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‘Executed’ North Koreans return to life

RT | January 21, 2018

North Korean leader Kim Jong-un is famous in Western media for executing people that fall out of his favor – though some seem to have found the knack of returning from the dead.

Reports regularly surface on Kim’s latest means of execution, ranging from the relatively mundane firing squad to the theatrical, or even cartoonish – such as feeding foes to packs of starving dogs or roasting them with flame-throwers.

The pop star and ‘former lover’

The most recent case is North Korean popstar Hyon Song-wol, spotted alive and well in South Korea on Sunday despite having reportedly been killed in a purge of singers, musicians and dancers back in 2013.

The performer was reportedly executed along with 11 others, including other members of her group, the Moranbong Band, the head of Unhasu Orchestra, and several dancers from the Wangjaesan Light Music Band.

The 12 victims had allegedly been accused of, among other offenses, recording themselves having sex and selling the footage. The reported victims hadn’t been seen since, until Hyon Song-wol, with whom Kim had reportedly been romantically entwined, publicly resurfaced on Saturday to inspect Olympic venues in South Korea ahead of the Winter Games.

The military chief

Back in 2016, N. Korean army chief Ri Yong Gil was reportedly executed for “factionalism, misuse of authority, and corruption.” As with a lot of information emanating from the isolated country, this turned out to false.

South Korean intelligence officials seemed to take his removal as head of the army as confirmation of his execution. The only problem was that a couple of months later Ri Yong Gil apparently returned from the dead, with an array of new senior-level positions, when he attended the Workers’ Party Congress in May that year.

The uncle ‘executed by a pack of dogs’

Apparently Kim really has it in for his older relatives, if Western media reports are to believed. So much so, it seems, that Kim was willing to execute his own uncle, by setting a pack of 120 starving dogs on him as part of yet another purge back in 2014.

Though it appears that Jang Song Thaek was indeed executed, the ‘ripped apart by dogs’ story was a complete fabrication that first raised its head on a satirical Chinese microblogging website.

The aunt ‘poisoned on request’

Further to ‘feeding his uncle to dogs’, as mentioned above, he reportedly then turned his murderous gaze towards his aunt, Kim Kyong-hui.

Kyong-hui, Kim’s father’s sister and the wife of uncle Jang Song Thaek, was reportedly executed by poisoning on the leader’s orders.

However, once again these reports turned out to be false. South Korean news agency Yonhap reported last year that she is very much alive, although she is being treated for illnesses ranging from depression to cancer.

January 21, 2018 Posted by | Deception, Fake News, Mainstream Media, Warmongering | | 7 Comments

Iran rejects Financial Times’ claim on accepting missile talks

Press TV – January 17, 2018

Iran has categorically dismissed a claim by The Financial Times that it accepted to enter negotiations over its national missile program as well as its regional role during a recent meeting over the 2015 nuclear deal in Brussels.

Citing the German Foreign Ministry, the paper reported on Tuesday that German, French, and British foreign ministers — together with Federica Mogherini, the EU’s foreign policy chief — had agreed during recent talks with Iranian officials in Brussels to hold an “intensive and very serious dialogue” on the country’s conventional missile work and regional influence.

The report claimed that the Europeans have stepped up pressure on Iran over such issues as they struggle to respond to President Donald Trump’s latest threat that he would pull Washington out of the nuclear deal if some “disastrous flaws” were not fixed.

Iran’s Foreign Ministry spokesman Bahram Qassemi called the daily’s claim “unfounded” and said the country’s “policy and stance concerning its defensive missile program are completely clear and transparent, and that other countries are well aware of that position.”

Everyone knows that Iran’s defense program is not up for negotiation, Qassemi said, stressing that Tehran’s position has not undergone any changes regardless of the smear campaign, threats and standpoints of the US and others.

The Iranian missile work is of completely “defensive and deterrent nature” and is not targeted against any country, Qassemi said, adding that no hollow and baseless claims would change this “principled and substantive” position of the Islamic Republic.

“The Islamic Republic does not allow any interference in its domestic affairs and defensive policies, especially its missile program.”

Further, Qassemi described Iran’s regional policy as “constructive” and “in line with the promotion of peace and stability in the region and the entire world.

“If ill-wishers and extremists are incapable of contributing to regional stability and security, they cannot turn a blind eye to the role played by Iran — which has paid an inestimable price for its engagement in the fight against terrorism, insecurity and instability — and work to increase chaos, insecurity and terrorism in the region,” he added.

The January 11 meeting in Brussels saw Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif discuss the implementation of the nuclear deal, officially called the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, with Mogherini and his counterparts from Germany, France and Britain.

Following the talks, the senior European diplomats lined up to deliver a strong defense of the landmark pact against Trump’s threats, with Mogherini saying the JCPOA “is working” and hailing Tehran’s full adherence to its side of the bargain.

January 17, 2018 Posted by | Deception, Fake News, Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Wars for Israel | , , , | Leave a comment

BBC Betrays the Most Basic Journalistic Principles When It Comes to Syria

By Jeremy Salt | American Herald Tribune | January 15, 2018

Lies, deceit and forgeries have always been part of war, truth being ‘the first casualty.’ But in the past two decades the falsifications of war have reached unparalleled heights, thanks to technology. The lies told by the American, British, Australian and allied governments ahead of and during the attack on Iraq in 2003 reached heights which one would have thought could not be surpassed. But then came Libya and the black mercenaries, the soldiers fed Viagra, all lies. Topping this, for the past seven years, we have had Syria and its ‘revolution’, photo-shopped, faked and staged from beginning to end with the connivance of the mainstream media.

With isolated exceptions in the Anglo-American media (the US, Britain, France, Australia and Canada) there has been no reporting of the Syria crisis as such. There has only been propaganda, surging forward in wave after wave. It is not enough to say that the credibility of the media has never been lower. Insofar as these wars in the Middle East are concerned, with the exception of a tiny handful of correspondents who occasionally correct the imbalance, it has no credibility at all.

Relying on ‘rebels’ and ‘activists’ and refusing to air the perspective of the Syrian government the media has spun a web of deceit designed to justify and perpetuate ‘western’ aggression against yet another Arab country, this time not through an open military attack, as in Iraq or Libya, but through armed terrorist proxies who have carried out a campaign of murder and mayhem across the country.

There are no ‘moderates’ amongst these groups, not by any reasonable standards. The US Vice President Joe Biden let the cat out of the bag in 2014 when he said there were no moderates in their ranks. They might fight among themselves over territory, arms, money and control but they have the same ideology as the official enemy, of themselves and ‘western’ governments, the Islamic State: extirpation of the Shia and the Alawi and the establishment of a takfirist Islamic regime in Damascus top their agenda. This is what the ‘west’ is supporting in Syria.

The latest issue fed into the headlines is the ‘siege’ of the population of the East Ghouta region, on the outskirts of Damascus, by the ‘regime’, with harrowing stories of children starving or denied hospital care fed into the news cycle. The ‘regime’ is held responsible, not the Jaysh al Islam takfiri collective which John Kerry described in 2016 as a ‘sub group’ of the ISIS and Jabhat al Nusra. These groups, armed and financed by outside governments, including Saudi Arabia and Qatar, have taken over large parts of East Ghouta and are holding the population hostage. The Syrian government has the responsibility of suppressing them, and in the conflict civilians are dying. This is the cause of the ‘siege’ of East Ghouta and the notion that the people there genuinely support these takfiri groups is as fanciful as the idea that they did in East Aleppo. It was also presented by the media as being under siege by the ‘regime’ but when it was finally liberated from the takfiris its people were literally dancing in the streets with joy. It will be the same in East Ghouta when these groups are sent on their way.

Now we hearing that the ‘regime’ is using chemical weapons in East Ghouta. According to the BBC news web site (‘Syrian war: Reports of chlorine gas attack on rebel-held Eastern Ghouta’, January 13), ‘people’ in the region reported smelling gas after a missile attack. A ‘health worker’ was quoted. An ‘aid worker’ said ten hospitals were affected. There is nothing here of any substance, no evidence of a chlorine attack and no attempt by the BBC to confirm what it has been told.

The BBC makes marvellous wildlife documentaries and excellent feature films but in its reporting of the Syrian conflict it has completely betrayed the most basic journalistic principles of objectivity and balance. Along with the rest of the media it runs whatever the ‘rebels’ and ‘activists’ choose to tell it. The allegation that goes into the headlines, is not substantiated but fulfills the central task not of reporting but of smearing the Syrian government, which never gets the opportunity to state its case beyond ‘the Syrian regime denies the allegations.’  This symbiotic game between terrorist groups and the media has been in motion for the past seven years. Through its false reporting the media has supported the war on Syria and must share the responsibility for the massive death and destruction that has ensued.

Of all media outlets the BBC has less credibility than most when raising the issue of chemical weapons attacks. In 2013 it was involved in the fabrication of one such alleged attack, on a school in Aleppo. The children and young men moaning on the floor with shaving cream on their faces and theatrically created burns and patches of skin hanging from their bodies were ludicrously bad actors. ‘Dr.  Roula’, the woman speaking to the camera, turned out to be Roula al Hallam, the daughter of a member of the Syrian opposition in exile. The precedent for this performance is the blubbering young woman who told the story of babies being thrown out of their incubators by Iraqi soldiers after the invasion of Kuwait in 1991. She turned out not to be a hospital nurse but the daughter of the Kuwaiti ambassador to the US. This piece of theatre was produced by a Washington PR firm.

‘Dr Roula’s’ original statement (August 29) that this seemed to be a napalm attack had been changed to ‘chemical weapon’ by the time it was broadcast a few hours later (August 30). The film was the same, she was the same ‘Dr Roula’ but the words coming out of her mouth were not the same.

The timing of this fabrication was central to the story. On August 21, the very same day that UN chemical weapons inspectors were arriving in Damascus, the Syrian government was accused of orchestrating a chemical weapons attack in the Ghouta region, outside the city, that allegedly killed hundreds of people. On August 26 the napalm/chemical weapons attack was allegedly carried out on the Aleppo school. On August 29/30 the allegations were broadcast twice by the BBC, with ‘napalm’ changed to ‘chemical weapon’ in the second broadcast. Later in the day (August 30) the House of Commons voted on military intervention in Syria. The Cameron government lost the vote but only narrowly (285-272). The fabricated BBC report seems to have been aired with the intention of pushing the Commons vote across the line.

The attack in the Ghouta region around Damascus was never followed up by the media once the Syrian government had been smeared and set up for military attack. The identity of the children whose bodies were shown (sometimes the same bodies in different locations) remains a mystery. They were used for propaganda before disappearing forever. The takfiris have recently massacred hundreds of Alawis in the Latakia governorate and had kidnapped scores of women and children: according to Mother Agnes, the nun who did what the media should have done by trying to find the truth, some of the mothers identified the children at Ghouta as theirs.

The evidence of scientists and journalists, notably Seymour Hersh, showed, with no room for doubt, that the chemicals were fired from positions held by the takfiris. Barrack Obama had declared that a chemical weapons attack would be his ‘red line’ and the takfiris had set out to push him across it. The apparent involvement of other governments in this provocation was something else the media did not follow up.

After the New Yorker showed no interest in his story, Hersh took it to the London Review of Books, where it was published. When he exposed the falsity of a second alleged attack, in Khan Shaikhun, in April, 2017, he had to find a publisher in Germany (Die Welt). The truth-telling Hersh found a rapidly diminishing appetite for his truths in the mainstream even though, without any doubt, he is an outstanding investigative reporter,  all the way back to his exposure of the My Lai massacre during the US war on Vietnam (and neighboring countries). While Trump bombed a Syrian air base near Khan Shaikhun, Obama pulled back at the last minute. According to Hersh, senior intelligence figures knew the Syrian government was not behind the alleged chemical weapons attack near Damascus but ‘how can we help this guy Obama when he and his cronies in the White House make up the intelligence as they go along.’

The war on Syria goes on. It is not over as many have said: but for outside intervention it never would have started. Even though ISIS has been virtually destroyed in Syria, thus fulfilling the rationale for its forces being there, the US is refusing to leave. It has been playing a double game, declaring war on the ISIS while clandestinely cooperating with it in various ways. It wanted a Salafist principality in eastern Syria and the Islamic State gave it one. ISIS fighters criss-crossed the Syrian desert, towards Mosul and Palmyra, without the US intervening, although satellite reconnaissance would clearly have shown these lines of pickup trucks kicking up the summer dust. US Special Forces passed through Islamic State positions on the way to Deir al Zor, the US shipped takfiri fighters out of Raqqa with their families and the US has been training takfiris rebranded as ‘rebel’ fighters at its Al Tanf base.

Far from withdrawing from Syria the US is entrenching itself even deeper. It is not there for the Kurds or the good of the Syrian people. It is there for itself and most probably for Israel, which has spent the past year preparing for its next war, most probably against Lebanon in the first place, and admits to at least 100 missile strikes against Syria. The US is not leaving Afghanistan either. Indeed, it is not shutting down or drawing down anywhere, but strengthening its global position to cover any possibilities arising in its rivalry with Russia and China. This is the vise in which Syria is now caught.

The empty rhetoric of supporting only ‘rebels’ against terrorists continues. If the collective of takfiri groups known as Jaysh al Islam is not officially designated as a terrorist group that is because when Russia proposed, in November, 2016, that it be added to the UN sanctions list, the US, France and the UK used their vetoes to block the move. They provide the political support for this group, Saudi Arabia and other countries the money and the weaponry needed to hold the people of East Ghouta hostage. These are the real realities of the ‘siege’ of this district.


Jeremy Salt is a former journalist, turned academic. He is based in the Department of Political Science and Public Administration, Bilkent University, Ankara where he teaches courses in modern Middle Eastern history and propaganda. His most recent book is “The Unmaking of the Middle East. A History of Western Disorder in Arab Lands” (Berkeley: University of California Press, 2008.)

January 15, 2018 Posted by | Deception, Fake News, Mainstream Media, Warmongering | , | 1 Comment

LAST STEP IRAN: What Our Recent Protests Were Really About

By Hamed Ghashghavi | 21st Century Wire | January 15, 2018

TEHRAN, Iran — Two weeks ago, the first demonstration was held in Mashhad and the main reason was people’s total dissatisfaction of credit institutions and banks, which took their money as a hostage for several months.

Some months ago, I witnessed myself people protesting peacefully in front of Iran’s Parliament and Central Bank. Actually, banks in Iran have effective powers (sometime more than European banks), and the interest rates are between 15 to 25%, invested in boondoggle building projects and other matters that normally they should not! We see similar situations the world over.

