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JFK at 100: The War on Our Heroes Part 2

By Kit | OffGuardian | November 21, 2017

In the first half of this article, published on JFK’s centenary, I discussed the general degradation of the intellectual and moral character of figurehead politicians, the concomitant societal decay, and whether or not this is a deliberate policy or a by-product of promoting sociopaths above their ability to function.

In this half we will re-examine the death of JFK, not just as a simple assassination, but as an act of psychic-warfare on the general populace, and explore the long-lasting effect on the American psyche.

A Nation of Hamlets

We’ve all become Hamlets in our country, children of a slain father-leader whose killers still possess the throne. The ghost of John F. Kennedy confronts us with the secret murder at the heart of the American Dream.”Jim Garrison – JFK

The death of Kennedy is a story that won’t go away, a splinter at the back of the American mind. Driving them mad. If a country can be compared to an individual, then a fallen king can be a dead parent. A father lost before his time. An adolescent trauma, rotting and unconfronted and repressed. Informing every moment, every decision.

The JFK obsession has been dismissed by some as nothing more than a cult of personality, a trite fetishising of the too-soon-departed, equivalent to the worship of Jim Morrison or Marilyn Monroe. But I see it as going deeper than that, somewhere behind the glitz and glamour of “Camelot” there was something more substantial. An idea. “And ideas are bullet proof”.

That, perhaps, explains the cultural push back against both investigation of the Kennedy assassination, and praise of his presidency. The man was killed over five decades ago, but the political establishment still feel the need to assassinate him. Over and over again.

He is portrayed as naive and arrogant for ignoring “experts” and getting involved in Vietnam. A spoilt rich kid whose father bought the election. A womanizing drug addict.

In this Guardian article, for example, published earlier this year to mark the centenary, the author makes reference to Kennedy’s extra-marital affairs, and criticises him for his “secret medical conditions” as if they are somehow relevant to his politics. The final two paragraphs are then given over to Kissinger’s biographer who proceeds to compare Kennedy, unfavourably, to Donald Trump:

The realities of the Kennedy White House are so extraordinarily scuzzy that Trump is a kind of saintly figure by contrast.”

For years now, from both sides of the right-left paradigm, there has been a steady effort to “fight back” against the “sanctified” picture of JFK. That particular charge has been led by Noam Chomsky, who is keen to paint JFK as just another politician. “Worse than Obama”, he says in this interview.

It’s obviously true that the election of Kennedy didn’t instantly and completely halt any and all military and covert operations, the world didn’t become a Coca Cola advert on January 20th 1961. But to lay that at the feet of the new President, when he was in the process of taking control of a highly secretive framework of machinery designed to promote war and chaos, and compartmentalise information, is disingenuous at best.

Yes, the Bay of Pigs invasion was a disaster – one that Kennedy is routinely blamed for – but that was planned under Eisenhower (even Chomsky admits that). Kennedy’s reticence to turn it into a full-scale war – which the military repeatedly pressured him to do – led to him being labeled “soft on communism”. He beheaded the CIA afterwards, forcing the resignation of Allen Dulles and several others.

And yes, the irresponsible and provocative placing of Jupiter missiles in Turkey led to the Cuban Missile Crisis – but it was Kennedy’s readiness to make a deal that prevented a near-miss from blooming into a mushroom cloud. One wonders how many modern presidents would have resolved that situation peacefully.

And, finally, yes, his administration carried on the Eisenhower era policies of arming the south Vietnamese – but Kennedy was committed to ending that support and to pulling out of Vietnam. This is an established fact. But for his assassination, there would have been no Vietnam war.

As an argument, the idea that Kennedy was nothing more than a proto-Obama, a smiling salesman in an expensive suit, would perhaps carry more weight if he hadn’t been murdered in public. Generally speaking, you don’t need to execute mascots and frontmen.

We are being asked to live in an insane world – one where we are expected to believe that the most influential act of political murder of the last 100 years happened for no reason at all. Kennedy wasn’t important. Kennedy didn’t stand for anything. Kennedy died for no reason.

The massive divergence between the established, allowable consensus and genuine weight of public opinion has driven a wedge into the American psyche. The Jungian collective mind is schizophrenic in America, driven insane by mass-cognitive dissonance. Every poll of the American people ever done on this topic, dating back to November 29th 1963, only a week after the shooting, has shown a clear majority believe in a conspiracy to kill their president. Public support for the “Lone Gunmen” theory has never surveyed at better than 30%.

Less than one in three people have ever believed the official narrative, but is that reality reflected in the media? Never. Films and documentaries and TV productions (with one noteworthy exception) routinely portray the assassination in the absurd terms laid down by the Warren commission. Attempting to undermine, straw-man or completely ignore any other interpretations.

Whether you view the President as the father of the nation, or the concept of democracy as the father of America, the US citizenry are reduced to a nation of Hamlets. Forced to watch their father die and his killer usurp the power that should, by right, be passed to them.

Cursed with the certain knowledge that their country is poisoned, their society sick. They try to pursue the truth, but are told by every voice they consider authority… that they are mad. To let it go.

Our heroes are stamped out before our eyes, and their ghosts cry out for justice we cannot provide. We want to act, but are deprived of the kind leadership that can coalesce angry people into a movement with direction and purpose. The media muddy the water and sow discord, whilst any voice that tries to rise above the din of distraction, to make us whole and just, is shut out. Locked up. Gunned down.

Of All Sad Words…

Here we are. Lyndon Johnson, more of the same. Nobody voted for him… It felt for a second like everything was about to change. Pete Campbell – Mad Men

The public execution of John Fitzgerald Kennedy is a watershed moment in the history, not just of America, but the world. Possibly the key moment of the entire 20th century. From that violent wellspring flowed Johnson, Nixon, Reagan and Bush. Vietnam, Afghanistan, Iraq and Libya.

America, the ideal America described in the constitution, died on November 22nd 1963. It’s important to remember: Thing’s could have been so different.

At its heart, the American system of government is one of the fairest ever devised by man, the US Constitution one of most fair-minded and important pieces of legislation ever drafted. But from its founding as a nation America has been in a near-constant state of internal struggle. In the early days it was Jefferson vs. Hamilton, Democratic-Republicans vs Federalists. The push of central government against the rights of individual states. The idea of a stable cooperative vs the push to nationhood and, inevitably, empire. That same struggle exists in Europe today.

Slowly but surely, over the first two-hundred years of American existence, the ideals of the constitution were knocked-back, limited, qualified, in the push for more centralised power and the building of an Empire. States were forced through military might to stay in the Union against their will. It became America’s “manifest destiny” to commit genocide against Native Americans and steal their land.

Over time the American Imperialists fermented into what we call the Deep State. Interconnected families of enormous wealth and immeasurable economic influence, given complete monetary control after the founding of the Federal Reserve, and handed the reins of military and political power when Harry Truman signed the order that established the CIA. Truman declared, later in life:

I think [the creation of the CIA] was a mistake. And if I’d known what was going to happen, I never would have done it… Why, they’ve got an organization over there in Virginia now that is practically the equal of the Pentagon in many ways. And I think I’ve told you, one Pentagon is one too many.

In the decade following that order the CIA backed anti-democratic coups in Guatemala, Iran, and the Congo. Resulting in decades of oppression and millions of deaths. It set a pattern that would repeat right up to the present day.

This gluttonous pursuit of wealth and power was only ever held in check by constitutional safe-guards against out-right tyranny. A rivalry personified in the clash between Kennedy’s administration and the giants of the American intelligence community, Allen Dulles and J. Edgar Hoover. Kennedy’s assassination ended that rivalry, and ever since that day the barely controlled Imperialist drive has run rampant.

Consider everything that might have been different if the Kennedy side had won that struggle, if he had made good his alleged threat to “splinter the CIA into a thousand pieces”.

Firstly, and most obviously, there is Vietnam. The war that drove America mad. The prototype for all American “interventions” since, a war started on an absurd lie, fought brutally and inefficiently by a system more interested in selling helicopters than saving lives. From Vietnam flows Cambodia, Laos, Angola, Grenada, Iraq, the Balkans, Somalia, Afghanistan, Iraq again, Libya and Syria. Five decades of Orwellian, perpetual warfare. Millions of lives destroyed. All started by that first domino, Vietnam.

Outside of overt warfare, there are covert actions. A tamed intelligence service could never have launched military coups in Ecuador, Brazil, Greece, Dominican Republic, Cambodia, Indonesia, Bolivia, Chile and Haiti. Without illegal and punitive sanctions, who knows how countries like Cuba, Venezuela and Libya would have fared.

Who knows what men like Bobby Kennedy and Martin Luther King would have achieved, if an emboldened and all-powerful intelligence community hadn’t gunned them down before our eyes.

Kennedy was in favour of universal health care along the lines of the NHS, he wanted to abandon the space race and cooperate with the Soviets on a mission to the moon. He pushed for black civil rights and de-segregation and signed into law the Equal Pay Act. He argued for nuclear disarmament and pushed the nuclear testing ban.

We’ll never know exactly what kind of world was taken from us all the day American democracy was destroyed and a coup government installed. It may have been not much better than this one, but how much worse could it be?

An Assault on the Public Mind

Power resides where men believe it resides; it’s a trick, a shadow on the wall, and a very small man can cast a very large shadow.” Varys – Game of Thrones

You will have realised by now that, when I discuss the JFK assassination, I talk about it as a deep-state operation. A conspiracy. To me that is the only rational reading of the evidence, and I have thought so ever since, aged 12, I first watched Oliver Stone’s fantastic film JFK. The evidence all points in one direction, a CIA-sponsored operation using an intelligence operative as a fall guy, who is then “liquidated” before his trial. To cling to the official story has been insane ever since Arlen Specter proposed the insulting “magic bullet theory”.

Far more interesting, and perhaps important, than the who and how of the case, is the why.

Let’s revisit JFK through the lens of a declining Empire, run entirely by psychopaths. Psychopaths, not just on an individual, but an institutional level. Battling alphabet agencies competing over influence, all placed under threat by Kennedy’s alleged desire to “splinter the CIA into a thousand pieces and scatter them to the winds”, can become united in a need to remove said threat, and re-assert their authority.

In that light, the assassination of JFK can be seen as more than the political removal of an inconvenient man. If JFK represented, as he certainly has come to represent since his death, hope for a better society, then what does it say to society at large to blow his brains out in a public square?

There are much easier ways to remove a “difficult” politician than killing him. It’s far better to bring him to heel through pressure, or to buy him with bribes and favours. You can blackmail him with dirt or release the dirt and impeach him, as was done with Clinton. If he doesn’t respond to bribes, and has no dirt to dish, then you can bring pressure on his party to keep him from being nominated, as was done with Henry Wallace in the 1940s. You can fix primaries, as was done with Bernie Sanders only last year.

You can perform “soft coups”, hamstringing an administration with bureaucratic resistance whilst leaking sensitive material to a cooperative media – undermining the authority and credibility of the executive branch until it has no choice but to resign. As they did with Nixon and are attempting to do with Trump. The Falklands War and the Iran hostage situation were both used to secure public support for the “approved” candidates just before and after important elections. The 2000 and 2004 elections were outright fixed.

The deep state has evolved a long list of tactics for controlling who wears the public face of power. Assassinations are at the very bottom of this list. They are hard to do, difficult to cover up, and so damn final. That there is a general institutional reluctance to utilise assassination as a tool, not on moral but pragmatic grounds, is a logical conclusion based on the rarity of political assassinations in general.

Do not forget that JFK was killed in November ’63, he lad less a year of his first term left. Unseating him in 1964 would have been difficult, but doubtless easier than covering up a CIA-backed assassination for the next 54 years (and counting).

So why was he killed?

You can reason that his removal was a strong reaction, an almost reflexive autonomic rejection, of what the system deemed a strong, and immediate, threat. That he was, through whatever circumstances, immune to threats, unresponsive to pressure and impossible to bribe. That being the case, death becomes the only recourse.

This reasoning might explain the act, but not the method.

Generally speaking, murders aren’t committed in public. If murder becomes a practical solution to a political problem, there are far simpler means to that end than guns. Kennedy could fall down the stairs of the White House. His car could explode. His plane could crash. He was on pain meds for his back, an accidental overdose or “complication” would be easy enough to arrange. There would be dozens of times a week when the president was alone but for his security detail… anything can happen.

You could do whatever you wanted to the man in private, behind closed doors, then make up any story you wanted and beam it out on every channel. A horrible accident. A national tragedy. Now let’s invade Vietnam.

If your goal is simply his death, there’s a massive spectrum of possibilities available to you. Most of them offering a higher degree of secrecy than a rifle, all them requiring a smaller number of personnel.

There’s only one interpretation that fully explains all of this. One that lays open the thought process of the deep-state:

The man must be killed for questioning your authority, but he must also be SEEN to be killed, to reinforce that authority. It can be argued that the assassination was as much a message to the world as anything else. A public execution displays contempt for the victim, and conveys raw power to the witnesses.

Vercingetorix was paraded in chains at Caesar’s Triumph, before his eventual execution. Richard II lay in state after Henry IV had him starved to death. Saddam Hussein’s execution was “leaked” online. Gaddafi publicly raped to death.

Jesus, before his post-mortem PR team ret-conned him into a literal God, was an anti-Imperial rabble-rouser. A political revolutionary nailed to a tree to quieten talk of rebellion.

Power is an ephemeral concept, bestowed by the vast majority on to a tiny minority entirely through the process of belief. The only way to win power is to convince people you already have it. That is most easily done through displays of brutality and the nurturing of public fear. As medieval monarchs would mount heads on spikes, so do our new rulers terrorise us with the public execution of our chosen leaders.

Behold the head of a traitor, flying back and to the left.

November 21, 2017 Posted by | Subjugation - Torture, Timeless or most popular | , , | Leave a comment

RT, Sputnik and Media Censorship in America

OffGuardian | November 21, 2017

Just a few days ago RTAmerica was forced to register as a foreign agent in the United States. Using this designation as justification, Twitter and Facebook have now banned RT and Sputnik from advertising on their services. This is all over alleged Russian “interference” in the 2016 Presidential Election, for which there is still not a single piece of clear evidence.

This is the United States of America, where freedom of the press is literally one of the founding principles of the nation. They celebrate their freedom every time they’re forced to stand through their national anthem.

What would the press reaction have been if Russia had forced the BBC, for example, to register as a foreign agent?

In fact, how many American or European media outlets have ever been forced to register as foreign agents in “autocratic” Russia where Putin has allegedly “shut down the free press”?

Zero.

Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty has operated in Russia and Eastern Europe for nearly 70 years. It’s an American destabilization programme. That’s not a “conspiracy theory”. It is acknowledged in the public record that RFE/RL was established by the State Dept. and the CIA in order to spread American propaganda behind the Iron Curtain. They have never been barred from operating in Russia.

