Addameer | October 21, 2016
Addameer is pleased to announce the launch of a new film that tackles the issue of administrative detention as a policy used by the Israeli government to hold Palestinians indefinitely on secret information without charge or trial. The film specifically focuses on the psychological effects of administrative detention on detainees and their families.
The film was produced in collaboration with Aanat Film, as part of Addameer’s global campaign to #StopAD.
The NatWest account closure is only the latest entry in the channel’s saga in the UK.
Over the last couple of years, certain voices in the UK media – and the wider establishment – have been feeding a wave of hysteria over the channel’s presence in the British market. Here are the highlights:
October 2014 – Posters for RT’s “Second Opinion” ad campaign are rejected for outdoor posting by several London platforms for having what they called “political undertones.” Instead, RT puts up a “redacted” version of the posters, which use the example of the Iraq War to draw attention to the importance of diversity in the news media.
November 2014 – The network officially launches RT UK, a dedicated channel broadcasting from its own studios in London. The British mainstream media, predictably, freaks out.
December 2014 – John Whittingdale, chair of the Commons Culture, Media and Sport Select Committee, lamented “It is frightening, the extent to which we are losing the information war,” with Peter Horrocks, a former top executive of the BBC’s global news operation, explaining to The Guardian that the Beeb was losing ground to RT because it is “financially outgunned.” The problem with Horrock’s contention is that it simply isn’t true. That year, the BBC World Service ALONE was allocated a 2014 budget of £245 million ($382 million at that time), primarily for radio and online services. RT, with its much costlier TV signal distribution, received 15.38 billion rubles ($271 million then).
January 2015 – The British Army announces it is creating a special force of “Facebook warriors” – a 1,500-strong brigade of professional soldiers to promote UK narratives on social media platforms. According to the Guardian, part of the justification for the move was that Russia’s point of view is resonating with the UK audience.
February 2015 – The Economist’s senior editor, Ed Lucas, pays a lot of attention to RT – especially in his other gig as a lobbyist for American weapons manufacturers. In this instance, he calls for KGB methods to be used against RT’s staff. “I think we could do a bit more ostracism,” Lucas said at a Munich security conference,” just as RT journalists were coming under fire near Donetsk. “Far too many people see a job at RT as the first stage on a career ladder. It’s not. It’s the last stage on a career ladder,” he said.
November 2015 – Larry King comes to London to promote his two shows “Larry King Now” and “Politicking,” which have been coming out on RT America and are about to start airing on RT UK. He grants an interview to BBC’s Evan Davis, who tries to give the legendary King of Chat a very hard time about working with RT. But BBC’s own viewers are not impressed.
Eventually, even Newsnight’s own Editor, Ian Katz, throws in the towel, writing “in case you missed… Larry King schooling our Evan Davis on the art of the interview.”
February 2016 – The BBC submits written testimony (made public over the summer) to Westminster’s Foreign Affairs Committee to justify demands for more funding, despite having just received £289 million for four years from the UK’s defense budget. The report outlines the reasons why RT’s success should create panic among the UK establishment: “Viewing figures for RT, Russia’s international news channel, have seen a sharp increase… It also operates very successfully on social media.” The Russians are coming! The British government nods along in response.
August 2016 – The Times’ UK publishes seven pieces on the dangers of Russian media, mostly RT, over a single weekend. Obsessing much?
October 2016 – NatWest Bank, a subsidiary of Britain’s majority state-controlled Royal Bank of Scotland, gives notice that it is closing RT’s accounts – without explanation. Hundreds of messages and statements of support pour in from RT’s audience, NatWest/RBS customers, and UK public figures, who criticize the move as an affront to the UK’s principles of freedom of speech.
The Times used to be regarded as Britain’s newspaper of record. But in recent years, the historic title, once renowned for its sober and balanced coverage, has morphed into a crude neo-con propaganda organ.
It’s shilling endlessly for US-led wars and ‘interventions’ and attacking – often in the most obnoxious way possible – those who dare to question the War Party narrative. Needless to say, RT – which urges its viewers to ‘Question More’ (a very dangerous thing in an age of Imperial Truth Enforcement) – has been in the Times’ line of fire.
In fact, over one weekend at the end of July and the beginning of August – a time when most normal people turn their mind to things like ice cream, sun loungers and beaches – the Murdoch-owned newspaper ran at least six articles on RT (and attack pieces on Russia’s Sputnik news agency too, making it a total of seven Russian-media-focused hit-pieces in just two and a half days).
These pieces are not just about criticizing RT, which of course everyone has the right to do. They also seem to be about trying to exert pressure on regulatory bodies to go after RT and take action against a channel that doesn’t toe the neo-con editorial line.
One of the articles was an opinion piece claiming that RT was a “fake news channel” which had “no place on our screens”.
The author, one ‘Oliver Kamm,’ has been in the forefront of The Times campaign, and, based on the tone and the general take, might have been the author of otherwise ‘author-less’ introduction editorial to the aforementioned 7-piece Times slam.
Earlier, in October 2014, Kamm wrote a hit piece on the launch of RT UK in which he urged UK media regulator Ofcom to take action against what he called “a den of deceivers”.
This week, he was at it again. One day after the news broke that NatWest was to close RT UK’s bank accounts, Kamm declared in a furious Times column that denying RT a bank account was “the least of the problems we should be making for it”.
“It’s past time that Britain’s civil society, broadcasting regulator and elected government ceased pussyfooting around with RT,” he thundered. Once again, Kamm’s piece made it to a prominent placement on RT UK’s Wikipedia page.
But who is this ‘Oliver Kamm’, the man who sets himself up as a media censor and an arbiter of journalistic standards? Based on my personal experience, he seems to be more an obsessive and extremely creepy cyber-stalker, rather than a journalist.
Kamm’s Internet behavior (which involves the relentless hounding of principled anti-war activists) is truly shocking, but no less scandalous is the way that powerful and influential members of the UK’s neo-con establishment, have promoted and protected him.
