The world seems to be sleepwalking its way into a geopolitical maelstrom as the US, increasingly paranoid over Russia, said it is considering a cyber-attack against the Kremlin in retaliation for purported Russian meddling in the US election process.
NBC News, citing those conveniently omnipresent “anonymous sources,” reported that the CIA is preparing to deliver ideas to the White House for “a wide-ranging ‘clandestine’ cyber operation designed to harass and ‘embarrass’ the Kremlin leadership,” as if dragging the Kremlin through the mud of the 2016 presidential campaign wasn’t embarrassing enough.
The report went on to say that the covert action plan, which is certainly no longer covert, “is designed to protect the US election system and insure that Russian hackers can’t interfere with the November vote (…) Another goal is to send a message to Russia that it has crossed a line.”
Before continuing, it is important to note that America’s electronic voting machines have long been vulnerable to hackers and vote riggers. And with all due respect to Russian ingenuity and resourcefulness, it was not the Russians who revealed that information to the Americans. In 2006, a group of computer programmers from Princeton University said they successfully created “vote-stealing software” that could be easily installed on a Diebold AccuVote-TS (the programmers, incidentally, admitted they acquired the voting machine “at a party”).
NBC then interviewed former CIA Deputy Director Michael Morell about Washington’s alleged plans to conduct a cyber-attack against Russia. Morell was against the covert cyber plan, but for all the wrong reasons.
“Physical attacks on networks is not something the US wants to do because we don’t want to set a precedent for other countries to do it as well, including against us,” he said. “My own view is that our response shouldn’t be covert – it should overt, for everybody to see.”
Incidentally, it was Morell who told Charlie Rose in August that“we need to make the Russians pay a price” – i.e. kill them – apparently for the Russian military’s actions in Syria, which came as a shock given its success in routing Islamic State forces in the war-stricken Arab Republic.
NBC, as well as every other media outlet that has reported on the “Russian hacks,” failed to provide any concrete evidence of Russia “tampering in the US election process.” The NBC article, however, did prove that the Democrats, in a desperate bid to keep their Oval Office on Pennsylvania Avenue, will do whatever it takes to ‘help’ Hillary Clinton beat Donald Trump next month, even to the point of staging a zero-sum, take-no-prisoner poker game with Russia, the possible implications of which simply boggle the mind.
Political high stakes
Hunting season against the big, bad Russian bear opened in July this year, as WikiLeaks dumped a batch of incriminating emails showing that Hillary Clinton had received favorable treatment by the Democratic National Committee (DNC) over other presidential contenders, including Bernie Sanders. The scandal led to the resignation of Debbie Wasserman Schultz, the now-disgraced DNC chair.
Before WikiLeaks gleefully dumped the emails, the FBI had just concluded an investigation against Clinton for using her private server while handling thousands of government documents, many of them stamped ‘classified.’ The FBI, admitting the former Secretary of State had been “extremely careless” with her computer, recommended that no charges be filed against her. At this point, the reader may be asking: Okay, what does any of this have to do with Russia? That’s a very good question, and one that Russia is asking as well.
In fact, the only evidence is circumstantial, via a remark uttered by Donald Trump, who suggested – sarcastically – that Russia might want to help US authorities locate thousands of Clinton emails that mysteriously vanished in the ether.
“Russia, if you’re listening, I hope you’re able to find the 30,000 emails that are missing,” Trump quipped at a news conference in late July. “I think you will probably be rewarded mightily by our press.”
The Clinton campaign failed to see the irony of the comments, of course. Instead, it took Trump’s words quite literally, peddling to a gullible public the story of deep collaboration between Donald Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin. From there, rumors of a budding ‘bromance’ between Putin and Trump provided the necessary diversion to distract attention away from the explosive content of Clinton’s emails, and to the fantasy land of “Russian aggression.”
The Clinton campaign’s readiness to do whatever it required to win the White House was brought out in stark relief with the latest batch of leaked emails. The Young Turks, for example, found that Clinton was actually tipped off regarding a question on the death penalty that would be asked at the CNN Town Hall Debate against Donald Trump. The email in question was sent by Donna Brazile, who was then employed at CNN before becoming interim DNC Chair.
When Brazile was confronted with the allegations, she reacted by casually dismissing them. “I refuse to open them,” she remarked, talking about the proof of the leaks that had been sent to her email, of all places. “And I’ve asked the staff at the DNC and all of our Democratic allies, don’t open up that crap, because it’s postmarked from Russia.”
Clinton officials echoed Brazile’s comments, dubbing the popular whistleblower website a “propaganda arm of the Russian government.”
So just like that, yet another case of Clinton political chicanery, worthy of a Watergate-style investigation, is swept under America’s carpet, while WikiLeaks and Russia are accused of working in tandem to stain the squeaky clean electoral process. And now here we are, with the Obama administration suggesting some sort of cyber-attack on Russia – a nuclear-armed country, by the way – over what really amounts to extreme misconduct at the highest levels of the Clinton campaign, with Russia being dragged in as scapegoat.
Meanwhile, Clinton’s dogged insistence that Russia is somehow responsible for the hacked emails, which even the media has admitted it cannot prove, is forcing the outgoing Obama administration to act as if it is doing something about it.
On Friday, Vice President Joe Biden met “Meet the Press” host Chuck Todd for an interview that has raised serious concern in Russia.
Without bothering to question the validity of the claims, Todd took the allegations of Russian hacking at face value, opening his interview with a loaded question: “Why haven’t we sent a message yet to Putin?”
After a moment of deafening silence in which it was possible to hear the gears grinding in Biden’s brain, the VP responded: “We’re sending a message. We have the capacity to do it and it will be at the time of our choosing, and under the circumstances that will have the greatest impact.”
When Todd asked if the public will know a message was sent, Biden replied, “Hope not.”
Now just try and square that. Biden tells Todd on national television that the United States will “send a message” to Russia that has the “greatest impact,” yet he hopes the American public will not connect the dots and discover whodunnit.
The inherent danger of NBC News posting this story and interview is obvious. First, as has been said a hundred times already, there is zero proof to connect Russia to the alleged hacks; and if the Obama administration is sitting on evidence it defies logic not to provide that to the public. Furthermore, should Russia be hit one day by a cyber-attack in the near or distant future, the obvious temptation will be to pin the blame on the United States, and regardless of the state of bilateral relations at that time. So in that respect, the Obama administration is doing future US and Russian administrations a terrible disservice by uttering such mindless threats that will hang over US-Russia relations for as long as our technological societies are dependent on computer systems, i.e. a very long time.
In fact, this is not the first time that the brilliant idea of talking up a cyber strike on Russia has happened. In August, the influential Atlantic Council released a paper calling for Poland to ‘reserve the right’ to attack Russian infrastructure, including Moscow’s public transport and RT’s offices, via electronic warfare. One of the authors of that diabolical piece is an adviser to BAE Systems, Europe’s largest company in the Defence Sector. Go figure.
So whether Joe Biden is simply uttering election-year rhetoric to sway voter opinion no longer matters to Russia. Unsubstantiated claims of Russian hacking is one thing, but when the second-ranking US official not only joins the blame game, but asserts that Russia will be on the receiving end of a cyber-attack, well, we’ve clearly entered an entirely new dimension – a parallel reality, if you like.
On Sunday, Vladimir Putin emphasized that US threats of cyber-attacks do not correspond to the norms of international relations.
“The only novelty is that for the first time, on the highest level, the United States has admitted involvement in these activities, and to some extent threatened [us] – which of course does not meet the standards of international communication,” the Russian leader said.
“Apparently, they are nervous,” he added.
“One can expect just about anything from our American friends. After all, what did he (Biden) say that we didn’t already know? Didn’t we know that US authorities are spying and eavesdropping on everyone?”
Meanwhile, WikiLeaks expressed reservations over the seriousness of a covert cyberwar on Russia.
“If the US ‘clandestine’ pending cyberwar on Russia was serious: 1) it would not have been announced 2) it would be the NSA [National Security Agency] and not the CIA,” WikiLeaks wrote on Twitter.
Aside from the leaked emails from WikiLeaks, which are tossing a monkey wrench into the Democrat’s election plans, there are many other issues affecting the cantankerous American campaign. Donald Trump, for example, has promised to severely scale back America’s military footprint around the world, as well as end military campaigns that are drying up US finances. This is the very last thing the elite and the powerful military-industrial complex want, and they are willing to do anything – including lying through their teeth about Russian hacking – to ensure that Clinton gets into the White House and maintain the status quo.
Regarding the claims of a possible cyber-attack on Russia, there are also grounds for taking this report with a generous handful of salt. First, Barack Obama is presiding over the remaining lame-duck days of his 8 years in office. And lately there have been disturbing signs of a mutiny of sorts inside his administration.
In June, for example, dozens of State Department diplomats, apparently upset with Russian military’s successes in Syria, signed an internal memo calling the United States to carry out military strikes against the government of President Bashar al-Assad, which sounds curiously like the position many predict Clinton will take should she reach the White House.
Since the NBC News report of an alleged plan to conduct a cyber-attack on Russia contained not a single named source, not to mention the futility of publicly declaring a “covert” operation, this may be nothing more than a case of the US mainstream media unilaterally poking the hornets nest, agitating Russia, while creating a perfect smokescreen to conceal the misconduct of their obvious favorite candidate – Wall Street-approved, Neocon-supported, Hillary Rodham Clinton.
