Boiling Frogs Post | September 30, 2011
It is no longer disputed that the CIA has maintained an extensive and ongoing relationship with news organizations and journalists, and multiple, specific acts of media manipulation have now been documented. But as long as the public continues to ignore the influence of intelligence agencies in shaping or even fabricating news stories, the agency will continue to be able to set the policy that drives the American war machine at will.
TRANSCRIPT AND SOURCES: https://www.corbettreport.com/?p=22238
Perhaps this is the beginning of a new series for the Guardian ? Maybe in the future we can expect stories entitled “Man who voted Brexit regularly beats wife” and “Angela Merkel lives in the same city Adolf Hitler called home”.
Has the Guardian hit a new low in shameless, dishonest, click-bait headlines? You be the judge.
I think the “Global Laundromat” scandal might not be having the massive impact that The Guardian expected it to (personally, I blame the rather silly name). When it was launched yesterday it was meant to be a splash, but it has landed more like a ripple, so far failing to even repeat the short-lived intensity of the Panama Papers.
Todays article is simply a readjustment of all same talking points mentioned several times each yesterday, only chopped up into a different order. Like that episode of the Simpsons where Marge keeps chopping up one Chanel suit into a variety of different outfits.
You can tell they are desperate to get people clicking, because they’ve tried to tie it into an actual talking point: Donald Trump’s “Russia connections”. The entirety of this “new information” is contained within the headline:
Bank that lent $300m to Trump linked to Russian money laundering scam
That’s it. That’s not a teaser for more information. That’s not a summary of a complex plot. That is literally all the information. To quote the article directly:
The German bank that loaned $300m (£260m) to Donald Trump played a prominent role in a money laundering scandal run by Russian criminals
That’s right: Deutsche Bank, one of the largest and most important banks in the world, handling literally billions of dollars worth of business, received exchanges from Latvian banks implicated in money laundering AND lent money to Donald Trump. This is a wonderful new method of reporting, simply stating two completely unrelated incidents and hoping people make the connection themselves. It would allow headlines like:
Jeremy Corbyn’s favourite tooth-paste also used by Pol-Pot
Later in the article, they try REALLY hard to big-up the whole Trump-Russia thing:
Ties with Russia are a matter of acute sensitivity for Deutsche. In February, it emerged that Deutsche had secretly reviewed multiple loans made to President Trump by its private wealth division to see if there was a connection to Russia.
But are forced to admit:
Sources say the bank discovered no evidence of any Moscow link.
Just to put in context how completely inconsequential this information is – All five of the biggest banks in Britain have been “implicated” too, each will have a client/customer list literally millions of names long – some of those people will be famous. Obviously their doing business with a bank where money launderers also do business is meaningless.
From all over the world there have, so far, been 19 Russian banks, handfuls of banks in Moldova and Latvia and at least 2 German banks “implicated” in this “scheme”. In fact:
Deutsche Bank is one of dozens of western financial institutions that processed at least $20bn – and possibly more – in money of “criminal origin” from Russia.
“Dozens” of Western banks are possibly involved. Let’s hope the Guardian doesn’t reprint the same article, with a new headline, for every person each one of the “dozens” of banks lent money to.
Facebook has expanded the roll-out of its fact-checker tool to combat ‘fake news’ as more users report the appearance of the ‘disputed’ message alert. The pop-up lets users know when a story’s accuracy is questionable before they share it.
Users in regions including the US have reported seeing the warning, advising them that “before you share this content, you might want to know that the fact-checking sites, Snopes.com and Associated Press disputed its accuracy.”
The alert then allows the user to share the story or cancel.
The tool is not yet in operation in all regions, with the UK, Ireland and Australia among countries so far known not to be seeing the alert when tested against a story known in some regions of the US to display the alert.
The alert first appeared earlier this month, when users reported a ‘disputed’ news tag appearing on stories deemed false by the organizations employed by Facebook to fact check.
Associated Press (AP), one of the fact checkers partnered with Facebook, published details last week on why a story on the alleged Irish slave trade was false. The story it’s based on is prompting the ‘disputed’ alert when users attempt to share it on Facebook.
Facebook announced the plan to crack down on ‘fake news’ last December, following unproven claims it contributed to the US presidential election result by providing a vehicle for questionable news sources.
The tech giant partnered with fact checkers including ABC News, FactCheck.org, AP, Snopes and Politifact as part of the plan.
FBI Director Comey’s and NSA Director Rogers’s public testimony to the House Intelligence Committee on Monday 20th March 2017 cast some interesting light on the ‘Russiagate’ allegations, though these were not the ones the media has sought to emphasise.
Firstly, almost from the moment the House Intelligence Committee began its session, the establishment media as one chose to highlight Comey’s public confirmation that the FBI is investigating Russia’s alleged interference in the US election, and that this involves investigating allegations of collusion between some of President Trump’s associates and the Russians, as if this was a major revelation.
Suffice to say that this was the headline story in all the British newspapers on Monday and on the BBC, as well as in the Washington Post. The confirmation was called a ‘bombshell’, or at least a ‘setback’ for the President.
It should be said clearly that it was nothing of the sort.
The fact that the FBI is investigating Russia’s alleged interference in the elections, and that this involves investigating allegations of collusion between some of President Trump’s associates and the Russians, has been all over the media for months, in fact since long before the election. It would have been nothing short of ridiculous, and would have served no purpose, if Comey had refused to confirm that such an investigation was underway when he appeared publicly before the Committee, and it would have rendered his entire public appearance before the Committee completely pointless had he done so.
It should also be said clearly that the mere fact that an investigation is underway is not in itself proof that any crime or wrongdoing was committed or that any person is guilty of anything. Comey made that very point in his testimony, and it is the reason why he – very properly – repeatedly refused to discuss individual cases. The way in which some sections of the media are trying to overturn the whole presumption of innocence by insinuating that the mere existence of an investigation is a sign of guilt, is actually shocking.
A far more important revelation to have come out of the Committee is that this is a counter-espionage not a crime investigation, and that it was (according to Comey) launched at the end of July 2016.
We can probably be a little more precise as to the precise date. On 22nd July 2016 Wikileaks began publishing the DNC emails. On 25th July 2016 the FBI publicly confirmed that it was investigating the hack of the DNC’s computers (though in the event it never actually examined them). That suggests that the investigation was launched between those dates, ie. almost immediately after Wikileaks started publishing the DNC emails.
That is important since the US intelligence community did not publish its first assessment that Russia was behind the DNC and Podesta leaks before October 2016, and did not publish its final assessment until January 2017.