Now, imagine it was on the public record that the FSB had founded RT. Imagine it was written into Sputnik’s mission statement that their job was to undermine the American government. Would they have been allowed to broadcast in the US? Would they have come anywhere NEAR 68 years of operation?

Look at the Moscow Times, a notionally Russian paper that is owned by a Finnish conglomerate and prints exclusively in English. It is routinely, even pathologically, critical of the Russian government. Would this situation ever be allowed to stand in reverse? If there were a newspaper calling itself The London Times, which was owned by a Venezuelan and printed nothing but anti-government stories, exclusively in Russian…would it be allowed to operate? Would people cite it as a decent source of information?

Look at CNN, where Anderson Cooper – ex-CIA “intern” – solemnly nods his way through autocues full of baseless propaganda. Repeating, verbatim, the statements of nameless “intelligence sources”, without analysis or question. Can you imagine if RT’s headline reporter had worked for the KGB? Luke Harding would have written a (very bad) book about it by now. Can you imagine if RT’s news crews had been caught, numerous times, literally faking news footage (several times)?

These double standards are never addressed or acknowledged in the “free press” of NATO aligned nations.

Radio Free Europe has a story covering Russia’s “tit-for-tat” sanctions on US media outlets. It is hilariously without irony.

They interview the American ambassador to Russia – Jon Huntsman – who says, with a straight face:

We just think the principles of free media in any free society and democracy are absolutely critical for strength and well-being…Freedom of speech is a part of that. That’s why we in the embassy care about the issue. That’s why we’re going to follow the work that is going on in the Duma and the legislation that is being drafted very, very carefully. Because we’re concerned about it.”

He defends America’s stance on RT, whilst attacking Russia’s counter moves, claiming America is sanctioning RT in the name of “transparency” and that:

That’s far different from designating somebody a foreign agent

The US Ambassador to Russia, apparently, needs some help keeping up with current events because “designating somebody a foreign agent” is exactly what the US government has done. For some reason the (funded by the CIA) editorial staff of RFE/RL don’t feel the need to correct him. Even though their headline from three days earlier completely contradicts him.

Apparently journalistic standards are only for other people. And state censorship of the media, like all other crimes against humanity, is OK when America does it.

November 21, 2017 Posted by | Deception, Fake News, Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Russophobia, Timeless or most popular | , | 4 Comments

JFK Files Reveal US Planned to Buy Soviet Planes to Carry Out False Flag Attacks

Sputnik – November 20, 2017

The recently released batch of files related to the Kennedy assassination includes a curious document revealing secret plans by the US government to purchase or build Soviet aircraft for the purpose of staging false flag attacks on the US or its allies, thus giving Washington the pretext it needed to go to war with Moscow or its allies.

According to the partially declassified document, a March 22, 1962 meeting attended by the Special Group Augmented (SGA), a high-level Kennedy administration committee charged with overthrowing the Cuban government, included a discussion on the different possibilities for obtaining Soviet planes.

The SGA group, which formally included Attorney General Robert Kennedy, CIA Director John McCone, National Security Advisor McGeorge Bundy and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Lyman Lemnitzer, could also be attended by Secretary of State Dean Rusk and President Kennedy himself.

The document fragment lists various Soviet aircraft, including MiG-17 and MiG-19 fighters, as well as the Il-14 military cargo transport, and how much time and money it would take to reproduce them to withstand distant observation and/or up close examination. Another option, according to an analysis by the CIA cited by the document, was to try to obtain the planes via defecting pilots, or purchasing them from non-Soviet Bloc countries; these options were deemed problematic. The document also explains why the Soviet planes are so desirable, including their possible use to stage false flag attacks against the US to justify a US military response.

“There is a possibility that such aircraft could be used in a deception operation designed to confuse enemy planes in the air, to launch a surprise attack against enemy installations or in a provocation operation in which Soviet aircraft would appear to attack US or friendly installations in order to provide an excuse for US intervention,” the document reads.

Finally, the fragment explains that “if the planes were to be used in such covert operations, it would seem preferable to manufacture them in the United States.”

It’s not clear whether the document was connected to Operation Northwoods, a proposed Pentagon and Joint Chiefs of Staff false flag operation calling on the CIA and other agencies to stage terrorist attacks against US civilian and military targets and blame it on the Cuban government, thus justifying a war against Cuba. According to US political historian Robert Dallek, the idea within the Kennedy administration to manufacture or otherwise obtain the Soviet aircraft was hatched by CIA Director McCone.

November 20, 2017 Posted by | Deception, False Flag Terrorism, Timeless or most popular, War Crimes | , | 1 Comment

Google exec says new algorithm will suppress RT and Sputnik, ‘those kinds of sites’

Sputnik – 20.11.2017

Eric Schmidt, the executive chairman of Google’s parent company, Alphabet, announced Saturday that the company will “engineer” algorithms that will make it harder for articles from Sputnik News and RT to appear on the Google News service.

“We are working on detecting and de-ranking those kinds of sites — it’s basically RT and Sputnik,” Schmidt said during a question and answer session at the Halifax International Security Forum in Canada. “We are well of aware of it, and we are trying to engineer the systems to prevent [the content being delivered to wide audiences]. But we don’t want to ban the sites — that’s not how we operate.”

Schmidt’s response came after a guest in the audience asked the 62-year-old executive whether Google facilitated “Russian propaganda.” The comments were in relation to a larger discussion on the search engine’s Google News services which offers viewers a range of articles on certain topics.

Schmidt later noted that he was “very strongly not in favor of censorship,” but that instead he had faith in “ranking” stories. He did not comment on whether engineering a computer program to hide information could be seen as amounting to censorship.

Giving insight on the capabilities of the new algorithm, the official did indicate that it would be able to detect “repetitive, exploitative, false, and weaponized” information.

In response to Schmidt’s statement, RT’s Margarita Simonyan said, “Good to have Google on record as defying all logic and reason: facts aren’t allowed if they come from RT, ‘because Russia’ — even if we have Google on Congressional record saying they’ve found no manipulation of their platform or policy violations by RT.”

November 20, 2017 Posted by | Full Spectrum Dominance, Russophobia | , | 1 Comment

The Company We Sadly Keep

By Geoff Dutton | Progressive Pilgrim Review | October 25, 2107

“It is difficult to get a man to understand something when his salary depends upon his not understanding it.” ~ Upton Sinclair

A triple-threat epidemic is sweeping the land—not just some deadly virus, water-born disease, or auto-immune reactions to toxins, although those too plague us—but of secrecy, unaccountability, and impunity, bypassing checks and balances, impervious to any outside scrutiny or supervision. This cancer on the Republic has metastasized throughout halls of power and workplaces almost everywhere.

In the private sector, when you sign on as an “exempt” employee (mostly meaning you get paid a fixed annual salary without union or overtime), you may be required to agree to:

  • Have your communications, even keystrokes, monitored
  • Company-arranged arbitration in the event of a dispute
  • Be dismissed for any violation of company policies
  • Possibly take a drug test and/or a personality test
  • Hold the company blameless for any grievance against a fellow employee
  • Not work for any company offering similar products or services for some period of time.

That is to say, we make the rules here, and what happens in the company stays in the company. It’s no one else’s business how or why they’re applied.

It gets worse. Let’s say you separate from the company on bad terms, having been harassed or blocked from advancing or doing your job, or because you were the wrong age, sex or race, or just weren’t sufficiently docile. If you take it upstairs, file a grievance, or hire a lawyer, eventually you may be offered a sum to settle the matter. In return, you must agree not to disclose terms of settlement or publicly allege abuse or misconduct. As we’ve been told, whatever Ailes, O’Reilly, and Weinstein affairs were “resolved” involved no admissions of culpability and gagging and binding the plaintiffs. Impervious to decency, justice, or shame, they have you by the gonads. Proving that you were wronged and then obtaining justice is a long, agonizing, and expensive process. Most people have better things to do with their time and money, something employers bank on.

Depending on where you work and what you do, it can get much, much worse. If you work for the federal government directly, as a contractor or an employee thereof, as a condition of employment you may be asked to sign a secrecy agreement, an offer you can’t refuse and an oath you cannot later renege. Such paper handcuffs first flowered in the idyllic 1950s, that post-war paradise of Leave-It-to-Beaver families in spanking new suburbs and lifetime jobs in unionized workplaces. To forestall leaks, spy agencies exacted them from employees who knew or might know state secrets. The higher the classification of content involved, the more draconian were the potential consequences for disclosure. The chances of leaks from today’s vast assemblages of classified materials in networked environments have multiplied manifold since then. Among other things, this implies a need to swear to secrecy any employee within two or three degrees of separation from someone who handles classified documents, such as the IT geeks and the receptionist.

Secrecy agreements are confidentiality agreements on steroids. Ironclad. Undoable. Not availing of congressional or judicial redress. And should you pester an I.G. with documentation of the organization’s illegal, harmful, or unconstitutional activities, any evidence you present on your behalf is likely to vanish from public scrutiny forever. It’s all set up so you can’t refuse and they can never lose. Item 8 of the standard Federal secrecy agreement (Standard Form 312; there are others) states “Unless and until I am released in writing by an authorized representative of the United States Government, I understand that all conditions and obligations imposed upon me by this Agreement apply during the time I am granted access to classified information, and at all times thereafter.” (emphasis added). It also advises “nothing in this Agreement constitutes a waiver by the United States of the right to prosecute me for any statutory violation.”

The statutes cited are sections 641, 793, 794, 798, 952 and 1924, title 18, United States Code; the provisions of section 783(b}, title 50, United States Code; and the provisions of the Intelligence Identities Protection Act of 1982. Also noted is section 4(b) of the infamous Subversive Activities Control Act of 1950 (the McCarran Act), which has ruined many lives. After Harry Truman vetoed it (calling it “the greatest danger to freedom of speech, press, and assembly since the Alien and Sedition Laws of 1798,” a “mockery of the Bill of Rights” and a “long step toward totalitarianism,”) Congress overrode the veto 286-48 and 57-10. Where were all the other lawmakers that fine September day, one might ask? Burning their ACLU membership cards?

* * *

By now, hundreds of thousands if not millions of workers have been coercively bound by secrecy agreements. Artfully, from Allen Dulles on, the capos and consiglieres of the security state insinuated their racket into military and civilian agencies and critical contractors, salting their ranks with spooks. Expanding their territory, of course, multiplied the number of workers privy to their operations. Given that any of these people might be inclined or induced to reveal mob activities, how to silence them? Simple; bind their lips as soon as they get involved with secrecy agreements. If any balk at that, use subtle means of persuasion like reassigning them to the boondocks, skipping them over for promotion, or threatening to have their heads examined.

Former high-ranking CIA analyst and covert operative Kevin Shipp came forward in 2010 with details on the shadow government of the deep state that intelligence agencies control, and how they manage to control Congress as well. A summary of Shipp’s recent presentation at a Geoengineering Watch assembly in ZeroHedge states:

… that there are “over 10,000 secret sites in the U.S.” that formed after 9/11. There are “1,271 secret government agencies, 1,931 large private corporations [involved with the spy agencies] and over 4,800,000 Americans that he knows of who have a secrecy clearance, and 854,000 who have Top Secret clearance, explaining they signed their lives away bound by an agreement.

The video of Shipp’s talk is an hour long, but worth watching.

What turned Shipp into a transparency activist, of all things, was toxic mold in a house the CIA put him and his family into while on assignment at Camp Stanley, an Army weapons depot near San Antonio. As detailed in a 2011 NYT story, the Shippses got sick and filed a wrongful harm lawsuit against the Agency that they predictably lost, and not long afterward he was drummed out after 25 years a spook. Shipp claims that his phone and house continue to be bugged and he is constantly followed when driving. (Incidentally, the only other NYT story to mention Mr. Shipp came in 2014. It identified Camp Stanley as a major CIA weapons depot that had supplied arms and ammunition for the Bay of Pigs and other CIA terrorist operations. More recently, it said, “the Army sought to purchase two million rounds of ammunition of the caliber that fits AK-47 rifles, which American soldiers do not use. The delivery address: Camp Stanley.”). The Times doesn’t seem interested in covering what Shipp has been saying about his former employer more recently. Some news is not fit to print.

* * *

One would think that out of all the ears and eyeballs privy to dicey classified programs more lips might loosen. But any insider bent on exposing misdeeds will soon find out that whistleblower protections are a farce; complaining about illegal activities to elected representatives or an I.G. can lead to harassment that can last for the rest of one’s life. In whistleblower lawsuits, the government can invoke the non-statutory State Secrets Privilege (I would call it the Secret State Privilege) to exclude evidence or dismiss the complaint entirely, and has done so about once a year since 1953. For more ugly details about how the Secret State silences whistleblowers, see Shipp’s communique to Geoengineering Watch two years ago.

As a further deterrent to truth-telling, Obama’s 2011 Executive order 13587 tasked all Federal agencies and associated contractors with implementing Insider Threat Programs (ITP) to identify, monitor, and profile potential leakers of secret information. TechDirt reported that when Senator Chuck Grassley asked the head of the ITP whether the program protects whistleblowers, he was assured that it does; to avoid being swept up, they simply need to “register” before blowing. I can hear it now: “Oh sure, Mr. Snowden, go right ahead. We’re sure you mean no harm.”

The Secret State (or as Shipp calls it, the Shadow Government) takes such extreme precautions because it needs its activities to remain invisible and deniable. Of course, this is what rulers and regimes have done since time immemorial. And to do this effectively requires a vast panopticon to oversee its minions and identify potential troublemakers; secret police, basically, such as the USSR’s KGB, East Germany’s Stasi, Turkey’s MIT, Syria’s GID, and so on. It’s simply the price of doing business as a cloaked agency. All this surveillance is costly, but the good news is you get more bang for your security buck nowadays. Thanks to the technology of illicit eavesdropping and cooperative agreements with the likes of AT&T and Google, the Internet and mobile networks make this ambitious task a piece of cake.

Aesop said “a man is known by the company he keeps.” CIA people call their agency The Company. Twelve US Presidents have not only kept it, they have allowed it to metastasize into a hideous monstrosity rampaging out of control. Of them, only John F. Kennedy threatened to dismantle it, and look what happened to him.

November 19, 2017 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Deception, Timeless or most popular, Video | , , | 2 Comments

How Syrian-Nuke Evidence Was Faked

By Gareth Porter | Consortium News | November 19, 2017

When Yousry Abushady studied the highly unusual May 2008 CIA video on a Syrian nuclear reactor that was allegedly under construction when an Israeli jet destroyed it seven months earlier, the senior specialist on North Korean nuclear reactors on the International Atomic Energy Agency’s staff knew that something was very wrong.

