based in Qatar. F-16s joined in from the Bagram base near Kabul, and the operation also involved KC-10 and KC-135 refuelers, surveillance aircraft and command and control aircraft.

General Nicholson explained that the Raptor aircraft was used “because of its ability to deliver precision munitions, in this case a 250-pound bomb, small-diameter, that causes the minimum amount of collateral damage.”

It has been calculated that the Raptor “costs $68,362 an hour to fly” and thus the expense of its excursion, including tankers, “could have approached $400,000” exclusive of bombs. The Pentagon’s budget for 2015 show that 246 of these bombs cost 219.1 million dollars. This means that the US taxpayer pays $890,000 for each one, which makes the cost of the Raptor strike a remarkably expensive operation. Then General Nicholson said that one of his B-52s dropped “six 500-pound, low-collateral-damage, precision-guided munitions” in order “to keep the collateral damage to an absolute minimum, and we did.”

While it is laudable that General Nicholson wants to minimise collateral damage by using 500 pound bombs, he appeared to veer off course slightly and showed a video of “another B-52 strike on another Taliban narcotics production facility. Now, this particular facility was the largest one we struck last night [November 19], with over 50 barrels of opium cooking at the time of the strike… So this was a B-52 strike, several 2,000-pound bombs, and it completely obliterated the facility.” Presumably the 2000 pound bombs were also precision-guided, in order to avoid collateral damage in accomplishment of complete obliteration.

The general noted that in Afghanistan “We’ve dropped more munitions this year than in any year since 2012. These new authorities give me the ability to go after the enemy in ways that I couldn’t before” and he intends to expand the bombing campaign next year.

The “new authorities” are the orders of President Trump to increase the intensity of the war because “I took over a mess, and we’re going to make it a lot less messy,” and General Nicholson is pleased that “we’re hitting the Taliban where it hurts, which is their finances,” although he did say “we are not going after the farmers that are growing the poppy.”

Of course the US air force should not target Afghan farmers — but bombing opium factories will not result in financial ruin of the Taliban. The heroin industry is extremely lucrative, and in Afghanistan the beneficiaries include very many more people other than Taliban adherents. It is, after all, the eighth most corrupt country in the world.

After the Helmand blitz, Reuters reported a poppy farmer, Mohammad Nabi, as saying that “The Taliban will not be affected by this as much as ordinary people. Farmers are not growing poppies for fun. If factories are closed and businesses are gone, then how will they provide food for their families?” Has General Nicholson got an answer to that?

The Voice of America reported in May 2017 that “Since 2002, the US has spent more than $8.5 billion on counternarcotics in Afghanistan — about $1.5 million a day” while “only 13 of the country’s 34 provinces were reported poppy-free in 2016, and this number has dropped into single digits this year.” The UN Office on Drugs and Crime published its Afghanistan Opium Survey on November 15, and observed that “many elements continue to influence farmers’ decisions regarding opium poppy cultivation. Rule of law-related challenges, such as political instability, lack of government control and security, as well as corruption, have been found to be main drivers of illicit cultivation.”

What a shambles. And Washington’s solution is to bomb it.

Nicholson said that farmers “are largely compelled to grow the poppy and this is kind of a tragic part of the story.” Of course the farmers are “compelled to grow” a crop for sale. And it’s more than “kind of tragic.” It’s a catastrophe, because Afghanistan remains the world’s leading producer of opium.

The farmers would stop producing poppy if there were markets for other crops whose cultivation would provide them a decent living. As long ago as 2004 the US Assistant Secretary for International Narcotics, Robert Charles, told Congress that “To destroy Afghanistan’s opium economy, alternatives to the pernicious cycle of opium credit, cultivation and harvest must be available to rural communities.” So billions of dollars were poured into anti-narcotics campaigns and the result is that after twelve years “the level of opium poppy cultivation is a new record high.”