Having been digitally stalked and defamed by Kamm for over ten years, after I critically reviewed his pro Iraq-war book for the Daily Telegraph in 2005, I decided earlier this month to publish a detailed 6,000 word expose of Kamm’s very disturbing and very vicious stalking campaigns – prior to launching a crowd-funded legal action against him and his employers.
Rather than reining Kamm in after detailed evidence of his stalking was presented to them, The Times instead clearly decided to make the ex-banker and hedge-fund manager, who had no background in journalism before he was appointed a leader writer on the paper in 2008, the man to spearhead their attacks on RT.
By doing so, the credibility of the paper has been tarnished still further. Kamm tweets obsessively about RT – denigrating it as a ‘fake’ station that hardly anyone watches.
But if it were true that hardly anyone watches RT, the obvious question is: why does the Times’ leader writer devote so much time and energy to attacking it? The answer is clear: Kamm targets RT not because it’s unpopular, of course, but because too many are watching.
A European Parliament briefing paper from last November admitted that RT had “garnered a huge global audience.”
“It is estimated to have 2.5 million viewers in the UK (year-on-year, a rise of 60%) and 3 million in US urban areas, while in South Africa it is by far the largest European news channel.”
The paper also conceded that: “Russian-language media broadcast from Western countries do not enjoy the same popularity in Russia as RT does in the West.”
In 2014, we were told that the BBC World’s Service feared losing ‘the information war’, because of the expansion of RT.
Meanwhile, the journalist Glenn Greenwald has noted Kamm’s prominence in the anti-RT campaign and highlighted the double standards involved:
“The most vocal among the anti-RT crowd – on the ground that it spreads lies and propaganda — such as Nick Cohen and Oliver Kamm — were also the most aggressive peddlers of the pro-U.K.-government conspiracy theories and lies that led to the Iraq War. That people like this, with their histories of pro-government propaganda, are the ones demanding punishment of RT for “bias” tells you all you need to know about what is really at play here,” Greenwald wrote.
The good news for those who want to see a media landscape where a wide range of views are heard (and not just neo-con and ’liberal interventionist’ ones officially approved by The Times ), is that the attacks seem to have been counter-productive. Establishment gatekeepers who think they have the right to tell us what channels to watch and which to boycott are finding that their influence is on the wane.
RT’s popularity, despite the relentless neo-con campaign against it – or perhaps partly because of it – continues to grow.
Neil Clark is a journalist, writer, broadcaster and blogger. He has written for many newspapers and magazines in the UK and other countries including The Guardian, Morning Star, Daily and Sunday Express, Mail on Sunday, Daily Mail, Daily Telegraph, New Statesman, The Spectator, The Week, and The American Conservative. He is a regular pundit on RT and has also appeared on BBC TV and radio, Sky News, Press TV and the Voice of Russia. He is the co-founder of the Campaign For Public Ownership @PublicOwnership. His award winning blog can be found at http://www.neilclark66.blogspot.com. He tweets on politics and world affairs @NeilClark66
Yes, there will be election fraud, and on a grand scale
By John Chuckman | Aletho News | October 23, 2016
It is a virtual certainty that the American establishment will resort to election fraud to help Hillary Clinton. They simply do not know what to do about Donald Trump. America’s election system was not designed to handle a phenomenon like him, a non-politician, a man with some genuinely fresh anti-establishment views, who quickly rides a wave of popularity to do a hostile take-over, as it were, of a major old-line party.
America’s election system is designed to give the theater of democracy with virtually none of the substance, but even in the face of that reality, election fraud in America still has a long history. Even though we are usually talking about two establishment candidates representing two establishment parties, the competitive instincts of the two rival gangs, each eagerly seeking power and privileges and appointed offices for themselves and their adherents, have often resulted in vote fraud. How much greater is the impulse now in that direction to defend against a candidate who actually wants to change something?
Despite an unprecedented spectacle of the press acting as a national public disinformation system united in one goal, to discredit Trump, including even polls deliberately engineered with sampling errors to give a false view of what is happening, and a massive effort to build Hillary up into something she is not, a decent human being, the momentum for Trump continues.
Even if you don’t have reliable numbers, you can just feel it from the very desperation of the establishment. The President spends much of his time flying around making insipid speeches for his party, the newspapers leap to publish every unconfirmed negative report about Trump or such absolute trivia as this or that movie star or pop star saying what an awful man Trump is. And you have to ask where all these voices were during decades of business deals in the great cities of America and other places which saw successful projects springing up all over with fanfare and publicity.
No, it is only now that the establishment actually feels the hot breath of popular revolt against much of what it has done over the last two decades – its uniquely poisonous policy brew of constant war and completely ignoring most Americans – that we get this explosion of rumors, unproved accusations, and Joseph McCarthy-style innuendo. Before that, Trump was a highly productive member of society welcome at public events of every kind. After all, wealth and celebrity are always welcome in America. It is only change that is not.
Critics are right about a lot of unpleasant things in America, and their voices are simply not heard in its tight little press oligopoly. Is America’s establishment right about Syria? About Libya? About Yemen? About Israel? About NATO? About Russia? China? Being right in America today can be quite lonely.
America invented marketing. It is one of its few truly original contributions to culture. And the arts of marketing are intensely at work in politics there, to the extent there is often almost no substance despite all the carefully-packaged words. The immediate period after an American election resembles the experience of a person who has purchased a new product which quickly proves to work nothing like the advertising promises said it would.
American elections closely resemble a marketing battle between two oligopolistic corporations, as between Coke and Pepsi or McDonald’s and Burger King. There are only two parties and that situation is controlled through countless institutional and regulatory gimmicks put into place by the two parties themselves.
America’s campaign financing system is a deliberate and effective method to discourage the birth or growth of any new parties. It is what economists call a barrier to entry into a market, the kind of thing which keeps non-political oligopolistic markets from becoming more competitive. The little ones are allowed to just struggle along on the margins for appearances and owing to the disproportionately high cost of eliminating them too.
