Recent developments at the United Nations–(with regard to the censoring of a report on Israeli apartheid and the resignation of a high-ranking UN official who had been ordered to repudiate it)–should be viewed in the context of remarks made earlier this month by Alan Dershowitz.
Speaking at an anti-BDS conference in Los Angeles, the former Harvard Law School professor and now CNN contributor offered the following advice to his fellow Jews:
People say Jews are too powerful, we’re too strong, we’re too rich. We control the media. We have too much this. We have too much that. And we often apologetically deny our strength and our power. Don’t do that. Don’t do that. We have earned the right to influence public debate.
As you can tell from the above video, the event where Dershowitz made those remarks was sponsored by Stand With Us, a Zionist lobby organization based in Los Angeles. Entitled, “Combating the Boycott Movement Against Israel,” the conference took place March 4-6 and was billed as “the crucial counter BDS conference.” Admission was $500 per person for “regular attendees” and $1,000 for “VIPs.”
“All registration levels include five gourmet kosher meals, all sessions, and materials,” reads the online promotional brochure. “VIP rates also include a private reception with Alan Dershowitz and other BDS experts, preferred seating throughout the conference, and valet parking.”
The conference is said to have been attended by more than 250 people. Less than two weeks later, on March 15, a UN organization, the Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia, published a report concluding that Israel imposes a policy of apartheid against the Palestinians–hardly a controversial allegation in this day and age. Yet the New York Times described it as “a politically explosive assertion” and said that the release of the report had “led to furious denunciations by Israel and the United States.”
Two days later, on Friday, March 17, Rima Khalaf resigned as head of the ESCWA after being ordered by UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres to withdraw the report. That same day, the report was removed from the UN’s website. The Israeli lobby had once again given the world a not-so-subtle demonstration of its power.
You can go here to read an analysis of the report by Stephen Lendman and here to access an archived copy of the full report (how long it will remain archived at the location is unclear). The report seems well grounded in international law, drawing upon the International Convention on the Suppression and Punishment of the Crime of Apartheid and other international agreements for the basis of its conclusions. Its authors, Richard Falk and Virginia Tilley, both come from a legal and scholarly background, and both were commissioned by the ESCWA to produce the report.
“Although the term ‘apartheid’ was originally associated with the specific instance of South Africa, it now represents a species of crime against humanity under customary international law and the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court,” they write in the report’s executive summary. They then proceed to quote the pertinent section of the Rome statute:
“The crime of apartheid” means inhumane acts… in the context of an institutionalized regime of systematic oppression and domination by one racial group over any other racial group or groups and committed with the intention of maintaining that regime.
As you can tell, the report was produced in a scholarly manner, but I’d like to return now to the comments of Dershowitz as shown in the video above. What he seems to be saying in effect is that Jews should no longer deny the power they hold. Better to be open about it, maybe even brag on it a little bit. The upside to this, presumably, is that it might help eliminate confusion about who really runs much of the world now. He also seems to feel that being open about Jewish power would enable Jews to more effectively use their power “in the interest of peace,” as he puts it.
Are Jews really using their power to promote peace in the world? In the paragraphs above I initiated what in essence amounts to a timeline beginning with the Stand With Us conference in L.A. That conference took place March 4-6. On March 15 came the UN report, followed by the resignation of Khalaf, on March 17, and the removal of the report from the UN’s website. That’s where I ended, but let’s expand the timeline a bit further and see what happens.
Also on March 17, Israeli war planes crossed into Syrian airspace and carried out a bombing raid at a site near the recently-liberated city of Palmyra. In response, Syria fired upon the Israeli planes using a Russian-supplied air defense system. Claims and counter-claims were made about the incident: Syria says it shot down one of the planes; Israel denies this.
But two days later, on March 19, Israeli Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman warned that Israel will destroy Syria’s air defenses if it fires on any more Israeli planes. The implication seems to be that Israel assumes to itself the God-given right (and you’ll recall Dershowitz speaking about the “strength” putatively given by the Old Testament god Yahweh) to cross into another country’s airspace and carry out a missile attack whenever it feels like it. This in fact is a point that was made by a writer at Russia Insider :
“The serious exchange of missile fire between Israel and Syria early Friday morning reflects the Assad regime’s attempts to change the unofficial rules of the game.”
So begins a column published in Israel’s Haaretz.
The newspaper is of course referring to the Israeli jets that “breached Syrian air space early in the morning and attacked a military target near Palmyra”, apparently in an attempt to “aid” Islamic State forces.
According to reports, it’s suspected that the Syrian Army responded to this “breach” by firing off a few S-200 missiles.
The writer, Rudy Panko, then goes on to supply a direct quote from the Haaretz opinion piece:
Presumably the Syrian anti-aircraft salvo was a signal to Israel that the regime’s policy of restraint in the face of the airstrikes will not remain as it was. President Bashar Assad’s recent successes – first and foremost the conquest of Aleppo – have seemingly increased the dictator’s confidence. Israel will have to decide whether the operational need – to thwart advanced weapons shipments to Hezbollah – also justifies the possible risk of the downing of an Israeli fighter jet and a broader conflict developing with Syria.
There is an interesting question as to whether the aircraft detection radar system was deployed by Israel’s new great friend, Russia, precisely one week after Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu returned from Moscow after yet another successful visit to see President Vladimir Putin.
One can imagine that the intelligence community will also be interested to learn whether the Syrian decision to fire back was coordinated with Assad’s collaborators and partners: Russia, Iran and Hezbollah.
He then makes the point that “Syria’s decision to defend itself from hostile, foreign jets dropping bombs on Syria shows a lack of ‘restraint’ on Assad’s part, according to Haaretz.” A similar point was made by another writer at Russia Insider, who put it perhaps in an even more sarcastic vein:
The moral of this story is: Israeli military jets enjoy diplomatic immunity. Harming them under any circumstances is prohibited by the Geneva Convention, the U.N. Charter, and the U.S. Declaration of Independence.
