This Nukewatch graphic by Bonnie Urfer and Arianne Peterson shows the 150 Minuteman III nuclear-armed missile sites around Minot, North Dakota, along with their 15 Launch Control Centers.
In 2010, three high-ranking military officials including Air Force Colonel B. Chance Saltzman, a Chief of the US Air Force’s Strategic Plans and Policy Division who had worked directly for the Secretary of the Air Force, published a major policy paper suggesting that the US should unilaterally cut its nuclear arsenal by more than 90 percent. The paper argued, “… the United States could address military utility concerns with only 311 nuclear weapons in its nuclear force structure….” With about 1,300 warheads on Trident submarines, another 500 or so on heavy bombers like B-52s or B2s, 180 on fighter-bombers in Europe and the last 450 on top of the Minuteman rockets, cutting to 311 would clearly mean the ICBMs would go the way of the Berlin Wall (since the favored war-fighting nukes are on submarines which can be kept secret from the American public and everybody else).
An even more direct dismissal of land-based missiles came in 2012, when Gen. James Cartwright, a former Vice Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, chaired a large study group which concluded that US ICBMs are not useful. The committee’s report was signed by then Senator Chuck Hagel who would later become the Secretary of Defense. At a Senate committee hearing that year, Gen. Cartwright defended his findings in formal testimony. Gen. Cartwright’s study said: “No sensible argument has been put forward for using nuclear weapons to solve any of the major 21st century problems we face …. In fact, nuclear weapons have on balance arguably become more a part of the problem than any solution.”
Then, as a sort of exclamation point for our Revised Edition, on December 3, 2014, former Secretary of Defense William Perry declared, “ICBMS aren’t necessary … they’re not needed.” Speaking to a group of military affairs writers, Sec. Perry called for the complete elimination the last Minuteman IIIs, saying, “Any reasonable definition of deterrence will not require [the ICBMs].” Perry warns that ICBMs, “are simply too easy to launch on bad information and would be the most likely source of an accidental nuclear war. He referred to the ICBM force as “‘destabilizing’ in that it invites an attack from another power.” On the former secretary’s web site, the “William J. Perry Project,” he declares emphatically, “Nuclear weapons no longer provide for our security, they endanger it.”
ICBM Coalition Learned to Love the Bomb
These voices of reason — and earlier ones — have been drowned out by the powerful self-styled “ICBM Coalition” – a group of 10 U.S. Senators with large Air Force Bases in their states. The mixed group of Democrats and Republicans are from Wyoming, Montana, North Dakota, Utah, and Louisiana. (Utah has Hill Air Force Base where Minuteman IIIs are tested and refurbished; Louisiana has Barksdale Air Base, headquarters of Global Strike Command (its real name) which controls Air Force bombings across the Middle East and Africa.)
The 10 senators would evidently rather take their chances with accidental nuclear war, as long as billions keep pouring into their home states and into the bank accounts of weapons contractors that support their election campaigns. They are John Hoeven (R) and Heidi Heitkamp (D) (earlier Kent Conrad) of N. Dakota; Mike Enzi (R) and John Barrasso (R) from Wyo.; Jon Tester (D) and Steve Daines (R) of Mont.; Orrin Hatch (R) and Mike Lee (R), from Utah; and finally Bill Cassidy (R), and Dave Vitter (R) of Louisiana.
Sometimes called the “Doomsday Lobby,” the ICBM Coalition works to stop further reductions in the nuclear arsenal “to protect jobs” (ie. votes) in their districts, and large military contracts upgrading and maintaining the rockets in their ready-for-launch alert status. The 10 lead moves in Congress to spend several hundred billion dollars to replace rather than retire the land-based arsenal.
In 2012, a Russian proposal to cut 1,950 active warheads now on various launchers down to 1,550 was halted by Montana’s Jon Tester and (then) Max Baucus. The senators didn’t say the cut would weaken the force. They warned the move would mean closing a missile base — probably their beloved Malmstrom AFB in Montana. Bill Hartung with the Center for Responsive Politics reported the same year that the 10 senators over their careers had gotten $513,000 from the military’s four largest missile contractors: GE, Northrup-Grumman, Boeing, and United Technologies.
Taking the generals and Pentagon chiefs at their word, it’s not just the missiles that endanger our security, but the Senators from Missileville.
John LaForge is a Co-director of Nukewatch, a peace and environmental justice group in Wisconsin, and edits its newsletter.
The Saudi foreign minister admits that the kingdom gave nearly USD 700 million to Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak, who has faced corruption charges since the huge grant came to light last year.
Adel al-Jubeir said Friday that the $681 million (£479 million) Riyadh offered to the premier was a “genuine donation with nothing expected in return.”
Last July, the Wall Street Journal revealed for the first time that some $700 million had been transferred to Najib’s private accounts before the 2013 general election. The report suggested that the money came from a state development fund.
At the time, Najib was already engulfed in a scandal surrounding state fund 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB) and deposits into his private accounts worth around $680 million.
However, Malaysia’s attorney general cleared Najib of any criminal wrongdoing earlier this year, saying the $681 million transferred into his account back in 2013 was from the Saudi royal family and was personal donations.
According to the attorney general, Najib had returned USD 620 million of the money to the Saudi royal family in August 2013, about five months after the transfer.
The Malaysian opposition has challenged the attorney general’s ruling, arguing that the transfer of personal donations did not rule out corrupt motives or transactions.
On Friday, Saudi foreign minister said, “We are also fully aware that the attorney general of Malaysia has thoroughly investigated the matter and found no wrongdoing.”
The remarks by Jubeir came after leaders from across Malaysia’s political spectrum called for the ouster of Najib after he returned from a four-day visit to Saudi Arabia back in March.
The Malaysian premier came into office in 2009 promising a government free of corruption and a more relaxed rule.
If I hadn’t seen for myself that this article “exposing” Jeremy Corbyn was published on the Daily Telegraph’s website, I would have assumed it was a spoof from The Onion – an even more preposterous one than normal.
In a lengthy hit-piece, the Telegraph suggests that Corbyn is a hypocrite for criticising David Cameron over his efforts to conceal the financial benefits he received from his father’s tax-haven investments.
What’s the Telegraph’s evidence for accusing Corbyn of a double standard?
Corbyn is apparently part of the fat-cat class himself because he earnt £1.5 million. That sounds a lot – except it was his total earnings as an MP over the past 33 years. That’s the equivalent of a £45,000 a year salary. A good sum but hardly the stuff of scandals.
As a Labour spokesman says (buried at the bottom of this long piece): “It represents his wages as an MP over the last 30 years, the same as every other MP who has done the same service. He’s been elected consistently by the electorate and he has earnt what every other MP earns and those payments are in the public domain.”
In other words, this is a complete non-story. He’s a an MP and he received the benefits due an MP. If there’s a problem with that, then the Telegraph ought to be campaigning against MPs’ salaries.
So why is the Telegraph writing a story that makes clear it is not even pretending to be a newspaper – which reveals in stark fashion that, in fact, it is just a propaganda sheet for the business class?
There can be only one reason – or two related reasons.
That Corbyn is seen as such a danger to the vested interests of the powerful corporations that are served by the Telegraph and the rest of the corporate media that they need to smear him even at the cost of undermining their own credibility.
And equally significantly, that they are so sure that Cameron can be relied on not to damage their interests, that they will do anything – including writing a patently ridiculous anti-Corbyn story – to help the prime minister in his hour of need.
If Corbyn became prime minister, he might threaten the apple cart that has made the Telegraph’s owners, the famously litigious Barclay Brothers, and the rest of the 1% fabulously wealthy. The brothers are – how can we put it? – familiar with the workings of tax havens; they live in one.
Cameron is a member of that same exclusive club: he might talk the talk, but he is never going to walk the walk. He and his party will look after their friends and their off-shore accounts for as long as they can do so without paying a serious political price.
The only scandal here is that the Telegraph can write a story like this and still be considered a newspaper rather than a muck-raking comic. This example may be extreme, but behind it lie the same motives of class-interest that have driven the hundreds of other hatchet jobs on Corbyn over the past year, published in every British newspaper including supposedly liberal publications like the Guardian.
This is just about as insane and open of an inside look, as to how US empire operators grab the spoils of their interventions that result in turmoil, that you are ever likely to get.
As is clear, the US played an important role in the Ukrainian revolution as revealed by the release of a recording of a phone call between Assistant US Secretary of State Victoria Nuland and U.S. Ambassador to the Ukraine Geoffrey Pyatt (SEE: An Important Second Listen to the “F–k the EU” Ukraine Recording).
But, Nuland isn’t the only US State Department official playing a major role in Ukraine.
A US citizen, the Elmhurst, Illinois-born Natalie Jaresko, obtained a second citizenship (Ukrainian) on December 2, 2014, the day of, get this, her appointment as Minister of Finance of Ukraine.
Prior to Jaresko becoming Ukraine’s finance minister, she, according to Wikipedia:
…. held several economics-related positions at the US Department of State in Washington, D.C., and eventually coordinated activities of the State Department, the Departments of Commerce, Treasury, the United States Trade Representative, and Overseas Private Investment Corporation (OPIC) in their economic relations with the Soviet Union and its successors. As part of her work she interacted with the International Monetary Fund, World Bank, and the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development. Later from 1992 to 1995, she was the first Chief of the Economic Section of the U.S. Embassy in Ukraine, responsible for strengthening economic cooperation between the two countries. In 2003 she was awarded the Ukrainian Order of Princess Olga for her contributions to the Ukrainian economy.
Between 2005 and 2010 Jaresko was a member of President Viktor Yushchenko’s Foreign Investors Advisory Council and the Advisory Board of the Ukrainian Center for Promotion of Foreign Investment under the auspices of the Cabinet of Ministers of Ukraine.
So what is Jaresko up to as finance minister of Ukraine?
She is about to take control, for herself, of Datagroup, the Ukraine telecom company that controls 85% of the Ukranian telecom market.
Datagroup is owned by Oleksandr Kardakov but his personal empire has collapsed due to foreign currency loan debt.
Foreign loan debt is an old muscle trick of economic hit men (SEE John Perkins, Confessions of an Economic Hit Man). Banksters and international global financial organizations (think the World Bank) load up third-world governments with debt that can’t possibly be repaid and they go in to pick off the juicy meat when the third-world governments can’t make the debt payments.
The loans to Kardakov were a spin-off on the basic maneuver. With Nuland fomenting revolution and turmoil in Ukraine, the Ukranian currency, the hryvnia, has collapsed on foreign exchange markets.
This has made it impossible for Kardakov to pay off his US dollar-denominated loans.
Ukraine Today reports:
In late February, the company began its liquidation procedure. The company’s other major asset – ‘Datagroup’ telecom operator – may soon be sold out to pay off debts. It may be purchased by its current minority shareholder – investment company ‘Horizon Capital’, co-founded by Ukraine’s current Finance Minister Natalie Jaresko.