Most of the noise and intensity of American elections is just hollow, but it is the kind of stuff to which Americans are exposed in their economic life, day-in or day-out, so for ordinary people without the time to be well-informed, nothing could sound more normal.
That is what is so different about Trump. Despite his flaws and distasteful tendency to be a bigmouth, on some really important matters, matters of life and death, he is speaking truth and speaking it plainly. There is a kind of revolutionary quality in parts of his message. Of course, this in part reflects the fact that he has never before been a politician, only a successful, hard-nosed actor in the economic sphere.
That is something new in American elections, and the establishment is rather shaken by it. Therefore, the American press has created and sustained an unparalleled campaign of highly biased and even vicious reporting and commentary.
People abroad do not realize that about 90% of what Americans hear comes from just six big companies, none of whom, you may be sure, is interested in change and especially anything even slightly revolutionary. National broadcasting and national press have been so consolidated through years of massive mergers that there is no real alternative voice reaching most Americans.
And those huge news corporations – intimate members of the establishment, always supporting the government of the day in its imperial wars and projects – have made a concerted effort to diminish and demean Trump. Equally, they have universally praised and supported Clinton, despite her dark record of unethical personal behavior and violent public acts, despite having been responsible for the deaths of thousands of women and their families.
Never mind Trump’s private off-color remarks, here is a woman married for decades to a genuine sexual predator, a man who was having sex with a young intern right in the Oval Office. And she wants to bring him back into affairs in Washington, having promised to give him responsibility for economy?
Why did she tolerate decades of his disgraceful and even criminal behavior? Because it gave her serious leverage over him in office, whether as Governor of Arkansas or President of the United States. We have a hundred voices telling us of her violent temper and demands and the central role she would assume even though elected to no office.
She has always been about one thing only, and that is to enjoy power over others which she has exercised with brutal intensity, all while maintaining a bug-eyed, laughing face in public. She is without question a genuine sociopath.
Even when we see fascinating revelations about her inside political maneuvering and dishonesty from leaks on the Internet, the national press manages largely to ignore them or to diminish them. They do not catch fire. The techniques of public relations and damage control – outgrowths of marketing principles and psychological manipulation techniques – are employed to suffocate any fires.
We do see signs that the Internet is starting to have some real impact with the general population, and to the extent that is true, we also see the establishment working towards suppressing alternate and independent voices on the Internet by a variety of means.
America uses an awkward expression, “controlling the narrative,” to describe what the establishment is quietly undertaking, always trying not to assume the open appearance of old Soviet-style suppression of information or the promotion of heavy-handed disinformation while in fact assuming the substance of their purpose.
In the longer term, I am not convinced they can succeed. The Internet is an almost uncontrollable force, that is unless you actually suppress and control aspects of the Internet itself, something recent remarks by Obama – a man who is a strict disciple of secrecy and inner-sanctum privilege – suggest in vague and politically-correct language, there may well be efforts underway towards that goal.
This fact only adds to the importance of this election. If Trump loses, there can be no doubt, the secretive, manipulative, and ruthless Hillary Clinton will commission whatever efforts are required for information suppression. After all, a person ruthlessly pursuing war and secretive manipulation of world affairs can never be a friend to openness and truth, which are literally enemies of such goals.
The entire business of terror and fighting terror offers a great deal of latitude this way, suppression in the name of fighting terror, the great irony, of course, for America being that it does not consistently fight terror, it frequently employs it as a tool of statecraft. We’ve seen that in my lifetime in everything from the long covert battle against Castro and the hideous, pointless war in Vietnam to the employment of jihadists in Afghanistan, Libya, or Syria.
For some genuine history of American vote fraud, readers should see my lengthy comment on Obama’s recent speech, in which he told Trump to “stop whining.”
Since the collapse of the USSR, and the inception of the unipolar world order with the United States at its center, the term ‘benevolent hegemony’ has entered the lexicon of international relations and geopolitics. The full fleshing out of this idea was revealed in the 1996 essay by American neoconservatives Bill Kristol and Robert Kagan, ‘Toward a Neo-Reaganite Foreign Policy’. Its essence is an excuse for the United States to pursue whichever diplomatic and military means are believed to forward the goals of an American Empire, on the basis that unlike past empires, this one is not based on the prestige of the American people, or indeed any given leader, but instead on a set of ‘universal values and principles’ which are supposedly positive for all who live under them. One need only look at the neoconservatives themselves and come to the conclusion that they certainly do not represent the interests of the American people, as their international operations rarely have any positive impact for working men and women, and in fact very often engender negative consequences for them. Nor could it be said that neoconservatives aid the prestige of a given leader, as their legacy of wars in Iraq and Afghanistan destroyed the presidential legacy of George W. Bush, and notably his British ally Tony Blair.
This is excusable of course, because it has never been claimed by the neoconservative establishment that their policies are crafted with these people in mind. They are in aid of an ideology, and because most Westerners suffer under the delusion that this ideology is itself benevolent, then the means that America uses to propagate and expand its influence must also be benevolent. Slowly however, this facade is beginning to peel away.
Tom Rogan, a foreign policy analyst for the neoconservative publication National Review recently penned an article describing ‘Three Ways the US Can Save Syria‘. Obviously this is in response to the fact that America is being defeated in the country, the Syrian Army’s gradual recapture of Aleppo being just the latest blow to the terrorist rebel groups agitating against the legitimate government. If President Assad ends the insurgency of terrorists, then the American Empire loses not only in terms of its original geopolitical goals which spurred its meddling, but in terms of international prestige, especially among the nations of the Middle East. In light of this, Rogan’s urgent recommendations make sense, but in his zeal he gives the world a very clear picture of what ‘benevolent hegemony’ looks like.