In March 2012 Donald Trump tweeted that “Afghanistan is a total disaster. We don’t know what we are doing. They are, in addition to everything else, robbing us blind.” Little has changed, except that 45 percent of Afghanistan’s districts are controlled or contested by the Taliban, and General Nicholson acknowledges that “we are still in a stalemate.” But Trump has been persuaded to declare that the US will “fight to win”. So the campaign of airstrikes will continue, and Afghanistan will be bombed towards peace and prosperity.

November 29, 2017 Posted by | Corruption, Economics, Militarism, Timeless or most popular | , | 1 Comment

Fighting Israel’s Wars

How the United States military has become Zionized

By Philip Giraldi • Unz Review • November 28, 2017

There has been a report that Special Counsel Robert Mueller is looking into foreign lobbying in Washington while another story relates how his team is investigating the alleged contact of a Donald Trump associate with a Hungarian. Both are part of the ongoing investigation into Russiagate. Unless I am wrong, which happens occasionally, Hungary is a member of the European Union and also of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO). It has relatively free elections and its government changes as a result.

No one but the Mueller commission has considered contact with a Hungarian citizen to be a potential threat to American democracy. But then again, no one has really made the case in any kind of credible fashion that meeting with a Russian is either ipso facto criminal or treasonous, or that Moscow’s media does anything beyond what other state-owned broadcasters tend to do, but you wouldn’t know that from reading the mainstream press or from watching MSNBC and CNN.

An independent observer might well note that there is more than a whiff of hypocrisy in all of this. Case in point, the latest globalist-interventionist-neocon think tank the Alliance to Secure Democracy is currently being funded by a bundle of foreign governments, presumably doing so without any interference from Mueller or from those who run the Foreign Agents Registration desk at the Department of the Treasury.

And one other thing you can bet on is that Mueller will not be looking at the country that actually does interfere in American politics most, which is our best friend in the whole world and greatest ally Israel, the beneficiary of roughly one billion dollars-worth of lobbying carried out by hundreds of full time staff on its behalf.

Punish Israel for corrupting our politicians and media? On the contrary, now that we are officially into the holiday season, a whole bunch of goodies designed to make Benjamin Netanyahu’s eyes sparkle are pending. The highest priority item is the Trump Administration’s cooperation with the Israeli government in a frantic effort to bury a United Nations report that includes a database of all the companies that operate in Israel’s illegal settlements. Also regarding the U.N., Congress is considering a bill that would block U.S. aid to any country that opposes “the position of the United States.” Lest there be any confusion, Ambassador Nikki Haley has made it clear the American “position” would pretty much consist of never criticizing or voting against Israel.

Congress is meanwhile also making a list and checking it twice, looking into the vexing issue of how to make any and all criticism of Israel equate to anti-Semitism as a step forward to turning such activity into a hate crime with actual criminal penalties. The House Judiciary Committee has been holding meetings to try to decide how exactly one might do that without completely jettisoning the First Amendment, which once upon a time was intended to guarantee free speech. On November 8th, nine experts, seven of whom were Jewish, were summoned to address the issue of “codify[ing] a definition of anti-Semitism that incorporates a controversial component addressing attacks on Israel… [as] a necessary means of stemming anti-Semitism on campuses.”

The proposed amendment to the Civil Rights Act would use language being considered for the still pending Anti-Semitism Awareness Act to considerably expand the currently accepted government acceptance of anti-Semitism as “demonization” of Israel and/or its policies. A broader definition would have real world consequences as it would potentially block federal funding for colleges and universities where students are allowed to organize events critical of Israel. Fortunately, the hearing did not produce the result desired by Israel. To their credit, four of the witnesses, all Jewish, opposed expanding the definition of anti-Semitism and even some congressmen uncharacteristically indicated that to do so might be a bridge to far.

Indeed, one might argue that there is a tendency in Washington to see the world and even domestic policies through Israel’s eyes. One might even suggest that the United States government is being progressively Zionized because of the free hand that Israel and its supporters have, which gives them the ability to seek benefits for Israel that they would be unlikely to pursue for the United States. To cite only one example, an Israel Victory Caucus was launched in the House of Representatives in April advocating Israeli defeat of all its neighbors. The keynote speaker at the event, noted Islamophobe Daniel Pipes, explained “Victory means imposing your will on your enemy so he no longer wants to continue to fight,” before demanding “What I want the U.S. government to do is say, ‘Israel, do what you need to do to win your war.’”