Robert Wenzel is Editor & Publisher at EconomicPolicyJournal.com and at Target Liberty. He is also author of The Fed Flunks: My Speech at the New York Federal Reserve Bank. Follow him on twitter:@wenzeleconomics
Goldman Sachs aggressively sold sub-prime packages to investors as a first class product, while at the same time laying equally aggressive bets that those packages would fail. That is not my analysis; it is one of the things they have admitted as part of the deal in the United States that means that, in return for a 5 billion dollar fine, yet again no corrupt and fraudulent bankers are going to jail.
The ultimate irony is that the 5 billion dollar fine is dwarfed by the 13 billion dollar taxpayer bailout they received after the banks’ immoral antics caused massive economic collapse. So the net result of their appalling behaviour has been that they collect not only the profit from those bets the system would collapse, but an eight billion dollar net payment from ordinary taxpayers thrown in. Which eight billion dollars has been just a contribution to the bonuses and partner remuneration which have continued to bulge in their over-stuffed pockets since 2008, uninterrupted by the crash, thanks to the generosity of poor taxpayers struggling to balance their personal budgets.
This is a description of the position of Goldman Sachs in the United States, but it sums up the entire banking crisis worldwide and its result in the punishment of entirely the wrong people, and the continued rewards enjoyed by the crooks.
Due to new media (of which this blog is one atom in a mighty sea) public awareness of what is happening is growing, as is the desire for popular resistance to the super-rich. But they are not surrendering control any time soon. Which is why the call for Clinton to release the transcripts of the extravagantly paid talks she gave to Goldman Sachs is more than a question of political openness. It goes to the heart of the rot in the system.
Since the end of World War Two the Central Intelligence Agency has been a major force in US and foreign news media, exerting considerable influence over what the public sees, hears and reads on a regular basis. CIA publicists and journalists alike will assert they have few, if any, relationships, yet the seldom acknowledged history of their intimate collaboration indicates a far different story–indeed, one that media historians are reluctant to examine.
When seriously practiced, the journalistic profession involves gathering information concerning individuals, locales, events, and issues. In theory such information informs people about their world, thereby strengthening “democracy.” This is exactly the reason why news organizations and individual journalists are tapped as assets by intelligence agencies and, as the experiences of German journalist Udo Ulfkotte (entry 47 below) suggest, this practice is at least as widespread today as it was at the height of the Cold War.
Consider the coverups of election fraud in 2000 and 2004, the events of September 11, 2001, the invasions Afghanistan and Iraq, the destabilization of Syria, and the creation of “ISIS.” These are among the most significant events in recent world history, and yet they are also those much of the American public is wholly ignorant of. In an era where information and communication technologies are ubiquitous, prompting many to harbor the illusion of being well-informed, one must ask why this condition persists.
Further, why do prominent US journalists routinely fail to question other deep events that shape America’s tragic history over the past half century, such as the political assassinations of the 1960s, or the central role played by the CIA in international drug trafficking?
Popular and academic commentators have suggested various reasons for the almost universal failure of mainstream journalism in these areas, including newsroom sociology, advertising pressure, monopoly ownership, news organizations’ heavy reliance on “official” sources, and journalists’ simple quest for career advancement. There is also, no doubt, the influence of professional public relations maneuvers. Yet such a broad conspiracy of silence suggests another province of deception examined far too infrequently—specifically the CIA and similar intelligence agencies’ continued involvement in the news media to mold thought and opinion in ways scarcely imagined by the lay public.
The following historical and contemporary facts–by no means exhaustive–provides a glimpse of the power such entities possess to influence, if not determine, popular memory and what respectable institutions deem to be the historical record.
- The CIA’s Operation MOCKINGBIRD is a long-recognised keystone among researchers pointing to the Agency’s clear interest in and relationship to major US news media. MOCKINGBIRD grew out of the CIA’s forerunner, the Office for Strategic Services (OSS, 1942-47), which during World War Two had established a network of journalists and psychological warfare experts operating primarily in the European theatre.
- Many of the relationships forged under OSS auspices were carried over into the postwar era through a State Department-run organization called the Office of Policy Coordination (OPC) overseen by OSS staffer Frank Wisner.
- The OPC “became the fastest-growing unit within the nascent CIA,” historian Lisa Pease observes, “rising in personnel from 302 in 1949 to 2,812 in 1952, along with 3,142 overseas contract personnel. In the same period, the budget rose from $4.7 million to $82 million.” Lisa Pease, “The Media and the Assassination,” in James DiEugenio and Lisa Pease, The Assassinations: Probe Magazine on JFK, MLK, RFK and Malcolm X, Port Townsend, WA, 2003, 300.
- Like many career CIA officers, eventual CIA Director/Director of Central Intelligence (DCI) Richard Helms was recruited out of the press corps by his own supervisor at the United Press International’s Berlin Bureau to join in the OSS’s fledgling “black propaganda” program. “‘[Y]ou’re a natural,” Helms’ boss remarked. Richard Helms, A Look Over My Shoulder: A Life in the Central Intelligence Agency, New York: Random House, 2003, 30-31.
- Wisner tapped Marshall Plan funds to pay for his division’s early exploits, money his branch referred to as “candy.” “We couldn’t spend it all,” CIA agent Gilbert Greenway recalls. “I remember once meeting with Wisner and the comptroller. My God, I said, how can we spend that? There were no limits, and nobody had to account for it. It was amazing.” Frances Stonor Saunders, The Cultural Cold War: The CIA and the World of Arts and Letters, New York: The New Press, 2000, 105.
- When the OPC was merged with the Office of Special Operations in 1948 to create the CIA, OPC’s media assets were likewise absorbed.
- Wisner maintained the top secret “Propaganda Assets Inventory,” better known as “Wisner’s Wurlitzer”—a virtual rolodex of over 800 news and information entities prepared to play whatever tune Wisner chose. “The network included journalists, columnists, book publishers, editors, entire organizations such as Radio Free Europe, and stringers across multiple news organizations.” Pease, “The Media and the Assassination,” 300.
- A few years after Wisner’s operation was up-and-running he “’owned’ respected members of the New York Times, Newsweek, CBS, and other communication vehicles, plus stringers, four to six hundred in all, according to a CIA analyst. Each one was a separate ‘operation,’” investigative journalist Deborah Davis notes, “requiring a code name, a field supervisor, and a field office, at an annual cost of tens or hundreds of thousands of dollars—there has never been an accurate accounting.” Deborah Davis, Katharine the Great: Katharine Graham and the Washington Post, Second Edition, Bethesda MD: National Press Inc, 1987, 139.
- Psychological operations in the form of journalism were perceived as necessary to influence and direct mass opinion, as well as elite perspectives. “[T]he President of the United States, the Secretary of State, Congressmen and even the Director of the CIA himself will read, believe, and be impressed by a report from Cy Sulzberger, Arnaud de Borchgrave, or Stewart Alsop when they don’t even bother to read a CIA report on the same subject,” noted CIA agent Miles Copeland. Cited in Pease, “The Media and the Assassination,” 301.
- By the mid-to-late 1950s, Darrell Garwood points out, the Agency sought to limit criticism directed against covert activity and bypass congressional oversight or potential judicial interference by “infiltrat[ing] the groves of academia, the missionary corps, the editorial boards of influential journal and book publishers, and any other quarters where public attitudes could be effectively influenced.” Darrell Garwood, Under Cover: Thirty-Five Years of CIA Deception, New York: Grove Press, 1985, 250.
- The CIA frequently intercedes in editorial decision-making. For example, when the Agency proceeded to wage an overthrow of the Arbenz regime in Guatemala in 1954, Allen and John Foster Dulles, President Eisenhower’s CIA Director and Secretary of State respectively, called upon New York Times publisher Arthur Hays Sulzberger to reassign reporter Sydney Gruson from Guatemala to Mexico City. Sulzberger thus placed Gruson in Mexico City with the rationale that some repercussions from the revolution might be felt in Mexico. Pease, “The Media and the Assassination,” 302.
- Since the early 1950s the CIA “has secretly bankrolled numerous foreign press services, periodicals and newspapers—both English and foreign language—which provided excellent cover for CIA operatives,” Carl Bernstein reported in 1977. “One such publication was the Rome Daily American, forty percent of which was owned by the CIA until the 1970s.” Carl Bernstein, “The CIA and the Media,” Rolling Stone, October 20, 1977.
- The CIA exercised informal liaisons with news media executives, in contrast to its relationships with salaried reporters and stringers, “who were much more subject to direction from the Agency” according to Bernstein. “A few executives—Arthur Hays Sulzberger of the New York Times among them—signed secrecy agreements. But such formal understandings were rare: relationships between Agency officials and media executives were usually social—’The P and Q Street axis in Georgetown,’ said one source. ‘You don’t tell William Paley to sign a piece of paper saying he won’t fink.’” Director of CBS William Paley’s personal “friendship with CIA Director Dulles is now known to have been one of the most influential and significant in the communications industry,” author Debora Davis explains. “He provided cover for CIA agents, supplied out-takes of news film, permitted the debriefing of reporters, and in many ways set the standard for the cooperation between the CIA and major broadcast companies which lasted until the mid-1970s.” Deborah Davis, Katharine the Great: Katharine Graham and the Washington Post, Second Edition, Bethesda MD: National Press Inc, 1987, 175.
- “The Agency’s relationship with the Times was by far its most valuable among newspapers, according to CIA officials,” Bernstein points out in his key 1977 article. “From 1950 to 1966, about ten CIA employees were provided Times cover under arrangements approved by the newspaper’s late publisher, Arthur Hays Sulzberger. The cover arrangements were part of a general Times policy—set by Sulzberger—to provide assistance to the CIA whenever possible.” In addition, Sulzberger was a close friend of CIA Director Allen Dulles. “’At that level of contact it was the mighty talking to the mighty,’ said a high‑level CIA official who was present at some of the discussions. ‘There was an agreement in principle that, yes indeed, we would help each other. The question of cover came up on several occasions. It was agreed that the actual arrangements would be handled by subordinates…. The mighty didn’t want to know the specifics; they wanted plausible deniability.’” Bernstein, “The CIA and the Media.”
- CBS’s Paley worked reciprocally with the CIA, allowing the Agency to utilize network resources and personnel. “It was a form of assistance that a number of wealthy persons are now generally known to have rendered the CIA through their private interests,” veteran broadcast journalist Daniel Schorr wrote in 1977. “It suggested to me, however, that a relationship of confidence and trust had existed between him and the agency.” Schorr points to “clues indicating that CBS had been infiltrated.” For example, “A news editor remembered the CIA officer who used to come to the radio control room in New York in the early morning, and, with the permission of persons unknown, listened to CBS correspondents around the world recording their ‘spots’ for the ‘World News Roundup’ and discussing events with the editor on duty. Sam Jaffe claimed that when he applied in 1955 for a job with CBS, a CIA officer told him that he would be hired–which he subsequently was. He was told that he would be sent to Moscow–which he subsequently was; he was assigned in 1960 to cover the trial of U-2 pilot Francis Gary Powers. [Richard] Salant told me,” Schorr continues, “that when he first became president of CBS News in 1961, a CIA case officer called saying he wanted to continue the ‘long standing relationship known to Paley and [CBS president Frank] Stanton, but Salant was told by Stanton there was no obligation that he knew of” (276). Schorr, Daniel. Clearing the Air, Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1977, 277, 276.