Abushady quickly determined that the CIA had been seriously misled by Israeli intelligence and immediately informed the two highest officials of the Vienna-based IAEA, Director General Mohamed ElBaradei and Deputy Director for Safeguards, Olli Heinonen, that the CIA’s conclusions were not consistent with the most basic technical requirements for such a reactor.

But it did not take long for Abushady to realize that the top IAEA officials were not interested in drawing on his expertise in regard to the alleged Syrian reactor. In fact, the IAEA cited nonexistent evidence linking the site to a Syrian nuclear program while covering up real evidence that would have clearly refuted such a claim, according to Abushady and other former senior IAEA officials.

When Abudhsady met with Heinonen to discuss his analysis of the CIA’s case in May 2008, Abushady asked to be included on the team for the anticipated inspection of the al-Kibar site because of his unique knowledge of that type reactor.

But Heinonen refused his request, citing an unwritten IAEA rule that inspectors are not allowed to carry out inspections in their countries of origin. Abushady objected, pointing out that he is Egyptian, not Syrian, to which Heinonen responded, “But you are an Arab and a Muslim!” according to Abushady.

Heinonen has declined a request for his comment on Abushady’s account of the conversation.

A Curious Inspection

In June 2008, an IAEA team consisting of Heinonen and two other inspectors took environmental samples at the al-Kibar site. In November 2008, the IAEA issued a report saying that laboratory analysis of a number of natural uranium particles collected at the site “indicates that the uranium is anthropogenic,” meaning that it had been processed by humans.

The implication was clearly that this was a reason to believe that the site had been connected with a nuclear program. But former IAEA officials have raised serious questions about Heinonen’s handling of the physical evidence gathered from the Syrian site as well as his characterization of the evidence in that and other IAEA reports.

Tariq Rauf who headed the IAEA’s Verification and Security Policy Coordination Office until 2011, has pointed out that one of the IAEA protocols applicable to these environmental samples is that “the results from all three or four labs to have analyzed the sample must match to give a positive or negative finding on the presence and isotopics or uranium and/or plutonium.”

However, in the Syrian case the laboratories to which the samples had been sent had found no evidence of such man-made uranium in the samples they had tested. ElBaradei himself had announced in late September, three months after the samples had originally been taken but weeks before the report was issued, “So far, we have found no indication of any nuclear material.” So the November 2008 IAEA report claiming a positive finding was not consistent with its protocols.

But the samples had been sent to yet another laboratory, which had come up with a positive test result for a sample, which had then been touted as evidence that the site had held a nuclear reactor. That in itself is an indication that a fundamental IAEA protocol had been violated in the handling of the samples from Syria.

One of the inspectors involved in the IAEA inspection at al-Kibar later revealed to a fellow IAEA inspector what actually happened in the sample collection there. Former senior IAEA inspector Robert Kelley recalled in an interview that, after the last results of the samples from the al-Kibar inspection had come back from all the laboratories, the inspector, Mongolian national Orlokh Dorjkhaidav, came to see him because he was troubled by the results and wanted to tell someone he trusted.

Negative Results

Dorjkhaidav told Kelley that all the samples taken from the ground in the vicinity of the bombed building had tested negative for man-made uranium and that the only sample that had tested positive had been taken in the toilet of the support building.

Dorjkhaidav later left the IAEA and returned to Mongolia, where he died in December 2015. A video obituary for Dorjkhaidav confirmed his participation in the inspection in Syria. Kelley revealed the former inspector’s account to this writer only after Dorjkhaidav’s death.

In an e-mail response to a request for his comment on Kelley’s account of the Syrian environmental samples, Heinonen would neither confirm nor deny that the swipe sample described by Dorjkhaidav had been taken inside the support building. But in January 2013, David Albright, Director of the Institute for Science and International Security in Washington, D.C., who has co-authored several articles with Heinonen, acknowledged in a commentary on his think tank’s website that the al-Kibar uranium particles had been “found in a changing room in a building associated with the reactor.”

Given the dispersal of any nuclear material around the site by the Israeli bombing, if man-made uranium was present at the site, it should not have shown up only inside the support facility but should have been present in the samples taken from the ground outside.

Former IAEA senior inspector Kelley said in an e-mail that a “very likely explanation” for this anomaly is that it was a case of “cross contamination’ from the inspector’s own clothing. Such cross contamination had occurred in IAEA inspections on a number of occasions, according to both Kelley and Rauf.

Kelley, who had been in charge of inspections in Iraq in the early 1990s, recalled that a set of environmental swipes taken from nuclear facilities that the United States had bombed in Iraq had appeared to show that that Iraq had enriched uranium to 90 percent. But it turned out that they had been taken with swipe paper that had been contaminated accidentally by particles from the IAEA laboratory.

But what bothered Abushady the most was that the IAEA report on Syria had remained silent on the crucial fact that none of the sample results had shown any trace of nuclear-grade graphite.

Abushady recalled that when he challenged Heinonen on the absence of any mention of the nuclear graphite issue in the draft report in a Nov. 13, 2008 meeting, Heinonen said the inspectors had found evidence of graphite but added, “We haven’t confirmed that it was nuclear-grade.”

Abushady retorted, “Do you know what nuclear-grade graphite is? If you found it you would know it immediately.”

Heinonen was invited to comment on Abushady’s account of that meeting for this article but declined to do so.

After learning that the report scheduled to be released in November would be silent on the absence of nuclear graphite, Abushady sent a letter to ElBaradei asking him not to release the report on Syria as it was currently written. Abushady protested the report’s presentation of the environmental sampling results, especially in regard to nuclear-grade graphite.

“In my technical view,” Abushady wrote, “these results are the basis to confirm the contrary, that the site cannot [have been] actually a nuclear reactor.”

But the report was published anyway, and a few days later, ElBaradei’s Special Assistant Graham Andrew responded to Abushady’s message by ordering him to “stop sending e-mails on this subject” and to “respect established lines of responsibility, management and communication.”

A Clear Message

The message was clear: the agency was not interested in his information despite the fact that he knew more about the issue than anyone else in the organization.

At a briefing for Member States on the Syria reactor issue on Feb. 26, 2009, the Egyptian representative to the IAEA confronted Heinonen on the absence of nuclear-grade graphite in the environmental samples. This time, Heinonen had a different explanation for the failure to find any such graphite. He responded that it was “not known whether the graphite was in the building at the time of the destruction,” according to the diplomatic cable reporting on the briefing that was later released by WikiLeaks.

But that response, too, was disingenuous, according to Abushady. “Graphite is a structural part of the reactor core in the gas-cooled reactor,” he explained. “It is not something you add at the end.”

The IAEA remained silent on the question of graphite in nine more reports issued over more than two years. When the IAEA finally mentioned the issue for the first time officially in a May 2011 report, it claimed that the graphite particles were “too small to permit an analysis of the purity compared to that normally required for use in a reactor.”

But American nuclear engineer Behrad Nakhai, who worked at Oak National Laboratories for many years, said in an interview that the laboratories definitely have the ability to determine whether the particles were nuclear grade or not, so the claim “doesn’t make sense.”

News outlets have never reported on the IAEA’s role in helping to cover up the false CIA claim of a North-Korean-style nuclear reactor in the desert by a misleading portrayal of the physical evidence collected in Syria and suppressing the evidence that would have made that role clear.

Heinonen, who was directly responsible for the IAEA’s role in the Syria cover-up, left the IAEA in August 2010 and within a month was given a position at Harvard University’s Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs. He has continued to take positions on the Iran nuclear negotiations that were indistinguishable from those of the Netanyahu government. And he is now senior adviser on science and non-proliferation at the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies, a think tank whose positions on the Iran nuclear issues have closely followed those of the Likud governments in Israel.

Gareth Porter is an independent investigative journalist and historian on U.S. national security policy and the recipient of the 2012 Gellhorn Prize for journalism. His most recent book is Manufactured Crisis: the Untold Story of the Iran Nuclear Scare, published in 2014.

[For a previous segment of this two-part series, see https://consortiumnews.com/2017/11/18/israels-ploy-selling-a-syrian-nuke-strike/]

November 19, 2017 Posted by | Deception, Fake News, Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Timeless or most popular | , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Israel’s Ploy Selling a Syrian Nuke Strike

By Gareth Porter | Consortium News | November 18, 2017

In September 2007, Israeli warplanes bombed a building in eastern Syria that the Israelis claimed held a covert nuclear reactor that had been built with North Korean assistance. Seven months later, the CIA released an extraordinary 11-minute video and mounted press and Congressional briefings that supported that claim.

Supposed Syrian nuclear site before and after Israeli airstrike

But nothing about that alleged reactor in the Syrian desert turns out to be what it appeared at the time. The evidence now available shows that there was no such nuclear reactor, and that the Israelis had misled George W. Bush’s administration into believing that it was in order to draw the United States into bombing missile storage sites in Syria. Other evidence now suggests, moreover, that the Syrian government had led the Israelis to believe wrongly that it was a key storage site for Hezbollah missiles and rockets.

The International Atomic Agency’s top specialist on North Korean reactors, Egyptian national Yousry Abushady, warned top IAEA officials in 2008 that the published CIA claims about the alleged reactor in the Syrian desert could not possibly have been true. In a series of interviews in Vienna and by phone and e-mail exchanges over several months Abushady detailed the technical evidence that led him to issue that warning and to be even more confident about that judgment later on. And a retired nuclear engineer and research scientist with many years of experience at Oak Ridge National Laboratory has confirmed a crucial element of that technical evidence.

Published revelations by senior Bush administration officials show, moreover, that principal U.S. figures in the story all had their own political motives for supporting the Israeli claim of a Syrian reactor being built with North Korean help.

Vice President Dick Cheney hoped to use the alleged reactor to get President George W. Bush to initiate U.S. airstrikes in Syria in the hope of shaking the Syrian-Iranian alliance. And both Cheney and then CIA Director Michael Hayden also hoped to use the story of a North Korean-built nuclear reactor in Syria to kill a deal that Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice was negotiating with North Korea on its nuclear weapons program in 2007-08.

Mossad Chief’s Dramatic Evidence

In April 2007 the chief of Israel’s Mossad foreign intelligence agency, Meir Dagan, presented Cheney, Hayden and National Security Adviser Steven Hadley with evidence of what he said was a nuclear reactor being constructed in eastern Syria with the help of the North Koreans. Dagan showed them nearly a hundred hand-held photographs of the site revealing what he described as the preparation for the installation of a North Korean reactor and claimed that it was only a few months from being operational.

The Israelis made no secret of their desire to have a U.S. airstrike destroy the alleged nuclear facility. Prime Minister Ehud Olmert called President Bush immediately after that briefing and said, “George, I’m asking you to bomb the compound,” according to the account in Bush’s memoirs.

Cheney, who was known to be a personal friend of Olmert, wanted to go further. At White House meetings in subsequent weeks, Cheney argued forcefully for a U.S. attack not only on the purported reactor building but on Hezbollah weapons storage depots in Syria. Then-Secretary of Defense Robert Gates, who participated in those meetings, recalled in his own memoirs that Cheney, who was also looking for an opportunity to provoke a war with Iran, hoped to “rattle Assad sufficiently so as to end his close relationship with Iran” and “send a powerful warning to the Iranians to abandon their nuclear ambitions.”

CIA Director Hayden aligned the agency clearly with Cheney on the issue, not because of Syria or Iran but because of North Korea. In his book, Playing to the Edge, published last year, Hayden recalls that, at a White House meeting to brief President Bush the day after Dagan’s visit, he whispered in Cheney’s ear, “You were right, Mr. Vice-President.”

Hayden was referring to the fierce political struggle within the Bush administration over North Korea policy that had been underway ever since Condoleezza Rice had become Secretary of State in early 2005. Rice had argued that diplomacy was the only realistic way to get Pyongyang to retreat from its nuclear weapons program. But Cheney and his administration allies John Bolton and Robert Joseph (who succeeded Bolton as the key State Department policymaker on North Korea after Bolton became U.N. Ambassador in 2005) were determined to end the diplomatic engagement with Pyongyang.

Cheney was still maneuvering to find a way to prevent the successful completion of the negotiations, and he saw the story of a Syrian nuclear reactor built secretly in the desert with help from the North Koreans as bolstering his case. Cheney reveals in his own memoirs that in January 2008, he sought to sandbag Rice’s North Korea nuclear deal by getting her to agree that a failure by North Korea to “admit they’ve proliferating to the Syrians would be a deal killer.”

Three months later, the CIA released its unprecedented 11-minute video supporting the entire Israeli case for a North-Korean-style nuclear reactor that was nearly completed. Hayden recalls that his decision to release the video on the alleged Syrian nuclear reactor in April 2008 was “to avoid a North Korean nuclear deal being sold to a Congress and a public ignorant of this very pertinent and very recent episode.”

The video, complete with computer reconstructions of the building and photographs from the Israelis made a big splash in the news media. But one specialist on nuclear reactors who examined the video closely found abundant reason to conclude that the CIA’s case was not based on real evidence.

Technical Evidence against a Reactor

Egyptian national Yousry Abushady was a PhD in nuclear engineering and 23-year veteran of the IAEA who had been promoted to section head for Western Europe in the operations division of agency’s Safeguards Department, meaning that he was in charge of all inspections of nuclear facilities in the region. He had been a trusted adviser to Bruno Pellaud, IAEA Deputy Director General for Safeguards from 1993 to 1999, who told this writer in an interview that he had “relied on Abushady frequently.”

Abushady recalled in an interview that, after spending many hours reviewing the video released by the CIA in April 2008 frame by frame, he was certain that the CIA case for a nuclear reactor at al-Kibar in the desert in eastern Syria was not plausible for multiple technical reasons. The Israelis and the CIA had claimed the alleged reactor was modeled on the type of reactor the North Koreans had installed at Yongbyon called a gas-cooled graphite-moderated (GCGM) reactor.

But Abushady knew that kind of reactor better than anyone else at the IAEA. He had designed a GCGM reactor for his doctoral student in nuclear engineering, had begun evaluating the Yongbyon reactor in 1993, and from 1999 to 2003 had headed the Safeguards Department unit responsible for North Korea.

Abushady had traveled to North Korea 15 times and conducted extensive technical discussions with the North Korean nuclear engineers who had designed and operated the Yongbyon reactor. And the evidence he saw in the video convinced him that no such reactor could have been under construction at al-Kibar.

On April 26, 2008, Abushady sent a “preliminary technical assessment” of the video to IAEA Deputy Director General for Safeguards Olli Heinonen, with a copy to Director General Mohamed ElBaradei. Abushady observed in his memorandum that the person responsible for assembling the CIA video was obviously unfamiliar with either the North Korean reactor or with GCGM reactors in general.

The first thing that struck Abushady about the CIA’s claims was that the building was too short to hold a reactor like the one in Yongbyon, North Korea.