Carrying the timeline a bit further–as far as we can carry it now–on March 19, the same day Lieberman threatened to destroy Syrian air defenses, an Israeli drone carried out an attack in Syria’s southern province of Quneitra, killing one person; on Monday, March 20, reports came out confirming that Russia had summoned the Israeli ambassador over the March 17 attack in Syria; and also today, news has emerged of yet another Israeli air attack inside Syria–the third in three days–said to have been carried out sometime during the night of March 19-20.
Does it appear, from all of this, that Jews are using their power in the interest of peace? Keep in mind, that the events cited here are from one 20-day period in but one month only. Let’s return to the words of Dershowitz:
“Never ever apologize for using our strength and our influence in the interest of peace,” he says, and then he cites “the psalmist” whom he quotes as saying, “God will give the Jewish people strength…only then will God give the Jewish people peace. Peace will come for the Jewish people and the Jewish nation only through strength. Never apologize for using your strength for peace.”
It’s hard to say which biblical passage Dershowitz is referring to (the word “Jewish” is not found anywhere in the Psalms), but I would venture a guess and say that perhaps it’s a reference to Psalm 118, which reads in part:
All the nations surrounded me, but in the name of the Lord I cut them down. They surrounded me on every side, but in the name of the Lord I cut them down. They swarmed around me like bees, but they were consumed as quickly as burning thorns; in the name of the Lord I cut them down. I was pushed back and about to fall, but the Lord helped me. The Lord is my strength and my defense; he has become my salvation.
The whole passage, and particularly the words “all the nations,” would suggest a tribe of people who are at war with the entire world. The notion that such people would use their power to bring about “peace” would seem preposterous and nonsensical.
When the UN report was first released, Israel rushed to invoke the holocaust. According to a Reuters report, “Israel fiercely rejects the allegation and likened the [UN] report to Der Sturmer – a Nazi propaganda publication that was strongly anti-Semitic.” There are two ironies here that need to be pointed out. The first is that Falk, one of the authors of the report, is Jewish. The second has to do with Khalef, a Semitic woman of Arab descent–and that such a woman would be accused of “anti-semitism” by those claiming to be Jews but who are not even Semites. How do people who are descended from the Khazars of southern Russia, who are not semitic, get away with accusing actual, genuine Semites of being “anti-Semitic”? Does any of this make sense? It doesn’t have to.
The likening of the report to the Nazi publication mentioned is a knee-jerk, emotional reaction that is devoid of logic–but this too is a manifestation of Jewish power: that accusations made by Jews don’t have to be logical. It is enough simply that it is a Jew making them. This alone renders them beyond question.
Below is a discussion on the issue of Israeli apartheid featured a couple of days ago on Press TV. You will note that one of the guests, Brent Budowsky, a columnist for The Hill, not only denies that Israel is an apartheid state, he even denies the existence of Jewish power.
Apparently Budowsky didn’t get the memo about Dershowitz’s speech at the Stand With Us Conference–or perhaps he did get it but had already previously internalized the unspoken principle that while it’s okay for Jews to discuss Jewish power, the same freedom of speech does not apply to Gentiles.
At any rate, Jewish power is real. It immerses us; we are swimming in it. A future awaits us in which we, Americans, could very well find ourselves facing jail time for criticizing Jews or Israel, much as Europeans now are jailed for questioning the holocaust.
But it could be even worse than that. Much worse. Israel is intent on expanding its boundaries from the Nile to the Euphrates, while Zionist Jews in America seem to have a fixation on an even larger goal: complete, total, unchecked and uninhibited global hegemony, and possibly, in the course of trying to achieve this ambition, nuclear war with Russia if it should come to that. Israeli apartheid, the “species of crime” now being committed against the Palestinians, could end up going global… unless we find a way to defeat it.
The Kagan family, America’s neoconservative aristocracy, has reemerged having recovered from the letdown over not gaining its expected influence from the election of Hillary Clinton and from its loss of official power at the start of the Trump presidency.
Back pontificating on prominent op-ed pages, the Family Kagan now is pushing for an expanded U.S. military invasion of Syria and baiting Republicans for not joining more enthusiastically in the anti-Russian witch hunt over Moscow’s alleged help in electing Donald Trump.
In a Washington Post op-ed on March 7, Robert Kagan, a co-founder of the Project for the New American Century and a key architect of the Iraq War, jabbed at Republicans for serving as “Russia’s accomplices after the fact” by not investigating more aggressively.
Then, Frederick Kagan, director of the Critical Threats Project at the neocon American Enterprise Institute, and his wife, Kimberly Kagan, president of her own think tank, Institute for the Study of War, touted the idea of a bigger U.S. invasion of Syria in a Wall Street Journal op-ed on March 15.
Yet, as much standing as the Kagans retain in Official Washington’s world of think tanks and op-ed placements, they remain mostly outside the new Trump-era power centers looking in, although they seem to have detected a door being forced open.
Still, a year ago, their prospects looked much brighter. They could pick from a large field of neocon-oriented Republican presidential contenders or – like Robert Kagan – they could support the establishment Democratic candidate, Hillary Clinton, whose “liberal interventionism” matched closely with neoconservatism, differing only slightly in the rationalizations used for justifying wars and more wars.
There was also hope that a President Hillary Clinton would recognize how sympatico the liberal hawks and the neocons were by promoting Robert Kagan’s neocon wife, Victoria Nuland, from Assistant Secretary of State for European Affairs to Secretary of State.
Then, there would have been a powerful momentum for both increasing the U.S. military intervention in Syria and escalating the New Cold War with Russia, putting “regime change” back on the agenda for those two countries. So, early last year, the possibilities seemed endless for the Family Kagan to flex their muscles and make lots of money.