In other words someone decided between 22nd and 25th July 2016 – long before any intelligence assessments had been published blaming Russia, and directly after the DNC leaks appeared – that the Russians were responsible, and initiated an FBI counter-espionage investigation.
What this also means is that this investigation was underway throughout the critical weeks of the election, with Donald Trump’s associates, and quite possibly (indeed probably) Donald Trump himself, being investigated and monitored by the FBI and by other US intelligence agencies throughout the election period as part of a counter-espionage investigation.
There was no word at the House Intelligence Committee hearing of who was the person or persons who initiated the investigation, or what were the reasons for doing so before any intelligence assessments blaming the Russians had been published.
For the record, I will say that though Barack Obama was the President at the time, and would have been receiving any confidential intelligence assessments, I am sure he was not that person.
Despite the denials of physical wiretaps of Trump Tower, that an investigation and surveillance operation of at least some of Donald Trump’s associates and quite possibly of Donald Trump himself was underway during the election period is therefore now officially confirmed as fact, and is no longer subject to doubt.
I would add that since this was a counter-espionage investigation and not a crime investigation, it was and could be launched despite the fact that neither in July 2016 nor at any time since has there been any evidence of wrongdoing on the part of those US citizens who are being investigated and who might have been placed under surveillance.
We know this for a fact because numerous sources, including Devin Nunes, the Committee Chair who together with the other members of the Committee receives in private classified updates of the progress of the investigation, have told us as much.
One particular point constantly made by Hillary Clinton’s supporters – that Comey treated Hillary Clinton unfairly by making public the FBI’s investigation of Hillary Clinton’s use of a private server whilst concealing the ‘far more serious investigation’ of the contacts between Donald Trump’s associates and Russia – might as well be addressed at this point.
Hillary Clinton’s defenders who make this claim consistently underestimate the seriousness of the issue of her misuse of a private server. The key point anyway is that these are two completely different types of investigation.
The investigation into Hillary Clinton’s use of a private server was a crime investigation into a potential federal felony. The investigation into the contacts between Donald Trump’s associates and Russia falls under a counter-espionage investigation, in which they are not necessarily suspected of any crime or wrongdoing. Since this is a counter-espionage investigation whose subject is classified, and which has been brought in the absence of any suspicion of any crime or wrongdoing by any particular person, it would have been wholly wrong for Comey to disclose its existence until the Justice Department gave him permission to do so, which it only did just before his appearance before the Committee on Monday.
One other important fact came out of the Committee hearing.
The Republicans on the Committee have rallied behind the President, almost certainly because – as Nunes says – the investigation has produced no evidence of any crime or wrongdoing by anyone. Instead, to Comey’s obvious unease, they are refusing to let the question of who was responsible for the leaking of the classified information that destroyed General Flynn’s career rest.
Both Representative Schiff for the Democrats and Representative Gowdy for the Republicans set out in public for the Committee the persons who each believes should be investigated, in the one case for collusion with the Russians, in the other for leaking the information about General Flynn.
It should be stressed that in neither case has any evidence been published against any of these persons. Nunes and Gowdy have however correctly pointed out that in contrast to the claims about collusion with Russia, in the case of the leaking of classified information to destroy General Flynn there is no doubt that a federal felony was committed. That does make Gowdy’s list of names at least interesting
GOWDY: I guess what I’m getting at, Director Comey, is you say it’s vital, you say it’s critical, you say it’s indispensable. We both know it’s a threat to the reauthorization of 702 later on this fall. And by the way, it’s also a felony punishable by up to 10 years.
So how would you begin your investigation, assuming for the sake of argument that a U.S. citizen’s name appeared in the Washington Post and the New York Times unlawfully. Where would you begin that investigation?
COMEY: Well, I’m not gonna talk about any particular investigation…
GOWDY: That’s why I said in theory.
COMEY: You would start by figuring out, so who are the suspects? Who touched the information that you’ve concluded ended up unlawfully in the newspaper and start with that universe and then use investigative tools and techniques to see if you can eliminate people, or include people as more serious suspects.
GOWDY: Do you know whether Director Clapper knew the name of the U.S. citizen that appeared in the New York Times and Washington Post ?
COMEY: I can’t say in this forum because again, I don’t wanna confirm that there was classified information in the newspaper.
GOWDY: Would he have access to an unmasked name?
COMEY: In — in some circumstances, sure, he was the director of national intelligence. But I’m not talking about the particular.
GOWDY: Would Director Brennan have access to an unmasked U.S. citizen’s name?
COMEY: In some circumstances, yes.
GOWDY: Would National Security Adviser Susan Rice have access to an unmasked U.S. citizen’s name?
COMEY: I think any — yes, in general, and any other national security adviser would, I think, as a matter of their ordinary course of their business.
GOWDY: Would former White House Advisor Ben Rhodes have access to an unmasked U.S. citizen’s name?
COMEY: I don’t know the answer to that.
GOWDY: Would former Attorney General Loretta Lynch have access to an unmasked U.S. citizen’s name?
COMEY: In general, yes, as would any attorney general.
GOWDY: So that would also include Acting AG Sally Yates?
COMEY: Same answer.
GOWDY: Did you brief President Obama on — well, I’ll just ask you. Did you brief President Obama on any calls involving Michael Flynn?
COMEY: I’m not gonna get into either that particular case that matter, or any conversations I had with the president. So I can’t answer that.
I have recently written that the true scandal of the 2016 US Presidential election is that under cover of a counter-espionage investigation cooked up through a wave of anti-Russian hysteria US citizens who had been accused of no wrongdoing were being investigated and placed under surveillance by the US’s intelligence and security agencies during the election. Despite all the evasions and qualifications that came from the Committee and from Comey and Rogers during the hearings, there is now official confirmation that this investigation and surveillance during this election actually took place.
What was interesting is that their questions about the leaks suggest that the Republicans on the Committee are beginning to see it this way, and are starting to look beyond the cloud of anti-Russian paranoia which has been blown up to confuse the issue. This is why they homed in on the question of who was behind the leaks that destroyed General Flynn.
As for the Democrats, they may also be starting to sense this as well. Glenn Greenwald thinks they are starting to have doubts about ‘Russiagate’, and I think he is right. That no doubt explains the frantic attempts of people like Schiff to keep ‘Russiagate’ going by conjuring up more and more claims against people like Manafort and Carter Page, who must by now have been investigated already. It may also explain some of the fantastic language some of the Democrats on the Committee resorted to.