- National Enquirer publisher Gene Pope Jr. worked briefly on the CIA’s Italy desk in the early 1950s and maintained close ties with the Agency thereafter. Pope refrained from publishing dozens of stories with “details of CIA kidnappings and murders, enough stuff for a year’s worth of headlines” in order to “collect chits, IOUs,” Pope’s son writes. “He figured he’d never know when he might need them, and those IOUs would come in handy when he got to 20 million circulation. When that happened, he’d have the voice to be almost his own branch of government and would need the cover.” Paul David Pope, The Deeds of My Fathers: How My Grandfather and Father Built New York and Created the Tabloid World of Today, New York: Phillip Turner/Rowman & Littlefield, 2010, 309, 310.
- One explosive story Pope’s National Enquirer‘s refrained from publishing in the late 1970s centered on excerpts from a long-sought after diary of President Kennedy’s lover, Mary Pinchot Meyer, who was murdered on October 12, 1964. “The reporters who wrote the story were even able to place James Jesus Angleton, the CIA’s head of counterintelligence operations, at the scene.” Another potential story drew on “documents proving that [Howard] Hughes and the CIA had been connected for years and that the CIA was giving Hughes money to secretly fund, with campaign donations, twenty-seven congressmen and senators who sat on sub-committees critical to the agency. There are also fifty-three international companies named and sourced as CIA fronts .. and even a list of reporters for mainstream media organizations who were playing ball with the agency.” Pope, The Deeds of My Fathers, 309.
- Angleton, who oversaw the Agency counterintelligence branch for 25 years, “ran a completely independent group entirely separate cadre of journalist‑operatives who performed sensitive and frequently dangerous assignments; little is known about this group for the simple reason that Angleton deliberately kept only the vaguest of files.” Bernstein, “The CIA and the Media.”
- The CIA conducted a “formal training program” during the 1950s for the sole purpose of instructing its agents to function as newsmen. “Intelligence officers were ‘taught to make noises like reporters,’ explained a high CIA official, and were then placed in major news organizations with help from management. These were the guys who went through the ranks and were told ‘You’re going to he a journalist,’” the CIA official said.” The Agency’s preference, however, was to engage journalists who were already established in the industry. Bernstein, “The CIA and the Media.”
- Newspaper columnists and broadcast journalists with household names have been known to maintain close ties with the Agency. “There are perhaps a dozen well known columnists and broadcast commentators whose relationships with the CIA go far beyond those normally maintained between reporters and their sources,” Bernstein maintains. “They are referred to at the Agency as ‘known assets’ and can be counted on to perform a variety of undercover tasks; they are considered receptive to the Agency’s point of view on various subjects.” Bernstein, “The CIA and the Media.”
- Frank Wisner, Allen Dulles, and Washington Post publisher Phillip Graham were close associates, and the Post developed into one of the most influential news organs in the United States due to its ties with the CIA. The Post managers’ “individual relations with intelligence had in fact been the reason the Post Company had grown as fast as it did after the war,” Davis observes. “[T]heir secrets were its corporate secrets, beginning with MOCKINGBIRD. Phillip Graham’s commitment to intelligence had given his friends Frank Wisner an interest in helping to make the Washington Post the dominant news vehicle in Washington, which they had done by assisting with its two most crucial acquisitions, the Times-Herald and WTOP radio and television stations.” Davis, Katharine the Great: Katharine Graham and the Washington Post, 172.
- In the wake of World War One the Woodrow Wilson administration placed journalist and author Walter Lippmann in charge of recruiting agents for the Inquiry, a first-of-its-kind ultra-secret civilian intelligence organization whose role involved ascertaining information to prepare Wilson for the peace negotiations, as well as identify foreign natural resources for Wall Street speculators and oil companies. The activities of this organization served as a prototype for the function eventually performed by the CIA, namely “planning, collecting, digesting, and editing the raw data,” notes historian Servando Gonzalez. “This roughly corresponds to the CIA’s intelligence cycle: planning and direction, collection, processing, production and analysis, and dissemination.” Most Inquiry members would later become members of the Council on Foreign Relations. Lippmann would go on to become the Washington Post’s best known columnists. Servando Gonzalez, Psychological Warfare and the New World Order: The Secret War Against the American People, Oakland, CA: Spooks Books, 2010, 50.
- The two most prominent US newsweeklies, Time and Newsweek, kept close ties with the CIA. “Agency files contain written agreements with former foreign correspondents and stringers for both the weekly newsmagazines,” according to Carl Bernstein. “Allen Dulles often interceded with his good friend, the late Henry Luce, founder of Time and Life magazines, who readily allowed certain members of his staff to work for the Agency and agreed to provide jobs and credentials for other CIA operatives who lacked journalistic experience.” Bernstein, “The CIA and the Media.”
- In his autobiography former CIA officer E. Howard Hunt quotes Bernstein’s “The CIA and the Media” article at length. “I know nothing to contradict this report,” Hunt declares, suggesting the investigative journalist of Watergate fame didn’t go far enough. “Bernstein further identified some of the country’s top media executives as being valuable assets to the agency … But the list of organizations that cooperated with the agency was a veritable ‘Who’s Who’ of the media industry, including ABC, NBC, the Associated Press, UPI, Reuters, Hearst Newspapers, Scripps-Howard, Newsweek magazine, and others.” E. Howard Hunt, American Spy: My Secret History in the CIA, Watergate, and Beyond, Hoboken NJ: John Wiley & Sons, 2007, 150.
- When the first major exposé of the CIA emerged in 1964 with the publication of The Invisible Government by journalists David Wise and Thomas B. Ross, the CIA considered purchasing the entire printing to keep the book from the public, yet in the end judged against it. “To an extent that is only beginning to be perceived, this shadow government is shaping the lives of 190,000,000 Americans” authors Wise and Ross write in the book’s preamble. “Major decisions involving peace and war are taking place out of public view. An informed citizen might come to suspect that the foreign policy of the United States often works publicly in one direction and secretly through the Invisible Government in just the opposite direction.”Lisa Pease, “When the CIA’s Empire Struck Back,” Consortiumnews.com, February 6, 2014.
- Agency infiltration of the news media shaped public perception of deep events and undergirded the official explanations of such events. For example, the Warren Commission’s report on President John F. Kennedy’s assassination was met with almost unanimous approval by US media outlets. “I have never seen an official report greeted with such universal praise as that accorded the Warren Commission’s findings when they were made public on September 24, 1964,” recalls investigative reporter Fred Cook. “All the major television networks devoted special programs and analyses to the report; the next day the newspapers ran long columns detailing its findings, accompanied by special news analyses and editorials. The verdict was unanimous. The report answered all questions, left no room for doubt. Lee Harvey Oswald, alone and unaided, had assassinated the president of the United States.” Fred J. Cook, Maverick: Fifty Years of Investigative Reporting, G.P. Putnam’s Sons, 1984, 276.
- In late 1966 the New York Times began an inquiry on the numerous questions surrounding President Kennedy’s assassination that were not satisfactorily dealt with by the Warren Commission. “It was never completed,” author Jerry Policoff observes, “nor would the New York Times ever again question the findings of the Warren Commission.” When the story was being developed the lead reporter at the Times‘ Houston bureau “said that he and others came up with ‘a lot of unanswered questions’ that the Times didn’t bother to pursue. ‘I’d be off on a good lead and then somebody’d call me off and send me out to California on another story or something. We never really detached anyone for this. We weren’t really serious.’” Jerry Policoff, “The Media and the Murder of John Kennedy,” in Peter Dale Scott, Paul L. Hoch and Russell Stetler, eds., The Assassinations: Dallas and Beyond, New York: Vintage, 1976, 265.
- When New Orleans District Attorney Jim Garrison embarked on an investigation of the JFK assassination in 1966 centering on Lee Harvey Oswald’s presence in New Orleans in the months leading up to November, 22, 1963, “he was cross-whipped with two hurricane blasts, one from Washington and one from New York,” historian James DiEugenio explains. The first, of course, was from the government, specifically the Central Intelligence Agency, the FBI, and to a lesser extent, the White House. The blast from New York was from the major mainstream media e.g. Time-Life and NBC. Those two communication giants were instrumental in making Garrison into a lightening rod for ridicule and criticism. This orchestrated campaign … was successful in diverting attention from what Garrison was uncovering by creating controversy about the DA himself.” DiEugenio, Preface, in William Davy, Let Justice Be Done: New Light on the Jim Garrison Investigation, Reston VA: Jordan Publishing, 1999.
- The CIA and other US intelligence agencies used the news media to sabotage Garrison’s 1966-69 independent investigation of the Kennedy assassination. Garrison presided over the only law enforcement agency with subpoena power to seriously delve into the intricate details surrounding JFK’s murder. One of Garrison’s key witnesses, Gordon Novel, fled New Orleans to avoid testifying before the Grand Jury assembled by Garrison. According to DiEugenio, CIA Director Allen “Dulles and the Agency would begin to connect the fugitive from New Orleans with over a dozen CIA friendly journalists who—in a blatant attempt to destroy Garrison’s reputation—would proceed to write up the most outrageous stories imaginable about the DA.” James DiEugenio, Destiny Betrayed: JFK, Cuba, and The Garrison Case, Second Edition, New York: SkyHorse Publishing, 2012, 235.
- CIA officer Victor Marchetti recounted to author William Davy that in 1967 while attending staff meetings as an assistant to then-CIA Director Richard Helms, “Helms expressed great concerns over [former OSS officer, CIA operative and primary suspect in Jim Garrison’s investigation Clay] Shaw’s predicament, asking his staff, ‘Are we giving them all the help we can down there?’” William Davy, Let Justice Be Done: New Light on the Jim Garrison Investigation, Reston VA: Jordan Publishing, 1999.
- The pejorative dimensions of the term “conspiracy theory” were introduced into the Western lexicon by CIA “media assets,” as evidenced in the design laid out by Document 1035-960 Concerning Criticism of the Warren Report, an Agency communiqué issued in early 1967 to Agency bureaus throughout the world at a time when attorney Mark Lane’s Rush to Judgment was atop bestseller lists and New Orleans DA Garrison’s investigation of the Kennedy assassination began to gain traction.