We can never deny that citizens, including myself, are facing financial problems due to the situation of the country. Essentially, after president Rouhani’s government has invested most of its time and energy on the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) ‘Iran nuclear deal’, he had promised the public that Iran’s economic and financial crisis will be resolved after that deal, however, this crisis is still escalating.

Of course the American and European embargoes have partly influenced that economic crisis, but it seems that this has been exacerbated by the inefficiency of the Rouhani Administration. For years, the Supreme Leader has been speaking about the ‘Resistive Economy’ (Economy of Resistance), and the importance of the internal economy (an indigenous one based on nation’s production and employment) while many officials, particularly in Rouhani government, believe the best solution is to be more in touch with European and American economies.

So after the Supreme Leader Sayed Ali Khamenei issued the principles of that Economy of Resistance, authorities began to repeatedly use that expression in their interviews and speeches which urged the Supreme Leader to choose “Economy of Resistance: Production and Employment” as the name of current year in Persian calendar.

Since that deal, many European companies such as Peugeot, Citroen, TOTAL and other leading Europe-based trans-national corporations have come to Tehran and signed multiple contracts with both governmental and non-governmental sides. Practically, and as the Supreme Leader has affirmed, these contracts have been only signed and nothing has changed on the ground. Besides, people have realised that Rouhani’s promises have not been fulfilled. Even if there were any economic advantages out of this deal, the benefits were for the big companies and not the middle class.

These days I hear even some friends saying that European states would like to stay committed to JCPOA, and so I would like to add this point toward European attitude on that issue:

Francesco Condemi, a French documentary filmmaker in his work entitled “L’affaire Peugeot (2013)” has affirmed that the Zionist Lobby in France has been putting a lot of pressure on Peugeot Company to cut its ties with Iran Khodro (Branded as IKCO, an Iranian multinational automaker headquartered in Tehran). Consequently, this emphasises that the Europeans are not committed to any kind of deal with Iranians and moreover, once their interests are threatened, they are the first to turn against you.

Not only based on that documentary and statistics, but also according to FranceTV analysts after France itself, Iran is world’s greatest market for their products, while over in Europe – French cars are a mere ‘third priority’ behind German and Italian cars, which are superior in quality.

Holding a peaceful demonstration in Iran is a guaranteed right as the constitution stipulates. None of the first demonstrations witnessed in the beginning were violent – not until our enemies’ agent provocateurs infiltrated events and began burning the national flag and martyrs’ portraits, attacking some military and government buildings and damaging public places and even setting fire to them. All of this only served to distract the focus of the demonstrations from their original raison d’etre.

In the recent presidential elections, 73.03% Iranian people participated, showing they support the Islamic Revolution and recognise the main reason for Iran’s stability and security in such a region is the Supreme Leader’s wisdom.

And honestly, what percentage of American and European citizens participate in their elections?

For those who are not aware of how Iran’s politcal system is designed, here are some useful infographics to help explain:

Sayed Ali Khamenei, the Supreme Leader, in a public speech, on 15 February 2017, said (translated from Farsi):

“I say that to country’s officials, if people participate in 22 Bahman (The date on the Persian calendar coinciding with the anniversary of the February 11, 1979, Islamic Revolution) demonstration, it does not mean that they’re satisfied with what we do, people are gluttonous, they are gluttonous based on many issues happening in the country, people don’t like discrimination, anywhere they see some discrimination they feel bad and suffer, the same when they see hypothyroidism, the same when they see (authorities) being indifferent about their problems, when they see the things not advancing, they’re gluttonous. 22 Bahman has to be counted separately, people’s resistance against an enemy ambush to swallow Iran is one thing, which has been illustrated in 22 Bahman, and their expectation from us, the country’s officials – is another thing!”

“If people took to the streets on 22 Bahman it does not mean that they are satisfied with what the government does. The Supreme Leader added, “People’s grievances cannot be ignored: recession, unemployment, and inflation are important issues.”

He also said,

“One European official said to one of our officials that if it was not for the JCPOA, a war on Iran would be certain. This is just a lie! Why are they talking about war? Because they want to engage the minds of the people in war; however, the real war is an economic war – sanctions and ruining the levels of employment activity and technology industries within our country. They draw our attention to a military war so we may forget about these other wars. A real war is a cultural war.”


French mountebank Bernard-Henri Lévy prancing around the MENA region from one war to next, in the service of terrorists.

Undoubtedly, the right of people to demonstrate peacefully is an essential one, but we should be careful of foreign infiltration. We cannot forget what has happened and still is happening in Ukraine, Georgia and some other countries around Eastern Europe. In addition to that we discovered the media manipulation on Libya and Syria by people like French self-styled ‘philosopher’ Bernard-Henri Lévy, and colour revolution engineer George Soros, and their various fabricated Arab Spring narratives in places like Libya. We witnessed the same in Syria, as media operatives made-up the girls and boys as if they have been brutally wounded by Syrian Army, or in Ukraine when we saw similar events on the Maidan. To them, the media is a tool they use to conjure fabricated ‘revolutions’ for a global audience.


A warning to the world: if you see this man, Bernard-Henri Lévy, you can be sure that trouble is around the corner.

During the recent events in Iran, the western Mainstream Media has utilised the same videos from different Iranian cities. BBC Persian, VOA Persian and Manoto were all trying to stimulate chaos in any possible way. It is worth mentioning also that almost 200 Persian-language television channels were founded after the 2009 presidential elections. Like the Gulf-based Arab channels did with Syria, these channels continually provoke people to reject their government by calling them to demonstrate and come to streets. In addition, they brainwash the minds of the Iranians through TV series and movies that attack our cultural lifestyle, values and conventions. The TV series and movies in which we can’t understand who has sexual relation with whom, or if a woman is pregnant as result of having sex with her husband or boyfriend, while constantly promoting various types of intellectual and sexual perversions.

All of these international channels are backed and financed by Western powers, often used as tools of the British and American intelligentsia. Besides, so-called ‘civil society’ NGOs like Brookings Institution’s Centre for Middle East Policy (Saban Centre), International Republican Institute, Freedom House, United States Agency for International Development (USAID), Albert Einstein Institution, Council on Foreign Relations, American Enterprise Institute and many others – are all trying their best to interfere in Iranian affairs on some level.

Trump & others, in the name of ‘human rights’, are working hard to create chaos in Iran, whilst they ignore their worldwide crimes, killing, massacring, torturing, doing genocides, raping, violating, and stealing the wealth and resources of poor nations.

On one hand, we can see how Iranians, people and elites, condemn the violence, while on another hand they are against the corrupted authorities who have to pay the price – and people must see the result of this as the Leader said. Nevertheless, many officials including Major General Mohsen Rezaee view that we should not put the infiltrated anti-governmental individuals with the peaceful citizens in the same basket. Those peaceful people request to have a better economic situation, which is a legitimate and fundamental right.

Definitely, Iran, Russia, Syria, Iraq and Hezbollah have defeated the American’s so-called “War on Terror” and the new US-led project for the Middle East which began on 9/11. All extremists sectarian Wahhabi groups failed to fulfill the American dream of further breaking up the region. Accordingly, creating chaos in Iran is their last step, but, fortunately, the Iranian people are wise enough to confront these conspiracies.


Western media refused to show massive nationwide pro-government demonstrations in early January because these did not fit their western ‘regime change’ narrative.

It is significant that pro-government demonstrations are occasionally held in democratic states such as Iran. People have taken to streets, despite the extremely cold and snowy weather, to slam the anti-government violent activities taking place. However, Western and Saudi mainstream media did not cover these pro-Leader and pro-Islamic Republic demonstrations – as they themselves, the West and Saudi monarchs – don’t have such a popularity or passion in their own countries. Remarkably, one of the people’s slogans condemning foreign agents infiltrated in initial protests was,

“WE THE PEOPLE TAKE CARE OF STOPPING THE ANTI-REVOLUTION DEMONSTRATION AND YOU THE OFFICIAL TAKE CARE OF ECONOMIC PROBLEMS.”

Here are numerous examples of such demonstrations during these past weeks:

Anniversary of December 30, 2009 pro-government rally in Iran , some photos of 2009 rally

(Dec. 29): Tabriz, (Dec. 30): Tehran 1, Across the Country 1, Qom, Tehran 2, Across the Country 2,

Pro-government rallies after recent events: Zanjan (Jan. 1), Across the country 1 (Jan. 2), Across the country 2 (Jan. 2), People appreciating police forces in Azadshahr of Mashhad (Jan. 2), Across the country 3 (Jan. 3), Tehran after Friday prayer (Jan. 5), Past Friday prayer in Tehan (Jan. 5), Across the country 4 (Jan. 4), Across the country 5 (Jan. 4), Across the country 6 (Jan. 7)

Rasht,
Mashhad 2, Isfahan, Tehran 2, Ahavz, Ilam and Bodschurd. . .

Double Trouble: US and Saudi Hegemony

US military bases have formed a strategic envelope around Iran, as well as the strategic positioning many US-backed and funded terrorist and extremist groups – such as Al-Qaeda on the Eastern borders, and ISIS on Western borders. However, recent victories by Syria and Iraq, with support from Iran, have proven these Western and Gulf-backed terrorist groups to be a complete failure, and in their failure – have instead strengthened Iran.

Supreme Leader Sayed Ali Khamenei has mocked US president Donald Trump and said that he would fail in his hardline stance against Iran, just as his “smarter” predecessor Ronald Reagan did before him. “Reagan was more powerful and smarter than Trump. He was a better actor in making threats. He also moved against us and shot down our plane,” Leader Khamenei emphasised.

We knew that last year’s ISIS attack in Tehran was funded and sponsored by Saudi government and even before that Bin Salman said “we will bring war into Iran”. And as we look at the recent events in Iran, most related hashtags were tweeted from Saudi Arabia. No surprise there.

As I’ve been asked by many friends about the current status of former president Ahmadinejad, I add this point as a big FORMER fan of this man – I can imagine how understanding of Iran’s domestic policies is difficult for the foreign audience and that is why Western mainstream media is regularly confused about it. That’s why in my last article I explained about the succession of Iran’s presidents and I suggest to those who would like to know why and how Ahmadinejad fits into this series of events, to please take a read to the related part of this article.

We all know that judiciary power in Iran is politically independent as we witnessed many relatives of officials as Hashemi Rafsanjani’s son (Mehdi)’s, president Rouhani’s brother (Hossein Feridon), vice-president Jahangiri’s brother (Mehdi), Ahmadinejad’s deputy (Mohammad Reza Rahimi) were all convicted of corruption and are currently jailed.

Ahmadinejad has recently started to attack judiciary power because his close friends have been arrested or jailed, in Iranian news agencies or websites, except one or two, until now there is no confirmed information about Ahmadinejad’s arrest or his probable involvement in recent provocations. But once again as a big FORMER fan of Mahmoud, (and himself he knows how much I loved him and he was a very important figure for me) I hope this news to be true as this ex-great man became very selfish and arrogant.

And lastly, a surprising point: after Trump’s stupid decision to move the American embassy to Jerusalem and recognizing that Holy City as a capital of an inhumane and absolute criminal entity – the whole world was talking about Palestine, but now after Iran’s recent events, who is still talking about Palestine? This demonstrates the power of distraction.

We’ll finish by quoting Iran’s Supreme Leader and his reaction from to recent events (from Jan 9). The Leader of the Revolution discussed the ‘triangular model’, or the international pyramid hierarchy scheme, used to describe who was responsible for the flow of money and carrying out the orchestrated events in Iran recently.

The hierarchy of the pyramid/triangle is listed from top (1) to bottom (3) in Ayatollah Khamenei’s own words:

  1. “The plot was made by Americans (US) and Zionists. They have been plotting for many months to initiate riots in small cities and eventually move towards the center.”
  2. “Money was provided by a wealthy government near the Persian Gulf. Well, these plots are costly. The Americans are not willing to spend money while such accomplices are already there.”
  3. “The third side of the triangle consists of the US submissive henchmen: Mohajhedeen-E-Khalq Organization, the murderous MEK [aka MKO].”

“The rulers in the United States, firstly, know that they didn’t achieve their goal: they might try to repeat it, but they know that can never achieve it. Secondly, they damaged us during these days, they know there will be some sort of retaliation.”

“The vast manifestations arising from millions of Iranians against recent riots is no ordinary event. Nowhere, in this world, have we witnessed the same exact phenomena. I am well informed on this. This great, coherent people’s movement against the enemies’ conspiracy, with such organization, awareness, and enthusiasm is unique among the world, and it continues for forty years now.”

“It’s not simply a question of a number of years. It is a fight of a nation against an anti-nation; a fight of Iran against anti-Iran; a fight of Islam against anti-Islam: this has always existed and will persists.”

“All actions that the enemies have waged against us, during the past forty years, are counter-attacks against the Islamic Revolution. The revolution uprooted the enemies’ political position in the country; now they (the enemy) uses counter attacks, frequently, and is defeated each time. The enemy acts and cannot advance because of the resistance: the strong national and popular barrier.”

“Once again, the nation with its full power tells the United States, the UK and their Londoners, ‘they couldn’t make it happen this time, and will never achieve their goals.’”

“Various analyses were proposed during these days. All these analyses had a common point: the point which allows the righteous and truthful desires of the people to be distinguished from and the brutal and destructive movements of another group. The two must be distinguished,”

“That a person is deprived of a right and objects to it: or that protesters – hundreds of people — come together and gather to express their concerns, is one thing; and that a number of the people from this gathering misuse this motive–to insult the Quran, to insult Islam, to insult the flag, to burn the Mosque, commit sabotage or set the country on fire–is another thing. The two should not be mixed.”

“The people’s wants, appeals, or protests have always existed in this country, and persist today. Well, like these problematic financial institutions, some of the institutes have been problematic and have made some people very dissatisfied.”

“These appeals must be dealt with and heard out. They must be answered as much as possible,”

All of us — I do not say “others must follow”— I myself am responsible; all of us “must follow this approach.”

“I would like to add that these events had a distinct triangle pattern or scheme. Events did not emerge overnight; but they have been carefully organized. My observances are based on information from sources of intelligence: some are made obvious by their own statements, some have been obtained through intelligence operations.”

“They were prepared months ago. The media of the MEK admitted to this; they said, recently, that they were in contact with Americans some months ago, to carry out U.S.’ orders: to organize riots, meet with this or that person, find individuals inside the country to help them fan out to the people. And that it was they who initiated this.”