Comey said that the FBI investigation is open-ended and has far to go. Given the stakes involved, I wonder whether it will report at all.
The latest “breaking” story from the Guardian and Luke Harding is hitting the headlines. Almost exactly 1 year after the explosive anti-climax that was “The Panama Papers”, Harding and the coterie of NGOs for which he acts as de-facto spokesperson have a big announcement to make: Banks launder money, and some of it is Russian.
I don’t know why they use American money with a Russian flag superimposed. They were probably afraid nobody would recognise roubles.
We are nearing the anniversary of the release of the Panama Papers, a “big story” involving years of work, hundreds of leaked documents, a team of exceptional journalists (and Luke Harding) and a dramatic reveal: “Sometimes, very rich people use legal loopholes to avoid paying their taxes.”
The list of implicated parties included heads of state, celebrities, athletes, David Cameron’s dad and a cellist that knows Vladimir Putin. We all remember who the Guardian decided to focus on, and we all know why.
Today the same crack-team (and Luke Harding) are releasing the long-awaited sequel to their original hit. “The global Laundromat”, it’s called. It’s a product of a years-long investigation into money laundering in ex-Soviet states, using British shell companies. I can’t comment on the truth of these allegations, because we don’t get to see the evidence, we are simply told that it’s true “according to letters The Guardian has seen”, and “reports shown to the Guardian ”… and other variations on that theme.
They may well be true. Big business and billionaires take part in shady and/or illegal business practices all the time. Just as was the case in the Panama Papers, they tell us something we all already know to be true, and then act like it was a surprise.
There’s a lot to like here. The simultaneous publication of four different articles on the subject, all practically identical. The implication that it is “breaking news”, when their prize factoid is three years old, and the scheme itself hasn’t operated since 2014. The fact that Luke Harding has to publicly declare the US government’s involvement, to stop people like us from pointing it out and making them look silly (like last time). The persistent use of the old Harding trick of simply dotting your story with plenty of “could haves” and “speculations suggests”. It’s all good stuff.
Where it becomes hilariously cack-handed in their agenda-pushing is in trying to force tenuous links to the Kremlin and, of course, Vladimir Putin in particular.
Last year they plastered their front page with pictures of Putin and videos about Putin and editorials about corruption in Russia… despite having to admit in the text:
… the president’s name does not appear in any of the records…
This year they can’t even go that far. They fall to the level of implication. Talking around inconvenient facts on the one hand, and then wildly speculating on the other. Leaving deliberate dots for the reader to join up, whilst never having the courage of their convictions to make plain their insinuations (probably for fear of being sued and/or corrected in the alt-media).
Much like the Panama Papers launch, there’s an awful lot of verbiage to work through, implications are thick on the ground, evidence less so. No direct sources are named, it is always “an ex-banker living in exile said”, or “a Russian business-man said”. Gorge on words and starve of meaning seems to be the message of the day.
Some interesting bullet points I pulled out:
Now we can reveal Britain’s role in this scheme – and how vast sums of potentially tainted money flowed into and out of western banks, including HSBC and the Royal Bank of Scotland, without raising any alarm.
This is taken from this piece, one of the four long reads The Guardian is currently devoting to this topic. You can tell it’s a Harding creation because of the prose… for want of a better word… style. It might seem inconsequential at first, but note the use of the phrase “potentially tainted”, that means there is no proof of any wrong-doing at all. It means, the money is “potentially” untainted. As in just totally legal money being used to buy things.
Normally speaking I would expect a crime to at least have definitely happened before a paper put it in their headlines. But maybe I’m being old-fashioned.
The ingenious scheme has its origins in Russia. Put simply, it was a way for Kremlin insiders and other well-known Russians to shift cash abroad.
Not a single “Kremlin insider” is named in any of the four stories currently running on this issue.
Before it was rumbled, the scheme was one of several mafia operations that have allowed the rich to spirit money out of the country to spend in the west.
There’s no evidence to back-up this statement, not a single connection to the mafia is ever mentioned again. But even so it’s worth noting. The money is leaving Russia and coming here. Remember that, because it will be important later on.
“Money laundering is the biggest business in Russia,” one former Moscow banker, now living in exile, explained. “You steal from the budget. You’ve got this dirty money. You have to do something with it.”
The source here, the “former banker living in exile”, is naturally unnamed. As an educated guess it’s probably Sergei Pugachev, a banker and oligarch who has fled both Russia and Britain on charges of embezzling and money laundering. Harding has interviewed him before, it would make sense if he became Harding’s primary source on Russian banking.
Pugachev fled Russia after the government seized his assets and charged him with various financial crimes. That’s an important pattern that will repeat, and has repeated, many times over.
Here we come to the “Putin connection”, are you ready?
It features Russian banks, Moldovan oligarchs, and a network of fake UK companies fronted by fake or “nominee” directors, many of them in Ukraine. It had impeccable Moscow connections. Vladimir Putin’s cousin Igor sat on the board of a bank which held accounts that laundered billions.
His cousin worked at one of the banks that held accounts that may have laundered money. That’s it. These are connections that Harding considers “impeccable”. Is there any evidence connecting the two cousins? Phone calls? Photographs? If any exists, none is presented.
Interestingly, Igor Putin is actually a member of an opposition political party in Russia, which supported an alternative presidential candidate in 2012.
You can put the above quote together with another statement, from this article, to see just how completely meaningless it is:
Accounts held at 19 Russian banks were involved in the scheme. In 2014, it was reported that one financial institution was the Russian Land Bank (RZB). A bank board member at the time was Igor Putin.
Yes nineteen, nineteen(!), different Russian banks are “involved” with the scheme, and the “impeccable Moscow connections” are that Putin’s cousin worked at one of them. At least five different British banks were involved, HSBC, Barclays, Lloyds TSB, NatWest and RSB. It’s hard to imagine that every cousin, of every board member, of every bank is currently under investigation by Scotland Yard.
In fact, nobody is under investigation by Scotland Yard, at all. Every single reference to a criminal investigation is talking about Latvia, Moldova… and Russia.
Once the goods had been cleared the UK firms were liquidated. No duty was paid. Often, Russia’s tax inspectors then took the UK companies to court.
In practice, the Laundromat made possible three different crimes inside Russia: tax evasion, evasion of customs duty and money laundering. In 2013 grey import schemes cost the state $40bn, a Russian parliament committee said.