- Time had close relations with the CIA stemming from the friendship of the magazine’s publisher Henry Luce and Eisenhower CIA chief Allen Dulles. When former newsman Richard Helms was appointed DCI in 1966 he “began to cultivate the press,” prompting journalists toward conclusions that placed the Agency in a positive light. As Time Washington correspondent Hugh Sidney recollects, “‘[w]ith [John] McCone and [Richard] Helms, we had a set-up when the magazine was doing something on the CIA, we went to them and put it before them … We were never misled.’ Similarly, when Newsweek decided in the fall of 1971 to do a cover story on Richard Helms and ‘The New Espionage,’ the magazine, according to a Newsweek staffer, went directly to the agency for much of the information. And the article … generally reflected the line that Helms was trying so hard to sell: that since the latter 1960s … the focus of attention and prestige within CIA’ had switched from the Clandestine Services to the analysis of intelligence, and that ‘the vast majority of recruits are bound for’ the Intelligence Directorate.” Victor Marchetti and John D. Marks, The CIA and the Cult of Intelligence, New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1974, 362-363.
- In 1970 Jim Garrison wrote and published the semi-autobiographical A Heritage of Stone, a work that examines how the New Orleans DA “discovered that the CIA operated within the borders of the United States, and how it took the CIA six months to reply to the Warren Commission’s question of whether Oswald and [Jack] Ruby had been with the Agency,” Garrison biographer and Temple University humanities professor Joan Mellen observes. “In response to A Heritage of Stone, the CIA rounded up its media assets” and the book was panned by reviewers writing for the New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, the Washington Post, the Chicago Sun Times, and Life magazine. “John Leonard’s New York Times review went through a metamorphosis,” Mellen explains. “The original last paragraph challenged the Warren Report: ‘Something stinks about this whole affair,’ Leonard wrote. ‘Why were Kennedy’s neck organs not examined at Bethesda for evidence of a frontal shot? Why was his body whisked away to Washington before the legally required Texas inquest? Why?’ This paragraph evaporated in later editions of the Times. A third of a column gone, the review then ended: ‘Frankly I prefer to believe that the Warren Commission did a poor job, rather than a dishonest one. I like to think that Garrison invents monsters to explain incompetence.’” Joan Mellen, A Farewell to Justice: Jim Garrison, JFK’s Assassination, and the Case That Should Have Changed History, Washington DC: Potomac Books, 2005, 323, 324.
- CIA Deputy Director for Plans Cord Meyer Jr. appealed to Harper & Row president emeritus Cass Canfield Sr. over the book publisher’s pending release of Alfred McCoy’s The Politics of Heroin in Southeast Asia, based on the author’s fieldwork and Yale PhD dissertation wherein he examined the CIA’s explicit role in the opium trade. “Claiming my book was a threat to national security,” McCoy recalls, “the CIA official had asked Harper & Row to suppress it. To his credit, Mr. Canfield had refused. But he had agreed to review the manuscript prior to publication.” Alfred W. McCoy, The Politics of Heroin: CIA Complicity in the Global Drug Trade, Chicago Review Press, 2003, xx.
- Publication of The Secret Team, a book by US Air Force Colonel and Pentagon-CIA liaison L. Fletcher Prouty recounting the author’s firsthand knowledge of CIA black operations and espionage, was met with a wide scale censorship campaign in 1972. “The campaign to kill the book was nationwide and world-wide,” Prouty notes. “It was removed from the Library of Congress and from college libraries as letters I received attested all too frequently … I was a writer whose book had been cancelled by a major publisher [Prentice Hall] and a major paperback publisher [Ballantine Books] under the persuasive hand of the CIA.” L. Fletcher Prouty, The Secret Team: The CIA and Its Allies in Control of the United States and the World, New York: SkyHorse Publishing, 2008, xii, xv.
- During the Pike Committee hearings in 1975 Congressman Otis Pike asked DCI William Colby, “Do you have any people paid by the CIA who are working for television networks?” Colby responded, “This, I think, gets into the kind of details, Mr. Chairman, that I’d like to get into in executive session.” Once the chamber was cleared Colby admitted that in 1975 specifically “the CIA was using ‘media cover’ for eleven agents, many fewer than in the heyday of the cloak-and-pencil operations, but no amount of questioning would persuade him to talk about the publishers and network chieftains who had cooperated at the top.” Schorr, Clearing the Air, 275.
- “There is quite an incredible spread of relationships,” former CIA intelligence officer William Bader informed a US Senate Intelligence Committee investigating the CIA’s infiltration of the nation’s journalistic outlets. “You don’t need to manipulate Time magazine, for example, because there are Agency people at the management level.” Bernstein, “The CIA and the Media.”
- In 1985 film historian and professor Joseph McBride came across a November 29, 1963 memorandum from J. Edgar Hoover, titled, “Assassination of President John F. Kennedy,” wherein the FBI director stated that his agency provided two individuals with briefings, one of whom was “Mr. George Bush of the Central Intelligence Agency.” ” When McBride queried the CIA with the memo a “PR man was tersely formal and opaque: ‘I can neither confirm nor deny.’ It was the standard response the agency gave when it dealt with its sources and methods,” journalist Russ Baker notes. When McBride published a story in The Nation, “The Man Who Wasn’t There, ‘George Bush,’ C.I.A. Operative,” the CIA came forward with a statement that the George Bush referenced in the FBI record “apparently” referenced a George William Bush, who filled a perfunctory night shift position at CIA headquarters that “would have been the appropriate place to receive such a report.” McBride tracked down George William Bush to confirm he was only employed briefly as a “probationary civil servant” who had “never received interagency briefings.” Shortly thereafter The Nation ran a second story by McBride wherein “the author provided evidence that the Central Intelligence Agency had foisted a lie on the American people … As with McBride’s previous story, this disclosure was greeted with the equivalent of a collective media yawn.” Since the episode researchers have found documents linking George H. W. Bush to the CIA as early as 1953. Russ Baker, Family of Secrets: The Bush Dynasty, America’s Invisible Government, and the Hidden History of the Last Fifty Years, New York: Bloomsbury Press, 2009, 7-12.
- Operation Gladio, the well-documented collaboration between Western spy agencies, including the CIA, and NATO involving coordinated terrorist shootings and bombings of civilian targets throughout Europe from the late 1960s through the 1980s, has been effectively expunged from major mainstream news outlets. A LexisNexis Academic search conducted in 2012 for “Operation Gladio” retrieved 31 articles in English language news media—most appearing in British newspapers. Only four articles discussing Gladio ever appeared in US publications—three in the New York Times and one brief mention in the Tampa Bay Times. With the exception of a 2009 BBC documentary, no network or cable news broadcast has ever referenced the state-sponsored terror operation. Almost all of the articles referencing Gladio appeared in 1990 when Italian Prime Minister Giulio Andreotti publicly admitted Italy’s participation in the process. The New York Times downplayed any US involvement, misleadingly designating Gladio “an Italian creation” in a story buried on page A16. In reality, former CIA director William Colby revealed in his memoirs that covert paramilitaries were a significant agency undertaking set up after World War II, including “the smallest possible coterie of the most reliable people, in Washington [and] NATO.” James F. Tracy, “False Flag Terror and Conspiracies of Silence,” Global Research, August 10, 2012.
- Days before the April 19, 1995 bombing of the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City DCI William Colby confided to his friend, Nebraska State Senator John DeCamp his personal concerns over the Militia and Patriot movement within the United States, then surging in popularity due to the use of the alternative media of that era–books, periodicals, cassette tapes, and radio broadcasts. “I watched as the Anti-War movement rendered it impossible for this country to conduct or win the Vietnam War,” Colby remarked. “I tell you, dear friend, that the Militia and Patriot movement in which, as an attorney, you have become one of the centerpieces, is far more significant and far more dangerous for American than the Anti-War movement ever was, if it is not intelligently dealt with. And I really mean this.” David Hoffman, The Oklahoma City Bombing and the Politics of Terror, Venice CA: Feral House, 1998, 367.
- Shortly after the appearance of journalist Gary Webb’s “Dark Alliance” series in the San Jose Mercury News chronicling the Agency’s involvement in drug trafficking, the CIA’s public affairs division embarked on a campaign to counter what it termed “a genuine public relations crisis for the Agency.” Webb was merely reporting to a large audience what had already been well documented by scholars such as Alfred McCoy and Peter Dale Scott, and the 1989 Kerry Committee Report on Iran-Contra—that the CIA had long been involved in the illegal transnational drug trade. Such findings were upheld in 1999 in a study by the CIA inspector general. Nevertheless, beginning shortly after Webb’s series ran, “CIA media spokesmen would remind reporters seeking comment that this series represented no real news,” a CIA internal organ noted, “in that similar charges were made in the 1980s and were investigated by the Congress and were found to be without substance. Reporters were encouraged to read the “Dark Alliance’ series closely and with a critical eye to what allegations could actually be backed with evidence.” http://www.foia.cia.gov/sites/default/files/DOC_0001372115.pdf
- On December 10, 2004 investigative journalist Gary Webb died of two .38 caliber gunshot wounds to the head. The coroner ruled the death a suicide. “Gary Webb was MURDERED,” concluded FBI senior special agent Ted Gunderson in 2005. “He (Webb) resisted the first shot [to the head that exited via jaw] so he was shot again with the second shot going into the head [brain].” Gunderson regards the theory that Webb could have managed to shoot himself twice as “impossible!” Charlene Fassa, “Gary Webb: More Pieces in the Suicided Puzzle,” Rense.com, December 11, 2005.
- The most revered journalists who receive “exclusive” information and access to the corridors of power are typically the most subservient to officialdom and often have intelligence ties. Those granted such access understand that they must likewise uphold government-sanctioned narratives. For example, the New York Times’ Tom Wicker reported on November 22, 1963 that President John F. Kennedy “was hit by a bullet in the throat, just below the Adam’s apple.” Yet his account went to press before the official story of a single assassin shooting from the rear became established. Wicker was chastised through “lost access, complaints to editors and publishers, social penalties, leaks to competitors, a variety of responses no one wants.” Barrie Zwicker, Towers of Deception: The Media Coverup of 9/11, Gabrioloa Island, BC: New Society Publishers, 2006, 169-170.