US security officials are bewildered that GOP presidential candidate Donald Trump has dared to doubt their allegations against the big bad russkies. Who would have thought?
Any statement made by US intelligence should be perceived as unquestionable truth, and shouldn’t be interrogated for proof. And should someone, like Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump for instance, dare to put such statements to doubt, he should be burned on a pyre as a heretic and blasphemer.
Not to many current and former US security officials, according to The Washington Post.
In the first US presidential debate on September 26, Trump openly doubted US intel’s allegations that it was Russia that conducted the hack on Democratic National Committee servers that exposed some dark truths about the party.
“I don’t think anybody knows it was Russia that broke into the DNC,” he said. “I mean, it could be Russia, but it could also be China. It could also be lots of other people. It also could be somebody sitting on their bed that weighs 400 pounds, okay?”
According to the Post, which consulted several former intelligence officials, “Trump is either willfully disputing intelligence assessments, has a blind spot on Russia, or perhaps doesn’t understand the nonpartisan traditions and approach of intelligence professionals.”
Of course, we can’t know whether Trump has a “blind spot” on Russia (he might have, but he hasn’t let us know). And, of course, the “approach of intelligence professionals” is undoubtedly “nonpartisan,” as both Democrats and Republican seem to be in unanimous agreement in their anti-Russian hysteria. But does that mean that intelligence “assessments” are inherently unbiased and cannot be willfully disputed?
Let’s be real. No proof of Russian involvement in the hacks has yet been presented. And it wouldn’t be far-fetched to assume that it is unlikely to ever materialize, as groundless accusations about Moscow for these kinds of breaches has become old hat for US officials on both sides of the political aisle. Everyone, from Congress to the US mainstream media, has chosen to be content with officials’ assurances that “we are confident.”
Sorry, guys, but that’s just not good enough for everyone.
According to basic principles of logic, when accusations are made, the accuser should be expected to furnish evidence of their claims. Otherwise, depending on the severity of the finger-pointing, it might be called defamation or libel and it’s a crime that’s subject to legal prosecution.
Challenging this basic principle, it would seem, defies logic. Remarkably, however, General Michael V. Hayden, former director of the CIA and the National Security Agency, seems to believe that it’s “defying logic” not to.
“He seems to ignore [intelligence officials’] advice,” Hayden added, referring to the fact that Trump has been accused of lacking expertise in certain arenas.
And his candidacy is certainly diverging from the expectations of many — the US intelligence community, it turns out, is no exception.
“In my experience, candidates have taken into account the information they have received and modulated their comments,” the Post quoted former acting CIA director John McLaughlin as saying.
“I don’t recall a previous candidate saying they didn’t believe” information from an intelligence briefing, John Rizzo, a former CIA lawyer who served under seven presidents, added.
Well, gentlemen, believe it or not, this candidate does.
“It’s remarkable that [Trump] refused to say an unkind syllable about Vladimir Putin,” General Hayden added. It would seem, too, that hurling accusations at Putin, regardless of the grounds, has likewise become a norm of good behavior — and American political correctness.
21st Century Wire | October 15, 2016
This is a bit of an oddity as far as TED talks go…
Investigative journalist Trevor Aaronson actually delivers a TED presentation which calls out the FBI for being the party responsible for creating the majority of so-called ‘domestic terror’ and ‘Islamic terror’ busts in the US since 9/11.
Just this week, the FBI are boasting of a high level domestic extremist terror bust of a militia group in Kansas, but when you read the fine print of the case, it features several FBI “confidential informants,” no doubt helping to ‘egg-on’ and steer their prey into a preconceived trap.
21WIRE has been saying this for years, and it’s refreshing to see what is normally a bland, mainstream talking shop like TED actually allow a speaker to present a real anti-establishment subject like this one.
In truth, the FBI’s shady record in this area stretched back well before 9/11, when FBI informants (under FBI supervision) helped to organize the 1993 World Trade Center Bombing. Despite this, idiotic mainstream media and politicians in the US still claim that the 1993 WTC event was “linked to al Qaeda.”
NOTE: The following speaker, Trevor Aaronson, claims that both the Boston Bombing and the attempted Times Square car bombing [were authentic terror attacks]. This statement is very likely to be incorrect. It has already been confirmed that the FBI’s lead suspect in Boston, Tamerlan Tsarnaev, was being actively recruited by the FBI for at least two years prior to the event in question, as well as being associated with a CIA front org called the Jamestown Foundation. Similarly, the alleged Times Square bomber, Faisal Shahzad, appeared to have fled to Pakistan with a handler who has connections to the CIA and MI6. Otherwise, we welcome this topic raised by journalist Aaronson.
“People don’t trust Hillary Clinton, and no one can agree on why,” begins a sympathetic piece on the Democratic Party presidential candidate in Fast Company last July.
In a CNN poll that same month, only 30 percent of Americans believed Clinton to be “honest and trustworthy.”
If voters don’t know what to make of Clinton or how to read her, the blame may lie directly with the candidate herself. In an April 2013 speech made public by WikiLeaks last week, Clinton confided:
Politics is like sausage being made. It is unsavory, and it always has been that way, but we usually end up where we need to be. But if everybody’s watching, you know, all of the back room discussions and the deals, you know, then people get a little nervous, to say the least. So, you need both a public and a private position.
That last “public vs. private” comment quickly made the media rounds, and confirmed – for her critics – Clinton’s deliberate duplicity on a number of policy positions.
WikiLeaks has provided an opportunity to delve into some of these, so let’s take a look at one very prominent feature of Clinton’s foreign policy agenda: Syria, a country that stands at the center of a potential global confrontation today.
Not a Syrian uprising; a regime change plan
A 2012 email released by WikiLeaks last year shows that, behind the scenes, Clinton’s State Department was calculating its Syria policy using entirely different metrics than its publicly-stated narrative of supporting reforms and rejecting violence:
It is the strategic relationship between Iran and the regime of Bashar Assad in Syria that makes it possible for Iran to undermine Israel’s security — not through a direct attack, which in the thirty years of hostility between Iran and Israel has never occurred, but through its proxies in Lebanon, like Hezbollah, that are sustained, armed and trained by Iran via Syria. The end of the Assad regime would end this dangerous alliance. Israel’s leadership understands well why defeating Assad is now in its interests.
The email, written by an unidentified person and included within the WikiLeaks ‘Clinton archive,’ lays out a plan:
Washington should start by expressing its willingness to work with regional allies like Turkey, Saudi Arabia, and Qatar to organize, train and arm Syrian rebel forces. The announcement of such a decision would, by itself, likely cause substantial defections from the Syrian military. Then, using territory in Turkey and possibly Jordan, US diplomats and Pentagon officials can start strengthening the opposition… Arming the Syrian rebels and using Western air power to ground Syrian helicopters and airplanes is a low-cost high payoff approach.
Arming a Syrian rebellion from outside the country was already a consideration “from the very beginning,” according to a recent WikiLeaks release of a June 2013 speech by Clinton:
So, the problem for the US and the Europeans has been from the very beginning: What is it you – who is it you are going to try to arm. And you probably read in the papers my view was we should try to find some of the groups that were there that we thought we could build relationships with and develop some covert connections that might then at least give us some insight into what is going on inside Syria.
Certainly, we know that by early 2012, the Obama and Erdogan administrations had struck a deal to establish a rat-line transporting weapons and ammunition from Libya to Syria – via the CIA and MI6, and funded by Turkey, Saudi Arabia and Qatar.
The attack on the US consulate in Benghazi which killed US Ambassador Christopher Stevens was only a temporary setback. Weapons and financial assistance to militants in Syria, however, continued to flow from America’s regional allies without any US push-back, even though Washington clearly knew arms were being siphoned to extremists.
A declassified DIA document from August 2012 circulated to Clinton’s State Department states plainly that “the Salafist, Muslim Brotherhood and AQI (Al-Qaeda in Iraq) are the major forces driving the insurgency in Syria” and that “the West, Gulf countries and Turkey support the opposition.”
But if US Special Forces were involved in driving arms and fighters into Syria in early 2012, the groundwork would have had to have begun many, many months before. The US military’s unconventional warfare (UW) strategy requires that target-state population perceptions are first “groomed” into accepting an armed insurrection, using “propaganda and political and psychological efforts to discredit the government”… creating “local and national ‘agitation’”… helping organize “boycotts, strikes and other efforts to suggest public discontent”… before beginning the “infiltration of foreign organizers and advisors and foreign propaganda, material, money, weapons and equipment.”
You get an idea of how this “propaganda” and “grooming” works in a June 2011 email from Clinton’s recently-departed Director of Policy Planning Anne-Marie Slaughter, who openly calls for fabricating sectarian narratives to incite Syrian protestors:
This suggests US should be making much more of the ways in which Syrian regime is simulating violence. Can’t we call for a meeting of the UNSC where we do not call for action but simply present information along the lines of what is recounted below so as to ‘bring it to the attention of the Council’ in a way that then has greater credibility globally? Making the point repeatedly that the regime wants this to look like/turn into sectarian violence? At the very least that can be broadcast back into Syria in various ways that will encourage protestors. There is an information war going on; we can do much more to elevate and legitimate the truth.
This is business as usual for a US State Department well-versed in sowing sectarian discord in the Middle East – all while publicly denouncing sectarian strife. A WikiLeaks email from 2006 shows that this thinking was already well-entrenched in Foggy Bottom, with a focus on “exploiting vulnerabilities” – particularly “sectarian” ones – inside Syria.