The first recommendation concerns the oil market. Russia, the key counter-force to the United States in Syria, has been economically harmed by a dramatic dip in global oil prices, Russia is presently in talks with OPEC members about capping oil production, which would raise the price back up to reasonable levels. Rogan proposes diplomatic interference with this effort (mainly involving Saudi Arabia) in order to do as much economic damage to Russia as possible. The carrot he wishes to lead the Saudis with is the proposal for surface-to-air missiles given to allied rebel groups in Syria, but could just as easily be more rockets for Saudi aircraft to target funerals in Yemen.
Consider how benevolent this is; the stated aim being to wound a sovereign nation’s economy and by extension its people, the means being to arm dangerous groups within a sovereign nation in order that they can kill more civilian and government targets.
The second recommendation is perhaps the most alarming, as it can be perceived to be a direct terror threat against the nation of Turkey and its president, Tayyip Erdogan. Rogan acknowledges that after the failed July coup orchestrated against America’s own supposed NATO ally, the country does not trust the US, and is seeking to mend relations with Russia. For a long time, the relationship between Syria and Turkey was decidedly negative, but as the war has dragged on and millions of the displaced have flooded across borders with no checks on their movement, Ankara knows that stability in Syria is in fact vital to its own national security interests, and has thus moved away from its previous position on the conflict. In response to this setback, Rogan has the following proposition:
“Here America’s golden ticket is the Kurds — specifically, U.S. armament support to Kurdish militias such as the Syrian-based YPG. At present, the U.S. carefully qualifies its support to the YPG to mollify the Turks. Erdogan fears U.S. support will enable the YPG and other Kurdish forces to destabilize Turkey’s southern frontier. And to some degree he is right. But if Erdogan wants to play us, we should play him.”
In case the severity of this is not clear, the insinuation is that if Turkey does not end rapprochement with Russia and pursue an aggressively anti-Assad agenda, the American military should arm groups it knows may conduct violent attacks against the Turkish state. Is there any way this cannot be taken as blackmail via terror, and if so how benevolent is such a proposal?
The third recommendation is to supply “humanitarian airlifts” to rebel-held areas of Syria. Rogan recollects the Bush-era airlifts to Georgia during the 2008 crisis, but there is a key difference between the two scenarios. In 2008, Georgia was a sovereign nation undergoing an incredibly complex regional dispute with breakaway provinces, but nevertheless the government there invited American assistance. This is not the case in Syria, where the government has expressed no permission for America to even enter its airspace, an international norm which the American Air Force has been violating for over a year now. In fact, in the wake of the brutal air assault on Deir el-Zour which killed 62 Syrian soldiers, President Assad has been even more strident in making its long-held case that Western powers are working hand-in-glove with ISIS. This proposal more than the other two brings the world dangerously close to a conflict that nobody wants to even entertain, as Rogan recommends escorting these “humanitarian airlifts” with “fighter patrols” who would challenge Russian air superiority. Is laying the groundwork for WWIII benevolent?
Rogan finishes his essay by explaining that the goal of these dangerous pieces of foreign policy advice is to express “that America is unwilling to cede Syria to Russia”, apparently indulging in a fantasy that America ever possessed Syria, and indeed with a staggering sense of authority that the entire nation of Syria is something which can and should be possessed by America.
This is the not the first example of this kind of rhetoric coming from mainstream Western think-tanks and foreign policy journals which are intricately tied into the workings of the US State Department, however it is one of the less varnished ones. There is not even the mask of benevolence present in these proposals; they are dangerous, lawless, and cynical. If Hillary Clinton wins the presidency, she has made clear that this is the course she will take.
In a secret speech to Goldman Sachs which was revealed by Wikileaks, Clinton admitted the following regarding a no-fly zone in Syria:
“They’re getting more sophisticated thanks to Russian imports. To have a no-fly zone you have to take out all of the air defense, many of which are located in populated areas. So our missiles, even if they are standoff missiles so we’re not putting our pilots at risk—you’re going to kill a lot of Syrians”
And yet, even with this understanding, Hillary Clinton maintains support for the institution of a no-fly zone. Donald Trump of course represents the antithesis of such a hazardous foreign policy, abandoning the commitments of neoconservatives and their ideology, in order to focus on the various internal problems that his country faces. Even so we cannot rely on a Trump victory, for by now we are all aware of the Clinton campaign’s ability to martial all of her friends and colleagues in the Orwellian media, as well as stoop to even more subversive means to steal an election result. We must assume the worst, and thus we must assume and anticipate President Clinton and her craven approach to geopolitics. De-constructing the myth of ‘benevolent hegemony’ is an important part of this anticipation, and writers like Rogan help with this effort in their bungling inability to bejewel the ugly reality of the Atlanticist designs upon the Middle East and indeed the wider world.
Dropping the pretense of benevolence, this is just hegemony, and when we look at its consequences not just for the suffering people of Syria, but also Yemen, Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, Ukraine, etc. then perhaps these outlets ought to be more accurate and deem such projects ‘malevolent hegemony’ instead.
Rarely ever does hypocrisy align so succinctly as it does within the pages of American policy and media coverage. US policy think tank, the Brookings Institution, recently provided an extreme example of this in a paper titled, “A convenient terrorism threat,” penned by Daniel Byman.
The paper starts by claiming:
Not all countries that suffer from terrorism are innocent victims doing their best to fight back. Many governments, including several important U.S. allies, simultaneously fight and encourage the terrorist groups on their soil. President George W. Bush famously asked governments world-wide after 9/11 whether they were with us or with the terrorists; these rulers answer, “Yes.”
Some governments—including at times Russia, Egypt, Turkey, and Pakistan among others—hope to have it both ways. They use the presence of terrorists to win sympathy abroad and discredit peaceful foes at home, even while fighting back vigorously enough to look plausible but not forcefully enough to solve the problem. This two-faced approach holds considerable appeal for some governments, but it hugely complicates U.S. counterterrorism efforts—and the U.S. shouldn’t just live with it.
Byman then begins labelling various nations; Somalia as a “basket-case,” Iran as a “straightforward state sponsors of terrorism” and attempts to frame Russia’s struggle against terrorism in Chechnya as somehow disingenuous or politically motivated.