A Family Business
As I noted two years ago in an article entitled “A Family Business of Perpetual War”: “Neoconservative pundit Robert Kagan and his wife, Assistant Secretary of State Victoria Nuland, run a remarkable family business: she has sparked a hot war in Ukraine and helped launch Cold War II with Russia and he steps in to demand that Congress jack up military spending so America can meet these new security threats.
“This extraordinary husband-and-wife duo makes quite a one-two punch for the Military-Industrial Complex, an inside-outside team that creates the need for more military spending, applies political pressure to ensure higher appropriations, and watches as thankful weapons manufacturers lavish grants on like-minded hawkish Washington think tanks.
“Not only does the broader community of neoconservatives stand to benefit but so do other members of the Kagan clan, including Robert’s brother Frederick at the American Enterprise Institute and his wife Kimberly, who runs her own shop called the Institute for the Study of War.”
But things didn’t quite turn out as the Kagans had drawn them up. The neocon Republicans stumbled through the GOP primaries losing out to Donald Trump and then – after Hillary Clinton muscled aside Sen. Bernie Sanders to claim the Democratic nomination – she fumbled away the general election to Trump.
After his surprising victory, Trump – for all his many shortcomings – recognized that the neocons were not his friends and mostly left them out in the cold. Nuland not only lost her politically appointed job as Assistant Secretary but resigned from the Foreign Service, too.
With Trump in the White House, Official Washington’s neocon-dominated foreign policy establishment was down but far from out. The neocons were tossed a lifeline by Democrats and liberals who detested Trump so much that they were happy to pick up Nuland’s fallen banner of the New Cold War with Russia. As part of a dubious scheme to drive Trump from office, Democrats and liberals hyped evidence-free allegations that Russia had colluded with Trump’s team to rig the U.S. election.
New York Times columnist Thomas L. Friedman spoke for many of this group when he compared Russia’s alleged “meddling” to Japan’s bombing of Pearl Harbor and Al Qaeda’s 9/11 terror attacks.
On MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” show, Friedman demanded that the Russia hacking allegations be treated as a casus belli: “That was a 9/11 scale event. They attacked the core of our democracy. That was a Pearl Harbor scale event.” Both Pearl Harbor and 9/11 led to wars.
So, with many liberals blinded by their hatred of Trump, the path was open for neocons to reassert themselves.
Robert Kagan took to the high-profile op-ed page of The Washington Post to bait key Republicans, such as Rep. Devin Nunes, chairman of the House Intelligence Committee who was pictured above the Post article and its headline, “Running interference for Russia.”
Kagan wrote: “It would have been impossible to imagine a year ago that the Republican Party’s leaders would be effectively serving as enablers of Russian interference in this country’s political system. Yet, astonishingly, that is the role the Republican Party is playing.”
Kagan then reprised Official Washington’s groupthink that accepted without skepticism the claims from President Obama’s outgoing intelligence chiefs that Russia had “hacked” Democratic emails and released them via WikiLeaks to embarrass the Clinton campaign.
Though Obama’s intelligence officials offered no verifiable evidence to support the claims – and WikiLeaks denied getting the two batches of emails from the Russians – the allegations were widely accepted across Official Washington as grounds for discrediting Trump and possibly seeking his removal from office.
Ignoring the political conflict of interest for Obama’s appointees, Kagan judged that “given the significance of this particular finding [about Russian meddling], the evidence must be compelling” and justified “a serious, wide-ranging and open investigation.”
But Kagan also must have recognized the potential for the neocons to claw their way back to power behind the smokescreen of a New Cold War with Russia.
He declared: “The most important question concerns Russia’s ability to manipulate U.S. elections. That is not a political issue. It is a national security issue. If the Russian government did interfere in the United States’ electoral processes last year, then it has the capacity to do so in every election going forward. This is a powerful and dangerous weapon, more than warships or tanks or bombers.
“Neither Russia nor any potential adversary has the power to damage the U.S. political system with weapons of war. But by creating doubts about the validity, integrity and reliability of U.S. elections, it can shake that system to its foundations.”
A Different Reality
As alarmist as Kagan’s op-ed was, the reality was far different. Even if the Russians did hack the Democratic emails and somehow slipped the information to WikiLeaks – an unsubstantiated and disputed contention – those two rounds of email disclosures were not that significant to the election’s outcome.
Hillary Clinton blamed her surprise defeat on FBI Director James Comey briefly reopening the investigation into her use of a private email server while serving as Secretary of State.
Further, by all accounts, the WikiLeaks-released emails were real and revealed wrongdoing by leading Democrats, such as the Democratic National Committee’s tilting of the primaries against Sen. Bernie Sanders and in favor of Clinton. The emails of Clinton campaign chairman John Podesta disclosed the contents of Clinton’s paid speeches to Wall Street, which she was trying to hide from voters, as well as some pay-to-play features of the Clinton Foundation.
In other words, the WikiLeaks’ releases helped inform American voters about abuses to the U.S. democratic process. The emails were not “disinformation” or “fake news.” They were real news.
A similar disclosure occurred both before the election and this week when someone leaked details about Trump’s tax returns, which are protected by law. However, except for the Trump camp, almost no one thought that this illegal act of releasing a citizen’s tax returns was somehow a threat to American democracy.
The general feeling was that Americans have a right to know such details about someone seeking the White House. I agree, but doesn’t it equally follow that we had a right to know about the DNC abusing its power to grease the skids for Clinton’s nomination, about the contents of Clinton’s speeches to Wall Street bankers, and about foreign governments seeking pay-to-play influence by contributing to the Clinton Foundation?
Yet, because Obama’s political appointees in the U.S. intelligence community “assess” that Russia was the source of the WikiLeaks emails, the assault on U.S. democracy is a reason for World War III.