Fueling the sectarian Jihad
By late 2011, US intelligence had assessed that Al-Qaeda was operating inside Syria. This information was public, but not widely disseminated. Instead, Clinton’s team focused heavily on flogging the narrative that “Assad must go” because of his government’s widespread human rights violations.
Clinton liberally used the “humanitarian” pretext to advance a regime change agenda – pushing, behind the scenes, for increased assistance to militants and direct US military intervention, while publicly decrying the escalating violence inside Syria.
But did she give a toss about keeping Syrians safe? The evidence suggests otherwise. In this new WikiLeaks release of a speech to the Jewish United Fund in August 2013 – “flagged,” incidentally, by her staffers who worried about its content – Clinton outlines one possible Syria policy option:
One way is a very hands off, step back, we don’t have a dog in this hunt, let them kill themselves until they get exhausted, and then we’ll figure out how to deal with what the remnants are. That’s a position held by people who believe there is no way, not just for the United States but others, to stop the killing before the people doing the killing and the return killing are tired of killing each other. So it’s a very hands off approach.
To any observer of the foreign-fueled Syrian war of attrition, it looks very much like Clinton opted for this course of action.
And given that Washington’s allies in the Syrian fight consisted mainly of head-chopping, jihadist foot soldiers, Clinton’s scenario of a killing field to keep all sides “exhausted” may have even been the starting plan.
These fighters came equipped with a militant, sectarian mindset courtesy of Saudi Arabia, Turkey and Qatar – under the supervision, of course, of a CIA that cut its teeth doing the exact same thing with the Mujahedeen in Afghanistan.
A WikiLeaks email sent from Hillary Clinton to her now-campaign chief John Podesta in August 2014 shows that the former Secretary of State is fully aware that her allies were partial to supporting terrorists:
While this military/paramilitary operation is moving forward, we need to use our diplomatic and more traditional intelligence assets to bring pressure on the governments of Qatar and Saudi Arabia, which are providing clandestine financial and logistic support to ISIL and other radical Sunni groups in the region.
Qatar and Saudi Arabia are, of course, two staunch US allies in the region that host American military bases and, apparently, also support ISIL.
Another October 2013 Clinton speech “flagged” by her campaign staff, and released by WikiLeaks this week, has her saying:
The Saudis and others are shipping large amounts of weapons – and pretty indiscriminately – not at all targeted toward the people that we think would be the more moderate, least likely, to cause problems in the future.
The State Department knows all too well that both fighters and weapons are fungible in the Syrian militant marketplace. It is a key reason the US has always resisted naming those groups it considers “moderate” rebels. Arms and supplies to US-backed groups have often found their way to ISIL and Al-Qaeda, with photo evidence aplenty making the social media rounds.
Despite these loaded disclosures, Clinton and other US policymakers still flog outdated narratives about an “evil Syrian regime killing innocent civilians” while ignoring the narrative they know to be true: bloodthirsty jihadists armed to the teeth by ideologically-aligned US allies.
This Syrian conflict – privately, at least – is about regime change at all costs for the hawkish side of the policy establishment which includes the CIA, Pentagon brass and Clinton. Publicly, however, it’s still about “crimes against humanity” – whatever that means today.
Earlier this month, Clinton began to publicly reveal that truth in advance of the November presidential election. Reuters reports Clinton as saying “removing President Bashar al-Assad is the top priority in Syria.”
She is also once again touting a “no-fly zone” over Syria – much as she did with Libya. In yet another speech ‘flagged’ by her campaign and released by WikiLeaks – this one delivered to Goldman Sachs at their CEO conference in June 2013 – Clinton explains:
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. So all of a sudden this intervention that people talk about so glibly becomes an American and NATO involvement where you take a lot of civilians.
So Clinton is advocating for a no-fly zone despite the fact that she recognizes she’s “going to kill a lot of Syrians.” Which then puts that other speech of hers about letting Syrians “kill themselves until they get exhausted” into context.
Her only regional allies in this endeavor will be the Saudis and Qataris, who we now know support ISIL and other terrorists inside Syria. We also know that Clinton will continue to ignore this indiscretion – not because of what she says, but because of what she does.
Her public-versus-private position on the Saudis, after all, has been bandied about since the 2010 WikiLeaks State Department cables were released.
In 2009, a secret WikiLeaks cable signed off by then- Secretary of State Hillary Clinton reads, in part:
Donors in Saudi Arabia constitute the most significant source of funding to Sunni terrorist groups worldwide… Saudi Arabia remains a critical financial support base for Al-Qaeda, the Taliban, LeT (Laskhar-e Taiba), and other terrorist groups… It has been an ongoing challenge to persuade Saudi officials to treat terrorist financing emanating from Saudi Arabia as a strategic priority.
Yet by 2011, Clinton was ushering through the biggest weapons sale to Saudi Arabia in US history – a massive $67 Billion arms dump into the epicenter of global terror.
Clinton is not averse to cashing in on Saudi riches for her and her family’s foundation either. The Clinton Foundation has received millions of dollars from Saudi, Qatari and other Gulf sources, despite the role their governments have played in funding global Jihad. And her campaign manager’s brother, Tony Podesta, just signed on to furnish the Saudi government with very expensive public relations services earlier this year.
There is something schizophrenic about Hillary Clinton’s compartmentalization of issues that speaks to the very competence of her judgment. Her whole private-versus-public-positions shtick is antithetical to the transparency, process and accountability demanded by democracy.
She speaks of her Iraq “mistake,” yet we have still not heard what lessons she has learned. And it grates, because we can see she has repeated them again and again, in Libya and in Syria.
The “public” Hillary Clinton supports self-determination, freedom and human rights for Syrians. The “private” Hillary Clinton supports the wholesale massacre of Syrians by a closely allied network of depraved sectarian terrorists – in order to weaken Iran and strengthen Israel.
If you’re one of those Americans who don’t trust her, you have good reason. At this point it is hard to ascertain if Clinton herself knows what her truth is anymore.
On September 29, 2016, the US Congress passed an act on Justice against Sponsors of Terrorism, overcoming the veto of Barack Obama. Although the act is mainly highlighted in the context of a possible cooling of relations between the US and Saudi Arabia, this story is also connected with yet another attempt to return North Korea to the list of countries supporting terrorism.
On September 14, the subcommittee on the Asia-Pacific region of the House Foreign Affairs Committee of the US Congress held a hearing on this matter, where speeches were given by Bruce Klingner, fellow partner of the American Heritage Foundation, Victor Cha, analyst at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, and other experts who held the appropriate political orientation. Mr.Klingner, now at the Asian Studies Center of the Heritage Foundation, worked in the CIA and the DIA for 20 years, where he also managed the CIA department, which was engaged in the analysis of North Korea during the first round of the nuclear crisis back in 1993. Then, in 1996-2001, he was the Deputy Director of Department of Korea, also in the CIA. Victor Cha is also a well-known conservative and a former employee of the US administration.
Its no wonder that, in the opinion of both experts, “there are no obstacles to placing North Korea back on the list of state sponsors of terrorism as there is plenty of evidence of such activities.” Victor Cha recalled the cyberattack made by North Korean hackers on the US film company Sony Pictures, which caused damage to the company and led to the leakage of information. Klingner went even further – his understanding of terrorist activities includes “threats to ordinary people for political purposes.” This alone appears sufficient for North Korea’s inclusion in the above list of countries, which, according to the official position of the US State Department, support acts of international terrorism.
This time, the experts had the opportunity to present their thesis, but the issue was not resolved in the first attempt, although South Korean media described the process as “the United States making increasing calls for the return of North Korea to the list of countries supporting terrorism. When North Korea was excluded from the list in 2008, many disagreed, but after Pyongyang conducted its 5th nuclear test, the issue was quickly brought back on the table.” However, if these actions bear any fruit, we will gain an impressive example of how the principle of official enemy classification works, where compliance with the formal criteria does not matter.
Normally a “sponsor of terrorism” is a state “assisting international terrorists by supplying weapons, providing bases, shelter or protection from punishment, or financing or organizing their training, provision of intelligence information, and providing other forms of assistance and support.” A more detailed explanation of “supporting terrorism” is as follows:
- Regular supply of weapons, money or other material resources to terrorists, without which their terrorist activity would not be so effective.
- Giving terrorists political support – from information campaigns in their favour to granting territory for training camps or bases, from which a terrorist organization can fight against a third country.
- The leading and guiding role of any political organization as it operates in the direct interest of the said country; it is important to note that in this case we are talking about a direct confirmed link, rather than indirect benefits, when the actions of terrorists simply aid a particular country, but have no control or support.
- Actual terrorist activities undertaken by the state intelligence, should it actually be engaged in terrorism, and not in diversion; these terms are somewhat different, in terms of the “target audience” because in the event of war, a large part of what is called a terrorist attack is regarded as “diversion”, an acceptable part of war aimed at the destruction of the enemy’s military or their property, including behind enemy lines.
Sometimes, in terms of state terrorism, a single situation can be highlighted, in which state intelligence agencies purposefully hunt for dissidents around the world: Again, it should be not a single or “excessive act,” but the systematic and proven practice of political assassinations in the territory of third countries.
As you can see, cyber attacks or vague threats are not included in this list. Thus, the fact that the notorious cyber attack on Sony Pictures as a major reason for inclusion in the list is Very Peculiar indeed.
