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Israeli ambassador pushes potential war to elite U.S. powerbrokers

Israeli ambassador pushes potential war to elite U.S. powerbrokers

Israeli Ambassador to the U.S. Ron Dermer gives address Sept. 12, 2017 to Washington D.C. movers and shakers: Wolf Blitzer and other journalists, government officials, think tank heads, philanthropists – almost all with significant ties to Israel (see list below).

By Alison Weir and Kathryn Shihadah | If Americans Knew | October 5, 2017

A select assembly of Washington D.C. heavy hitters recently attended a Rosh Hashanah event at which Israeli Ambassador to the U.S. spoke. Ron Dermer discussed alleged dangers posed by Iran, Syria, and Russia. In some places Dermer appeared to be laying out a rationale for another Israeli war.

According to JTA (Jewish Telegraphic Agency), the event is an annual affair “to which the embassy invites the U.S. Jewish leadership.” Dermer’s speeches typically seem intended to create a feeling of shared concern for Israel, saying, for example, “Let us all raise a glass and toast the fact that the Jewish people are voiceless no more. Israel has provided us with a shofar, with a sovereign voice among the nations.” Dermer himself was born and raised in the U.S.

Among those attending the invitation-only gathering this year were approximately 20 journalists, many connected to top U.S. print and broadcast media (including Wolf Blitzer, Eli Lake, Cliff May); numerous government officials and politicians (Congressmen, diplomats, White House insiders, senior staff, political operatives); and heads of major U.S. national organizations, philanthropists, and influential religious leaders (see list with biographical details below).

Dermer’s speech began on a convivial note – “Remember, on Rosh Hashana, you’re allowed to eat, drink and even laugh”– but soon became serious as he gave dire warnings about alleged dangers Israel faces, and the need for Americans to help.

Iran was the main villain to be protected against, with Syria and Russia allegedly dangerous abettors that also need to be addressed.

“The past year has posed many critical challenges for Israel,” Dermer intoned. “Foremost among those challenges has been the rising power of Iran.”

(This is very much in line with Israeli thinking; Israel’s Jerusalem Post newspaper recently reported: “Iran is the primary target of the Mossad’s actions, which number in the hundreds and thousands each year.” Netanyahu reportedly calls the Mossad Israel’s “synchronized fist.”)

Dermer claimed that the Iran deal had been a “double jackpot” for Iran (many U.S. analysts disagree, including some Israel partisans and top U.S. generals). Dermer charged that the deal had enabled Iran to spend “much of the past year consolidating its power across the Middle East.”

Next came the not-so-subtle call to action.

“Israel hopes that the coming weeks will bring about a dramatic change in the trajectory of that deal that will ultimately either fix it or cancel it,” Dermer said, making clear what was required of Americans who care about Israel.

Dermer and Debbie Wasserman Schultz at 2014 Israel Embassy Rosh Hashanah event; Dermer also warned about Iran at that event.

Dermer also focused on Syria, speaking of a potential Iranian “terror front against Israel” being established in Syria.

“Iran has been feverishly working  to win the spoils of the imminent defeat of ISIS,” Dermer said, suggesting that such a defeat could be harmful to Israel.

Dermer’s statements reflect Israeli concern about U.S. efforts to end the war in Syria, leaving Russia, Assad – and by extension Hezbollah – in place. As JTA explains:

The Netanyahu government has been wary of what the end-game could be of U.S. efforts to end the war in Syria. There is a concern among Israelis — articulated most often by the defense minister, Avigdor Liberman — that the Trump administration might defer to Russia, which is allied with the Assad regime. Russia’s Assad alliance means it is in a de facto alliance with Iran and its Lebanese ally, Hezbollah, because they also are allied with the Assad regime.

Recent ongoing efforts in the U.S. to force the Trump administration to avoid diplomatic ties with Russia (despite the paucity of evidence for the accusations) may help remove that obstacle to keeping the U.S. in Syria.

Dermer said that Netanyahu had set “red lines” regarding Syria and that Israel will enforce them: “Israel will act to prevent Iran from supplying game changing weapons to Hezbollah. And Israel will act to prevent Iran from establishing another terror front against Israel in Syria.”

Israel has been stating these red lines for several years, and its escalating sabre rattling suggests that it may be planning another of its wars. Israel analyst Larry Derfner recently published an article entitled “A plea to Israel: Don’t start the third Lebanon War.”

Derfner states: “By continuing to bomb Syrian arms destined for Hezbollah – which Israel has admittedly done nearly 100 times in the last five years – as well as periodically killing Hezbollah and other pro-Syrian fighters along with the occasional Iranian general, Israel is making the next very, very ugly war in the north a self-fulfilling prophecy.”

A recent article in the very pro-Israel Atlantic (editor Jeffrey Goldberg served in the Israeli army) states: “for nearly two years now, Israeli military and intelligence officials have been warning every American official who comes through Tel Aviv and Jerusalem that the next war is coming. Israel has methodically prepared its allies—and most especially the Americans— for a very, very ugly war on the horizon.”

These wars have created massive carnage and suffering. even the Atlantic acknowledges that the 2006 Israeli assault “leveled entire neighborhoods in Beirut.”

Beirut, August 20, 2006. 1,100 Lebanese civilians died, 4,000 were injured, and over one million were temporarily displaced; 116 Israeli soldiers & 43 civilians died. Researchers found pro-Israel bias in U.S. media coverage of the war.

While Dermer tried to sell his audience on the claim that Israel is at existential risk, Derfner points out: “The idea that Hezbollah, Iran and Syria are itching for a war with Israel, that they’re just waiting to attack, is a delusion. Absent Israeli provocation, such an attack would have no parallel in the world or in history.”

Nevertheless, some influential media reports largely purvey Israeli spin, and it’s likely that Dermer’s speech was intended to influence the many journalists at his reception to take a similar line. As a Foreign Policy article reports: “When it comes to Washington, Israel’s task is to locate or induce a more coherent American strategy to counter advance of the Iranians in the Levant.”

This is particularly important, since some Trump officials don’t always march to the Israeli tune. U.S. National Security Advisor General H.R. McMaster recently told Israeli officials that Hezbollah was not a terrorist group. (Other reports claim he has called Israel an occupying power.)

Another point Dermer made to his audience was the value of U.S. strategies to help Israel bring some Arab countries into an alliance against Iran.

Dermer called the new allignment a “silver lining” and said he was “deeply grateful” to the current administration for “methodically working to advance a serious process that can move the entire region forward” – i.e. in Israel’s direction.

Dermer is no doubt pleased that, as in the past, the U.S. negotiator for Israel-Palestine is an Israel partisan; he called for applause for Jason Greenblatt, who he noted was present – one of the many “senior officials from all three branches of the U.S. government” attending the event.

Attendees

Jewish Insider provided a list of opinion makers spotted at the event, which included both liberals and conservatives, members of both political parties, and representatives of diverse positions along the pro-Israel spectrum. Below is the list, with added information on each.

We have listed each individual under one category below, although in many cases they would fit into several sectors given the revolving door that often exists between media, government, and pro-Israel organizations.

Journalists/Media Pundit

Wolf Blitzer, CNN lead political anchor, anchor of The Situation Room and Wolf. Blitzer began his career in 1972 with Reuters in Tel Aviv, before becoming a Washington DC correspondent for Israel’s Jerusalem Post. He also worked as editor of AIPAC’s monthly newsletter and edited “Myths and Facts 1976, A Concise Record of the Arab-Israeli Conflict” (Near East Research, AIPAC’s monthly publication), a volume described by Mondoweiss as “one piece of Zionist propaganda after another [that] denounced Palestinian views of [events surrounding the 1948 war] as ‘spurious myths.’”

Blitzer authored Between Washington and Jerusalem: A Reporter’s Notebook (Oxford University Press, 1985) and Territory of Lies (Harper and Row, 1989), about Israeli spy Jonathan Pollard, of which reviewer Robert I. Friedman wrote in the New York Review of books that Blitzer played down the damage caused by Pollard. Friedman stated:  “Senior Israeli Defense Department officials are understandably pleased with Blitzer’s book about Pollard.” Friedman reported: “Currently, he travels the American TV talk show circuit as the ‘voice of Israel.’ Territory of Lies is a slick piece of damage control that would make his former employers at AIPAC (not to mention Israel’s Defense Ministry) proud.”

