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CNN’s ‘Exclusive’ Report on Russia Arming Taliban Debunked By Their Own Expert—Exposed as Propaganda

By Jay Syrmopoulos | Blacklisted News | August 3, 2017

Atlanta, GA – In just the latest example of CNN operating as a deep state propaganda outlet, on July 25, the cable news network published a bombastic report; releasing two exclusive videos intimating that the Russian government was covertly arming the Taliban, which has returned to significant prominence in Afghanistan since the 2014 cessation of NATO combat operations.

The large-scale anti-Russia propaganda operation, meant to indoctrinate Americans into a mindset that demonizes Russia as “the enemy,” and Putin as a dictator, has been pushed en masse to the American public at a steady rate since the end of the 2016 election cycle.

The explosive CNN report, which was widely reported across the media landscape, noted that two separate groups of Taliban fighters have received “improved weaponry … that appears to have been supplied by the Russian government.” The weaponry reportedly included Kalashnikov rifles, heavy machine guns, and sniper rifles. And while many of the weapons in the video appear to be of Russian origin, there is nothing to connect the Russian government to the weapons.

While the news made headlines and was shared widely across social media — the problem is that CNN’s report has lots of bark and no bite. Aside from a flashy headline, the report provided no evidence of the Russian government providing or transferring weapons to the Taliban. This was established according to weapons experts from U.S. Special Operations Command and several non-governmental conflict arms organizations.

“I’ve watched the video and frankly can’t see anything that is particularly unusual,” James Bevan, a weapons specialist, and director of Conflict Armament Research Ltd, told Task & Purpose in an email. “There are Russian weapons, and derivatives of those weapons manufactured in other states, circulating among state and non-state groups in every country in that region.”

According to the report by Task and Purpose :

The weapons experts consulted by Task & Purpose identified the weapons as Kalashnikov variants that have become pervasive among irregular forces; several U.S.-made M249 Squad Automatic Weapons that fire belt-fed 5.56×45mm NATO rounds, including a mid-90s variant with a long barrel and fixed rifle stock and the lightweight MK-49 paratrooper variant with a stub barrel; the TT-30 Tokarev pistol that’s been a staple of the Russian military since the 1930s, and the Soviet-made 7.62 mm general-purpose PK machine gun that’s been in service since 1961.

None of these weapons touted by the Taliban in the CNN video appear particularly modern, and all but the M249 are regular fixtures of the illicit small arms markets that accounted for 60 percent of the weapons flowing into and out of Afghanistan in the decades leading up to the U.S.-led invasion in the aftermath of the 9/11 terrorist attacks.

“I suspect after years in Afghanistan, these are easy to get,” Capt. Jason Salata, said.

Additionally, the CNN report never establishes any type of chain of custody between Russia and the Taliban. Perhaps more importantly, they never noted that one of the Taliban groups had pillaged the equipment from a rival Taliban faction, while the other received a shipment of arms from across the Tajikistan border. CNN admits that the videos presented as “suggesting” a link between the Taliban and Moscow “don’t provide incontrovertible proof of the trade.”

Yet, somehow, they still attempt to stir the anti-Russia media pot and suggest the weapons could be the work of the Russian government. In reality, however, these types of weapons are readily available on the black market across the globe.

“There is nothing immediately visible to suggest the weapons are new or any indication (from the footage) that they are all of the same type and origin,” according to Bevan. “Governments that supply rebel and insurgent forces rarely supply new weapons and frequently refrain from supplying their own weapons stocks. This makes any connection between the manufacturing country and the supplier country problematic.”

Thus the CNN report, which notes that the weaponry appears “stripped of any means of identifying their origin,” essentially relies on the claims of a few Taliban members as the basis for the entire report.

“Unfortunately, CNN did not fully profile erased markings and other efforts to sanitize the weapons,” Bevan added. “This would be a clear indication of organized, state involvement, but also would be unlikely to incriminate any party without further evidence.”

In typical propaganda fashion, every arms expert in the CNN story was a Pentagon or Afghan government official, except for Benjamin King from the Small Arms Survey independent research group, who bluntly told CNN that the photos and videos he was given to analyze contained virtually no evidence of a recent arms transfer, let alone being able to attribute it to a specific state – such as Russia.

“[CNN] made some jumps that you certainly can’t make from the weapons themselves,” King told Task & Purpose“I certainly wouldn’t have made the claim that they were new imports. The generic Tokarev pistols and PK machine guns are old and could have been there for a long time. One of the rifles was an AK-74, so it could have been there for the last 40 years or so.”

Of course, the U.S. military need only look in the mirror should they want to understand the flow of foreign armaments into Afghanistan, as a declassified Pentagon audit from 2016 revealed that almost half of the 1.5 million firearms supplied to the Iraqi and Afghani military, including almost 1 million M4 and M16s, have turned up ‘missing’ due to shoddy record keeping and regulations.

Even more damning, in 2014, the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction released a report that found that nearly 43% of arms provided to the Afghan National Security Forces likely ended up in the hands of ISIS or the Taliban.

In just the past few weeks, American and Afghan military personnel have faced off with modern weaponry and equipment in enemy hands. Afghan security forces are increasingly facing off against Taliban fighters armed with M4 carbines outfitted with night vision, infrared laser sights and Advanced Combat Optical Gunsight scopes, according to a July 25 report in the Military Times.

Additionally, a recent propaganda video released by the Taliban appeared to show an FN SCAR (Special Operations Forces Combat Assault Rifle) 7.62mm rifle decked out with a AN/PEQ 5 visible laser, which was likely procured during an ambush or raid on a weapons depot.

“Afghanistan is swimming in guns,” King told Task & Purpose. “These things are expected to show up everywhere.”

Many of these weapons are not Russian made, but instead, are usually deployed by Western militaries — and, like everything else in Afghanistan, they end up in Taliban hands sooner rather than later.

But CNN’s report conveniently fails to mention any of this, and attempts to prop up the demonization campaign against Russia, as a likely pretext to gain public support in the methodical and ongoing movement towards a direct conflict with the Russia.

August 3, 2017 Posted by | Deception, Fake News, Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Russophobia | , | Leave a comment

Moscow Calls Reports of Russia’s Alleged Arms Supplies to Taliban ‘Groundless’

Sputnik – 26.07.2017

MOSCOW – On Tuesday, CNN claimed that it had exclusive videos purporting to show that the Taliban had allegedly received weaponry in Afghanistan which appeared to have been supplied by Russia, however, presented no proof.

According to CNN, two separate Taliban groups say they got hold of weapons, which were allegedly supplied by the Russian government. One group said it took the weapons after defeating a rival group, while the other claims it got pistols for free that were smuggled through Tajik border. Experts say the weapons have no identification markings hence it is impossible to trace their origins.

“We have repeatedly stated that accusations of a series of Western and … Afghan media regarding Russia’s alleged support of the Taliban movement are groundless… We reiterate, Russia does not support the Taliban movement, and only maintains contacts with the Taliban to ensure the safety of Russian nationals in Afghanistan and to incentivise this group to join the process of national reconciliation,” the ministry said in a statement.

The ministry stressed that it is impossible to trace the country of origin of the weapons demonstrated in the video, as they were common and manufactured by many countries.

“It is hardly possible to seriously perceive the video materials, in which old, small arms of unknown and untraceable origin are demonstrated. [The weapons are] not stamped by the manufacturer, serial numbers are knocked down. In addition, the shown weapons are typical. As it is known, such samples were produced not only in Russia, but also in other countries, including [those in] Eastern Europe, from where the Americans imported them massively to Afghanistan in the early 2000s. Recently, the Taliban attacked the Afghan national security forces’ base in Helmand province using American Humvee armored vehicles. What conclusion can be made based on this information using the logic of the CNN?” the statement read.

The ministry strongly noted that neither Afghan authorities, nor US command or NATO in Afghanistan have provided evidence that would confirm these speculations.

Earlier, US and Afghan officials accused Russia of supporting the Taliban. Moscow denounced the claim, calling it utterly false. The Kremlin said that these accusations are made to cover up US failures in Afghanistan and noted that it maintains contact with the terrorist group only to promote peace talks.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said earlier that Moscow is only working with the Taliban in order to assist the implementation of a UN Security Council decision requested by the Afghan government that would allow the group to take a role in the political process. Lavrov also called accusations from the United States that it is supplying the Taliban with weapons baseless and unprofessional.

Earlier, Director of the US Defense Intelligence Agency Lt. Gen. Vincent Stewart said in his testimony before the Senate Armed Services Committee said that there was no evidence Russia had transferred weapons or money to the Taliban in Afghanistan.

July 26, 2017 Posted by | Deception, Fake News, Mainstream Media, Warmongering | | Leave a comment

Tillerson to Remain at State Department Despite Reports of Resignation

Sputnik – 26.07.2017

WASHINGTON – US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson will remain in office contrary to reports that he was going to resign, State Department spokesperson Heather Nauert said in a press briefing.

