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Trump suggests revoking NBC license after series of fake news

RT | October 11, 2017

US President Donald Trump has called an NBC report that he wanted a tenfold increase in the US nuclear arsenal “pure fiction” and suggested that the network deserves to have its license pulled after a series of reports that were challenged as false.

The president said that NBC News “made up” the report which, citing three unnamed officials, said that Trump wanted to dramatically increase the stockpile of US nuclear weapons.

“Fake @NBCNews made up a story that I wanted a ‘tenfold’ increase in our U.S. nuclear arsenal. Pure fiction, made up to demean. NBC = CNN!” he wrote on Twitter.

“With all of the Fake News coming out of NBC and the Networks, at what point is it appropriate to challenge their License?” he added.

“It’s frankly disgusting, the way the press is able to write whatever they want to write,” Trump said Wednesday afternoon, after meeting with Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau in Washington.

“The press should speak more honestly,” he added. “They make up the sources. There are no sources.”

Last week NBC reported that Secretary of State Rex Tillerson supposedly called Trump a “moron” and threatened to resign, only to be talked out of it by Vice President Mike Pence. That story also cited three unnamed officials.

Tillerson told reporters he had “never considered leaving” his post and described the story as “petty nonsense.” The vice president likewise denied the claims in the NBC story.

“At no time did he and the secretary ever discuss the prospect of the secretary’s resignation from the administration. Any reporting to the contrary is categorically false,” said Jarrod Agen, Pence’s spokesman.

Trump has long complained about major US media outlets trying to undermine him during and after the election. He labeled a number of them, including the Washington Post, the New York Times and CNN, “fake news.”

“Why Isn’t the Senate Intel Committee looking into the Fake News Networks in OUR country to see why so much of our news is just made up-FAKE!” Trump tweeted last Thursday, the day after the Senate Intelligence Committee updated reporters about its months-long investigation into Russia’s alleged interference in the US election.

Some news outlets will be left “with egg on their face” over their reporting on the Russia investigation, committee chairman Richard Burr (R-North Carolina) told CNN when asked about Trump’s statement.

October 11, 2017 Posted by | Deception, Fake News, Mainstream Media, Warmongering | , | 2 Comments

Media hyping North Korea threat to sell the public on another war

By Danielle Ryan | RT | August 14, 2017

It’s not every day that you’ll hear a news anchor be so upfront about the media’s worst proclivities — but last week, NBC anchor Brian Williams told a panel of guests that the media’s job was to “scare people to death” about North Korea.

Keep in mind that Williams is the same anchor who was widely ridiculed for waxing lyrical about the “beauty” of American missiles back in April when President Donald Trump bombed a Syrian air force base. Oh, and he’s also the guy who was suspended from his job for six months for making up a story about coming under fire in Iraq. Clearly, Williams has some issues with romanticizing war.

Anyway, what Williams said last week about the media’s role when it comes to tensions between the US and North Korea was remarkably revealing and forthright — even if he didn’t quite mean it that way.

Hyping the threat

Of course, escalating tensions between the US and North Korea are a clear cause for concern. The flippant way that American politicians have been talking about military action, which could have serious consequences for US allies in that region is heinous. The way Trump himself has ratcheted up tensions with threats of “fire and fury” the likes of which the world has never seen is irresponsible and is the kind of talk that sends the media into a frenzy.

Fox News recently did a segment on how sales of bunkers have gone up about 90 percent in the last two weeks. CBS Detroit reported on how “end of the world” preparation products, like gas masks and radiation antidote potassium iodide, are “flying off the shelves” in a local army supply store.

Media on the other side of the Atlantic are chiming in, too. The UK’s Sun newspaper published an actual World War 3 “survival guide” last week. It’s almost like they’re excited by the prospect of nuclear war.

Stories like these are the fruits of the media’s labor over the past few weeks. Their incessant hyping of the situation now has ordinary people stocking their shelves with doomsday supplies and installing nuclear bunkers on their properties.

Even a former State Department spokesman for the Obama administration has accused the media of “fanning the flames” when it comes to escalating tensions with North Korea.

Skewed coverage

Reading much of the coverage on the rising tensions with North Korea, it would appear that something major has changed recently — that North Korea has suddenly become an existential threat to the US in a way that it wasn’t before. It all seems so much more pressing and dangerous than it did last month.

But what actually happened? Aside from the fact that the leaders of both countries have been having a public shouting match, not a whole lot.

Yes, the US government’s Defense Intelligence Agency now believes North Korea has the capability to mount nuclear warheads on missiles, which could potentially be used to hit US targets. But North Korea has been claiming this capability since last March. So, that’s not new.

What is new is that the US intelligence community suddenly wants everybody to care about it. This shift should ring alarm bells, because it inevitably means that the US administration is beginning to construct a new narrative — a narrative it will need the media to fully support in the event that they decide to take military action against Pyongyang.

The narrative is that Kim Jong Un will, sooner or later, strike the US mainland, potentially with nuclear weapons — and that the US has no choice but to engage in ‘preventive’ war to stop him. The potential consequences — thousands dead in neighboring nations like South Korea and Japan — aren’t given nearly as much airtime or consideration. Who cares if they’re not Americans, right Lindsey Graham?

As ever, the media is more than willing to help the intelligence community construct their faulty narratives and sell the public on yet another useless military intervention based on evidence-free assertions that something bad will happen if the benevolent US military doesn’t jump in and stop it… by starting another war.

Capitalizing on ignorance

This narrative and the sensationalism with which it is spread relies primarily on the fact that the majority of Americans don’t know a whole lot about the history of their country’s relationship with North Korea.

If, for instance, the majority knew that the US had already mercilessly bombed North Korea for three years in the 1950s, they might be more willing to understand that country’s fears regarding US threats of “fire and fury” raining down on them.

Historian Bruce Cummings puts it simply: “We carpet-bombed the North for three years with next to no concern for civilian casualties.” The US effectively flattened the country, killed an estimated 3 million people (20% of the population), and “burned down every town”.

That is nothing short of pure evil — and yet today, Americans are left wondering why on earth North Koreans don’t like them? All the talk in the world about how oppressive the North Korean regime is, how all-encompassing North Korean propaganda is — will never erase that history.

A piece which appeared in The Intercept recently puts it well: “Millions of ordinary Americans may suffer from a toxic combination of ignorance and amnesia, but the victims of U.S. coups, invasions, and bombing campaigns across the globe tend not to.”

Balanced and nuanced coverage is far too much to hope for, though, when we already have one of the most watched news anchors in America proudly announcing that his job is to scare people to death.


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.

August 14, 2017 Posted by | Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Timeless or most popular, War Crimes | , , | 1 Comment

How the Establishment Imposes ‘Truth’

By Gilbert Doctorow | Consortium News | June 12, 2107

For the last quarter century or more, Western foreign policy has claimed to be guided by promotion of “democratic values,” among which none shines brighter than freedom of speech and the related freedom of the press. European Union institutions have repeatedly been quick to denounce authoritarian regimes in the greater European area for arrests or murders of journalists and for the shutting down of media outlets that crossed some government red line.

In the past year, Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s Turkey may have headed the list in Brussels for such offenses, especially since the crackdown that followed an attempted coup last summer. The E.U.’s supposed guardians of the free press also put Vladimir Putin’s Russia on the short list of countries where journalism is said to be severely constrained.