First, too many experts confirm that the attack was impossible without an insider. Moreover, the author heard news that this insider had already been found and the suggestions of DPRK involvement are based on rather shaky assumptions about the use of certain software.
Second, even if we assume that the attack was mastered by Pyongyang, it was not intended to damage vital facilities. Unlike, for example, the actions of Styxnet, which caused real accidents at work. If North Korean hackers had caused an explosion at a nuclear power plant, or at least a large-scale blackout that incurred victims, destruction and serious economic damage, then this type of cyber-terrorist attack could be called a terrorist attack. But in the case of Sony there was no destruction to important information, the hackers simply dumped what they found online.
Third, if actions similar to the Sony attack are now considered not just hacking, but actually terrorism, then we are faced with a precedent which can be regarded as a double-edged sword. It will mean that the activities undertaken by Assange, Snowden, and the notorious hacks of the second half of 2016 related to the US presidential campaign are all terrorist attacks. Should we now put the United States and a number of other countries on the list of state sponsors of terrorism on the basis of exactly the same logic?
In response to the accusations, supporters of returning the DPRK to the list retaliate by saying that the North was removed from it purely for political reasons, and it is time to simply restore justice. Alas, this argument is also incorrect.
Yes, there were times when North Korean actions could be regarded as a terrorist attack, but even the basic, most well-known stories about it are only half truths. Let’s recall them.
A group of commandos attack the Blue House in 1968 – this is a well-known and proven fact. Just like the failed attempt at a response made by South Korea, which became the plot of the film “Silmido”.
Attempted homicide of Park Chung-hee in 1974, when his wife was killed. There has been no link found between the murderer and North Korean secret services. It is known that he was a Japanese Korean and belonged to a left-wing organization, but the most probable version is a non-affiliated terrorist. Generally, this story has a lot of grey areas linked with how an armed murderer managed to get into the closed session.
Attempted homicide of Chun Doo-hwan in 1983 in Burma – this is a fact. The man detained by the Burmese authorities gave confessions. Incidentally, after that Burma broke off diplomatic relations with North Korea.
The explosion of a South Korean plane in 1987, after which North Korea was put on the list – this is an extremely unclear story. We only have the testimony of a single witness who repented, was amnestied and then disappeared. Conspiracy theories put forward a provocation by the North Korean secret services, another version has it as a Japanese Korean girl from among the terrorists struck a deal with the investigation team and pretended to be a North Korean spy and then gave a politically correct testimony.
After that North Korea has not undertaken any actions that could be construed as terrorist support: North Korea’s involvement in the death of Yi Han-yong remained unconfirmed, and the story of the assassination attempt on Park Sang-hak was basically turned into a spectacle and cast the self-proclaimed “Dissident No.1″ in a bad light when the “specialist with poisoned needles” turned out to be an ordinary acupuncturist.
The answer is simple – the return of North Korea to the list will not only add to the demonization of the country, but also significantly increase the pressure of sanctions, which the opponents of Pyongyang actively strive for. Putting Pyongyang back on the list of state sponsors of terrorism will close off Pyongyang’s access to financial assistance from international organizations such as the IMF and the Asian Development Bank. And this is why the enemies of the DPRK will continue to misuse their own definitions, discrediting the very concept of the fight against state supported terrorist organizations.
Konstantin Asmolov, Ph.D. in History, Chief Research Fellow at the Center for Korean Studies of the Institute of Far Eastern Studies of the Russian Academy of Sciences.
The Internet has lately been filled with pictures of American military pilots rushing towards US warplanes closely resembling Russia’s Su-34, painted in a recognizable light blue paint scheme that has never been used in the US military, but is routinely used by the Russian Air Force.
But this was not a demonstration of US pilots finally filling the seats of Russian hardware, provoked by the fact that US military contractors failed to deliver a competitive fifth-generation fighter, alas. Though it’s true that the Lockheed Martin F-35 has been a bitter failure riddled by criticism from all sides, including the American “hawk in chief” – Chairman of the United States Senate Committee on Armed Services, John McCain.
Regardless, what we’ve seen in the pictures is the direct implementation of the notorious American “plan B” in Syria, so now pro-American “eye-witnesses” can not simply claim that they’ve witnessed Russia’s involvement in alleged “war crimes” somewhere in Aleppo and other Syrian cities. They would now be able to provide pictures taken with their mobile devices to show the “evidence of criminal Russian activities in Syria.” Somewhere in Washington someone has assumed that the whole world would echo the demands of their obedient British and French client government to hold an “international tribunal regarding Russia’s aggression” after seeing such pictures.
In addition to the United States repainting its warplanes to resemble Russian military livery, it is also fairly obvious that America’s F-18 is fairly similar to the Russian Su-34 in appearance. In fact, only a military expert can tell the difference, but only when pictures are presented in high resolution. The folding wings of the American F-18 can only be seen in on the runway, and as for the vertical stabilizers of the F-18, they are only slightly different from the Russian Su-34.
Thus, if an American jet is to be filmed by somebody’s shaking hands on a smartphone, or even a semi-professional camera, it will be virtually indistinguishable from the Su-34.
The only notable distinguishing marks left on the repainted F-18 is a white star on a dark background. However, it’s tail features the bright red star all of Russian’s military jets bear.
In such circumstances, an American F-18, while being virtually indistinguishable from a Russian jet, can launch, wittingly or unwittingly, a classic false flag attack. The possible targets are plenty: humanitarian convoys, residential areas, or even US military personnel. Should this attack be filmed, Washington will end up having “irrefutable evidence” of “Russian aggression.”
As a matter of fact, Russia is already being accused of such aggression on a daily basis, but the problem is that nobody has seen any convincing evidence of such aggression. Repainting American planes to resemble Russian aircraft may be a solution to this problem.
But it must be pointed out that this attempt to launch a provocation against Russia comes from a very old book of CIA tricks. Back in 1962, during the Cuban missile crisis, Washington was also planning to use repainted aircraft,which would be used to take down a civilian airliner as a pretext for Washington to blame the Cuban Air Force. This story was told by US Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara in the documentary, “The Fog of War.”
But it’s a well-known fact that the US is an empire of lies, and there can be no doubt about that. Therefore, all the statements and actions of the White House should be taken with a grain of salt in order not to be fooled by yet another US-crafted lie.
The neoconservative president of the U.S.-taxpayer-funded National Endowment for Democracy [NED] has called for the U.S. government to “summon the will” to engineer the overthrow of Russian President Vladimir Putin, saying that the 10-year-old murder case of a Russian journalist should be the inspiration.
Carl Gershman, who has headed NED since its founding in 1983, doesn’t cite any evidence that Putin was responsible for the death of Anna Politkovskaya but uses a full column in The Washington Post on Friday to create that impression, calling her death “a window to Vladimir Putin, the Kremlin autocrat whom Americans are looking at for the first time.”
Gershman wraps up his article by writing: “Politkovskaya saw the danger [of Putin], but she and other liberals in Russia were not strong enough to stop it. The United States has the power to contain and defeat this danger. The issue is whether we can summon the will to do so. Remembering Politkovskaya can help us rise to this challenge.”
That Gershman would so directly call for the ouster of Russia’s clearly popular president represents further proof that NED is a neocon-driven vehicle that seeks to create the political circumstances for “regime change” even when that means removing leaders who are elected by a country’s citizenry.
And there is a reason for NED to see its job in that way. In 1983, NED essentially took over the CIA’s role of influencing electoral outcomes and destabilizing governments that got in the way of U.S. interests, except that NED carried out those functions in a quasi-overt fashion while the CIA did them covertly.
NED also serves as a sort of slush fund for neocons and other favored U.S. foreign policy operatives because a substantial portion of NED’s money circulates through U.S.-based non-governmental organizations or NGOs.
That makes Gershman an influential neocon paymaster whose organization dispenses some $100 million a year in U.S. taxpayers’ money to activists, journalists and NGOs both in Washington and around the world. The money helps them undermine governments in Washington’s disfavor – or as Gershman would prefer to say, “build democratic institutions,” even when that requires overthrowing democratically elected leaders.
NED was a lead actor in the Feb. 22, 2014 coup ousting Ukraine’s elected President Viktor Yanukovych in a U.S.-backed putsch that touched off the civil war inside Ukraine between Ukrainian nationalists from the west and ethnic Russians from the east. The Ukraine crisis has become a flashpoint for the dangerous New Cold War between the U.S. and Russia.
Before the anti-Yanukovych coup, NED was funding scores of projects inside Ukraine, which Gershman had identified as “the biggest prize” in a Sept. 26, 2013 column also published in The Washington Post.
In that column, Gershman wrote that after the West claimed Ukraine, “Russians, too, face a choice, and Putin may find himself on the losing end not just in the near abroad but within Russia itself.” In other words, Gershman already saw Ukraine as an important step toward an even bigger prize, a “regime change” in Moscow.
Less than five months after Gershman’s column, pro-Western political activists and neo-Nazi street fighters – with strong support from U.S. neocons and the State Department – staged a coup in Kiev driving Yanukovych from office and installing a rabidly anti-Russian regime, which the West promptly dubbed “legitimate.”
In reaction to the coup and the ensuing violence against ethnic Russians, the voters of Crimea approved a referendum with 96 percent of the vote to leave Ukraine and rejoin Russia, a move that the West’s governments and media decried as a Russian “invasion” and “annexation.”