Byman also attempts to claim Syrian President Bashar Al Assad intentionally released terrorists from prison to help escalate violence around the country and justify a violent crackdown, this despite reports from Western journalists as early as 2007 revealing US intentions to use these very terrorists to overthrow the governments of Syria and Iran specifically, the New Yorker would reveal.
The US is as Much a Sponsor of Terrorism in Reality as Byman Claims Others are in Fiction
But worse than Byman’s intentional mischaracterisations and lies of omission regarding US allies like Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Israel’s overt, global-spanning sponsorship of terrorism, is the fact that not only is the US itself engaged in sponsoring terrorism as it poses as fighting against it globally, the Brookings Institution and Byman have specifically and publicly called for the funding, training and arming of designated foreign terrorist groups in pursuit of self-serving geopolitical objectives.
Indeed, Daniel Byman is one of several signatories of the 2009 Brookings Institution report, “Which Path to Persia? Options for a New American Strategy toward Iran.”
The report not only reveals the blueprints of using supposedly “peaceful” and “democratic” protests as cover for violent, US sponsored subversion (as was precisely done in Syria beginning in 2011), it specifically lists a US State Department-designated foreign terrorist organisation as a potential US proxy in violently rising up against, and eventually overthrowing the government in Tehran.
The report would explicitly state (our emphasis):
Perhaps the most prominent (and certainly the most controversial) opposition group that has attracted attention as a potential U.S. proxy is the NCRI (National Council of Resistance of Iran), the political movement established by the MEK (Mujahedin-e Khalq). Critics believe the group to be undemocratic and unpopular, and indeed anti-American.
In contrast, the group’s champions contend that the movement’s long-standing opposition to the Iranian regime and record of successful attacks on and intelligence-gathering operations against the regime make it worthy of U.S. support. They also argue that the group is no longer anti-American and question the merit of earlier accusations. Raymond Tanter, one of the group’s supporters in the United States, contends that the MEK and the NCRI are allies for regime change in Tehran and also act as a useful proxy for gathering intelligence. The MEK’s greatest intelligence coup was the provision of intelligence in 2002 that led to the discovery of a secret site in Iran for enriching uranium.
The report then admits MEK’s status as a designated foreign terrorist organisation and that it has targeted and killed both American officers and civilians in the past (our emphasis):
Despite its defenders’ claims, the MEK remains on the U.S. government list of foreign terrorist organizations. In the 1970s, the group killed three U.S. officers and three civilian contractors in Iran. During the 1979-1980 hostage crisis, the group praised the decision to take America hostages and Elaine Sciolino reported that while group leaders publicly condemned the 9/11 attacks, within the group celebrations were widespread.
The Brookings Institution also admits in its report that undoubtedly MEK continues to carry out undeniable terrorist activity against political and civilian targets within Iran, and notes that if MEK is to be successfully used as a US proxy against Iran, it would need to be delisted as a foreign terrorist organisation (our emphasis):
Undeniably, the group has conducted terrorist attacks—often excused by the MEK’s advocates because they are directed against the Iranian government. For example, in 1981, the group bombed the headquarters of the Islamic Republic Party, which was then the clerical leadership’s main political organization, killing an estimated 70 senior officials. More recently, the group has claimed credit for over a dozen mortar attacks, assassinations, and other assaults on Iranian civilian and military targets between 1998 and 2001. At the very least, to work more closely with the group (at least in an overt manner), Washington would need to remove it from the list of foreign terrorist organizations.
And eventually, that is precisely what was done. MEK would be delisted by the US State Department in 2012, announced in a US State Department statement titled, “Delisting of the Mujahedin-e Khalq,” which noted:
With today’s actions, the Department does not overlook or forget the MEK’s past acts of terrorism, including its involvement in the killing of U.S. citizens in Iran in the 1970s and an attack on U.S. soil in 1992.
The Department also has serious concerns about the MEK as an organization, particularly with regard to allegations of abuse committed against its own members. The Secretary’s decision today took into account the MEK’s public renunciation of violence, the absence of confirmed acts of terrorism by the MEK for more than a decade, and their cooperation in the peaceful closure of Camp Ashraf, their historic paramilitary base.
MEK’s inability to conduct violence in the decade preceding the US State Department’s decision was not because of an ideological commitment to nonviolence, but a matter of strategic limitations placed on the terrorist organisation by Iraqi and Iranian security forces who were determined to liquidate it and who forcibly disarmed the group.
And even if the 2012 US State Department decision was based on an alleged decade of nonviolence, the policymakers at the Brookings Institution who signed their names to “Which Path to Persia?” including Daniel Byman, certainly did not apply the same criteria in suggesting its use as an armed proxy.
In all likelihood, had Iraq and Iran not successfully cornered and disarmed the group, it would be fighting America’s proxy war against Tehran on both sides of the Iran-Iraq border. MEK fighters would be carrying out US-backed armed violence against Iran and Iraq side-by-side other US-backed terrorist groups operating across the region as part of America’s current proxy war against Syria, Russia and Iran.
Daniel Byman of the Brookings Institution’s latest paper even at face value is disingenuous, full of intentional mischaracterisations meant to direct attention away from the US and its closest allies’ own sponsorship of terrorism amid a very much feigned “War on Terror.” Understanding that Byman quite literally signed his name to a policy paper promoting the arming and backing of a US State Department designated foreign terrorist organisation makes his recent paper all the more outrageous.
What is also as troubling as it is ironic, is that Byman not only signed his name to calls for arming a listed terrorist organisation, he was also a staff member of the 9/11 Commission, according to his Georgetown University biography. A man involved in sorting out a terrorist attack who is also advocating closer cooperation with listed terrorist organisations is truly disturbing.
The political and ethical bankruptcy of American foreign policy can be traced back to its policy establishment, populated by unprincipled hypocrites like Byman and co-signatories of Brookings’ “Which Path to Persia?” The US certainly cannot convince other nations to abandon an alleged “two-faced” policy of promoting and fighting terrorism simultaneously when it stands as a global leader in this very practise.