- The CIA actively promotes a desirable public image of its history and function by advising the production of Hollywood vehicles, such as Argo and Zero Dark Thirty. The Agency retains “entertainment industry liaison officers” on its staff that “plant positive images about itself (in other words, propaganda) through our most popular forms of entertainment,” Tom Hayden explains in the LA Review of Books. “So natural has the CIA–entertainment connection become that few question its legal or moral ramifications. This is a government agency like no other; the truth of its operations is not subject to public examination. When the CIA’s hidden persuaders influence a Hollywood movie, it is using a popular medium to spin as favorable an image of itself as possible, or at least, prevent an unfavorable one from taking hold.” Tom Hayden, “Review of The CIA in Hollywood: How the Agency Shapes Film and Television by Tricia Jenkins,” LA Review of Books, February 24, 2013,
- Former CIA case officer Robert David Steele states that CIA manipulation of news media is “worse” in the 2010s than in the late 1970s when Bernstein wrote “The CIA and the Media.” “The sad thing is that the CIA is very able to manipulate [the media] and it has financial arrangements with media, with Congress, with all others. But the other half of that coin is that the media is lazy.” James Tracy interview with Robert David Steele, August 2, 2014,
- A well-known fact is that broadcast journalist Anderson Cooper interned for the CIA while attending Yale as an undergraduate in the late 1980s. According to Wikipedia Cooper’s great uncle, William Henry Vanderbilt III, was an Executive Officer of the Special Operations Branch of the OSS under the spy organization’s founder William “Wild Bill” Donovan. While Wikipedia is an often dubious source, Vanderbilt’s OSS involvement would be in keeping with the OSS/CIA reputation of taking on highly affluent personnel for overseas derring-do. William Henry Vanderbilt III, Wikipedia.
- Veteran German journalist Udo Ulfkotte, author of the 2014 book Gekaufte Journalisten (Bought Journalists) revealed how under the threat of job termination he was routinely compelled to publish articles written by intelligence agents using his byline. “I ended up publishing articles under my own name written by agents of the CIA and other intelligence services, especially the German secret service,” Ulfkotte explained in a recent interview with Russia Today. “German Journo: European Media Writing Pro-US Stories Under CIA Pressure,” RT, October 18, 2014.
- In 1999 the CIA established In-Q-Tel, a venture capital firm seeking to “identify and invest in companies developing cutting-edge information technologies that serve United States national security interests.” The firm has exercised financial relationships with internet platforms Americans use on a routine basis, including Google and Facebook. “If you want to keep up with Silicon Valley, you need to become part of Silicon Valley,” says Jim Rickards, an adviser to the U.S. intelligence community familiar with In-Q-Tel’s activities. “The best way to do that is have a budget because when you have a checkbook, everyone comes to you.” At one point IQT “catered largely to the needs of the CIA.” Today, however, “the firm supports many of the 17 agencies within the U.S. intelligence community, including the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency (NGA), the Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) and the Department of Homeland Security Science and Technology Directorate.” Matt Egan, “In-Q-Tel: A Glimpse Inside the CIA’s Venture Capital Arm,” FoxBusiness.com, June 14, 2013.
- At a 2012 conference held by In-Q-Tel CIA Director David Patraeus declared that the rapidly-developing “internet of things” and “smart home” will provide the CIA with the ability to spy on any US citizen should they become a “person of interest’ to the spy community,” Wired magazine reports. “‘Transformational’ is an overused word, but I do believe it properly applies to these technologies,’ Patraeus enthused, ‘particularly to their effect on clandestine tradecraft’ … ‘Items of interest will be located, identified, monitored, and remotely controlled through technologies such as radio-frequency identification, sensor networks, tiny embedded servers, and energy harvesters — all connected to the next-generation internet using abundant, low-cost, and high-power computing,” Patraeus said, “the latter now going to cloud computing, in many areas greater and greater supercomputing, and, ultimately, heading to quantum computing.” Spencer Ackerman, “CIA Chief: We’ll Spy on You Through Your Dishwasher,” Wired, March 15, 2012.
- In the summer of 2014 a $600 million computing cloud developed by Amazon Web Services for the CIA began servicing all 17 federal agencies comprising the intelligence community. “If the technology plays out as officials envision,” The Atlantic reports, “it will usher in a new era of cooperation and coordination, allowing agencies to share information and services much more easily and avoid the kind of intelligence gaps that preceded the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.” “The Details About the CIA’s Deal With Amazon,” The Atlantic, July 17, 2014.
The British government’s claim to be tackling tax evasion is about as credible as Al Capone claiming to be leading the fight against organized crime. In fact, Britain is at the heart of the global tax haven network, and continues to lead the fight against its regulation.
The 11 and a half million leaked documents from Panamanian law firm Mossack Fonseca have proven, once again, what we have already known for some time – that the ‘offshore world’ of tax havens is a den of money laundering and tax evasion right at the heart of the global financial system.
Despite attempts by Western media to twist the revelations into a story about the ‘corruption’ of official enemies – North Korea, Syria, China and, of course, Putin, who is not even mentioned in the documents – the real story is the British government’s assiduous cultivation of the offshore world. For whilst corruption exists in every country, what enables that corruption to flourish and become institutionalized is the network of secretive financial regimes that allow the world’s biggest criminals and fraudsters to escape taxation, regulation and oversight of their activities. And this network is a conscious creation of the British state.
Of the 215,000 companies identified in the Mossack Fonseca documents, over half were incorporated in the British Virgin Islands, one single territory in what tax haven expert Nicholas Shaxson calls a “spider’s web” of well over a dozen separate UK-controlled dens of financial chicanery.
In addition, the UK was ranked number two of those jurisdictions where the banks, law firms and other middlemen associated with the Panama Papers operate, only topped by Hong Kong, whose institutional environment is itself a creation of the UK. And of the ten banks who most frequently asked Mossack Fonseca to set up paper companies to hide their client’s finances, four were British: HSBC, Coutts, Rothschild and UBS.
HSBC, recently fined $1.9bn for laundering the money of Mexico’s most violent drug cartels, used the Panamanian firm to create 2,300 offshore companies, whilst Coutts – the family bank of the Windsors – set up just under 500.
And, of course, David Cameron’s own father was named in the papers, having “helped create and develop” Blairmore Holdings, worth $20million, from its inception in 1982 till his death in 2010. Blairmore, in which Cameron junior was also a shareholder, was registered in the Bahamas, and was specifically advertised to investors as a means of avoiding UK tax.
The Daily Mail noted that: “Even though he lived in London, the Prime Minister’s father would leave the country and fly to Switzerland or the Bahamas for board meetings of Blairmore Holdings – to ensure it would not have to pay UK income tax or corporation tax. He hired a small army of Bahamas residents, including a part-time bishop, to sign its paperwork – as part of another bid to show his firm was not British-based.”
That Britain should emerge as central to this scandal is no surprise. For as Nicholas Shaxson, a leading authority on tax havens put it when I interviewed him in 2011, “The City of London is effectively the grand-daddy of the global offshore system.” Whilst there are various different lists of tax havens in existence, depending on how exactly they are defined, on any one of them explains Shaxson, “you will see that about half of the tax havens on there, of the ones that matter, are in some way British or partly British.” Firstly, are “Jersey, Guernsey and the Isle of Man: the crown dependencies. They’re very fundamentally controlled by Britain.” Then there are the Overseas Territories, such as the Caymans, Bermuda, and the Virgin Islands, in which “all the things that matter are effectively controlled by Great Britain.”
Of course, it suits the British government to portray all these territories as ‘autonomous’ or ‘self-governing’ in order to provide itself with plausible deniability about what they are doing. But the reality is they are run by a governor appointed by the Queen on the British government’s advice.
Casey Gill, one of the earliest lawyers specializing in offshore operations explained how legislation was devised in the Caymans: tax experts and accountants would fly in from all over the world “and say ‘these are the loopholes in our system’. And Caymans legislation would be designed accordingly,” often by a conglomerate run by Gill, before being sent to the British Foreign Office for approval. Shaxson asked Gill if Britain, who had the power to veto such legislation, ever raised any objections. “No,” he said, “Not ever. Never.”
The entire UK-controlled web is home to offshore deposits estimated in 2009 to be worth $3.2 trillion, 55 percent of the global total: equivalent to roughly $500 for every man, woman and child on the planet.
This web emerged In the 1960s. Whilst ostensibly involved in a process of ‘decolonization’, in fact the UK hung on to a large global network of small, sparsely-populated islands: “The British empire”, Shaxson wrote, “had faked its own death.” These islands were to serve the same imperial purpose the empire had always had: the projection of British power and the channeling of African, Asian and Latin American wealth into Britain. But whilst some of the islands, such as Diego Garcia and the Falklands, were to serve as crucial military outposts, many of the others were developed as a means of facilitating the financial plunder of the former colonial world.
In Shaxson’s words, the role of these tax havens is to “capture passing foreign business and channel it to London just as a spider’s web catches insects” whilst also acting as a “money laundering filter that lets the City get involved in dirty business while providing it with enough distance to maintain plausible deniability.”
Whilst the vast majority of critical media reporting on tax havens tends to portray the UK as a ‘victim’ of tax havens, the reality is that, just like the empire they replaced, these ‘treasure islands’ provide a massive cash injection into the ‘motherland’, with the Crown Dependencies alone providing the UK with net financing of $332.5 billion in just one quarter of 2009, for example. And where does this money come from? Obviously, it comes from all over the world; but wealthy European and North American nations have been much better equipped to prevent ‘capital flight’ from their territories than have developing countries. Indeed, the Bank of England took special care, when it was establishing the global tax haven network, to protect the UK from potential ill effects.
In 2008, Global Financial Integrity estimated that flows of illicit money out of developing countries into tax havens were running at about $1.25 trillion per year, roughly ten times the total value of aid given to developing countries by the rich world. Whilst those such as Cameron are more interested in handwringing about ‘corrupt African governments’ than in examining the system that enabled and promoted this corruption, tax havens are facilitating the plunder, by the London banks, of African wealth. And they are doing so because this is what they were designed to do – to continue the extortion of colonialism, just at the moment Britain was forced to give up the bulk of its formal empire.
It is this system that Cameron’s government – in diametric opposition to its rhetorical flourishes – is working to perpetuate. Indeed, much of Cameron’s battling with Europe has been driven precisely by the desire to maintain the impunity of the City and its web of tax havens in the face of attempts by the EU to regulate the banking sector.
As the FT reported this week, “David Cameron personally intervened in 2013 to weaken an EU drive to reveal the beneficiaries of trusts, creating a possible loophole that other European nations warned could be exploited by tax evaders.” Britain has also led opposition to EU attempts at reforms that would make corporations register for tax in the places where they actually do business. And one of the key concessions Cameron managed to wring out of the EU Summit in February this year was that Britain, in the words of the Telegraph, “can now pull an emergency lever over eurozone laws they have ‘reasoned opposition’ to, forcing leaders to hold back from implementation until their concerns are addressed.” The Telegraph specifically cites EU attempts to impose bonuses taxes, to introduce a Financial Transactions Tax, and to “clamp down on the reckless ‘Anglo-Saxon’ lenders which many on the continent still blame for bringing crisis to European shores back in 2009” as examples of those regulations Britain is now likely to veto. In other words, far from being hamstrung from taking action by the non-cooperation of other countries, the UK is the leading saboteur of any attempts to make the financial sector more accountable.
But of course, this is only natural. For accountability would bring the whole criminal enterprise crashing down.