The new regime in Kiev then mounted what it called an “Anti-Terrorism Operation” or ATO against ethnic Russians in the east who had supported Yanukovych and refused to accept the anti-constitutional coup in Kiev as legitimate.
The ATO, spearheaded by neo-Nazis from the Azov battalion and other extremists, killed thousands of ethnic Russians, prompting Moscow to covertly provide some assistance to the rebels, a move denounced by the West as “aggression.”
In his latest column, Gershman not only urges the United States to muster the courage to oust Putin but he shows off the kind of clever sophistry that America’s neocons are known for. Though lacking any evidence, he intimates that Putin ordered the murder of Politkovskaya and pretty much every other “liberal” who has died in Russia.
It is a technique that I’ve seen used in other circumstances, such as the lists of “mysterious deaths” that American right-wingers publish citing people who crossed the paths of Bill and Hillary Clinton and ended up dead. This type of smear spreads suspicion of guilt not based on proof but on the number of acquaintances and adversaries who have met untimely deaths.
In the 1990s, one conservative friend of mine pointed to the Clintons’ “mysterious deaths” list and marveled that even if only a few were the victims of a Clinton death squad that would be quite a story, to which I replied that if even one were murdered by the Clintons that would be quite a story – but that there was no proof of any such thing.
“Mysterious deaths” lists represent a type of creepy conspiracy theory that shifts the evidentiary burden onto the targets of the smears who must somehow prove their innocence, when there is no evidence of their guilt (only vague suspicions). It is contemptible when applied to American leaders and it is contemptible when applied to Russian leaders, but it is not beneath Carl Gershman.
Beyond that, Gershman’s public musing about the U.S. somehow summoning “the will” to remove Putin might — in a normal world — disqualify NED and its founding president from the privilege of dispensing U.S. taxpayers’ money to operatives in Washington and globally. It is extraordinarily provocative and dangerous, an example of classic neocon hubris.
While the neocons do love their tough talk, they are not known for thinking through their “regime change” schemes. The idea of destabilizing nuclear-armed Russia with the goal of ousting Putin, with his 82 percent approval ratings, must rank as the nuttiest and most reckless neocon scheme of all.
Gershman and his neocon pals may fantasize about making Russia’s economy scream while financing pro-Western “liberals” who would stage disruptive protests in Red Square, but he and his friends haven’t weighed the consequences even if they could succeed.
Given the devastating experience that most Russians had when NED’s beloved Russian “liberals” helped impose American “shock therapy” in the 1990s — an experiment that reduced average life expectancy by a full decade — it’s hard to believe that the Russian people would simply take another dose of that bitter medicine sitting down.
Even if the calculating Putin were somehow removed amid economic desperation, he is far more likely to be followed by a much harder-line Russian nationalist who might well see Moscow’s arsenal of nuclear weapons as the only way to protect Mother Russia’s honor. In other words, the neocons’ latest brash “regime change” scheme might be their last – and the last for all humanity.
A Neocon Slush Fund
Gershman’s arrogance also raises questions about why the American taxpayer should tolerate what amounts to a $100 million neocon slush fund which is used to create dangerous mischief around the world. Despite having “democracy” in its name, NED appears only to favor democratic outcomes when they fit with Official Washington’s desires.
If a disliked candidate wins an election, NED acts as if that is prima facie evidence that the system is undemocratic and must be replaced with a process that ensures the selection of candidates who will do what the U.S. government tells them to do. Put differently, NED’s name is itself a fraud.
But that shouldn’t come as a surprise since NED was created in 1983 at the urging of Ronald Reagan’s CIA Director William J. Casey, who wanted to off-load some of the CIA’s traditional work ensuring that foreign elections turned out in ways acceptable to Washington, and when they didn’t – as in Iran under Mossadegh, in Guatemala under Arbenz or in Chile under Allende – the CIA’s job was to undermine and remove the offending electoral winner.
In 1983, Casey and the CIA’s top propagandist, Walter Raymond Jr., who had been moved to Reagan’s National Security Council staff, wanted to create a funding mechanism to support outside groups, such as Freedom House and other NGOs, so they could engage in propaganda and political action that the CIA had historically organized and paid for covertly. The idea emerged for a congressionally funded entity that would serve as a conduit for this money.
In one undated letter to then-White House counselor Edwin Meese III, Casey urged creation of a “National Endowment,” but he recognized the need to hide the strings being pulled by the CIA. “Obviously we here [at CIA] should not get out front in the development of such an organization, nor should we appear to be a sponsor or advocate,” Casey wrote.
The National Endowment for Democracy took shape in late 1983 as Congress decided to also set aside pots of money — within NED — for the Republican and Democratic parties and for organized labor, creating enough bipartisan largesse that passage was assured.
But some in Congress thought it was important to wall the NED off from any association with the CIA, so a provision was included to bar the participation of any current or former CIA official, according to one congressional aide who helped write the legislation.
This aide told me that one night late in the 1983 session, as the bill was about to go to the House floor, the CIA’s congressional liaison came pounding at the door to the office of Rep. Dante Fascell, a senior Democrat on the House Foreign Affairs Committee and a chief sponsor of the bill.
The frantic CIA official conveyed a single message from CIA Director Casey: the language barring the participation of CIA personnel must be struck from the bill, the aide recalled, noting that Fascell consented to the demand, not fully recognizing its significance – that it would permit the continued behind-the-scenes involvement of Raymond and Casey.
The aide said Fascell also consented to the Reagan administration’s choice of Carl Gershman to head NED, again not recognizing how this decision would affect the future of the new entity and American foreign policy.
Gershman, who had followed the classic neoconservative path from youthful socialism to fierce anticommunism, became NED’s first (and, to this day, only) president. Though NED is technically independent of U.S. foreign policy, Gershman in the early years coordinated decisions on grants with Raymond at the NSC.
For instance, on Jan. 2, 1985, Raymond wrote to two NSC Asian experts that “Carl Gershman has called concerning a possible grant to the Chinese Alliance for Democracy (CAD). I am concerned about the political dimension to this request. We should not find ourselves in a position where we have to respond to pressure, but this request poses a real problem to Carl.
“Senator [Orrin] Hatch, as you know, is a member of the board. Secondly, NED has already given a major grant for a related Chinese program.”
Neocon Tag Teams
From the start, NED became a major benefactor for Freedom House, beginning with a $200,000 grant in 1984 to build “a network of democratic opinion-makers.” In NED’s first four years, from 1984 and 1988, it lavished $2.6 million on Freedom House, accounting for more than one-third of its total income, according to a study by the liberal Council on Hemispheric Affairs that was entitled “Freedom House: Portrait of a Pass-Through.”
Over the ensuing three decades, Freedom House has become almost an NED subsidiary, often joining NED in holding policy conferences and issuing position papers, both organizations pushing primarily a neoconservative agenda, challenging countries deemed insufficiently “free,” including Syria, Ukraine (in 2014) and Russia.
Indeed, NED and Freedom House often work as a kind of tag-team with NED financing “non-governmental organizations” inside targeted countries and Freedom House berating those governments if they crack down on U.S.-funded NGOs.
For instance, on Nov. 16, 2012, NED and Freedom House joined together to denounce legislation passed by the Russian parliament that required recipients of foreign political money to register with the government.
Or, as NED and Freedom House framed the issue: the Russian Duma sought to “restrict human rights and the activities of civil society organizations and their ability to receive support from abroad. Changes to Russia’s NGO legislation will soon require civil society organizations receiving foreign funds to choose between registering as ‘foreign agents’ or facing significant financial penalties and potential criminal charges.”
Of course, the United States has a nearly identical Foreign Agent Registration Act that likewise requires entities that receive foreign funding and seek to influence U.S. government policy to register with the Justice Department or face possible fines or imprisonment.
But the Russian law would impede NED’s efforts to destabilize the Russian government through funding of political activists, journalists and civic organizations, so it was denounced as an infringement of human rights and helped justify Freedom House’s rating of Russia as “not free.”
Another bash-Putin tag team has been The Washington Post’s editors and NED’s Gershman. On July 28, 2015, a Post editorial and a companion column by Gershman led readers to believe that Putin was paranoid and “power mad” in worrying that outside money funneled into NGOs threatened Russian sovereignty.
The Post and Gershman were especially outraged that the Russians had enacted the law requiring NGOs financed from abroad and seeking to influence Russian policies to register as “foreign agents” and that one of the first funding operations to fall prey to these tightened rules was Gershman’s NED.
The Post’s editors wrote that Putin’s “latest move … is to declare the NED an ‘undesirable’ organization under the terms of a law that Mr. Putin signed in May . The law bans groups from abroad who are deemed a ‘threat to the foundations of the constitutional system of the Russian Federation, its defense capabilities and its national security.’
“The charge against the NED is patently ridiculous. The NED’s grantees in Russia last year ran the gamut of civil society. They advocated transparency in public affairs, fought corruption and promoted human rights, freedom of information and freedom of association, among other things. All these activities make for a healthy democracy but are seen as threatening from the Kremlin’s ramparts.
“The new law on ‘undesirables’ comes in addition to one signed in 2012 that gave authorities the power to declare organizations ‘foreign agents’ if they engaged in any kind of politics and receive money from abroad. The designation, from the Stalin era, implies espionage.”
However, among the relevant points that the Post’s editors wouldn’t tell their readers was the fact that Russia’s Foreign Agent Registration Act was modeled after the American Foreign Agent Registration Act and that NED President Gershman had already publicly made clear — in his Sept. 26, 2013 column — that his goal was to oust Russia’s elected president.