… alleged ringleader Alexander Grigoriev was detained in November 2015 while eating in a Moscow restaurant… In 2014-15, [Russian] regulators stripped Grigoriev of his banking licences amid concerns that funds were mysteriously vanishing… Russian police sources told Kommersant that Grigoriev was one of a number of prominent people who used the Laundromat to move $46bn in liquid assets out of Russia.
In three separate paragraphs, dotted throughout the four different articles he has contributed to, Harding makes reference to three different Russian governmental efforts to control illegal movement of money: Taking foreign companies to court, parliamentary enquiries, and the arrest and suspension of (alleged) criminal bankers.
He makes no such mention of any British efforts to do the same, because there were none.
The FSB, the Russian security service Harding routinely refers to as “the successor to the KGB” (in fact, in one article today he simply calls them the KGB), have apparently launched an investigation into this scheme. How does Harding address this issue? Very simply:
The Russian investigation into Laundromat has been cursory.
There are suspicions the FSB’s real goal was merely to find out how much investigators knew.
… officers from Russia’s FSB spy agency visited detectives in Moldova. They took away records. It is unclear if this was a genuine investigation or an attempt to discover how much the Moldovans knew. Probably the latter.
No sources are linked to back up these assertions. He completely dismisses, without evidence or argument, the FSB investigations.
He doesn’t dismiss the intentions of Britain’s NCA investigations… because, once again, there were none.
A step back, and a gentle examination, paints a rather different picture from the one with which the Guardian is trying to present us. It shows us Russian oligarchs and bankers shifting vast sums of money OUT of Russia and INTO the EU. Now why would this be?
Logic would suggest that money flows FROM regulation INTO corruption. That’s a natural physical force, like water running downhill. Like osmosis. Russia, since the end of the chaotic Yeltsin era, has been going through a slow process of de-oligarchisation, even Shaun Walker (grudgingly) admitted that. The aforementioned Sergei Pugachev can attest to it (he does so, often and loudly). The Russian government has jailed billionaires for embezzling. Russia prosecutes bankers, and demands companies pay their taxes. Is the same true of Britain? Did a single banker see the inside of jail cell after the 2008 crash? Have Amazon, Google or Vodafone been brought to court for their massive tax evasion?
What you’re looking at here, like the Panama Papers, is just further evidence of that which we already know, that the deregulated bank and business sectors in the UK can be abused by the super wealthy for their own personal gain. And, like the Panama Papers, it was deliberately misrepresented by “investigative journalists” in order to exaggerate any connection with the Russian government, and just generally shine a poor light on Russia.
So, who is behind this revelation?
To answer that, let’s take a look at the about page of the driving force behind this “scandal”, The Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project (OCCRP). The following is taken directly from their own website:
OCCRP is supported by grants by the Open Society Foundation, Google Digital News Initiative, the Skoll Foundation, the Sigrid Rausing Trust, Google Jigsaw, the National Endowment for Democracy and the Knight Foundation. OCCRP also receives developmental funds for improving journalism from the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) through the International Center for Journalists (ICFJ), the United States Department of State and the Swiss Confederation.
The bolded are all very familiar to us here at OffG, and should be to anyone that has followed our work on US-back NGOs. They form an argument on their own, you don’t need me to tell you what it means.
All this really tells us, so far, is that the US government, their corporate allies and puppet NGOs have spent years of their time, and God knows how much of their near-limitless resources, trying to tie the current Russian administration to any kind of criminal corruption. What have they found? A cellist legally avoiding his taxes and that Russian oligarch’s think their ill-gotten gains are safer in British banks, than Russian ones. A rather damning fact, when you think about it.
This is the result of years of work from the world’s business and intelligence elites (and Luke Harding), and it is, frankly, pitiful.
Americans are ill-governed and ill-served by officials at all levels of government – federal, state and local.
On Monday, clear evidence showed it. Disgraceful witch-hunt McCarthyism was on display for viewers tuning in to see.
Hysterical House Select Committee on Intelligence members disgraced themselves during tediously long testimony by FBI Director James Comey and NSA head Michael Rogers.
Committee members obsessed over nonexistent Trump ties to Russia, his charges about Obama wiretapping him, nonexistent Moscow US election hacking, Putin bashing, and security leaks.
Comey acknowledged an ongoing classified investigation into alleged Russian interference in America’s presidential election, saying:
“I have been authorized by the Department of Justice to confirm that the FBI as part of our counterintelligence mission is investigating the Russian government’s efforts to interfere in the 2016 presidential election.”
“And that includes investigating the nature of any links between individuals associated with the Trump campaign and the Russian government, and whether there was any coordination between the campaign and Russia’s efforts.”
“As with any counterintelligence investigation, this will also include an assessment of whether any crimes were committed.”
He offered no further elaboration despite hours of badgering by committee members to explain more.
The proceedings amounted to orchestrated McCarthyism, infamous witch-hunt hysteria, a disgusting display.
Russia was demonized for nonexistent US election hacking. Comey stopped short of suggesting collusion between Trump’s campaign and Moscow – because of an ongoing investigation he’s not at liberty to discuss.
After months of bashing Russia and Trump, no evidence surfaced of collusion between him, his campaign and Moscow – or proof of Russian US election hacking. None exists, yet baseless accusations persist.
Trump addressed Monday’s proceedings via multiple tweets, saying:
“James Clapper and others stated that there is no evidence Potus colluded with Russia. This story is FAKE NEWS and everyone knows it!”
“The Democrats made up and pushed the Russian story as an excuse for running a terrible campaign. Big advantage in Electoral College & lost!”
“The real story that Congress, the FBI and all others should be looking into is the leaking of Classified information. Must find leaker now!”
“What about all of the contact with the Clinton campaign and the Russians? Also, is it true that the DNC would not let the FBI in to look?”
Last fall Putin asked “is America a banana republic?” Televised Monday proceedings provided more evidence of a politically corrupt system too debauched to fix.
Of greater concern is creating pretexts for war on Russia. House Intelligence Committee chairman Devin Nunes (R. CA) claimed nonexistent “pressing threats posed by the Russian autocrat (sic)” Putin, urging “stronger action against Russian belligerence.”
Stoking conflict between the world’s top nuclear powers is madness. Is this where things are heading?
Will neocons infesting Washington risk nuclear armageddon to satisfy their lust for unchallenged power?
Stephen Lendman can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. His new book as editor and contributor is titled Flashpoint in Ukraine: How the US Drive for Hegemony Risks WW III.