“They began with a slogan [to catch attention] in opposition to high prices. Well, this is a slogan that everyone likes. They wanted to attract some people with this message, then enter the arena themselves to pursue their evil goals and attract followers. What people did here is this: First, some people came to streets–though not a big number–, however, just as they understood the real intentions behind, the people separated their lines.”

“On the one hand, the rioters shouted ‘my life be sacrificed for the sake of Iran,’ on the other hand, they burned the flag of Iran! The fools did not understand that these two actions simply cannot go together. Well, we hope that you (MEK) die for Iran! But, when have you stood up to the enemies of Iran? Those who have always stood against the enemy of Iran are the devout, believing, and revolutionary people. Who were the 300,000 martyrs of the Holy Defense era? They were these believing and revolutionary men who defended their country. When have you (MEK) died for Iran, that you shout ‘my life be sacrificed for the sake of Iran’?”

“Well, the United States is now angry, extremely furious; it’s not angry with only me; it’s angry with everyone and everything: angry with the Iranian people, angry with the government, and angry with the Revolution of Iran because it was defeated by this massive, retaliatory movement.”

“Now, the US officials have started to talk nonsense; the president of the United States says the Iranian government fears its very own people! No, the Iranian government was born by their people; it is for their people, is created by the Iranian people, and relies upon them. Why should it fear their own people? If the people were not there, no Islamic government would exists!”

“He [Trump] says that the Iranian government is afraid of U.S.’ power. So, if we are “afraid” of you, how did we expel you from Iran in the late 1970’s and expel you from the entire region in the 2010’s?”

“The rulers in the United States, firstly, know that they didn’t achieve their goal: they might try to repeat it, but they know that can never achieve it. Secondly, they damaged us during these days, they know there will be some sort of retaliation. Thirdly, this man who sits at the head of the White House— although, he seems to be a very instable man–he must realize that these extreme and psychotic episodes won’t be left without a response.”

In his final statements Ayatollah Khamenei, the Leader of the Revolution, reminded his audience: “Those who like to make friends with U.S. agents–whether outside or whether, unfortunately, some inside–they also know that this system is strongly standing and will resolve all weaknesses and problems with God’s grace.”

***

Author Hamed Ghashghavi is a polyglot researcher on North American and Western European Studies, as well as a linguist and documentary filmmaker & editor, based in Tehran.

January 15, 2018 Posted by | Deception, Economics, Fake News, Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Timeless or most popular | , , | Leave a comment

The CIA’s 70-Year History of Disinformation: How the CIA Funded the Opinion Magazines in Europe

By Philip Giraldi | American Herald Tribune | January 15, 2018

When an intelligence agency arranges to disseminate fake news it is called “disinformation” and it is a subset of what is referred to as covert action, basically secret operations run in a foreign country to influence opinion or to disrupt the functioning of a government or group that is considered to be hostile.

During the Cold War, disinformation operations were run by many of the leading players in both the North Atlantic Treaty Organization and in the opposition Warsaw Pact. Sometimes the activity and the sponsorship were clearly visible, as when Radio Free Europe and Radio Moscow would exchange barbs about just how bad daily life was in the opposition alliance. Sometimes, however, it took the form of clandestinely placing stories in the media that were clearly untrue but designed to shift public perceptions of what was taking place in the world. The Vietnam War provided a perfect proxy playing field, with stories emanating from the U.S. government and its supporters presenting a narrative of a fight for democracy against totalitarianism while the Communist bloc promoted a contrary tale of colonial and capitalist oppression of a people striving to be free.

The Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) inherited the mantle of covert action operations as a legacy from its OSS predecessor, which had had considerable success in conducting disinformation operations during World War 2. But there was from the start considerable opposition to continuing such programs as they were both expensive and subject to devastating blowback when they were identified and exposed. In Western Europe, powerful domestic communist parties were quick to publicize U.S. intelligence missteps, but nevertheless the ability to manipulate the news and information media to place stories critical of the Soviets and their allies led to major programs that funded magazines and books while also seeking to acquire a cadre of journalists that would produce pieces on demand proved too tempting to ignore.

There has been considerable ex post facto examination of the CIA’s use of covert funding mechanisms including the Congress of Cultural Freedom to fund writers and magazines in Europe, the best known of which were The Paris Review and Encounter out of London. As there was a low intensity war going on against communism, a conflict which many patriotic writers supported, funding magazines and finding contributors to write appropriate material was relatively easy and hardly challenged. Some senior editors knew or strongly suspected where their funding was coming from while some did not, but most didn’t ask any questions because then as now patrons of literary magazines were in short supply. Many of the writers were in the dark about the funding, but wrote what they did because of their own personal political convictions. The CIA, seeking value for money, would urge certain editorial lines but was not always very aggressive in doing so as it sought to allow the process to play out without too much interference.

Opinion magazines were one thing, but penetrating the newspaper world was quite a different story. It was easy to find a low or mid-level journalist and pay him to write certain pieces, but the pathway to actual publication was and is more complicated than that, going as it does through several editorial levels before appearing in print. A recent book cites the belief that CIA had “an agent at a newspaper in every world capital at least since 1977” who could be directed to post or kill stories. While it is true that U.S. Embassies and intelligence services had considerable ability to place stories in capitals in Latin America and parts of Asia, the record in Europe, where I worked, was somewhat mixed. I knew of only one senior editor of a major European newspaper who was considered to be an Agency resource, and even he could not place fake news as he was answerable both to his editorial board and the conglomerate that owned the paper. He also refused to take a salary from CIA, which meant that his cooperation was voluntary and he could not be directed.

CIA did indeed have a considerable number of journalist “assets” in Europe but they were generally stringers or mid-level and had only limited capability to actually shape the news. They frequently wrote for publications that had little or no impact. Indeed, one might reasonably ask whether the support of literary magazines in the fifties and sixties which morphed into more direct operations seeking journalist agents had any significant impact at all in geopolitical terms or on the Cold War itself.

More insidious was so-called Operation Mockingbird, which began in the early 1950s and which more-or-less openly obtained the cooperation of major American publications and news outlets to help fight communist “subversion.” The activity was exposed by Seymour Hersh in 1975 and was further described by the Church Commission in 1976, after which point CIA operations to influence opinion in the United States became illegal and the use of American journalists as agents was also generally prohibited. It was also learned that the Agency had been working outside its founding charter to infiltrate student groups and antiwar organizations under Operation Chaos, run by the CIA’s controversial if not completely crazy counterintelligence Czar James Jesus Angleton.

As the wheel of government frequently ends up turning full circle, we appear to be back in the age of disinformation, where the national security agencies of the U.S. government, including CIA, are now suspected of peddling stories that are intended to influence opinion in the United States and produce a political response. The Steele Dossier on Donald Trump is a perfect example, a report that surfaced through a deliberate series of actions by then CIA Director John Brennan, and which was filled with unverifiable innuendo intended to destroy the president-elect’s reputation before he took office. It is undeniably a positive development for all Americans who care about good governance that Congress is now intending to investigate the dossier to determine who ordered it, paid for it, and what it was intended to achieve.

January 15, 2018 Posted by | Deception, Fake News, Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Timeless or most popular | , , | 1 Comment

The Guardian, White Helmets, and Silenced Comment

By Tim Hayward | January 12, 2018

The Guardian recently published an article claiming that critical discussion of the White Helmets in Syria has been ‘propagated online by a network of anti-imperialist activists, conspiracy theorists and trolls with the support of the Russian government’. Many readers were dismayed at this crude defence of a – presumably – pro-imperialist perspective, and at the unwarranted smearing of reasoned questioning based on evidence from independent journalists.

What The Guardian did next:

  • quickly closed its comments section;
  • did not allow a right of reply to those journalists singled out for denigration in the piece;
  • did not allow publication of the considered response from a group of concerned academics (posted in full below);
  • did not respond to the group’s subsequent Letter,[1] or a follow up email to it;
  • prevaricated in response to telephone inquiries as to whether a decision against publishing either communication from the group had or had not been taken;
  • failed to respond to a message to its Readers’ Editor from Vanessa Beeley, one of the journalists criticised in the article.

Meanwhile, the article’s author, Olivia Solon, tweeting from California, allowed herself to promote her piece while simply blocking critical voices.

Conduct hardly more becoming was that of The Guardian’s George Monbiot who joined in, tweeting smears against critics and suggesting they read up about ‘the Russian-backed disinformation campaign against Syria’s heroic rescue workers’. Judging by the tenor of responses to this, the journalist misjudged his surprising intervention. It seems that people who follow these matters are able to decide for themselves who and what they find credible.

As for allowing a fair hearing to independent researchers like Vanessa Beeley, it is poignant to observe that while The Guardian’s journalists were tweeting away, she was actually on the ground in Syria, again putting herself at personal risk of bombs and mortars despatched by the fighters that the White Helmets provide support to; she was there meeting – and filming – Syrian people who provide grave witness statements concerning those that The Guardian uncritically commends as ‘heroic rescue workers’.

A growing number of us believe that it is high time the critical questions raised by independent investigators be treated with the seriousness and scrupulousness they warrant. That is why the academic Working Group on Syria, Propaganda, and the Media offered the following response to The Guardian under its ‘Comment is Free’ rubric. Since it was not published there, I post it on behalf of the group here.

From the Working Group on Syria, Propaganda and Media:

Seeking Truth About White Helmets In Syria

The recent Guardian article by Olivia Solon attacks those investigating and questioning the role of the White Helmets in Syria and attributes all such questioning to Russian propaganda, conspiracy theorizing and deliberate disinformation. The article does little, however, to address the legitimate questions which have been raised about the nature of the White Helmets and their role in the Syrian conflict. In addition, academics such as Professors Tim Hayward and Piers Robinson have been subjected to intemperate attacks from mainstream media columnists such as George Monbiot through social media for questioning official narratives. More broadly, as Louis Allday described in 2016 with regard to the war in Syria, to express ‘even a mildly dissenting opinion … has seen many people ridiculed and attacked … These attacks are rarely, if ever, reasoned critiques of opposing views: instead they frequently descend into personal, often hysterical, insults and baseless, vitriolic allegations’. These are indeed difficult times in which to ask serious and probing questions. It should be possible for public debate to proceed without resort to ad hominem attacks and smears.

It is possible to evaluate the White Helmets through analysis of verifiable government and corporate documents which describe their funding and purpose. So, what do we know about the White Helmets? First, the ‘Syria Civil Defence’, the ‘official title’ given to the White Helmets, is supported by US and UK funding. Here it is important to note that the real Syria Civil Defence already exists and is the only such agency recognised by the International Civil Defence Organisation (ICDO). The White Helmets receive funding from the UK government’s Conflict, Stability and Security Fund (CSSF) and the US government’s USAID, Office of Transition Initiatives programme – the Syria Regional Program II. The UK and US governments do not provide direct training and support to the White Helmets. Instead, private contractors bid for the funding from the CSSF and USAID. Mayday Rescue won the CSSF contract, and Chemonics won the USAID contract. As such, Chemonics and Mayday Rescue train and support the White Helmets on behalf of the US and UK governments.

Second, the CSSF is directly controlled by the UK National Security Council, which is chaired by the Prime Minister, while USAID is controlled by the US National Security Council, the Secretary of State and the President. The CSSF is guided by the Strategic Defence and Security Review (SDSR) which incorporates UK National Security Objectives. Specifically, the White Helmets funding from the CSSF falls under National Security Objective “2d: Tackling conflict and building stability overseas”. This is a constituent part of the broader “National Security Objective 2: Project our Global Influence”.

The funding background of the White Helmets raises important questions regarding their purpose. A summary document published online indicates that the CSSF funding for the White Helmets is currently coordinated by the Syria Resilience Programme. This document highlights that the core objective of the programme is to support “the moderate opposition to provide services for their communities and to contest new space”, as to empower “legitimate local governance structures to deliver services gives credibility to the moderate opposition”. The document goes on to state that the White Helmets (‘Syria Civil Defence’) “provide an invaluable reporting and advocacy role”, which “has provided confidence to statements made by UK and other international leaders made in condemnation of Russian actions”. The ‘Syria Resilience CSSF Programme Summary’ is a draft document and not official government policy. However, the summary indicates the potential dual use of the White Helmets by the UK government: first, as a means of supporting and lending credibility to opposition structures within Syria; second, as an apparently impartial organisation that can corroborate UK accusations against the Russian state.

In a context in which both the US and UK governments have been actively supporting attempts to overthrow the Syrian government for many years, this material casts doubt on the status of the White Helmets as an impartial humanitarian organization. It is therefore essential that investigators such as Vanessa Beeley, who raise substantive questions about the White Helmets, are engaged with in a serious and intellectually honest fashion. The White Helmets do not appear to be the independent agency that some have claimed them to be. Rather, their funding background, and the strategic objectives of those funders, provide strong prima facie grounds for considering the White Helmets as part of a US/UK information operation designed to underpin regime change in Syria as other independent journalists have argued. It is time for the smears and personal attacks to stop, allowing full and open investigation by academics and journalists into UK policy toward Syria, including the role of the White Helmets, leading to a better-informed public debate.

Working Group on Syria, Propaganda and Media

Steering Committee

Professor Tim Hayward, Professor of Environmental Political Theory, University of Edinburgh

Professor Paul McKeigue, Professor of Genetic Epidemiology and Statistical Genetics, University of Edinburgh

Professor Piers Robinson, Chair in Politics, Society and Political Journalism University of Sheffield

Researchers

Jake Mason (PhD candidate, University of Sheffield)

Divya Jha (PhD candidate, University of Sheffield)

Note

[1] Having sent the article reproduced here to ‘Comment is Free’ at The Guardian on 23 December, but receiving no definite response, despite a follow up email, on 5 January, we sent the following letter to The Guardian’s Readers’ Editor. (This also received no response.)

Dear Mr Chadwick

We are writing in relation to an article by Olivia Solon “How Syria’s White Helmets became victims of an online propaganda machine” published on 18 December.  This article asserted that those who have questioned the ostensible role of the White Helmets as an impartial humanitarian organization, including the experienced journalists Vanessa Beeley and Eva Bartlett, are part of “a network of anti-imperialist activists, conspiracy theorists and trolls with the support of the Russian government “.  

We sent on 23 December a request (reproduced below) to Comment is Free requesting that they consider for publication a brief (800-word) response to Solon’s article.  This article set out the grounds for a more serious engagement with the questions that arise from UK and US government support for media-related operations in Syria.  The text of this article is reproduced below.  The original is attached as a Word document, in case the embedded links do not work in the unformatted text.