“The Secretary has been very clear he intends to stay here at the State Department,” Nauert said on Tuesday.

On Monday, CNN reported that Tillerson was considering resigning from the State Department before the end of the year due to growing frustration with President Donald Trump’s administration.

The report claimed Tillerson was at odds with the White House over several issues including department staffing and Iran policy.

RELATED:

ZOA Calls For Tillerson’s Resignation

Jewish Insider  · July 24, 2017

Amid reports that Secretary of State Rex Tillerson is growing frustrated with the White House, even considering stepping down, the Zionist Organization of America (ZOA) on Monday called on Tillerson to resign. The group accused Tillerson of contradicting pro-Israel statements made by President Donald Trump and UN Ambassador Nikki Haley.

“In light of the U.S. State Department’s new, bigoted, biased, anti-Semitic, Israel-hating error-ridden terrorism report, the Zionist Organization of America (ZOA) calls on Secretary of State Tillerson to resign,” the ZOA said in a statement.

The ZOA — headed by Morton Klein — took issue with the State Department’s annual terrorism report listing Israeli settlement construction, violence against Palestinians in the West Bank, and the perception that Israel’s government was changing the status quo on the Temple Mount as “continued drivers of violence.” … Full article

July 25, 2017 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Fake News, Mainstream Media, Warmongering | , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

CNN: “Russia is an adversary, Ukraine is not.”

So that settles it!

By Gary Leupp | Dissident Voice | July 17, 2017

Monday morning. David Chalian, CNN Political Director, on CNN’s “New Day” program. News ticker: “How do Trump-Russia and DNC-Ukraine compare?

New Day co-anchor Alysin Camerota (former Fox anchor) puts the question to her Political Director.

Chalian’s mechanical reply: “Russia is an adversary, Ukraine is not.”

Camerota, as always exuding wisdom, follows up: “Thanks so much for sifting through this with us.” (Good, so that’s settled! There had been so much sifting there, in those few precious boilerplate minutes.)

But wait, Mr. Political Director!  (And by the way, Dave, what’s your job description? How exactly do you direct CNN’s politics? The responsibility must rest heavily on your robust 43-year-old shoulders.) What law ever made Russia an adversary? My adversary, your adversary? Was some law passed that I didn’t notice?

Russia wasn’t an adversary under Yeltsin in the 90s, when the collapse of the old system produced mind-boggling misery as neocons in this country crowed about the triumph of capitalism and the need for U.S. “full-spectrum dominance” forever and ever. It wasn’t an adversary when Yeltsin bombarded the Russian Parliament building kin 1993 because legislators backed by the Supreme Court refused to disband. That as you know was two years before the U.S. interfered in the Russian elections to insure Yeltsin’s reelection.

TIME Magazine Cover: Boris Yeltsin – July 15, 1996

It wasn’t an adversary when the new leader Vladimir Putin offered assistance to the U.S. in its Afghan war, offering NATO a transport route through Russia.

Moscow only became, in the minds of some, an adversary when it started to seriously challenge Washington’s unremitting efforts to expand its anti-Russian military alliance, NATO. The main talking points of the clueless Camerotas are (1) Russia invaded Georgia in 2008, (2) Russia invaded Ukraine in 2014, and (3) Russia is somehow threatening the Baltic states. But these situations are never analyzed in any depth; they are simply a litany of officially mandated postulates about the past. And NATO never factors into the narrative.

Mr. Chalian: Is not your primary function as CNN’s Political Director to direct attention away from any critical thinking about NATO? And to discourage attention to the fact that NATO has expanded by 13 members since 1999, to surround Russia? Isn’t it among your key functions to discourage people from wondering why this is happening, or why Russians of all stripes find this expansion a matter of concern? And to depict Russian resistance to U.S. geopolitical expansion as aggression?

What sort of logical gymnastics do you have to inflict on yourself to argue as you do? And even to add to the list of Russian wrongs Moscow’s support for the Syrian state versus terrorism, in the face of U.S. efforts to topple the Syrian regime in league, as you know (you do know, right?) with al-Nusra aligned forces backed by Saudi Arabia?

And Ms. Camerota: Is it not your primary function as CNN morning anchor to furrow your brow and roll your eyes when reading the (politically directed) teleprompter content, whenever you are reporting on anything Russian, and to exude equanimity when, as your default mode, you glorify the U.S. military no matter what they do? And send best wishes to John McCain as though he—of course—deserves them?

Why do you inevitably tell anyone you interview who has fought in a U.S. war—any war, for any reason—that “We thank you for your service?”

Is that heart-felt enthusiasm for anyone’s participation in wars of aggression based on lies, or a rule of etiquette set down by the political director? Because it is a distinctly political statement. A loyalty oath you make every day, I suspect as a condition for continued employment.

Try asking the person you interview next time: Are you actually proud of what you did in Vietnam? Or Afghanistan? Or Iraq? Are you concerned about the war crimes? (You might be back on a plane to New Jersey within days.)

Pathetic. Let me “sift” through this with you. You guys in the final analysis promote war. Your promotion of Russophobia as an article of faith constitutes active collusion with the U.S. war machine. You are an active, unregistered, propagandist for NATO by default. And maybe you don’t even know it. Maybe on your own time you confuse NATO with UNESCO and for the life of you can’t grasp why any good person would worry about it.

Russia is not my adversary. Warmongers and their colluders are. You are.

Gary Leupp is a Professor of History at Tufts University, and author of numerous works on Japanese history. He can be reached at: gleupp@granite.tufts.edu.

July 18, 2017 Posted by | Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Russophobia | , , | 1 Comment

Gulf Crisis: US Admits Fake News of Russian Hacking

By Finian CUNNINGHAM | Strategic Culture Foundation | 18.07.2017

In a sharp about-turn, US intelligence agencies are now accusing the United Arab Emirates for hacking into Qatar’s official news agency, thereby sparking the Gulf crisis between Washington’s Arab allies. The latest twist amounts to an admission that the US is guilty of previously broadcasting fake news blaming Russia.

This week, the Washington Post cites US intelligence officials when it reported Monday: «The United Arab Emirates orchestrated the hacking of Qatari government news and social media sites in order to post incendiary false quotes attributed to Qatar’s emir, Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al Thani, in late May that sparked the ongoing upheaval between Qatar and its neighbors».

However, last month, on June 7, the American news outlet CNN had a completely different take on the Gulf crisis, when it blamed Russia for trying to sow division between US allies in the Persian Gulf. It reported in an «exclusive» article with the headline: US suspects Russian hackers planted fake news behind Qatar crisis.

That CNN report went on to claim: «US officials say the Russian goal appears to be to cause rifts among the US and its allies. In recent months, suspected Russian cyber activities, including the use of fake news stories, have turned up amid elections in France, Germany and other countries».

While CNN hinted that the alleged Russian hackers in the Gulf could have been criminal privateers, the thrust of its report last month very much pointed the finger of blame at the Russian government for hacking into the Qatar news agency. Using assertion, speculation and anonymous sources, the alleged Russian cyber-attack on Qatar was linked to alleged meddling by the Kremlin in the US presidential election last year.

«US intelligence has long been concerned with what they say is the Russian government’s ability to plant fake news in otherwise credible streams, according to US officials», reported CNN.

But now this week, US intelligence officials have changed their tune on who they think is whipping up the Gulf crisis. It is not Russia, it is the United Arab Emirates (UAE).

«[US] Officials became aware last week that newly analyzed information gathered by US intelligence agencies confirmed that on May 23, senior members of the UAE government discussed the plan and its implementation,» reports the Washington Post this week.

For over a month now, the UAE has aligned with Saudi Arabia and Bahrain to blockade Qatar, another member of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC). The crisis has become deadlocked with neither side willing to back down, much to the strategic concern of Washington. All of the monarchial energy-rich states are longtime allies of the US and together as a unit are a linchpin in maintaining the global petrodollar system. The other GCC members, Kuwait and Oman, have taken a neutral stance in the diplomatic crisis and have acted as brokers to resolve the dispute. Egypt, has joined with the Saudi-led bloc, to impose sanctions against Qatar.

The row blew up dramatically days after US President Donald Trump made an official state visit to Saudi Arabia on May 20-22. In exchange for a record $110-billion arms deals with the Saudi rulers, it seems clear that Trump gave the green light for the Saudis to instigate a blockade on Qatar. Ostensibly, the Saudis and the others are accusing Qatar of sponsoring terrorism and, they say, that is why they acted to isolate the neighboring gas-rich state. The absurd hypocrisy behind the accusation belies the real motive of petty rivalry among the Gulf monarchs. In particular, the Qatari-based Al Jazeera news network has been a bane for the Saudi and Egyptian rulers owing to its relatively independent and critical reporting on repression in those countries. Qatar’s support for the Muslim Brotherhood has also rankled the Saudis and Egyptians.