However, against this backdrop of European moral posturing, there are troubling examples of how the E.U. itself deals with journalists who challenge the dominant groupthinks. The E.U. finds its own excuses to stifle dissent albeit through bloodless bureaucratic maneuvering.

For instance, in April 2016, I wrote about how a documentary challenging the Western narrative of the circumstances surrounding the death of Kremlin critic Sergei Magnitsky in 2009 was blocked from being shown at the European Parliament in Brussels, Belgium.

The last-minute shutting down of the documentary, “The Magnitsky Act: Behind the Scenes,” was engineered by lawyers for William Browder, the influential chairman of the investment fund Hermitage Capital and an associate of Magnitsky.

Based in London, Browder has been an unrelenting crusader for imposing sanctions on Russian officials allegedly connected to Magnitsky’s death in prison. Browder successfully pushed for the U.S. Congress to approve the 2012 Magnitsky Act and has lobbied the European Parliament to pass a similarly punitive measure.

Then, in April 2016, Browder pulled off a stunning show of force by arranging the cancellation of “The Magnitsky Act” documentary just minutes before invitees entered the auditorium at the European Parliament building for the showing.

Browder blocked the documentary, directed by Andrei Nekrasov, because it carefully examined the facts of the case and raised doubts about Browder’s narrative that Magnitsky was an innocent victim of Russian repression. The E.U.’s powers-that-be, who had fully bought into Browder’s Magnitsky storyline, did nothing to resist Browder’s stifling of a dissenting view.

Which appears to be part of the West’s new approach toward information, that only establishment-approved narratives can be presented to the public; that contrarian analyses that try to tell the other side of a story are dismissed as “fake news” that should rightly be suppressed. (When the Magnitsky documentary got a single showing at the Newseum in Washington, a Washington Post editorial misrepresented its contents and dismissed it as “Russian agitprop,” which was easy to do because almost no one got to see what it said.)

Bureaucratic Runaround

I got my own taste of the E.U.’s bureaucratic resistance to dissent when I applied to the Media Accreditation Committee of the European Commission on March 2 seeking a press pass to act as the Brussels reporter of Consortiumnews.com.

This Committee issues accreditation for all the European Institutions, including the only one of interest to me, the European Parliament. The Committee is a law unto itself, a faceless bureaucratic entity that deals with applicants only via online applications and sends you back anonymous emails. The application process includes several steps that already raise red flags about the Commission’s understanding of what it means to be from the “press” or a “journalist” deserving accreditation in the Twenty-first Century.

First, under the Committee’s rules, a journalist must be a paid employee of the given media outlet. This condition generally cannot be satisfied by “stringers” or “freelancers,” who are paid for each assignment or an individual story, a payment arrangement that has existed throughout the history of journalism but has become more common today, used by mainstream media outlets as well as alternative media, which generally pay little or nothing. I satisfied that requirement with a Paypal credit note from Consortiumnews.

The Commission also must have the media outlet on its approved list. Regarding Consortiumnews, an Internet-based investigative news magazine dating back to 1995 and operating in the Washington D.C. area, the Commission apparently wasn’t sure what to do.

So, like bureaucratic institutions everywhere, the Committee played for time. It was only on June 6 that I received the review of my application. The finding was that 1) I needed to present more proof that my employer is paying me regularly, not just once, and 2) I needed to supply further articles showing that I am not merely published regularly, as was clear from my uploaded articles with the initial application, but that I am published precisely on the subject of activities at the European institutions.

I was assured that pending delivery of these proofs and completion of my request, I could ask for ad hoc accreditation “to the individual institutions for specific press events you would need to cover.”

In fact, I had withheld from my application my most recent published essay on a panel discussion in the E.U. Parliament devoted to censuring Russia’s alleged dissemination of “fake news.” That discussion was run by a Polish MEP and former Polish Minister of Foreign Affairs from the determinedly anti-Russian party of the Kaczynskis. The title of my essay was “Europe is brain dead and on the drip.” I had felt that this particular piece would not further the cause of my press pass.

Still, the insincerity of the E.U. press accreditation committee’s response to my application is perfectly obvious. A journalist can write articles about the European Institutions when he or she has free run of the house via a press pass and can ascertain what is going on of interest. Without a press pass, you do not know what or whom is worth covering.

And in this connection, “specific press events” are among the least desirable things going on at the E.U. for purposes of a genuine practicing journalist. They are useful only for lazy journalists who will send along to their editor the press release and a few canned quotes obtained by showing up at a press briefing in time for the coffee and sandwiches.

In short, I will not be issued a press pass and the Committee will not bother to address the real reason for refusal: that Consortiumnews is not on the Committee’s short list of acceptable media. Not to mince words, this is how the E.U. bureaucracy manages skeptical media and stifles dissenting voices.

NBC’s New Star v. Putin

Meanwhile, the mainstream Western media continues to hammer home its propaganda narratives, especially regarding Russia. Another case study unfolded over the past week with NBC’s new star reporter Megyn Kelly interviewing Russian President Vladimir Putin on June 2 on the sidelines of the St. Petersburg International Economic Forum.

This latest NBC crime against professional journalism becomes apparent when you compare the full version of the interview as it was broadcast on Russia’s RT network and the edited version that NBC aired for its American audience. The most shocking discrepancy involved a segment in which Kelly aggressively questioned Putin about what she said was Americans’ understanding of his government, namely one that murders journalists, suppresses political opposition, is rife with corruption, etc.

In the NBC version, Putin’s answer has been cut to one empty introductory statement that “Russia is on its way to becoming a democracy” bracketed by an equally empty closing sentence. In the full, uncut version, Putin responds to Kelly’s allegations point by point and then turns the question around, asking what right the U.S. and the West have to question Russia’s record when they have been actively doing much worse than what Kelly charged. He asked where is Occupy Wall Street today, why U.S. and European police use billy clubs and tear gas to break up demonstrations, when Russian police do nothing of the sort, and so on.

Simply put, NBC intentionally made Putin sound like an empty authoritarian, when he is in fact a very sophisticated debater, which he demonstrated earlier in the day at an open panel discussion involving Kelly who became the event’s laughingstock. Regarding the bowdlerized interview, NBC management bears the prime responsibility for distorting the material and misleading its viewers.

Interviews by serious news organizations can be “hard talk,” as the BBC program of the same name does weekly. The journalist in charge can directly and baldly challenge a political leader or other public personality and can dwell on an issue to arrive at exhaustive responses that then allow viewers to reach their own conclusions.

However, in the interview at hand and in the earlier panel discussion, Kelly repeated the same question about alleged Russian meddling in the U.S. election even after she had received an exhaustive answer from Putin several times. Clearly she was reading from a script given to her by management and was not permitted to react to what took place in the interview exchange.

Given that Putin’s answers then were shredded in the NBC cutting room, we may explain the objectives of NBC’s executives as follows: to present themselves and their featured journalist to the American audience as being so respected by the Kremlin that the Russian president accorded an exclusive interview. Second, to show the American audience that they used the opportunity not to allow the Russian President to pitch his views to the U.S. home audience but instead to hit him with all the charges of wrongdoing that have been accumulating in the American political arena.

In other words, NBC got to show off Kelly’s supposed boldness and the network’s faux patriotism while sparing the American people from hearing Putin’s full answers.

A Harvard Dissent

Although this emerging paradigm of righteously suppressing challenges to mainstream narratives appears to be the wave of the future – with the modern censorship possibly enforced via Internet algorithms – some voices are protesting this assault on the Enlightenment’s trust in human reason to sort out false claims and advance factual truth.