In his July 28, 2015 column, Gershman further deemed Putin’s government illegitimate. “Russia’s newest anti-NGO law, under which the National Endowment for Democracy … was declared an “undesirable organization” prohibited from operating in Russia, is the latest evidence that the regime of President Vladimir Putin faces a worsening crisis of political legitimacy,” Gershman wrote, adding:
“This is the context in which Russia has passed the law prohibiting Russian democrats from getting any international assistance to promote freedom of expression, the rule of law and a democratic political system. Significantly, democrats have not backed down. They have not been deterred by the criminal penalties contained in the ‘foreign agents’ law and other repressive laws. They know that these laws contradict international law, which allows for such aid, and that the laws are meant to block a better future for Russia.”
The reference to how a “foreign agents” registration law conflicts with international law might have been a good place for Gershman to explain why what is good for the goose in the United States isn’t good for the gander in Russia. But hypocrisy is a hard thing to rationalize and would have undermined the propagandistic impact of the column.
Also undercutting the column’s impact would be an acknowledgement of where NED’s money comes from. So Gershman left that out, too. After all, how many governments would allow a hostile foreign power to sponsor politicians and civic organizations whose mission is to undermine and overthrow the existing government and put in someone who would be compliant to that foreign power?
And, if you had any doubts about what Gershman’s intent was regarding Russia, he dispelled them in his Friday column in which he calls on the United States to “summon the will” to “contain and defeat this danger,” which he makes clear is the continued rule of Vladimir Putin.
Forty years ago, on October 6, 1976, Cubana Flight 455 on its way from Barbados to Jamaica was bombed shortly after takeoff, killing 73 people, including the national fencing team of Cuba.
In what was immediately seen as a terrorist act, most in the international community joined Cuba in denouncing the horrific act.
In 2011, declassified CIA documents showed that one of the key figures in this terrorist attack was Luis Posada Carriles, a right-wing Cuban who had fled the island after the Cuban Revolution of 1959.
The documents revealed that it was Posada Carriles, now 88, who had planned the 1976 bombing. He had already gained experience terrorizing the Cuban people as a participant in the failed CIA-orchestrated Bay of Pigs assault in 1961.
Peter Kornbluh, author of the book, “Back Channel to Cuba,” and a former researcher at the National Security Archive of George Washington University, said in 2011 that the declassified documents “again brings up the issue of how an international terrorist like Luis Posada Carriles can live happily ever after in Miami.”
This point demonstrates that the Oct. 6 anniversary should not only be remembered, it should be reflected upon.
The 1976 attack highlights U.S. imperialism’s decades-long war of sabotage against the Cuban Revolution. Despite a thawing in U.S.-Cuba relations, this war has not subsided.
A free man, Posada Carriles moved to Venezuela in the early 80’s where he was eventually jailed for his acts of terror against Cuba. But he escaped in 1985 and resumed plotting against Cuba and its leader, Fidel Castro.
In this period, he was also instrumental in plotting against the revolutionary government of the Sandinista National Liberation Front in Nicaragua, working as a coordinator for the contras who were fighting a war backed by the U.S. government.
Posada Carriles bragged to the New York Times in 1998 that he had been responsible for the 1997 hotel bombings targeting Cuba’s tourist industry that killed an Italian tourist, saying the man just happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time. Posada Carriles later recanted his story.
The New York Times wrote in 1998, “Mr. Posada was schooled in demolition and guerrilla warfare by the Central Intelligence Agency in the 1960s. In a series of tape-recorded interviews … Posada said the hotel bombings and other operations had been supported by leaders of the Cuban-American National Foundation. Its founder and head, Jorge Mas Canosa … was embraced at the White House by Presidents Reagan, Bush and Clinton.”
The CANF recieved millions of dollars of U.S. tax-payer money to carry out its dirty war against Cuba for decades, according to declassified documents.
Posada Carriles was again arrested in 2000 for possession of explosives in Panama and charged with plotting to assassinate the Cuban leader at the Peoples’ Summit taking place at the University of Panama. Soon after he went into hiding.
When Posada Carriles resurfaced in Miami in 2005, the U.S. government refused to extradite him to Cuba or Venezuela to face judicial proceedings for his crimes.
In early 2011, Posada Carriles was finally put on trial in El Paso, Texas—not for his many terrorist acts—but for immigration fraud and obstruction of a proceeding.
He was charged with lying to an immigration judge about his involvement in the 1997 bombings and about how he entered the U.S. in 2005.
U.S. prosecutors presented evidence that Posada Carriles played a major role in carrying out bombings in Cuba. Many expected convictions on at least some of these charges but the jury dumbfounded prosecutors with a complete acquittal.
Ricardo Alarcon, a long-time Cuban leader and at the time, the president of the national assembly, told AP, “The stupid and shameful farce is over.”
Venezuela’s government also denounced the trial as “theater,” saying Washington continued to harbor a mass murderer.
Alarcon had intimate and deep knowledge of the farce that is the U.S. judicial system. He had been a leading advocate of the Cuban Five and a principle strategist for their freedom.
The Cuban Five were Gerardo Hernandez, Ramon Labañino, Antonio Guerrero, Fernando Gonzalez and Rene Gonzalez. They were arrested by the U.S. government in Miami in 1998 and falsely accused of committing espionage conspiracy against the U.S. and other related charges.
They were convicted in a federal court in 2001 and spent over 15 years in jail, labeled by the U.S. government and media as terrorists.
But the Five were in fact counter-terrorists, heroes who were willing to sacrifice their lives, leave their beloved families and homeland to protect Cuba from U.S. aggression. They worked to stop terror and aimed to defend Cuba from the kind of aggression Posada Carriles and his CIA cohorts carried out.
The Five reflect a spirit of justice and peace and to this day—having returned to their beloved country—continue to inspire all those who yearn for a better world.
As long as the likes of Posada Carriles are free to walk the streets of Florida, Cuba must do everything it can to defend itself from U.S. terror.
As long as the U.S. continues to occupy Guantanamo, the Cuban Revolution must be ready to defend itself, despite President Barack Obama’s dubious declarations.
A Salon magazine article in 2008 raised this question: “The coddled ‘terrorists’ of South Florida: Anti-Castro Cuban exiles who have been linked to bombings and assassinations are living free in Miami. Does the U.S. government have a double standard when it comes to terror?”
The answer is yes—a thousand times yes.
A former employee of the UK PR firm that was hired by the Pentagon to create fake terrorist videos in Iraq told RT that he arrived thinking he would be working with media agencies, but ended up creating materials for a secret propaganda campaign instead.
Bell Pottinger’s staff was stationed inside a highly secured US military and intelligence HQ at Camp Victory in Baghdad.
“The arrival there [in Camp Victory in Iraq] was quite a shock… very very, I guess, distressing, really… You just felt you as if you didn’t know what was going to happen,” Martin Wells, a former employee of Bell Pottinger who worked for the US military in Iraq from 2006 to 2008, told RT.
The news that the Pentagon had paid Bell Pottinger over half a billion dollars to create fake terrorist videos in Iraq hit the headlines on Sunday when it was divulged by the Bureau of Investigative Journalism, which had received the information from Wells.
Wells says that he was initially told that he would be working on news.
“As it transpired, it was news, but not news as I expected. I expected it to be doing stuff for news agencies such as yourselves and Reuters. And just providing footage for them,” he said.
However, the reality turned out to be quite different from what the video editor had anticipated. Wells said that when he arrived at his workplace, he was introduced to the American intelligence staff there.
“I still at that point had no idea what I was doing, but I knew as soon as I walked through that door I certainly wasn’t doing news… Then, later as I went through… and worked out what I was actually doing, it transpired that it was essentially… a form of propaganda.”
The media was set completely abuzz when it was revealed that the Pentagon had paid Bell Pottinger $540 million for contracts from 2007 to 2011, with another contract for $120 million signed in 2006. The firm ended its work with the Pentagon in 2011.
Bell Pottinger is known for serving an array of controversial clients, including the Saudi government and Chilean dictator Augusto Pinochet’s foundation.
The firm reported to the CIA, the National Security Council, and the Pentagon on the project, with a mandate to portray Al-Qaeda in a negative light and track suspected sympathizers. Critics claim, however, that the videos may have actually promoted the terrorists’ agenda instead.
The Bell Pottinger operation, which began soon after the US invasion of Iraq, was tasked with promoting “democratic elections” for the administration before moving on to more lucrative psychological and information operations.
The firm created television ads showing Al-Qaeda in a negative light, as well as content which looked as though it had come from “Arabic TV.” The videos were created to play on Real Player, which needs an internet connection to run. The CDs were embedded with a code linked to Google Analytics that allowed the military to track the IP addresses the videos were played on.
They would also craft scripts for Arabic soap operas in which characters would reject terrorism with favorable consequences. The firm also created fake Al-Qaeda propaganda videos, which were then planted by the military in homes that they raided.
“In terms of the [fake Al-Qaeda] VCDs, I was the only one, who while I was there, cut those. Nobody else was tasked with those because I was running the department. The footage was also given to us, and it was genuine Al-Qaeda footage that they’d shot, and we then repurposed this for our footage to put on the VCDs and then went out and dropped them,” he explained.