Two days after Trump flew out of Saudi on May 22, the official Qatari News Agency was hit with a fake news attack. Its news reports attributed statements to the Qatari emir, Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al Thani, in which he praised Iran – the Shia arch-enemy of the US-backed Sunni monarchies – as well as making critical comments about Trump.

The whole debacle was an obvious set-up. Despite urgent notices from Qatar that its new agency had been hacked with fake news, the Saudi, Bahraini and Emirati media continued to prominently report the statements as if they were genuine, with the evident intention of smearing Qatar and provoking a stand-off.

The stage was then set for Saudi Arabia, UAE, Bahrain and Egypt to announce on June 5 a total embargo of commercial, media and transport links with Qatar «because of its support for terrorism and friendly relations with Iran».

US President Trump initially voiced support for the blockade on Qatar, claiming it as a success from his trip to Saudi Arabia.

«So good to see the Saudi Arabia visit with the King [Saudi King Salman] and 50 countries already paying off», Trump smugly declared through his Twitter feed. «They said they would take a hard line on funding extremism, and all reference was pointing to Qatar. Perhaps this will be the beginning of the end to the horror of terrorism!»

But ever since Trump set off the worst crisis in the Gulf among US allies, his top diplomat Rex Tillerson has been busy trying to calm the row.

Qatar serves as the base for US Central Command in the Middle East with an airbase housing 10,000 troops. American warplanes flying out of Qatar are the main strike force for operations in Iraq, Syria and Yemen. Strategic planners in Washington realize that the US cannot afford to alienate Qatar.

Tillerson has diverged noticeably from Trump’s simplistic broadside supporting Saudi Arabia, and has instead sought to bring Qatar back into the GCC fold. The US Secretary of State has hinted that the Saudi-led blockade is draconian and unrealistic. On June 23, Saudi Arabia and its partners demanded that Qatar shut down the Al Jazeera network along with a dozen other ultimatums. Qatar refused.

Last week, Tillerson had a frenetic week of shuttle diplomacy flying between Qatar and Saudi Arabia to get both sides to compromise. On Friday, July 14, the former Exxon CEO returned to the US deflated, unable to break the deadlock.

While traveling back to the US, Tillerson alluded to the strategic importance at stake for Washington in maintaining Gulf Arab unity. He said it is «really important to us from a national security standpoint. We need this part of the world to be stable, and this particular conflict between these parties is obviously not helpful».

This would explain why the US has now moved to expose the Saudi-led camp as being behind the fake news hack incident against the Qatari news agency.

That disclosure undermines the Saudi-led position. It confirms what the Qataris have been saying from the outset; namely, that they have been set up for a faux crisis by Gulf rivals, whose objective is to subjugate Qatari sovereignty under Saudi tutelage. Shutting down the «offensive» Al Jazeera news station being one of the desired outcomes.

By undermining the Saudis and UAE in this way, the US is wagering that it can lever the Saudis and the others GCC members into softening their demands on Qatar.

So keen are the US military and geopolitical planners to defuse the prolonged Gulf crisis – a crisis that threatens the petrodollar system – that they were obliged to come clean about the real identify of the perpetrators of the cyber attack on Qatar. That means dishing the dirt on the Saudis and UAE as the source of the hack, and abandoning the earlier claim that Russia was to blame.

CNN is once again caught out faking news about Russian hackers. At the time of its «exclusive» last month accusing Russia of destabilizing US allies in the Gulf, the news channel at least had the decency to quote Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov on the claim.

Peskov said in the June 7 report: «It is another lie.. CNN again and again publish references to unnamed sources in unnamed agencies, etc, etc. These streams of information have no connection with the reality. It is so far away from the reality. Fake is a fake».

What the whole episode shows is not just how irresponsible US intelligence officials and major media are in publishing false claims defaming Russia. It also shows them as unscrupulous and expedient.

Just because the lingering Gulf crisis is spiraling to threaten US strategic interests, only then is there a sudden switch to a version of events that more accurately reflects reality. If it weren’t for US strategic concerns in the Gulf, the fake news put out about Russian hackers would no doubt continue. Which begs the question: if Russian hackers in the Gulf is fake news, then what does that say about similar claims of Russian hacking in the US?

July 18, 2017 Posted by | Deception, Fake News, Mainstream Media, Warmongering | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Clinton ally has ‘bright’ idea on CNN: Trump should bomb Russia!

By Danielle Ryan | RT | July 17, 2017

For months, American politicians and pundits have been busily debating whether or not Russia hacked (or somehow influenced) last year’s presidential election in an effort to support Donald Trump over Hillary Clinton.

The pressing issue for many has been how the US should respond to this (unproven) meddling by a foreign power. It’s a real tough one, but luckily, long-time Clinton family adviser Paul Begala has an idea — and it’s so obvious that it’s hard to believe no one thought of it before.

Trump should just bomb Russia.

Begala made the casual suggestion during an interview with CNN’s Anderson Cooper, declaring the US was “under attack by a hostile foreign power” and Trump should be “retaliating massively” to any interference in the country’s political system.

Instead of just debating more sanctions on Russia, there should also be a debate about “whether we should blow up the KGB, GSU, or GRU [Russia’s foreign military intelligence agency].”

There’s a lot to unpack here, but a few things jump out: 1. The KGB hadn’t existed since 1991 when the Soviet Union collapsed. 2. If bombing a country was an acceptable response to alleged election meddling, the US would already have been reduced to dust by now. 3. Trump bombing Russia could spark World War 3 — over unproven claims Russia somehow cost Clinton the presidency.

I just don’t think that decades from now, future generations would see Justice For Hillary as good enough reason to have incinerated the planet with nuclear weapons, but who knows, maybe I’m wrong.

This Begala is obviously not the sharpest tool in the shed. Nonetheless, there he is being given a platform on CNN to advocate for an action that could easily escalate to nuclear war — just because people on the opposite side of the political spectrum aren’t as angry about something as he is.

Imploring Trump to more drastic action against Russia, Begala even tries to play to the president’s noted ego, tempting him to get back at Russia for “tainting his victory.” This unhinged rhetoric coming largely from Democrats is dangerous, particularly in a climate that has Trump eager to prove that he did not collude with Moscow to achieve victory.

What’s interesting is that while Begala clearly feels that bombing Russian intelligence agencies is a reasonable thing to do, he probably wouldn’t endorse the bombing of the FBI or CIA — despite the fact that, by his logic, it would be a perfectly legitimate response, given the US’s interference in a whole host of foreign elections.

Even more interesting than that, though, is how Begala seems to have changed his tune about Russia now that a Republican is in the White House. During the 2012 election, when President Barack Obama called out opponent Mitt Romney for describing Russia the US’s number one geostrategic threat, Begala agreed, even tweeting that Obama had nailed Romney and quoting from the exchange: “The 1980’s called. They want their foreign policy back.”

Fast-forward, a few years and Begala, wants to bomb “the KGB.” Hey, Begala, the 1980s are calling again.

It’s true, American politics has never been short on fear-mongering about Russia, but it has been elevated to a whole new level, thanks in large part to Clinton, who believed that talking ad nauseum about Russia during the presidential campaign would ensure her victory — and when it didn’t, decided that even more talking about Russia would be the remedy. Now we’re stuck on the Russia loop for God knows how long — and still there has been no indisputable evidence proving that Trump colluded with the Kremlin, or that the Kremlin did in fact even meddle in the election.

The hysteria, promoted heavily by Clinton, has led us to a place where it’s normal to suggest on live television that the United States bombing Russia is a good, reasonable and justifiable idea. It was the kind of comment that should have seen Begala either laughed out of the CNN studio or seriously called out on air for utter lunacy — but of course, nothing of the sort happened.

Someone else who should have been called out last week for similar absurdity is Democratic Congressman Mike Quigley. Quigley, also on CNN, suggested that all Russians should be regarded with suspicion. In fact, all Russians, he implied, are inherently linked to Vladimir Putin by virtue of their nationality: “When you meet with any Russians, you’re meeting with Russian intelligence and therefore President Putin.”

That’s right. All Russians are spies for Putin and Americans can’t talk to or meet with any of them because if they do, they have obviously betrayed their nation. Quigley might want to get in touch with some members of his own party since they too have met with Russians on occasion.

Given the opportunity, one would hope that Quigley might roll back his statement and apologize for implying that meeting with any Russian person is equivalent to meeting with Putin. But it would have been great if he had been more careful in the first place, before contributing to the Russophobic mania which has taken over American political discourse and turned people’s brains to mush.

Then again, we can hardly expect journalists to take issue with bland commentary like that, given that no one batted an eyelid when former FBI director James Clapper said Russian people were “genetically driven” to be untrustworthy. This kind of commentary — which would be almost career ending if uttered about any [certain] other ethnicity, race or religion — is just par for the course when talking about Russia and Russians.