At the May 25 commencement at Harvard University in Cambridge, Massachusetts, Harvard President Drew Faust delivered an impassioned defense of free speech. She spoke about the institution and its obligations as generator and protector of “truth” and knowledge arrived at by free debate and challenge of ideas.

This is not to say that there was perfect clarity in her message. She left me and other attendees somewhat uncertain as to whose rights of free speech she was defending and against what sort of challenge. Given the political persuasion of students and faculty, namely the middle-of-the-road to progressive wings of the Democratic Party, one might think she had in mind such causes célèbres as the ongoing verbal attacks against Linda Sarsour, a Muslim (Palestinian) graduation speaker at CUNY.

Indeed, in her speech, Drew Faust pointed to the more vulnerable members of the student body, those from minorities, those from among first generation college students who might be intimidated by hurtful speech directed against them. But it is more likely that she drew up her speech having in mind the controversy on campus this spring over the rights of speakers disseminating hated ideas to appear on campus. That issue has come up repeatedly in the student newspaper The Crimson, and it may be said to date from the scandal at UC Berkeley over the cancellation of controversial far-right speaker Milo Yiannopoulos.

However, I believe the main weight of her argument was directed elsewhere. Primarily, to the processes by which truth is determined. She was defending the appropriateness of sharp debate and airing of views that one may dislike intensely on campus:

“Universities must model a commitment to the notion that truth cannot simply be claimed, but must be established – established through reasoned argument, assessment, and even sometimes uncomfortable challenges that provide the foundation for truth.”

Though this idea rests at the heart of the Enlightenment, it has faded in recent years as various political and media forces prefer to simply dismiss contrary evidence and analysis by stigmatizing the messengers and – whenever possible – silencing the message. This approach is now common inside the major media which lumps together cases of fact-free conspiracy theories and consciously “fake news” with well-researched information and serious analyses that clash with conventional wisdom.

No Sharp Edges

From my experience as an organizer of public events over the past five years, I learned that the very word “debate” finds few defenders these days. Debate suggests conflict rather than consensus. The politically correct term for public discussions of even hot issues is “round tables.” No sharp corners allowed.

But Faust said: “Ensuring freedom of speech is not just about allowing speech. It is about actively creating a community where everyone can contribute and flourish, a community where argument is relisted, not feared. Freedom of speech is not just freedom from censorship; it is freedom to actively join the debate as a full participant. It is about creating a context in which genuine debate can happen.”

Besides the value of honest debate as a method for ascertaining truth, Faust also noted that suppression of diverse opinions can blind those doing the suppression to growing unrest among the broader public, an apparent reference to the surprising election of Donald Trump.

Faust continued: “Silencing ideas or basking in intellectual orthodoxy independent of facts and evidence impedes our access to new and better ideas, and it inhibits a full and considered rejection of bad ones. From at least the time of Galileo, we can see how repressing seemingly heretical ideas has blinded societies and nations to the enhanced knowledge and understanding on which progress depend.

“Far more recently, we can see here at Harvard how our inattentiveness to the power and appeal of conservative voices left much of our community astonished – blindsided by the outcome of last fall’s election. We must work to ensure that universities do not become bubbles isolated from the concerns and discourse of the society that surrounds them.”

Of course, the inconvenient truth is that Harvard University has long been a “bubble,” especially in the area of policy research that most interests me and may be vital in avoiding a nuclear catastrophe: Russian studies.

Over the past few years of growing confrontation between the U.S. and Russia, amid vilification of the Russian President and the Russian people and now encompassing the hysteria over “Russia-gate,” colleagues with long-standing and widely acknowledged expertise in Russian affairs including Ambassador Jack Matlock and Professor Stephen Cohen have been repeatedly denied any possibility of participating in “round tables” dedicated to relations with Russia that might be organized at Harvard’s Kennedy Center or the Davis Center.

These policy centers have become pulpits to stridently expound orthodoxy per the Washington consensus. Thus, the flaccid argumentation and complacency of U.S. foreign policy are aided and abetted by this premier university, which, along with Columbia, created the very discipline of Russian studies in 1949. So, by wallowing in this consensus-driven groupthink, Harvard contributes to dangerously biased policies that could lead to World War III. In that case, truth – or as Harvard might say, Veritas – would not be the only casualty.

No doubt there are other faculties at Harvard which also are desperately in need of renewal following President Drew Faust’s call for debate and free speech. Nonetheless, Dr. Faust’s celebration of open debate and free speech represented a welcome tonic to the close-mindedness of today’s Russia-bashing.

Her speech is all the more noteworthy as it marks one of the first steps by liberals and Democratic Party stalwarts to acknowledge that those whom Hillary Clinton condemned as “deplorables” must be heard and reasoned with if U.S. democracy is to become great again.


Gilbert Doctorow is an independent political analyst based in Brussels.  His last book, Does Russia Have a Future? was published in August 2015.  His forthcoming book, Does the United States Have a Future?

June 13, 2017 Posted by | Deception, Fake News, Full Spectrum Dominance, Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Timeless or most popular | , , , | 1 Comment

NBC’s Kelly Hits Putin with a Beloved Canard

By Ray McGovern | Consortium News | June 12, 2017

NBC’s Megyn Kelly wielded one of Official Washington’s most beloved groupthinks to smack Russian President Vladimir Putin over his denials that he and his government were responsible for hacking Democratic emails and interfering with the U.S. presidential election.

In her June 2 interview with Putin, Kelly noted that all “17 intelligence agencies” of the U.S. government concurred in their conclusion of Russian guilt and how could Putin suggest that they all are “lying.” It’s an argument that has been used to silence skeptics for months and apparently is so useful that no one seems to care that it isn’t true.

For instance, on May 8, in testimony before a Senate Judiciary subcommittee, former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper conceded publicly that the number of intelligence agencies involved in the assessment was three, not 17, and that the analysts assigned to the project from CIA, FBI and NSA had been “handpicked.”

On May 23, in testimony before the House Intelligence Committee, former CIA Director John Brennan confirmed Clapper’s account about the three agencies involved. “It wasn’t a full inter-agency community assessment that was coordinated among the 17 agencies,” Brennan acknowledged.

But those public admissions haven’t stopped Democrats and the mainstream media from continuing to repeat the false claim. In comments on May 31, failed presidential candidate Hillary Clinton repeated the canard, with a flourish, saying: “Seventeen agencies, all in agreement, which I know from my experience as a Senator and Secretary of State, is hard to get.”

A couple of days later, Kelly revived the myth of the consensus among the 17 intelligence agencies in her interview with the Russian president. But Putin passed up the opportunity to correct her, replying instead:

“They have been misled and they are not analyzing the information in its entirety. … We have talked about it with former President Obama and with several other officials. No one ever showed me any direct evidence. When we spoke with President Obama about that, you know, you should probably better ask him about it – I think he will tell you that he, too, is confident of it. But when he and I talked I saw that he, too, started having doubts. At any rate, that’s how I saw it.”