In 1990 Blitzer went to CNN, where his career skyrocketed. During Israel’s 2014 invasion of Gaza, Blitzer covered the conflict by embedding with the Israeli army. As part of “the most trusted name in news,” he maintains a pro-Israel bias (see this and this, for example). In 1989 he took part in a debate in which he largely repeated Israel’s talking points.

Sam Feist, CNN Washington Bureau Chief and senior vice-president. He oversees daily operations, leads all newsgathering and Washington-based programming, as well as campaign and election coverage. Feist was the founding executive producer of Wolf Blitzer’s The Situation Room, and has produced and managed CNN political programming including Crossfire, The Capital Gang, and State of the Union. He has been with CNN since 1991.

Danielle Heyman Feist, wife of Sam Feist. Director of Camp Rodef Shalom, a Virginia day camp that has a number of activities related to Israel, including a program in which scouts from Israel “run their own specialty area during camp, playing Israeli games, teaching a few Hebrew words, and helping bring their Israeli culture all the way to Virginia!”

Howard Friedman is director of Sinclair Media, the nation’s largest owner of local TV stations. He has served on the board of pro-Israel lobbying organizations such as AIPAC.

Howard Friedman has served on boards for many foundations, including the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) and the Union of Orthodox Jewish Congregations of America (which advocates for Israel and brought “tens of thousands” of its members and “hundreds of rabbis” to lobby Congress against the Iran deal). He was twice named by Washington Life Magazine as one of the 100 most powerful people in Washington DC. Formerly he was President of JTA – The Global News Service of the Jewish People.

Perhaps most significantly, Friedman is currently Director of the Sinclair Broadcast Group, the nation’s largest owner of local TV stations, and likely to become even larger, as it is in the process of buying Tribune Media for $3.9 billion.

Sinclair insists on conservative content on its local news programs, and even produces its own commentary pieces as “must-run” segments on every one of its stations . These include a daily “Terror Alert Desk” segment, which was recently exposed by political humorist John Oliver  as an occasional vehicle for conflating terrorism with Islam. The “newscasters” include regulars from the Fox News Channel (like Sara Carter), contributors to conservative publications like the Washington Examiner (like Mark Hyman), and at least one former Trump staffer (Boris Epshteyn – see below).

Sinclair already owns 170 TV stations, which gives it access to 38% of American households—just shy of the cap of 39% put in place by Congress in 2004. Tribune Media is set to hand over another 42 stations (which includes stations in New York City, Chicago, Los Angeles), which would give Sinclair access to a full 72% of US households—nearly double what is allowed by law. This was made possible thanks to a move by Trump-appointed FCC Chairman Ajit Pai. Pai, heir apparent to the chair of the FCC, was wooed by Sinclair starting right after Trump’s election. Soon after his appointment, Pai unexpectedly revived an outdated regulatory loophole. About two weeks later, Sinclair announced its acquisition of Tribune.

Norman Eisen currently works with think tank Brookings Institution, does political commentary on CNN, and chairs Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW), a Democratic Party leaning nonprofit he co-founded in 2003 with Louis Mayberg, a financier who donates to Jewish causes (his wife says: “I invest in Jewish people” and partners with the Israeli Ministry of the Diaspora to bring thousands of women from 25 countries on visits to Israel). Previously, Eisen served as special council for ethics and government reform to President Obama. From 1985 to 1988, he was Assistant Director of the ADL’s Los Angeles office, where he investigated anti-semitism and other civil rights issues, promoted Holocaust education, “and advanced US-Israel relations.” He backed Tom Perez over Keith Ellison for Democratic National Committee chair, citing Perez’ “warm feelings for Israel.” As a student he had worked for Israel partisan Alan Dershowitz, who once said: “Our union was made in heaven. He was a natural guy for me to hire because he was brilliant and shared many of the same liberal democratic, pro-Israel values that I did and that he still represents.”

Eisen has also served as U.S. Ambassador to the Czech Republic, during which time bilateral trade between the U.S. and the Czech Republic almost doubled. Earlier in his career he was a partner in the Zuckerman Spaeder law firm, where he worked on cases such as Enron and Whitewater. Washingtonian Magazine listed Eisen as one of Washington’s top lawyers.

Talk show host Tom Rose (right) volunteered for the Israeli military during the first Gulf War. In 2014 he travelled to Israel with his longtime friend Mike Pence (left), in the company of Ambassador Dermer.

Tom Rose, journalist and unofficial Vice Presidential surrogate. Formerly editor/publisher of the Jerusalem Post, during which he and his family lived in Israel. Although he is an American citizen, during the Gulf War he volunteered for service in the IDF. More recently, he has co-hosted a Sunday morning satellite radio program with conservative Christian Gary Bauer. Their show, The Bauer & Rose Show, is known for its “robust defense of Judeo-Christian civilization, the US/Israel alliance, and the need for a strong America in the world.” The show ended in April 2017 when Rose took a position as assistant and advisor to Vice President Mike Pence, Rose’s “closest personal friend for 25 years.” In 2014, Rose and Pence visited Israel together, in the company of Israel’s Ambassador to the US, Ron Dermer.

Kenneth Weinstein, President and CEO of the Hudson Institute, which honored PM Benjamin Netanyahu with the Herman Kahn Award (see Roger Hertog entry below)—which is conferred on “leading public servants who exemplify a commitment to Western alliances as the bedrock of global security, prosperity, and freedom.” Hudson “seeks to guide public policy makers and global leaders in government and business.” It frequently holds conferences on topics such as defense, international relations, and economics (dozens of which have been pro-Israel) and disseminates research and analysis articles (hundreds of which have been pro-Israel). Weinstein is President and CEO of the Broadcasting Board of Governors (BBG), whose mission is “to inform, engage, and connect people around the world in support of freedom and democracy.” BBG oversees U.S. government civilian international media: Voice of America, Radio Free Europe, Office of Cuba Broadcasting, Radio Free Asia, Middle East Broadcasting Networks.

AP reporter Josh Lederman began his journalism career working in Israel, where he had spent a year as a child. He credits that year and his attendance at Tucson Hebrew Academy, whose core values include “supporting Israel,” with informing his reporting.

Josh Lederman, Associated Press reporter; started his journalism career in the AP Jerusalem bureau; he had previously lived in Israel in seventh grade (it is unknown whether he has Israeli citizenship). Lederman credits that year, combined with his education as student at Tucscon Hebrew Academy (among its “Core Values” is “Supporting Israel: We support Israel and foster close relationships with Israeli students and educators”) with helping him “connect the dots” as he reported on Israel. Now based in Washington DC, Lederman covers foreign affairs, national security and U.S. diplomacy for AP ; appears frequently on television and radio, including on MSNBC, Fox News, NPR and others. He covered 2012 presidential campaign for The Hill newspaper in Washington. From 2013 to 2017, Lederman was a White House reporter for AP. He also writes for the Times of Israel.

Media pundit Cliff May founded Foundation for Defense of Democracies (FDD), a neoconservative organization created “to enhance Israel’s image in North America.”

Clifford D. May, weekly “Foreign Desk” columnist of The Washington Times, and frequent analyst on diverse TV and radio news programs. His articles have appeared in the Wall Street Journal, National Review, Commentary, USA Today, The Atlantic and other publications. May is the founder of the Foundation for Defense of Democracies (FDD), a pro-Israel neoconservative organization – May said its purpose was “to enhance Israel’s image in North America.” Some suggested it was the new Project for a New American Century. Right Web reports:

FDD grew out of a right-wing pro-Israel initiative launched in early 2001 called EMET. Reports Slate: “On April 24, 2001, three major pro-Israel donors incorporated an organization called EMET (Hebrew for ‘truth’). In an application to the Internal Revenue Service for tax-exempt status, [FDD president Clifford May] explained that the group ‘was to provide education to enhance Israel’s image in North America and the public’s understanding of issues affecting Israeli-Arab relations.’”[3]

“… Shortly after its founding, FDD quickly became a prominent member of a group of neoconservative think tanks and advocacy groups—including the American Enterprise Institute and the Hudson Institute—that were influential in shaping the early foreign policy priorities of the George W. Bush administration. At the height of the “war on terror,” FDD also absorbed the Committee on the Present Danger, a Cold War-era anticommunist group that been reconstituted to push for hardline policies in the Middle East.”

“FDD’s president, Clifford May, is a former writer for the New York Times who once served as director of communications for the Republican National Committee. May is also a former editor of the party’s official magazine (Rising Tide), a former vice chair of the Republican Jewish Coalition, and a member of the Committee on the Present Danger.”