An Associated Press story parroted by hundreds of mainstream media outlets today is symbolic of all that is wrong in world news today. Sarah El Deeb paints a heroic portrait of a jihadist stronghold with, calling the embattled city the “Jewel” of Syrian rebellion. With personal touches and misleading nuance, the AP writer condemns Russia and Assad’s Syrian army, while at the same time creating 270,000 holdouts at a modern Alamo. The piece is ludicrous in its clear propaganda speak.
Russia and Syria have been bombing the streets of eastern Aleppo into rubble, as Al Nusra and other extremists congealed against Assad’s legitimate government are holed up with tens of thousands of hostages at gun and knife-point. Ordinary residents held hostage, not even allowed to leave as humanitarian corridors open up, are lumped in with the “head choppers” and snipers, and the suicide bombers Washington and its allies have sponsored.
The writer makes use of an infant born in Aleppo, the child of Ibrahim al-Haj, in order to add credibility to utter contrivance. Mother’s milk, starvation, and an uncertain future from the AP are provocative indeed. Then, there it is again, the “jewel” emblem:
“Families like al-Haj’s across Aleppo’s opposition-held eastern districts are wrestling with how to get by day to day. They’re also weighed down with the fear that all their dreams for the crown jewel of the opposition’s territory are on the verge of collapse.”
In the midst of the most horrific regime change in the last 30 years, Associated Press pounds out a fantasy tale of a “shining city” at peace with the world before the current siege began. El Deeb spins a handsome tale of Aleppo, independent from horrid Assad, and trading with Turkey and the world on its own accord! Reading the fantasy my mind wanders to the uneducated reader in America, and whole people’s wondering why the great hope America has not rode in guns blazing already. Then I snap-to and wonder at how many people Associated Press has gotten killed these last 5 years?
The AP cocktail is a mix of liquid democracy, Operation Inherent Resolve, and soap opera detergent sales turned to TOW Missile request. The relentless Russian air assault, brutal Syrian soldiers feared for their massacring ways, and little Laith the infant make for a powerful propaganda punch. At least, that is, if one knows nothing about what has happened in Syria. The author ends the piece with a domestic note of husband-wife squabbling straight out of NBC afternoons studios. Bickering over there being no bread, unfortunate family featured in this are leveraged like crowbars in order to pry tears and anger from American readers.
There’s no mention in the article about hospitals turned into terrorist triage centers and sniper nests. Sarah El Deeb, whose work also appears in The Times of Israel and Military Times, never goes so far as to tell readers about how Laith and his family cannot leave, even with a ceasefire, for fear of being gunned down by these “rebels”. No, these little children and their parents are Jihadists too, at least in her eyes. The whole of east Aleppo is united as one, like Texans holding out against the evil Mexican President General Antonio López de Santa Anna. The former ARD German Radio producer is not the only biased reporter on the Aleppo beat though. From the BBC to the Boston Herald everybody has the same story. Unfortunately the story is not accurate, and because it is not many more people are going to die.
Russia’s Ministry of Defense was blamed not long ago for bombing an aid convoy. Like most such stories, it went away after some scrutiny. Even though the US broke a previous ceasefire and even attacked Assad’s forces, AP fails to carry that side. When the humanitarian corridors opened up this time, the Russian Ministry of Defense was ready, live streaming the checkpoints so there could be no false flag or provocation before the world. Next we heard reports of killings in east Aleppo, and no civilians taking their bombarded children from the militarized zone. Still, the mighty members of the Associated Press corps were silent. The News York Times, the US State Department, and even France’s Francois Hollande scream and scream; “Those barbarian Russians! War crimes, war crimes!”
But the real crime is committed with the mighty pen, at least its digital equivalent. The New York Times picks up an AP report and tells of the mysterious evacuation that isn’t. It’s as if everyone left there is waiting to be tucked under Obama’s or Hillary Clinton’s wing. Maybe they are willing to sacrifice their children to the Jihad, but somehow I doubt it. The Associated Press is culpable, and I hope each and every one of them takes my admonition personally. This is the end of truth in media, the carnage of the pen.
The missile attack on a US ship off the coast of Yemen was a major news event, but the subsequent follow up story, that it may never have happened, was either ignored by mainstream media or intentionally covered up. The whole thing has the same odor as the Gulf of Tonkin incident that never occurred.
Does history repeat itself? Sure does seem like it. That is if you compare America’s entry into the Vietnam civil war, with America’s latest entry into the war in Yemen.
Don’t be mistaken. We have been at war with Yemen for a year now. America sided with the most oppressive government in the world, Saudi Arabia, in attacking and pounding Yemeni schools, funeral parlors, and hospitals, for well over a year. This war could not have happened without a wink and a nod from the US, and the arming of the Saudis’ with US weapons. In addition to providing the Saudi’s with weapons, we also provide mid-air refueling and have delivered 40 million pounds of jet fuel over the past 18 months, thus enabling the devastating bombings of civilian facilities. The US used a cease fire in Yemen to re-arm the Saudi’s, who were running out of bombs and weapons, we provided the targeting information, ground maintenance of aircraft, and, of course, the wink and nod to go ahead, which unleashed this humanitarian disaster.
So here we have Saudi Arabia, one of the wealthiest but most oppressive governments’ in the world, a supporter of terrorists in Syria and around the world, attacking one of the poorest nations on earth. According to a leaked Hillary Clinton e-mail, she is fully aware that Saudi Arabia sponsors terrorists in Syria, but still the go ahead wink to the Saudis. Now that we and the Saudi’s have destroyed everything in Yemen with bombs, we are helping the Saudi’s maintain a blockade, preventing food and medical supplies from reaching the Yemeni people, which by some estimates, have already cost the lives of 10,000 children under the age of 5.