As I noted in a Jan. 20 article about Obama’s news conference two days earlier, “Did President Barack Obama acknowledge that the extraordinary propaganda campaign to blame Russia for helping Donald Trump become president has a very big hole in it, i.e., that the U.S. intelligence community has no idea how the Democratic emails reached WikiLeaks? For weeks, eloquent obfuscation – expressed with ‘high confidence’ – has been the name of the game, but inadvertent admissions now are dispelling some of the clouds. …

“At President Obama’s Jan. 18 press conference, he admitted as much: ‘the conclusions of the intelligence community with respect to the Russian hacking were not conclusive as to whether WikiLeaks was witting or not in being the conduit through which we heard about the DNC e-mails that were leaked.’” [Emphasis added]

Explaining the Technology

More importantly, Putin in his interview with Kelly points out that “today’s technology” enables hacking to be “masked and camouflaged to an extent that no one can understand the origin” of the hack. “And, vice versa, it is possible to set up any entity or any individual that everyone will think that they are the exact source of that attack. Modern technology is very sophisticated and subtle and allows this to be done. And when we realize that we will get rid of all the illusions. …”

Later, when Kelly came back to the issue of hacking, Putin expanded on the difficulty in tracing the source of cyber attacks.

“Hackers may be anywhere,” Putin said. “There may be hackers, by the way, in the United States who very craftily and professionally passed the buck to Russia. Can’t you imagine such a scenario? In the middle of an internal political fight, it was convenient for them, whatever the reason, to put out that information. And put it out they did. And, doing it, they made a reference to Russia. Can’t you imagine it happening? I can.

“Let us recall the assassination of President Kennedy. There is a theory that Kennedy’s assassination was arranged by the United States special services. If this theory is correct, and one cannot rule it out, so what can be easier in today’s context, being able to rely on the entire technical capabilities available to special services than to organize some kind of attacks in the appropriate manner while making a reference to Russia in the process. …”

Kelly: “Let’s move on.”

However carefully Megyn Kelly and her NBC colleagues peruse The New York Times, they might well not know WikiLeaks’ disclosure on March 31 of original CIA documents showing that the agency had created a program allowing it to break into computers and servers and make it look like others did it by leaving telltale signs (like Cyrillic markings, for example).

The capabilities shown in what WikiLeaks calls the “Vault 7” trove of CIA documents required the creation of hundreds of millions of lines of source code. At $25 per line of code, that amounts to about $2.5 billion for each 100 million code lines. But the Deep State has that kind of money and would probably consider the expenditure a good return on investment for “proving” the Russians hacked into Democratic Party emails.

In other words, it is altogether possible that the hacking attributed to Russia was actually one of several “active measures” undertaken by a cabal consisting of the CIA, FBI, NSA and Clapper — the same agencies responsible for the lame, evidence-free report of Jan. 6, that Clapper and Brennan acknowledged last month was not the consensus view of the 17 intelligence agencies.

There is also the issue of the forensics. Former FBI Director James Comey displayed considerable discomfort on March 20, explaining to the House Intelligence Committee why the FBI did not insist on getting physical access to the Democratic National Committee’s computers in order to do its own proper forensics, but chose to rely on the examination done by the DNC’s private contractor, Crowdstrike.

The firm itself has conflicts of interests in its links to the pro-NATO and anti-Russia think tank, the Atlantic Council, through Dmitri Alperovitch, who is an Atlantic Council senior fellow and the co-founder of Crowdstrike.

Strange Oversight

Given the stakes involved in the Russia-gate investigation – now including a possible impeachment battle over removing the President of the United States – wouldn’t it seem logical for the FBI to insist on its own forensics for this fundamental predicate of the case? Or could Comey’s hesitancy to demand access to the DNC’s computers be explained by a fear that FBI technicians not fully briefed on CIA/NSA/FBI Deep State programs might uncover a lot more than he wanted?

Comey was asked again about this curious oversight on June 8 by Senate Intelligence Committee Chair Richard Burr:

BURR: “And the FBI, in this case, unlike other cases that you might investigate — did you ever have access to the actual hardware that was hacked? Or did you have to rely on a third party to provide you the data that they had collected?”

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

BURR: “But no content?”

COMEY: “Correct.”

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

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

Burr demurred on asking Comey to explain what amounts to gross misfeasance, if not worse. Perhaps, NBC could arrange for Megyn Kelly to interview Burr to ask if he has a clue as to what Putin might have been referring to when he noted, “There may be hackers, by the way, in the United States who very craftily and professionally passed the buck to Russia.”

Given the congressional intelligence “oversight” committees’ obsequiousness and repeated “high esteem” for the “intelligence community,” there seems an even chance that – no doubt because of an oversight – the CIA/FBI/NSA deep-stage troika failed to brief the Senate “oversight committee” chairman on WikiLeaks “Vault 7” disclosures – even when WikiLeaks publishes original CIA documents. 

Ray McGovern is a 27-year veteran of the CIA analysis division and was chief of its Soviet Foreign Policy Branch and prepared the President’s Daily Brief for Nixon, Ford, and Reagan.

June 13, 2017 Posted by | Deception, Fake News, Mainstream Media, Warmongering | , , , , , | 1 Comment

John McCain tells NBC, ‘I hope the Washington establishment sucked Trump in’

John McCain cackles in laughter at how the swamp is completely sucking in US President Trump:

April 18, 2017 Posted by | Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Timeless or most popular, Video | , , | Leave a comment

Reports that Moscow is to ‘gift’ Snowden to Trump meant to pressure new administration – Zakharova

RT | February 12, 2017

Recent reports that whistleblower Edward Snowden will be “gifted” to President Trump are meant to scandalize public opinion and show that the new administration continues to face pressure from opponents, said Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman.

“Today, US intelligence agencies have stepped up their work, updating two stale stories, ‘Russia can gift Snowden to Trump’ and ‘confirmation found on the details of the scandalous dossier on Trump allegedly collected by an ex-employee of British intelligence.’ But it may seem so only to those who do not understand the essence of the game,” Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova wrote in a Facebook post on Sunday.

“None of these statements have been made by representatives of the special services, but is information coming from NBC and CNN, citing unnamed sources. The difference is obvious, but only to experts. Yet it is useful for scandalizing the public and maintaining a degree of [public outrage],” she said.

The official representative of the Russian Foreign Ministry said that the new administration’s foreign policy has still not been formed because political opponents in the US are hindering the White House’s efforts to begin proper work.

“It is evident that the pressure on the new administration on the part of political opponents within the United States continues, bargaining is going on. And that’s why the US foreign policy doctrine has not yet been formed,” she wrote.

“How Russia will work with the White House in the international arena is journalists’ main question. In an interview with Irada Zeynalova to be released on Sunday, Sergei Lavrov said: ‘we are waiting for the team to be formed. But what is more obvious: the delay is not due to the inertness of the new administration, but to the fact that it is simply not allowed to work,’” Zakharova said.

On Friday, NBC News reported that an unnamed “US senior official” had claimed that the Russian government was actively considering the possibility of handing over Snowden “to curry favor” with President Trump. The official said that he had drawn the conclusion upon studying a “series of highly sensitive intelligence reports.”

Another US intelligence source cited in the piece said that the intelligence, which was allegedly collected since Trump’s inauguration on January 20, contains the thoughts of Russian officials on how to get off on the right foot with the current administration. Yet, Snowden’s lawyer in Russia, Anatoly Kucherena, said he doesn’t believe Russia is prepared to hand over Snowden anytime soon, calling the article “speculation.” Snowden has been living in Russia since 2013 when he was granted asylum by the Russian government. It was subsequently extended for three years and was successfully renewed for two more in January. Trump is known to have an unforgiving opinion of Snowden, whom he has denounced as “a traitor and a disgrace.”