“It is obvious,” he wrote in his “technical assessment” memo to Heinonen, “that the Syrian building with no UG [underground] construction, can not hold a [reactor] similar [to] NK GCR [North Korean gas-cooled reactor].”
Abushady estimated the height of the North Korean reactor building in Yongbyon at a 50 meters (165 feet) and estimated that the building at al-Kibar at a little more than a third as tall.

Abushady also found the observable characteristics of the al-Kibar site inconsistent with the most basic technical requirements for a GCGM reactor. He pointed out that the Yongbyon reactor had no less than 20 supporting buildings on the site, whereas the satellite imagery shows that the Syrian site did not have a single significant supporting structure.

The most telling indication of all for Abushady that the building could not have been a GCGM reactor was the absence of a cooling tower to reduce the temperature of the carbon dioxide gas coolant in such a reactor.
“How can you work a gas-cooled reactor in a desert without a cooling tower?” Abushady asked in an interview.

IAEA Deputy Director Heinonen claimed in an IAEA report that the site had sufficient pumping power to get river water from a pump house on the nearby Euphrates River to the site. But Abushady recalls asking Heinonen, “How could this water be transferred for about 1,000 meters and continue to the heat exchangers for cooling with the same power?”

Robert Kelley, a former head of the U.S. Department of Energy’s Remote Sensing Laboratory and former senior IAEA inspector in Iraq, noticed another fundamental problem with Heinonen’s claim: the site had no facility for treating the river water before it reached the alleged reactor building.

“That river water would have been carrying debris and silt into the reactor heat exchangers,” Kelley said in an interview, making it highly questionable that a reactor could have operated there.

Yet another critical piece that Abushady found missing from the site was a cooling pond facility for spent fuel. The CIA had theorized that the reactor building itself contained a “spent fuel pond,” based on nothing more than an ambiguous shape in an aerial photograph of the bombed building.

But the North Korean reactor at Yongbyon and all 28 other GCGM reactors that had been built in the world all have the spent fuel pond in a separate building, Abushady said. The reason, he explained, was that the magnox cladding surrounding the fuel rods would react to any contact with moisture to produce hydrogen that could explode.

But the definitive and irrefutable proof that no GCGM reactor had been present at al-Kibar came from the environmental samples taken by the IAEA at the site in June 2008. Such a reactor would have contained nuclear-grade graphite, Abushady explained, and if the Israelis had actually bombed a GCGM reactor, it would have spread particles of nuclear-grade graphite all over the site.

Behrad Nakhai, a nuclear engineer at Oak Ridge National Laboratory for many years, confirmed Abshuady’s observation in an interview. “You would have had hundreds of tons of nuclear-grade graphite scattered around the site,” he said, “and it would have been impossible to clean it up.”

IAEA reports remained silent for more than two years about what the samples showed about nuclear-grade graphite, then claimed in a May 2011 report that the graphite particles were “too small to permit an analysis of the purity compared to that normally required for use in a reactor.” But given the tools available to laboratories, the IAEA claim that they couldn’t determine whether the particles were nuclear grade or not “doesn’t make sense,” Nakhai said.

Hayden acknowledged in his 2016 account that “key components” of a nuclear reactor site for nuclear weapons were “still missing.” The CIA had tried to find evidence of a reprocessing facility in Syria that could be used to obtain the plutonium for a nuclear bomb but had been unable to find any trace of one.

The CIA also had found no evidence of a fuel fabrication facility, without which a reactor could not have gotten the fuel rods to be reprocessed. Syria could not have gotten them from North Korea, because the fuel fabrication plant at Yongbyon had produced no fuel rods since 1994 and was known to have fallen into serious disrepair after the regime had agreed to scrap its own plutonium reactor program.

Manipulated and Misleading Photographs

Hayden’s account shows that he was ready to give the CIA’s stamp of approval to the Israeli photographs even before the agency’s analysts had even begun analyzing them. He admits that when he met Dagan face-to-face he didn’t ask how and when Mossad had obtained the photographs, citing “espionage protocol” among cooperating intelligence partners. Such a protocol would hardly apply, however, to a government sharing intelligence in order to get the United States to carry out an act of war on its behalf.

The CIA video relied heavily on the photographs that Mossad had given to Bush administration in making its case. Hayden writes that it was “pretty convincing stuff, if we could be confident that the pictures hadn’t been altered.”

But by his own account Hayden knew Mossad had engaged in at least one deception. He writes that when CIA experts reviewed the photographs from Mossad, they found that one of them had been photo-shopped to remove the writing on the side of a truck.

Hayden professes to have had no concern about that photo-shopped picture. But after this writer asked how CIA analysts interpreted Mossad’s photo shopping of the picture as one of the questions his staff requested in advance of a possible interview with Hayden, he declined the interview.

Abushady points out that the main issues with the photographs the CIA released publicly are whether they were actually taken at the al-Kibar site and whether they were consistent with a GCGM reactor. One of the photographs showed what the CIA video called “the steel liner for the reinforced-concrete reactor vessel before it was installed.” Abushady noticed immediately, however, that nothing in the picture links the steel liner to the al-Kibar site.

Both the video and CIA’s press briefing explained that the network of small pipes on the outside of the structure was for “cooling water to protect the concrete against the reactor’s intense heat and radiation.”
But Abushady, who specializes in such technology, pointed out that the structure in the picture bore no resemblance to a Gas-Cooled Reactor vessel. “This vessel cannot be for a Gas-Cooled Reactor,” Abushady explained, “based on its dimensions, it thickness and the pipes shown on the side of the vessel.”

The CIA video’s explanation that the network of pipes was necessary for “cooling water” made no sense, Abushady said, because gas-cooled reactors use only carbon dioxide gas — not water — as a coolant. Any contact between water and the Magnox-cladding used in that type of reactor, Abushady explained, could cause an explosion.

A second Mossad photograph showed what the CIA said were the “exit points” for the reactor’s control rods and fuel rods. The CIA juxtaposed that photograph with a photograph of the tops of the control rods and fuel rods of the North Korean reactor at Yongbyon and claimed a “very close resemblance” between the two.

Abushady found major differences between the two pictures, however. The North Korean reactor had a total of 97 ports, but the picture allegedly taken at al-Kibar shows only 52 ports. Abushady was certain that the reactor shown in the photograph could not have been based on the Yongbyon reactor. He also noted that the picture had a pronounced sepia tone, suggesting that it was taken quite a few years earlier.
Abushady warned Heinonen and ElBaradei in his initial assessment that the photo presented as taken from inside the reactor building appeared to an old photo of a small gas-cooled reactor, most likely an early such reactor built in the U.K.

A Double Deception

Many observers have suggested that Syria’s failure to protest the strike in the desert loudly suggests that it was indeed a reactor. Information provided by a former Syrian air force major who defected to an anti-Assad military command in Aleppo and by the head of Syria’s atomic energy program helps unlock the mystery of what was really in the building at al-Kibar.

The Syrian major, “Abu Mohammed,” told The Guardian in February 2013 that he was serving in the air defense station at Deir Azzor, the city nearest to al-Kibar, when he got a phone call from a Brigadier General at the Strategic Air Command in Damascus just after midnight on Sept. 6, 2007. Enemy planes were approaching his area, the general said, but “you are to do nothing.”

The major was confused. He wondered why the Syrian command would want to let Israeli fighter planes approach Deir Azzor unhindered. The only logical reason for such an otherwise inexplicable order would be that, instead of wanting to keep the Israelis away from the building at al-Kibar, the Syrian government actually wanted the Israelis to attack it. In the aftermath of the strike, the Damascus issued only an opaque statement claiming that the Israeli jets had been driven away and remaining silent on the airstrike at al-Kibar.

Abushady told this writer he learned from meetings with Syrian officials during his final year at the IAEA that the Syrian government had indeed originally built the structure at al-Kibar for the storage of missiles as well as for a fixed firing position for them. And he said Ibrahim Othman, the head of Syria’s Atomic Energy Commission, had confirmed that point in a private meeting with him in Vienna in September 2015.

Othman also confirmed Abushady’s suspicion from viewing satellite photographs that the roof over the central room in the building had been made with two movable light plates that could be opened to allow the firing of a missile. And he told Abushady that he had been correct in believing that what had appeared in a satellite image immediately after the bombing to be two semi-circular shapes was what had remained of the original concrete launching silo for missiles.

In the wake of the Israel’s 2006 invasion of Southern Lebanon, the Israelis were searching intensively for Hezbollah missiles and rockets that could reach Israel and they believed many of those Hezbollah weapons were being stored in Syria. If they wished to draw the attention of the Israelis away from actual missile storage sites, the Syrians would have had good reason to want to convince the Israelis that this was one of their major storage sites.

Othman told Abushady that the building had been abandoned in 2002, after the construction had been completed. The Israelis had acquired ground-level pictures from 2001-02 showing the construction of outer walls that would hide the central hall of the building. The Israelis and the CIA both insisted in 2007-08 that this new construction indicated that it had to be a reactor building, but it is equally consistent with a building designed to hide missile storage and a missile-firing position.

Although Mossad went to great lengths to convince the Bush administration that the site was a nuclear reactor, what the Israelis really wanted was for the Bush administration to launch U.S. airstrikes against Hezbollah and Syrian missile storage sites. Senior officials of the Bush administration didn’t buy the Israeli bid to get the United States to do the bombing, but none of them ever raised questions about the Israeli ruse.

So both the Assad regime and the Israeli government appear to have succeeded in carrying out their own parts in a double deception in the Syrian desert.

Gareth Porter is an independent investigative journalist and historian on U.S. national security policy and the recipient of the 2012 Gellhorn Prize for journalism.

November 18, 2017 Posted by | Deception, Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Fake News, Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Timeless or most popular, Wars for Israel | , , , , , | 1 Comment

Fake News on Russia and Other Official Enemies: The New York Times, 1917–2017

Edward S. Herman, the economist, Wharton School professor emeritus, and prolific author, died this week at age 92. The following article by Edward Herman appeared in the July-August issue of Monthly Review .

It has been amusing to watch the New York Times and other mainstream media outlets express their dismay over the rise and spread of “fake news.” These publications take it as an obvious truth that what they provide is straightforward, unbiased, fact-based reporting. They do offer such news, but they also provide a steady flow of their own varied forms of fake news, often by disseminating false or misleading information supplied to them by the national security state, other branches of government, and sites of corporate power

An important form of mainstream media fake news is that which is presented while suppressing information that calls the preferred news into question. This was the case with “The Lie That Wasn’t Shot Down,” the title of a January 18, 1988, Times editorial referring to a propaganda claim of five years earlier that the editors had swallowed and never looked into any further. The lie—that the Soviets knew that Korean airliner 007, which they shot down on August 31, 1983, was a civilian plane—was eventually uncovered by congressman Lee Hamilton, not by the Times.

Mainstream media fake news is especially likely where a party line is quickly formed on a topic, with any deviations therefore immediately dismissed as naïve, unpatriotic, or simply wrong. In a dramatic illustration, for a book chapter entitled “Worthy and Unworthy Victims,” Noam Chomsky and I showed that coverage by Time, Newsweek, CBS News, and the New York Times of the 1984 murder of the priest Jerzy Popieluzko in Communist Poland, a dramatic and politically useful event for the politicized Western mainstream media, exceeded all their coverage of the murders of a hundred religious figures killed in Latin America by U.S. client states in the post-Second World War years taken together.1 It was cheap and safe to focus heavily on the “worthy” victim, whereas looking closely at the deaths of those hundred would have required an expensive and sometimes dangerous research effort that would have upset the State Department. But it was in effect a form of fake news to so selectively devote coverage (and indignation) to a politically useful victim, while ignoring large numbers whose murder the political establishment sought to downplay or completely suppress.

Fake news on Russia is a Times tradition that can be traced back at least as far as the 1917 revolution. In a classic study of the paper’s coverage of Russia from February 1917 to March 1920, Walter Lippmann and Charles Merz found that “From the point of view of professional journalism the reporting of the Russian Revolution is nothing short of a disaster. On the essential questions the net effect was almost always misleading, and misleading news is worse than none at all…. They can fairly be charged with boundless credulity, and an untiring readiness to be gulled, and on many occasions with a downright lack of common sense.”2 Lippmann and Merz found that strong editorial bias clearly fed into news reporting. The editors’ zealous opposition to the communists led the paper to report atrocities that never happened, and to predict the imminent collapse of the Bolshevik regime no fewer than ninety-one times in three years. Journalists uncritically accepted official statements and relied on reports from unidentified “high authority.” This was standard Times practice.

This fake news performance of 1917–20 was repeated often in the years that followed. The Soviet Union was an enemy target up to the Second World War, and through it all, Times coverage was consistently hostile. With the end of the war and the emergence of the Soviet Union as a military rival, and soon a competing nuclear power, the Cold War was on. In the United States, anti-communism became a national religion, and the Soviet Union was portrayed in official discourse and the news media as a global menace in urgent need of containment. With this ideology in place and with U.S. plans for its own global expansion of power established, the Communist threat would help sustain the steady growth of the military-industrial complex and repeated interventions to counter purported Soviet aggressions.3

An Early Great Crime: Guatemala

One of the most flagrant cases in which the Soviet threat was exploited to justify U.S.-sponsored violence was the overthrow of the social democratic government of Guatemala in 1954 by a small proxy army invading from U.S. ally Somoza’s Nicaragua. This action was provoked by government reforms that upset U.S. officials, including a 1947 law permitting the formation of labor unions, and plans to buy back (at tax-rate valuations) and distribute to landless peasants some of the unused property owned by United Fruit Company and other large landowners. The United States, which had been perfectly content with the earlier fourteen-year-long dictatorship of Jose Ubico, could not tolerate this democratic challenge, and the elected government, led by Jacobo Arbenz, was soon charged with assorted villainies, based on an alleged Red capture of the Guatemalan government.4

In the pre-invasion propaganda campaign, the mainstream media fell into line behind false charges of extreme government repression, threats to its neighbors, and the Communist takeover. The Times repeatedly reported these alleged abuses and threats from 1950 onward (my favorite: Sidney Gruson’s “How Communists Won Control of Guatemala,” March 1, 1953). Arbenz and his predecessor, Juan Jose Arevalo, had carefully avoided establishing any embassies with Soviet bloc countries, fearing U.S. reprisals—to no avail. Following the removal of Arbenz and the installation of a right-wing dictatorship, court historian Ronald Schneider, after studying 50,000 documents seized from Communist sources in Guatemala, found that not only did Communists never control the country, but that the Soviet Union “made no significant or even material investment in the Arbenz regime,” and was at the time too preoccupied with internal problems to concern itself with Central America.5

The coup government quickly attacked and decimated the new social groups that had formed in the democratic era, mainly peasant, worker, and teacher organizations. Arbenz had won 65 percent of the votes in a free election, but the “liberator” Castillo Armas quickly won a “plebiscite” with 99.6 percent of the vote. Although this is a result familiar in totalitarian regimes, the mainstream media had by then lost interest in Guatemala, barely mentioning this electoral outcome. The Times had claimed in 1950 that U.S. Guatemala policy “is not trying to block social and economic progress but is interested in seeing that Guatemala becomes a liberal democracy.”6 But in the aftermath, the editors failed to note that the result of U.S. policy was precisely to “block social and economic progress,” through the installation of a regime of reactionary terror.