More Loose Talk
But Kagan was not satisfied with unsubstantiated accusations regarding Russia undermining U.S. democracy. He asserted as “fact” – although again without presenting evidence – that Russia is “interfering in the coming elections in France and Germany, and it has already interfered in Italy’s recent referendum and in numerous other elections across Europe. Russia is deploying this weapon against as many democracies as it can to sap public confidence in democratic institutions.”
There’s been a lot of handwringing in Official Washington and across the Mainstream Media about the “post-truth” era, but these supposed avatars for truth are as guilty as anyone, acting as if constantly repeating a fact-free claim is the same as proving it.
But it’s clear what Kagan and other neocons have in mind, an escalation of hostilities with Russia and a substantial increase in spending on U.S. military hardware and on Western propaganda to “counter” what is deemed “Russian propaganda.”
Kagan recognizes that he already has many key Democrats and liberals on his side. So he is taking aim at Republicans to force them to join in the full-throated Russia-bashing, writing:
“But it is the Republicans who are covering up. The party’s current leader, the president, questions the intelligence community’s findings, motives and integrity. Republican leaders in Congress have opposed the creation of any special investigating committee, either inside or outside Congress. They have insisted that inquiries be conducted by the two intelligence committees.
“Yet the Republican chairman of the committee in the House has indicated that he sees no great urgency to the investigation and has even questioned the seriousness and validity of the accusations. The Republican chairman of the committee in the Senate has approached the task grudgingly.
“The result is that the investigations seem destined to move slowly, produce little information and provide even less to the public. It is hard not to conclude that this is precisely the intent of the Republican Party’s leadership, both in the White House and Congress. …
“When Republicans stand in the way of thorough, open and immediate investigations, they become Russia’s accomplices after the fact.”
Lying with the Neocons
Many Democrats and liberals may find it encouraging that a leading neocon who helped pave the road to war in Iraq is now by their side in running down Republicans for not enthusiastically joining the latest Russian witch hunt. But they also might pause to ask themselves how they let their hatred of Trump get them into an alliance with the neocons.
On Wednesday in The Wall Street Journal, Robert Kagan’s brother Frederick and his wife Kimberly dropped the other shoe, laying out the neocons’ long-held dream of a full-scale U.S. invasion of Syria, a project that was put on hold in 2004 because of U.S. military reversals in Iraq.
But the neocons have long lusted for “regime change” in Syria and were not satisfied with Obama’s arming of anti-government rebels and the limited infiltration of U.S. Special Forces into northern Syria to assist in the retaking of the Islamic State’s “capital” of Raqqa.
In the Journal op-ed, Frederick and Kimberly Kagan call for opening a new military front in southeastern Syria:
“American military forces will be necessary. But the U.S. can recruit new Sunni Arab partners by fighting alongside them in their land. The goal in the beginning must be against ISIS because it controls the last areas in Syria where the U.S. can reasonably hope to find Sunni allies not yet under the influence of al Qaeda. But the aim after evicting ISIS must be to raise a Sunni Arab army that can ultimately defeat al Qaeda and help negotiate a settlement of the war.
“The U.S. will have to pressure the Assad regime, Iran and Russia to end the conflict on terms that the Sunni Arabs will accept. That will be easier to do with the independence and leverage of a secure base inside Syria. … President Trump should break through the flawed logic and poor planning that he inherited from his predecessor. He can transform this struggle, but only by transforming America’s approach to it.”
A New Scheme on Syria
In other words, the neocons are back to their clever word games and their strategic maneuverings to entice the U.S. military into a “regime change” project in Syria.
The neocons thought they had almost pulled off that goal by pinning a mysterious sarin gas attack outside Damascus on Aug. 21, 2013, on the Syrian government and mousetrapping Obama into launching a major U.S. air assault on the Syrian military.
But Russian President Vladimir Putin stepped in to arrange for Syrian President Bashar al-Assad to surrender all his chemical weapons even as Assad continued to deny any role in the sarin attack.
Putin’s interference in thwarting the neocons’ dream of a Syrian “regime war” moved Putin to the top of their enemies’ list. Soon key neocons, such as National Endowment for Democracy president Carl Gershman, were taking aim at Ukraine, which Gershman deemed “the biggest prize” and a steppingstone toward eventually ousting Putin in Moscow.
It fell to Assistant Secretary Victoria “Toria” Nuland to oversee the “regime change” in Ukraine. She was caught on an unsecured phone line in late January or early February 2014 discussing with U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine Geoffrey Pyatt how “to glue” or “to midwife” a change in Ukraine’s elected government of President Viktor Yanukovych.
Several weeks later, neo-Nazi and ultranationalist street fighters spearheaded a violent assault on government buildings forcing Yanukovych and other officials to flee for their lives, with the U.S. government quickly hailing the coup regime as “legitimate.”
But the Ukraine putsch led to the secession of Crimea and a bloody civil war in eastern Ukraine with ethnic Russians, events that the State Department and the mainstream Western media deemed “Russian aggression” or a “Russian invasion.”
So, by the last years of the Obama administration, the stage was set for the neocons and the Family Kagan to lead the next stage of the strategy of cornering Russia and instituting a “regime change” in Syria.
All that was needed was for Hillary Clinton to be elected president. But these best-laid plans surprisingly went astray. Despite his overall unfitness for the presidency, Trump defeated Clinton, a bitter disappointment for the neocons and their liberal interventionist sidekicks.
Yet, the so-called “#Resistance” to Trump’s presidency and President Obama’s unprecedented use of his intelligence agencies to paint Trump as a Russian “Manchurian candidate” gave new hope to the neocons and their agenda.
It has taken them a few months to reorganize and regroup but they now see hope in pressuring Trump so hard regarding Russia that he will have little choice but to buy into their belligerent schemes.
As often is the case, the Family Kagan has charted the course of action – batter Republicans into joining the all-out Russia-bashing and then persuade a softened Trump to launch a full-scale invasion of Syria. In this endeavor, the Kagans have Democrats and liberals as the foot soldiers.