Zakharova mentioned another report, published on Saturday, which asserts that some of the details in the dodgy 35-page dossier that made so much noise last month are true. It apparently claims, above all, the allegations suggesting President Trump has ties with the Russian government have been confirmed. Zakharova pointed out that, although the report cites “multiple current and former US law enforcement and intelligence officials,” it gives no names or specific quotes from them.

The dossier, which was first published by BuzzFeed and CNN in early January, earned the two the title of “fake news,” which was even used by Trump himself to categorize the outlets. The release was followed by comments from the White House warning the media to stop trying to delegitimize the newly inaugurated president.

February 12, 2017 Posted by | Deception, Fake News, Mainstream Media, Warmongering | , , | Leave a comment

‘CIA provides info to media but not Congress’ – Homeland Security Committee on Russia hacking claims

RT | December 16, 2016

The chairman of the US Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee has slammed the CIA’s refusal to brief Congress on allegations of Russian hacking.

“It is disappointing that the CIA would provide information on this issue to the Washington Post and NBC but will not provide information to elected members of Congress,” Homeland Security Chairman Senator Ron Johnson said on Friday.

Citing concerns over a “growing threat to our security” said to be posed by “the cyberattack capabilities of America’s rivals and adversaries,” Johnson said he arrived to Washington this week and requested that the intelligence agency provide a briefing on Russia’s alleged involvement in the recent US presidential elections.

“The CIA refused this request,” Johnson’s statement read, with the senator expressing his “disappointment” over who the CIA decides to share its information with first of all.

On Thursday, the House Intelligence Committee had planned a meeting with the agency on the issue, but the CIA failed to participate. Its director, John Brennan, declined to provide a briefing, saying he was occupied with a review ordered by the president, according to Fox News.

The US Intelligence Community had claimed it was busy working on a review on the topic of ‘foreign influence on US elections’ requested by President Barack Obama. The Director of National Intelligence said his community would brief senators and “make those findings available to the public consistent with protecting intelligence sources and methods” after it finishes the Obama-ordered review. “We will not offer any comment until the review is complete,” the statement said.

Read more:

WikiLeaks envoy: Leaked DNC emails came from ‘disgusted’ whistleblower, not Russian hackers

Media reporting on hacked DNC emails acted as ‘arms of Russian intelligence’ – White House

December 16, 2016 Posted by | Deception, Fake News, Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Timeless or most popular | , , , , | 1 Comment

Nothing Important Happened in Syria on Tuesday, Nov. 29

By Paul Larudee | Dissident Voice | November 30, 2016

On Tuesday, Nov. 29, 2016, after more than five years of fighting in Aleppo, Syrian government forces recaptured a major portion of the “rebel” enclave often called “east Aleppo”.

It now should be called “southeast Aleppo”, and soon perhaps just “Aleppo”. Thousands of grateful Syrian civilians ran into the arms of the soldiers, and were provided with food, shelter, transportation, medical services, and other needs.

They recounted horror stories of how the “rebels”, under the leadership of the extremist al-Qaeda affiliate Jabhat al-Nusra (AKA Jabhat Fateh al-Sham), denied them food and water and shot at them when they tried to leave (after confiscating their mobile phones so that no one could hear their story). Nevertheless, hundreds of fighters decided to accept the government offer of amnesty, and laid down their arms, while the rest retreated into the shrinking enclave.

The main water pumping station for the entire city had been in this liberated section of the city, and government engineers promise that service will soon be restored for the first time in many years.

It is a major turning point in the Syrian war, signaling the beginning of the end for efforts by the US, NATO and the Arabian monarchies to create “regime change” and a failed state in place of the secular government supported by the vast majority of Syrian citizens.

But apparently none of this is of any importance. After following what I thought were exciting developments through Twitter, Facebook, RT, and various alternative media sites, I flipped through the evening news of the three major US television networks (ABC, NBC & CBS) to see what sort of coverage they might have. I was expecting denunciations, accusations of Russian and Syrian atrocities, and the usual lies and distortions.

Instead, I found nothing at all. There was no coverage of Syria. Apparently, nothing of any consequence had happened. Instead, there was a story about how a group of US workers had won the lottery and had all become millionaires.

Silly me! I had thought it was a historic turning point. I can only imagine that the lavishly funded Aleppo Media Center and White Helmets “impartial” “volunteer” organizations were too busy running for their lives, along with their head-chopping heroes, to concoct their stories and stage their imitation rescue and black flag operations, and distribute them to the western media. Without these sources, the corporate media were left with nothing to report except stories that contradicted everything they had been reporting for months and years.

Silence is golden.

Paul Larudee is one of the founders of the Free Gaza and Free Palestine Movements and an organizer in the International Solidarity Movement.

November 30, 2016 Posted by | Deception, Mainstream Media, Warmongering | , , , , | 1 Comment

Russia demands Washington explain after reports say US military hacked into Russian networks

RT | November 5, 2016

Russia expects Washington to provide an explanation after a report claimed that Pentagon cyber-offensive specialists have hacked into Russia’s power grids, telecommunications networks, and the Kremlin’s command systems for a possible sabotage.

“If no official reaction from the American administration follows, it would mean state cyberterrorism exists in the US. If the threats of the attack, which were published by the US media, are carried out, Moscow would be justified in charging Washington,” Russian Foreign Ministry spokesperson Maria Zakharova said, according to the ministry’s website.

NBC News said earlier in an exclusive report that US military hackers have penetrated crucial infrastructure in Russia, “making them vulnerable to attack by secret American cyber weapons should the US deem it necessary.”

The report was based on the account of a senior US intelligence official and top-secret documents. NBC said the hack was carried out in preparation for waging a full-scale cyberwar with Russia.

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov also commented on the report, saying Russia had “cybersecurity measures taken at the level proper for the current situation, and the threats voiced against us by officials of other nations.”

US officials earlier alleged that countries like Russia and China could use hackers to disrupt American power grids and other crucial infrastructure.

READ MORE: US gov’t officially accuses Russia of political hacks; Moscow calls it ‘nonsense’

November 5, 2016 Posted by | Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Militarism | , | Leave a comment

Noor Zahi Salman: Everything You’re Hearing About Me Is a Lie

By Sam Husseini | June 15, 2016

Virtually everything in the media about Noor Zahi Salman, Omar Mateen’s wife, is from anonymous government sources. They lie in situations like this.

Such anonymous sourcing helped facilitate the lies used to invade Iraq and countless other horrific policies. They’re doubly dangerous during a panic, consider that after government anthrax killed people in 2001, Andrew Sullivan talked about using nuclear weapons.

And the government has a lot of incentives to lie about this case. They failed to keep people safe. So, what to do? Blame the wife. Blame the Muslims. They didn’t alert us. They are suspect. Potentially, all of them. That’s what Trump — and Clinton in more subtle ways — are saying.

I didn’t need to be in contact with people who know Noor Zahi Salman to know that, but it helps.

In fact, I am in touch with a friend of hers who is in regular contact with people around her now. This means I am probably in closer touch with the actual facts of the case than the zillion media outlets blaring whatever it is “sources” are telling them to blare at you. In so doing, they are smearing a woman who was questioned by the most powerful government in the world, smeared on the largest media outlets as a virtual accessory to mass murder — all without the benefit of a lawyer.

She is apparently telling people around her that virtually everything you’re hearing about her is a lie.