“FDD has been a vocal advocate of confrontational policies on Iran.”

Slate reports that FDD runs tours of Israel for American academics (with most of their expenses paid) similar to those run for journalists and politicians by AIPAC and other groups.”

May was an advisor to the Iraq Study Group; served on the Advisory Committee on Democracy Promotion (2007-2009), reporting to Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice; served on the Broadcasting Board of Governors, the entity responsible for all U.S. government and government sponsored, non-military, international broadcasting; and on the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom (2016).

Evan May, bio is unavailable, probably  relative of Cliff May.

Boris Epshteyn, an investment banker; born in Russia and came to the U.S. in 1993 at the age of 11. Previously, he worked on Sen. John McCain’s 2008 presidential campaign. He was a top communications aide for Donald Trump’s campaign; appeared as a Trump surrogate over 100 times on major TV networks between the election and the inauguration. In April, Epshteyn left the White House and became chief political analyst for Sinclair Broadcast Group (see Howard Friedman, above), a conservative company that owns a multitude of local TV stations.

Lauren Gorlin Tanick, wife of Boris Epshteyn, a strategy executive at Google.

Journalist Eli Lake speaks at event organized by the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, Aug. 13, 2014. Observers describe him as a neoconservative “pro-Israel” ideologue.”

Eli Lake, Bloomberg journalist, former senior national security correspondent for The Daily Beast and Newsweek. He worked for a range of news outlets, including The Daily BeastNewsweekThe Washington TimesThe New Republic, New York Sun. Lake has often worked with and shared bylines with Josh Rogin (see entry below); known as extremely pro-Israel. Below are exerpts from Right Web:

Eli Lake is a well-known writer and columnist whose track record on U.S. foreign policy has led some observers to describe him as a neoconservative and “pro-Israel” ideologue. …

His writings focus on national security issues, particularly with respect to the Middle East, and he has a lengthy record of advocating for aggressive U.S. foreign policies in the region. One commentator has quipped that Lake has a “career pattern of credulously planting dubious stories from sources with strong political agendas.”

A frequent subject of Lake’s writings is U.S. policy on Iran. Generally hawkish in his critiques of U.S. engagement with Tehran… most observers agree [that his analysis] is really intended to kill negotiations…

After a nuclear agreement was reached between Iran and the P5+1 in July 2015, Lake went on the attack…. In a March 2015 commentary, Lake criticized Iran’s foreign minister Javad Zarif, a Western educated diplomat widely regarded as a moderate within Iran’s establishment… Former British diplomat Peter Jenkins criticized Lake’s article on Zarif as taking “many liberties with the truth.”

… Lake was “an open and ardent promoter of the Iraq War and the various myths trotted out to justify it, contributing to the media drumbeat that helped the Bush Administration sell the war to the public and to Congress.” Leading up to the 2003 U.S.-led invasion of Iraq, Lake reported extensively on Saddam Hussein’s alleged weapons mass destruction and ties to Al-Qaeda…

After the war and the subsequent failure to discover any weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, Lake contended that the weapons had been moved to Syria…

In a December 2001 article for the National Review, Lake argued that with its invasion of Afghanistan completed, the United States should move on to take military action against Iraq, Yemen, and Somalia. “There are very good arguments why all three should be the next target,” he opined. “Iraq after all has been developing nuclear and biological weapons …

In 2009, Lake gained notoriety for his role stirring up opposition to the nomination of Chas Freeman, a veteran diplomat and former U.S. ambassador to Saudi Arabia, to be the chairman of the National Intelligence Council. Freeman ultimately withdrew his name from consideration and blamed the controversy over his nomination on the “Israel lobby.”… [See Freeman’s statement.]

Josh Rogin, Journalist who often works closely with Eli Lake, sharing bylines on news articles. He is a CNN political analyst and columnist on foreign policy and national security for Bloomberg View. Previously, Rogin covered foreign policy and national security for Newsweek, The Daily Beast, Foreign Policy, The Washington Post, Federal Computer Week and Japan’s Asahi Shimbun. His work has been featured on CNN, FOX, MSNBC, ABC, NBC, NPR, PBS, and several other outlets. He is married to Ali Weinberg (see below); their wedding guests included journalists Eli Lake, CNN’s Wolf Blitzer, CNN’s Jake Tapper, NPR’s Michael Goldfarb, NBC News Political Director and Meet the Press host Chuck Todd, Jamie Kirchick, Jonathan Karl, and NBC’s Alex Moe.

Ali Rogin (aka Ali Weinberg), ABC journalist, married to Josh Rogin. She is the daughter of Max Weinberg (see below). Her Linkedin entry reports that she covers the State Department for ABC News, producing pieces for broadcast and reporting for ABCNews.com and ABC News Radio. She formerly worked at NBC.

Max Weinberg, Drummer for Bruce Springstein and on Conan O’Brian show, father of journalist Ali Rogin (see above). His net worth is reportedly $35 million.

Joel Mowbray, Fellow, Foundation for Defense of Democracies, 2005-2014; formerly syndicated columnist with articles in Wall Street Journal, Washington Times, NY Post, The New Republic, L.A. Times, Philadelphia Inquirer, Atlanta Journal-Constitution, San Diego Union Tribune, Las Vegas Review Journal, Sacramento Bee, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, Investors Business Daily, Arizona Republic, San Francisco Chronicle, and FoxNews.com. In 2002, Mowbray founded Fourth Factor Consulting, LLC: “Fourth Factor advises Silicon Valley tech companies and pro-Israel and national security-oriented think tanks. The bulk of the work is strategic government affairs, which supplements lobbying efforts by being proactive instead of reactive.” He was a Hudson Institute Adjunct Fellow from 2003 – 2005, where he “conducted research into terror networks and Islamic radicalization, investigated Saudi influence in America, and scrutinized State Department’s handling of national security.” Mowbray is the author of Dangerous Diplomacy: How the State Department Threatens America’s Security.” His Linkdin bio lists AIPAC as one of his interests.

Rabbi Shmuley Boteach at the 2012 “Christians United for Israel” conference. Newsweek lists Boteach as one of America’s “most influential rabbis.”

Rabbi Shmuley Boteach, founder of The World Values Network, “the leading organization spreading universal Jewish values and defending Israel in American media” (see video); frequent guest on CNN, Fox News, MSNBC, the BBC, NBC, CBS, as well as The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, Time Magazine, Breitbart News, and The Washington Post. Rabbi Boteach’s personal site pictures him with his book: “The Israel Warrior: Fighting Back for the Jewish State from Campus to Street Corner.” Newsweek has repeatedly listed him in “The 50 Most Influential Rabbis in America. He ran for Congress in New Jersey, receiving an endorsement from House Majority Leader Eric Cantor. His site states:

“Rabbi Shmuley Boteach, “America’s Rabbi,” whom is for many the very face of Judaism in global media.

“The international best-selling author of 31 books, Rabbi Shmuley’s works have been translated into 20 languages. A world-renowned relationships expert, his book Kosher Sex is regarded as a modern classic and he has won numerous awards including The London Times Preacher of the Year Competition, The National Fatherhood Award, and The American Jewish Press Association’s Highest Award for Excellence in Commentary…

“Labeled ‘a cultural phenomenon’ by Newsweek and a man with ‘his scholarly finger on the pulse of the nation’ by Slate, Rabbi Shmuley is revolutionizing the place of Judaism and spirituality in modern culture and politics, and is one of the world’s most accomplished defenders of the State of Israel.”

At the 2015 Israel Day Concert In New York City Boteach said, to loud applause: “We are connected to Israel because it’s Jewish… we love Israel because Israel is good. We love Israel because it is the foremost protector of human rights in the world’s most troubled region. There is a war going on. There is a battle for the future of the Jewish state and each and every one of you is a soldier in that fight.”

Noah Pollak, Pollak’s bio describes him as a “political writer on foreign policy, Israel, and the Jewish people.” Pollak has written for Commentary, the Weekly Standard, National Review, the Wall Street Journal, Politico, and appeared on Fox News, PBS Newshour, and CNN. He is executive director of the Emergency Committee for Israel, a neoconservative political advocacy organization whose board members include neocons William Kristol and Rachel Abrams, wife of Elliott Abrams. Pollak helped promote the Taylor Force Act.