Despite a second message on 28 December specifically requesting a written response to the original message on 23 December (and copied to you), we have not had any response from the Guardian other than automated acknowledgements.   Before we proceed to publish this material elsewhere, it is important to document that this article has been seen by an editor and rejected (if that was the decision).   I understand that Comment is Free editors are not able to reply to every pitch, but this one concerns an article that has serious implications for the Guardian’s reputation.

We request therefore that you ask your editorial colleagues to respond in writing with a confirmation that our article has been seen and rejected.  A one-sentence email message from an editor would be enough – we shall not bother you again.

Signed:

Prof. Tim Hayward, Professor of Environmental Political Theory, University of Edinburgh

Prof. Paul McKeigue, Professor of Genetic Epidemiology and Statistical Genetics, University of Edinburgh

Prof. Piers Robinson, Chair in Politics, Society and Political Journalism, University of Sheffield

January 13, 2018 Posted by | Deception, Fake News, Mainstream Media, Warmongering | , , , | 2 Comments

Neocon Think Tanks Not Russian Media Are the Enemy Within

By John Wight | Sputnik | January 12, 2018

The latest salvo in the ongoing attempt to de-legitimize and demonize Russia-based media has arrived with a directive from the US Justice Department that Sputnik News in the US must register as a foreign agent.

In this regard Sputnik now joins RT America (previously directed to register as a foreign agent) in being stigmatized as peddling propaganda instead of news and news analysis, its journalists and contributors smeared by association, in the context of a wider neo-McCarthyite offensive unleashed with the aim of pushing back against opposition to neoconservative nostrums and influence on Western foreign policy, along with its neoliberal economic counterpart.

What needs to be stressed is that this offensive is being waged not so much against Russian media as against Western dissident voices who dare appear on Russian media. It is an attack on the free speech of US citizens – and also on UK and European citizens given that the same offensive is underway in those parts of the world – on their right to ply their trade as journalists, writers, broadcasters and political analysts.

The reasoning behind this censorious campaign is not, as claimed, because those dissident voices are engaged in peddling falsehoods, lies and propaganda; instead it is because they deign to expose the actual causes of the seemingly unending wars and economic, social, political and refugee crises that are the norm in our time.

The most penetrating truths are often the most simply expressed, a truism given credence by the life and words of US labor leader and anti-war activist, Eugene Debs at the turn of the last century. “War does not come by chance,” the great man said in the context of his unstinting opposition to the First World War. “War is not the result of accident. There is a definite cause for war, especially a modern war.”

In our time the “definite cause for war” is Washington’s determination to maintain the ability of Western global corporations to rampage across the globe unimpeded, Wall Street to suck up the world’s surplus capital, and the continuing supremacy of the US dollar, backed up by a gargantuan military which stands as a monument not to democracy but imperialism.

Those committed to attacking the Western dissidents who appear on and work for Russian media do so on the basis of defending and maintaining this status quo, providing political and ideological support for regime change without end, no matter the scale of the carnage, human suffering and destabilization that ensues in its vapor trails.

By ‘those’ I refer specifically to the murky network of neocon think tanks such as the Henry Jackson Society, the Atlantic Council, and the Council on Foreign Relations, along with the veritable rogues gallery of funders and sponsors supporting them and their works. The aforesaid think tanks are, along with too many others to mention, institutions in which a coterie of expensively-educated, democracy-denying, regime change cranks work day and night producing papers ‘exposing’ Russian media and strategizing against supposed Russian influence and interference in the internal affairs of Western democracies. This they do while ascribing lurid and sensationalist motives to the actions of countries, such as Russia, whose refusal to bow to Washington marks them as the enemy without at the same time as its media, and by implication those who work for and contribute to its media, as the enemy within.

The pressing problem a world interested in the rule of law and stability has to contend with, however, is not alleged Russian interference in the internal affairs of Western democracies; the problem has and continues to be Western interference – or attempted interference – in the internal affairs of Russia, Venezuela, North Korea, Cuba, Syria, Libya, and Iraq, etc. This is the true source of the ills the world is grappling with.

When you have a mainstream media outlet in the West such as Foreign Policy magazine carrying an article under the less than cryptic title, ‘It’s Time To Bomb North Korea’, you start to gain an insight into the virulent strain of moral sickness which has those who pen such articles, not forgetting the media that publishes such articles, in its grip. And when you have former NATO staffers such as Ben Nimmo of the Atlantic Council publishing articles exploring the work of Sputnik contributors, such as myself, with the intention of extrapolating some dark conspiratorial motive for the pattern of said articles, you know you must be doing something right.

As an aside, I would like to extend Mr Nimmo a friendly invitation to come on my Sputnik radio show, Hard Facts, to discuss these matters further. It could be the radio equivalent of Ali-Frazier. I’ll be Ali, gliding round the ring popping him with a righteous jab, exposing his lack of movement, mobility and defense, while he can be Frazier, coming at me in straight lines, bobbing and weaving, trying to land that famous left hook but hitting fresh air.

The claim that Russian media is propaganda is in itself propaganda. The claim that Russia is interfering in ‘our’ democracy is in itself interference in ‘our’ democracy, what with those making this charge arrogating to themselves the right and power to adjudicate over election outcomes and ascribe legitimacy or illegitimacy to them as they deem fit. For such people there are invisible red lines beyond which people tread at their peril.

Dare, for example, to declaim against NATO as a Western military alliance engaged in the projection of imperial power rather than the defender of peace and democracy it claims to be, you are deemed beyond the pale. Describe the 2003 US-led war on Iraq as a crime entirely compatible with Western cultural values, rather than a mistake wholly out of keeping with those values, and you are deemed beyond the pale. Refuse to accept that head-chopping extremists in Syria are ‘moderate rebels’, and refuse to refer to the Syrian government as the Syrian regime, and you soon find yourself regarded as persona non grata.

However, paraphrasing English liberal philosopher John Stuart Mill, better an anti-imperialist pilloried and demonized than a fanatical neocon in clover.

January 13, 2018 Posted by | Fake News, Full Spectrum Dominance, Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Russophobia, Timeless or most popular | | 2 Comments

Democrat Senators publish a deeply disturbing and profoundly racist report about Russia

By Alexander Mercouris | The Duran | January 12, 2018

In the aftermath of Russiagate a group of Democratic Party Senators have published one of the most bizarre and disturbing reports ever to issue from the US Senate.

The best way to summarise it is to say that it takes every single charge which has ever been made against Vladimir Putin and Russia and repeats them whilst ignoring any evidence which contradicts them.

The whole dreary catalogue is there: the 1999 Moscow apartment bombings, the Khodorkovsky prosecutions, the Politkovskaya and Litvinenko murders, the Magnitsky affair, Putin’s billions, Chechnya, the 2008 South Ossetia war, Crimea, the Ukrainian conflict, the state sponsorship of organised crime, the use of gas exports as a political weapon, the malign influence of RT and Sputnik, the sponsorship of extreme right groups in Europe, the Russian role in the Brexit vote, and even the Russian Olympic doping scandal.

To anyone accustomed to reading articles about Vladimir Putin and Russia in such places as the Washington Post, the New York Times, the Economist and the Guardian, it is all very familiar.  Indeed at times the report reads like an extended version of one of those articles.

In every case Vladimir Putin is the villain of the piece, demonically plotting to destroy democracy both in Russia and the West for reasons which incidentally are never made wholly clear.

As examples of where the report ignores contradictory evidence in order to make its case I will cite just five examples amongst the many others which could be made:

(1) The report claims that no-one has ever “credibly” claimed responsibility for the 1999 Moscow apartment bombings.

To this day, no credible source has ever claimed credit for the bombings and no credible evidence has been presented by the Russian authorities linking Chechen terrorists, or anyone else, to the Moscow bombings. As the public polling results show, there is still considerable doubt

The report says this in order to support its claim that Vladimir Putin and the Russian security services were actually responsible for the bombings.

However this is simply not true.  The Chechen and Jihadi warlord Shamil Basayev and his Saudi associate Al-Khattab made quite clear who was responsible for the bombings in comments made shortly after they took place, linking the bombings quite clearly to the ongoing conflict in the Russian Caucasian republic of Dagestan, which they had just invaded with a volunteer army of Jihadi fighters.

Here is how Wikipedia reports their comments

Commenting on the attacks, Shamil Basayev said: “The latest blast in Moscow is not our work, but the work of the Dagestanis. Russia has been openly terrorizing Dagestan, it encircled three villages in the centre of Dagestan, did not allow women and children to leave.”[35] Al-Khattab, who was reportedly close with Basayev, said the attacks were a response to what the Russians had done in Karamakhi and Chabanmakhi, two Dagestani villages where followers of the Wahhabi sect were living until the Russian army bombed them out.[39] A group called the Liberation army of Dagestan claimed responsibility for the apartment bombings.[39][40][41][42]

The “Liberation Army of Dagestan” is now widely acknowledged to be one and the same as the Islamic Army of Dagestan formed by Basayev and Al-Khattab in 1999 to attack Dagestan.

There is no doubt that Jihadi terrorists were responsible for the Moscow apartment bombings.  As the report rather grudgingly acknowledges many of those involved in the bombings were subsequently rounded up and put on trial for the bombings by the Russian authorities.

The outcome of the trials has never to my knowledge been challenged by the European Court of Human Rights which has the jurisdiction to do so and which would no doubt have done so if there had been anything about the trials which was obviously wrong.

All the major participants in the bombings have been identified and are known and it is or should be a fringe conspiracy theory to allege that Putin and the Russian authorities were responsible for them.

It is nonetheless that fringe conspiracy theory which the Democratic Senators have adopted for their report.

(2) The report repeats the common Western charge that the Russian billionaire oligarch Mikhail Khodorkovsky was arrested and persecuted because of his political activities

Putin and his allies have neutered political competition by creating rubber-stamp opposition parties and harassing legitimate opposition. For example, Mikhail Khodorkovsky, the founder of the Russian oil company Yukos, was imprisoned for more than a decade on a spate of charges deemed to be politically motivated.

His prosecution could be broadly interpreted as a signal to other powerful oligarchs that supporting independent or anti-Putin parties carries great risk to one’s personal wealth and well-being.

This ignores the fact the European Court of Human Rights – the court with the authority to pronounce on this issue – has repeatedly said in a lengthy succession of Judgments that Khodorkovsky was convicted and imprisoned not because of his political activities but because he carried out a gigantic tax fraud – just as the Russian authorities have said – and that the case against him was not therefore brought for political reasons as the report says.

(3) The report repeats the charge that President Putin did away with direct election of governors in 2004 as part of a cynical power-grab

In 2004, Putin ‘‘radically restructured’’ the Russian political system by eliminating the election of regional governors by popular vote in favor of centrally directed appointments, characterizing this significant power grab as an effort to forge ‘‘national cohesion’’ in the wake of the terrorist attack at a school in Beslan in North Ossetia.

This ignores the fact that in 2012 direct election of governors was brought back again, something which the report never mentions.

It is fair to say that this reversal of the supposed “radical restructuring” of the Russian political system which took place in 2004 has not led to the dramatic changes in political conditions in Russia that some expected.

However that points to the underlying truth about the supposedly “radical restructuring” which supposedly took place in 2004: it wasn’t radical at all.

Though it is true that in 2004 Putin assumed the power to appoint governors to Russian regions, these appointments had to be approved by the parliament of the region to which the governor was appointed.

In practise regional parliaments showed no interest in challenging Putin’s nominees, just as regional electorates have shown little interest in the gubernational elections which were reintroduced in 2012, which almost always result in Putin’s nominees being elected.

This points to the political reality in Russia today.  As is the case in most countries – including by the way the US – there is scant interest in politics at a regional level, whilst the reason Russia is politically stable is not because of the country’s institutional structure – which is its internal affair – but because the government is popular and enjoys legitimacy.

(4) The report gives an extraordinarily elliptical and mendacious account of the causes of the 2008 South Ossetia war

Leading up to August 2008, tensions had been growing in South Ossetia and Abkhazia, regions that had been contested since Georgia’s independence in 1991. South Ossetian separatists shelled Georgian villages in early August, which led to the deployment of the Georgian military to the area.417 The Russian military responded by pushing the Georgian troops out of South Ossetia with a heavy assault of tanks.418 It soon became clear that the Russian attack was not limited to just conventional military means, but was much more comprehensive in scope

This completely ignores the fact that the EU’s Independent Fact Finding Mission Report headed by the Swiss lawyer Heidi Tagliavini, though making severe criticisms of Russia’s conduct during the war, nonetheless concluded that it was Georgia’s President Mikheil Saakashvili not Russia who started the war.

As it happens Vladimir Putin was away in Beijing attending the 2008 Summer Olympics at the time when the war started.  That is hardly consistent with him planning or indeed expecting the war to start when it did.

(5) The report in a lengthy appendix discussing the Russian Olympic doping scandal treats the Russian government’s involvement in the doping of Russian athletes as proved. However the International Olympic Committee’s own investigation of this claim says quite clearly that it has not been proved.  See my detailed discussion here.

These are just five examples taken at random where the report simply ignores contrary evidence in order to make its case.

Anyone willing to plough through the 200 plus pages of the report is welcome to do so if they wish to find others.

The report is also characterised by some quite remarkable leaps of logic.

For example the fact that President Putin and Russia are extremely popular in Bulgaria is President Putin’s and Russia’s fault.  President Putin and Russia are also somehow to blame for the fact that there is massive corruption in Ukraine.

Presumably President Putin and Russia should be working to make themselves unpopular in Bulgaria, and presumably they also control Ukraine’s anti-corruption endeavours and are responsible for their failure despite the intense hostility to Russia of the current Ukrainian government.

The report in fact harps on the subject of “Russian corruption” to a frankly unhinged degree.

Not only are Putin and Russia corrupt but they ‘export’ corruption everywhere so that corruption wherever it happens whether in Ukraine or elsewhere is caused by them.

By way of example the political conflict in Catalonia is not the result of internal tensions within Catalonia.  It is the result of a plan by corrupt Russian businessmen and organised crime chiefs to gain control of Catalonia in order to secure the wealth they have hidden there, and to gain control of Catalonia’s economy by driving out the Spanish and European firms which were formerly based there.

The association of Russia with corruption highlights another fact about the report.