Some examples:

NBC claims: “The Orlando gunman’s wife feared he was going to attack a gay nightclub overnight Saturday and pleaded with him not to do anything violent — but failed to warn police after he left, NBC News has learned.”

Noor Zahi Salman is apparently saying she didn’t have any idea of an attack.

NBC claims: “In addition, she said she was with him when he bought ammunition and a holster, several officials familiar with the case said.”

Noor Zahi Salman is apparently saying she didn’t do that. She says it might be possible that they went shopping together — and she went to buy food or clothing and he might have gone to a gun store. In any case, why is this on her? Why are people focusing on her and not the “security” firm G4S that employed Mateen? How is it that the FBI is suddenly off the hook?

The Daily Beast claims: “Noor Zahi Salman also reportedly drove Mateen to the gay nightclub Pulse to case the place before he killed 49 people there on Sunday night.”

Noor Zahi Salman is apparently saying that she never drove him to the club and that in fact, she doesn’t like to drive at all.

ABC claims: “After Noor Mateen began to answer questions, agents administered a polygraph test to determine whether she was telling the truth.”

Noor Zahi Salman is apparently saying she offered to take a polygraph but the government declined.

Noor Zahi Salman is apparently “free”, but with an electronic bracelet.

What we apparently have is severe logrolling between media and government — where government sources hide behind anonymous quotes and media hide behind anonymous sources. So, basically, they can mutually absolve each other and publish most anything that will benefit the both of them.

Seriously, what’s the justification for using anonymous sources on this story? My justification for using my anonymous sources is that they are scared. The only thing the government sources driving this story are afraid of is that they will be held responsible for their words.

We’re not seeing a free-for-all in terms of everyone speculating as they please. There might be justification for that: Bring on the government stenographer, then bring on the false flag theorist. No, what we’re seeing are directed leaks laying out a pattern of smearing an individual, smearing a community and getting the government and media off the hook for the fact that 50 people are dead.

Some friends of Noor Zahi Salman are apparently speculating that what actually happened was that Omar Mateen was about to be outed as gay — and went nuts. This could have broader implications since “Israel surveils and blackmails gay Palestinians to make them informants.” That clearly is speculative. But far more responsible than speculation that is streaming forth from your TV.

I know more, including an allegation about how the government treated Noor Zahi Salman that would turn your stomach.

I’m not telling all I know now because I have reason to believe it might make the family and friends uncomfortable.

See what I did just there? I was forthright with you, my reader, while respectful of my sources.

Big media propagating anonymous government allegations about Noor Zahi Salman distracts from their own failure to protect the public from attacks.

Instead, it fingers the Arab and Muslim communities as responsible. And that’s a message that is being articulated in ways crude and subtle from our “leaders”:

Says Donald Trump: “But the Muslims have to work with us. They have to work with us. They know what’s going on. They know that he was bad. They knew the people in San Bernardino were bad. But you know what? They didn’t turn them in. And you know what? We had death, and destruction.”

More subtly, says Hillary Clinton: “Since 9/11, law enforcement agencies have worked hard to build relationships with Muslim-American communities. Millions of peace-loving Muslims live, work, and raise their families across America. They are the most likely to recognize the insidious effects of radicalization before it’s too late, and the best positioned to help us block it. We should be intensifying contacts in those communities, not scapegoating or isolating them.” Clinton pretends to be against “scapegoating” when that’s exactly what she just did. Most just let it slide because it’s not as crass as Trump’s formulation of much the same idea.

Most subtle still is President Obama: “Since before I was President, I’ve been clear about how extremist groups have perverted Islam to justify terrorism. As President, I have repeatedly called on our Muslim friends and allies at home and around the world to work with us to reject this twisted interpretation of one of the world’s great religions.”

I don’t know Noor Zahi Salman. I have not had the opportunity to speak to her directly. I don’t know for certain how forthright of a person she is, though even through media reports, several people who have known her have said she’s upstanding. My immediate source I believe is very reliable. Things are rushed, there may be misunderstandings here. Noor Zahi Salman is quite likely in shock, she may be honestly misspeaking, especially when in a coercive environment before threatening government agents.

Now, would I like more sources to confirm what I’m writing? Yes, I would, but I think it would be irresponsible to let what are likely falsehoods contaminate the public mind on virtually every major media outlet given the limited capacity to communicate directly with Noor Zahi Salman at this time.

June 16, 2016 Posted by | Deception, Mainstream Media, Warmongering | , , , , , | 1 Comment

Biased Reporting on Syria in the Service of War

By Rick Sterling | CounterPunch | April 20, 2015

It has been confirmed that TV journalist Richard Engel’s kidnapping/rescue in norther Syria in late 2012 was a hoax. NBC management knew the story was probably false but proceeded to broadcast it anyway.

There are at least two good things about “Engelgate”.

* It is clear evidence of mainstream media bias in their reporting and characterization of the conflict in Syria. The kidnapping was meant to show that “bad” Assad supporters had kidnapped Richard Engel only to be rescued by the Western/Turkey/Gulf supported “good” rebels. NBC management knew the scenario was dubious but promoted it anyway.

* Engelgate is also proof that Syrian anti-government rebels consciously manipulated western media for political gain. An elaborate ruse was performed to demonize the Syrian government &supporters and to encourage more support for the anti-government rebels.

Some analysts have noted that the Engel/NBC deception is more serious than that of Brian Williams. In the Williams case a TV journalist was puffing himself up; in the Engel deception, public policy involving war and bloodshed was being influenced.

Will this confirmation of deception lead to any more skepticism about reports from and about Syria? Will there be any more critical or skeptical look at stories that demonize the Syrian government and favor the western narrative? We have a test case right now.

HRW report on “Chlorine Gas Attacks”

On April 13, Human Rights Watch (HRW) issued a report “Syria: Chemicals Used in Idlib Attacks”. It begins: “Evidence strongly suggests that Syrian government forces used toxic chemicals in several barrel bomb attacks in Idlib”. HRW Deputy Director Nadim Houry accuses the Syrian government of “thumbing its nose at the (UN) Security Council and international law yet again”.

We note that the reported chlorine gas attacks took place in the exact same area where Richard Engel was kidnapped. As shown in the map below, the Engel hoax took place near Maarat Misrin. The alleged Chlorine attacks took place in the adjacent towns of Binnish, Qmenas and Sarmin. The rebel/terrorists were aware of the political ramifications of the kidnapping and rescue hoax in 2012. And now, in 2015, they are very aware of the political implications of the use of chlorine gas.

Certainly, opposition fighters have the motive and the incentive to implicate or “frame” the Syrian government in the use of chlorine gas. Do they have the means? This area is very close to the border with Turkey. Just as opposition brought in Richard Engel and many other western journalists via Turkey, so could they bring in chlorine gas or just about any other weapon.

Eight Significant Problems with the Report

Let us now look at specific problems with the HRW report.

1. The HRW report relies heavily on testimony and video/photo evidence from a biased source known as “Syria Civil Defence”. This organization is not what one might assume. Syria Civil Defence was funded and created by UK and USA. Initial training was provided in Turkey by former British military officer and current contractor based in Dubai. In the past year Syria Civil Defence has been rebranded as “White Helmets” by “The Syria Campaign” which itself is the creation of corporate PR firm. Syrian Civil Defence (aka White Helmets) is heavily into social media and actively campaigning for a No Fly Zone. The HRW report does not include any of the preceding information on Syria Civil Defence, its origins and obvious bias. Shouldn’t “evidence” received from them be considered with a skeptical eye?