Regardless of whether or not Trump or his people colluded with Russian officials, or whether or not the Kremlin actively meddled in the US election, there is simply no way to deny that McCarthyism is back. For many Democrats, meeting with Russians is now forbidden — and bombing Russia is an option seriously worthy of consideration. That’s a pretty sad state of affairs.

Danielle Ryan is an Irish freelance writer, journalist and media analyst. She has lived and traveled extensively in the US, Germany, Russia and Hungary. Her byline has appeared at RT, The Nation, Rethinking Russia, The BRICS Post, New Eastern Outlook, Global Independent Analytics and many others. She also works on copywriting and editing projects. Follow her on Twitter or Facebook or at her website http://www.danielleryan.net.

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Clapper says Russians ‘genetically driven’ to be untrustworthy — and no one even blinks

July 17, 2017 Posted by | Fake News, Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Militarism, Russophobia, War Crimes | , , , | 3 Comments

Forgetting the ‘Dirty Dossier’ on Trump

By Robert Parry | Consortium News | July 10, 2017

Yes, I realize that the editors of The New York Times long ago cast aside any journalistic professionalism to become charter members of the #Resistance against Donald Trump. But the latest frenzy over a meeting between Donald Trump Jr. and a Russian lawyer who was dangling the possibility of information about the Democrats receiving money from Russians represents one of the more remarkable moments of the entire Russia-gate hysteria.

Essentially, Trump’s oldest son is being accused of taking a meeting with a foreign national who claimed to have knowledge of potentially illegal activities by Trump’s Democratic rivals, although the promised information apparently turned out to be a dud.

Yet, on Monday, the Times led its newspaper with a story about this meeting – and commentators on MSNBC and elsewhere are labeling Trump Jr. a criminal if not a traitor for hearing out this lawyer.

Yet, no one seems to remember that Hillary Clinton supporters paid large sums of money, reportedly about $1 million, to have ex-British spy Christopher Steele use his Russian connections to dig up dirt on Trump inside Russia, resulting in a salacious dossier that Clinton backers eagerly hawked to the news media.

Also, the two events – Trump Jr.’s meeting with the Russian lawyer and the Clinton camp’s commissioning of Steele’s Russia dossier – both occurred in June 2016, so you might have thought it would be a journalistic imperative to incorporate a reference or two to the dossier.

But the closest the Times came to that was noting: “Political campaigns collect opposition research from many quarters but rarely from sources linked to foreign governments.” That would have been an opportune point to slide in a paragraph about the Steele dossier, but nothing.

The Times doesn’t seem to have much historical memory either. There actually have been a number of cases in which American presidential campaigns have ventured overseas to seek out “opposition research” about rivals.

For instance, in 1992, President George H.W. Bush took a personal role in trying to obtain derogatory information about Bill Clinton’s 1970 student trip to Eastern Europe, including to Moscow.

That effort started out by having senior State Department officials rifle through the passport files of Clinton and his mother, looking for a purported letter in which some Republican operatives thought Clinton might have renounced his U.S. citizenship.

Bush and his team were called out on that caper, which became known as “Passport-gate.” During the Oct. 11, 1992 debate, Clinton even compared Bush’s tactics to Joe McCarthy’s during the 1950s Red Scare. But the Bush campaign didn’t let the issue entirely go.

Czech-ing on Bill

In the days after the debate, phone records revealed a flurry of calls from Bush’s campaign headquarters to Czechoslovakia, another stop on Clinton’s student tour. There were also fax transmissions on Oct. 14 and 15, 1992, according to a later official investigation.

On Oct. 16, what appears to have been a return call was placed from the U.S. Embassy in Prague to the office of ad man Sig Rogich, who was handling anti-Clinton themes for the Bush campaign.

Following those exchanges, stories about Clinton’s Prague trip began popping up in Czech newspapers. On Oct. 24, 1992, three Czech newspapers ran similar stories about Clinton’s Czech hosts. The Cesky Denik story had an especially nasty headline: “Bill Was With Communists.”

The Czech articles soon blew back to the United States. Reuters distributed a summary, and The Washington Times, over three consecutive days, ran articles about Clinton’s Czech trip. The Clinton campaign responded that Clinton had entered Czechoslovakia under normal procedures for a student and stayed with the family of an Oxford friend.

Despite those last-minute efforts to revive the Clinton’s loyalty issue, the Democrat held on to defeat Bush in a three-way race (with Ross Perot).

You also could go back to Republican contacts with South Vietnamese officials to sabotage President Lyndon Johnson’s Vietnam peace talks in 1968 and similar meetings with Iranian emissaries to frustrate President Jimmy Carter’s Iran hostage negotiations in 1980, including a curious meeting involving senior Ronald Reagan campaign aides at the L’Enfant Plaza Hotel in Washington, D.C.

But the Steele dossier is a more immediate and direct example of close Hillary Clinton supporters going outside the United States for dirt on Trump and collaborating with foreign nationals to dig it up – allegedly from Kremlin insiders. Although it is still not clear exactly who footed the bill for the Steele dossier and how much money was spread around to the Russian contacts, it is clear that Clinton supporters paid for the opposition research and then flacked the material to American journalists.

The Mystery Dossier

As I wrote on March 29, “An irony of the escalating hysteria about the Trump camp’s contacts with Russians is that one presidential campaign in 2016 did exploit political dirt that supposedly came from the Kremlin and other Russian sources. Friends of that political campaign paid for this anonymous hearsay material, shared it with American journalists and urged them to publish it to gain an electoral advantage. But this campaign was not Donald Trump’s; it was Hillary Clinton’s.

“And, awareness of this activity doesn’t require you to spin conspiracy theories about what may or may not have been said during some seemingly innocuous conversation. In this case, you have open admissions about how these Russian/Kremlin claims were used.

“Indeed, you have the words of Rep. Adam Schiff, the ranking Democratic member of the House Intelligence Committee, in his opening statement at [a] public hearing on so-called ‘Russia-gate.’ Schiff’s seamless 15-minute narrative of the Trump campaign’s alleged collaboration with Russia followed the script prepared by former British intelligence officer Christopher Steele who was hired as an opposition researcher last June [2016] to dig up derogatory information on Donald Trump.

“Steele, who had worked for Britain’s MI-6 in Russia, said he tapped into ex-colleagues and unnamed sources inside Russia, including leadership figures in the Kremlin, to piece together a series of sensational reports that became the basis of the current congressional and FBI investigations into Trump’s alleged ties to Moscow.

“Since he was not able to go to Russia himself, Steele based his reports mostly on multiple hearsay from anonymous Russians who claim to have heard some information from their government contacts before passing it on to Steele’s associates who then gave it to Steele who compiled this mix of rumors and alleged inside dope into ‘raw’ intelligence reports.

Besides the anonymous sourcing and the sources’ financial incentives to dig up dirt, Steele’s reports had numerous other problems, including the inability of a variety of investigators to confirm key elements, such as the salacious claim that several years ago Russian intelligence operatives secretly videotaped Trump having prostitutes urinate on him while he lay in the same bed in Moscow’s Ritz-Carlton used by President Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama.

“That tantalizing tidbit was included in Steele’s opening report to his new clients, dated June 20, 2016. Apparently, it proved irresistible in whetting the appetite of Clinton’s mysterious benefactors who were financing Steele’s dirt digging and who have kept their identities (and the amounts paid) hidden. Also in that first report were the basic outlines of what has become the scandal that is now threatening the survival of Trump’s embattled presidency.”

The Trump Jr. Meeting

So, compare that with what we know about the June 9, 2016 meeting at Trump Tower in New York City, which Donald J. Trump Jr. says he agreed to because someone was claiming knowledge about Russian payments helping Hillary Clinton.

Sergei Magnitsky

Trump Jr. said Russian lawyer Natalie Veselnitskaya “stated that she had information that individuals connected to Russia were funding the Democratic National Committee and supporting Mrs. Clinton. Her statements were vague, ambiguous and made no sense. No details or supporting information was provided or even offered. It quickly became clear that she had no meaningful information.”

According to Trump Jr.’s account, Veselnitskaya then turned the conversation to President Vladimir Putin’s cancellation of an adoption program which had sent Russian children to American parents, a move he took in reaction to the so-called Magnitsky Act, a 2012 punitive law passed by the U.S. Congress in retaliation for the 2009 death of Sergei Magnitsky in a Russian jail.

The death became a Western cause célèbre with Magnitsky, the accountant for hedge-fund executive William Browder, hailed as a martyr in the cause of whistleblowing against a profoundly corrupt Russian government. After Magnitsky’s death from a heart attack, Browder claimed that his “lawyer” Magnitsky had been tortured and murdered to cover up official complicity in a $230 million tax-fraud scheme involving companies ostensibly under Browder’s control.