In 2011, more than half a century after 1954, the Times reported that Guatemalan president Alvaro Colom had apologized for that “Great Crime,” the violent overthrow of the Arbenz government, “an act of aggression to a government starting its democratic spring.”7 The article mentions that, according to president Colom, the Arbenz family is “seeking an apology from the United States for its role” in the Great Crime. The Times has never made any apology or even acknowledgement of its own role in the Great Crime.

Another Great Crime: Vietnam

Fake news abounded in the Times and other mainstream publications during the Vietnam War. The common perception that the paper’s editors opposed the war is misleading and essentially false. In Without Fear or Favor, former Times reporter Harrison Salisbury acknowledged that in 1962, when U.S. intervention escalated, the Times was “deeply and consistently” supportive of the war policy.8 He contends that the paper grew steadily more oppositional from 1965, culminating in the publication of the Pentagon Papers in 1971. But Salisbury fails to recognize that from 1954 to the present, the Times never abandoned the Cold War framework and vocabulary, according to which the United States was resisting another nation’s “aggression” and protecting “South Vietnam.” The paper never applied the word aggression to this country, but used it freely in referring to North Vietnamese actions and those of the National Liberation Front in the southern half of Vietnam.

The various pauses in the U.S. bombing war in 1965 and after, in the alleged interest of “giving peace a chance,” were also the basis of fake news as the Johnson administration used these temporary halts to quiet antiwar protests, while making it clear to the Vietnamese that U.S. officials demanded full surrender. The Times and its colleagues swallowed this bait without a murmur of dissent.9

Furthermore, although from 1965 onward the Times was willing to publish more reports that put the war in a less favorable light, it never broke from its heavy dependence on official sources, or from its reluctance to confront the damage wrought on Vietnam and its civilian population by the U.S. war machine. In contrast with its eager pursuit of Cambodian refugees from the Khmer Rouge after April 1975, the paper rarely sought testimony from the millions of Vietnamese refugees fleeing U.S. bombing and chemical warfare. In its opinion columns as well, the new openness was limited to commentators who accepted the premises of the war and would confine their criticisms to its tactical problems and domestic costs. From beginning to end, those who criticized the war as an immoral campaign of sheer aggression were excluded from the debate.10

The 1981 Papal Assassination Attempt

The mainstream media gave a further boost to Cold War propaganda in reporting on the attempted assassination of Pope John Paul II in Rome in May 1981. At a time when the Reagan administration was seeking to demonize the Soviet Union as an “evil empire,” the shooting of the pope by Turkish fascist Ali Agca was quickly tied to Moscow, helped by Agca’s confession—after seventeen months of imprisonment, interrogations, threats, inducements, and access to the media—that the Bulgarians and Soviet KGB were behind it all. No credible evidence supported this connection, the claims were implausible, and the corruption in the process was remarkable. (Agca also periodically claimed to be Jesus Christ.) The case against the Bulgarians (and implicitly the KGB) was lost even in Italy’s extremely biased and politicized judicial framework. But the Times bought it, and gave it prolonged, intense, and completely unquestioning attention, as did most of the U.S. media.

During the 1991 Senate hearings on the nomination of Robert Gates to head the CIA, former agency officer Melvin Goodman testified that the CIA knew from the start that Agca’s confessions were false, because they had “very good penetration” of the Bulgarian secret services. The Times omitted this statement in its reporting on Goodman’s testimony. During the same year, with Bulgaria now a member of the “free world,” conservative analyst Allen Weinstein obtained permission to examine Bulgarian secret service files on the assassination attempt. His mission was widely reported, including in the Times, but when he returned without having found anything implicating Bulgaria or the KGB, several papers, including the Times, found his investigations no longer newsworthy.

Missile Gap

From roughly 1975 to 1986, much of the reporting on the purported “missile gap” between the United States and the Soviet Union was little more than fake news, with Times reporters passing along a steady stream of inflammatory official statements and baseless claims. An important case occurred in the mid-1970s, as right-wing hawks in the Ford administration were trying to escalate the Cold War and arms race. A 1975 CIA report had found that the Soviets were aiming only for nuclear parity. This was unsatisfactory, so CIA head George H. W. Bush appointed a new team of hardliners, who soon found that the Soviets were achieving nuclear superiority and preparing to fight a nuclear war. This so-called Team B report was taken at face value in a Times front page article of December 26, 1976, by David Binder, who failed to mention its political bias or purpose, and made no attempt to consult experts with differing views. The CIA finally admitted in 1983 that the Team B estimates were fabrications. But throughout this period, the Times supported the case for militarization by disseminating false information, much of it convincingly refuted by Tom Gervasi in his classic The Myth of Soviet Military Supremacy, a book never reviewed in the Times.

Yugoslavia and “Humanitarian Intervention”

The 1990s wars of dismantlement in Yugoslavia succeeded in removing an independent government from power and replacing it with a broken Serbian remnant and poor and unstable failed states in Bosnia and Kosovo. It also provided unwarranted support for the concept of “humanitarian intervention,” which rested on a mass of misrepresentations and selective reporting. The demonized Serbian leader Slobodan Milošević was not an ultra-nationalist seeking a “Greater Serbia,” but rather a non-aligned leader on the Western hit list who tried to help Serb minorities in Bosnia, Croatia, and Kosovo remain in Yugoslavia as the United States and the European Union supported a legally questionable exodus by several constituent Yugoslav Republics. He supported each of the proposed settlements of these conflicts, which were sabotaged by Bosnian and U.S. officials who wanted better terms or the outright military defeat of Serbia, ultimately achieving the latter. Milošević had nothing to do with the July 1995 Srebrenica massacre, in which Bosnian Serbs took revenge on Bosnian Muslim soldiers who had been ravaging nearby Bosnian Serb villages from their base in Srebrenica under NATO protection. The several thousand Serb civilian deaths were essentially unreported in the mainstream media, while the numbers of Srebrenica’s executed victims were correspondingly inflated.11

The Putin Era

The U.S. political establishment was shocked and delighted by the 1989–91 fall of the Soviet Union, and its members were similarly pleased with the policies of President Boris Yeltsin, a virtual U.S. client, under whose rule ordinary Russians suffered a calamitous fall in living standards, while a small set of oligarchs were able to loot the broken state. Yeltsin’s election victory in 1996, greatly assisted by U.S. consultants, advice, and money, was, for the editors of the Times, “A Victory for Russian Democracy.”12 They were not bothered by either the electoral corruption, the creation of a grand-larceny-based economic oligarchy, or, shortly thereafter, the new rules centralizing power in the office of president.13

Yeltsin’s successor, Vladimir Putin, gradually abandoned the former’s subservience to Western interests, and was thereby perceived as a menace. His reelection in 2012, although surely less corrupt than Yeltsin’s in 1996, was castigated in the U.S. media. The lead Times article on May 5, 2012, featured “a slap in the face” from Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe observers, claims of no real competition, and “thousands of antigovernment protesters gathered in Moscow square to chant ‘Russia without Putin.’”14 There had been no “challenges to legitimacy” reported in the Times after Yeltsin’s tainted victory in 1996.

The demonization of Putin escalated with the Ukraine crisis of 2014 and subsequent Kiev warfare in Eastern Ukraine, Russian support of the East Ukraine resistance, and the Crimean referendum and absorption of Crimea by Russia. This was all declared “aggression” by the United States and its allies and clients, and sanctions were imposed on Russia, and a major U.S.-NATO military buildup was initiated on Russia’s borders. Tensions mounted further with the shooting-down of Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 over southeastern Ukraine—promptly, but almost surely falsely, blamed on the “pro-Russian” rebels and Russia itself.15

Anti-Russian hostilities were further inflamed by the country’s escalated intervention in Syria from 2015 on, in support of Bashar al-Assad and against rebel forces that had come to be dominated by ISIS and al-Nusra, an offshoot of al-Qaeda. The United States and its NATO and Middle East allies had been committing aggression against Syria, in de facto alliance with al-Nusra and other extremist Islamic factions, for several years. Russian intervention turned the tide, frustrating the U.S. and Saudi goal of regime change against Assad, and weakening tacit U.S. allies.

The Times has covered these developments with unstinting apologetics—for the February 2014 coup in Kiev—which it has never labeled as such, for the U.S. role in the overthrow of the elected government of Victor Yanukovych, and with anger and horror at the Crimea referendum and Russian absorption, which it never allows might be a defensive response to the Kiev coup. Its calls for punishment for the casualty-free Russian “aggression” in Crimea is in marked contrast to its apologetics for the million-plus casualties caused by U.S. aggression “of choice” (not defensive) in Iraq from March 2003 on. The paper’s editors and columnists condemn Putin’s disregard for international law, while exempting their own country from criticism for its repeated violations of that same law.16

In the Times‘s reporting and opinion columns Russia is regularly assailed as expansionist and threatening its neighbors, but virtually no mention is made of NATO’s expansion up to the Russian borders and first-strike-threat placement of anti-missile weapons in Eastern Europe—the latter earlier claimed to be in response to a missile threat from Iran! Analyses by political scientist John Mearsheimer and Russia scholar Stephen F. Cohen that noted this NATO advance were excluded from the opinion pages of the Times.17 In contrast, a member of the Russian band Pussy Riot, Maria Alyokhina, was given op-ed space to denounce Putin and Russia, and the punk rock group was granted a meeting with the Times editorial board.18 Between January 1 and March 31, 2014, the paper ran twenty-three articles featuring Pussy Riot and its alleged significance as a symbol of Russian limits on free speech. Pussy Riot had disrupted a church service in Moscow and only stopped after police intervened, at the request of church authorities. A two-year prison sentence followed. Meanwhile, in February 2014, eighty-four-year-old nun Sister Megan Rice was sentenced to four years in prison for having entered a U.S. nuclear weapons site in July 2012 and carried out a symbolic protest. The Times gave this news a tiny mention in its National Briefing section, under the title “Tennessee Nun is Sentenced for Peace Protest.” No op-ed columns or meeting with the Times board for Rice. There are worthy and unworthy protesters, just as there are victims.

In Syria, with Russian help, Assad’s army and allied militias were able to dislodge the rebels from Aleppo, to the dismay of Washington and the mainstream media. It has been enlightening to see the alarm expressed over civilian casualties in Aleppo, with accompanying photographs of forsaken children and stories of civilian suffering and deprivation. The Times’ focus on those civilians and children and its indignation at Putin-Assad inhumanity stands in sharp contrast with their virtual silence on massive civilian casualties in Fallujah in 2004 and beyond, and more recently in rebel-held areas of Syria, and in the Iraqi city of Mosul, under U.S. and allied attack.19 The differential treatment of worthy and unworthy victims has been in full force in coverage of Syria.

A further phase of intensifying Russophobia may be dated from the October 2016 presidential debates, in which Hillary Clinton declared that Donald Trump would be a Putin “puppet” as president, a theme her campaign began to stress. This emphasis only increased after the election, with the help of the media and intelligence services, as the Clinton camp sought to explain their electoral loss, maintain party control, and possibly even have the election results overturned in the courts or electoral college by attributing Trump’s victory to Russian interference.

A major impetus for the Putin connection came with the January 2017 release of a report by the Office of Director of National Intelligence (DNI), Background of Assessing Russian Activities and Intention in Recent US Elections. More than half of this short document is devoted to the Russian-sponsored RT news network, which the report treats as an illegitimate propaganda source. The organization is allegedly part of Russia’s “influence campaign… [that] aspired to help President-elect Trump’s chances of victory when possible by discrediting Secretary Clinton and publicly contrasting her unfavorably to the President-elect.” No semblance of proof is offered that there was any planned “campaign,” rather than an ongoing expression of opinion and news judgments. The same standards used to identify a Russian “influence campaign” could be applied with equal force to U.S. media and Radio Free Europe’s treatment of any Russian election—and of course, the U.S. intervention in the 1996 Russian election was overt, direct, and went far beyond any covert “influence campaign.”

Regarding more direct Russian intervention in the U.S. election, the DNI authors concede the absence of “full supporting evidence,” but in fact provide no supporting evidence at all—only speculative assertions, assumptions, and guesses. “We assess that… Putin ordered an influence campaign in 2015,” they write, designed to defeat Mrs. Clinton, and “to undermine public faith in the U.S. democratic process,” but provide no proof of any such order. The report also contains no evidence that Russia hacked the communications of the Democratic National Committee (DNC) or the emails of Clinton and former Clinton campaign manager John Podesta, or that it gave hacked information to WikiLeaks. Julian Assange and former British diplomat Craig Murray have repeatedly claimed that these sources were leaked by local insiders, not hacked from outside. Veteran intelligence experts William Binney and Ray McGovern likewise contend that the WikiLeaks evidence was leaked, not hacked.20 It is also notable that of the three intelligence agencies who signed the DNI document, the National Security Agency—the agency most likely to have proof of Russian hacking and its transmission to WikiLeaks, as well as of any “orders” from Putin—only expressed “moderate confidence” in its findings.

But as with the Reds ruling Guatemala, the Soviets outpacing U.S. missile capabilities, or the KGB plotting to assassinate the pope, the Times has taken the Russian hacking story as established fact, despite the absence of hard evidence. Times reporter David Sanger refers to the report’s “damning and surprisingly detailed account of Russia’s efforts to undermine the American electoral system,” only to then acknowledge that the published report “contains no information about how the agencies had … come to their conclusions.”21 The report itself includes the astonishing statement that “Judgments are not intended to imply that we have proof that shows something to be a fact.” Furthermore, if the report was based on “intercepts of conversations” as well as on hacked computer data, as Sanger and the DNI claim, why has the DNI failed to quote a single conversation showing Putin’s alleged orders and plans?

The Times has never cited or given op-ed space to William Binney, Ray McGovern, or Craig Murray, leading dissident authorities on hacking technology, methodology, and the specifics of the DNC hacks. But room was found for Louise Mensch’s op-ed “What to Ask about Russian Hacking.” Mensch is a notorious conspiracy theorist with no relevant technical background, described by writers Nathan Robinson and Alex Nichols as best-known for “spending most of her time on Twitter issuing frenzied denunciations of imagined armies of online ‘Putinbots,’” making her “one of the least credible people on the internet.”22 But she is published in the Times because, in contrast with the informed and credible Binney and Murray, she follows the party line, taking Russian hacking of the DNC as a premise.