It begins with the common ritual statement that its quarrel is with President Putin and his “regime” and not with the Russian people

…..it is important to draw a distinction between Mr. Putin’s corrupt regime and the people of Russia. Many Russian citizens strive for a transparent, accountable government that operates under the democratic rule of law, and we hold hope for better relations in the future with a Russian government that reflects these demands.

In practice, as the obsession with Russian corruption all too clearly shows, the report finds it impossible to sustain this claim.  Hostility not just to Putin and his “regime” but to Russia itself is in fact present in every paragraph.

Thus the report contains a lengthy and tendentious discussion of Soviet disinformation activities during the Cold War though their relevance to what President Putin and his government are doing today is not obvious.

However the Soviets who carried out these disinformation activities were (mainly) Russians, which is obviously the reason the report discusses them at such length.

In other words Russians always and invariably engage in disinformation: they did so during the Cold War at the time of the USSR, and – because they are Russians – they are doing so again now.

Even the Russian government’s efforts to support Russian culture both at home and abroad is somehow sinister, as if the promotion of Russian culture is in itself sinister

Under Putin, the Kremlin has engaged and boosted cultural forces and religious institutions inside Russia to provide an additional bulwark against the democratic values and actors it paints as anathema to the country’s interests….

The Kremlin funds, directly or indirectly, a number of government-organized non-governmental organizations (GONGOs), nongovernmental organizations (NGOs), and think tanks throughout Russia and Europe. These groups carry out a number of functions, from disseminating pro-Kremlin views to seeking to influence elections abroad.

Following a series of ‘‘color revolutions’’ in former Soviet Union republics like Ukraine and Kyrgyzstan, in 2006 the Russian government established the World Coordination Council of Russian Compatriots, which is responsible for coordinating the activities of Russian organizations abroad and their communications with the Kremlin.

Some GONGOs that receive and disburse funds from the Kremlin, such as the Russkiy Mir Foundation and Rossotrudnichestvo, established in 2007 and 2008, are headquartered in Russia but have branches throughout the EU, and are led by senior Russian political figures like the foreign minister or the chair of the foreign affairs committee of the upper house of the parliament.

Kremlin-linked oligarchs also sit on the boards of many of the GONGOs.

Based on conservative estimates from publicly available data, the Kremlin spends about $130 million a year through foundations like Rossotrudnichestvo and the Gorchakov fund, and, in 2015, channeled another $103 million in presidential grants to NGOs; after including support from state enterprises and private companies, however, actual funding levels may be much higher.

Most of the Russian government’s funding is focused on post-Soviet ‘’swing states’’ like Ukraine, Moldova, Georgia, and Armenia, but Kremlin-supported groups also operate in the Baltic states and the Balkans, especially Serbia and Bulgaria.

The Russkiy Mir Foundation which is referred to here is a cultural foundation and is Russia’s equivalent of the British Council and Germany’s Goethe Institute.

Rossotrudnichestvo is a Russian government agency concerned with administering civilian foreign aid programmes, principally within the territories of the former USSR.

The Gorchakov Fund is a publicly funded body intended to support Russian diplomacy (Russian Foreign Minister Lavrov and former Russian Foreign Minister Ivanov are both trustees).

There is no justification for conflating the work of Rossotrudnichestvo and of the Gorchakov Fund with the quite different work of the Russkiy Mir Foundation, and it misrepresents the nature of the Russkiy Mir Foundation to do so.

Consistent with its hostility to the Russian government’s efforts to support Russian culture is the report’s intense and frankly sinister hostility to the Orthodox Church, to which the report devotes a whole chapter.  Thus we read

One prominent example is the strong ties that Putin and his inner circle have forged with the Russian Orthodox Church and its affiliates.

The Russian Orthodox Church enjoys special recognition under Russian law, while in contrast, laws such as the 2006 NGO laws and the 2016 ‘‘Yarovaya’’ package of counterterrorism laws have enabled pressure against non-Russian Orthodox religious entities through cumbersome registration processes and administrative constraints, restrictions on proselytizing, and expanded surveillance.

Additionally, the U.S. State Department has reported that the Russian state has provided security and official vehicles to the Russian Orthodox patriarch (but not to other religious leaders) and noted reports that the Russian Orthodox Church has been a ‘‘primary beneficiary’’ of presidential grants ostensibly designed to reduce NGO dependence on foreign funding.103 In return for the state’s favor, the Russian Orthodox Church has promoted Putin and the state’s policies at multiple turns.

A former editor of the official journal of the Moscow Patriarchate (the seat of the Russian Orthodox Church and its affiliated churches outside the country) told The New York Times in 2016 that ‘‘The [Russian Orthodox] church has become an instrument of the Russian state. It is used to extend and legitimize the interests of the Kremlin.’’

This is noteworthy given Putin’s roots in the KGB—the tip of the Soviet spear in restricting religious activity during the Communist era—and it reflects a careful cultivation of his identity as a man of faith and a defender of the Orthodox faithful.

The image of Putin as defender of traditional religious and cultural values has also been leveraged by the Kremlin ‘‘as both an ideology and a source of influence abroad.’’

In projecting itself as ‘‘the natural ally of those who pine for a more secure, illiberal world free from the tradition-crushing rush of globalization, multiculturalism and women’s and gay rights,’’ the Russian government has been able to mobilize some Orthodox actors in places like Moldova and Montenegro to vigorously oppose integration with the West…..

Just as the Kremlin has strengthened its relationship with the Russian Orthodox Church and used it to bolster its standing at home, the Russian Orthodox Church also serves as its proxy abroad, and the two institutions [Russia’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Russian Orthodox Church – AM] have several overlapping foreign policy objectives……

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs has also used Kirill to promote a relativistic view of human rights at the United Nations, arranging for him to give a speech in 2008 (before he was Patriarch) at the UN Human Rights Council, where he bemoaned that ‘‘there is a strong influence of feministic views and homosexual attitudes in the formulation of rules, recommendations and programs in human rights advocacy.’’

According to a report by Chatham House, in Ukraine, Georgia, and Armenia, Orthodox parent committees, modelled on similar Russian Orthodox committees, have launched attacks on LGBT and feminist groups.

These committees ‘‘claim that gender equality is a Western construct intended to spread homosexuality in Eastern Europe, blaming the United States and the EU for the decay of ‘moral health’ in the respective societies.’’

The Russian Orthodox Church also enjoys strong financial backing from Kremlin-linked oligarchs Konstantin Malofeev and Vladimir Yakunin, who are both under U.S. sanctions.

In Bulgaria and Romania, the Kremlin even allegedly coopted Orthodox priests to lead anti-fracking protests.

In Moldova, senior priests have worked to halt the country’s integration with Europe (leading anti-homosexual protests and even claiming that new biometric passports for the EU were ‘’satanic’’ because they had a 13-digit number), and priests in Montenegro led efforts to block the country from joining NATO.

These comments paint Orthodox priests and believers everywhere and not just in Russia as proxies of the Kremlin, denying them any independent agency – at least when they speak out against Western cultural practices and US policies – and representing them as enemies of democracy.

To which all I can say is that Western attitudes to the Orthodox Church have witnessed an extraordinary reversal within my lifetime.

During the Soviet period the Orthodox Church was the heroic victim of Soviet persecution.  Today it is the despicable handmaiden of Russian power. The one constant is Western hostility to the Russian government.  That never changes.

The greater part of the report is however taken up with the now standard accusations about Russia’s supposed disinformation strategy and the way Russian media agencies like RT and Sputnik are supposedly destabilising the West and are interfering in Western political processes.

There are the usual calls to counter and censor these agencies and to police social media and the internet in order to discredit or eliminate these pro-Russian voices, “pro-Russian” in this context being anyone anywhere who voices any criticisms of the foreign policy of the United States or who makes any criticisms of its domestic conditions, even if that person is an American.

This harping on Russia’s disinformation strategy is every bit as obsessive as everything else in the report.

Its starting point is the belief that Russians – including of course the Russian media – have no right to hold or express views on any question which disagree with those of the US government.

That in turn leads inexorably to the assumption that when Russians do express such views they must be acting in bad faith.

The totalitarian nature of this reasoning is obvious, but the Democratic Senators who have authored the report seem oblivious to it.

Reading the report it is in fact quite clear that its authors believe that ‘disinformation’ is what Russians do, so that the Russians are ultimately responsible for all ‘disinformation’ wherever it takes place.  Thus if a false story appears anywhere on the internet it must be the Russians who are to blame for it.

Moreover since no right thinking person could ever agree with the Russians on any issue – and certainly not on any issue which involves criticism of or disagreement with the US government – it follows that anyone who does so must be either a Russian agent or a “useful idiot”.

This is not just totalitarian thinking; it is also profoundly paranoid thinking.  At one level it demonstrates an astonishing loss of nerve.  During the Cold War it was the Soviets who placed restrictions on the flow of information.  Now the reverse is happening.  It is however the paranoia which stands out.

This is all the more ironic in that the report actually contains a chapter entitled “the Kremlin’s paranoid pathology”.

This chapter despite its title in fact contains only one passage which discusses Russian beliefs in order to show that they are paranoid

Putin’s regime and most of the Russian people view the history of the late 20th century and early 21st century in a starkly different light than most of the West does. The historical narrative popular in Russia paints this period as one of repeated attempts by the West to undermine and humiliate Russia.

In reality, the perceived aggression of the United States and the West against Russia allows Putin to ignore his domestic failures and present himself as the leader of a wartime nation: a ‘‘Fortress Russia.’’

This narrative repeatedly flogs core themes like enemy encirclement, conspiracy, and struggle, and portrays the United States, NATO, and Europe as conspiring to encircle Russia and make it subservient to the West. As part of this supposed conspiracy, the EU goes after former Soviet lands like Ukraine, and Western spies use civil society groups to meddle in and interfere with Russian affairs.

(bold italics added)

This is the only passage in the report which admits that the Russian people and President Putin and the Russian government on a specific issue believe one and the same thing.

The problem with this passage is however that the Russian beliefs it discusses cannot be described as paranoid for the simple reason that Russians are right to believe them.

Recently declassified documents have now confirmed what in truth has been known all along: that the West promised Russia on multiple occasions that NATO would not be extended eastwards, and that the West subsequently broke this promise.

Western interference in Ukraine is not a matter of opinion; it is a matter of fact.

So is Western interference in Russian domestic politics, with Time magazine for example openly bragging about the US’s role in engineering Boris Yeltsin’s fraudulent election victory in 1996.

By contrast believing that stories which appear in the Russian media and the relatively small number of often contradictory social media messages which are claimed to originate in Russia can have any significant impact on Western political processes is paranoid, as is constantly harping on about supposed Russian misdeeds even when evidence has appeared which proves they are not true (see above).

What then is the significance of this strange report?

At its most basic, the report must be seen as a shot in the bitter partisan conflict which is currently raging in the US between President Trump and his Democratic Party opponents.

That the primary target of the report is actually President Trump – who continues to say that he wants better relations with Russia – is confirmed by these words in the report

Following attacks like Pearl Harbor and 9/11, U.S. presidents have rallied the country and the world to address the challenges facing the nation. Yet the current President of the United States has barely acknowledged the threat posed by Mr. Putin’s repeated attacks on democratic governments and institutions, let alone exercised the kind of leadership history has shown is necessary to effectively counter this kind of aggression.

Never before in American history has so clear a threat to national security been so clearly ignored by a U.S. president.

The threat posed by Mr. Putin’s meddling existed before the current U.S. Administration, and may well extend beyond it. Yet, as this report will demonstrate, the Russian government’s malign influence operations can be deterred.

Several countries in Europe took notice of the Kremlin’s efforts to interfere in the 2016 U.S. election and realized the danger posed to their democracies. They have taken steps to build resilience against Mr. Putin’s aggression and interference, and the range of effective measures implemented by European countries provide valuable lessons for the United States.

To that end, this report recommends a series of actions that the United States should take across government, civil society, and the private sector—and in cooperation with our allies—to push back against the Kremlin’s aggression and establish a set of long-term norms that can neutralize such efforts to undermine democracy.

Yet it must be noted that without leadership from the President, any attempt to marshal such a response will be inherently weakened at the outset

(bold italics added)

The trouble is that the paranoid language of the report shows that the Democratic Party Senators who have authored it believe what they say.

They are not conjuring up an invented threat from Russia in order to attack Donald Trump. Rather their reason for attacking Donald Trump is first and foremost because he does not share their paranoid view of Russia.

To suppose otherwise would be both complacent and wrong.

That makes the prospect of any rapprochement taking place between the US and Russia in any foreseeable future extremely improbable, to put it mildly.

Even if this is only a minority report, the fact that it has not been ridiculed and criticised across the US for the paranoid and preposterous document that it is shows the extent to which paranoia about Russia within the US elite has become universal and internalised.

Paranoia of this intensity is not susceptible to reason or argument, and it is all but impossible to see how a rapprochement between the US and Russia is possible when there are so many powerful people in the US who hold these views.

The report also shows the intense pressure Donald Trump is under to be even tougher with Russia than the US already is.

As well as demanding the banning or restriction of “pro-Russian” voices in the media and on the internet, the authors of the report press for intensified confrontation with Russia on every possible front.

They want more military spending to confront Russia, more military deployments close to Russia’s borders, more interference in Russian domestic processes, more efforts to block Russian oil and gas exports to Europe, they want Nord Stream 2 cancelled, and they demand an almost certainly illegal prohibition on US citizens buying Russian sovereign debt.

Even if some of these demands are unworkable or are resisted, the pressure is so intense that some of them at least are likely to be implemented, whilst the prospect of any relaxation of the restrictions which are already in place quite simply is not there.

In the longer term it is difficult to avoid being deeply disturbed by all this.

Back on 12th October 2016 I wrote an article for The Duran discussing how racism against Russians has become the one form of racism which continues to be acceptable in the West, and how this racism and the ugly stereotyping of Russians to which it gives rise is dangerous because it lowers the threshold where violence against Russians becomes acceptable.

This report – with its hostile attitude towards the spread of Russian culture and to the Russian Orthodox Church, and its depiction of corruption, aggression, disinformation and organised crime activity as peculiarly Russian activities – is a case in point.

It is inconceivable that such a report could be written about the cultural, religious and information policies of any other other country – Israel or China are obvious example – without this provoking a furious outcry. By contrast in the case of Russia such a report not only can be published; it is widely treated as authoritative and goes unchallenged.

What the report shows is how far these anti-Russian attitudes which can be accurately called racist – and which President Putin has recently compared to anti-semitism – have become internalised even at the highest levels of the US government and of the US political elite, so that it is not only possible but even respectable to repeat them there.