Investigative reporter Robert Parry broke many of the Iran-Contra stories for The Associated Press and Newsweek in the 1980s.
The so-called Deep State and Democratic Party campaign to demonize Russia for allegedly “hacking the US election,” and delivering the country into the hands of Donald Trump suffered a huge and probably mortal blow this week with the release by WikiLeaks of over 7000 secret CIA documents disclosing secret CIA hacking technologies.
The case being made against Russia as being the source of leaked emails of the Democratic National Committee and of Clinton Campaign Chair John Podesta — documents that proved that the DNC had been corrupting the primary process in favor of corporatist candidate Hillary Clinton and undermining the campaign of Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders, and that also revealed the embarrassing contents of Clinton’s highly paid secret speeches to a number of giant Wall Street banks — had always been tenuous, with no hard evidence ever presented. All the intelligence agencies would say was that they had a “high degree of certainty,” or “strong reason to believe” that the Russians were the source of the deeply damaging documents late in the campaign season.
Adding to doubts that Russia had actually hacked the DNC was WikiLeaks itself, which insisted that it had obtained the DNC and Podesta emails not from a hack of computers, but from an internal DNC staffer who actually pulled them off computers with a thumb drive and provided them to the organization — a person later identified as Seth Rich, who was mysteriously murdered on his way home from DNC headquarters in Washington, shot in the back at night in an unsolved case that the local police quickly labeled a “botched burglary,” although nothing was taken from his body by his assailant — not his wallet or watch even. (Wikileaks has offered a $20,000 reward for information that helps solve that uninvestigated case.)
But one thing the blame-Russia conspiracy theorists did have going for them was their assertion that the leaked DNC documents contained routing information and ISPs that pointed to Russia as the source of the hacks.
Now, however, the new CIA documents released by WikiLeaks — the first of a much larger trove of such documents that are reportedly going to be released as WikiLeaks goes through them to remove information that might jeopardize agents or national security — show that among the technologies and hacking tools that the CIA has been using to attack targeted computers, internet servers and even so-called “smart” appliances in people’s homes, like Samsung TV sets, are a number of Russian-developed hacking programs.
As the New York Times wrote in its article on the latest Wikileaks document release, which it is calling “Vault 7”:
Another program described in the documents, named Umbrage, is a voluminous library of cyber-attack techniques that the CIA has collected from malware produced by other countries, including Russia. According to the WikiLeaks release, the large number of techniques allows the CIA to mask the origin of some of its attack and confuse forensic investigators.
The WikiLeaks material includes lists of softward tools that the CIA uses to create exploits and malware to carry out hacking. Many of the tools are those used by developers around the world: coding languages, such as Python, and tools like Sublime Text, a program used to write code, and Git, a tool that helps developers collaborate.”
What this means is that current efforts by Democratic Party leaders and Deep State leakers in the government intelligence sector to pin the blame on Russia for hacking the election or for trying to help elect Trump as president, now must confront the counter-argument that the Deep State itself, in the form of the CIA, may have been behind the hacks, but is making it look like the Russians did it.
Why would the CIA do that? Well, if the concern was that Trump, as he stated throughout the campaign, wanted to end US hostility towards Russia, and to develop friendly relations with that country and its leader, President Vladimir Putin, what better way to toss a spanner into such plans than to make it look like Russia had tried to corrupt the US election?
That charge has been largely adopted unquestioningly by the corporate media in recent months, but it now founders on the new evidence that the CIA has the ability to pose as a Russian hacker!
It looks like the campaign to portray President Trump as a Putin puppet, and to portray Russia as an evil underminer of US democracy will have to come up with another way to attack the Trump administration, and to gin up a new Cold War with Russia. The current effort will no longer pass the laugh test. Democrats seeking to undermine Trump with the US public will have to do better — like maybe actually analyzing the reasons for their epic election defeat, and coming up with a genuinely populist, as opposed to corporatist, program to show ordinary Americans that the party has their interests at heart, and not just the interests of rich campaign contributors.
WikiLeaks and its founder Julian Assange, the latter holed up these past four years under threat of arrest in the Ecuadoran Embassy in London, have done it again.
Although the Deep State hasn’t given up. The NY Times, in its report today on the WikiLeaks documents, also includes the rather lame argument by James Lewis, described as “an expert on cybersecurity at the Center for Strategic and International Studies” (a Washington think-tank closely linked to the US defense and intelligence establishment), that the latest WikiLeaks documents “most likely” were provided not by a “conscience-stricken CIA whistleblower,” but rather via another source. Lewis then suggests that:
“… a foreign state, most likely Russia, stole the documents by hacking or other means and delivered them to WikiLeaks, which may not know how they were obtained.”
Lewis gives no real explanation as to why a Russian hack would be “more likely” than a whistle-blowing CIA employee or contractor to be the source of the leaked documents provided to WikiLeaks, but the Times and its intelligence establishment sources are putting that alternative out there anyhow, clearly in an effort to keep the crumbling anti-Russia campaign afloat.
It will be interesting to see how far the McCarthyite campaign to demonize Russia and to damage the Trump presidency by linking it to Russian perfidy will go, given this new information that the CIA was well-equipped to do its hacking work posing as a Russian entity.
Here’s the anatomy of a fully made-up “news” story, abetted by a media that could care less to check any fact as long as the story feeds the preconceived notions of its audience.
You remember Khizr Khan (above), the guy who used his soldier son, killed in Iraq, as a prop at the Democratic National Convention to criticize Trump’s immigration policy
and help elect Hillary Clinton? Well, like all good Americans, Khan exploited his exploitation into a minor media career. He was booked to talk in Canada by a speaker’s bureau called Ramsey Talks. A decent gig — tickets ran $89 a seat.