Israel has been uniquely successful at imposing its will over Congress and the White House. Every freshman class in Congress, plus spouses, is automatically whisked off for a deluxe all expenses paid propaganda trip to Israel, which is funded by an affiliate of the American Israel Political Action Committee (AIPAC). That is supplemented frequently throughout the year through taxpayer funded CODELS by established politicians to find out the “facts” on what is going on in the Middle East. During congressional recesses Congressmen are sometimes more likely to be found visiting Israel than dealing with problems in their own districts and they routinely return spouting whatever line is being promoted by the Israeli government.

There is also the training of American police in “Israeli methods,” which is funded both by government and foundations set up for that purpose. Less well known is the inroads Israel has made with the American military establishment. Shoshana Bryen, former executive director of the Jewish Institute for National Security Affairs (JINSA) and currently affiliated with the Jewish Policy Center, who has been involved in hosting the indoctrination of U.S. national security personnel, recently described it this way: “I have taken more than 400 American security professionals – primarily retired American Admirals and Generals – to Israel in more than 30 trips. And at the other end of their careers, I have sent more than 500 cadets and midshipmen of our service academies to Israel before they received their commissions. And I can say that they all understood the fundamental and profound principles that guide both the United States and Israel. They don’t always agree with Israel’s politics – or Israel’s defense choices – or any other single aspect of Israeli political, military and social life, but I never found one that didn’t believe in the relationship between Jews and the land of Israel. The United States military, then, is a Zionist institution.”

Last Monday, Colonel Pat Lang, former special ops officer and head of the Defense Humint Service, considered Bryen’s assertion, writing “It’s an open question but I think the answer is probably yes. The U.S. military now seems to be totally focused on Israeli policy goals in Iran, Syria and Iraq… Israel wants Iran neutered and eliminated as a power rival in the Middle East. The putative Iranian nuclear weapons program is just one target of Israeli policy toward Iran. To reach the goal of Morgenthau-style comfort with regard to Iran, Israel wants to destroy Syria and Hizbullah as allies of Iran… The process of conditioning American officers to make them Zionists has been ongoing for a long time. when I came in the Army in 1962, there was little interest in Israel in the officer corps… [The] 1967 war was a watershed. Israel’s total victory had been unexpected by most. Americans are mentally driven by aggressive sports analogies and Israel was a winner. That made a big difference in spite of the repeated day long attacks by the Israeli air force and navy against U.S.S. Liberty, an American SIGINT collector positioned off the Egyptian coast. LBJ suppressed an armed reaction by a U.S. carrier battle group in the area and a subsequent naval investigation. His policy then became one of relatively complete support of Israel. The indoctrination and conditioning program described by Shoshana Bryen began in earnest after that and has carried through to the present under the umbrella of AIPAC and its galaxy of linked organizations especially JINSA. This program has been wildly, incredibly successful. As a result, there is an unthinking willingness among senior, and not so senior American officers to support Israeli policy in Iran, Syria, Lebanon, Palestine and now Saudi Arabia. The handful of M[iddle] E[ast] trained and educated U.S. officers are ignored, treated as technical experts or shoved out the door when they speak up.”

How deeply Israelophilia has been drilled into the American corporate psyche is best illustrated by a recent article that appeared on the National Interest website. The article was written by retired Israeli Colonel Shimon Arad, who apparently has contributed to the site previously, and its thrust is that the United States should only sell military hardware to the Middle East when Israel is satisfied that the sales will not undercut its self-defined military edge. In other words, U.S. defense industries and national security arrangements should be subordinated to Israeli interests and even subject to veto by the Netanyahu government.