That is a very worrying fact, and it is impossible to see how it can end any way but badly.

January 12, 2018 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Fake News, Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Russophobia, Timeless or most popular | , | 1 Comment

The FBI Hand Behind Russia-gate

By Ray McGovern | Consortium News | January 11, 2018

Russia-gate is becoming FBI-gate, thanks to the official release of unguarded text messages between loose-lipped FBI counterintelligence official Peter Strzok and his garrulous girlfriend, FBI lawyer Lisa Page. (Ten illustrative texts from their exchange appear at the end of this article.)

Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton in their third debate,
as Clinton called Trump Vladimir Putin’s “puppet.”

Despite his former job as chief of the FBI’s counterintelligence section, Strzok had the naive notion that texting on FBI phones could not be traced. Strzok must have slept through “Security 101.” Or perhaps he was busy texting during that class. Girlfriend Page cannot be happy at being misled by his assurance that using office phones would be a secure way to conduct their affair(s).

It would have been unfortunate enough for Strzok and Page to have their adolescent-sounding texts merely exposed, revealing the reckless abandon of star-crossed lovers hiding (they thought) secrets from cuckolded spouses, office colleagues, and the rest of us. However, for the never-Trump plotters in the FBI, the official release of just a fraction (375) of almost 10,000 messages does incalculably more damage than that.

We suddenly have documentary proof that key elements of the U.S. intelligence community were trying to short-circuit the U.S. democratic process. And that puts in a new and dark context the year-long promotion of Russia-gate. It now appears that it was not the Russians trying to rig the outcome of the U.S. election, but leading officials of the U.S. intelligence community, shadowy characters sometimes called the Deep State.

More of the Strzok-Page texting dialogue is expected to be released. And the Department of Justice Inspector General reportedly has additional damaging texts from others on the team that Special Counsel Robert Mueller selected to help him investigate Russia-gate.

Besides forcing the removal of Strzok and Page, the text exposures also sounded the death knell for the career of FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe, in whose office some of the plotting took place and who has already announced his plans to retire soon.

But the main casualty is the FBI’s 18-month campaign to sabotage candidate-and-now-President Donald Trump by using the Obama administration’s Russia-gate intelligence “assessment,” electronic surveillance of dubious legality, and a salacious dossier that could never pass the smell test, while at the same time using equally dubious techniques to immunize Hillary Clinton and her closest advisers from crimes that include lying to the FBI and endangering secrets.

Ironically, the Strzok-Page texts provide something that the Russia-gate investigation has been sorely lacking: first-hand evidence of both corrupt intent and action. After months of breathless searching for “evidence” of Russian-Trump collusion designed to put Trump in the White House, what now exists is actual evidence that senior officials of the Obama administration colluded to keep Trump out of the White House – proof of what old-time gumshoes used to call “means, motive and opportunity.”

Even more unfortunately for Russia-gate enthusiasts, the FBI lovers’ correspondence provides factual evidence exposing much of the made-up “Resistance” narrative – the contrived storyline that The New York Times and much of the rest of the U.S. mainstream media deemed fit to print with little skepticism and few if any caveats, a scenario about brilliantly devious Russians that not only lacks actual evidence – relying on unverified hearsay and rumor – but doesn’t make sense on its face.

The Russia-gate narrative always hinged on the preposterous notion that Russian President Vladimir Putin foresaw years ago what no American political analyst considered even possible, the political ascendancy of Donald Trump. According to the narrative, the fortune-telling Putin then risked creating even worse tensions with a nuclear-armed America that would – by all odds – have been led by a vengeful President Hillary Clinton.

Besides this wildly improbable storyline, there were flat denials from WikiLeaks, which distributed the supposedly “hacked” Democratic emails, that the information came from Russia – and there was the curious inability of the National Security Agency to use its immense powers to supply any technical evidence to support the Russia-hack scenario.

The Trump Shock

But the shock of Trump’s election and the decision of many never-Trumpers to cast their lot with the Resistance led to a situation in which any prudent skepticism or demand for evidence was swept aside.

So, on Jan. 6, 2017, President Obama’s Director of National Intelligence James Clapper released an evidence-free report that he said was compiled by “hand-picked” analysts from the CIA, FBI and NSA, offering an “assessment” that Russia and President Putin were behind the release of the Democratic emails in a plot to help Trump win the presidency.

Despite the extraordinary gravity of the charge, even New York Times correspondent Scott Shane noted that proof was lacking. He wrote at the time: “What is missing from the [the Jan. 6] public report is what many Americans most eagerly anticipated: hard evidence to back up the agencies’ claims that the Russian government engineered the election attack. … Instead, the message from the agencies essentially amounts to ‘trust us.’”

But the “assessment” served a useful purpose for the never-Trumpers: it applied an official imprimatur on the case for delegitimizing Trump’s election and even raised the long-shot hope that the Electoral College might reverse the outcome and possibly install a compromise candidate, such as former Secretary of State Colin Powell, in the White House. Though the Powell ploy fizzled, the hope of somehow removing Trump from office continued to bubble, fueled by the growing hysteria around Russia-gate.

Virtually all skepticism about the evidence-free “assessment” was banned. For months, the Times and other newspapers of record repeated the lie that all 17 U.S. intelligence agencies had concurred in the conclusion about the Russian “hack.” Even when that falsehood was belatedly acknowledged, the major news outlets just shifted the phrasing slightly to say that U.S. intelligence agencies had reached the Russian “hack” conclusion. Shane’s blunt initial recognition about the lack of proof disappeared from the mainstream media’s approved narrative of Russia-gate.

Doubts about the Russian “hack” or dissident suggestions that what we were witnessing was a “soft coup” were scoffed at by leading media commentators. Other warnings from veteran U.S. intelligence professionals about the weaknesses of the Russia-gate narrative and the danger of letting politicized intelligence overturn a constitutional election were also brushed aside in pursuit of the goal of removing Trump from the White House.

It didn’t even seem to matter when new Russia-gate disclosures conflicted with the original narrative that Putin had somehow set Trump up as a Manchurian candidate. All normal journalistic skepticism was jettisoned. It was as if the Russia-gate advocates started with the conclusion that Trump must go and then made the facts fit into that mold, but anyone who noted the violations of normal investigative procedures was dismissed as a “Trump enabler” or a “Moscow stooge.”

The Text Evidence

But then came the FBI text messages, providing documentary evivdence that key FBI officials involved in the Russia-gate investigation were indeed deeply biased and out to get Trump, adding hard proof to Trump’s longstanding lament that he was the subject of a “witch hunt.”

Justified or not, Trump’s feeling of vindication could hardly be more dangerous — particularly at a time when the most urgent need is to drain some testosterone from the self-styled Stable-Genius-in-Chief and his martinet generals.

On the home front, Trump, his wealthy friends, and like-thinkers in Congress may now feel they have an even wider carte blanche to visit untold misery on the poor, the widow, the stranger and other vulnerable humans. That was always an underlying danger of the Resistance’s strategy to seize on whatever weapons were available – no matter how reckless or unfair – to “get Trump.”

Beyond that, Russia-gate has become so central to the Washington establishment’s storyline that there appears to be no room for second-thoughts or turning back. The momentum is such that some Democrats and the media never-Trumpers can’t stop stoking the smoke of Russia-gate and holding out hope against hope that it will somehow justify Trump’s impeachment.

Yet, the sordid process of using legal/investigative means to settle political scores further compromises the principle of the “rule of law” and integrity of journalism in the eyes of many Americans. After a year of Russia-gate, the “rule of law” and “pursuit of truth” appear to have been reduced to high-falutin’ phrases for political score-setttling, a process besmirched by Republicans in earlier pursuits of Democrats and now appearing to be a bipartisan method for punishing political rivals regardless of the lack of evidence.

Strzok and Page

Peter Strzok (pronounced “struck”) has an interesting pedigree with multiple tasks regarding both Mrs. Clinton and Mr. Trump. As the FBI’s chief of counterespionage during the investigation into then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s unauthorized use of a personal email server for classified information, Strzok reportedly changed the words “grossly negligent” (which could have triggered legal prosecution) to the far less serious “extremely careless” in FBI Director James Comey’s depiction of Clinton’s actions. This semantic shift cleared the way for Comey to conclude just 20 days before the Democratic National Convention began in July 2016, that “no reasonable prosecutor” would bring charges against Mrs. Clinton.

Then, as Deputy Assistant Director of the Counterintelligence Division, Strzok led the FBI’s investigation into alleged Russian interference in the U.S. election of 2016. It is a safe bet that he took a strong hand in hand-picking the FBI contingent of analysts that joined “hand-picked” counterparts from CIA and NSA in preparing the evidence-free, Jan. 6, 2017 assessment accusing Russian President Vladimir Putin of interfering in the election of 2016. (Although accepted in Establishment groupthink as revealed truth, that poor excuse for analysis reflected the apogee of intelligence politicization — rivaled only by the fraudulent intelligence on “weapons of mass destruction“ in Iraq 15 years ago.)

In June and July 2017 Strzok was the top FBI official working on Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into possible links between the Trump campaign and Russia, but was taken off that job when the Justice Department IG learned of the Strzok-Page text-message exchange and told Mueller.

There is no little irony in the fact that what did in the FBI sweathearts was their visceral disdain for Mr. Trump, their cheerleading-cum-kid-gloves treatment of Mrs. Clinton and her associates, their 1950-ish, James Clapperesque attitude toward Russians as “almost genetically driven” to evil, and their (Strzok/Page) elitist conviction that they know far better what is good for the country than regular American citizens, including those “deplorables” whom Clinton said made up half of Trump’s supporters.

But Strzok/Page had no idea that their hubris, elitism and scheming would be revealed in so tangible a way. Worst of all for them, the very thing that Strzok, in particular, worked so hard to achieve — the sabotaging of Trump and immunization of Mrs. Clinton and her closest advisers is now coming apart at the seams.

Congress: Oversee? or Overlook?

At this point, the $64 question is whether the various congressional oversight committees will remain ensconced in their customarily cozy role as “overlook” committees, or whether they will have the courage to attempt to carry out their Constitutional duty. The latter course would mean confronting a powerful Deep State and its large toolbox of well-practiced retaliatory techniques, including J. Edgar Hoover-style blackmail on steroids, enabled by electronic surveillance of just about everything and everyone. Yes, today’s technology permits blanket collection, and “Collect Everything” has become the motto.

Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-New York, with almost four decades of membership in the House and Senate, openly warned incoming President Trump in January 2017 against criticizing the U.S. intelligence community because U.S. intelligence officials have “six ways from Sunday to get back at you” if you are “dumb” enough to take them on.

Thanks to the almost 10,000 text messages between Strzok and Page, only a small fraction of which were given to Congress four weeks ago, there is now real evidentiary meat on the bones of the suspicions that there indeed was a “deep-state coup” to “correct” the outcome of the 2016 election. We now know that the supposedly apolitical FBI officials had huge political axes to grind. The Strzok-Page exchanges drip with disdain for Trump and those deemed his smelly deplorable supporters. In one text message, Strzok expressed visceral contempt for those working-class Trump voters, writing on Aug. 26, 2016, “Just went to a southern Virginia Walmart. I could SMELL the Trump support. … it’s scary real down here.”

The texts even show Strzok warning of the need for an “insurance policy” to thwart Trump on the off-chance that his poll numbers closed in on those of Mrs. Clinton.

An Aug. 6, 2016 text message, for example, shows Page giving her knight in shining armor strong affirmation: “Maybe you’re meant to stay where you are because you’re meant to protect the country from that menace [Trump].” That text to Strzok includes a link to a David Brooks column in The New York Times, in which Brooks concludes with the clarion call: “There comes a time when neutrality and laying low become dishonorable. If you’re not in revolt, you’re in cahoots. When this period and your name are mentioned, decades hence, your grandkids will look away in shame.”

Another text message shows that other senior government officials – alarmed at the possibility of a Trump presidency – joined the discussion. In an apparent reference to an August 2016 meeting with FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe, Strzok wrote to Page on Aug. 15, 2016, “I want to believe the path you threw out for consideration in Andy’s office — that there’s no way he [Trump] gets elected — but I’m afraid we can’t take that risk.”  Strzok added, “It’s like an insurance policy in the unlikely event that you die before you’re 40.”

Insurance Policy?

Senate Judiciary Committee chair Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, says he will ask Strzok to explain the “insurance policy” when he calls him to testify. What seems already clear is that the celebrated “Steele Dossier” was part of the “insurance,” as was the evidence-less legend that Russia hacked the DNC’s and Clinton campaign chairman John Podesta’s emails and gave them to WikiLeaks.

If congressional investigators have been paying attention, they already know what former weapons inspector Scott Ritter shared with Veteran intelligence Professionals for Sanity (VIPS) colleagues this week; namely, that Fusion GPS’s Glenn Simpson, who commissioned the Russia dossier using Democratic Party money, said he reached out to Steele after June 17, just three days before Steele’s first report was published, drawing on seven sources.

“There is a snowball’s chance in hell that this is raw intelligence gathered by Steele; rather he seems to have drawn on a single ‘trusted intermediary’ to gather unsubstantiated rumor already in existence.”

Another VIPS colleague, Phil Giraldi, writing out of his own experience in private sector consulting, added: “The fact that you do not control your sources frequently means that they will feed you what they think you want to hear. Since they are only doing it for money, the more lurid the details the better, as it increases the apparent value of the information. The private security firm in turn, which is also doing it for the money, will pass on the stories and even embroider them to keep the client happy and to encourage him to come back for more. When I read the Steele dossier it looked awfully familiar to me, like the scores of similar reports I had seen which combined bullshit with enough credible information to make the whole product look respectable.”

It is now widely known that the Democrats ponied up the “insurance premiums,” so to speak, for former British intelligence officer Christopher Steele’s “dossier” of lurid — but largely unproven — “intelligence” on Trump and the Russians. If, as many have concluded, the dossier was used to help justify a FISA warrant to snoop on the Trump campaign, those involved will be in deep kimchi, if congressional overseers do their job.

How, you might ask, could Strzok and associates undertake these extra-legal steps with such blithe disregard for the possible consequences should they be caught? The answer is easy; Mrs. Clinton was a shoo-in, remember? This was just extra insurance with no expectation of any “death benefit” ever coming into play — save for Trump’s electoral demise in November 2016. The attitude seemed to be that, if abuse of the FISA law should eventually be discovered — there would be little interest in a serious investigation by the editors of The New York Times and other anti-Trump publications and whatever troubles remained could be handled by President Hillary Clinton.

Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-South Carolina, who chairs the Judiciary Subcommittee of Judiciary on Crime and Terrorism, joined Sen. Grassley in signing the letter referring Christopher Steele to the Justice Department to investigate what appear to be false statements about the dossier. In signing, Graham noted the “many stop signs the Department of Justice ignored in its use of the dossier.” The signature of committee ranking member Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-California, however, was missing — an early sign that a highly partisan battle royale is in the offing. On Tuesday, Feinstein unilaterally released a voluminous transcript of Glenn Simpson’s earlier testimony and, as though on cue, Establishment pundits portrayed Steele as a good source and Fusion GPS’s Glenn Simpson as a victim.

The Donnybrook is now underway; the outcome uncertain.

+++++++++++++

Sample text messages between Peter Strzok and Lisa Page, released to Congress and the media on December 13, 2016

++++++++++++++

03/04/2016

Strzok – God Hillary should win. 100,000,000-0.

Page – I know

++++++++++++

04/02/2016

Page – So look, you say we text on that phone when we talk about Hillary because it can’t be traced, you were just venting, bc you feel bad that you’re gone so much but that can’t be helped right now.

++++++++++

07/08/2016

Strzok – And meanwhile, we have Black Lives Matter protestors, right now, chanting “no justice no peace” around DoJ and the White House…

Page – That’s awful.

+++++++++

07/14/2016

Page – Have you read this? It’s really frightening. For Whites Sensing Decline, Donald Trump Unleashes Words of Resistance http://NYTI/ms/29WCu5!

Strzok – I have not. But I think it’s clear he’s capturing all the white, poor voters who the mainstream republicans abandoned in all but name in the quest for the almighty $$$

Page – Yeah, it’s not good.

Strzok – Poll Finds Emails Weighing on Hillary Clinton, Now Tied With Donald Trump http://nyti.ms/29RV5gf

Page – It is

+++++++++++++

07/26/2016

Strzok – And hey. Congrats on a woman nominated for President in a major party! About damn time! Many many more returns of the day!!

Page – That’s cute. Thanks

++++++++++

08/06/2016

Page – Jesus. You should read this. And Trump should go f himself. Moment in Convention Glare Shakes Up Khans American Life http://nyti.ms/2aHulE0

Strzok – God that’s a great article. Thanks for sharing. And F TRUMP.

++++++++

08/06/2016

Page – And maybe you’re meant to stay where you are because you’re meant to protect the country from that menace. To that end comma, read this:

Page – Trump Enablers Will Finally Have to Take A Stand http://nyti.ms/2aFakry

Strzok – Thanks. It’s absolutely true that we’re both very fortunate. And of course I’ll try and approach it that way. I just know it will be tough at times. I can protect our country at many levels, not sure if that helps

++++++++++++

08/09/2016

Page – He’s not ever going to become president, right? Right?!

Strzok – OMG did you hear what Trump just said?

+++++++++++

08/26/2016

Strzok – Just went to a southern Virginia Walmart. I could SMELL the Trump support…

Page – Yep. Out to lunch with (redacted) We both hate everyone and everything.

Page – Just riffing on the hot mess that is our country.

Strzok – Yeah…it’s scary real down here

+++++++++

10/20/2016

Strzok: I am riled up. Trump is a f***ing idiot, is unable to provide a coherent answer.

Strzok – I CAN’T PULL AWAY, WHAT THE F**K HAPPENED TO OUR COUNTRY (redacted)??!?!

Page– I don’t know. But we’ll get it back. We’re America. We rock.

Strzok– Donald just said “bad hombres”

Strzok– Trump just said what the FBI did is disgraceful.

END

Ray McGovern works with Tell the Word, a publishing arm of the ecumenical Church of the Saviour in inner-city Washington.  He was an Army and CIA intelligence analyst for 30 years; prepared and briefed the President’s Daily Brief for Nixon, Ford, and Reagan; and is co-founder of Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity (VIPS).

January 11, 2018 Posted by | Fake News, Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Russophobia, Timeless or most popular | , , , , | Leave a comment

NATO’s Fraudulent War on Behalf of Women

By George Szamuely | CounterPunch | January 9, 2018

In a recent Guardian article titled “Why NATO Must Defend Women’s Rights,” NATO Secretary-General Jens Soltenberg and Hollywood movie star Angelina Jolie assert that “NATO has the responsibility and opportunity to be a leading protector of women’s rights.” NATO, moreover, “can become the global military leader in how to prevent and respond to sexual violence in conflict.” The two vowed to identify “ways in which NATO can strengthen its contribution to women’s protection and participation in all aspects of conflict-prevention and resolution.”

The pairing of a NATO bureaucrat and a famous movie actress may at first glance appear odd. However, this partnership has been long in the making. Some years ago, NATO, always on the lookout for a reason to justify its continued existence, not to mention its perpetual expansion, came up with a new raison d’être: It would be the global champion of women. “Achieving gender equality is our collective task. And NATO is doing its part,” said Mari Skåre, the NATO Secretary General’s Special Representative for Women, Peace and Security, in 2013. In March 2016, on International Women’s Day, NATO held a so-called “Barbershop Conference” on gender equality. Stoltenberg took the opportunity to declare that gender equality was a frightfully important issue for NATO because “NATO is a values-based organization and none of the Alliance’s fundamental values—individual liberties, democracy, human rights and the rule of law—work without equality.” Diversity was a source of strength. “We learned in Afghanistan and in the Balkans that by integrating gender within our operations, we make a tangible difference to the lives of women and children,” Stoltenberg explained. He stressed that NATO is proud of its record in embedding gender perspectives within its work. Last November, Stoltenberg was at it again: “Empowering women is not just the right thing to do, it’s the smart thing to do: it makes countries safer and more stable. NATO is determined to make a difference.”

NATO has indeed made a difference but not through empowering women. When it isn’t bombing, killing, blowing up bridges and buildings, destroying wedding receptions, empowering jihadis, triggering refugee flows and ruining the lives of countless women, NATO holds unctuous press briefings, organizes self-congratulatory conferences and publishes articles such as the one by Stoltenberg/Jolie seeking to present a gargantuan 29-state military coalition as a do-gooder charity helping out the needy.

This is where Angelina Jolie comes in. Jolie is a goodwill ambassador of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and, in that capacity, wanders around the world berating the “international community” for not doing enough to address humanitarian crises. Her take on these crises is invariably the same as that of NATO. “It is important that we intervene in a timely fashion,” she once explained, “diplomatically if we can, with force if we must.” In October 2011, following seven months of relentless NATO bombing, Jolie rushed to Libya and excitedly hailed the Libyan “revolution”:

I’m… here on behalf of the Libyan people to show them solidarity. I think this revolution on behalf of human rights, which is what I feel these people really have been doing and what they have pushed for, and to help them to implement these new laws and help them with the future of their country.

Sometimes it’s breathless enthusiasm for “revolution,” sometimes it’s tearful pleading for plain, old-fashioned “humanitarian intervention”—Angelina Jolie is nothing if not consistent in her advocacy for Western use of force. When it comes to Syria, Jolie has declared that “some form of intervention is absolutely necessary.” She sneered at the U.N. Security Council permanent members that stood in the way of intervention. “I feel very strongly that the use of a veto when you have financial interests in the country should be questioned and the use of a veto against humanitarian intervention should be questioned,” she said in an interview. Jolie was of course simply echoing the blustery words of the Obama administration. Recall Susan Rice’s tirade following Russia’s and China’s veto of a February 2012 Security Council resolution calling for Bashar al Assad to step aside and for the Syrian army to return to its barracks. Rice, then U.S. permanent representative at the U.N., called the vetoes “disgusting and shameful.” The countries “that have blocked potentially the last effort to resolve this peacefully…will have any future blood spill on their hands.”

This kind of attack on the veto-wielding Security Council members has become a staple of the humanitarian intervention crowd. For example, former French President François Hollande told the U.N. General Assembly in September 2013 that when mass atrocities were taking place, U.N. Security Council permanent members must give up their veto powers:

The U.N. has a responsibility to take action. And whenever our organization proves to be powerless, it’s peace that pays the price. That’s why I am proposing that a code of good conduct be defined by the permanent members of the Security Council, and that in the event of a mass crime they can decide to collectively renounce their veto powers.

Taking action, of course, means taking military action. It never means, say, the lifting of sanctions so that food, oil, medical supplies could get through. To the contrary, if military action is ruled out, the humanitarians immediately resort to demanding the tightening of sanctions. Interventionists such as Hollande, Rice, et al., never explain why it is necessary for U.N. permanent members to give up their veto if the right course of action is so self-evident. The unstated assumption obviously is that any reluctance to sanction the use of force must be motivated by moral failings such as greed, selfishness, political ambition or lack of compassion.

The heartlessness of the so-called international community was the message of the 2011 film she wrote and directed about the 1992-95 war in Bosnia, In the Land of Blood and Honey. The film, she said, points a “finger at the international community, which should have intervened in the Bosnian war was much sooner.” She proudly boasted that among the experts she consulted in making the film were Richard Holbrooke and Wesley Clark, two figures who played prominent roles in the devastation of Bosnia and Kosovo. The film, predictably, features villainous Serbs persecuting innocent Muslims. Asked whether her film should have been a little more balanced, Jolie replied “The fact is that the war was not balanced. I could not make a film where it’s 50-50. It’s inaccurate to what happened.” This is standard NATO stuff, particularly the part about NATO’s military intervention as having finally brought peace to Bosnia.

Jolie is useful to NATO not only because she can be relied on to echo the military alliance’s self-justifying rationales for its favored solution to any problem, namely, the threat to use force. Jolie’s is the glamorous face of NATO’s revamped PR campaign. NATO would have us believe that it’s not only bringing enlightenment to backward societies but also to us, NATO member-state citizens, by informing us about something of which we had hitherto been apparently unaware: sexual violence occurs during wartime. The obvious remedy—doing everything possible to avoid war—is not one that either NATO or Jolie favors. NATO can’t very well be expected to advocate itself out of existence. In NATOspeak you threaten and defend military action even as you bemoan in lachrymose terms its predictable consequences, namely, war crimes, including sexual crimes.

In April 2014, Jolie traipsed around the Balkans with British Foreign Secretary William Hague, visiting the Srebrenica memorial center in Potocari, Bosnia. During the visit, Jolie stated, “The use of rape as a weapon of war is one of the most harrowing and savage of these crimes against civilians. This is rape so brutal, with such extreme violence, that it is even hard to talk about it.” Hague and Jolie jointly launched a campaign called Preventing Sexual Violence in Conflict Initiative, the goal of which was “to address the culture of impunity, ensure more perpetrators are brought to justice and ensure better support for survivors. We’re campaigning to raise awareness, rally global action, promote international coherence and increase the political will and capacity of states to do more.”

Hague earnestly explained, “I started this campaign with Angelina Jolie because foreign policy has got to be about more than just dealing with urgent crises—it has to be about improving the condition of humanity.” Then Hague warmed to his theme: “Tens of thousands of women, girls and men were raped during the war in Bosnia. We are visiting to draw the world’s attention to their search for justice, and to call for global action to end the use of rape as a weapon of war once and for all.” In a BBC interview Hague claimed that sexual violence in conflict was “one of the great mass crimes of the 20th century and the 21st century…. If anything, this is getting worse—war zone rape as a weapon of war, used systematically and deliberately against civilian populations.”

Hague was of course British foreign secretary during NATO’s 2011 Libyan bombing campaign. It hardly needs to be said that NATO did nothing to help Libya’s women. To the contrary: Thousands of women lost their lives as a direct result of NATO and Hague’s humanitarian bombs. NATO destroyed government, law and public order, institutions that before its intervention had protected the women of Libya from sexual crimes. Most striking of all, NATO helped deliver perhaps millions of women into the hands of ISIS. Here is an account of the record of ISIS rule in Libya from Human Rights Watch (a reliably pro-interventionist outfit) in its 2017 country report on Libya: “In the first half of 2016, fighters loyal to ISIS controlled the central coastal town of Sirte and subjected residents to a rigid interpretation of Sharia law that included public floggings, amputation of limbs, and public lynchings, often leaving the victims’ corpses on display.”

Not to worry: In June 2014, Hague and Jolie co-hosted in London a grand three-day Global Summit to End Sexual Violence. Participants included Secretary of State John Kerry and U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon. According to one report, the summit cost £5.2 million to host. The food bill alone was more than £299,000, while total expenditure on taxis, hotels and transport reached £576,000. Jolie declared:

We need to shatter that culture of impunity and make justice the norm, not the exception, for these crimes. We need political will, replicated across the world, and we need to treat this subject as a priority. We need to see real commitment and go after the worst perpetrators, to fund proper protection for vulnerable people, and to step in to help the worst-affected countries. We need all armies, peacekeeping troops and police forces to have prevention of sexual violence in conflict as part of their training.

Punishing the perpetrators of sexual violence sounds laudable enough. The trouble is that NATO’s record of making incendiary charges and then failing to back them up with serious evidence is not one that inspires confidence. During the Bosnian war, for example, the media reported obsessively on the use of rape as an instrument of war. In 1992, Dame Ann Warburton’s European parliamentary delegation estimated that 20,000 rapes had already taken place in Bosnia. In January 1993, Newsweek carried a lengthy cover-story charging Serbs with the rape of as many as 50,000 women, mostly Muslim, as part of “deliberate programs to impregnate Muslim women with unwanted Serb babies.”

Systematic research on the subject however resulted in findings that were insufficiently dramatic to make it into the papers. On Jan. 29, 1994, the U.N. secretary-general issued a report on rapes in the former Yugoslavia, including Bosnia and Croatia, based on a study by the U.N. Commission of Experts. The report found “126 victims, 113 incidents, 252 alleged perpetrators, 73 witnesses.” The report also stated “some of the rape cases” were “clearly the result of individual or small-group conduct without evidence of command responsibility. Others may be part of an overall pattern. Because of a variety of factors, such a pattern may lead to a conclusion that a systematic rape policy existed, but this remains to be proved.”