Dan Glazebrook is a freelance political writer. His first book “Divide and Ruin: The West’s Imperial Strategy in an Age of Crisis” was published by Liberation Media in October 2013. It featured a collection of articles written from 2009 onwards examining the links between economic collapse, the rise of the BRICS, war on Libya and Syria and ‘austerity’. He is currently researching a book on US-British use of sectarian death squads against independent states and movements from Northern Ireland and Central America in the 1970s and 80s to the Middle East and Africa today.
Umberto Eco in his last book, Numero Zero, in describing the reality of the manipulating and manipulated western media, has a newspaper editor say, “let’s just stick to spreading suspicion. Someone is involved in fishy business, and though we don’t know who it is, we can give him a scare. That’s enough for our purposes. Then we’ll cash in, our proprietor can cash in, when the time is right.”
And that is exactly what is happening with the appearance simultaneously in all the western media, on Sunday, April 3 of a story about what are called the Panama Papers. The story attributed to a shadowy organisation called the International Coalition of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ) has all the hallmarks of an operation by western secret services to attempt to subvert targeted governments. The primary target is of course President Putin in order to influence the coming elections and to further attempt to portray him in the eyes of the peoples of the west as a criminal.
But the targets also include FIFA directors, continuing the harassment of FIFA by the United States government, in order to keep Russia out of the next world cup football games, Lionel Messi one of the world’s best football players, perhaps because he refused a request by President Obama’s daughters to meet him when Obama visited Argentina, Jackie Chan, no doubt punishment for supporting the Communist Party of China, and various people blacklisted by the United States for dealing with North Korea, Iran, Hezbollah, Syria and other American designated enemies.
They include President Poroshenko of Ukraine, perhaps signalling they are tired of him, the prime minister of Iceland, since forced to resign, no doubt for jailing bankers, seizing their banks and giving the people some compensation for their losses in the financial crisis of 2008, Hosni Mubarak who has accused the United States of trying to overthrow him, the murdered Gadhafi, and Xi Jinping, president of China. No Americans or NATO leaders are named though David Cameron’s father is named, perhaps a slap at Cameron for allowing a referendum to take place on whether Britain should leave the European Union, which would reduce US influence in Europe.
Essentially these people are all considered by the United States government to be enemies or critics of the United States in one way or another, or no longer reliable partners.
The immediate positioning of President Putin as the principal target of this story, despite the fact he is not mentioned in the documents, coupled with the timing of the story make a reasonable observer conclude that this information was not released just to inform the public but to subvert and discredit chosen governments, that is, it is a propaganda operation, using information that will get the attention of the masses. The rich hiding their money is always a good way to generate anger among the people and to provoke unrest in order to destabilise governments, as we saw just happened in Iceland. It does not matter whether the information in the story is true or not. Some of the information may be but the law firm from which the information was stolen says much of what the story says is untrue. But it doesn’t really matter because the story is what is important and that’s all that people see.
This conclusion is the more inescapable when the true nature of the ICIJ is revealed. For to understand what this story is about it is important to know who put it out, with whom they are connected and who provides the money.
The key is found in the list of the members of the Advisory Board, the Board of Directors and the funders of its parent organisation, the Centre For Public Integrity (CFPI). The ICIJ states on its website that is a non-profit organisation. That technically may be true but they failed to add that they act for the profit of the people who fund them and who control their operations. Funders of the CFPI include the Democracy Fund, the Carnegie Foundation, the Ford Foundation, the MacArthur Foundation, the Open Society Foundations of George Soros, the Rockefeller Brothers Fund, the Rockefeller Family Fund and many others of the same pedigree. Individual donors include such people as Paul Volcker, former chairman of the US Federal Reserve and many others of the powerful US corporate and financial elite.
Its Advisory Board includes Geoffrey Cowan, who was appointed Director of Voice of America by President Clinton in 1994 and was in 1994-96 associate director of the United States Information Agency. He is now president of the Annenberg Foundation which has hosted US presidents at its retreat in California, dubbed Camp David West, including President Obama. He is also a member of the Council on Foreign Relations which is the American think tank whose membership includes several former heads of the CIA, several US Secretaries of State, and connected media figures and which has the role of promoting globalisation, free trade and other economic and foreign policies for the benefit of the rich and powerful in America.
The Advisory Board also includes Hodding Carter III, former assistant secretary of state under President Carter and later a journalist for major western media such as BBC, ABC, CBC, CNN, NBC, PBS, Wall Street Journal, and now President of the Knight Foundation. There is Edith Everett, President of Gruntal and Company, one of the oldest and biggest investment banks in New York City, Hebert Hafif, connected establishment lawyer, Kathleen Hill Jamieson, Dean of the Annenberg School for Communication, an expert on the use of the media for political purposes including how to influence political campaigns and elections, and Sonia Jarvis, a lawyer who once worked with President Clinton,
It includes Harold Hongji Koh who was a legal adviser at the US Department of State from 2009 to 2013, nominated by President Obama, who in March 2010 gave a speech supporting the legality of drone assassinations. There is Charles Ogletree, Harvard law professor and a close friend of President Obama, Allen Pusey, publisher and editor of the American Bar Association Journal, Ben Sherwood, co-chair of Disney Media, former president of ABC News and also a member of the Council on Foreign Relations. Paul Volcker not only is an individual financial supporter but is also on the Board. Aside from his position as a former chairman of the Federal Reserve (1979-1987) he was also chair of the US Economic Advisory Board, appointed by President Obama (2009-2011) a former chair of the Trilateral Commission, worked for the Chase Manhattan Bank and is very close to the Rockefeller family.
It includes Harold Williams, former Chair of the US Securities and Exchange Commission (1977-1981) and member of board of directors of dozens of companies, William Julius Wilson, professor of sociology at Harvard and, last but not least, Christiane Amanpour, chief war propagandist for CNN, who just a few days ago appeared on CNN acting out a charade in which she interviewed a staffer from the ICIJ about the Panama Papers while pretending not to know anything about them. She was in fact interviewing a member of her own organisation but she never informed her viewers of this. For some reason her name does not appear on the CFPI website but her name does appear in the organisation’s latest annual report for 2014-15.
The Board of Directors includes Peter Beale a former head of CNN.com, a former Reuters agent, editor at the London Times, and Microsoft editorial director, as well as Arianna Huffington, president of Post Media, and Bill Kovach, journalist for the New York Times, to name just a few of the establishment figures listed.
The point is made. This is not some independent, muckraking group dedicated to truth and democracy. This is a group of propagandists who, under the cloak of journalism, carry out the art of deception on behalf of the American government and secret services. Indeed in the annual report, they even quote President Obama approving their work. In January this same group launched an attack on the government of China with another story of “leaked” financial documents implicating the Chinese leadership and have done it again in this new story, now doubt part of the “pivot to China.”
So there you have it, the information you need to know but which CNN, The Guardian, the BBC, CBC, the New York Times and all the rest of the media refuse to provide you so that you can properly assess the story they have propagated through the world media. The role of the western media is not to inform the public but, as Umberto Eco says, “to teach people how to think,” to manipulate opinion and action. Their suppression of that information is a lie and as that other great writer, Jose Saramago, wrote, they use “the lie as a weapon, the lie as the advance guard of tanks and cannons, the lie told over the ruins, over the corpses, over humanity’s wretched and perpetually frustrated hopes.” It is time for these people to be exposed for what they are and called to account for their deception of the people they claim to serve, for what greater crime can their be than to deceive the people?
Christopher Black is an international criminal lawyer based in Toronto, he is a member of the Law Society of Upper Canada and he is known for a number of high-profile cases involving human rights and war crimes.
Several weeks ago, I received a phone call from legendary investigative reporter Seymour Hersh who had seen one of my recent stories about Syria and wanted to commiserate over the state of modern journalism. Hersh’s primary question regarding reporters and editors at major news outlets these days was: “Do they care what the facts are?”
Hersh noted that in the past – in the 1970s when he worked at The New York Times – even executive editor Abe Rosenthal, who was a hard-line cold warrior with strong ideological biases, still wanted to know what was really going on.
My experience was similar at The Associated Press. Among the older editors, there was still a pride in getting the facts right – and not getting misled by some politician or spun by some government flack.
That journalistic code, however, no longer exists – at least not on foreign policy and national security issues. The major newspapers and TV networks are staffed largely by careerists who uncritically accept what they are fed by U.S. government officials or what they get from think-tank experts who are essentially in the pay of special interests.
For a variety of reasons – from the draconian staff cuts among foreign correspondents to the career fear of challenging some widely held “group think” – many journalists have simply become stenographers, taking down what the Important People say is true, not necessarily what is true.
It’s especially easy to go with the flow when writing about some demonized foreign leader. Then, no editor apparently expects anything approaching balance or objectivity, supposedly key principles of journalism. Indeed, if a reporter gave one of these hated figures a fair shake, there might be grumblings about whether the reporter was a “fill-in-the-blank apologist.” The safe play is to pile on.
This dishonesty – or lack of any commitment to the truth – is even worse among editorialists and columnists. Having discovered that there was virtually no cost for being catastrophically wrong about the facts leading into the Iraq invasion in 2003, these writers must feel so immune from accountability that they can safely ignore reality.
But – for some of us old-timers – it’s still unnerving to read the work of these “highly respected” journalists who simply don’t care what the facts are.
For instance, the establishment media has been striking back ferociously against President Barack Obama’s apostasy in a series of interviews published in The Atlantic, in which he defends his decision not to bomb the Syrian government in reaction to a mysterious sarin gas attack outside Damascus on Aug. 21, 2013.
Though The Atlantic article was posted a month ago, the media fury is still resonating and reverberating around Official Washington, with Washington Post editorial-page editor Fred Hiatt penning the latest condemnation of Obama’s supposed fecklessness for not enforcing his “red line” on chemical-weapon use in Syria by bombing the Syrian military.
Remember that in 2002-03, Hiatt penned Post editorials that reported, as “flat fact,” that Iraq possessed hidden stockpiles of WMD – and he suffered not a whit for being horribly wrong. More than a dozen years later, Hiatt is still the Post’s editorial-page editor – one of the most influential jobs in American journalism.
On Thursday, Hiatt reported as flat fact that Syria’s “dictator, Bashar al-Assad, killed 1,400 or more people in a chemical gas attack,” a reference to the 2013 sarin atrocity. Hiatt then lashed out at President Obama for not punishing Assad and – even worse – for showing satisfaction over that restraint.
Citing The Atlantic interviews, Hiatt wrote that Obama “said he had been criticized because he refused to follow the ‘playbook that comes out of the foreign-policy establishment,’ which would have counseled greater U.S. intervention.” Hiatt was clearly disgusted with Obama’s pusillanimous choice.
The No ‘Slam Dunk’ Warning
But what Hiatt and other neocon columnists consistently ignore from The Atlantic article is the disclosure that Director of National Intelligence James Clapper informed Obama that U.S. intelligence analysts doubted that Assad was responsible for the sarin attack.