“Most of the stuff we did went out on local news, on national news, and would be broadcast in different countries in the region. But the VCDs were targeted at Al-Qaeda themselves. That was used by marines – left of raids amongst a bunch of VCDs people had been using anyway. If you watched that when it opened up, it was on a player that was linked to an analytical site, so wherever in the world you watched it, it could be tracked. So you’d know where it was played, and the IP address would flash up, so you’d basically know who had watched it,” he said.
Top Washington officials are set to discuss striking positions of the Syrian military without a UN Security Council resolution. Bombing air force runways with missiles fired from coalition planes and ships is being considered, according to a report.
“One proposed way to get around the White House’s objection to striking the Assad regime without a UN Security Council resolution would be to carry out the strikes covertly and without public acknowledgment,” one administration official who is to take part in the discussions told the Washington Post.
A meeting of the Obama administration’s Principals Committee is scheduled for Wednesday, the newspaper reported, adding that a meeting of the National Security Council could follow this weekend.
The CIA and the Joint Chiefs of Staff expressed support for “limited military strikes against the Syrian government,” last Wednesday, when the US discussed such “kinetic” options, the official told the Washington Post.
“There’s an increased mood in support of kinetic actions against the regime,” one senior administration official was quoted as saying.
“The CIA and the Joint Staff have said that the fall of Aleppo would undermine America’s counterterrorism goals in Syria,” he added.
After threatening to withdraw from the Syrian peace process for weeks, Washington finally announced the “suspension” of bilateral contact with Moscow concerning the crisis on Monday.
Although contact to “deconflict” encounters between the aircraft of the US and Russian militaries in Syrian skies will continue, the US is withdrawing personnel dispatched for the purpose of setting up a Joint Implementation Center (JIC) for the ceasefire. The JIC, which would have been located in Geneva, was to coordinate military cooperation and intelligence-sharing between Russia and the US-led coalition fighting Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS/ISIL) in Iraq and Syria.
There is “nothing more for the US and Russia to talk about” in Syria, White House spokesman Josh Earnest concluded on Monday.
Russia’s Foreign Ministry said it was “disappointed” by the decision, while accusing the US of trying to shift the blame for its own failure in Syria. Russia has made efforts to preserve the September 9 ceasefire agreement, repeatedly urging Washington to live up to its obligations, the Foreign Ministry in Moscow said on Monday.
“It turns out that Washington has failed to fulfill the key condition of the agreement to ease humanitarian situation for the residents of Aleppo” said Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova. “And now, apparently, having failed to honor these agreements that they themselves worked out, [the US] is trying to shift the blame.”
Asked if the US had fulfilled its own long-standing obligation to separate the so-called moderate opposition from terrorists, State Department spokeswoman Elizabeth Trudeau replied, “We believe we did.”
When RT’s Gayane Chichakyan reminded Trudeau that several major rebel groups had refused to abide by the ceasefire outright, the spokeswoman hit back: “We expected good faith efforts, not only from rebel groups on the ground… but also Russia.
“If attacked, opposition groups have the right to defend themselves,” she added.
On Monday, Russian President Vladimir Putin suspended Moscow’s participation in a program that disposes of plutonium from decommissioned nuclear warheads, citing “a radical change in the environment, a threat to strategic stability posed by the hostile actions of the US against Russia, and the inability of the US to deliver on the obligation to dispose of excessive weapons plutonium under international treaties.”
Washington deemed that decision “disappointing.”
The New York Times’ downward spiral into a neoconservative propaganda sheet continues with another biased lead article, this one on how the Syrian war has heightened U.S.-Russia tensions. The article, bristling with blame for the Russians, leaves out one of the key reasons why the partial ceasefire failed – the U.S. inability to separate its “moderate” rebels from Al Qaeda’s jihadists.
The article, written by Michael R. Gordon and Andrew E. Kramer (two of the paper’s top national security propagandists), lays the fault for the U.S. withdrawal from Syrian peace talks on Russian leaders because of their “mistrust and hostility toward the United States,” citing a comment by former White House official Andrew S. Weiss.
Gordon and Kramer then write that the cessation of hostilities agreement came undone because of the “accidental bombing of Syrian troops by the American-led coalition and then because of what the United States claimed was a deliberate bombing by Russian aircraft and Syrian helicopters of a humanitarian convoy headed to Aleppo.” (The Times doesn’t bother to note that the Russians have questioned how “accidental” the slaughter of 62 or so Syrian troops was and have denied that they or the Syrian government attacked the aid convoy.)
The article continues citing U.S. intelligence officials accusing Russia and Syria of using indiscriminate ordnance in more recent attacks on rebel-held sections of Aleppo. “Unfortunately, Russia failed to live up to its own commitments,” said a State Department statement, according to Gordon and Kramer.
However, left out of the article was the fact that the U.S. government failed to live up to its commitment to separate U.S.-backed supposedly “moderate” rebels from Al Qaeda’s Nusra Front, which has recently changed its name to the Levant (or Syria) Conquest Front. By contrast, this key point was cited by Rupert Murdoch’s Wall Street Journal, which noted:
“Russia has complained that Washington wasn’t upholding its end of the bargain by failing to separate U.S.-backed Syrian rebels from more extremist groups tied to al Qaeda.”
Doubling Down with Al Qaeda
Indeed, The Wall Street Journal has actually done some serious reporting on this crucial topic, publishing an article from Turkey on Sept. 29, saying:
“Some of Syria’s largest rebel factions are doubling down on their alliance with an al Qaeda-linked group, despite a U.S. warning to split from the extremists or risk being targeted in airstrikes.
“The rebel gambit is complicating American counterterrorism efforts in the country at a time the U.S. is contemplating cooperation with Russia to fight extremist groups. It comes after a U.S.-Russia-brokered cease-fire collapsed last week and the Syrian regime and its Russian allies immediately unleashed a devastating offensive against rebel-held parts of Aleppo city that brought harsh international condemnation. …
“The two powers have been considering jointly targeting Islamic State and the Syria Conquest Front — formerly known as the al Qaeda-linked Nusra Front — a group that is deeply intermingled with armed opposition groups of all stripes across Syria’s battlefields. The U.S. has also threatened to attack any rebels providing front-line support to the group. …
“Some rebel groups already aligned with Syria Conquest Front responded by renewing their alliance. But others, such as Nour al-Din al-Zinki, a former Central Intelligence Agency-backed group and one of the largest factions in Aleppo, said in recent days that they were joining a broader alliance that is dominated by the Front. A second, smaller rebel group also joined that alliance, which is known as Jaish al-Fateh and includes another major Islamist rebel force, Ahrar al-Sham. …
“In a call with Mr. Kerry on Wednesday, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said Syrian rebels ‘refused to follow the U.S.-Russian agreement…but instead merged with [Nusra Front].’”
So, it should be clear that a major obstacle to the agreement was the failure of the U.S. government to persuade its clients to break off alliances with Al Qaeda’s operatives, a connection that many Americans would find deeply troubling. That public awareness, in turn, would undermine the current neocon P.R. campaign to get the Obama administration to supply these rebels with anti-aircraft missiles and other sophisticated weapons, or to have U.S. warplanes destroy the Syrian air force in order to impose a “no-fly zone.”
Since the start of the Syrian conflict in 2011, the powerful role of Al Qaeda and its spinoff, the Islamic State, has been a hidden or downplayed element of the narrative that has been sold to the American people. That story line holds that the war began when “peaceful” protesters were brutally repressed by Syria’s police and military, but that version deletes the fact that extremists, some linked to Al Qaeda, began killing police and soldiers almost from the outset.
However, since The New York Times is now a full-time neocon propaganda sheet, it does all it can to hide such troublesome realities from its readers, all the better to jazz up the hatred of Syria and Russia.
As the Times and the Journal both made clear in their articles on Tuesday, the neocon agenda now involves providing more American armaments to the rebels either directly through the CIA or indirectly through U.S. regional “allies,” such as Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Turkey.
Though pitched to the American people as “humanitarian” assistance needed to shoot down Syrian and Russian planes, the arming-up of the rebels will likely extend the war and the bloodletting even longer while strengthening Al Qaeda and the Islamic State,.
If the new U.S. weapons prove especially effective, they could even lead to the collapse of the Syrian government and bring about the neocons’ long-desired “regime change” in Damascus. But the ultimate winners would likely be Al Qaeda and/or the Islamic State, which could be expected to follow up with the mass slaughter of Christians, Alawites, Shiites, secular Sunnis and other “heretics.”
More likely, however, the U.S.-supplied weapons would just cause the war to drag on indefinitely with an ever-rising death toll. But don’t worry, the dead will be blamed on Vladimir Putin and Bashar al-Assad.
Although never mentioned in the mainstream U.S. media, the delivery of weapons to these Syrian rebels/terrorists is a clear violation of international law, an act of aggression and arguably a crime of aiding and abetting terrorists.
International law is something that the Times considers sacrosanct when the newspaper is condemning a U.S. adversary for some violation, but that reverence disappears when the U.S. government or a U.S. “ally” is engaged in the same act or worse.
So, it is understandable why Gordon and Kramer would leave out facts from their story that might give Americans pause. After all, if the “moderate” rebels are in cahoots with Al Qaeda, essentially serving as a cut-out for the U.S. and its “allies” to funnel dangerous weapons to the terror organization that carried out the 9/11 attacks, Americans might object.
Similarly, if they were told that the U.S. actions violate international law, they might find that upsetting, too, since many Americans aren’t as coolly hypocritical as Official Washington’s neocons and liberal war hawks.