Because of Browder’s wealth and political influence, he succeeded in getting the European Parliament and the U.S. Congress to buy into his narrative and move to punish the presumed villains in the tax fraud and in Magnitsky’s death. The U.S.-enacted Magnitsky Act in 2012 was an opening salvo in what has become a new Cold War between Washington and Moscow.

Only One Side Heard

The Magnitsky narrative has now become so engrained in Western geopolitical mythology that the storyline apparently can no longer be questioned or challenged. The New York Times reports Browder’s narrative as flat fact, and The Washington Post took pleasure in denouncing a 2016 documentary that turned Browder’s version of events on its head.

The documentary was essentially blocked for distribution in the West, with the European Parliament pulling the plug on its planned premiere in Brussels shortly before it was scheduled for showing.

When the documentary got a single showing at the Newseum in Washington, a Washington Post editorial branded the documentary Russian “agit-prop.”

William Browder (r) with Magnitsky’s widow and son,
along with EU parliamentarians.

The Post sought to discredit the filmmaker, Andrei Nekrasov, without addressing his avalanche of documented examples of Browder’s misrepresenting both big and small facts in the case. Instead, the Post accused Nekrasov of using “facts highly selectively” and insinuated that he was merely a pawn in the Kremlin’s “campaign to discredit Mr. Browder and the Magnitsky Act.”

The Post concluded smugly: “The film won’t grab a wide audience, but it offers yet another example of the Kremlin’s increasingly sophisticated efforts to spread its illiberal values and mind-set abroad. In the European Parliament and on French and German television networks, showings were put off recently after questions were raised about the accuracy of the film, including by Magnitsky’s family.

“We don’t worry that Mr. Nekrasov’s film was screened here, in an open society. But it is important that such slick spin be fully exposed for its twisted story and sly deceptions.”

Given the fact that virtually no one in the West was allowed to see the film, the Post’s gleeful editorial had the feel of something you might read in a totalitarian society where the public only hears about dissent when the Official Organs of the State denounce some almost unknown person for saying something that almost no one heard.

What the Post didn’t want you to know was that Nekrasov started off his project with the goal of producing a docu-drama that accepted Browder’s self-serving narrative. However, during the research, Nekrasov uncovered evidence that revealed that Magnitsky was neither a “lawyer” nor a whistleblower; that the scam involving Browder’s companies had been exposed by a woman employee; and that Magnitsky, an accountant for Browder, was arrested as a conspirator in the fraud.

As the documentary unfolds, you see Nekrasov struggling with his dilemma as Browder grows increasingly abusive toward his erstwhile ally. Nekrasov painfully concludes that Browder had deceived him.

But, don’t worry, as a citizen in the Free World, you probably will never have to worry about viewing this documentary, since it has been effectively flushed down the memory hole. Official references to Magnitsky are back in the proper form, treating him as a Martyr for Truth and a victim of the Evil Russians.

Plus, if you rely on The New York Times, The Washington Post, MSNBC, CNN and the rest of the U.S. mainstream media for your news, you won’t have to think about the far more substantive case of the Steele Dossier in which Hillary Clinton’s allies spent gobs of money seeking out sources in Russia to serve up dirt on Donald Trump.

Investigative reporter Robert Parry broke many of the Iran-Contra stories for The Associated Press and Newsweek in the 1980s.

July 10, 2017 Posted by | Fake News, Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Progressive Hypocrite | , , , , , | Leave a comment

MSM, Still Living in Propaganda-ville

By Robert Parry | Consortium news | July 6, 2017

As much as the U.S. mainstream media wants people to believe that it is the Guardian of Truth, it is actually lost in a wilderness of propaganda and falsehoods, a dangerous land of delusion that is putting the future of humankind at risk as tensions escalate with nuclear-armed Russia.

This media problem has grown over recent decades as lucrative careerism has replaced responsible professionalism. Pack journalism has always been a threat to quality reporting but now it has evolved into a self-sustaining media lifestyle in which the old motto, “there’s safety in numbers,” is borne out by the fact that being horrendously wrong, such as on Iraq’s WMD, leads to almost no accountability because so many important colleagues were wrong as well.

Similarly, there has been no accountability after many mainstream journalists and commentators falsely stated as flat-fact that “all 17 U.S. intelligence agencies” concurred that Russia did “meddle” in last November’s U.S. election.

For months, this claim has been the go-to put-down whenever anyone questions the groupthink of Russian venality perverting American democracy. Even the esteemed “Politifact” deemed the assertion “true.” But it was never true.

It was at best a needled distortion of a claim by President Obama’s Director of National Intelligence James Clapper when he issued a statement last Oct. 7 alleging Russian meddling. Because Clapper was the chief of the U.S. Intelligence Community, his opinion morphed into a claim that it represented the consensus of all 17 intelligence agencies, a dishonest twist that Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton began touting.

However, for people who understand how the U.S. Intelligence Community works, the claim of a 17-agencies consensus has a specific meaning, some form of a National Intelligence Estimate (or NIE) that seeks out judgments and dissents from the various agencies.

But there was no NIE regarding alleged Russian meddling and there apparently wasn’t even a formal assessment from a subset of the agencies at the time of Clapper’s statement. President Obama did not order a publishable assessment until December – after the election – and it was not completed until Jan. 6, when a report from Clapper’s office presented the opinions of analysts from the Central Intelligence Agency, Federal Bureau of Investigation and the National Security Agency – three agencies (or four if you count the DNI’s office), not 17.

Lacking Hard Evidence

The report also contained no hard evidence of a Russian “hack” and amounted to a one-sided circumstantial case at best. However, by then, the U.S. mainstream media had embraced the “all-17-intelligence-agencies” refrain and anyone who disagreed, including President Trump, was treated as delusional. The argument went: “How can anyone question what all 17 intelligence agencies have confirmed as true?”

It wasn’t until May 8 when then-former DNI Clapper belatedly set the record straight in sworn congressional testimony in which he explained that there were only three “contributing agencies” from which analysts were “hand-picked.”

The reference to “hand-picked” analysts pricked the ears of some former U.S. intelligence analysts who had suffered through earlier periods of “politicized” intelligence when malleable analysts were chosen to deliver what their political bosses wanted to hear.

On May 23, also in congressional testimony, former CIA Director John Brennan confirmed Clapper’s description, saying only four of the 17 U.S. intelligence agencies took part in the assessment.

Brennan said the Jan. 6 report “followed the general model of how you want to do something like this with some notable exceptions. It only involved the FBI, NSA and CIA as well as the Office of the Director of National Intelligence. It wasn’t a full inter-agency community assessment that was coordinated among the 17 agencies.”

After this testimony, some of the major news organizations, which had been waving around the “17-intelligence-agencies” meme, subtly changed their phrasing to either depict Russian “meddling” as an established fact no longer requiring attribution or referred to the “unanimous judgment” of the Intelligence Community without citing a specific number.

This “unanimous judgment” formulation was deceptive, too, because it suggested that all 17 agencies were in accord albeit without exactly saying that. For a regular reader of The New York Times or a frequent viewer of CNN, the distinction would almost assuredly not be detected.

For more than a month after the Clapper-Brennan testimonies, there was no formal correction.

A Belated Correction

Finally, on June 25, the Times’ hand was forced when White House correspondent Maggie Haberman reverted to the old formulation, mocking Trump for “still refus[ing] to acknowledge a basic fact agreed upon by 17 American intelligence agencies that he now oversees: Russia orchestrated the attacks, and did it to help get him elected.”

When this falsehood was called to the Times’ attention, it had little choice but to append a correction to the article, noting that the intelligence “assessment was made by four intelligence agencies — the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, the Central Intelligence Agency, the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the National Security Agency. The assessment was not approved by all 17 organizations in the American intelligence community.”

The Associated Press ran a similar “clarification” applied to some of its fallacious reporting repeating the “17-intelligence-agencies” meme.

So, you might have thought that the mainstream media was finally adjusting its reporting to conform to reality. But that would mean that one of the pillars of the Russia-gate “scandal” had crumbled, the certainty that Russia and Putin did “meddle” in the election.

The story would have to go back to square one and the major news organizations would have to begin reporting on whether or not there ever was solid evidence to support what had become a “certainty” – and there appeared to be no stomach for such soul-searching. Since pretty much all the important media figures had made the same error, it would be much easier to simply move on as if nothing had changed.

That would mean that skepticism would still be unwelcome and curious leads would not be followed. For instance, there was a head-turning reference in an otherwise typical Washington Post take-out on June 25 accusing Russia of committing “the crime of the century.”

A reference, stuck deep inside the five-page opus, said, “Some of the most critical technical intelligence on Russia came from another country, officials said. Because of the source of the material, the NSA was reluctant to view it with high confidence.”

Though the Post did not identify the country, this reference suggests that more than one key element of the case for Russian culpability was based not on direct investigations by the U.S. intelligence agencies, but on the work of external organizations.