Ron Kampeas’ Linkedin entry reports: “Ron Kampeas is JTA’s [Jewish Telegraphic Agency ] Washington bureau chief, responsible for coordinating coverage in the U.S. capital and analyzing political developments that affect the Jewish world. He comes to JTA from The Associated Press, where he worked for more than a decade in its bureaus in Jerusalem, New York, London and, most recently, Washington. He has reported from Northern Ireland, Afghanistan, Bosnia and West Africa. While living in Israel, he also worked for the Jerusalem Post and several Jewish organizations.” Kampeas graduated from Hebrew University of Jerusalem.

Nathan Guttman, the Forward’s Washington bureau chief. He joined the staff in 2006 after serving for five years as Washington correspondent for the Israeli dailies Ha’aretz and The Jerusalem Post. Guttman was born in Canada and grew up in Israel. He is a graduate of Hebrew University.

Government, Politics

Congressman Eliot Engel has been in Congress since 1988 as a Democrat representing the Bronx. He has traveled to Israel many times, and says, “I remain committed to the unbreakable bond between the United States and Israel.” On another occasion, he opined, “We don’t want one party to be pro-Israel; we want both parties to be pro-Israel” because the state is “our best friend in the Middle East, and – I’d even argue – in the world.” Engel favors recognition of Jerusalem as the undivided capital of Israel, and is uncritical in his support.

Congressman Lee Zeldin (right), member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee and Co-Chair of the House Republican Israel Caucus, meets in his Washington, DC office with Yoav Kisch, member of the Israeli Knesset, Feb. 1, 2017.

Congressman Lee Zeldin previously served in the New York State Senate, and is now in the U.S. House of Representatives. As Co-Chair of the House Republican Israel Caucus, he spoke on the issue of the U.N. “anti-Israel resolution” of December 2016: “Pro-Palestinian, anti-Israel nations are continuing their fanatical efforts at the United Nations to delegitimize [Israel]… Their disparaging, divisive and dangerous tactics will be met with zero tolerance. Continued unilateral concessions by Israel in exchange for no promises or follow through towards peace on the part of others would be as ill-advised as it is unfeasible.” Zeldin also wrote, regarding the U.N. resolution, that it “further cements President Obama’s legacy as one of the worst presidents in the history of the United States… [He] chose to embrace a pro-Palestinian attempt to ethnically cleanse East Jerusalem and Judea and Samaria.” Zeldin is also passionately in favor of moving Israel’s capital to Jerusalem.

Congressman Henry Waxman, Democratic Congressman from southern California, 1975 – 2015. The Forward calls him “one of the most influential liberals, and one of the most skilled legislators, of his generation.” In the Times of Israel report, “Jewish lawmaker, who maintains close ties to Israel, has represented Los Angeles district for 40 years,” Waxman was named “the dean of Jewish lawmakers in the U.S. House of Representatives.”

Waxman said that he had “worked throughout my career to strengthen the US-Israel relationship. I have traveled to Israel on numerous occasions…” Waxman once stated: “…it is with pride that I have seen my daughter thrive in Israel and my grandchildren serve in the Israeli army.”

Janet Kessler, Waxman’s wife; founder of Congressional Wives for Soviet Jewry.

Jason Greenblatt, formerly executive vice president and chief legal officer to Trump and the Trump Organization, and his advisor on Israel; currently special envoy to the Israeli-Palestinian peace process for President Trump, charged with facilitating “the ultimate deal.”  According to NPR, Greenblatt once studied in a  yeshiva – a Jewish religious seminary – in a West Bank settlement. He has recently met with senior settler leadership in preparation for negotiations. In fact, Greenblatt and Trump’s administration are more sympathetic toward settlements than any previous administration, much to the delight of Israel. The Palestinian Authority, on the other hand, is not optimistic: Greenblatt has yet to even commit to helping create a Palestinian state.

U.S. Secretary of Veterans Affairs David Shulkin (left) meets with Israeli Deputy Defense Minister Eli Ben-Dahan, March 2017. The Israeli government has used Shulkin to build a closer relationship between Israel and the U.S. After the meeting, the VA purchased medical equipment from an Israeli company.

David Shulkin, current U.S. Secretary of Veteran Affairs; he was recommended to President Trump by U.S. Ambassador to Israel David Friedman, even though Shulkin is not a veteran. (Veterans had wanted the position to be filled by a military veteran, the normal procedure; some lobbied for then VA Secretary Robert McDonald to be named.) Israel sees veterans affairs as a new means of bringing the U.S. and Israel closer together, as JNS (Jewish News Service) reports: “While US-Israeli military ties have long focused on foreign aid packages, intelligence-sharing and jointly developed missile defense technology, veterans affairs could become a major new frontier in that relationship.” JNS writes that the selection of Shulkin, “a Jewish doctor and administrator,” for Secretary of veterans affairs, was an important development in the process. Within weeks of Shulkin’s confirmation, the Israeli Deputy Defense Minister asked Shulkin for a meeting. The meeting was the first of its kind between American and Israeli officials responsible for the care of injured and released soldiers. After the meeting, Veterans Affairs purchased Israeli medical equipment. U.S. officials sometimes provide Israelis the opportunity “to make presentations during international conferences at which Israel is not yet participating.” JNS notes: “Such opportunities will allow the Israelis to showcase their knowledge on a world stage to which they have, until now, largely been denied access.’

Shulkin and his wife Merle Bari (below) are currently under investigation for taxpayer funding of a recent trip to Europe.

Merle Bari, wife of David Shulkin, physician specializing in general and cosmetic dermatology. Recently she has been criticized for reports that “the government covered the cost of Bari’s airfare and gave her a per diem for meals” when she accompanied her husband on a trip to Europe. She seems to have close ties to Israel. In 1977 Bari was a youth participant in Israel’s Maccabiah Games, and in 2013 her daughter similarly participated in the Games during a year she spent in Israel, and was a delegate to the AIPAC national convention.

Aaron David Miller worked at the State Department for 25 years as a Middle East negotiator and adviser on Arab-Israeli affairs. He is currently a vice president at the Wilson Center; he says he believes “in the importance of a strong U.S.-Israeli relationship.” In an article for the Washington Post Miller admitted that he and other U.S. mediators had actually like “Israel’s lawyer.”

“With the best of motives and intentions, we listened to and followed Israel’s lead without critically examining what that would mean for our own interests, for those on the Arab side, and for the overall success of the negotiations. The “no surprises” policy, under which we had to run everything by Israel first, stripped our policy of the independence and flexibility required for serious peacemaking.”

“What we ended up doing was advocating Israel’s positions before, during and after the summit.”

Matt Nosanchuk was Jewish Liaison under Obama; said he had very strong relationships with pro-Israel organizations across the political spectrum. He has worked in the White House, Congress, the State Department, Justice Department, and Homeland Security on a range of domestic and foreign issues arising at the intersection of policy, law, advocacy, legislation, strategic communications, and outreach and engagement. He described President Obama’s views (and said he agreed with them):

“The president [Obama] said he wouldn’t be where he is today without the support of the Jewish community in Chicago. He believes in Zionism. He believes we have shared values. He shows strong, unwavering support for Israel. He says he did the Iran deal partially to protect Israel’s security, that it would be a ‘moral failing’ not to protect Israel’s security.”

(L-R) Aaron Keyak, William Daroff and Steve Rabinowitz at the launch of Bluelight Strategies, a consulting group at the “nexus of political Washington and the Jewish and pro-Israel world.” Keyak was previously a senior Congressional staffer and executive director of the National Jewish Democratic Council.”

Aaron Keyak, Co-owner of a Washington DC PR firm; he was a senior staffer for some Congressional representatives and communications director and interim executive director for the National Jewish Democratic Council. Keyak has said that strengthening the U.S.-Israel relationship is one of the values he most cares about. Washington Jewish Week reported about the 2015 launch of Keyak’s public relations firm:

“The official announcement was made at the “Latkes & Vodkas” party at their swanky downtown office on Dec. 15. Steve Rabinowitz, founder and president of the mostly progressive and Judeocentric Washington, D.C.-based political public relations firm, Rabinowitz Communications – the former Clinton White House staffer who produced the famed photograph of Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin and PLO leader Yasser Arafat shaking hands on the White House South Lawn – would no longer be flying solo. Aaron Keyak, 29, would become his partner in a new PR company called “Bluelight Strategies.”