Allegations of mass rape were a key component of NATO’s propaganda campaign during the 1999 bombing of Yugoslavia. British Foreign Secretary Robin Cook regaled the public with lurid tales of Serbs forcing women “to endure ‘systematic rape’ at an army camp at Djakovica.” Clare Short, Britain’s international development secretary, added that the rapes were “deliberately performed in front of children, fathers and brothers.” The British Foreign Office followed up with claims of having discovered three more rape camps: “Refugees reported orchestrated rapes at Globocica, Urosevac and an unidentified point on the Kosovo-Albania border.” Subsequently, when it was too late to matter, the media sheepishly admitted that the rape-camp stories, like most of NATO’s allegations, were a fabrication. The Washington Post reported that “Western accusations that there were Serb-run rape camps in the cities of Djakovica and Pec, and poorly sourced allegations in some publications that the Serbs were engaging in the mutilation of the living and the dead—including castration and decapitation—all proved to be false.” Even Human Rights Watch’s Fred Abrahams, who had worked as an investigator for the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia, admitted in testimony that he had found no evidence to support the incendiary rape-camp allegations.

Still, NATO remained undeterred. During NATO’s next campaign, the one directed against Libya, rape stories made their appearance within days of the launch of the first bombs. Susan Rice, the U.S. Permanent Representative at the U.N., informed the Security Council that Libya’s leader, Muammar Qaddafi, was supplying his troops with Viagra in order to help them commit mass rape. Though Rice offered no evidence to support her claims, her charge was sufficient for the International Criminal Court prosecutor, Luis Moreno-Ocampo, to announce that he had “information to confirm that it was a policy in Libya to rape those who were against the Government. Rape is a new aspect of the repression.” Moreno-Ocampo even accepted as confirmed Rice’s Viagra story: “We are finding some elements confirming this issue of acquisition of Viagra-type of medicaments to show a policy. They were buying containers with products to enhance the possibility to rape, and we are getting the information in detail confirming the policy.”

In the end, predictably enough, NATO’s rape allegations turned out to have been made up out of whole cloth. Donatella Rovera, a senior crisis response adviser for Amnesty International, reported that the organization had “not found any evidence or a single victim of rape or a doctor who knew about somebody being raped.” Rovera also dismissed the Viagra story. She said that “rebels dealing with the foreign media in Benghazi started showing journalists packets of Viagra, claiming they came from burned-out tanks, though it is unclear why the packets were not charred.”

Though one allegation after another has proved to be false, NATO will continue to make them, seizing on whatever is the hot-button issue of the moment. NATO does nothing for women and does nothing to stop sexual crimes, whether in NATO member-states or anywhere else in the world. What NATO does do well, thanks to its multimillion dollar sophisticated PR machinery, is seizing on highly emotional issues such as rape and turning them into justifications for bigger budgets, more weaponry, more expansion, more deployments in more countries and, in the end, military action.

George Szamuely, PhD, author of Bombs for Peace: NATO’s Humanitarian War on Yugoslavia, is Senior Research Fellow at the Global Policy Institute of London Metropolitan University.

January 10, 2018 Posted by | Deception, Fake News, Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Timeless or most popular | , , , , | Leave a comment

Wired’s Fake-News Suggests Russia Plotting to Cut Trans-Atlantic Internet Cables

By Robert BRIDGE | Strategic Culture Foundation | 10.01.2018

Well, that didn’t take long. Just five days into 2018, and the American fake news industry is already up and running, churning out tasteless whoppers faster than Burger King.

Wired magazine has joined the greasy ranks of other Western mythmakers now fueling a black wave of anti-Russia hysteria by mass-producing never-ending unsubstantiated claims and outright lies against the Kremlin.

The article begins with a doomsday scenario involving some “terrorist organization or nefarious nation” making the reckless decision to cut the undersea fiber optic cables that connect people across the world. So out of all the numerous diabolical groups that now populate the planet, who did Wired nominate as the most likely to pull off such a wanton act of sabotage? Yes, you got it. Putin’s Russia.

The obvious question for any rational thinking person is: Why would Russia do such a thing? Because, according to Wired, the Russian Navy has been “repeatedly caught snooping near the cables” that run along the entire expanse of the North Atlantic Ocean. Wired conveniently fails to remind its readers, however, that any country with a naval force would be forced to pass these lines on numerous occasions in the course of its travels. But acknowledging as much would be putting facts before fiction, and of course we can’t have that.

So where does Wired get its information regarding these latest nefarious plans on the part of Russia? From yet another purveyor of Russian fake news – arguably second only to the Washington Post – the New York Times.

“Russian submarines and spy ships are aggressively operating near the vital undersea cables that carry almost all global Internet communications, raising concerns among some American military and intelligence officials that the Russians might be planning to attack those lines in times of tension or conflict,” the Times breathlessly reported back in 2015.

However, just like the fake news of ‘Russia hacking the 2016 US presidential elections,’ don’t expect any evidence to support the claims. In fact, the Times admits as much in the third paragraph.

“While there is no evidence yet of any cable cutting, the concern is part of a growing wariness among senior American and allied military and intelligence officials over the accelerated activity by Russian armed forces around the globe.”

Well, now we’re getting somewhere. What really seems to be annoying the Americans is not some sort of outlandish attack on the Internet by Russia, but the fact that the Russian military is now a force to reckon with.

It is also worth noting that the Times article appeared just one month after Vladimir Putin committed the Russian military in September 2015 to fighting against Islamic State forces in Syria – following a formal request by Syrian President Bashar Assad. Some might call that curious timing.

So what exactly would Russia stand to gain from cutting these undersea cables? Absolutely nothing. In fact, as even Wired was gracious enough to admit – albeit buried far at sea in its hit piece – is that any cutting of the cables would be more injurious to Russia than most other countries.

“… Russia’s epic hypothetical cable attack would primarily harm its own people,” according to a Telegeography senior analyst Jonathan Hjembo, as quoted by the magazine. “It would hurt the Russians perhaps even more than it would hurt [Americans]. They’re far more dependent on international networks than we are, because so much of our content is stored locally.”

In fact, Wired was forced to admit that the greatest threat to the undersea cables is not Russia, the bogeyman of nearly every Western publication in circulation, but fishermen and scavengers.

Wired retold the story of one elderly woman who accidentally cut through an underground cable “while scavenging for copper,” cutting off Armenia’s entire internet access, leaving the country offline for five hours.

Yet despite those admissions, and the absolute lack of any incentive on the part of Russia to commit such an act of folly, Wired bowed out of its story with a parting shot at “Putin’s Russia” anyways.

“There have also been no ruptures attributed to Russian aggression. It appears that Putin has largely left the undersea cables alone, at least for now.”

Clearly, as this ridiculously flimsy article illustrates, without any shame, there will be no pause in the anti-Russia propaganda mudslinging in the New Year.

January 10, 2018 Posted by | Fake News, Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Russophobia | , | Leave a comment

Surrounded by Neocons

They are all the news that fits

By Philip Giraldi • Unz Review • January 9, 2018

Award winning journalist James Risen has recently described in some detail his sometimes painful relationship with The New York Times. His lengthy account is well worth reading as it demonstrates how successive editors of the paper frequently cooperated with the government to suppress stories on torture and illegal activity while also self-censoring to make sure that nothing outside the framework provided by the “war on terror” should be seriously discussed. It became a faithful lap dog for an American role as global hegemon, promoting government half-truths and suppressing information that it knew to be true but which would embarrass the administration in power, be they Democrats or Republicans.

If one were to obtain a similar insider account of goings-on at the other national “newspaper of record”, The Washington Post, it is quite likely that comparable trimming of the narrative also took place. To be sure, the Post is worse than the Times, characterized by heavily editorializing in its news coverage without necessarily tipping off the reader when “facts” end and speculation begins. In both publications, stories about Iran or Russia routinely begin with an assertion that Moscow interfered in the 2016 U.S. election and that Iran is the aggressor in the Middle East, contentions that have not been demonstrated and can easily be challenged. Both publications also have endorsed every American war since 2001, including Iraq, Libya and the current mess in Syria, one indication of the quality of their reporting and analysis.

A recent op-ed in the Times by Bret Stephens is a perfect example of warmongering mischief wrapped in faux expert testimony to make it palatable. Stephens is the resident neocon at the Times. He was brought over from the Wall Street Journal when it was determined that his neocon colleague David Brooks had become overly squishy, while the resident “conservative” Russ Douthat had proven to be a bit too cautious and even rational to please the increasingly hawkish senior editors.

Stephens’ article, entitled Finding the Way Forward on Iran sparkles with throwaway gems like “Tehran’s hyperaggressive foreign policy in the wake of the 2015 nuclear deal” and “Real democracies don’t live in fear of their own people” and even “it’s not too soon to start rethinking the way we think about Iran.” Or try “A better way of describing Iran’s dictatorship is as a kleptotheocracy, driven by impulses that are by turns doctrinal and venal.”

Bret has been a hardliner on Iran for years. Early on in this op-ed he makes very clear that he wants it to be dealt with forcibly because it has “centrifuges, ballistic missiles, enriched uranium [and] fund[s] Hezbollah, assist Bashar al-Assad, arm[s] the Houthis, [and] imprison[s] the occasional British or American citizen.” He describes how Iran is a very corrupt place run by religious leaders and Revolutionary Guards and proposes that their corruption be exposed so that the Iranian people can take note and rise up in anger. And if exposure doesn’t work, they should be hammered with sanctions. He does not explain why sanctions, which disproportionately hurt the people he expects to rise up, will bring about any real change.

Stephens cites two of his buddies Ken Weinstein of the Hudson Institute and Mark Dubowitz of the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies (FDD), who are apparently experts on how to squeeze Iran. Weinstein prefers exposing the misdeeds of the Mullahs to anger the Iranian people while Dubowitz prefers punitive sanctions “for corruption.”

The article does not reveal that Weinstein and Dubowitz are long time critics of Iran, are part of the Israel Lobby and just happen to be Jewish, as is Stephens. The Hudson Institute and the FDD are leading neocon and pro-Israel fronts. So my question becomes, “Why Iran?” The often-heard Israeli complaint about its being unfairly picked on could reasonably be turned on its head in asking the same about Iran. In fact, Iran compares favorably with Israel. It has no nuclear weapons, it does not support any of the Sunni terrorist groups that are chopping heads, and it has not disenfranchised hundreds of thousands of people that it rules over. The fact is that Iran is being targeted because Israel sees it as its prime enemy in the region and has corrupted many “opinion makers” in the U.S., to include Stephens, to hammer home that point. To be sure, Iran is a very corrupt place run by people who should not be running a hot dog stand, but the same applies to the United States and Israel. And there are lots of places that are not being targeted like Iran that are far worse, including good friend and ally of both Jerusalem and Washington, Saudi Arabia.

Oddly enough Stephens, Weinstein and Dubowitz do not get into any of that back story, presumably because it would be unseemly. And, of course and unfortunately, the New York Times opinion page is not unique. An interesting recent podcast interview by Politico‘s Chief International Affairs correspondent Susan Glasser with leading neoconservatives Eliot Cohen and Max Boot, is typical of how the media selectively shapes a narrative to suit its own biases. Glasser, Cohen and Boot are all part of the establishment foreign policy consensus in the U.S. and therefore both hate and fail to understand the Trump phenomenon. Both Cohen and Booth were vociferous founding members of the #NeverTrump foreign policy resistance movement.

Boot describes the new regime’s foreign policy as “kowtow[ing] to dictators and undermin[ing] American support for freedom and democracy around the world,” typical neocon leitmotifs. Glasser appears to be in love with her interviewees and hurls softball after softball. She describes Boot as “fantastic” and Cohen receives the epithet “The Great.” The interview itself is remarkably devoid of any serious discussion of foreign policy and is essentially a sustained assault on Trump while also implicitly supporting hardline national security positions. Cohen fulminates about “a very serious Russian attack on the core of our political system. I mean, I don’t know how you get more reckless and dangerous than that,” while Boot asks what “has to be done” about Iran.

Pompous ass Cohen, who interjected in the interview that “and you know, Max and I are both intellectuals,” notably very publicly refused to have any part in a Trump foreign policy team during the campaign but later when The Donald was actually elected suggested that the new regime might approach him with humility to offer a senior position and he just might condescend to join them. They did not do so, and he wrote an angry commentary on their refusal.

Hating Trump is one thing, but I would bet that if the question of a hardline policy vis-à-vis Russia or the Jerusalem Embassy move had come up Cohen and Boot would have expressed delight. The irony is that Trump is in fact pursuing a basically neocon foreign policy which the two men would normally support, but they appear to be making room for Trump haters in the policy formulation process to push the national security consensus even farther to the right. Indeed, in another article by Boot at Foreign Policy he writes “I applaud Trump’s decisions to provide Ukraine with arms to defend itself from Russian aggression, to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, to send additional U.S. troops to Afghanistan, and to accelerate former President Barack Obama’s strategy for fighting the Islamic State.” Cohen meanwhile applauds the embassy move, though he warns that Trump’s success in so doing might embolden him to do something reckless over North Korea.

Perhaps one should not be astonished that leading neocons appearing in the mainstream media will continue to have their eyes on the ball and seek for more aggressive engagement in places like Iran and Russia. The media should be faulted because it rarely publishes any contrary viewpoint and it also consistently fails to give any space to the considerable downside to the agitprop. It must be reassuring for many Americans to know that the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is preparing itself to deal with the aftermath of a nuclear attack on the United States and it will be sharing information on the appropriate preparations with the American people. There will be a public session on how to prepare for a nuclear explosion on January 16th.

CDC experts will consider “planning and preparation efforts” for such a strike. “While a nuclear detonation is unlikely, it would have devastating results and there would be limited time to take critical protection steps,” the Center elaborated in its press release on the event.

That the United States should be preparing for a possible nuclear future can in part be attributed to recent commentary by the “like, really smart” and “very stable genius” who is the nation’s chief executive, but the fuel being poured on the fire for war is from the very same neocons who are featured in the mainstream media as all-purpose experts and have succeeded in selling the snake oil about America’s proper role as aggressor-in-chief for the entire world. It would be an unparalleled delight to be able to open a newspaper and not see Bret Stephens, Eliot Cohen, Max Boot or even the redoubtable Bill Kristol grinning back from the editorial page, but I suppose I am only dreaming.

Philip M. Giraldi, Ph.D., is Executive Director of the Council for the National Interest, a 501(c)3 tax deductible educational foundation that seeks a more interests-based U.S. foreign policy in the Middle East. Website is http://www.councilforthenationalinterest.org, address is P.O. Box 2157, Purcellville VA 20134 and its email is inform@cnionline.org.

January 10, 2018 Posted by | Fake News, Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Militarism, Subjugation - Torture, Timeless or most popular | , , , , , , , | 3 Comments