Earlier, the Democratic National Committee denied the FBI access to its supposedly hacked computers, forcing the investigators to rely on a DNC contractor called CrowdStrike, which has a checkered record of getting this sort of analytics right and whose chief technology officer, Dmitri Alperovitch, is an anti-Putin Russian émigré with ties to the anti-Russian think tank, Atlantic Council.

Relying on Outsiders

You might be wondering why something as important as this “crime of the century,” which has pushed the world closer to nuclear annihilation, is dependent on dubious entities outside the U.S. government with possible conflicts of interest.

If the U.S. government really took this issue seriously, which it should, why didn’t the FBI seize the DNC’s computers and insist that impartial government experts lead the investigation? And why – given the extraordinary expertise of the NSA in computer hacking – is “some of the most critical technical intelligence on Russia [coming] from another country,” one that doesn’t inspire the NSA’s confidence?

But such pesky questions are not likely to be asked or answered by a mainstream U.S. media that displays deep-seated bias toward both Putin and Trump.

Mostly, major news outlets continue to brush aside the clarifications and return to various formulations that continue to embrace the “17-intelligence-agencies” canard, albeit in slightly different forms, such as references to the collective Intelligence Community without the specific number. Anyone who questions this established conventional wisdom is still crazy and out of step.

For instance, James Holmes of Esquire was stunned on Thursday when Trump at a news conference in Poland reminded the traveling press corps about the inaccurate reporting regarding the 17 intelligence agencies and said he still wasn’t entirely sure about Russia’s guilt.

“In public, he’s still casting doubt on the intelligence community’s finding that Russia interfered in the 2016 election nearly nine months after the fact,” Holmes sputtered before describing Trump’s comment as a “rant.”

So, if you thought that a chastened mainstream media might stop in the wake of the “17-intelligence-agencies” falsehood and rethink the whole Russia-gate business, you would have been sadly mistaken.

But the problem is not just the question of whether Russia hacked into Democratic emails and slipped them to WikiLeaks for publication (something that both Russia and WikiLeaks deny). Perhaps the larger danger is how the major U.S. news outlets have adopted a consistently propagandistic approach toward everything relating to Russia.

Hating Putin

This pattern traces back to the earliest days of Vladimir Putin’s presidency in 2000 when he began to rein in the U.S.-prescribed “shock therapy,” which had sold off Russia’s assets to well-connected insiders, making billions of dollars for the West-favored “oligarchs,” even as the process threw millions of average Russian into poverty.

But the U.S. mainstream media’s contempt for Putin reached new heights after he helped President Obama head off neoconservative (and liberal interventionist) demands for a full-scale U.S. military assault on Syria in August 2013 and helped bring Iran into a restrictive nuclear agreement when the neocons wanted to bomb-bomb-bomb Iran.

The neocons delivered their payback to Putin in early 2014 by supporting a violent coup in Ukraine, overthrowing elected President Viktor Yanukovych and installing a fiercely anti-Russian regime. The U.S. operation was spearheaded by neocon National Endowment for Democracy President Carl Gershman and neocon Assistant Secretary of State for European Affairs Victoria Nuland, with enthusiastic support from neocon Sen. John McCain.

Nuland was heard in an intercepted pre-coup phone call with U.S. Ambassador Geoffrey Pyatt discussing who should become the new leaders and pondering how to “glue” or “midwife this thing.”

Despite the clear evidence of U.S. interference in Ukrainian politics, the U.S. government and the mainstream media embraced the coup and accused Putin of “aggression” when ethnic Russians in eastern Ukraine, called the Donbas, resisted the coup regime.

When ethnic Russians and other citizens in Crimea voted overwhelmingly in a referendum to reject the coup regime and rejoin Russia – a move protected by some of the 20,000 Russian troops inside Crimea as part of a basing agreement – that became a Russian “invasion.” But it was the most peculiar “invasion,” since there were no images of tanks crashing across borders or amphibious landing craft on Crimean beaches, because no such “invasion” had occurred.

However, in virtually every instance, the U.S. mainstream media insisted on the most extreme anti-Russian propaganda line and accused people who questioned this Official Narrative of disseminating Russian “propaganda” – or being a “Moscow stooge” or acting as a “useful fool.” There was no tolerance for skepticism about whatever the State Department or the Washington think tanks were saying.

Trump Meets Putin

So, as Trump prepares for his first meeting with Putin at the G-20 summit in Hamburg, Germany, the U.S. mainstream media has been in a frenzy, linking up its groupthinks about the Ukraine “invasion” with its groupthinks about Russian “hacking” the election.

In a July 3 editorial, The Washington Post declared, “Mr. Trump simply cannot fail to admonish Mr. Putin for Russia’s attempts to meddle in the 2016 presidential election. He must make clear the United States will not tolerate it, period. Naturally, this is a difficult issue for Mr. Trump, who reaped the benefit of Russia’s intervention and now faces a special counsel’s investigation, but nonetheless, in his first session with Mr. Putin, the president must not hesitate to be blunt. …

“On Ukraine, Mr. Trump must also display determination. Russia fomented an armed uprising and seized Crimea in violation of international norms, and it continues to instigate violence in the Donbas. Mr. Trump ought to make it unmistakably clear to Mr.Putin that the United States will not retreat from the sanctions imposed over Ukraine until the conditions of peace agreements are met.”

Along the same lines, even while suggesting the value of some collaboration with Russia toward ending the war in Syria, Post columnist David Ignatius wrote in a July 5 column, “Russian-American cooperation on Syria faces a huge obstacle right now. It would legitimize a Russian regime that invaded Ukraine and meddled in U.S. and European elections, in addition to its intervention in Syria.”

Note the smug certainty of Ignatius and the Post editors. There is no doubt that Russia “invaded” Ukraine; “seized” Crimea; “meddled” in U.S. and European elections. Yet all these groupthinks should be subjected to skepticism, not simply treated as undeniable truths.

But seeing only one side to a story is where the U.S. mainstream media is at this point in history. Yes, it is possible that Russia was responsible for the Democratic hacks and did funnel the material to WikiLeaks, but evidence has so far been lacking. And, instead of presenting both sides fairly, the major media acts as if only one side deserves any respect and dissenting views must be ridiculed and condemned.

In this perverted process, collectively approved versions of complex situations congeal into conventional wisdom, which simply cannot be significantly reconsidered regardless of future revelations.

As offensive as this rejection of true truth-seeking may be, it also represents an extraordinary danger when mixed with the existential risk of nuclear conflagration.

With the stakes this high, the demand for hard evidence – and the avoidance of soft-minded groupthink – should go without question. Journalists and commentators should hold themselves to professional precision, not slide into sloppy careerism, lost in “propaganda-ville.”

Investigative reporter Robert Parry broke many of the Iran-Contra stories for The Associated Press and Newsweek in the 1980s.

July 6, 2017 Posted by | Corruption, Deception, Fake News, Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Russophobia, Timeless or most popular | , , , , , , | 2 Comments

CNN Goes COMPLETELY INSANE, Threatens to Dox Reddit User Over Meme

corbettreport – July 5, 2017

There are no words for how insane the dinosaur lapdog establishment mouthpiece mockingbird media is getting. Case in point: remember that “infamous” meme of Trump wrestling CNN to the ground that the teleprompter-in-chief tweeted last weekend? Well after days of wall-to-wall pearl clutching coverage from the MSM, they’ve finally tracked down the vile reddit user who created it! And they’re threatening to dox him. As you can imagine, this is not going so well for the least trusted name in news…

SHOW NOTES: https://www.corbettreport.com/?p=23218

July 5, 2017 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Full Spectrum Dominance, Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Timeless or most popular, Video | , | 1 Comment

Corporate Media Aren’t “The Press”, And Don’t Deserve Your Sympathy

By Caitlin Johnstone | CounterPropa | July 3, 2017

You don’t have to be a Trump lover to cheer like a WWE fan every time the powerful media corporations who manipulate the way Americans think and vote smash their brains against this administration like a pigeon into a clean window pane and slide lifeless to the floor. These deep state propagandists have been crying like a spoiled child whose mom can’t afford the latest video game console ever since the president tweeted a video depicting Trump laying the smackdown on CNN, and their tears taste like they were brewed by Oompa-Loompas. […]

CNN and its barely-distinguishable peers from the rest of the corporate media soup have been decrying the tweet with infinitely more vitriol and panic than they have ever applied to any US president’s war crimes, proclaiming that Trump has “declared war” upon the press and is “inciting violence” against them.

Nice. You’re really earning those million dollar paychecks, fellas. “The press! The press! He’s attacking the press! Won’t someone please think of the press?” Personally I’m a little curious about what’s happening in Syria and if we’re all about to be drawn into a world war with a nuclear superpower and its allies, but fuck me, right? We need to worry about Trump retweeting a shooped video about “the press”.