2. The photos and videos referenced in the HRW report are unconvincing. Many of the video links in the HRW report do not work. However, many of the videos can be viewed at the Syrian research wiki A Closer Look at Syria. (See the discussion page of the Alleged March 16 Chlorine Attack for video links and comments regarding anomalies in the videos.)

Video of the three dead children is tragic but it’s questionable how they actually died. Scenes from the medical clinic indicate illness but not the cause. Scenes showing the “proof” of a “barrel bomb” containing “chlorine cylinders” is highly dubious. Some of the scenes are almost comical with one person in full hazmat gear, another with mask and another casually with hands in pocket and no mask at all. Then we have someone talking to camera with a bulldozer and some scrap metal on the ground. Then there is the figure holding what they report as a container with a “red liquid”. See sample photos at bottom.

3. The HRW report includes assertions without reference or evidence. For example, “Syrian forces have previously dropped barrel bombs embedded with cylinders of chlorine gas.” and “Syrian government’s previous use of chlorine, suggest this chemical.” What is the source and evidence to support these debatable assertions?

4. The HRW report includes false assertions. For example, the report says “First responders saw and filmed remains of barrel bombs, which can only be delivered by aircraft.” This is not true. Bombs can be exploded on the ground and rebel/terrorists routinely fire gas cylinders from launchers on the ground. See photo below. The implication that chlorine gas attacks can only be done from the air is, of course, nonsense. Chemical warfare and chlorine gas attacks, as excecuted in World War 1, were entirely done from ground based projectiles.

5. The HRW report ignores the issue of motivation and incentive. Normally an investigation will consider the issue of motivation and who benefits from an event or crime. In this case, the Syrian government has nothing to gain and everything to lose by using chlorine gas. Especially after the UN Security Council made a specific resolution regarding use of this industrial gas, why would they arouse world ire and hostility against themselves by using this weapon? Why would they do that when they have conventional explosive weapons which are more deadly? On the other hand, the ones to benefit from such an accusation against the Assad government are the armed opposition and other proponents of a No Fly Zone in northern Syria. How better to frame an adversary in the arena of public opinion? These considerations are curiously lacking in the HRW report. Perhaps that is because the conclusions of the report are at odds with common sense and objective inquiry.

6. The HRW report attempts to buttress new accusations by referring to old and discredited accusations. After the highly publicized events in Ghouta in August 2013, “Human Rights Watch concluded that the evidence strongly suggested that Syrian government authorities used the nerve agent Sarin in attacks on two Damascus suburbs”. Since that time, the HRW analysis has been effectively discredited. Seymour Hersh wrote a two part series of articles which concluded that the chemical attack in Ghouta was by anti-government rebels assisted by Turkey. Another investigative reporter with a proven track record, Robert Parry, directly addressed and discounted HRW’s analysis. Parry concisely summed up the HRW analysis as a “junk heap of bad evidence”. Even the head of the UN Inspection Team, Ake Sellstrom, has acknowledged that the early predictions of missile distance were mistaken. Why has HRW not reviewed and updated its analysis, which they rushed out ahead of the UN report? Instead, it seems they are relying on an old faulty report to justify a new faulty report.

7. The HRW report ignores history of Nusra/Al Queda usage of chemical weapons. The HRW report ignores the evidence that Nusra rebels previously used chemical weapons. For example, UN investigator Carla del Ponte reported there was “strong, concrete evidence” pointing to Nusra rebels having used sarin. There were numerous credible reports of Nusra and other rebel/terrorist organizations possessing sarin.

8. The HRW report ignores the fact that Nusra rebels had control of the major chlorine gas producing factory and stockpile in northern Syria. As reported in a Time magazine article, the major chlorine gas producing factory in northern Syria was over-run and seized by Nusra rebels/terrorists in late 2012. The owner of the factory said “if it turns out chlorine gas was used in the attack, then the first possibility is that it was mine. There is no other factory in Syria that can make this gas, and now it is under opposition control.” The factory owner reported there were about 400 steel cylinders of chlorine gas, one Ton each, captured by Nusra/Al Queda along with the factory.

The article included the following prescient comments, delivered when chlorine gas usage was first reported: “To Faris al-Shehabi, head of the Aleppo Chamber of Industry and a strong government supporter, it was obvious from Day One that the rebels had their eyes on the gas. “Why else would they capture a factory in the middle of nowhere? For the sniper positions?” he asks sarcastically while meeting TIME in Beirut, where he is traveling for business. “We warned back then that chemical components were in the hands of terrorists, but no one listened.”

Was HRW not aware of these important facts or did they think them not relevant?

Conclusion

Hopefully the Engel/NBC hoax will increase public skepticism and critical examination of claims by Syrian “rebels” and their advocates. It should also lead to more scrutiny of media stories, human rights group reports and the words and actions of U.S.government officials.

Unfortunately, since the exposure of the Engel/NBC hoax, Western media and US diplomatic staff have not reduced their bias. A forthcoming article will expose lies and blatant bias on Syria by Robert Siegel of NPR and Ambassador Samantha Power, head of the U.S. Mission to the United Nations.

As for Human Rights Watch, their previous bias and “revolving door” with U.S. Government was criticized in a devastating letter to HRW from numerous Nobel Peace Laureates.

It would be a positive sign for HRW to change their staff policy as proposed by the Nobel Laurate group. It would mark another dramatic and positive sign for HRW to reconsider their report on Chlorine Gas Attacks in Syria taking into account the serious shortcomings identified in this article.

As it stands, the biased and faulty conclusions of the HRW report are much more serious than either Engelgate or the Brian William pretense. The HRW report is receiving wide coverage and is being used to justify actions which might move the region closer to even greater war and bloodshed.

PHOTOS REFERENCED IN ARTICLE

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Engel Hoax (Maarat Misrin) and “Chlorine Attack” (Binnish, Sarmin)

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Nusra Video of “Syria Civil Defence.”

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Syria Civil Defence Evidence in HRW Report.

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Nusra Video – Tragic but what really happened?

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Syria Civil Defence: Masked, Unmasked and Hazmat viewing “Barrel Bomb Fragments”

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Syrian opposition loading modified gas canisters into “Hell Cannon.”

Rick Sterling is a founding member of Syria Solidarity Movement. He can be reached at rsterling1@gmail.com

April 20, 2015 Posted by | Deception, False Flag Terrorism, Mainstream Media, Warmongering | , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Syrian Rebels Caught in ‘False-Flag’ Kidnapping

By Robert Parry | Consortium News | April 16, 2015

In December 2012, Syria’s U.S.-backed “moderate” rebels pulled off a false-flag kidnapping and “rescue” of NBC’s chief foreign correspondent Richard Engel and his crew, getting the crime blamed on a militia tied to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, a propaganda scam that NBC played along with despite having evidence of the truth.

On Wednesday, Engel, who had blamed an Assad-linked Shiite militia in reports both for NBC and Vanity Fair, acknowledged that a new examination of the case persuaded him that “the group that kidnapped us was Sunni, not Shia.” He added that the kidnappers “put on an elaborate ruse to convince us they were Shiite shabiha militiamen.”

According to an account published by the New York Times on Thursday – in its “Business Day” section – NBC executives had evidence from the beginning that the actual kidnappers were part of “a Sunni criminal element affiliated with the Free Syrian Army, the loose alliance of rebels opposed to Mr. Assad.”