The Kremlin has been accused of launching large-scale cyberwar ostensibly aimed at undermining democracy in the United States, with high-profile hacks on the Democratic Party cited as evidence, but technology pioneer and founder of McAfee securities John McAfee told Radio Sputnik that Russia is not behind these high-profile cyberattacks.
“I can promise you it was not the Russians who hacked the Democratic National Committee (DNC). The software used was way too old. The state hackers would not use an old version of software which was less functional than the updated versions,” he said. “One of the things that the CIA said and I’ve been saying for years is that it is virtually impossible to find attribution for any hack because a good hacker can hide their tracks plus make it look like someone else did it. This happens all the time.”
It is extremely likely that if a cyberattack appears to have originated in Russia or China for instance, it was in fact launched from a third country. In this case locations are placed specifically to hide the tracks of the true perpetrator, he explained.
McAfee suggested that there could be political motivation behind accusations that Russia launched cyberattacks on the Democratic National Committee (DNC) and John Podesta, the former chairman of the 2016 Hillary Clinton presidential campaign.
Vladimir Putin is “possibly the most powerful man in the world. America resents that. The Democrats for some reason hate Putin. I think Donald Trump is far wiser,” he said, referring to Trump’s pledge to improve relations with Russia which were ruined during the Obama administration. “If in fact they spoke with each other daily, wouldn’t we have a more harmonious world? And yet here in America we are trashing people for speaking to Putin. It’s bizarre.”
McAfee further commented on recent revelations with regard to the CIA’s hacking secrets. He expressed doubt that the US intelligence community could be made more accountable and transparent if stricter rules on its operations are passed.
“I’ve never seen a covert agency adhere to any kind of legislation. We all know that murder is illegal in almost every country and yet there is not a single covert agency in America, except possibly for the FBI, that does not engage in assassinations. We all know this. I don’t think legislation is needed. I think that we need a firm hand. We need to fire the directors and management all the way down to the street agent and then start over,” he said.
McAfee also said that cyberwar could have far more serious implications than a nuclear conflict.
“We are not in a nuclear age anymore. There will not be another nuclear war because cyberwar is far more devastating. The tools will eventually be in the hands of hackers because this is what happens when you build weaponized software. The first time you use it you send a copy into the wild and every researcher in the world has a copy of that. It can then be duplicated and in a year from now, these tools will be sold on the dark web by 15-year-old boys for a hundred dollars,” he explained.
As Rep. Adam Schiff tries out for the lead role in a remake of the Joe McCarthy hearings by maligning specific Americans as suspected Russian moles, some of the actual evidence argues against the Democratic notion that the Russians own President Trump and other key Republicans.
For instance, last week, Democrats circulated a report showing that retired Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn, who served briefly as President Donald Trump’s national security adviser, had received payments from several Russia-related entities, totaling nearly $68,000.
The largest payment of $45,386 came for a speech and an appearance in Moscow in 2015 at the tenth anniversary dinner for RT, the international Russian TV network, with Flynn netting $33,750 after his speakers’ bureau took its cut. Democrats treated this revelation as important evidence about Russia buying influence in the Trump campaign and White House. But the actual evidence suggests something quite different.
Not only was the sum a relative trifle for a former senior U.S. government official compared to, say, the fees collected by Bill and Hillary Clinton, who often pulled in six to ten times more, especially for speeches to foreign audiences. (Former President Clinton received $500,000 for a Moscow speech from a Russian investment bank with ties to the Kremlin, The New York Times reported in 2015,)
Yet, besides Flynn’s relatively modest speaking fee, The Washington Post reported that RT negotiated Flynn’s rate downward.
Deep inside its article on Flynn’s Russia-connected payments, the Post wrote, “RT balked at paying Flynn’s original asking price. ‘Sorry it took us longer to get back to you but the problem is that the speaking fee is a bit too high and exceeds our budget at the moment,’ Alina Mikhaleva, RT’s head of marketing, wrote a Flynn associate about a month before the event.”
So, if you accept the Democrats’ narrative that Russian President Vladimir Putin is engaged in an all-out splurge to induce influential Americans to betray their country, how do you explain that his supposed flunkies at RT are quibbling with Flynn over a relatively modest speaking fee?
Wouldn’t you think that Putin would have told RT’s marketing department that the sky was the limit in paying off Flynn because the ever-prescient Russian president knew from his Ouija board in 2015 that Flynn would be the future national security adviser under President Trump?
After all, it’s become one of Official Washington’s favorite groupthinks that RT is nothing but a Russian propaganda front designed to destroy the faith that Americans have in their democratic process – as if the sleazy and shameful political campaigns financed with hundreds of millions of dollars from billionaires need any help from RT.
But RT-bashing is always in season. The Director of National Intelligence’s report on Jan. 6, with its evidence-free “assessments” that Russia was engaged in undermining American democracy included a seven-page appendix dating from 2012 that described how RT was contributing toward that goal by portraying “the US electoral process as undemocratic.”
The “proof” behind the DNI’s accusation included RT’s articles on “voting machine vulnerabilities” although virtually every major U.S. news organizations ran similar stories in that time frame. The DNI report also took RT to task for covering the Occupy Wall Street movement and for reporting on the environmental dangers from “fracking,” topics cited as further proof that the Russian government was using RT to weaken U.S. public support for Washington’s policies (although, again, these are topics of genuine public interest).
To further demonstrate how RT was carrying out the Kremlin’s goal of spoiling Americans’ faith in the U.S. democratic process, the DNI report noted that “RT broadcast, hosted and advertised third-party candidate debates.”
Apparently, the DNI’s point was that showing Americans that there are choices beyond the two major parties was somehow seditious. “The RT hosts asserted that the US two-party system does not represent the views of at least one-third of the population and is a ‘sham,’” the DNI’s report said.
Yet, polls have shown that large numbers of Americans would prefer more choices than the usual two candidates and, indeed, most Western democracies have multiple parties. But somehow RT’s suggestion that other voices should be heard constituted an assault on American democracy.
As for Flynn, the report on his finances showed that he also received payments of $11,250 from the U.S. subsidiary of Kaspersky Lab, a Russian cyber-security firm, and $11,250 from a U.S. air cargo company associated with the Volga-Dnepr Group, owned by a Russian businessman.
Rep. Elijah Cummings, D-Maryland, who was the chief defender of former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton when she was subjected to the Republicans’ over-the-top Benghazi investigations, switched positions in publicizing the news about Flynn’s post-government work related to Russia. Cummings was suddenly the accuser.