“… recently, communications director and senior Middle East policy advisor for Jewish Rep. Jerry Nadler (D-N.Y.), who represents one of the most heavily Jewish districts in the country. He previously served in a similar role with Rep. Steve Rothman (D-N.J.).

“According to Keyak, the idea for the partnership arose out of the successful working relationship he and Rabinowitz enjoyed during the 2012 presidential election, when the two collaborated on a venture they called the “Hub,” an effort aimed to organize Jewish voters for Democratic candidates.”

Avi Goldgraber, wife of Aaron Keyak, is manager at Accenture; previously she was confidential secretary to Deputy Secretary, Department of  Health and Human Services. Goldgraber attended Israel’s Hebrew University of Jerusalem, received her B.A. from Washington University in Political Science and Jewish, Islamic, and Near Eastern Studies. She is the  daughter of Moshe B. Goldgraber who endowed a fellowship for Israeli physicians.

Josh Raffel currently leads the communications team for Jared Kushner and is his principal spokesman. Raffel is “often the primary route for delivering Mr. Kushner’s message to the news media, and he also handles communications on issues like Israeli-Palestinian negotiations.” He was formerly a publicist, whose clients included Hollywood horror films, Glenn Beck, and Jared Kushner’s family business.

Top Democratic strategist Ann Lewis declared that “the role of the president of the United States is to support the decisions that are made by the people of Israel.”

Ann Lewis, leading Democratic Party strategist and communicator. In one public meeting of Jewish leaders before the 2008 election, Lewis declared that “the role of the president of the United States is to support the decisions that are made by the people of Israel. It is not up to us to pick and choose from among the political parties.” This was after some discussion that “there’s something wrong with Senator Obama’s views about Jews, about Israel” – referring to Obama’s pastor, Rev. Jeremiah Wright’s, preaching that Israel is committing “state terrorism against the Palestinians,” as well as Obama’s apparent sympathy for Palestinians. Lewis’ pro-Israel clout as leading Democratic Party strategist and communicator is clear in how she was able to change the Israel policy of the Center for American Progress, a powerful progressive research and advocacy organization. She made it clear that criticism of Israel, AIPAC, and American Jewish groups is forbidden. CAP was quick to self-censor, removing or cleaning up tweets and articles.

David Milstein, Research Analyst for Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX), primarily focusing on issues related to Israel. “He played a leadership role with an organization called Young Jewish Conservatives whose mission is to build a community of politically conservative young Jews who strongly support Israel; co-organized its annual Shabbat Event at the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC), the largest annual gathering of conservative activists.”

ThinkTanks, NGOs, Funders

Morton Klein has been national president of the Zionist Organization of America for 24 years. When President Obama abstained from voting in the U.N. Security Council resolution condemning Israeli settlements, Klein opined, “Obama has made it clear that he’s a Jew-hating anti-Semite.” He agreed with candidate Trump’s plan for profiling Muslims: “We should adopt the same profiling policies as Israel and be more thorough in vetting Muslims,” adding, “it’s not the worst thing to do.” Klein criticized Secretary of State Rex Tillerson for using the word “Palestine,” claiming that it sends a message to the Arab world that “this administration is biased to their side.” Going even further, Klein called for Tillerson to be fired when the State Department published its annual terror report, which suggested (as it had the previous year) that Israeli settlements and Palestinian hopelessness are factors contributing to Palestinian terrorism. Klein indicated that the State Department had “put out reports that give excuses for Palestinian murder of Jews.” The ZOA organized a letter opposing the Iran deal.

Abe Foxman worked at the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) for 50 years. After retiring he joined Israel’s Institute for National Security Studies (INSS).

Abe Foxman, former National Director of the Anti-Defamation League; currently ADL National Director Emeritus and fellow at Israel’s Institute for National Security Studies (INSS), a Tel Aviv-based think tank for issues of security and Middle East policy. He is also head of the Center for the Study of Anti-Semitism at the Museum of Jewish Heritage in New York City. Foxman is known as the “Jewish Pope” thanks to his 28-year leadership of the Anti-Defamation League. INSS director Amos Yadlin called him “an undeclared leader of the American Jewish community and a leading global figure on matters of human dignity and moral conduct.” Foxman believes that the BDS movement is anti-Semitic “99% of the time.”

Stacy Burdett, Vice President, Government Relations, Advocacy & Community Engagement at Anti-Defamation League. He has participated in the international campaign to change the definition of anti-Semitism to include many statements about Israel.

Loribeth Weinstein, CEO of Jewish Women International (JWI) for over 15 years. JWI works to “end violence, ensure economic security, and spotlight leadership and mentoring.” She has also served American Jewish World Service, dedicated to “ending poverty and promoting human rights in the developing world.” Weinstein has also been on the Regional Council of the New Israel Fund, which includes as its mission statement, achievement of “equality for all the citizens of the state… protection of Palestinian citizens… opposition to all forms of discrimination and bigotry… a just society at peace with itself and its neighbors.” The New Israel Fund has supported B’tselem to the tune of $2.2 million over the last ten years.

Howard Kohr, executive director of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC). Analysts write: “AIPAC, which is a de facto agent for a foreign government, has a stranglehold on the U.S. Congress.”

Howard Kohr, executive director of AIPAC since 1996. Under his supervision, Congresspeople have been given all-expenses-paid trips to Israel to “discover their own personal connection to the land…and to understand the issues more clearly.” Kohr has turned AIPAC into “the most influential foreign policy lobbying organization” in Washington, and promises to keep it that way with the help of 4,000 pro-Israel student leaders across the country. “Mr. Kohr [representing AIPAC] has helped to navigate congressional passage of the annual U.S. Foreign Aid bill by historic, record-breaking margins — accomplishments achieved often in the midst of a hostile, budget-cutting environment.”

In his testimony to Congress in April 2017, as Kohr requested $3.1 billion in foreign military aid, he reminisced about the “close strategic relationship between the United States and Israel” that began with sharing of key intelligence in 1967 – the same year that Israel attacked the USS Liberty with napalm, gunfire, and missiles, even machine-gunning three lifeboats. The Moorer Commission found that the attack constituted “an act of war against the United States.” Professors John Mearsheimer of the University of Chicago and Stephen Walt of Harvard state: “AIPAC, which is a de facto agent for a foreign government, has a stranglehold on the U.S. Congress.”

Fortune magazine has ranked AIPAC the number two most powerful lobbying group in Washington D.C., after the American Association of Retired Persons (AARP)

Bob Cohen, Chairman of the Board of Directors of AIPAC (American Israel Political Affairs Committee), former President of AIPAC (2014). Cohen is considered one of AIPAC’s six key leaders.

Jason Isaacson of the American Jewish Committee (AJC) speaks at the National Leadership Assembly for Israel at the National Press Club, July 28, 2014. (Video here.)

Jason Isaacson, Director of Government and International Affairs at the American Jewish Committee (AJC). The AJC website announces:

“Around the world—from the hallways of the U.N. in New York, to the corridors of the European Union in Brussels, and to the countries of Asia—AJC advocates for Israel at the highest levels. And when Israel is under assault, whether from the terrorist organizations on her doorstep or the global BDS movement, AJC helps bring the world the truth about Israel.”

The AJC is an American nonprofit organization. Donations to it are tax-deductible.

Daniel S. Mariaschin, CEO of B’nai B’rith International, “a national and global leader in…Israel advocacy.” His B’nai B’rith bio reports: “Mr. Mariaschin has met with countless heads of state, prime ministers, foreign ministers, opposition leaders, influential members of the media and clerical leaders. Each time, his goal has been to advance human rights, help protect the rights of Jewish communities worldwide and promote better relations with the state of Israel.” Mr. Mariaschin represented the organization at numerous international conferences, many of which helped to establish a new, Israel-centric definition of anti-Semitism, including the International Conference on Holocaust Education, Remembrance and Research; and the State Department’s 1998 Washington Conference on Holocaust-Era Assets. Mariaschin served as part of the U.S. delegation to the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) conference on anti-Semitism in Vienna in 2003; was public advisor to the U.S. delegation at the 2004 conference in Berlin, the 2005 conference in Cordoba, Spain, and the 2007 meeting in Bucharest, Romania. In 2009 he was a member of the U.S. delegation to the Warsaw Human Dimension Implementation meeting of the OSCE.