The Free Syrian Army has been the principal rebel force supported by the U.S. government which, in April 2013, several months after Engel’s high-profile ordeal, earmarked $123 million in aid to the group to carry out its war against Assad’s government.

The other significance of the Syrian rebels’ successful false-flag kidnapping/rescue of Engel is that it may have encouraged them to sponsor other events that would be blamed on the Syrian government and excite the U.S. government and media to intervene militarily against Assad.

On Aug. 21, 2013, a mysterious Sarin gas attack outside Damascus killed several hundred people, causing U.S. officials, journalists and human rights activists to immediately leap to the conclusion that Assad was responsible and that he had crossed President Barack Obama’s “red line” against the use of chemical weapons and thus deserved U.S. military retaliation.

Within days, this political-media hysteria brought the United States to the verge of a sustained bombing campaign against the Syrian military before contrary evidence began emerging suggesting that extremist elements of the Syrian rebel force may have deployed the Sarin as a false-flag event. Obama pulled back at the last moment, infuriating America’s influential neoconservatives who had long put “regime change” in Syria near the top of their to-do list.

In retrospect, the aborted U.S. bombing campaign, if carried out, might well have so devastated the Syrian military that the gates of Damascus would have fallen open to the two most powerful rebel armies, Al-Qaeda’s Nusra Front and the hyper-brutal Islamic State, meaning that the black flag of Islamic terrorism might have been raised over one of the Mideast’s most important capitals.

Dangers of Bad Journalism

The revelations about Engel’s staged kidnapping/rescue also illuminate the dangers of biased mainstream U.S. journalism in which the big news organizations take sides in a conflict overseas and shed even the pretense of professional objectivity.

In the case of Syria, the major U.S. media put on blinders for many months to pretend that Assad was opposed by “moderate” rebels until it became impossible to deny that the dominant rebel forces were Al-Qaeda’s Nusra Front and the Islamic State. In late September 2013, many of the U.S.-backed, supposedly “moderate” rebels realigned themselves with Al-Qaeda’s affiliate.

In the case of Ukraine, U.S. journalists have put on their blinders again so as not to notice that the U.S.-backed coup regime in Kiev has relied on neo-Nazis and other right-wing extremists to wage an “anti-terrorist operation” against ethnic Russians in the east who have resisted the overthrow of their elected President Viktor Yanukovych. When it comes to Ukraine, the more than 5,000 deaths – mostly ethnic Russians in the east – are all blamed on Russian President Vladimir Putin. [See Consortiumnews.com’sSeeing No Neo-Nazi Militias in Ukraine.”]

These biased storylines – with the “U.S. side” wearing white hats and the other side wearing black hats – are not only bad journalism but invite atrocities because the “U.S. side” knows that the U.S. mainstream media will reflexively blame any horrors on the black-hatted “bad guys.”

In the case of Engel’s staged kidnapping/rescue, the New York Times belatedly reexamined the case not in the context of a disinformation campaign designed to excite war against Syria’s Assad but as a follow-up to disclosures that NBC’s longtime anchor Brian Williams had exaggerated the danger he was in while covering the Iraq War in 2003 – explaining the story’s placement in the business section where such media articles often go.

The most serious journalistic offense by NBC in this case appeared to be that it was aware of the behind-the-scenes reality – that individuals associated with the U.S.-backed rebels were likely responsible – but still let Engel go on the air to point the finger of blame in Assad’s direction.

The Times reported that the kidnapping “group, known as the North Idlib Falcons Brigade, was led by two men, Azzo Qassab and Shukri Ajouj, who had a history of smuggling and other crimes. … NBC executives were informed of Mr. Ajouj and Mr. Qassab’s possible involvement during and after Mr. Engels’s captivity, according to current and former NBC employees and others who helped search for Mr. Engel, including political activists and security professionals.

“Still, the network moved quickly to put Mr. Engel on the air with an account blaming Shiite captors and did not present the other possible version of events. … NBC’s own assessment during the kidnapping had focused on Mr. Qassab and Mr. Ajouj, according to a half-dozen people involved in the recovery effort.

“NBC had received GPS data from the team’s emergency beacon that showed it had been held early in the abduction at a chicken farm widely known by local residents and other rebels to be controlled by the Sunni criminal group.

“NBC had sent an Arab envoy into Syria to drive past the farm, according to three people involved in the efforts to locate Mr. Engel, and engaged in outreach to local commanders for help in obtaining the team’s release. These three people declined to be identified, citing safety considerations.

“Ali Bakran, a rebel commander who assisted in the search, said in an interview that when he confronted Mr. Qassab and Mr. Ajouj with the GPS map, ‘Azzo and Shukri both acknowledged having the NBC reporters.’ Several rebels and others with detailed knowledge of the episode said that the safe release of NBC’s team was staged after consultation with rebel leaders when it became clear that holding them might imperil the rebel efforts to court Western support.

“Abu Hassan, a local medic who is close to the rebel movement, and who was involved in seeking the team’s release, said that when the kidnappers realized that all the other rebels in the area were working to get the captives out, they decided to create a ruse to free them and blame the kidnapping on the Assad regime. ‘It was there that the play was completed,’ he said, speaking of the section of road Mr. Engel and the team were freed on.

“Thaer al-Sheib, another local man connected with the rebel movement who sought the NBC team, said that on the day of the release ‘we heard some random shots for less than a minute coming from the direction of the farm.’ He said that Abu Ayman, the rebel commander credited with freeing the team, is related by marriage to Mr. Ajouj, and that he staged the rescue.”

The Sarin Mystery

While it’s impossible to determine whether the successful scam about Engel’s kidnapping/rescue influenced the thinking of other Syrian rebels to sponsor a false-flag attack using Sarin, some of the same propaganda factors applied – with the U.S. news media jumping to conclusions about Assad’s responsibility for the Sarin deaths and then ridiculing any doubters.

Yet, like the Engel kidnapping affair, there were immediate reasons to doubt the “group think” on the Sarin attack, especially since Assad had just invited United Nations inspectors to Syria to investigate what he claimed was an earlier use of chemical weapons by the rebels. As the inspectors were unpacking their bags in Damascus, the Sarin attack occurred in a Damascus suburb, a provocation that quickly forced the inspectors to address the new incident instead.

The inspectors were under extraordinary U.S. pressure to implicate Assad — especially after Secretary of State John Kerry described a massive Sarin attack using multiple rockets that he said could only have come from a Syrian military base. But the inspectors only found one crudely made Sarin-laden rocket – and when rocket experts examined it, they estimated that it could only travel a couple of kilometers, meaning it was likely fired from rebel-controlled territory. [See Consortiumnews.com’sThe Collapsing Syria-Sarin Case.”]

Even as the evidence implicating the Syrian government evaporated, the mainstream U.S. news media and many wannabe important bloggers continued to defend the earlier “group think” on the Sarin attack and reject the possibility that the sainted rebels had done it. But the false-flag Engel kidnapping/rescue shows that such propaganda stunts were in the rebels’ bag of tricks.

~

Investigative reporter Robert Parry broke many of the Iran-Contra stories for The Associated Press and Newsweek in the 1980s. You can buy his latest book, America’s Stolen Narrative, either in print here or as an e-book (from Amazon and barnesandnoble.com).

April 16, 2015 Posted by | Deception, Mainstream Media, Warmongering | , , , , | Leave a comment