Clapper even used the phrase “slam dunk,” which is associated with the infamous 2002 pledge from then-CIA Director George Tenet to President George W. Bush about how “slam dunk” easy it would be to make the case that Iraq was hiding WMD. More than a decade later, brandishing that disgraced phrase, Clapper told Obama that it was not a “slam dunk” that Assad was responsible for the sarin attack.
In other words, Obama’s decision not to bomb Assad’s military was driven, in part, by the intelligence community’s advice that he might end up bombing the wrong people. Since then, evidence has built up that radical jihadists opposed to Assad staged the sarin attack as a provocation to trick the U.S. military into entering the war on their side.
But those facts clearly are not convenient to Hiatt’s neocon goal – i.e., how to get the United States into another Mideast “regime change” war – so he simply expunges the “slam dunk” exchange between Clapper and Obama and inserts instead a made-up “fact,” the flat-fact certainty of Assad’s guilt.
Hiatt’s assertion of the death toll – as “1,400 or more people” – is also dubious. Doctors on the ground in Damascus placed the number of dead at several hundred. The 1,400 figure was essentially manufactured by the U.S. government using a dubious methodology of counting bodies shown on “social media,” failing to take into account the question of whether the victims died as a result of the Aug. 21, 2013 incident.
Relying on “social media” for evidence is a notoriously unreliable practice, since pretty much anyone can post anything on the Internet. And, in the case of Syria, there are plenty of interest groups that have a motive to misidentify or even fabricate images for the purpose of influencing public opinion and policy. There is also the Internet’s vulnerability as a devil’s playground for professional intelligence services.
But Hiatt is far from alone in lambasting Obama for failing to do what All the Smart People of Washington knew he should do: bomb, bomb, bomb Assad’s forces in Syria – even if that might have led to the collapse of the army and the takeover of Damascus by Al Qaeda’s Nusra Front and/or the Islamic State.
Nationally syndicated columnist Richard Cohen, another Iraq War cheerleader who suffered not at all for that catastrophe, accused Obama of “hubris” for taking pride in his decision not to bomb Syria in 2013 and then supposedly basing his foreign policy on that inaction.
“In an odd way, Obama’s failure to intervene in Syria or to enforce his stated ‘red line’ there has become the rationale for an entire foreign policy doctrine – one based more on hubris than success,” wrote Cohen in a column on Tuesday.
Note how Cohen – like Hiatt – fails to mention the relevant fact that DNI Clapper warned the President that the intelligence community was unsure who had unleashed the sarin attack or whether Assad had, in fact, crossed the “red line.”
Cohen also embraces the conventional wisdom that Obama was mistaken not to have intervened in Syria, ignoring the fact that Obama did, in violation of international law, authorize arming and training of thousands of Syrian rebels to violently overthrow the Syrian government, with many of those weapons (and recruits) falling into the hands of terror groups, such as Al Qaeda’s Nusra Front. [See Consortiumnews.com’s “Climbing into Bed with Al Qaeda.”]
So, it appears that these well-regarded geniuses don’t appreciate the idea of ascertaining the facts before charging off to war. And there’s a reason for that: many are neocon ideologues who reached their conclusion about what needs to be done in the Middle East – eliminate governments that are troublesome to Israel – and thus they view information as just something to be manipulated to manipulate the public.
This thinking stems from the 1990s when neocons combined their recognition of America’s unmatched military capabilities – as displayed in the Persian Gulf War in 1990-91 and made even more unchallengeable with the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991– with Israel’s annoyance over inconclusive negotiations with the Palestinians and security concerns over Lebanon’s Hezbollah militia.
The new solution to Israel’s political and security problems would be “regime change” in countries seen as aiding and abetting Israel’s enemies. The strategy came together among prominent U.S. neocons working on Benjamin Netanyahu’s 1996 campaign for Israeli prime minister.
Rather than continuing those annoying negotiations with the Palestinians, Netanyahu’s neocon advisers — including Richard Perle, Douglas Feith, David Wurmser and Mevray Wurmser — advocated a new approach, called “A Clean Break: A New Strategy for Securing the Realm.”
The “clean break” sought “regime change” in countries supporting Israel’s close-in enemies, whether Iraq under Saddam Hussein, Syria under the Assad dynasty or Iran, a leading benefactor of Syria, Hezbollah and Hamas.
Two years later, in 1998, the neocon Project for the New American Century called for a U.S. invasion of Iraq. PNAC was founded by neocon luminaries William Kristol and Robert Kagan. [See Consortiumnews.com’s “The Mysterious Why of the Iraq War.”]
After George W. Bush became president and the 9/11 attacks left the American people lusting for revenge, the pathway was cleared for implementing the “regime change” agenda, with Iraq still at the top of the list although it had nothing to do with 9/11. Again, the last thing the neocons wanted was to inform the American people of the real facts about Iraq because that might have sunk the plans for this war of choice.
Thus, the American public was consistently misled by both the Bush administration and the neocon-dominated mainstream media. The Post’s Hiatt, for instance, was out there regularly reporting Iraq’s WMD threat as “flat fact.”
After the U.S. invasion of Iraq in March 2003 and months of fruitless searching for the promised WMD caches, Hiatt finally acknowledged that the Post should have been more circumspect in its confident claims about the WMD. “If you look at the editorials we write running up [to the war], we state as flat fact that he [Saddam Hussein] has weapons of mass destruction,” Hiatt said in an interview with the Columbia Journalism Review. “If that’s not true, it would have been better not to say it.” [CJR, March/April 2004]
Yet, Hiatt’s supposed remorse didn’t stop him and the Post editorial page from continuing its single-minded support for the Iraq War — and heaping abuse on war critics, such as former U.S. Ambassador Joe Wilson who challenged President Bush’s claims about Iraq seeking yellowcake uranium from Niger.
The degree to which the neocons continue to dominate the major news outlets, such as The Washington Post and The New York Times, is demonstrated by the lack of virtually any accountability on the journalists who misinformed their readers about an issue as consequential as the war in Iraq.
And, despite the disaster in Iraq, the neocons never cast aside their “clean break” playbook. After Iraq, the “regime change” strategy listed Syria next and then Iran. Although the neocons suffered a setback in 2008 with the election of Iraq War opponent Barack Obama, they never gave up their dreams.
The neocons worked through Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and other Iraq War supporters who managed to survive and even move up through the government ranks despite Obama’s distaste for their military solutions.
While in office, Clinton sabotaged chances to get Iran to surrender much of its nuclear material – all the better to keep the “regime change” option in play – and she lobbied for a covert military intervention to oust Syria’s Assad. (She also tipped the balance in favor of another “regime change” war in Libya that has created one more failed state in the volatile region.)
But the most disturbing fact is that these war promoters – both in politics and the press – continue to be rewarded for their warmongering. Hiatt retains his gilded perch as the Post’s editorial-page editor (setting Official Washington’s agenda); Cohen remains one of America’s leading national columnists; and Hillary Clinton is favored to become the next President.
So, the answer to Sy Hersh’s question – “Do they care what the facts are?” – is, it appears, no. There is just too much money and power involved in influencing and controlling Washington and – through those levers of finance, diplomacy and war – controlling the world. When that’s at stake, real facts can become troublesome things. For the people who wield this influence and control, it is better for them to manufacture their own.
Investigative reporter Robert Parry broke many of the Iran-Contra stories for The Associated Press and Newsweek in the 1980s. You can buy his latest book, America’s Stolen Narrative, either in print here or as an e-book (from Amazon and barnesandnoble.com).
Romania has arrested two employees of an Israeli intelligence company on charges of spying on and trying to intimidate the country’s chief anti-corruption prosecutor, officials say.
“An investigation has been launched and two people have been arrested,” Mihaela Porime, a spokeswoman for the anti-crime and terrorist prosecutors’ office, said on Wednesday, adding that the suspects work for the Israeli private intelligence agency, Black Cube.
The firm reportedly has several former operatives of Israel’s Mossad spy agency on its payroll.
The pair were identified as Belgian David Geclowitz and Israeli-born Ron Weiner, who holds a French passport.
They are suspected of hacking the emails of people close to Laura Codruta Kovesi, the chief prosecutor of Romania’s National Anti-corruption Directorate (DNA), and of threatening and harassing her family members.
The arrest warrant said the two had in March set up a “criminal group … aimed at sullying Kovesi’s image.”
According to Romanian judicial sources, the two are believed to have been employed by a client being investigated by the DNA.
Meanwhile, Kovesi confirmed that the detentions were “linked to a failed intimidation bid.”
Kovesi, who was appointed last month for a second term as Romania’s chief anti-corruption prosecutor, is known for her tough approach to high-level graft.
Her agency prosecuted some 1,250 cases only in 2015, with targets including a former premier and five ex-ministers.
Taking the measure on Tuesday, Nilesat alleged that Al-Manar had “violated the contract by broadcasting shows that provoke sectarian strife and sedition.”
The company is also to stop its operations in Lebanon as of Wednesday when its contract expires.
Saudi-based satellite provider Arabsat had stopped broadcasting Al-Manar in December 2015, a month after it took Al Mayadeen TV, another Lebanon-based channel, off air.
Late last week, Saudi-owned Al Arabiya TV shut its offices in the Lebanese capital, Beirut, and dismissed the local staff over “security reasons.”
Saudi Arabia has been adopting a raft of measures against Lebanon in reaction to the latter country’s refusal to side with Riyadh against Iran.
It has been targeting Lebanese resistance movement Hezbollah, which has been fighting Saudi-backed extremism inside both Lebanon and Syria.
Earlier in the year, Lebanese Foreign Minister Gibran Bassil refused to back a motion crafted by Saudi Arabia against the Islamic Republic, prompting Riyadh to retract a $4-billion aid pledge to Lebanon and demand an apology, which Lebanon refused to give.
The motion had sought to condemn Tehran over January attacks on vacant Saudi diplomatic premises. The attacks occurred during otherwise peaceful protests against Saudi Arabia’s execution earlier of prominent Shia cleric Sheikh Nimr al-Nimr.
Saudi Arabia has also ordered its citizens not to travel to Lebanon and imposed sanctions on four Lebanese firms and three individuals it accuses of having links to Hezbollah.
There are also reports that Saudi Arabia may expel the Lebanese nationals working on its territory.
Some local media reports in Lebanon have, meanwhile, said the Saudis may be applying pressure to secure the release of a member of the royal family held in Lebanon since last October on drug charges.
Abdul-Mohsen al-Waleed Al Saud was detained in Beirut after authorities seized two tons of amphetamine Captagon pills before they were loaded onto his private plane.
Sadly, some important duties of journalism, such as applying evenhanded standards on human rights abuses and financial corruption, have been so corrupted by the demands of government propaganda – and the careerism of too many writers – that I now become suspicious whenever the mainstream media trumpets some sensational story aimed at some “designated villain.”