All that, however, was not enough for the US. Now we have actively entered the shooting war, based on yet another possible ruse by our government. The US Navy claimed they were attacked by Houthi missiles from somewhere in Yemen, and promptly launched Tomahawk missiles at a cost of $1.5 million per missile, in revenge. Some suggest we took out radar installations with our Tomahawk missiles. But hold the phone! Two days later the US military very quietly announced they are not sure if there was a missile attack at all. Yup, you got it. Did you hear that story on mainstream media? Of course not. It appears that no one saw the missiles from Yemen, nothing was hit by missiles, and there was no corroboration from other ships in the area. The Houthis’ denied they had anything to do with the alleged attack. The US very quietly admitted, perhaps it was all about “ghost radar images”, and there never were any missiles.
This story was completely ignored by mainstream media. Supposedly, whether the attack occurred is being investigated by the military, and there will be a report coming, but don’t wait up for the late-night news to hear the results of the pending report. It might never come, or if it does, would you believe a report where the military is investigating itself?
So what does this have to do with history repeating itself? Some may remember the Vietnam War, where the US entered a civil war on the other side of the globe, based on an alleged “attack” by North Vietnam on a US navy ship. There was never any sighting of the attacker, there was never any damage by the attack, and we know now, years later, that there was never any such attack. Sound familiar? It all was due to false readings and ghost images on radar screens. The alleged attack took place in the Gulf of Tonkin.
Quickly the US Congress rushed to get involved in Vietnam’s civil war by seeking revenge for an attack that never happened. It passed the Tonkin Gulf Resolution, which authorized the US president to get revenge. America’s entry into the Vietnam civil war lasted 10 years, and cost the lives of approximately 55,000 US soldiers, and about 3 million Southeast Asians. That’s correct. 3 million lives! We attacked this past week with no discussion, debate, or consent by Congress. Like the cowards they are, Congress never said a word, but stuck their heads deep in the sand. The President, now has the power to do such things, and the Constitution in that regard is irrelevant.
How many years will the war with Yemen last? How many will be killed? Why are we fighting Yemen? Why has Saudi Arabia attacked Yemen? Will there be blowback from Yemen in the future, or do you feel the innocent Yemeni’s will simply lie down and die quietly? And the last quiz question of the day: Name the countries the US is currently bombing.
Selective Assassinations of Chavistas by paramilitaries, renegade police and criminal gangs continue
The assassination of followers of the late President Chavez continues to increase at a steady pace. From 2013 – when President Maduro was democratically elected – to the present, many local political leaders, public servants, journalists, bodyguards of left wing politicians, military personnel and operatives of the Bolivarian Intelligence Service (SEBIN) have been unfortunate enough to fall into the opposition’s murderous claws.
The ultra-right wing opposition that currently has control of the National Assembly continues with its aim of resurrecting the Fourth Republic in Venezuela. With opposition figures such as the governor of Miranda state, Capriles Radonski, telling his supporters “to take their anger to the streets” and Voluntad Popular’s Leopoldo Lopez whose plan called “The Exit” sparked violent street protests by paid thugs from February to June 2014 costing 43 lives, we can see that unconstitutional political means to gain power are at play here.
Added to these actions by the ultra right wing are assassinations of body guards of revolutionary leaders that are simulated as a robbery or violent street crime, then the right wing media plays its part by putting it all down to “insecurity” caused by an inept government.
The links established between fascist leaders in Venezuela such as Leopoldo Lopez and ex-Metropolitan Mayor Antonio Ledezma with ex-Colombian President and enemy of Bolivarianism, Alvaro Uribe, since 2009 have resulted in political, economic and media support for the paramilitary gangs that have been infiltrating Venezuela since about 2005. These gangs expanded into the country from the western Colombo-Venezuelan border and reached the center of the country, including Caracas, in a few short years.
Political and legal support was lent by right wing parties such as Voluntas Popular and Alianza Bravo Pueblo. Economic support came from drug trafficking, contraband and a small sector of business; and finally support by electronic media that are financed from abroad such as La Patilla, NTN24 (both financed from Colombia) and Sumarium owned by the Vecchio-Lopez families. (Carlos Vecchio is now exiled in the US and Leopoldo Lopez is serving 14 years in jail). There were also other minor support groups from other political parties of the right such as UNT, Accion Democratica and Primero Justicia.
With the paramilitaries in place, there were various objectives: the political demobilization and demoralization of militant Chavistas in the popular areas (barrios); and take out of circulation valuable revolutionary cadres either by making them disappear or eliminating them physically. The right wing media would then step in and report on these events with the purpose of destroying the memory and reputation of the murdered comrades.
The aim of practicing this kind of politics is to create indignation, fear and anger in the population that lives in the shadow of such insecurity. For this reason each brutal homicide is dealt with immediately and sensationally by the opposition media. The idea is to have some sensational aspect of any given case covered on a daily basis to maintain the fear factor.
Let us not forget that since 2013 the whole population has been subject to the effects of a fourth generation war – a combination of selective assassinations as described above and an economic war making life increasingly difficult. Foods were hoarded, hidden or smuggled to Colombia creating shortages of basic goods and the resulting huge lines as people stood to buy food.
This, the fear factor plus frustration at not being able to buy basic subsidized goods plus induced galloping inflation, was all blamed on an inept President and his ministerial team, day-in day-out, by the local and international media who all combined to encourage voters to either abstain or switch to supporting the opposition. The latter had promised to “make the lines vanish” if they won control of the National Assembly on December 6 last year. They did win but the lines got worse … and according to the media this is still the fault of the government even though 86% of food distribution is in the hands of the private sector.
Of course, the “make the lines vanish” electoral promise was conveniently never mentioned again by the private media.
To achieve the goal of sensationalizing homicides and sowing fear and discord in the population, the opposition media has a team of “info-mercenaries” who in many cases have contacts with corrupt ranks of the security forces and therefore have access to the gory details before any investigation has even started. Such “inside” or “advance” information is illegal under Venezuelan law. There are also journalists that act in concert with the armed gangs especially in the case of “hits” against security personnel, as there is a higher economic incentive if the details are published in the media.