Mariaschin began his professional Jewish life in 1973 as community relations associate for the Jewish Community Council of Boston. Two years later, he became director of the New England office of the American Zionist Federation and Zionist House in Boston. In 1977, he joined the Anti Defamation League (ADL) of B’nai B’rith as director of its Middle East Affairs Department. From 1979 to 1986, he served as assistant to ADL’s national director, the late Nathan Perlmutter, and as director of its National Leadership division, responsible for ADL’s nationwide program of leadership development. He then became director of the Political Affairs Department of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC), where he supervised political action activities and grassroots organization programs.

Prior to joining B’nai B’rith, Mr. Mariaschin served as director of communications and principal spokesman for former Secretary of State Alexander M. Haig, Jr. during his 1987-88 presidential campaign.

Mariaschin has written numerous articles for such publications as The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, Los Angeles Times, Chicago Tribune, The Washington Times and Newsday, and appears frequently as a foreign affairs analyst on television and radio programs. He has lectured on foreign and defense affairs at the U.S. State Department’s Foreign Service Institute, the Marine Corps Command and Staff College, and at other military installations across the country. He has also worked as a radio announcer and news commentator and has lectured widely in the U.S. and abroad.

Rabbi Levi Shemtov, Shemtov has been called “the rabbi of Capitol Hill.” The Washingtonian states: “Rabbi Levi Shemtov is a Washington institution.” It reports that Shemtov

“is among the country’s best-connected and most politically savvy rabbis. Shemtov has supervised the koshering of the White House kitchen, lit the National Menorah alongside Vice President Joe Biden, and for more than two decades has run American Friends of Lubavitch (AFL), the Washington arm of the world’s most successful Jewish outreach organization.”

“It’s hard for me to think of any political Jewish person in Washington that doesn’t have a relationship with him,” says Steve Rabinowitz, a PR executive and longtime friend of the rabbi’s.”

His bio on the Rabbinical Council of Greater Washington reports:

“Rabbi Shemtov is also the Executive Vice President of American Friends of Lubavitch (Chabad) and serves the daily governmental and diplomatic needs of the international Chabad-Lubavitch movement, the world’s largest and fastest growing Jewish network of educational and social service institutions, with over 3,500 centers in 49 states and over 80 countries. He maintains close relationships with numerous members of the United States Congress, senior Administration officials and leaders in the international community, including a number of heads of state and government. Rabbi Shemtov chairs the organizing committee of the International Chabad-Lubavitch Conference – Living Legacy, which facilitates high-level interaction between rabbis and communal leadership from around the globe and prominent US and international figures in the arenas of government, diplomacy, academia and the arts.

“Programs he organizes include several signature events such as the annual lighting ceremony of the National Chanukah Menorah drawing thousands to The Ellipse (across from the White House) every year, and seen by millions more via various media and the internet. In addition, he founded and directs the Capitol Jewish Forum, which is the largest (apolitical) Jewish group on Capitol Hill, designed to “create and enhance a sense of identity and community among Jewish Congressional staffers and members of Congress” and which enjoys strong support of the Leadership and members of both parties in the US Senate and House of Representatives. Rabbi Shemtov is often at the White House, Pentagon, United States Department of State and other venues in official Washington, seen by many as an effective, bipartisan unifier and premier Jewish resource.”

Shemtov is a passionate Israel defender who used the national menorah lighting awhile ago to complain about a U.N. resolution saying that Israeli settlements are illegal. In 2014 he gave a speech at a Stand With Us rally in Washington DC:

(Jared Kushner and Ivanka attend his synagogue.)

Nathan Diament previously served on President Obama’s Faith Advisory Council; his writing has appeared in The Washington Post, The Forward, and other publications, he has appeared on CNN, FOX News, NPR, and other broadcasts. Currently he is Executive Director for the Orthodox Union Advocacy Center, “public policy arm of the nation’s largest Orthodox Jewish organization‚ representing nearly 1,000 congregations nationwide.” One of its main issues is “supporting Israel.” The Orthodox Union website never uses the word Palestine when referring to the modern-day state, without using quotation marks (i.e. “Palestine”); it states that “historically, there was never an indigenous Palestinian people”; its Newsroom and Campus Life sections are anti-Palestine; and it features a Birthright travel agency. Diament himself is a strong advocate of an “undivided Jerusalem” as capital of Israel.

Roger Hertog, “strategic philanthropist” and chairman of the Tikvah Fund, with Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu at a gala ceremony at Manhattan’s Plaza Hotel where Netanyahu received an reward from the Hudson Institute.

Roger Hertog, vice-chair emeritus of Alliance-Bernstein L.P., an investment firm which was reportedly valued in 2002 at $100 billion that was investigated for “improper trading moves.” Hertog practices what he calls “strategic philanthropy.” He has funded many pro-Israel organizations: the Anti-Defamation League; American Friends of Shalva; Tikvah (he is chairman); in 2005, gave $5 million to Taglit-Birthright Israel; he founded Israel’s Shalem Center; is on the boards of Commentary magazine and the American Enterprise Institute; and is a member of what Ha’aretz called Netanyahu’s “billionaire’s club.” Inside Philanthropy reports:

“involved in philanthropy for decades. Hertog was previously chairman of New York Historical Society and the Manhattan Institute, each of which has received large support. As well, the couple has given tens of millions to the New York Public Library over the years. The Hertog Foundation has given away around $10 million annually in recent years, mainly toward Jewish causes, conservative policy issues, education (both higher education, and school reform), and arts and culture. The Hertog Foundation also runs educational programs for students in areas such as politics, war, and economics…

“served as chairman emeritus of the conservative think tank Manhattan Institute, as well as served on the board of the American Enterprise Institute (AEI). He was also a backer of the right-leaning New York Sun newspaper. Hertog and Susan have also supported outfits like the Thomas Jefferson Foundation, the Alexander Hamilton Society, the Brookings Institution, the Hudson Institute, the Claremont Institute, the Washington Institute, and the Institute for the Study of War.

Involved in Israeli archaeology projects (for info on their agenda see this); funded an excavation by Israeli archaeologist Eilat Mazar and provided resources for multi-volume scholarship to interpret and publish the Temple Mount Excavation.

Hertog has also been involved in media ventures: he was co-owner of The New Republic for a period; supplied the seed money for the now-defunct New York Sun, and guaranteed the $2 million bail for pro-Israel media baron Conrad Black when he was charged for defrauding shareholders.

Lindsay Kaplan, wife of Norman Eisen, Georgetown University English Department.

Sander Gerber was a low profile New York hedge fund CEO and AIPAC national board member who heard about the death of American Taylor Force in Israel and investigated the Palestinian Authority’s budget with the help of a top intelligence Israeli general and an Israeli research institute. Gerber and his associates discovered the Palestinian Authority’s social safety net program which provides a stipend for families of men who have been injured, killed, or imprisoned by Israel.  He dubbed the program “pay to slay,” and began to lobby Congress and the media to stop the practice. The Taylor Force Act would slash aid to the PA unless it stops the stipend program for widows and children.

Israelis & Israeli media

Danny Ayalon, Israeli Deputy Foreign Minister of Foreign Affairs; formerly Israeli ambassador to the U.S. In 2005 Ayalon received the Brandeis award from the Jewish Community in Baltimore. He is the  founder of “Truth About Israel,” an Israeli organization known for its short videos, which is registered as a nonprofit, tax-deductible organization in the U.S., and is also present in Singapore. (We have not yet been able to find the organization’s 990 tax form, which suggests that it’s registered under a different name.)

Yarden Golan, Chief of Staff at the Israeli Embassy.

Ron Prosor, former Israeli ambassador to the UN.

Sarah Abonyi, Special Projects Manager for the Ambassador of Israel. From New Mexico.

Miriam Smallman, Director of Media Relations at Israeli embassy.

Michael Wilner, A native New Yorker who is the Washington bureau chief and White House correspondent for Israel’s The Jerusalem Post. 


Alison Weir is executive director of If Americans Knew, president of the Council for the National Interest, and author of Against Our Better Judgment: The Hidden History of How the U.S. Was Used to Create Israel. Her upcoming book talks are listed here. Kathryn Shihadah is a staff writer for If Americans Knew. She recently wrote “How Israel Weaponizes Archeology.”

October 5, 2017 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Timeless or most popular, Wars for Israel | , , , , , , , , | 7 Comments

The Mystery of the Russia-gate Puppies

By Robert Parry | Consortium News | October 4, 2017

What is perhaps most unprofessional, unethical and even immoral about the U.S. mainstream media’s coverage of Russia-gate is how all the stories start with the conclusion – “Russia bad” – and then make whatever shards of information exist fit the preordained narrative.