”I cannot recall any time in our nation’s history when the President selected as his National Security Advisor someone who violated the Constitution by accepting tens of thousands of dollars from an agent of a global adversary that attacked out democracy,” Cummings wrote in a letter to President Trump, Defense Secretary Jim Mattis and FBI Director James Comey.
Heating Up the New Cold War
Cummings thus became another Democrat pouring gasoline on the smoldering tensions between nuclear-armed Russia and the United States. For the Democrats, any dealing with any entity that had some connection to Russia is now prima facie evidence of disloyalty.
The context of these contacts has become almost irrelevant, subordinated to the larger goal of ousting Trump, whatever the cost, even transforming the Democratic Party into the party of the New Cold War and the New McCarthyism.
Yet, further undercutting the new certainty that Putin lined Trump’s pockets with rubles as a way to ensure his allegiance to the Kremlin is the story of Trump’s failed luxury hotel project intended to be built in Moscow several years ago.
A source familiar with those negotiations told me that Trump had hoped to get a half interest in the $2 billion project but that Russian-Israeli investor Mikhail Fridman, a founder of Russia’s Alfa Bank, balked because Trump was unwilling to commit a significant investment beyond the branding value of the Trump name.
Again, if the Democratic narrative is to be believed – that Putin controls all the businesses in Russia and wanted to pay off Trump – it’s hard to understand why the hotel deal fell through. Or, for that matter, why RT was nickel-and-diming Flynn.
The other problem with the Democratic narrative is that it always assumes that Putin could foretell that Trump would rise in 2016 to win the U.S. presidential election and thus there was value in corrupting Trump and his entourage with money and other favors.
The fact that almost no political pundit in the United States shared that prediction even last year would seem to demonstrate the kookiness of the Democratic assumptions and the flaws in the U.S. Intelligence Community’s “assessments” about alleged Russian “hacking” and distribution of Democratic emails.
Those “assessments” also assume that Putin’s motives were to hurt Hillary Clinton’s campaign, boost Trump and – as FBI Director Comey added on Monday – turn Americans against their democracy.
But there is a counter-argument to that thinking: Assuming that Putin read the polls like everyone else, would he risk infuriating the likely next President of the United States – Hillary Clinton – by embarrassing her with an email leak that would amount to a pinprick? Clinton herself blamed her surprise defeat on FBI Director Comey’s decision to briefly reopen the investigation into whether she endangered national security by using a private email server as Secretary of State.
Unless one assumes that Putin’s Ouija board also predicted Comey’s actions or perhaps that Comey is another Russian mole, wouldn’t it be a huge risk for Putin to anger Clinton without ensuring her defeat? There’s the old saying that “if you strike a king, you must kill him,” which would seem to apply equally to a queen. But logical thinking no longer applies to what’s going on in Official Washington.
Investigative reporter Robert Parry broke many of the Iran-Contra stories for The Associated Press and Newsweek in the 1980s.
Geo-politics in this bold new 21st century world is anything but boring. Just look at the headlines and you’ll agree, 1970s tabloids were real news compared to today’s sensationalist propaganda. One shining example from America’s capital, the Washington Post has become a barometer for truth – but not in the way you might think. Here’s some curious observances of the once venerable newspaper a billionaire technocrat bought for a purpose.
Billionaire Jeff Bezos does not like Donald Trump one little bit. One gander at the front page of his Washington Post tells us that anything “Trump” is bad. The same newspaper that spilled the beans about Richard Nixon’s Watergate mess, it’s now gone over to the dark side with recent front page stories on; Congressional Republicans criticizing Trump’s budget, Sean Spicer’s “angry” defense of the wiretapping claim, Trump and his team blabbing, White House dumping 30,000 FAA workers, Trump picking a “deeply disturbing” hero, Trump’s budget being “utterly unrealistic”, how Republicans plan on hurting American families, and you’ve got the picture on the rest. Bezos’ bullhorn is over the top.
The good “news” is that discerning analysts, researchers, and interested citizens can use the Washington Post’s propaganda for good, by applying some reverse psychology. Or to simplify, if Bezos is against it, then it must be good. Yes, the Washington Post tabloid can point us to the truth! But everyone knows by now the WP is so-called “Fake News”, but few know the ins and outs.
Bezos: The Globalist Minion
Back in the 1980’s Jeff Bezos was a relative nobody. The “legend of Bezos” tells us the science wiz from Princeton went to Wall Street to work the hedge fund company D. E. Shaw & Co. for a few years. Then all-of-a-sudden the soon to be Amazon legend decides to load up his car like the Beverly Hillbillies and head to Seattle. The story goes, he supposedly wrote up the Amazon business plan along the way – and it’s a full American bit of malarkey in my book. Then all of a sudden (as American legends go) “BAM”, in rapid succession he founds Amazon, snags $8 million in series A funding from Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers in 1995. And gets a boat load of fame for basically regurgitating what Sears & Roebuck did in the 1800#s – and nothing more. That’s right, there was no innovation or engineering involved – Amazon is a digital mail-order catalog clone. While Amazon and eBay were the early lead in substantial online commercialism, I submit Bezos and Co. were propped up. Here’s some clues.
The digital advertising gurus say Bezos’ company survived the dot-com bust because of his brilliant business planning. But this is simply not the case. When Amazon started selling books online, huge brick and mortar interests like Books-A-Million, Inc. and Barnes & Noble rapidly followed suit. While the latter two book behemoths suffered share price disasters when the bubble burst, Amazon’s stock also fell from $107 to $7 per share. Then something interesting happend. AOL Time Warner bailed Bezos out with $100 million dollars in capital. The trail of fascinating “coincidences” in between Amazon, AOL and Time Warner – intersect with momentous occasions like the one in Tiananmen Square when AOL’s Stephen M. Case and Warner’s Gerald M. Levin met at the celebration of the 50th anniversary of the People’s Republic of China (strangely) in 1999. Even though the AOL-Time Warner deal proved to be the biggest merger flop in history, the investment in Amazon puzzled many even back then.