Beyond the devolution of The New York Times into a neocon propaganda organ, Gordon and Kramer have their own histories as propagandists. Gordon co-wrote the infamous “aluminum tube” story in September 2002, launching President George W. Bush’s ad campaign for selling the Iraq War to the American people. Gordon also has gotten his hands into disinformation campaigns regarding Syria and Ukraine.
For instance, Gordon and Kramer teamed up on a bogus lead story that the State Department fed to them in 2014 about photographs supposedly taken of soldiers in Russia who then turned up in other photos in Ukraine – except that it turned out all the photos were taken in Ukraine, destroying the premise of the story and forcing an embarrassing retraction. [For more on that screw-up, see Consortiumnews.com’s “Another NYT-Michael Gordon Special?”]
For his part, Kramer has been a central figure in the Times’ anti-Russian propaganda regarding Ukraine. [See Consortiumnews.com’s “NYT Is Lost in Its Ukraine Propaganda.”]
So, between the Times’ neocon institutional bias – and the apparent personal agendas of key correspondents – one can expect very little in the way of balanced journalism when the topics relate to the Middle East or Russia.
JASTA Opens Many Doors
By overwhelming margins the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives voted on September 28th to override President Barack Obama’s veto of the Justice Against Sponsors of Terrorism Act (JASTA). Obama had noted that the Act would have negative consequences for U.S. officials overseas as it establishes the principle that governments can be held accountable in the courts for what they do. Prior to this legislation Washington generally respected the principle of sovereign immunity, which means in practice that governments resolve issues between themselves by negotiation, not through litigation.
With Congress now demanding foreign government accountability it is reasonable to assume that other countries might respond in kind by establishing reciprocity based on the language in JASTA, which would mean that serving or former American officials might be detained and tried for criminal actions undertaken by the U.S. in its war on terror. It might also lead to other suits against the United States government that would result in demands for what is already being described as “intrusive discovery” of documents relating to clandestine American operations overseas. In a letter President Obama has described JASTA as allowing foreign litigants to “second-guess our counterterrorism operations and other actions that we take every day” while Secretary of Defense Ash Carter assailed the “ability of foreign litigants to seek classified intelligence and analysis.” CIA Director John Brennan denounced the “associated risks to our national security,” adding that the bill harbored “grave implications” for national security with a “downside [that is] potentially huge.”
So-called State Sponsors of terrorism Syria, Iran and Sudan can already be sued in American courts but JASTA considerably broadens the playing field to permit additional litigation. Supporters of the Act insist that their intention is only to enable suits directed against Saudi Arabia, which might have been either complicit or negligent in its dealings with the alleged terrorists who carried out 9/11, 15 of whom were Saudis, but the language is actually much broader than that. The actual text, which does not specifically name Saudi Arabia, reads: “A foreign state shall not be immune from the jurisdiction of the courts of the United States in any case in which money damages are sought against a foreign state for physical injury to person or property or death occurring in the United States and caused by an act of international terrorism in the United States.”
The Act reproduces the U.S. Code definition of “international terrorism” which “means activities that (A) involve violent acts or acts dangerous to human life that are a violation of the criminal laws of the United States or of any State, or that would be a criminal violation if committed within the jurisdiction of the United States or of any State; (B) appear to be intended (i) to intimidate or coerce a civilian population; (ii) to influence the policy of a government by intimidation or coercion; or (iii) to affect the conduct of a government by mass destruction, assassination or kidnapping; and (C) occur primarily outside the territorial jurisdiction of the United States, or transcend national boundaries in terms of the means by which they are accomplished, the persons they appear intended to intimidate or coerce, and the locale in which their perpetrators operate or seek asylum.”
I am all for the United States and Saudi Arabia (and others) being held accountable for war crimes and other unlawful behavior to include drones, renditions, torture and target assassinations but it will almost certainly be difficult to prove “knowing or reckless” criminal intent in court even with the new legislation. Also the Act opens up a Pandora’s box of possibilities that I am sure the Congressmen were not thinking of when they cast their votes. While the bill was drafted in such a fashion as to make an unnamed Saudi Arabia the actual target it also can be used against Pakistan, which may have funded the hijackers, and even Germany, where some of those involved in 9/11 lived for a time. It can plausibly be claimed that Islamabad and Berlin had some prior knowledge of the attack which they chose not to share, making them complicit, and the respective governments would have to appear in a U.S. court to demonstrate their innocence. In so doing, they might even demand in their defense that the United States government produce documentary evidence regarding what really did occur on 9/11, something the White House would surely want to avoid.
But the potentially biggest secondary target of the new legislation would without a doubt be Israel. The Israeli role in 9/11, insofar as can be determined, has never been seriously investigated at all and any suppositions or conclusions regarding its activities were never included in the final 9/11 Commission Report.
In 2001 Israel was running a massive spying operation directed against Muslims either resident or traveling in the United States. The operation included the creation of a number of cover companies in New Jersey, Florida and also on the west coast that served as spying mechanisms for Mossad officers. The effort was supported by the Mossad Station in Washington D.C. and included a large number of volunteers, the so-called “art students” who traveled around the U.S. selling various products at malls and outdoor markets. The FBI was aware of the numerous Israeli students who were routinely overstaying their visas and some in the Bureau certainly believed that they were assisting their country’s intelligence service in some way, but it proved difficult to link the students to actual undercover operations, so they were regarded as a minor nuisance.
But the hands-off attitude towards Israeli spying shifted dramatically when, on September 11, 2001, a New Jersey housewife saw something from the window of her apartment building, which overlooked the World Trade Center. She watched as the buildings burned and crumbled but also noted something strange. Three young men were kneeling on the roof of a white transit van parked by the water’s edge, making a movie in which they featured themselves high fiving and laughing in front of the catastrophic scene unfolding behind them. The woman wrote down the license plate number of the van and called the police, who responded quickly and soon both the local force and the FBI began looking for the vehicle, which was subsequently seen by other witnesses in various locations along the New Jersey waterfront, its occupants “celebrating and filming.”
The license plate number revealed that the van belonged to a New Jersey registered company called Urban Moving Systems. At 4 p.m. the vehicle was spotted and pulled over. Five men between the ages of 22 and 27 years old emerged. They were detained at gunpoint and handcuffed. They were all Israelis. One of them had $4,700 in cash hidden in his sock and another had two foreign passports. Bomb sniffing dogs reacted to the smell of explosives in the van. The driver told the police “We are Israeli. We are not your problem. Your problems are our problems. The Palestinians are the problem.” The men were detained at the Bergen County jail in New Jersey before being transferred the FBI’s Foreign Counterintelligence Section, which handles allegations of spying.
After the arrest, the FBI obtained a warrant to search the offices of the van’s registered owner, Urban Moving System of Weehawken, N.J. Papers and computers were seized. The company owner Dominick Suter, also an Israeli, answered FBI questions but when a follow-up interview was set up a few days later it was learned that he had fled the country for Israel, putting both his business and home up for sale. The office space and warehouse were abandoned. It was later learned that Suter has been associated with at least fourteen businesses in the United States, mostly in New Jersey and New York but also in Florida, which was determined to be a main focus for the Israeli intelligence operation in the U.S. that was directed against Arabs.
The five Israelis were held in Brooklyn, initially on charges relating to visa fraud. FBI interrogators questioned them for more than two months. Several were held in solitary confinement so they could not communicate with each other and two of them were given repeated polygraph exams, which they failed. The two men that the FBI focused on most intensively were believed to be Mossad staff officers and the other three were volunteers helping with surveillance. Even though the Israelis were not exactly cooperative, the FBI concluded from documents obtained at their office in Weehawken that they were targeting Arabs in New York and New Jersey, including at least two of the 9/11 hijackers.
There are a lot a dots all leading back to Israel that might well have been connected once upon a time, but the trail has grown cold. Police records in New Jersey and New York where the men were held have disappeared and FBI interrogation reports are inaccessible. Media coverage of the case also died, though the five were referred to in the press as the “dancing Israelis” and by some, more disparagingly, as the “dancing Shlomos.”
Inevitably, the George W. Bush White House intervened. After 71 days in detention, the five Israelis were released from prison, put on a plane, and deported. Now it is just possible that Mossad affiliated Urban Moving was indeed uninvolved in 9/11 but it also must be recognized that Israel had the means, ability and access required to bring down the World Trade Center using controlled pancake explosions. More than fifteen years later it is perhaps past time to reveal what exactly the FBI knew and currently knows about both the scale and modus operandi of Israeli espionage in the United States. Did Israel have critical intelligence either in broad outline or possibly in specific detail about 9/11 and let it happen to bind Washington more closely to it in a “global war on terror?”
Questions about just what happened on 9/11 will not go away. Green Party presidential candidate Jill Stein has called for a new “independent investigation” because the Bush administration’s initial 9/11 inquiry was “dominated by members with an interest in protecting the reputation and careers of foreign affairs and intelligence communities.” It “was not given enough money, time, or access to relevant classified information.” That “classified information” could well include the role of Israel.
I am no lawyer, but it would seem to me that both Israel and Saudi Arabia might well be pretty good places to start in using litigation to determine just who could have been involved in what was to become the 9/11 terrorist attack. It would indeed be ironic if an Israel-loving Congress has, through its passage of JASTA to squeeze money out of the Saudis, also inadvertently opened the door to finding out just what the Mossad and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu were up to back in 2001.