After the recent intervention of the police headquarters in the opposition-run municipality of Chacao in Caracas, it was discovered that this police force had been behind several high profile killings such as that of retired General Felix Velasquez and revolutionary journalist Ricardo Duran.
Obviously the Mayor of Chacao who is the Commander-in-Chief of this police force did not know anything about the activities in his own police headquarters. The opposition is never involved in these murders even though the police forces they control are never above suspicion. At present 4 policemen are awaiting trial for the assassination of General Velasquez and 14 more for the killing of Duran.
On repeated occasions President Maduro has stated that these assassinations “form part of a non-conventional war that is being waged against the country – and not just now but for many years. Criminal violence emerges when the right wing does not achieve its objectives”.
There follows a list of the revolutionaries and public servants murdered in contract killings due to the politics of violence of the ultra right wing:
In addition to these politically motivated and contract killings by paramilitaries, police and paid thugs in the streets, there are at least 15 professional bodyguards of high-level Chavistas who have been assassinated from 2013–2016.
All the cases mentioned have proven to be contract killings and have been resolved or are under investigation.
It is worth highlighting the fact that no international human rights organization or any NGO affiliated to the US or Spain – countries that are supposedly democratic and believe in the freedom of expression – have taken any interest or made declarations condemning the persecution and assassination of Chavistas. All they have done is attack the government of President Maduro insinuating that it is he who is violating human rights!
Thus, we have a twisted situation where cases of murdered Chavistas are glossed over and no mention of the violation of their human rights is ever made. And on the other hand, the darling of the international right wing, Leopoldo Lopez, is allegedly having his human rights violated because his iPod was removed from his jail cell.
This is the late Eduardo Galeano’s “Upside Down World!”
© Copyright 2016 by AxisofLogic.com
It has become crystal clear.
For the record, here it is.
She has big ambitions, which she does not spell out for fear of frightening part of the electorate, but which are perfectly understood by her closest aides and biggest donors.
She wants to achieve regime change in Russia.
She enjoys the support of most of the State Department and much of the Pentagon, and Congress is ready to go.
The method: a repeat of the 1979 Brezinski ploy, which consisted of luring Moscow into Afghanistan, in order to get the Russians bogged down in their “Vietnam”. As the Russians are a much more peace-loving people, largely because of what they suffered in two World Wars, the Russian involvement in Afghanistan was very unpopular and can be seen as a cause of the collapse of the Soviet Union.
This led to the temporary reign of the drunken Boris Yeltsin who – as recounted in Strobe Talbott’s memoirs – was putty in the hands of Bill Clinton. Hillary would like to renew that sort of relationship. Putin is an obstacle.
The new version of this old strategy is to use Russia’s totally legal and justifiable efforts to save Syria from destruction in order to cause enough Russian casualties to incite anti-Putin reaction in Russia leading to his overthrow. (Note State Department spokesman John Kirby’s recent warning that Russia will soon be “sending troops home in body bags”.)
That is the prime reason why the United States is doing everything to keep the Syrian war dragging on and on. The joint Syrian-Russian offensive to recapture the rebel-held Eastern sections of Aleppo might lead to an early end of the war. U.S. reaction: a huge propaganda campaign condemning this normal military operation as “criminal”, while driving ISIS forces out of Mosul with attacks from the East, so that they will move westward into Syria, to fight against the Assad government.
Ukraine is another theater for weakening Putin.
Hillary Clinton’s ambition – made explicit by her own and her close aides’ statements about Libya in emails at the time – is to gain her place in history as victorious strategist of “regime change”, using open and covert methods (“smart power”), thus bringing recalcitrant regions under control of the “exceptional, good” nation, the United States.
This ambition is backed by possession of nuclear weapons.
I am by no means saying that this plan will succeed. But it is very clearly the plan.
The electoral circus is a distraction from such crucially serious matters.
Diana Johnstone is the author of Fools’ Crusade: Yugoslavia, NATO, and Western Delusions. Her new book is Queen of Chaos: the Misadventures of Hillary Clinton. She can be reached at email@example.com
Hebron, Occupied Palestine – Late Thursday morning, as Palestinian schools in the Old City of occupied al-Khalil (Hebron) were dismissing their students early due to enhanced settler activity, Israeli forces harassed a Palestinian man and denied him his right of movement through the large parking lot near the base of al-Ibrahimi Mosque. The reason for this incident, as well as the increase in settler activity, was due to the week-long Jewish holiday of Sukkot, the Feast of the Tabernacles. Throughout this entire week, Israeli Forces have increased their numbers stationed around the Mosque, and it was one of these members of the occupation forces that decided to harass this Palestinian civilian.
The man, a local tour guide in the Old City of al-Khalil, entered the parking lot in order to reach a group of Turkish tourists who had just arrived. Upon setting foot in the lot, two members of the Israeli Border Police approached him, with one using his hands to physically shove him away from the cordoned off entrance. As he tried to explain that he merely wanted to pass through to reach the tourists, the border policeman raised his voice and shouted at him to get back. When the man asked why he was not allowed to pass through when so many tourists were permitted to, the answer he received was, “You are Palestinian. No Palestinians pass through here during the holiday.” The man had no choice but to turn around and walk around the parking lot.
The denial towards Palestinians of their right to movement by Israeli forces is a fundamental weapon of the occupation. By preventing Palestinians from entering historical and religious sites, and working to minimize their presence around Jewish festivities, Israel uses the excuse of the holidays to continue its process of ethnically cleaning al-Khalil of its indigenous Palestinian population. On Wednesday, Israeli Forces came out in force to block off a road in the so-called Palestinian controlled H1 area to allow settlers from the illegal Israeli settlements to have access to a supposed prayer site in the city. This is merely one of the many examples of how Jewish holidays act as a cover for forceful intimidation of Palestinians.
The harassment of this man this morning is symptomatic of the devaluation of Palestinian life under the Israeli occupation across the land of Palestine.