Faye Landes, an analyst with Sanford C. Bernstein & Company at the time, questioned Bezos’ explanation for revenue shortfalls just prior to the deal. And she was not alone. Amazon was not a real growth and earnings business back then – and the company does not really make that much even today. Compared to other tech giants, Amazon makes peanuts per share these days. Amazon is one giant “equity bubble”, or a kind of mirror of the Federal Reserve under Barack Obama and his predecessors. And in a way the Washington Post is one pixel of an overall game of economics smoke and mirrors. Hundreds of billions of dollars are flowing through entities large and small in America, and only the very rich seem to be getting richer. This is another story though. The Bezos “puzzle” – the geo-policy of globalism – how technocracy entered into the world sweepstakes is where the Texas billionaire is interesting. To understand Bezos’ role in the globalist doctrine, we have to follow the trail of money that made his company successful. Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, which also funded AOL early on, has its fingers in just about every big pie worth eating in the digital space. It should also come as no surprise that former Secretary of State Colin Powell is a partner; as are former Vice President Al Gore, and Sun Microsystems founder Vinod Khosla (see more political alliances here). Put mildly, the technocrats like Bezos are in thick as thieves with the globalist perpetrators on the world stage. From Powell and Tony Blair, to Michael Bloomberg (see Bloom Energy) and KPCB’s L. John Doerr (Obama’s economic recovery advisor), Bezos has plenty of miraculously powerful cohorts in his anti-Trump war.
The Real Evil Geniuses Behind
While Bezos is the subject of my report today, John Doerr is an even more critical figure to take stock of. Back in 2008 he and Steve Jobs announced the Kleiner Perkins $100 million iFund along with a prophetic statement: Doerr declared that the iPhone was “more important than the personal computer” because “it knows who you are” and “where you are.” This fund is the largest single investment in cell phone application history. Given the recent WikiLeaks Vault 7 revelations on the CIA, the fact Doerr and these others are so wired into mobile is significant. Doerr also serves on the board of Google, the company most often accused of collusion with the NSA and CIA in spying on everyone.
If we can grasp that there are two sides in the ideological battle for the world going on, then revealing Jeff Bezos and the other technocrats on the new globalist order side is simplified. The Washington Post, or even Bloomberg’s media for instance, hammer each day to try and forge an alternative reality for people. Take the assertion that Russia and Vladimir Putin were influential in Trump’s victory. The WikiLeaks releases about CIA espionage with the 2012 French elections shows us my “reverse psychology” theory in practice. Russia is blamed, when all along the United States’ administration is the one doing the tampering. And who is fundamental in the technologies and infrastructure necessary for complete surveillance? The technocrats, of course. But the game is big. It’s “huge”, as President Trump would exclaim. And as for those like Bezos, they were not innovators at all – only willing soldiers in a much larger scheme where profit for Amazon was not the goal. Amazon, you see, is a mechanism. If I had to bet, I’d say Amazon serves as a distribution hub, a data collection point, and as a money moving apparatus to assist in expanding the globalist control capability. Washington Post is the company blog, so to speak, spitting out contravening messages to distract and leverage. Just play “what if” for a brief moment. What if all those smart TVs Amazon ship came pre-loaded with CIA malware or spying apparatus? What if agents did not have to physically install malware on targeted devices? Again, I got your attention. I quote from WikiLeaks
“The increasing sophistication of surveillance techniques has drawn comparisons with George Orwell’s 1984, but “Weeping Angel”, developed by the CIA’s Embedded Devices Branch (EDB), which infests smart TVs, transforming them into covert microphones, is surely its most emblematic realization.”
If I may, since the world of media and news now operates on theory, conjecture, and opinion, then perhaps I may have license to speculate further on Bezos’ rise to wealth and fame. Looking at his past and his associations, it’s fair to suggest Bezos is not the genius behind Amazon’s success. If I had to bet real money, I’d say his boss at D. E. Shaw & Co., computer genius and Hillary Clinton campaign funder David Elliot Shaw is. I’d presuppose that Bezos did not just take off for Seattle in the mid-90s, but that Shaw sent him. Without delving deeply into who Shaw is, the reader should know he is the most successful and enigmatic hedge fund billionaire of all. He advised Bill Clinton, Barack Obama, and is a key mover and shaker in the business of supercomputers and molecular dynamics.
After reading this some will ask the question; “How does this relate to world détente and policy?” Well, the answer is pointedly obvious – policy is about business these days. You read about Angela Merkel travelling to Washington to meet President Trump. This is not about saving the world for the people, you must realize. The meetup is so that Germany can continue to lead a European Union entity powered by banking and corporate interest. We can no longer be fooled into thinking the new world order (NOW) is some crazy conspiracy theory. Why the likes of Bezos, George Soros, even politicians admit that the “globalist” mission is endangered by Trump! The Washington Post fake news, installed billionaires, the genius Big Brothers standing behind – they are the reality. We have to start to think independently of their advertising – and make no mistake – the ads are aimed at fleecing you.
Phil Butler, is a policy investigator and analyst, a political scientist and expert on Eastern Europe.
Is this what parents pay $63,000 annually for tuition, room, board and fees – so their children can be ill-served and ill-taught?
Following the 2014 Obama administration Kiev coup, replacing democracy with fascist dictatorship, Harvard expressed concern about nonexistent “Russian aggression.” Some faculty members called for US military intervention.
Not a word about US-supported putschists seizing power. Nothing about the most brazen European coup since Mussolini’s 1922 march on Rome.
No explanation about a scheme orchestrated in Washington. Silence about a major crisis in Europe’s heartland still ongoing. Trump inherited Obama’s mess, so far not indicating clearly where he stands on Ukraine.
Harvard is at it again. It’s University Library published a fake guide to “fake news, misinformation, and propaganda.”
It recommends using FactCheck.org, Politifact, Snopes.com, Washington Post Fact Checker, and other self-styled fact-checkers, biased against truth-telling on all major issues, acting as censors, trashing reliable alternative sources of news, information and analysis.
It endorses sanitized content acceptable to America’s deep state, abandoning support for speech, media and academic freedoms.
It recommended “tips for analyzing news sources.” Ignore them. Common sense is the best guide, along with distrusting and avoiding media scoundrels. They’re paid to lie, deceive and feature fake news – what powerful interests want people to know, what’s most important suppressed.
Harvard published a list of hundreds of sites it calls “bias(ed),” “conspira(torial),” “unreliable,” “fake,” and otherwise mislabeled.
Some I’m familiar with are reliable sources, (polar opposite media scoundrels paid to lie), including:
21st Century Wire
Before Its News.com
Black Agenda Report
Boiling Frogs Post
David Stockman Contracorner
The Greanville Post
Information Clearing House
Mint Press News
Moon of Alabama
Paul Craig Roberts
Ron Paul Institute
SJLendman.blogspot.com – my alma mater recommends avoiding my writing; new articles posted daily; featuring truth-telling on major issues
The People’s Voice
The Sleuth Journal
Third World Traveler
What Really Happened
Who What Why
These and other sites Harvard’s Library urges avoiding are ones readers should rely on – avoiding The New York Times, Washington Post, CNN and other fake news proliferators.