Then Trump supposedly struck. Ramsey Talks released a statement on its Facebook page saying:
Late Sunday evening Khizr Khan, an American citizen for over 30 years, was notified that his travel privileges are being reviewed. As a consequence, Mr. Khan will not be traveling to Toronto on March 7th to speak about tolerance, understanding, unity and the rule of law. Very regretfully, Ramsay Talks must cancel its luncheon with Mr. Khan. Guests will be given full refunds.
Mr. Khan offered his sincere apologies to all those who made plans to attend on March 7th. He said: “This turn of events is not just of deep concern to me but to all my fellow Americans who cherish our freedom to travel abroad. I have not been given any reason as to why. I am grateful for your support and look forward to visiting Toronto in the near future.
A major Canadian broadcast outfit (CTV) ran the story based solely, only, 100% on that single unverified and unsubstantiated Facebook posting, saying the Trump administration interfered with Khan’s “travel privileges” to prevent him from speaking, because of some sort of revenge for Khan’s statements this summer.
The Internet then, as expected, lost its shit.
Twitter boomed, and within an hour or two the story appeared in the New York Times, LA Times, Boston Herald, CNN, Maddow, and across the globe. Every one of those stories was based on nothing but that Facebook post. Reuters, the only outfit that apparently bothered to commit a minor act of journalism and reach out to Khan, was told by him no comment. All of the web’s many experts on stuff became experts on passport law, immigration, naturalization, and visa lore. Amazingly creative theories of “denaturalization of Muslims” were concocted out of thin air.
The only problem is that none of this is true. It in fact could not be true.
The U.S. has no law that deals with reviewing or rescinding “travel privileges.” No U.S. government agency calls people at home to tell them their travel privileges are under review. If, in very, very limited specific legal instances a court has ordered someone not to travel, their passport itself can be revoked in response to that court order. The U.S. Customs and Border Protection people, the State Department, and the government of Canada all eventually denied doing anything to Khan in any way or having anything to do with this story, so please stop calling them to ask.
Khan, or Ramsey Talks, seems to have made this all up.
Now, funny thing, this made-up story about Khan being denied travel hit just as Trump’s new Executive Order (“Muslin Ban 2.0”) was announced. Gee willikers Biff, you think this tale of a Muslim patriot denied travel was timed for that news cycle? Maybe so that when Khan’s speech is rescheduled tickets will be more expensive and sell out faster? Maybe so Khan and/or Ramsey Talks could get a zillion dollars of free publicity? Hah hah, coincidence, am I right?
As I write this, not one of the media outlets that ran with the false story has published a correction, update or apology. The Washington Post has semi-backed away, but left itself plenty of wiggle room in not admitting it was wrong.
The problem is if you Google Khan’s name, the story is still flowing around the web, and is now being cited in unrelated stories as “proof” of whatever else the writer believes is fascism and the end of freedom in America.
BONUS: A source inside CBP tells me that what is most likely to have happened is that Khan’s membership in one of the expedited processing programs was set to expire. These are programs run by private companies that gather information and submit members’ names for background checks to allow them to use expedited processing lanes at the airport when re-entering the United States from a foreign country. Khan/Ramsey likely confused, by accident or on purpose, the expiration of that membership with some nefarious U.S. government action, and the media took it from there. Khan’s only privilege under fire was that of standing in a shorter line at the airport.
Everyone’s doing it
Those of us who voted for Donald Trump in hopes that he would turn out to be the peace candidate are facing disappointment. He has increased the already bloated military budget by $54 billion and has appointed an outspokenly anti-Russian and anti-Iranian active duty general as his National Security Advisor. A retired general with pretty much the same views heads the Pentagon. President Trump meanwhile vows to “extinguish” ISIS without presenting any plan regarding how exactly that might be accomplished.
The most important objective of all, resetting with Moscow to avoid World War 3, is in reverse gear, with the appointment of Fiona Hill, a critic of Vladimir Putin, as Russian specialist at the National Security Council. Meanwhile, our clueless United Nations Ambassador calls for Russia to withdraw from Crimea, where 58% of the population is Russian and only 24% is Ukrainian. Reports circulating in Washington suggest that the one phone call between Trump and Putin was a disaster, with the U.S. president demanding an end to the New START nuclear weapons reduction treaty, which the Kremlin wants to renew, before going off on a tangential monologue about his unexpected electoral victory.
In fact, even though the individual neocons have largely been outed from the foreign and security policy positions they once dominated it would not be completely inappropriate to suggest that their legacy of military interventionism lives on in terms of what the Trump administration has been so far promoting to keep America “safe.” Where all of this will go is anyone’s guess.
But if there is one constant in all of this it is the bright shining beacon of Israel, with Trump recently enthusing over the “unbreakable” bond between the two countries. One hopes that he misspoke and really meant “unbearable” or even “unspeakable” but it is clear from other indications that The Donald has succumbed to the inevitable Washington groupthink regarding America’s greatest ally and best friend in the whole wide world.
On Sunday New York Governor Andrew Cuomo met with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to discuss “trade and security issues” without anyone complaining that he was in violation of the Logan Act, which apparently only applies if you are talking to Russians. And a congressional delegation is in Israel right now studying the feasibility of moving the U.S. Embassy to Jerusalem, which most foreign policy pundits consider to be a very bad idea. Meanwhile at the United Nations, the U.S. has blocked the appointment of former Palestinian prime minister Salam Fayyad as special representative to Libya. U.S. Ambassador Nikki Haley explained the veto, saying irrelevantly “For too long the U.N. has been unfairly biased in favor of the Palestinian Authority to the detriment of our allies in Israel. The United States does not currently recognize a Palestinian state or support the signal this appointment would send within the United Nations.”
Ambassador Haley has also denounced the international body in general terms, stating that she was “underscore[ing] the ironclad support of the United States for Israel,” adding that “I am here to emphasize that United States is determined to stand up to the U.N.’s anti-Israel bias.” And if anyone failed to understand, on March 1st, U.S. envoy to the U.N. Human Rights Council in Geneva Erin Barclay told the group that it must drop its “obsession with Israel” or risk Washington withdrawing from the organization. The suggestion that the U.S. might consider departing came, incidentally, directly from Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who proposed such action to Donald Trump to “delegitimize” the U.N. body.