For instance, we’re told that Facebook executives, who were sent back three times by Democratic lawmakers to find something to pin on Russia, finally detected $100,000 worth of ads spread out over three years from accounts “suspected of links to Russia” or similar hazy wording.

These Facebook ads and 201 related Twitter accounts, we’re told, represent the long-missing proof about Russian “meddling” in the U.S. presidential election after earlier claims faltered or fell apart under even minimal scrutiny.

In the old days, journalists might have expressed some concern that Facebook “found” the ads only under extraordinary pressure from powerful politicians, such as Sen. Mark Warner, D-Virginia, the vice chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee and a leading legislator on the tech industry. But today’s mainstream reporters took Warner’s side and made it look like Facebook had been dragging its heels and that there must be much more out there.

However, it doesn’t really seem to matter how little evidence there is. Anything will do.

Even the paltry $100,000 is not put in any perspective (Facebook has annual revenue of $27 billion), nor the 201 Twitter accounts (compared to Twitter’s 328 million monthly users). Nor are the hazy allegations of “suspected … links to Russia” subjected to serious inspection. Although Russia is a nation of 144 million people and many divergent interests, it’s assumed that everything must be personally ordered by President Vladimir Putin.

Yet, if you look at some of the details about these $100,000 in ads, you learn the case is even flimsier than you might have thought. The sum was spread out over 2015, 2016 and 2017 – and thus represented a very tiny pebble in a very large lake of Facebook activity.

But more recently we learned that only 44 percent of the ads appeared before Americans went to the polls last November, according to Facebook; that would mean that 56 percent appeared afterwards.

Facebook added that “roughly 25% of the ads were never shown to anyone. … For 50% of the ads, less than $3 was spent; for 99% of the ads, less than $1,000 was spent.”

So, as miniscule as the $100,000 in ad buys over three years may have seemed, the tiny pebble turns out really to be only a fraction of a tiny pebble if the Russians indeed did toss it into the 2016 campaign.

What About the Puppies?

We further have learned that most ads weren’t for or against a specific candidate, but rather addressed supposedly controversial issues that the mainstream media insists were meant to divide the United States and thus somehow undermine American democracy.

Except, it turns out that one of the issues was puppies.

As Mike Isaac and Scott Shane of The New York Times reported in Tuesday’s editions, “The Russians who posed as Americans on Facebook last year tried on quite an array of disguises. … There was even a Facebook group for animal lovers with memes of adorable puppies that spread across the site with the help of paid ads.”

Now, there are a lot of controversial issues in America, but I don’t think any of us would put puppies near the top of the list. Isaac and Shane reported that there were also supposedly Russia-linked groups advocating gay rights, gun rights and black civil rights, although precisely how these divergent groups were “linked” to Russia or the Kremlin was never fully explained. (Facebook declined to offer details.)

At this point, a professional journalist might begin to pose some very hard questions to the sources, who presumably include many partisan Democrats and their political allies hyping the evil-Russia narrative. It would be time for some lectures to the sources about the consequences for taking reporters on a wild ride in conspiracy land.

Yet, instead of starting to question the overall premise of this “scandal,” journalists at The New York Times, The Washington Post, CNN, etc. keep making excuses for the nuttiness. The explanation for the puppy ads was that the nefarious Russians might be probing to discover Americans who might later be susceptible to propaganda.

“The goal of the dog lovers’ page was more obscure,” Isaac and Shane acknowledged. “But some analysts suggested a possible motive: to build a large following before gradually introducing political content. Without viewing the entire feed from the page, now closed by Facebook, it is impossible to say whether the Russian operators tried such tactics.”

The Joe McCarthy of Russia-gate

The Times then turned to Clinton Watts, a former FBI agent and a top promoter of the New McCarthyism that has swept Official Washington. Watts has testified before Congress that almost anything that appears on social media these days criticizing a politician may well be traceable to the Russians.

For instance, last March, Watts testified in conspiratorial terms before the Senate Intelligence Committee about “social media accounts discrediting U.S. Speaker of the House Paul Ryan.” At the time, Ryan was under criticism for his ham-handed handling of a plan to “repeal and replace” Obamacare, but Watts saw possible Russian fingerprints.

Watts also claimed that Sen. Marco Rubio’s presidential bid “anecdotally suffered” from an online Russian campaign against him, though many of you may have thought Rubio flamed out because he was a wet-behind-the-ears candidate who performed robotically in the debates and received the devastating nickname “Little Marco” from Donald Trump.

Watts explained that these nefarious Russian schemes left no discernible earmarks or detectable predictability. Russians attack “people on both sides of the aisle … solely based on what they [the Russians] want to achieve in their own landscape, whatever the Russian foreign policy objectives are,” Watts complained.

Watts’s vague allegations appear to have been the impetus behind Sen. Warner’s repeated demands that Facebook find some evidence to support the suspicions. After Facebook came up empty twice, Warner flew to Silicon Valley to personally confront Facebook executives who then found what Warner wanted them to find, the $100,000 in suspected Russia-linked ad buys.

So, it perhaps made sense that the Times would turn to Watts to explain the rather inexplicable Russian exploitation of puppies. According to Isaac and Shane, Watts “said Russia had been entrepreneurial in trying to develop diverse channels of influence. Some, like the dogs page, may have been created without a specific goal and held in reserve for future use. ‘They were creating many audiences on social media to try to influence around,’ said Mr. Watts, who has traced suspected Russian accounts since 2015.”

In other words, if you start with the need to prove Russian guilt, there are no alternative explanations besides Russian guilt. If some fact, like the puppies page, doesn’t seem to fit the sinister conspiracy theory, you simply pound it into place until it does.

Yes, of course, Russian intelligence operatives must be so sneaky that they are spending money (but not much) on Facebook puppy ads so they might sometime in the future slip in a few other ideological messages. It can’t be that perhaps the ads were not part of some Russian government intelligence operation.

The Russ-kie Plot

But even if we want to believe that these ads are a Russ-kie plot and were somehow intended to sow dissension in the U.S., the totals are insignificant, a subset of a subset of a subset of $100,000 in ad buys over three years that, as far as anyone can tell, had no real impact on the 2016 election – and surely much, much, much less than the political influence from, say, Israel.

If we apply Facebook’s 44 percent figure, that would suggest the total spending in the two years before the election was around $44,000 and much of that focused on a diverse set of issues, not specific candidates. So, if some Russians did spend money to promote gay rights and to push  gun rights, any negligible impact on the 2016 election would more or less have been canceled out between Clinton and Trump.

Yet, over these still unproven and speculative allegations of Russian “links” to these Facebook ads, the national Democrats and their mainstream media allies are stoking a dangerous and expensive New Cold War with nuclear-armed Russia.

I realize that lots of Democrats were upset about Hillary Clinton’s humiliating defeat and don’t want to believe that she could have lost fairly to a buffoon like Donald Trump. So, they are looking for any excuses rather than looking in the mirror.

The major U.S. news outlets also have joined the anti-Trump Resistance, rather than upholding the journalistic principles of objectivity and fairness. The Post even came up with a new melodramatic slogan for the moment: “Democracy Dies in Darkness.”

But yellow journalism is not the way to shed light into darkness; it only blinds Democrats from seeing the real reasons behind Trump’s appeal to many working-class whites who feel disaffected from a Democratic Party that seems disinterested in their suffering.

Yes, I know that some Democrats are still hoping against hope that they can ride Russia-gate all the way to Trump’s impeachment and get him ridden out of Washington D.C. on a rail, but the political risk to Democrats is that they will harden the animosity that many in the white working class already feel toward the party.

That could do more to strengthen Trump’s appeal to these voters than to weaken him, while hollowing out Democratic support among millions of peace voters who may simply declare a plague on both parties.

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

October 4, 2017 Posted by | Deception, Fake News, Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Russophobia | , , , , | 1 Comment

The problem with modern “journalism” summed up in one story

By Kit | OffGuardian | October 1, 2107

That a protest Facebook/twitter account focusing on the mistreatment of black people by American police was actually a fake account run by Russians to make the US look bad and spread division in the West… is one hell of a claim. If you were to make it, you’d probably be expected to supply evidence to back up your accusation. That’s only reasonable.