Arad’s condescending piece, sub-titled “Israel’s Greatest Fear: An Arms Race Sparked by the F-35,” should be read fully to demonstrate just how arrogant the Israelis have become in dealing with their American puppet. Arad argues that no advanced fighters comparable to what Israel receives for free from the U.S. taxpayer should be sold to any Arab country, no matter how friendly or strategically valuable. Previous pledges that the new F-35 would not be sold to Arabs “played a significant role in [Israel]’s acquiescence to the sale of… advanced… fighters to the Gulf states…” “Acquiescence” is the key word, implying that Israel should by rights have the option to stop such sales by putting pressure on Congress. Arad then goes on to describe how sales to the United Arab Emirates would be a “dangerous precedent,” but he is clearly talking only about Israeli interests as the United States is in no way threatened by such a move. He concludes that “Israel must express its strenuous objection to the release of the F-35 to any and all Gulf and Arab countries.”

In an earlier article, Arad complained about Arab states being sold sophisticated air defenses, presumably because that would make it more difficult for Israel to bomb them. Why an American publication should provide a pulpit to an Israeli who is promoting a narrowly construed Israeli interest that differs significantly from the actual interests of the United States is not completely clear. The site’s readers apparently agreed with that observation in that most of the comments were highly critical both of Arad and of Israel. Someone should remind the colonel that America’s three major military concentrations in the Middle East – five bases in Kuwait, Al-Udeid Airbase in Qatar, and the Fifth-Fleet home base and Naval Central Command in Bahrain – are all in Arab countries that have accommodated Washington in ways that Israel never has. To place them on a list of countries that are somehow always suspect just because Israel perceives nearly all Muslims as enemies, is not in America’s own interest, but this has been the unfortunate pattern in the lopsided relationship prevailing between Washington and Tel Aviv.

The infiltration by little Israel of key sectors of the bureaucracy of a seemingly oblivious giant United States is extraordinary by any measure, but it has been brought about by a highly focused and well-funded powerful domestic lobby that has remarkable access both to the political class and to the media. As Admiral Thomas Moorer, former chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff once put it, “No American president can stand up to Israel.” He should have added Congress and even the Pentagon to his indictment but what he said is, unfortunately, truer now than it was when he made the comment back in 1997.

November 28, 2017 Posted by | Corruption, Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Russophobia, Timeless or most popular, Wars for Israel | , , , , | 2 Comments

Grenfell: Plastic firms helped write climate-related safety rules

Tall Bloke’s Talk Shop | November 27, 2017

Insulation added to buildings like the ill-fated Grenfell Tower was a result of climate regulations, as this extract from a Sky News report shows. But the manufacturers themselves helped write those rules, and now some critics who tried to point out potential fire hazards in the materials say they were subjected to intimidation by them.

While legal threats were being made in private, the plastic insulation industry was openly advertising its role in writing the rules that govern the fitting of its products to millions of buildings across the country.

The main lobby group for the plastic insulation trade was, until November 2017, called the British Rigid Urethane Foam Manufacturers’ Association [BRUFMA].

Partly in response to Grenfell Tower – or what it refers to as “events of this year” – BRUFMA changed its name to the Insulation Manufacturers Association.

They advertise that they are “influencing UK and local government, specifying authorities, relevant approval and certification bodies,” and have “high level involvement in the drafting and regular revision of British and European standards [and] the Building Regulations.” Its members are promised the “opportunity to influence Government bodies and NGOs” and “direct input into relevant British Standards committees.”

How that influence works in practice is exposed by examination of government efforts to meet the UK’s climate change commitments. Since the Kyoto agreement in 1997 to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, successive governments have created rules about how new and refurbished buildings must be insulated to reduce heat loss.

In 2011 the Department for Energy and Climate Change (DECC) turned to the insulation industry for help, inviting representatives onto a Green Deal committee to come up with ways to push more insulation into homes. We discovered that of the 10 firms and construction industry groups on that committee, four were members of BRUFMA.

One of them was Celotex, the firm whose plastic insulation would be fitted to the outside of Grenfell Tower four years later.

November 27, 2017 Posted by | Corruption, Science and Pseudo-Science, Timeless or most popular | | 1 Comment