It is ironic that in the midst of a media and congressional feeding frenzy on foreign interference in the U.S., the one country in the world that consistently leads Washington by the nose is immune from criticism. The subservient role dutifully played by every U.S. president since JFK when dealing with Tel Aviv has resulted in defining United States national interests in terms of Israeli perceptions. The real irony is that even though Trump is giving the Israelis everything they want and is bowing to the Israel Lobby and Jewish groups at every opportunity, it is still not enough. It is never enough. That is because the neoconservatives, who are mostly Jewish and themselves complete Israel-firsters, hate him, having overwhelmingly favored Hillary Clinton as president due to their conviction that she would be the more aggressive president. They now believe that if they succeed in forcing Trump’s resignation or impeachment they will return to power in whatever new government formulation is put in place, so they continue to pile on.
Israel’s friends characteristically either run or have the ear of the media and they are supported by a formidable Washington based lobbying machine to get their point across. Whenever anything happens in the Middle East or elsewhere that is related to Israel’s perceived interests the machine goes to work with multiple position papers presented to every congressional office the next morning by runners from AIPAC, AEI, FPI, WINEP, JINSA and FDD. No one else has the clout of the Israel Lobby.
And Trump is also being battered by Jewish interests coming from the political left. France’s greatest living poseur-hypocrite Bernard-Henri Levy, described as a “philosopher, filmmaker and activist,” has hammered Trump twice recently, first in The New York Times on January 19th. Levy, who has described the brutal Israel Defense Forces as “a democratic army, which asks itself so many moral questions” and who was a war-on-Libya cheerleader, warns that Trump is a threat to all American Jews. Why? Because even though he has showered benefits on Israel his love for the Jewish people is “insufficient.” Levy explains, “This love is precisely what is required of an American president in dealings affecting Israel.”
The reader might well be astonished by the chutzpah of Levy in demanding love on top of the $38 billion already in the pipeline and wonder even more why the New York Times would print such garbage. But the French whiz kid does not really explain his remark, instead going on to denounce the “betrayal” of Israel by President Barack Obama at the United Nations before explaining that as Trump is “deeply unpopular” it would not do for American Jews to embrace him closely even if it appears he is doing good things for Israel. And Levy provides “evidence” that Trump might not be what he seems, citing inter alia his speech before the Republican Jewish Coalition in which he said he didn’t need their money. Levy sees this as a precursor to genuine, full blooded anti-Semitism, and speculates that Trump will take revenge against Jews to show “that he is indeed smarter than they are.” Why would he do that? Because he “respects only power, money and the perquisites of the palace.”
Levy’s second foray second foray, on CNN a month later, took Trump to task for his “incredible slip” on January 27th, Holocaust Remembrance Day, when he did not single out Jewish victims of Nazi crimes and instead cited all of those exterminated by the Germans. For Levy, Jewish deaths are intrinsically more memorable and valuable than those of others and the failure to grant them special status is a “tell-tale trope of Holocaust deniers” and a “hallmark of the new anti-Semitism.”
Bernard-Henri goes on to cite more evidence of Trump’s closet anti-Semitism, including the assertion that he has failed to address the reality of “Jewish children who go to school full of fear.” While it is possible to dismiss Levy as a completely self-serving bullshit artist who badly needs a haircut and a bath, he is far from alone. Also on the left there is the renowned Professor Alan Dershowitz of Harvard University.
Dershowitz, threatening to leave the Democratic Party if it elected Keith Ellison chair of the party’s central committee, appeared frequently on television and in the print media claiming that Ellison was an enemy of Israel and of the Jewish people. The threat to leave the Democrats produced numerous jokes directed at the abrasive and unpopular lawyer somewhat akin to those crafted at the expense of the Hollywood celebrities who promised to leave the country if Donald Trump were elected president. Unfortunately, I have to note that neither Dershowitz nor Barbra Streisand has yet departed.
Ellison was the preferred candidate of the Bernie Sanders liberal wing of the party and initial opinion polls suggested that he would likely win the position. While Dershowitz’s bombast could be regarded with some amusement, there was another, darker side to the campaign to sideline Ellison, who is black, a Muslim and not openly hostile to the Palestinians. This last attribute inevitably made it possible to start a whispering campaign labeling him as anti-Semitic and a number of Jewish Democratic fundraisers, to include Israeli Haim Saban of Hillary Clinton fame, privately made it known that they would end their donations to the party if Ellison were elected. Barack Obama and the Clintons also piled on, even working the phones to stop Ellison.
When Ellison lost in a close result, Dershowitz announced that he would not be leaving the party after all because the result was a “victory in the war against bigotry, anti-Semitism, [and] the anti-Israel push of the hard left within the Democratic Party.” As evidence of Ellison’s anti-Israel sentiment Dershowitz cited the congressman’s vote against funding Iron Dome, which is the Israel missile defense system. “Can you imagine any reasonable person voting against a missile system designed to protect innocent civilians against terrorist rocket attacks?”
Indeed Dersh, but maybe the Israelis should be paying for it, not the American taxpayer, which is actually the crux of the matter. I for one am tired of the perpetual whining of Alan Dershowitz and international professional Jews like Bernard-Henri Levi, who is frequently in the U.S. doing richly rewarded speaking tours on the so-called “Synagogue circuit.” And someone should wake U.N Ambassador Nikki Haley up to the fact that her job is to take care of the American people, not Israel. Quite frankly, if these folks are so much in love with Israel they should go live there and leave the rest of us as well as the U.S. Treasury alone.