But who is “the press”, exactly? Is it really the handful of extremely powerful media entities that Trump has been criticizing? Would there really be a big empty hole where the press used to be if the president succeeded in undermining them? Is it really accurate to say, as these pundits have been claiming, that Trump is attacking the press whenever they refuse to bend the knee and worship him like a god?

No, no, and no. In reality “the press” is made up of far more than just the handful of corporate media giants that the president has been taking swings at. The Supreme Court found in 1938’s Lovell v. City of Griffin that the press is “every sort of publication which affords a vehicle of information and opinion.” It’s not just the few gargantuan media conglomerates who have figured out how to make billions and billions of dollars peddling establishment propaganda for the oligarchs who own them, it’s the alternative media, bloggers, Youtubers, tweeters, social commentators, book authors, and the obscure little zine publisher downtown.

It’s also WikiLeaks.

Contrary to ignorant claims made by CIA Director Mike Pompeothe First Amendment doesn’t give rights to US citizens, it sets limits on the government’s ability to limit free speech. It doesn’t matter that Julian Assange is an Australian citizen, his press freedom is just as constitutionally protected in the United States as anyone else’s. He is just as much a part of the press as CNN, MSNBC, the New York Times or any of the other corporate media outlets currently shrieking bloody murder claiming Trump’s criticism is “inciting violence” against them. Which is really weird considering how many personnel from these corporate media outlets have actively called for Assange’s actual, literal assassination. Where was the outcry then?

The absolute gall of these corporatist hobgoblins to speak of themselves as though they provide America a service it needs, as though the world wouldn’t be vastly better off if they all went out of business tomorrow, is astounding. You want to know what would happen if these giant corporations folded? It would become harder for the military-industrial complex to manufacture support for its corporatist bloodbaths, a few plutocrats would lose a lot of money, some companies would have to find other television programs to advertise on, and people would start thinking for themselves. That’s it. The press would remain perfectly intact, just minus a few cancerous tumors.

Corporate media are not “the press”. They are a part of the press, and for that reason enjoy the same constitutional protections as all the other parts of the press, but they are by far the least healthy part. As much as I dislike Trump, his administration has undeniably been great for shaking up the media war and creating enough movement to force a lot of the lies and manipulations to stand out against the background. It is only a matter of time before people just can’t stomach these obsolete dinosaurs anymore and they finally fade away once and for all.

And they know it. They can hear their end roaring ever closer. They aren’t afraid of anyone “inciting violence” against them, they’re afraid of the world waking up.

July 3, 2017 Posted by | Fake News, Mainstream Media, Warmongering | , | 4 Comments

The Mad Chase for Russia-gate Prey

By Daniel Lazare | Consortium News | June 30, 2017

June is turning out to be the cruelest month for the Russia-gate industry. The pain began on June 8 when ex-FBI Director James Comey testified that a sensational New York Times article declaring that “members of Donald J. Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign and other Trump associates had repeated contacts with senior Russian intelligence officials” was “in the main … not true.”

Then came Republican Karen Handel’s June 20 victory in a special election in Georgia’s sixth congressional district, sparking bitter recriminations among Democrats who had hoped to ride to victory on a Russia-gate-propelled wave of resistance to Trump.

More evidence that the strategy was not working came a day later when the Harris Poll and Harvard’s Center for American Political Studies produced a devastating survey showing that 62 percent of voters see no evidence that the Trump campaign colluded with Russia, while 54 percent believe the “Deep State” is trying to unseat the President by leaking classified information. The poll even showed a small bounce in Trump’s popularity, with 45 percent viewing him favorably as opposed to only 39 percent for his defeated Democratic rival Hillary Clinton.

The mainstream news media also came in for some lumps. On June 23, CNN retracted a story that had claimed that Congress was looking into reports that the Trump transition team met secretly with a Russian investment fund under sanction from the U.S. government. Three days later, CNN announced that three staffers responsible for the blooper – reporter and Pulitzer Prize-nominee Thomas Frank; Pulitzer-winner Eric Lichtblau, late of the New York Times ; and Lex Haris, executive editor in charge of investigations – had resigned.

Adding to CNN’s embarrassment, Project Veritas, the brainchild of rightwing provocateur James O’Keefe, released an undercover video in which a CNN producer named John Bonifield explained that the network can’t stop talking about Russia because it boosts ratings and then went on to say about Russia-gate:

“Could be bullshit, I mean it’s mostly bullshit right now.  Like, we don’t have any big giant proof. But … the leaks keep leaking, and there are so many great leaks, and it’s amazing, and I just refuse to believe that if they had something really good like that, that wouldn’t leak because we’ve been getting all these other leaks. So I just feel like they don’t really have it but they want to keep digging. And so I think the president is probably right to say, like, look, you’re witch-hunting me, like, you have no smoking gun, you have no real proof.”

Project Veritas also released an undercover video interview with CNN contributor Van Jones calling the long-running probe into possible collusion between Trump’s 2016 campaign and Russia a “nothing-burger,” a position similar to the skepticism that Jones has displayed in his on-air comments.

True, the Bonifield video was only a medical reporter sounding off about a story that he’s not even covering and doing so to a dirty-trickster who has received financing from Trump and who, after another undercover film stunt, was ordered in 2013 to apologize and pay $100,000 to an anti-poverty worker whose privacy he had invaded.

Good for Ratings

But, still, Bonifield’s “president-is-probably-right” comment is hard to shake. Ditto Van Jones’ “nothing-burger.” Unless both quotes are completely doctored, it appears that the scuttlebutt among CNNers is that Russia-gate is a lot of hot air but no one cares because it’s sending viewership through the roof.

And if that’s what CNN thinks, then it may be what MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow thinks as she also plays the Russia card for all it’s worth. It may also be what The Washington Post has in the back of its mind even while hyperventilating about Russian President Vladimir Putin’s “crime of the century, an unprecedented and largely successful destabilizing attack on American democracy.”

The New York Times also got caught up in its enthusiasm to hype the Russia-gate case on June 25 when it ran a story slamming Trump for “refus[ing] to acknowledge a basic fact agreed upon by 17 American intelligence agencies that he now oversees: Russia orchestrated the attacks [on Democratic emails], and did it to help get him elected.”

The “17-intelligence-agency” canard has been a favorite go-to assertion for both Democrats and the mainstream news media, although it was repudiated in May by President Obama’s Director of National Intelligence James Clapper and CIA Director John Brennan.

So, on June 29, the Times apparently found itself with no choice but to issue a correction stating: “The [Russia-hacking] assessment was made by four intelligence agencies — the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, the Central Intelligence Agency, the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the National Security Agency. The assessment was not approved by all 17 organizations in the American intelligence community.”

This point is important because, as Consortiumnews.com and other non-mainstream news outlets have argued for more than a month, it is much easier to manipulate a finding by hand-picking analysts from a small number of intelligence agencies than by seeking the judgments and dissents from all 17.

Despite the correction, the Times soon returned to its pattern of shading the truth regarding the U.S. intelligence assessment. On June 30, a Times article reported: “Mr. Trump has repeatedly cast doubt on the unanimous conclusion of United States intelligence agencies that Russia sought to interfere in the 2016 race.”

The Times’ phrase “unanimous conclusion” conveys the false impression that all 17 agencies were onboard without specifically saying so, although we now know that the Times’ editors are aware that only selected analysts from three agencies plus the DNI’s office were involved.

In other words, the Times cited a “unanimous conclusion of United States intelligence agencies” to mislead its readers without specifically repeating the “all-17-agencies” falsehood. This behavior suggests that the Times is so blinded by its anti-Trump animus that it wants to conceal from its readers how shaky the whole tale is.

Holes from the Start

But the problems with Russia-gate date back to the beginning. Where Watergate was about a real burglary, this one began with a cyber break-in that may or may not have occurred. In his June 8 testimony before the Senate Intelligence Committee, Comey conceded that the FBI never checked the DNC’s servers to confirm that they had truly been hacked.

COMMITTEE CHAIRMAN RICHARD BURR: Did you ever have access to the actual hardware that was hacked?  Or did you have to rely on a third party to provide you the data that they had collected?

COMEY: In the case of the DNC, and, I believe, the DCCC [i.e. the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee], but I’m sure the DNC, we did not have access to the devices themselves. We got relevant forensic information from a private party, a high-class entity, that had done the work.  But we didn’t get direct access.

BURR: But no content?

COMEY: Correct.

BURR: Isn’t content an important part of the forensics from a counterintelligence standpoint?

COMEY: It is, although what was briefed to me by my folks — the people who were my folks at the time – is that they had gotten the information from the private party that they needed to understand the intrusion by the spring of 2016.

The FBI apparently was confident that it could rely on such “a high-class entity” as CrowdStrike to tell it what it needed to know. Yet neither the Democratic National Committee nor CrowdStrike, the Irvine, California, cyber-security firm the DNC hired, was remotely objective.