The CIA’s brazen intervention in the electoral process in 2016 and 2017 broke new ground in the agency’s politicization. Former CIA head Michael Morell announced in an August 2016 op-ed in the Times: “I Ran the C.I.A. Now I’m Endorsing Hillary Clinton,” and former CIA boss Michael Hayden published an op-ed in the Washington Post just days before the election, entitled “Former CIA Chief: Trump is Russia’s Useful Fool.” Morell had yet another op-ed in the Times on January 6, now openly assailing the new president. These attacks were unrelievedly insulting to Trump and laudatory to Clinton, even portraying Trump as a traitor; they also made clear that Clinton’s more pugnacious stance toward Syria and Russia was preferable by far to Trump’s leanings toward negotiation and cooperation with Russia.

This was also true of the scandal surrounding former Trump Defense Intelligence nominee Michael Flynn’s telephone call with the Russian ambassador, which may have included a discussion of the incoming administration’s policy actions. The political possibilities of this interaction were quickly grasped by outgoing Obama officials, security personnel, and the mainstream media, with the FBI interrogating Flynn and with widespread expressions of horror at Flynn’s action, which could have allegedly exposed him to Russian blackmail. But such pre-inauguration meetings with Russian diplomats have been a “common practice” according to Jack Matlock, the U.S. ambassador to Russia under Reagan and Bush, and Matlock had personally arranged such a meeting for Jimmy Carter.23 Obama’s own ambassador to the country, Michael McFaul, admitted visiting Moscow for talks with officials in 2008, even before the election. Daniel Lazare has made a good case not only that the illegality and blackmail threat are implausible, but that the FBI’s interrogation of Flynn reeks of entrapment. “Yet anti-Trump liberals are trying to convince the public that it’s all ‘worse than Watergate.’”24

The political point of the DNI report thus seems to have been, at minimum, to tie the Trump administration’s hands in its dealings with Russia. Some analysts outside the mainstream have argued that we may have been witnessing an incipient spy or palace coup that fell short, but still had the desired effect of weakening the new administration.25 The Times has not offered a word of criticism of this politicization and intervention in the election process by intelligence agencies, and in fact the editors have been working with them and the Democratic Party as a loose-knit team in a distinctly un- and anti-democratic program designed to undermine or reverse the results of the 2016 election, on the pretext of alleged foreign electoral interference.

The Times and the mainstream media in general have also barely mentioned the awkward fact that the allegedly hacked disclosures of the DNC and Clinton and Podesta emails disclosed uncontested facts about real electoral manipulations on behalf of the Clinton campaign, facts that the public had a right to know and that might well have affected the election results. The focus on the evidence-free claims of a Russian hacking intrusion have helped divert attention from the real electoral abuses disclosed by the WikiLeaks material. Here again, official and mainstream media fake news helped bury real news.

Another arrow in the Russophobia quiver was a private intelligence “dossier” compiled by Christopher Steele, a former British intelligence agent working for Orbis Business Intelligence, a private firm hired by the DNC to dig up dirt on Trump. Steele’s first report, delivered in June 2016, made numerous serious accusations against Trump, most notably that Trump had been caught in a sexual escapade in Moscow, that his political advance had been supported by the Kremlin for at least five years, under Putin’s direction, in order to sow discord within the U.S. political establishment and disrupt the Western alliance. This document was based on alleged conversations by Steele with distant (Russian) officials: that is, strictly on hearsay evidence, whose assertions, where verifiable, are sometimes erroneous.26 But it said just what the Democrats, the mainstream media, and the CIA wanted to hear, and intelligence officials accordingly declared the author “credible,” and the media lapped it up. The Times hedged somewhat on its own cooperation in this tawdry campaign by calling the report “unverified,” but nevertheless reported its claims.27

The Steele dossier also became a central part of the investigation and hearings on “Russia-gate” held by the House Intelligence Committee starting in March 2017, led by Democratic Representative Adam Schiff. While basing his opening statement on the hearsay-laden dossier, Schiff expressed no interest in establishing who funded the Steele effort, the identity and exact status of the Russian officials quoted, or how much they were paid. Apparently talking to Russians with a design of influencing an American presidential election is perfectly acceptable if the candidate supported by this intrusion is anti-Russian!

The Times has played a major role in this latest wave of Russophobia, reminiscent of its 1917–20 performance in which, as Lippmann and Merz noted in 1920, “boundless credulity, and an untiring readiness to be gulled” characterized the news-making process. While quoting the CIA’s admission that it had no hard evidence, relying instead on “circumstantial evidence” and “capabilities,” the Times was happy to describe these capabilities at great length and to imply that they proved something.28 Editorials and news articles have worked uniformly on the false supposition that Russian hacking was proved, and that the Russians had given these data to WikiLeaks, also unproven and strenuously denied by Assange and Murray.

The Times has run neck-and-neck with the Washington Post in stirring up fears of the Russian information war and illicit involvement with Trump. The Times now easily conflates fake news with any criticism of established institutions, as in Mark Scott and Melissa Eddy’s “Europe Combats a New Foe of Political Stability: Fake News,” February 20, 2017.29 But what is more extraordinary is the uniformity with which the paper’s regular columnists accept as a given the CIA’s assessment of the Russian hacking and transmission to WikiLeaks, the possibility or likelihood that Trump is a Putin puppet, and the urgent need of a congressional and “non-partisan” investigation of these claims. This swallowing of a new war-party line has extended widely in the liberal media. Both the Times and Washington Post have lent tacit support to the idea that this “fake news” threat needs to be curbed, possibly by some form of voluntary media-organized censorship or government intervention that would at least expose the fakery.

The most remarkable media episode in this anti-influence-campaign was the Posts piece by Craig Timberg, “Russian propaganda effort helped spread ‘fake news’ during election, experts say,” which featured a report by a group of anonymous “experts” entity called PropOrNot that claimed to have identified two hundred websites that, wittingly or not, were “routine peddlers of Russian propaganda.” While smearing these websites, many of them independent news outlets whose only shared trait was their critical stance toward U.S. foreign policy, the “experts” refused to identify themselves, allegedly out of fear of being “targeted by legions of skilled hackers.” As journalist Matt Taibbi wrote, “You want to blacklist hundreds of people, but you won’t put your name to your claims? Take a hike.”30 But the Post welcomed and promoted this McCarthyite effort, which might well be a product of Pentagon or CIA information warfare. (And these entities are themselves well-funded and heavily into the propaganda business.)

On December 23, 2016, President Obama signed the Portman-Murphy Countering Disinformation and Propaganda Act, which will supposedly allow the United States to more effectively combat foreign (namely Russian and Chinese) propaganda and disinformation. It will encourage more government counter-propaganda efforts, and provide funding to non-government entities to help in this enterprise. It is clearly a follow-on to the claims of Russian hacking and propaganda, and shares the spirit of the listing of two hundred tools of Moscow featured in the Washington Post. (Perhaps PropOrNot will qualify for a subsidy and be able to enlarge its list.) Liberals have been quiet on this new threat to freedom of speech, undoubtedly influenced by their fears of Russian-based fake news and propaganda. But they may yet take notice, even if belatedly, when Trump or one of his successors puts it to work on their own notions of fake news and propaganda.

The success of the war party’s campaign to contain or reverse any tendency to ease tensions with Russia was made dramatically clear in the Trump administration’s speedy bombing response to the April 4, 2017, Syrian chemical weapons deaths. The Times and other mainstream media editors and journalists greeted this aggressive move with almost uniform enthusiasm, and once again did not require evidence of Assad’s guilt beyond their government’s claims.31 The action was damaging to Assad and Russia, but served the rebels well.

But the mainstream media never ask cui bono? in cases like this. In 2013, a similar charge against Assad, which brought the United States to the brink of a full-scale bombing war in Syria, turned out to be a false flag operation, and some authorities believe the current case is equally problematic.32 Nevertheless, Trump moved quickly (and illegally), dealing a blow to any further rapprochement between the United States and Russia. The CIA, the Pentagon, leading Democrats, and the rest of the war party had won an important skirmish in the struggle over permanent war.

Notes

  1. Noam Chomsky and Edward S. Herman, Manufacturing Consent (New York: Pantheon, 2008), chapter 2.
  2. Walter Lippmann and Charles Merz, A Test of the News (New York: New Republic, 1920).
  3. On the Grand Area framework, see Noam Chomsky, “The New Framework of Order,” inOn Power and Ideology (Boston: South End, 1987).
  4. Edward S. Herman, “Returning Guatemala to the Fold,” in Gary Rawnsley, ed.,Cold War Propaganda in the 1950s (London: Macmillan, 1999).
  5. Ronald Schneider,Communism in Guatemala, 1944–1954 (New York: Praeger, 1959), 41, 196–97, 294.
  6. Editorial Board, “The Guatemala Incident,”New York Times, April 8, 1950.
  7. Elisabeth Malkin, “An Apology for a Guatemalan Coup, 57 Years Later,”New York Times, October 11, 2011.
  8. Harrison Salisbury,Without Fear or Favor (New York: Times Books, 1980), 486.
  9. Richard Du Boff and Edward Herman,America’s Vietnam Policy: The Strategy of Deception(Washington, D.C.: Public Affairs, 1966).
  10. See Chomsky and Herman, Manufacturing Consent, chapter 6.
  11. Editorial Board, “A Victory for Russian Democracy,”New York Times, July 4, 1996.
  12. Edward S. Herman and David Peterson, “The Dismantling of Yugoslavia,”Monthly Review 59, no. 5 (October 2007); Herman and Peterson, “Poor Marlise: Her Old Allies Are Now Attacking the Tribunal and Even Portraying the Serbs as Victims,” ZNet, October 30, 2008, http://zcomm.org.
  13. Stephen F. Cohen,Failed Crusade: America and the Tragedy of Post-Communist Russia (New York: Norton, 2000).
  14. Ellen Barry and Michael Schwartz, “After Election, Putin Faces Challenges to Legitimacy,”New York Times, March 5, 2012.
  15. Robert Parry, “Troubling Gaps in the New MH-17 Report,” Consortium News, September 28, 2016, http://consortiumnews.com.
  16. Paul Krugman says, “Mr. Putin is someone who doesn’t worry about little things like international law” (“The Siberian Candidate,”New York Times, July 22, 2016)—implying, falsely, that U.S. leaders do “worry about” such things.
  17. A version of Mearsheimer’s article appeared as “Why the Ukraine Crisis Is the West’s Fault,”Foreign Affairs, September 10, 2014. The paper likewise rejected Stephen Cohen’s 2012 article “The Demonization of Putin.”
  18. “Sochi Under Siege,”New York Times, February 21, 2014.
  19. Michael Kimmelman, “Aleppo’s Faces Beckon to Us, To Little Avail,”New York Times, December 15, 2016. Above this front-page article were four photographs of dead or injured children, the most prominent one in Syria. The accompanying editorial, “Aleppo’s Destroyers: Assad, Putin, Iran,” omits some key actors and killers. See also Rick Sterling, “How US Propaganda Plays in Syrian War,” Consortium News, September 23, 2016.
  20. William Binney and Ray McGovern, “The Dubious Case on Russian ‘Hacking,’” Consortium News, January 6, 2017.
  21. David Sanger, “Putin Ordered ‘Influence Campaign’ Aimed at U.S. Election, Report Says,”New York Times, January 6, 2017.
  22. Nathan J. Robinson and Alex Nichols, “What Constitutes Reasonable Mainstream Opinion,”Current Affairs, March 22, 2017.
  23. Jack Matlock, “Contacts with Russian Embassy,” Jack Matlock blog, March 4, 2017, http://jackmatlock.com.
  24. Daniel Lazare, “Democrats, Liberals, Catch McCarthyistic Fever,” Consortium News, February 17, 2017.
  25. Robert Parry, “A Spy Coup in America?” Consortium News, December 18, 2016; Andre Damon, “Democratic Party Floats Proposal for a Palace Coup,” Information Clearing House,” March 23, 2017, http://informationclearinghouse.info.
  26. Robert Parry, “The Sleazy Origins of Russia-gate,” Consortium News, March 29, 2017.
  27. Scott Shane et al., “How a Sensational, Unverified Dossier Became a Crisis for Donald Trump,”New York Times, January 11, 2017.
  28. Matt Fegenheimer and Scott Shane, “Bipartisan Voices Back U.S. Agencies On Russia Hacking,”New York Times, January 6, 2017; Michael Shear and David Sanger, “Putin Led a Complex Cyberattack Scheme to Aid Trump, Report Finds,”New York Times,January 7, 2017; Andrew Kramer, “How Russia Recruited Elite Hackers for Its Cyberwar,”New York Times, December 30, 2016.
  29. Robert Parry, “NYT’s Fake News about Fake News,” Consortium News, February 22, 2017.
  30. Matt Taibbi, “The ‘Washington Post’ ‘Blacklist’ Story Is Shameful and Disgusting,”Rolling Stone, November 28, 2016.
  31. Adam Johnson, “Out of 47 Media Editorials on Trump’s Syria Strikes, Only One Opposed,” Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting, April 11, 2017, http://fair.org.
  32. Scott Ritter, “Wag the Dog—How Al Qaeda Played Donald Trump and The American Media,” Huffington Post, April 9, 2017; James Carden, “The Chemical Weapons Attack in Syria: Is There a Place for Skepticism?”Nation, April 11, 2017.

November 15, 2017 Posted by | Fake News, Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Russophobia | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

James Clapper Wants Us to Trust Him: So Does Politico

By Jason Hirthler | Dissident Voice | November 15, 2017

In a recent piece published on Politico, former director of national intelligence James Clapper, that “crusty ex-cargo pilot,” makes us privy to another of his unnerving assessments of the world-at-large, “The Russians have succeeded beyond their wildest expectations.” The last time Mr. Clapper assured us of something, it was that the intel community wasn’t spying on us. We saw how that turned out. But that was under oath before Congress. This is an interview with a leading political website. Much higher stakes. Clapper has settled comfortably into his civilian role as the lead legitimizer of January’s farcical Intelligence Community Assessment (ICA), and sees Russian influence, and the tantalizing prospect of presidential treason, as a weighty black cloud hanging over the country, a semaphore of apocalypse.

Clapper is effectively a PR flack of the Democratic Party and the military-industrial-finance complex. The former is the Clinton wing of the DNC. The latter includes defense industries, the Pentagon, Fortune 500 manufacturing multinationals, and a handful of the world’s largest banks. These two entities have a common interest: demonizing the Russian Federation. The Democrats want it to deflect attention from the landfill of venality, graft, and other corruptions revealed by WikiLeaks, a rogue DNC insider, and now Donna Brazile. The ruling class community wants it to force President Trump to continue the hostile policies of George Bush and Barack Obama in the global arena, notably toward Russia. So, immediate Democratic interests dovetailed with permanent establishment interests. Hence Russia was employed to hide Democratic corruption and justify active measures against it. In other words, the establishment is working hard to preserve the status quo, against popular pressure to change the status quo. It was ever thus.