Well, CNN don’t feel the need. Two days ago they reported this story verbatim, here. Under the headline:

Exclusive: Fake black activist accounts linked to Russian government

Now, the headline doesn’t say HOW these accounts were linked to Russia, or indeed who linked them. But that’s OK, because neither does the body of the text. There’s not a single link, source or piece of evidence cited at all. The only basis for the claim is:

two sources with knowledge of the matter told CNN

That’s it. In total. They never say who these two sources are (leaving the very real possibility they don’t even exist), they never say what their supposed “knowledge of the situation” is. They tell us nothing of any note, and have the gall to put “exclusive” in the headline.

“Some guy said so” is NOT an exclusive.

The Guardian then took this one step further down the path of insanity – they reported that CNN had reported, that 2 guys told them something. Their headline…

Did Russia fake black activism on Facebook to sow division in the US?

… at least has the decency to use a question-mark, although none of that implied doubt makes into the body of the article. They don’t mention that CNN never provided any evidence of this claim, or CNN’s anonymous sources. Instead they choose to focus on whether or not it sounds plausible. After providing soundbites from professors who study “Russian interference in elections”, and referencing the Soviet Union’s supposed support of the civil rights movement of the 1960s, they decide that it does sound plausible. And since it’s plausible… it’s probably true. Right?

No reference to the keystone questions of journalism – who, when, where, why, how. No reference to evidence or sources, or agendas. Just a vague analysis of the plausibility of a rumor started by CNN on the basis of two anonymous sources with “knowledge of the situation”. This is the modern method of spreading propaganda – through a concerted effort of repetition without evidence, you can turn a lie into a “fact”.

That is the cancerous absurdity of today’s “journalism” in a nutshell.

October 1, 2017 Posted by | Deception, Fake News, Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Russophobia | , | 6 Comments

The Bana Alabed Psy-Op Proves The West Is Saturated In War Propaganda

By Caitlin Johnstone | The Last American Vagabond | September 18, 2017

If I could have everyone in the English-speaking world watch only one video on Youtube, it would without a doubt be a comedy bit performed by a funny-looking professional goofball on RT. I say in all seriousness that it could change the trajectory of our species on this planet.

The above segment is presented for an audience who showed up for a comedy show, but it also contains video evidence that should forever change the way they think about the media, their government, their nation, and everything they’ve been taught growing up about what their society is and how it works. So far this is probably the closest thing to mainstream coverage that the depravity of the Bana Alabed psy-op has received.

In the segment, Redacted Tonight’s John F. O’Donnell shows video footage of a seven year-old Syrian girl being “interviewed” by CNN’s conscience-free Alisyn Camerota, who as a side note recently had the gall to complain that she was suffering from “Russia fatigue” as a result of all the bogus Russia conspiracy theories with which her network has been relentlessly brutalizing the American psyche. O’Donnell then shows a clip illustrating that Bana does not in fact understand even the most rudimentary English, let alone the capacity for the geopolitical analysis demonstrated in the Camerota interview. It was scripted, and Bana was phonetically sounding out words that she did not understand in order to manufacture public support for more US interventionism in Syria.

The interview was scripted, and what for me is most shocking is that Alisyn Camerota necessarily had the other half of the script. Bana wouldn’t have been able to improvise answers to unscripted questions, so Camerota was necessarily knowingly acting out a staged, scripted scene and deceiving her audience about its nature. She lied to the American people for the most despicable reason imaginable, and exploited a little child to do it.

Here it is in full:

O’Donnell then goes on to describe how this despicable psy-op has been promoted across multiple platforms throughout the mainstream media, from CNN’s Jake Tapper to Time Magazine to a Simon & Schuster book deal. The plutocrats who control these powerful media corporations plainly want eyes on this girl, just not the kind of eyes that look with any degree of healthy skepticism.

The reason for all of this, of course, is that US hegemony is fully dependent on its massive military power. Since the heavily-armed American people would grow upset if they were told that the oligarchs who rule their country are spending an unfathomable amount of the nation’s money and resources trying to depose Bashar al-Assad because Syria occupies a crucial strategic location in US world dominance (risking a direct confrontation with the nuclear-armed Russia in the process), they make it about saving children instead. In 1990 a teenager gave false testimony about hospitalized babies being removed from incubators and left to die to manufacture support for US military involvement in the oil-rich Kuwait, and we’re seeing something very similar with Syria today. As Bana so often says, “Save the children of Syria.”

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I’m very excited to see what appears to be an increased effort to push awareness of the Bana Alabed psy-op into mainstream consciousness. It’s not enough to have this undeniable act of deceitful war propaganda being discussed by a few Syrian activists and the occasional segment on RT; mainstream America needs to be told about this. If we all make a whole lot of noise pointing to the indisputable facts outlined in the Redacted Tonight segment at the beginning of this article, eventually mainstream outlets will be forced to comment on it. Alisyn Camerota will be forced to answer questions about her participation in the staged interview. They’ll be forced to overextend themselves and make even more mistakes. The true face of the mass media propaganda machine will swing into the full focus of everyday Americans. This can change the world.

Please help make this happen. Share the links I’ve placed in this article, make your own videos, podcasts, articles and tweets. The propaganda machine made a very foolish mistake using something so easily debunked in its war efforts, and we need to capitalize on that mistake while they’re vulnerable. Shove this thing as hard as you can into mainstream consciousness in every way you can think of. The machine is weaker than it seems. We can bring it down.

September 19, 2017 Posted by | Deception, Fake News, Mainstream Media, Warmongering | , , , | Leave a comment

Venezuela Pulls 2 Channels Off Air Over “Resign or Die” Comments

By Ryan Mallett-Outtrim | Venezuelanalysis | August 25, 2017

Venezuelan regulators ordered Thursday two cable networks be taken off air, after they were accused of promoting violence.

The country’s national telecommunications regulator CONATEL said Colombian broadcasters RCN and Caracol Television would be taken off air for “openly calling for [the] assassination [of the president].”

“The measure is within the bounds of the law, given that those stations over several months attacked Venezuela and [its] institutions,” CONATEL said in a statement, quoting former head regulator Andres Mendez.

The move was in response to comments by former Mexican president Vicente Fox aired by RCN and Caracol. Addressing Maduro, Fox warned “this dictator will leave through resignation, or with his feet in front of him, in a box”.

During RCN’s broadcast, the lower third beneath Fox simply read, “Dictator Maduro, resign or die.”

Fox’s comments were quickly condemned by Maduro ally and Bolivian President Evo Morales.

“If anything happens to our brother President Maduro, it will be Mexican ex-president Vicente Fox’s responsibility,” he said.

Fox made his comment during the “Thinking the 21st Century” conference in Baranquilla, Colombia. Last month, the ex-president was declared persona non grata in Venezuela after he participated as an observer in an unofficial opposition plebiscite asking citizens if they would support a “zero hour” campaign of protests aimed at overthrowing the government.

Neither RCN or Caracol appeared available in Venezuela at the time of writing, and at least one major cable provider has confirmed cutting one of the signals.

“We inform you that the 772 Caracol International channel is no longer available for Venezuela because we are complying with an order from … CONATEL,” cable provider DirecTV tweeted.

Some viewers have reported they can still access RCN through DirecTV, but not through most other major providers.

Venezuela’s opposition had condemned CONATEL’s decision as censorship.

“One more channel off the airwaves! Has that made crime go down? Is inflation any lower? Is there more food? More medicine? Has any problem been solved?” opposition leader Henrique Capriles stated.

The shutdowns are the second major regulatory action taken against broadcasters accused of promoting unrest in Venezuela. Earlier this year, CONATEL pulled CNN’s Spanish language channel, accusing the broadcaster of seeking to “undermine the image of the national executive branch”.

The decision came in the wake of CNN’s publication of an investigation that alleged to have uncovered evidence Venezuelan diplomatic officials in Iraq had sold Venezuelan passports to non-Venezuelans, including Iraqi and Syrian nationals. Venezuela’s government largely dismissed the report as US propaganda.

In 2014, another major Colombian broadcaster, RTN24, was also wiped from Venezuelan airwaves after CONATEL alleged it had “promoted violence”. Another major case also occurred in 2007, when the Caracas-based RCTV lost its broadcast concession, after regulators determined the station had played a role in a 2002 coup that temporarily overthrew the Chavez government.

August 26, 2017 Posted by | Mainstream Media, Warmongering | , , | Leave a comment

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