Stephen Lendman can be reached at email@example.com. His new book as editor and contributor is titled Flashpoint in Ukraine: How the US Drive for Hegemony Risks WW III.
Earlier this week, the mainstream media reported that the Trump administration granted the CIA a new ‘secret’ authority broadening their ability to conduct drone strike operations against suspected terrorists. The new drone provision said to be without oversight from the Pentagon, was brought to our attention by ‘unnamed’ sources published in the Wall Street Journal – But is this the full story?
As big media rushed to condemn the Trump administration over the supposedly brand ‘new’ drone policy given to the CIA, the public has been left without a complete picture.
While the new powers allowing the CIA to conduct larger-scale drone operations overseas should be of concern to the public – you have to wonder if it was truly issued by the Trump administration or already under place during the Obama administration.
While it’s no secret that Trump has openly discussed being tough on terror and might be involved with the CIA drone order in some capacity, we should also consider the fact that many Obama and Democratic Party loyalists would like nothing more than to paint the new president in a less than agreeable light, potentially looking to create a political tripwire to derail his first term.
Over the past few years the Obama administration was said to be shifting more drone operations away from the CIA – but was that really what happened?
In 2015, the NY Post published the following:
“President Obama secretly granted the Central Intelligence Agency more flexibility to conduct drone strikes targeting terror suspects in Pakistan than anywhere else in the world after approving more restrictive rules in 2013, according to a published report.”
“The Wall Street Journal, citing current and former U.S. officials, reported that Obama approved a waiver exempting the CIA from proving that militants targeted in Pakistan posed an imminent threat to the U.S.”
In particular, the drone report outlined that while on the surface it appeared that Obama issued a directive to get rid of ‘signature strikes’ conducted by the CIA “many of the changes specified in the directive either haven’t been implemented or have been works in progress.”
A signature strike can be conducted without presidential approval against any suspected militants.
The NY Post then admitted that CIA had in fact a much broader latitude to target individuals under the Obama administration:
“The paper also reports that the CIA’s Pakistan drone strike program was initially exempted from the “imminent threat” requirement until the end of U.S. and NATO combat operations in Afghanistan.”
The Bureau of Investigative Journalism reported the following drone statistics under Obama:
“Pakistan was the hub of drone operations during Obama’s first term. The pace of attacks had accelerated in the second half of 2008 at the end of Bush’s term, after four years pocked by occasional strikes. However in the year after taking office, Obama ordered more drone strikes than Bush did during his entire presidency. The 54 strikes in 2009 all took place in Pakistan.
Strikes in the country peaked in 2010, with 128 CIA drone attacks and at least 89 civilians killed, at the same time US troop numbers surged in Afghanistan. Pakistan strikes have since fallen with just three conducted in the country last year.“
QUESTION: Is it possible that the CIA drone policy was just transferred from one administration to another?
More from the Wall Street Journal
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s efforts to play up the ‘Iranian threat’ are gaining steam. Last week, officials claimed that Iran was looking to build a naval base in Syria. A week earlier, Netanyahu went to Moscow to say that Iran was a threat to the region. Mideast politics expert Hassan Hanizadeh says Netanyahu’s theories are absurd.
Following his meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Moscow earlier this month, Netanyahu told reporters that conveying to Putin the threat posed by Iran was one of main goals of his visit.
“I clarified to President Putin our vehement opposition to the establishment of Iran and its tentacles in Syria,” Netanyahu said. “We see Iran is trying to build up a military force, with military infrastructure, in order to establish a base in Syria, including attempts by Iran to set up a sea port,” he added.
Netanyahu noted that Iran’s presence in Syria was contrary to Israel’s interests, and suggested that it actually “doesn’t match the long-term interests of anyone except Iran.”Iranian officials soon refuted the prime minister’s claims, and similar claims made by US media over the weekend about Iran’s supposed plans to establish a naval base in Syria’s Latakia. Officials stressed that the Iranian presence in Syria was limited to military advisers, and added that these are in the country at the request of Syria’s legitimate government. Iran has no plans to create any military bases in Syria, they said.
Asked to comment on Netanyahu’s diplomatic offensive, and why he picked Russia to complain to about Tehran’s alleged ambitions, Middle East expert Hassan Hanizadeh, the former editor-in-chief of the Mehr News Agency, explained that the move was little more than an attempt to drive a wedge into the Russian-Iranian strategic partnership.
Speaking to Sputnik Persian, Hanizadeh said that there was good reason for Netanyahu to be concerned about Russian-Iranian ties.
“The relationship between Moscow and Tehran can be assessed as strategic. The two countries have a unified position on a number of issues, particularly as far as the Middle East and Syria are concerned. Israel, in turn, is trying to drive a wedge into these relations, to destroy them,” the observer said.
Hanizadeh suggested that this was played out during Netanyahu’s trip to Russia, where the prime minister tried to set the Russian president against Iran. “Netanyahu attempted to show, using these deceitful tricks, that Iran was looking to expand its territories, or its sphere of influence, by establishing a naval base in Syria, which in turn would be a direct threat to Israel.”
Furthermore, the analyst pointed out that even though the naval base rumors were false, Iran, like any other country, has the right to establish whatever kinds of relations it wants to with friendly nations.
“Any country, on the basis of international law, has the right to establish and independently develop diplomatic relations with other states,” Hanizadeh stressed. “Israel has dozens of [secret] air and sea bases in different parts of the world, yet no one is indignant over this fact. Even if Iran did want to build a base in Syria, at the request of or in agreement with the government of this country, this would be legal. Nevertheless, for some reason [even rumors of such bases] immediately cause alarm and anger from the Israeli leadership.”
In reality, Hanizadeh reiterated, Tehran does not have any plans to create permanent bases in Syria. “There is no such goal. But Iran reserves its right to cooperate with friendly countries.” And that includes military cooperation, pending that it is approved by the partner country’s internationally recognized government.
Ultimately, Hanizadeh stressed that Israel and Prime Minister Netanyahu “have no right to talk about or judge relations between other countries – or to make any claims toward a power like Russia. Russia is a sovereign state, and has the right to make decisions independently, to build relationships on the basis of its national interests with whomever and however it wants. Israel has no right to interfere in this process.”
Therefore, the analyst suggested that as far as Moscow was concerned, “the statements by Benjamin Netanyahu [about the ‘Iranian threat’] will be ignored, and a wise leader like Vladimir Putin simply won’t pay them any heed.”