The Art of the Sell

If you are going to peddle a lie like Russia-gate, you need to establish two critical components: credibility and consensus. On the credibility side, major institutions and respected influencers must be enjoined to sell the right narrative to give the story a patina of legitimacy. This is Clapper’s job, and that of the intelligence agencies. On the visibility side, mainstream news channels must flood the airwaves with this story. This will provide crucial visibility for the story and, even more importantly, create a perception of consensus. This is the corporate media’s job. To simultaneously accomplish both, Clapper works with media companies like Politico  to broadly disseminate the anti-Russia tale in the voice of a credible servant of the state.

Clapper says Russia-gate is worse than Watergate. He darkly murmurs his innuendo to Politico international affairs correspondent Susan Glasser, another rapt reporter dutifully recording the wizened words of a man once privy to the inner chambers of American intelligence. The tone is suitably reverential. For the proven perjurer Clapper, Russia-gate is unprecedented because it shows “… a foreign adversary actively and aggressively and directly engaging in our political processes to interfere with them and to undermine our system, whereas in Watergate you were dealing with a two-bit petty burglary, domestic only.”

Clapper then says he fears that the extent of nefarious Russian actions go even deeper than he thought. One shudders to think. He talks flatly about Russian use of social media. Politico goes out of its way to claim that the social media non-story about a speculative Moscow-directed “influence” campaign is “extensive and sophisticated” and calls bots and trolls “false-front groups.” Any rhetorical formation that sounds more menacing than “fake” will work.

Glasser, a starry-eyed apostle of Russia-gate, “asked whether Russian President Vladimir Putin now believes he is winning in his campaign against the United States.” Mind you, no evidence has yet been produced to demonstrate Vladimir Putin ever launched a “campaign against the United States.” It’s fairly obvious from his foreign policy positions, offers, and statements that he’d rather cooperate with Washington than fight it, though Moscow surely preferred Trump to Clinton in the general election.

Clapper replies that, “Their first objective in the election was to sow discontent, discord and disruption in our political life, and they have succeeded… They have accelerated, amplified the polarization and the divisiveness in this country, and they’ve undermined our democratic system. They wanted to create doubt in the minds of the public about our government and about our system, and they succeeded…”

Incredible Claims

The Russia-gate narrative began as an accusation that Russia had hacked the DNC to destroy Hillary Clinton. Then it changed to an accusation of Russian influence to destroy Hillary Clinton. Then it changed to an accusation of Russian influence to sow division among American voters. All along, it has also charged that Donald Trump colluded with Russia to destroy Hillary Clinton. No such evidence has been produced.

The DNC hacking claim has been debunked. The claim about WikiLeaks as an agent of Russia is false, given it has released hundreds of thousands of documents critical of Russia itself. The claim Russia hacked into U.S. voting systems was fake news. The disgusting dossier is another fiction ginned up by the Clinton camp to smear Trump. Evidence is lacking that Trump himself is some kind of Russian puppet. Special Prosecutor Robert Mueller has merely found what most would expect: business contacts in Russia, plus some corrupt associates. Perhaps the most useful claim the Russia-gate promoters have is that Russia, in some capacity, tried to influence voters. Seems true to some extent. Most countries with money do this. The KGB did it for decades. But nothing unearthed by the New McCarthyites suggest that this was an extensive and sophisticated campaign. But Clapper attributes it all to the Kremlin and its insidious ruler Vladimir Putin.

Facebook found a total of $100,000 dollars had been spent by a huge variety of Russian accounts over a two-year period generated by the Internet Research Agency, which appears to be troll farm, funded by a Russian oligarch who is friends with Putin. Most of the ads didn’t even promote a candidate, which was the original claim—that Russia wanted to elect Donald Trump. This sounds suspiciously like a bot farm trying to scare up likes and traffic in order to sell those audiences to advertisers. Recall that Facebook got a billion in advertising revenue from last year’s presidential campaign alone. One hundred thousand dollars is a drop in the ad-spend ocean. Brands regularly burn through 100k in a few weeks, often with hazy results. It is difficult to know the origin of murky leak fronts like DCLeaks, Guccifer 2.0, and Fancy Bear. We know the CIA developed technology in order to falsely attribute hacks. Even so, Clapper and others of his ilk desperately want us to believe that this is all Putin-directed Russian advertising activity, that it amounted to a huge influence campaign, and that it sowed immense discord in American society and gravely undermined our democracy. Clapper’s is a case of special pleading, when one conjures a desired interpretation of reality and then hastily assembles ‘facts’ to prove it is so.

This is disingenuous on so many levels. First, one imagines some Russian money was spent to sway American opinion, and probably to support Donald Trump, who sounded a lot friendlier to Moscow during his campaign than the neoconservative warmonger Hillary Clinton. But buying ads to promote a different view is normal behavior. Nothing particularly wrong with it. To see what illegal and unethical efforts to destabilize countries looks like, you’d have to look at U.S. overt and covert action in Eastern Europe, Russia, and elsewhere. Russia in the mid-Nineties is an instructive example. We installed Boris Yeltsin in the presidency in 1996 and backed his anti-democratic authoritarian attacks on his own people. Clapper knows the extent of our shameless interference abroad. He knows he is inflating, for political purposes, a dubious and at any rate minor effort by Russia. He knows the disparity between Washington’s interventions abroad and a loose array of uncoordinated ads floating around on unread Facebook feeds. But he has buried this cognitive dissonance deep in his mind.

Next, Clapper and the MSM’s assertion that these Russia-linked ads sowed discord, particularly of a racial nature, in American society, is itself a deeply insulting claim. As Ajuma Baraka wrote, we don’t need foreign powers to produce racial conflict in America. We already do that perfectly well on our own. The implication that without foreign interference we would live in some kind of racial harmony is absurd on its face. Did the Kremlin produce Ferguson? Did Moscow fire the pistols of racist cops? Did Putin stir up this month’s uprising in St. Louis?

Lastly, Clapper knows we don’t live in a democracy. We live in an obvious oligarchy that serves the interests of elite plutocrats that own the military-industrial-finance complex of multinational corporations. Our society is almost wholly subservient to their money power. What was revealed about the Clintons and the DNC actually reinforced this reality. Instead of fearing that ‘our democracy’ has been undermined, Clapper instead wants to drop a bag over the truth of our plutocracy. That is what intelligence officials do.

Unreliable Sources

As John Kiriakou points out, the CIA has lied to us relentlessly. They said there was no torture program. Lie. They said there was no program of extraordinary renditions. Lie. They said there was no “archipelago” of foreign secret prisons. Lie. They said they were not hacking into Senate Intelligence Committee computers. Lie. Clapper told Congress when he said the NSA was not spying on American citizens. Lie. The National Intelligence Agencies collectively produced and supported the claim that Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction and was trying to gain materials for a nuclear bomb. Lie.

Why would anyone in their right mind trust James Clapper or any of the intelligence agencies that now control the presidency? Moreover, why would any sane person trust the mainstream media outlets that peddled the intelligence lies noted above? The only answers I can come up with are ignorance, stupidity, or willful blindness. Sources and publisher must be believed. They are the twin scaffolding on which the credibility of the narrative hangs.

Halos for Heretics

To that end, the rest of the article devolves into a kind of hagiography. Not only does Clapper superficially possess the requisite CV of a reliable source, but he must also be made to look personally ethical. Casting someone in a noble light requires a few characteristic moves: he must have pure motives, relatable values, and must be bravely battling a demonic enemy. These are the ingredients of myth-making.

First one must paint the person’s motives as pure, ideally contrasted with a phalanx of ill-starred narcissists only out for themselves. Jesus among the Pharisees and money-changers is a workable template. Glasser is a trusted hand at this kind of thing. In order to depict the intel veteran as a chaste and honorable fellow, she begins by telling us that, “… this is no limelight-seeking politician trashing the man in the White House for a quick cable-TV adrenaline rush.”

Next you need to spotlight the person’s values, make them commensurate with those of your audience. You’ll also have to demonstrate that whatever the person is doing, he or she is doing against his better instincts, at risk to himself, under duress, at the cost of his own comfort.

Glasser rolls these two prerequisites into a couple of paragraphs. She says repeatedly that Clapper is not cut out for this role, but fills it out of some sense of duty to his country. Read uncompromising patriot. He “still carries the bearing of his three decades in the Air Force.” Gravitas. Decorum. Sagacity. You get the picture. Yet he finds being in the public eye, “unsettling” and “painful.” He “reveres” the office of the president and doesn’t like being seen as a critic of the president. Clapper reached out to Trump on the phone, but alas, he finally had to take his paranoia public. This is all self-serving and unprovable supposition.

But as a man who has training in shaping a narrative, Clapper soon winds his way back to the prize: the evil empire. This is, of course, the other critical element of any consecration, the relentless demonization of the enemy. Heroes must fight worthy causes, or they aren’t really heroes. On cue, Clapper finds it “worrisome” and “bothersome” that Russia is modernizing its nuclear forces. He makes no mention of the fact that Moscow recognizes it is being surrounded and harassed by a hostile, angry, aggressive superpower sensing the waning of its political power. Why wouldn’t it modernize its nuclear capacity? After all, that dove Barack Obama earmarked a trillion dollars to modernize American nukes.

No matter, the bad guy here is the Russian Federation. Oh, and also North Korea. Clapper doesn’t mention that the United States inflicted a genocidal scar on the Korean conscience during the Korean War. He doesn’t mention how that war has shaped Pyongyang’s attitude toward the imperial west. He simply criticizes the president, quite fairly, for his blustery exchanges with Kim Jong Un. He correctly sees this rhetorical sword fight increasing the odds of a “cataclysmic” exchange. But Clapper fails to see, as he did with Russia, that North Korea is actively trying to defend itself against a malicious empire that wants to literally overthrow its government and replace it with technocrats who will sanction the looting of Korean wealth. Instead, Clapper derides Jong Un as little more than a dictator, “surrounded by medal-bedecked sycophants, who dutifully follow him around like puppy dogs with their notebooks open, ascribing his every utterance…”

Glasser’s work is deftly done. It certainly helps that the current inhabitant of the White House is an enfant terrible who deserves plenty of derision. Nobody on the Democratic side of the spectrum trusts Donald Trump, and thus are particularly vulnerable to conspiracies about him committing treason. The best propaganda has a measure of truth in it; i.e., Trump is not an inscrutable mogul. Begin with a kernel of fact and spin a factious yarn out of it.

It’s a question of time and money. The money end of it is bottomless. The media companies actually make money out of spinning incredible stories. The time side is thankfully out of the hands of the plutocrats. Readers have short attention spans, and sooner or later their interest will wane and subscriptions and page views will decline. Voters will become disillusioned. Diehard patriots will ask questions. Democratic funds will fall (as they already have). And the Democrats will have to gin up some fresh threat to enthrall a war-weary public.

Honor Among Thieves?

There is perhaps still some honor among thieves. The thieves of your private communications and the inveterate leakers that have taken over the White House using leaks were supposedly all in agreement that Russia ‘hacked our democracy.’ All 17 of them. That’s what the New York Times told us for months. Turns out that was a lie. It was only four agencies that agreed with that assessment, and all of their leaders were hand-picked to conclude just that. Could it be that those 13 other agencies declined to support an obvious fabrication?

Still, it is no surprise the Times made this claim for so long before whispering a retraction. Their doctrinal role is to legitimate wars of aggression. They have backed every American war in the last 30 years, never once asking whether these might be imperial capitalist wars foisted on us by a savage plutocracy that runs the country–and pays their bloated salaries.

Let’s be honest. You won’t get truth from our intelligence agencies and you won’t get it from mainstream media. The latter serves the former. The former serves the ruling class community of which it is a central part. They are beholden to the same ideology. They share the same motivations. If you want the real story, read non-corporate news media. If you want facts, find sources outside the state. If you want democracy, spread the inconvenient truth.

Jason Hirthler can be reached at: jasonhirthler@gmail.com.

November 15, 2017 Posted by | Deception, Fake News, Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Timeless or most popular | , , , , | Leave a comment

CIA Attempts to Cover al-Qaeda’s Crimes With ‘Iranian Connection’

Sputnik – 14.11.2017

Documents released by the CIA that allegedly reveal a connection between Tehran and al-Qaeda appear to be merely a part of an anti-Iranian information campaign waged by the United States.

Iranian analysts interviewed by Sputnik have dismissed claims about the alleged ties between Tehran and al-Qaeda brought forward by the CIA, arguing that it’s merely an attempt by the US to tarnish Iran’s reputation.

Seyyed Hadi Afghahi, Middle Eastern affairs expert and former official at the Iranian embassy in Lebanon, told Sputnik Iran that there are several important factors that need to be taken into account in this matter.

“First of all, it’s strange that the CIA decided to disclose this information just now, after so many years. Second, why won’t the CIA disclose information pertaining to the emergence of Osama bin Laden himself and about his ties with the United States? This disclosure – assuming that you could call it that, considering that there are no photos of this report penned by a senior al-Qaeda member that contain all these accusations against Iran – does feel rather selective in terms of which data is being revealed,” Afghahi said.

According to Afghahi, the disclosed report does contain one bit of truth – namely, Iran did at one time provide shelter to families of al-Qaeda members after a group of terrorists became trapped at the border between Iran and Afghanistan. He pointed out, however, that Tehran only granted safe haven to women and children, and that later these people were taken out of the country at the request of Saudi Arabia, so Iran did not harbor any al-Qaeda terrorists on its soil.

“Therefore, by raising this issue after so many years and with such a misleading angle, the US pursues just one goal – to tarnish the reputation of Iran and its allies (Hezbollah) by blaming them for the crimes that they (the US, Saudi Arabia and Israel) are guilty of. This is all part of the strategy that Donald Trump implements against us,” he argued.

Dr Ali Reza Rezahah, political observer to Iran’s Spiritual Leader at the Analytical Expert Center, also remarked that by portraying Iran as “terrorist,” the US may justify the seizure of Iranian assets on American territory.

“The US also has a mercantile interest in this matter: it does not intend to return the Iranian assets and property that were seized by the American capitalists even before the Islamic Revolution. In so doing, they use these false accusations as an excuse to avoid returning said assets,” Rezahah said.

He also stressed that the ideology of Iran and that of al-Qaeda are polar opposites, and that the terrorist group has “brought grief and murder” to his country.

“Allow me to remind you that it was a terrorist belonging to that very group who staged an attack at the Imam Reza shrine in Mashhad, killing innocent pilgrims, women and children. And the mastermind of this atrocity, Yousef Ramzi, is currently kept in one of the US prisons. If we visit the FBI website we can see that one of the crimes he’s been accused of is the killing of innocents in Iran during an Ashura ceremony. Iran filed extradition requests for this criminal on several occasions,” he said.