Far too often, this sort of “journalism” is just a forerunner to the next “regime change” scheme, dirtying up or delegitimizing a foreign leader before the inevitable advent of a “color revolution” organized by “democracy-promoting” NGOs often with money from the U.S. government’s National Endowment for Democracy or some neoliberal financier like George Soros.
We are now seeing what looks like a new preparatory phase for the next round of “regime changes” with corruption allegations aimed at former Brazilian President Luiz Ignacio Lula da Silva and Russian President Vladimir Putin. The new anti-Putin allegations – ballyhooed by the UK Guardian and other outlets – are particularly noteworthy because the so-called “Panama Papers” that supposedly implicate him in offshore financial dealings never mention his name.
Or as the Guardian writes: “Though the president’s name does not appear in any of the records, the data reveals a pattern – his friends have earned millions from deals that seemingly could not have been secured without his patronage. The documents suggest Putin’s family has benefited from this money – his friends’ fortunes appear his to spend.”
Note, if you will, the lack of specificity and the reliance on speculation: “a pattern”; “seemingly”; “suggest”; “appear.” Indeed, if Putin were not already a demonized figure in the Western media, such phrasing would never pass an editor’s computer screen. Indeed, the only point made in declarative phrasing is that “the president’s name does not appear in any of the records.”
A British media-watch publication, the Off-Guardian, which criticizes much of the work done at The Guardian, headlined its article on the Putin piece as “the Panama Papers cause Guardian to collapse into self-parody.”
But whatever the truth about Putin’s “corruption” or Lula’s, the journalistic point is that the notion of objectivity has long since been cast aside in favor of what’s useful as propaganda for Western interests.
Some of those Western interests now are worried about the growth of the BRICS economic system – Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa – as a competitor to the West’s G-7 and the International Monetary Fund. After all, control of the global financial system has been central to American power in the post-World War II world – and rivals to the West’s monopoly are not welcome.
What the built-in bias against these and other “unfriendly” governments means, in practical terms, is that one standard applies to a Russia or a Brazil, while a more forgiving measure is applied to the corruption of a U.S. or European leader.
Take, for instance, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s millions of dollars in payments in speaking fees from wealthy special interests that knew she was a good bet to become the next U.S. president. [See Consortiumnews.com’s “Clinton Stalls on Goldman-Sachs Speeches.”]
Or, similarly, the millions upon millions of dollars invested in super-PACS for Clinton, Sen. Ted Cruz and other presidential hopefuls. That might look like corruption from an objective standard but is treated as just a distasteful aspect of the U.S. political process.
But imagine for a minute if Putin had been paid millions of dollars for brief speeches before powerful corporations, banks and interest groups doing business with the Kremlin. That would be held up as de facto proof of his illicit greed and corruption.
Also, when it’s a demonized foreign leader, any “corruption” will do, however minor. For example, in the 1980s, President Ronald Reagan’s denounced Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega for his choice of eyewear: “The dictator in designer glasses,” declared Reagan, even as Nancy Reagan was accepting free designer gowns and free renovations of the White House funded by oil and gas interests.
Or, the “corruption” for a demonized leader can be a modest luxury, such as Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych’s “sauna” in his personal residence, a topic that got front-page treatment in The New York Times and other Western publications seeking to justify the violent coup that drove Yanukovych from office in February 2014.
Incidentally, both Ortega and Yanukovych had been popularly elected but were still targeted by the U.S. government and its operatives with violent destabilization campaigns. In the 1980s, the CIA-organized Nicaraguan Contra war killed some 30,000 people, while the U.S.-orchestrated “regime change” in Ukraine sparked a civil war that has left some 10,000 people dead. Of course, in both cases, Official Washington blamed Moscow for all the trouble.
In both cases, too, the politicians and operatives who gained power as a result of the conflicts were arguably more corrupt than the Nicaraguan Sandinistas or Yanukovych’s government. The Nicaraguan Contras, whose violence helped pave the way for the 1990 election of U.S.-backed candidate Violeta Chamorro, were deeply implicated in cocaine trafficking. [See Consortiumnews.com’s “The Sordid Contra-Cocaine Saga.”]
Today, the U.S.-supported Ukrainian government is wallowing in corruption so deep that it has provoked a new political crisis. [See Consortiumnews’com’s “Reality Peeks Through in Ukraine.”]
Ironically, one of the politicians actually named in the Panama Papers for having established a shadowy offshore account is the U.S.-backed Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko, although he got decidedly second-billing to the unnamed Putin. (Poroshenko denied there was anything improper in his offshore financial arrangements.)
Mainstream Western journalism no longer even tries to apply common standards to questions about corruption. If you’re a favored government, there might be lamentations about the need for more “reform” – which often means slashing pensions for the elderly and cutting social programs for the poor – but if you’re a demonized leader, then the only permissible answer is criminal indictment and/or “regime change.”
One stark example of these double standards is the see-no-evil attitude toward the corruption of Ukraine’s Finance Minister Natalie Jaresko, who is touted endlessly in the Western media as the paragon of Ukrainian good governance and reform. The documented reality, however, is that Jaresko enriched herself through her control of a U.S.-taxpayer-financed investment fund that was supposed to help the people of Ukraine build their economy.
According to the terms of the $150 million investment fund created by the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), Jaresko’s compensation was supposed to be capped at $150,000 a year, a pay package that many Americans would envy. But it was not enough for Jaresko, who first simply exceeded the limit by hundreds of thousands of dollars and then moved her compensation off-books as she amassed total annual pay of $2 million or more.
The documentation of this scheming is clear. I have published multiple stories citing the evidence of both her excessive compensation and her legal strategies for covering up evidence of alleged wrongdoing. [See Consortiumnews.com’s “How Ukraine’s Finance Minister Got Rich” and “Carpetbagging Crony Capitalism in Ukraine.”]
Despite the evidence, not a single mainstream Western news outlet has followed up on this information even as Jaresko is touted as a “reform” candidate for Ukrainian prime minister.
This disinterest is similar to the blinders that The New York Times and other major Western newspapers put on when they were assessing whether Ukrainian President Yanukovych was ousted in a coup in February 2014 or just wandered off and forgot to return.
In a major “investigative” piece, the Times concluded there was no coup in Ukraine while ignoring the evidence of a coup, such as the intercepted phone call between U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for European Affairs Victoria Nuland and U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine Geoffrey Pyatt discussing who they would put into power. “Yats is the guy,” said Nuland – and surprise, surprise, Arseniy Yatsenyuk ended up as prime minister.
The Times also ignored the observation of George Friedman, president of the global intelligence firm Stratfor, who noted that the Ukraine coup was “the most blatant coup in history.” [See Consortiumnews.com’s “NYT Still Pretends No Coup in Ukraine.”]
The Propaganda Weapon
The other advantage of “corruption” as a propaganda weapon to discredit certain leaders is that we all assume that there is plenty of corruption in governments as well as in the private sector all around the world. Alleging corruption is like shooting large fish crowded into a small barrel. Granted, some barrels might be more crowded than others but the real decision is whose barrel you choose.
That’s part of the reason why the U.S. government has spread around hundreds of millions of dollars to finance “journalism” organizations, train political activists and support “non-governmental organizations” that promote U.S. policy goals inside targeted countries. For instance, before the Feb. 22, 2014 coup in Ukraine, there were scores of such operations in the country financed by the National Endowment for Democracy (NED), whose budget from Congress exceeds $100 million a year.
But NED, which has been run by neocon Carl Gershman since its founding in 1983, is only part of the picture. You have other propaganda fronts operating under the umbrella of the State Department and USAID. Last year, USAID issued a fact sheet summarizing its work financing friendly journalists around the globe, including “journalism education, media business development, capacity building for supportive institutions, and strengthening legal-regulatory environments for free media.”
USAID estimated its budget for “media strengthening programs in over 30 countries” at $40 million annually, including aiding “independent media organizations and bloggers in over a dozen countries,” In Ukraine before the coup, USAID offered training in “mobile phone and website security,” which sounds a bit like an operation to thwart the local government’s intelligence gathering, an ironic position for the U.S. with its surveillance obsession, including prosecuting whistleblowers based on evidence that they talked to journalists.
USAID, working with billionaire George Soros’s Open Society, also funds the Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project, which engages in “investigative journalism” that usually goes after governments that have fallen into disfavor with the United States and then are singled out for accusations of corruption. The USAID-funded OCCRP also collaborates with Bellingcat, an online investigative website founded by blogger Eliot Higgins.
Higgins has spread misinformation on the Internet, including discredited claims implicating the Syrian government in the sarin attack in 2013 and directing an Australian TV news crew to what looked to be the wrong location for a video of a BUK anti-aircraft battery as it supposedly made its getaway to Russia after the shoot-down of Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 in July 2014.
Despite his dubious record of accuracy, Higgins has gained mainstream acclaim, in part, because his “findings” always match up with the propaganda theme that the U.S. government and its Western allies are peddling. Though most genuinely independent bloggers are ignored by the mainstream media, Higgins has found his work touted by both The New York Times and The Washington Post.
In other words, the U.S. government has a robust strategy for deploying direct and indirect agents of influence. Indeed, during the first Cold War, the CIA and the old U.S. Information Agency refined the art of “information warfare,” including pioneering some of its current features like having ostensibly “independent” entities and cut-outs present U.S. propaganda to a cynical public that would reject much of what it hears from government but may trust “citizen journalists” and “bloggers.”
But the larger danger from this perversion of journalism is that it sets the stage for “regime changes” that destabilize whole countries, thwart real democracy (i.e., the will of the people), and engender civil warfare. Today’s neoconservative dream of mounting a “regime change” in Moscow is particularly dangerous to the future of both Russia and the world.
Regardless of what you think about President Putin, he is a rational political leader whose legendary sangfroid makes him someone who is not prone to emotional decisions. His leadership style also appeals to the Russian people who overwhelmingly favor him, according to public opinion polls.
While the American neocons may fantasize that they can generate enough economic pain and political dissension inside Russia to achieve Putin’s removal, their expectation that he will be followed by a pliable leader like the late President Boris Yeltsin, who will let U.S. operatives back in to resume plundering Russia’s riches, is almost certainly a fantasy.
The far more likely possibility is that – if a “regime change” could somehow be arranged – Putin would be replaced by a hard-line nationalist who might think seriously about unleashing Russia’s nuclear arsenal if the West again tries to defile Mother Russia. For me, it’s not Putin who’s the worry; it’s the guy after Putin.
So, while legitimate questions about Putin’s “corruption” – or that of any other political leader – should be pursued, the standards of evidence should not be lowered just because he or anyone else is a demonized figure in the West. There should be single not double standards.
Western media outrage about “corruption” should be expressed as loudly against political and business leaders in the U.S. or other G-7 countries as it is toward those in the BRICS.
Investigative reporter Robert Parry broke many of the Iran-Contra stories for The Associated Press and Newsweek in the 1980s. You can buy his latest book, America’s Stolen Narrative, either in print here or as an e-book (from Amazon and barnesandnoble.com).