Hillary Clinton was on record calling Putin a “bully” whose goal was “to stymie, to confront, to undermine American power” while Dmitri Aperovitch, CrowdStrike’s chief technical officer, is a Russian émigré who is both anti-Putin personally and an associate of the Atlantic Council, a pro-Clinton/anti-Russian think tank that is funded by the Saudis, the United Arab Emirates and the Ukrainian World Congress. The Atlantic Council is one of the most anti-Russian voices in Washington.

So, an anti-Putin DNC hired an anti-Putin security specialist, who, to absolutely no one’s surprise, “immediately” determined that the break-in was the work of hackers “closely linked to the Russian government’s powerful and highly capable intelligence services.”

Comey’s trust in CrowdStrike was akin to cops trusting a private eye not only to investigate a murder, but to determine if it even occurred. Yet the mainstream media’s pack journalists saw no reason to question the FBI because doing so would not accord with an anti-Trump bias so pronounced that even journalism profs have begun to notice.

Doubts about CrowdStrike

Since CrowdStrike issued its findings, it has come under wide-ranging criticism. Cyber experts have called its analysis inconsistent because while praising the alleged hackers to the skies (“our team considers them some of the best adversaries out of all the numerous nation-state, criminal and hacktivist/terrorist groups we encounter on a daily basis”), CrowdStrike says it was able to uncover their identity because they made kindergarten-level mistakes, most notably uploading documents in a Russian-language format under the name “Felix Edmundovich,” a reference to Felix E. Dzerzhinsky, founder of the Soviet secret police.

“Raise your hand if you think that a GRU or FSB officer would add Iron Felix’s name to the metadata of a stolen document before he released it to the world while pretending to be a Romanian hacker,” wisecracked cyber-skeptic Jeffrey Carr.

Others noted how easy it is for even novice hackers to leave a false trail. In Seattle, cyber-sleuths Mark Maunder and Rob McMahon of Wordfence, makers of a popular computer-security program, discovered that “malware” found in the DNC was an early version of a publicly available program developed in the Ukraine – which was strange, they said, because one would expect Russian intelligence to develop its own tools or use ones that were more up to date.

But even if the malware was Russian, experts pointed out that its use in this instance no more implicates Russian intelligence than the use of an Uzi in a bank robbery implicates Mossad.

Other loose threads appeared. In January, Carr poured cold water on a subsequent CrowdStrike report charging that pro-Russian separatists had used similar malware to zero in on pro-government artillery units in the eastern Ukraine.

The Ukrainian ministry of defense and the London think tank from which CrowdStrike obtained much of its data agreed that the company didn’t know what it was talking about. But if CrowdStrike was wrong about the Ukraine case, how could everyone be sure it was right about the DNC?

In March, Wikileaks went public with its “Vault 7” findings showing, among other things, that the CIA has developed sophisticated software in order to scatter false clues – which inevitably led to dark mutterings that maybe the agency had hacked the DNC itself in order to blame it on the Russians.

Finally, although Wikileaks policy is never to comment on its sources, Julian Assange, the group’s founder, decided to make an exception.

“The Clinton camp has been able to project a neo-McCarthyist hysteria that Russia is responsible for everything,” he told journalist John Pilger in November. “Hillary Clinton has stated multiple times, falsely, that 17 U.S. intelligence agencies had assessed that Russia was the source of our publications. That’s false – we can say that the Russian government is not the source.”

Craig Murray, an ex-British diplomat who is a Wikileaks adviser, disclosed that he personally flew to Washington to meet with a person who was either the original source or an associate of the source. Murray said the motive for the leak was “disgust at the corruption of the Clinton Foundation and the tilting of the primary election playing field against Bernie Sanders.”

Conceivably, such contacts could have been cutouts to conceal from WikiLeaks the actual sources. Still, Wikileaks’ record of veracity should be enough to give anyone pause. Yet the press either ignored the WikiLeaks comments or, in the case of The Washington Post, struggled to prove that WikiLeaks was lying.

Unstable Foundation

The stories that have been built upon this unstable foundation have proved shaky, too. In March, the Times published a front-page exposé asserting that Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort “had regular communications with his longtime associate – a former Russian military translator in Kiev who has been investigated in Ukraine on suspicion of being a Russian intelligence agent.” But if the man was merely a suspected spy as opposed to a convicted one, then what’s the problem?

The article also noted that Jason Greenblatt, a former Trump lawyer who is now a special White House representative for international negotiations, met last summer with Rabbi Berel Lazar, “the chief rabbi of Russia and an ally of Russia’s president, Vladimir V. Putin.” But an Orthodox Jew paying a call on Russia’s chief rabbi is hardly extraordinary. Neither is the fact that the rabbi is a Putin ally since Putin enjoys broad support in the Russian Jewish community.

In April, the Times published another innuendo-laden front-page story about businessman Carter Page whose July 2016 trip to Moscow proved to be “a catalyst for the F.B.I. investigation into connections between Russia and President Trump’s campaign.”

Page’s sins chiefly consist of lecturing at a Moscow academic institute about U.S.-Russian relations in terms that The New York Times believed “echoed the position of President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia” and, on another occasion, meeting with a suspected Russian intelligence agent in New York.

“There is no evidence that Mr. Page knew the man was an intelligence officer,” the article added. So is it now a crime to talk with a Russian or some other foreign national who, unbeknownst to you, may turn out to be an intelligence agent?

Then there is poor Mike Flynn, driven out as national security adviser after just 24 days in office for allegedly misrepresenting conversations with Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak – exchanges during the Trump transition that supposedly exposed him to the possibility of Russian blackmail although U.S. intelligence was monitoring the talks and therefore knew their exact contents. And, since the Russians no doubt assumed as much, it’s hard to see what they could have blackmailed him with. [See Consortiumnews.com’sTurning Gen. Flynn into Road Kill.”]

Yet the mainstream media eagerly gobbled up this blackmail possibility while presenting with a straight face the claim by Obama holdovers at the Justice Department that the Flynn-Kislyak conversations might have violated the 1799 Logan Act, an ancient relic that has never been used to prosecute anyone in its entire two-century history.

So, if the scandal is looking increasingly threadbare now, could the reason be that there was little or nothing to it when it was first announced during the final weeks of the 2016 campaign?

Although it’s impossible to say what evidence might eventually emerge, Russia-gate is looking more and more like a Democratic version of Benghazi, a pseudo-scandal that no one could ever figure out but which wound up making Hillary Clinton look like a persecuted hero and the Republicans seem like obsessed idiots.

As much as that epic inquiry turned out to be mostly a witch-hunt, Americans are beginning to sense the same about Washington’s latest game of “gotcha.”

The United States is still a democracy in some vague sense of the word, and “We the People” are losing patience with subterranean maneuvers on the part of the Democrats, the neoconservatives, and the intelligence agencies seeking to reverse a presidential election.

Like Benghazi or possibly even the Birthergate scam about President Obama’s Kenyan birthplace, the whole convoluted Russia-gate tale grows stranger by the day.


Daniel Lazare is the author of several books including The Frozen Republic: How the Constitution Is Paralyzing Democracy (Harcourt Brace).

June 30, 2017 Posted by | Deception, Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Russophobia | , , , | Leave a comment

CNN retracts story on investigation into Trump campaign adviser’s meeting with CEO of Russian fund

RT | June 24, 2017

CNN has retracted a story claiming that an adviser to the Trump campaign is under Senate investigation for meeting with the head of a Russian state-backed investment fund at the Davos economic forum.

The now-deleted report cited an anonymous congressional source as saying that the Senate Intelligence Committee was investigating ties between several figures in the Trump camp, including his son-in-law Jared Kushner and financier Anthony Scaramucci, and the Russian Direct Investment Fund (RDIF), a Russian sovereign fund that manages direct foreign investments into the Russian economy.

Scaramucci, who was part of Trump’s transition team, met with Kirill Dmitriev, the CEO of the RDIF, at the World Economic Forum in Davos last year. According to CNN, congressional investigators wanted to know if they had discussed lifting US sanctions against Russia. A spokesperson for the Russian fund said they hadn’t, while Scaramucci told CNN that there was “nothing there.”

The report implied that RDIF had been flagged by US investigators for its ties to Vnesheconombank, a Russian state-owned bank that ran the fund until June of 2016, when RDIF was restructured as an independent entity by the Russian government.

The news channel redacted the Thursday story on Friday, saying that it “did not meet CNN’s editorial standards” and apologized to Scaramucci.

Breitbart News, a pro-Trump news outlet, claimed credit for making CNN withdraw the story, which it described as a “conspiracy theory hit piece.” Earlier, it had cited its own sources as saying that no investigation into the meeting was underway because it had already been looked at and deemed to be appropriate.

June 24, 2017 Posted by | Fake News, Mainstream Media, Warmongering | , | Leave a comment