There can never be any contacts between Iran and al-Qaeda, Rezahah maintained, as the terrorist group and Tehran are “on the opposite sides of the barricades.”

The trove of documents found at Osama bin Laden’s hideout that was disclosed on November 1 by the CIA contains a 19-page report apparently penned by a senior al-Qaeda member, which details instances of cooperation between the terrorist group and Iran.

According to the report, Iran allegedly granted shelter to some of bin Laden’s cohorts who were fleeing Afghanistan after the US-led military intervention there, supplied al-Qaeda terrorists with money and weapons and helped train them at Hezbollah camps. In return, the terrorist group launched attacks against US installations in Saudi Arabia and other Gulf States that were designated by Tehran, according to the report.

November 14, 2017 Posted by | Deception, Fake News, Mainstream Media, Warmongering | , , , | 1 Comment

Mocking Trump Doesn’t Prove Russia’s Guilt

By Ray McGovern | Consortium News | November 13, 2107

If the bloody debacle in Iraq should have taught Americans anything, it is that endorsements by lots of important people who think something is true don’t amount to evidence that it actually is true. If endorsements were the same as evidence, U.S. troops would have found tons of WMD in Iraq, rather than come up empty.

So, when it comes to whether or not Russia “hacked” Democratic emails last year and slipped them to WikiLeaks, just because a bunch of people with fancy titles think the Russians are guilty doesn’t compensate for the lack of evidence so far evinced to support this core charge.

But the reaction of Official Washington and the U.S. mainstream media to President Trump saying that Russian President Vladimir Putin seemed sincere in denying Russian “meddling” was sputtering outrage: How could Trump doubt what so many important people think is true?

Yet, if the case were all that strong that Russia did “hack” the emails, you would have expected a straightforward explication of the evidence rather than a demonstration of a full-blown groupthink, but what we got this weekend was all groupthink and no evidence.

For instance, on Saturday, CNN responded to Trump’s comment that Putin seems to “mean it” when he denied meddling by running a list of important Americans who had endorsed the Russian-guilt verdict. Other U.S. news outlets and politicians followed the same pattern.

Rep. Adam Schiff of California, the ranking Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee and a big promoter of the Russia-gate allegations, scoffed at what Trump said: “You believe a foreign adversary over your own intelligence agencies?”

The Washington Post’s headline sitting atop Sunday’s lede article read: “Trump says Putin sincere in denial of Russian meddling: Critics call that ‘unconscionable.’”

Sen. Mark Warner of Virginia, the ranking Democrat on the Senate Intelligence Committee and another Russia-gate sparkplug, said he was left “completely speechless” by Trump’s willingness to take Putin’s word “over the conclusions of our own combined intelligence community.”

Which gets us back to the Jan. 6 “Intelligence Community Assessment” and its stunning lack of evidence in support of its Russian guilty verdict. The ICA even admitted as much, that it wasn’t asserting Russian guilt as fact but rather as opinion:

“Judgments are not intended to imply that we have proof that shows something to be a fact. Assessments are based on collected information, which is often incomplete or fragmentary, as well as logic, argumentation, and precedents.”

Even The New York Times, which has led the media groupthink on Russian guilt, initially published the surprised reaction from correspondent Scott Shane who wrote: “What is missing from the public report is what many Americans most eagerly anticipated: hard evidence to back up the agencies’ claims that the Russian government engineered the election attack. … Instead, the message from the agencies essentially amounts to ‘trust us.’”

In other words, the ICA was not a disposition of fact; it was guesswork, possibly understandable guesswork, but guesswork nonetheless. And guesswork should be open to debate.

Shutting Down Debate

But the debate was shut down earlier this year by the oft-repeated claim that all 17 U.S. intelligence agencies concurred in the assessment and how could anyone question what all 17 intelligence agencies concluded!

However, that canard was finally knocked down by President Obama’s own Director of National Intelligence James Clapper who acknowledged in sworn congressional testimony that the ICA was the product of “handpicked” analysts from only three agencies – the CIA, FBI and National Security Agency.

In other words, not only did the full intelligence community not participate in the ICA but only analysts “handpicked” by Obama’s intelligence chiefs conducted the analysis – and as we intelligence veterans know well, if you handpick the analysts, you are handpicking the conclusions.

For instance, put a group of analysts known for their hardline views on Russia in a room for a few weeks, prevent analysts with dissenting viewpoints from weighing in, don’t require any actual evidence, and you are pretty sure to get the Russia-bashing result that you wanted.

So why do you think Clapper and Obama’s CIA Director John Brennan put up the no-entry sign that kept out analysts from the State Department and Defense Intelligence Agency, two entities that might have significant insights into Russian intentions? By all rights, they should have been included. But, clearly, no dissenting footnotes or wider-perspective views were desired.

If you remember back to the Iraq WMD intelligence estimate, analysts from the State Department’s intelligence bureau, known as INR, offered unwelcome dissenting views about the pace of Iraq’s supposed nuclear program, inserting a footnote saying they found it too difficult to predict the fruition of a program when there was no reliable evidence as to when – not to mention if – it had started.

DIA also was demonstrating an unusually independent streak, displaying a willingness to give due consideration to Russia’s perspective. Here’s the heterodox line DIA took in a major report published in December 2015:

“The Kremlin is convinced the United States is laying the groundwork for regime change in Russia, a conviction further reinforced by the events in Ukraine. Moscow views the United States as the critical driver behind the crisis in Ukraine and the Arab Spring and believes that the overthrow of former Ukrainian President Yanukovych is the latest move in a long-established pattern of U.S.-orchestrated regime change efforts.”

So, not only did the Jan. 6 report exclude input from INR and DIA and the other dozen or so intelligence agencies but it even avoided a fully diverse set of opinions from inside the CIA, FBI and NSA. The assessment – or guesswork – came only from those “hand-picked” analysts.

It’s also worth noting that not only does Putin deny that Russia was behind the publication of the Democratic emails but so too does WikiLeaks editor Julian Assange who has insisted repeatedly that the material did not come from the Russians. He and others around WikiLeaks have strongly suggested that the emails came as leaks from Democratic insiders.

Seeking Real Answers

In the face of Official Washington’s evidence-free groupthink, what some of us former U.S. intelligence analysts have been trying to do is provide both a fuller understanding of Russian behavior and whatever scientific analysis can be applied to the alleged “hacks.”

Forensic investigations and testing of relevant download speeds, reported by members of Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity (VIPS), have undermined the Russia-did-it groupthink. But this attempt to engage in actual evaluation of evidence has been either ignored or mocked by mainstream news outlets.

Still, the suggestion in our July 24 VIPS memo that President Trump ask current CIA Director Mike Pompeo to take a fresh look at the issue recently had some consequence when Pompeo contacted VIPS member William Binney, a former NSA Technical Director, and invited him to explain his latest research on the impossibility of the Russians extracting the Democratic emails via an Internet hack based on known download speeds.

In typically candid terms, Binney explained to Pompeo why VIPS had concluded that the intelligence analysts behind the Jan. 6 report had been making stuff up about Russian “hacking.”

When news of the Binney-Pompeo meeting broke last week, the U.S. mainstream media again rejected the opportunity to rethink the Russia-did-it groupthink and instead treated Binney as some sort of “conspiracy theorist” with a “disputed” theory, while attacking Pompeo’s willingness to discuss Binney’s findings as “politicizing intelligence.”

Despite the smearing of Binney, President Trump appears to have taken some of this new evidence to heart, explaining his dispute with open-mouthed White House reporters on Air Force One who baited Trump with various forms of the same question: “Do you believe Putin?” amid the new jeering about Trump “getting played” by Putin.

Trump’s demeanor, however, suggested increased confidence that the Russian “hacking” allegations were the “witch hunt” that he has decried for months.

Trump also jabbed the press over its earlier false claims that “all 17 intelligence agencies” concurred on the Russian “hack.” And Trump introduced the idea of a different kind of “hack,” i.e., Obama’s political appointees at the heads of the agencies behind the Jan. 6 report.

Trump said, “You hear it’s 17 agencies. Well it’s three. And one is Brennan … give me a break. They’re political hacks. … I mean, you have Brennan, you have Clapper, you have [FBI Director James] Comey. Comey is proven to be a liar and he’s proven to be a leaker.”

Later, in deference to those still at work in intelligence, Trump said, “I’m with our [intelligence] agencies as currently constituted.”

While Trump surely has a dismal record of his own regarding truth-telling, he’s not wrong about the checkered record of the triumvirate of Clapper, Brennan and Comey.

Clapper played a key role in the bogus Iraq-WMD intelligence when he was head of the National Geo-spatial Agency and hid the fact that there was zero evidence in satellite imagery of any weapons of mass destruction before the Iraq invasion. When no WMDs were found, Clapper told the media that he thought they were shipped off to Syria.

In 2013, Clapper perjured himself before Congress by denying NSA’s unconstitutional blanket surveillance of Americans. After evidence emerged revealing the falsity of Clapper’s testimony, he wrote a letter to Congress admitting, “My response was clearly erroneous – for which I apologize.” Despite the deception, he was allowed to stay as Obama’s most senior intelligence officer for almost four more years.

Clapper also has demonstrated an ugly bias about Russians. On May 28, as a former DNI, Clapper explained Russian “interference” in the U.S. election to NBC’s Chuck Todd on May 28 with a tutorial on what everyone should know about “the historical practices of the Russians.” Clapper said, “the Russians, typically, are almost genetically driven to co-opt, penetrate, gain favor, whatever, which is a typical Russian technique.”

Brennan, who had previously defended torture as having been an effective way to gain intelligence, was CIA director when agency operatives broke into the computers of the Senate Intelligence Committee when it was investigating CIA torture.

Former FBI Director Comey is infamous for letting the Democratic National Committee arrange its own investigation of the “hacking” that was then blamed on Russia, a development that led some members of Congress to call the supposed “hack” an “act of war.” Despite the risk of nuclear conflagration, the FBI didn’t bother to do its own forensics.

And, by his own admission, Comey arranged a leak to The New York Times that was specifically designed to get a Special Prosecutor appointed to investigate Russia-gate, a job that fell to his old friend Robert Mueller, who has had his own mixed record as the previous FBI director in mishandling the 9/11 investigation.

There are plenty of reasons to want Trump out of the White House, but there also should be respect for facts and due process. So far, the powers-that-be in Washington – in politics, the media and other dominant institutions, what some call the Deep State – have shown little regard for fairness in the Russia-gate “scandal.”

The goal seems to be to remove the President or at least emasculate him on a bum rap, giving him the bum’s rush, so to speak, while also further demonizing Russia and exacerbating an already dangerous New Cold War.

The truth should still count for something. No one’s character should be assassinated, as Bill Binney’s is being now, for running afoul of the conventional wisdom that Trump – like bête noire Putin – never tells the truth, and that to believe either is, well, “unconscionable,” as The Washington Post warns.

Ray McGovern was a CIA intelligence analyst for 27 years and is co-founder of Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity.

November 13, 2017 Posted by | Deception, Fake News, Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Russophobia | | Leave a comment

‘Kaspersky Lab in crosshairs since exposing US & Israeli spy agencies behind Stuxnet attack on Iran’

RT | November 10, 2017

The campaign to discredit Kaspersky Lab dates back to 2010 when the Russian based cybersecurity firm uncovered the origin of the Stuxnet malicious computer worm which ruined Iran’s civilian nuclear centrifuges, experts in the field told RT.

Kaspersky Lab, founded in Moscow in 1997, has been a world leader in cybersecurity for decades. The private company takes pride in working outside of any government’s sphere of influence when it comes to cyber espionage. Americans believe that US intelligence agencies consider the Russian firm a competitive challenge, the experts pointed out.

“Kaspersky is highly reputable. It has been operating for a couple of decades. It has 400 million users around the world, including until very recently the American government,” former MI5 analyst Annie Machon told RT. “So of course if they are doing it, other countries are going to do it to a competitor corporation around the world too. Obviously, the CIA would be interested in a very successful Russian based company that offers protection on the internet.”

“Kaspersky [has] one of the most successful security teams worldwide. Don’t forget that Kaspersky was the security firm that first of all discovered the NSA linked group of activities involved in cyber espionage activities worldwide,” Pierluigi Paganini, the head of cybersecurity at Grant Thornton Consultants, told RT.

The Russian company became one of the targets amidst the ongoing anti-Russian hysteria in the US, which centers around the unproven allegations of Russian meddling in the 2016 US presidential elections. In September, the US Department of Homeland Security (DHS) ordered all government agencies to stop using Kaspersky products and remove them from computers, citing “security risks.”

And while Kaspersky Lab is actively cooperating with the US authorities, on Thursday, WikiLeaks published a source code for the CIA hacking tool ‘Hive,’ which was used by US intelligence agencies to imitate the Kaspersky Lab code and leave behind false digital fingerprints. Exposing the CIA’s impersonation of Kaspersky Lab is just a part of WikiLeaks’ Vault 7 and 8 revelations which shed light on the CIA’s electronic surveillance methods and cyber warfare tools.

“What is important in this specific story is the complexity, the effort spent by the US intelligence to make hard the attribution. Kaspersky is the actual victim of these activities. There is a government agency, the CIA that conducted cyber espionage activities to also use false flag in its operation in order to make harder the attribution,” Paganini explained.

Kaspersky Lab remains one of the few companies in the world that can expose the CIA’s scheming, and that is why the Russian company is facing so much backlash, Machon believes.

“We have Kaspersky saying ‘We can do this-we can prove some of these hacks are not Russian, they are American’ when it comes to the presidential elections. And so they needed to discredit them, and I think that this new application of a virus at state level, a very aggressive virus that would discredit a very proven brand around the world it’s exactly what the Americans would want and the Israelis also would want,” the former MI5 operative pointed out.

The campaign against the Russian cybersecurity firm goes back to 2010; when Kaspersky Lab revealed the origin of the Stuxnet virus which the company said likely came from American and Israeli intelligence services, Machon told RT. The alleged American/Israeli cyber espionage operation was designed to target industrial control systems used in infrastructure facilities to affect their automated processes. Stuxnet reportedly ruined almost one-fifth of Iran’s nuclear centrifuges Tehran had been using to develop civilian atomic power.

“Stuxnet was deployed against the centrifuges that enriched the uranium and nobody knew where it came from. It seemed to be very weaponized at the state level. And it was actually Kaspersky that unveiled who had developed it. And it was American and the Israeli intelligence agencies,” Machon told RT. “So ever since then, it has sort of been daggers drawn between these two competing sides [Kaspersky vs CIA]. Kaspersky has been very much in crosshairs of both American and Israeli intelligence agencies.”

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November 9, 2017 Posted by | False Flag Terrorism, Russophobia, Timeless or most popular, Wars for Israel | , , , | 1 Comment