If we are heading into yet another round of Israel-centric foreign policy we will be inevitably involved in new wars, starting with Iran which has always been Netanyahu’s enemy of choice. And then there is Syria, where the Israelis would prefer a continuation of chaos, presumably carried out by Washington which can pay the bills and take the casualties. As Bernard-Henri Levy has made clear and the Talmud asserts, Jewish lives are more important than those of gentiles, so it is fit and proper that Americans should fight and die to make sure that Israel might prosper.
Reckless US Russia bashing is reminiscent of US propaganda preceding all its wars, vilifying targeted countries and their leaders before attacking them.
The possibility of the world’s dominant nuclear powers clashing militarily should terrify everyone. Nuclear armageddon could follow.
Permanent wars reflect longstanding US policy. The Russian Federation never attacked another nation, fostering world peace and stability instead, threatening no other countries, despite Big Lies claiming otherwise.
Russia’s ambassador to Washington, Sergey Kislyak, is a distinguished diplomat, not an intelligence agent. He joined the Soviet Foreign Affairs Ministry in 1977, serving in many positions – most recently as Deputy Foreign Affairs Minister from 2003 – 2008, since then as envoy to America.
Yet CNN outrageously called him “one of Russia’s top spies and spy-recruiters in Washington” – a disgraceful fake news accusation, related to its coverage of Attorney General Jeff Sessions, having spoken to Kislyak one or more times while serving on the Senate Armed Services Committee.
CNN’s alleged sources: the usual unnamed US officials, past and present, reporting no evidence, the aim part of a diabolical anti-Russia, anti-Trump plot.
The stakes are huge. If officials close to him are eliminated, he’ll be too weak to govern effectively, perhaps more vulnerable to impeachment and removal from office than already.
If he goes, the last vestiges of a free society will go with him, coup d’etat dictatorship replacing him.
If Russia bashing passes a threshold of no return, war between the world’s dominant nuclear powers could follow.
Most Americans are mindless about what’s going on, manipulated by relentless fake news, failing to distinguish between fact and fiction.
Most oppose Trump, according to polls. Most nonsensically believe Russia threatens America. The notion is pounded into the public mind constantly, in NYT and other broadsheet feature stories, round-the-clock on cable television.
Putin spokesman Dmitry Peskov blasted accusations about Kislyak, saying “(y)ou and I have not heard a single statement by the US special services about our ambassador” – just “bogus media speculations that keep fanning tensions,” adding:
“The only piece of advice that I can give is that in a situation like this, avoid reacting to all such anonymous, baseless fake news stories and rely only on official statements by genuine officials.”
If Americans don’t awaken to the clear and present dangers they face and resist, the price for their indifference will be full-blown tyranny – perhaps nuclear war to follow, the ultimate nightmare.
Image from popularresistance.org
The ongoing clashes between the factions that make up the US political elite keep getting more and more absurd. And annoyingly, as no particular fan of Donald Trump, I keep finding myself in the position of having to fight his corner.
In this instance it is about wire-tapping. Donald Trump tweeted out that the Obama’s previous administration had pulled a Watergate and had his office phones monitored during the election. As yet there is no proof, something everyone from CNN to the Guardian to The NYT were very eager to point out.
In fact, every single MSM source that covered this story mentioned the lack of evidence in the headline:
Somebody get these guys a thesaurus.
Whilst simultaneously quoting the other side of the story, without feeling the need to be quite so thoroughly honest:
Don’t worry everyone… Obama denied it. So that settles that.
And honestly, yes, there is (as yet) no proof. There may not be any proof, ever. It’s a possibility that Trump simply made it up. Politicians make things up all the time. I doubt one word in fifty spoken in Washington DC has any kind of basis in fact.
There is, indeed, no proof. However, there is quite a large piece of evidence, one that the media seem to have neglected to mention.
This is where we need to have a quick reality check, because it seems our friends in the media have forgotten:
The Obama administration spied. A lot.
They spied on American civilians, foreign nationals, domestic political figures, and international heads of state. They monitored our internet histories and our phone calls and read our e-mails. None of this is disputed. Obama did one of his hokey phony apologies about it. He almost certainly used the word “folks”.
This was famously reported exclusively in the Guardian just 4 years ago. They stood by their serious journalism back then… right up until GCHQ told them to smash their hard drives with a sledgehammer. Edward Snowden (perhaps you remember him?) is currently hiding-out in Russia for telling us all about it. Luke Harding, a Guardian star reporter, wrote a not-very-good book about it. It seems odd they’ve all forgotten.
The refutation of Trump’s claim, offered by former Obama admin. officials went roughly as follows:
No President can order a wiretap. Those restrictions were put in place to protect citizens from people like you. https://t.co/lEVscjkzSw
— Ben Rhodes (@brhodes) March 4, 2017
There was also this statement from an Obama spokesperson.
The argument being that Barack Obama can’t have ordered a wire-tap on Donald Trump… because it would exceed his legal authority. Now, I’m all for living in a world where the US Government, and all the elected and unelected officials there-in, act only according to their legal authority. It would be a nice world…a lot of people would still be alive that, currently, are not.
But time has shown, hundreds (if not thousands) of times over the past few decades, that legality is not an obstacle to an American political establishment driven to protect their financial interests and military empire.
Torture camps, extraordinary renditions, drone executions, funding of terrorist groups, targeting of civilians, use of cluster munitions, use of chemical weapons, use of depleted uranium, terrorist attacks, mass surveillance and all out wars of conquest are all very, very illegal. That has never been a problem.
To suppose that adding illegal wire taps on presidential candidates to this list is a line they would not cross is naive to the point of insanity.
It is inherently ridiculous to openly acknowledge the existence of a massive (illegal) surveillance network, and not assume that bombastic, populist political opponents would be at the top the target list.
In summary: of course the Obama administration spied on Donald Trump. They spied on everybody.
It’s very important we don’t let them shove that fact down the memory-hole.
On issues mattering most, The Times features fake news, not the real thing.
On March 1, its editors lied headlining “Russia Sides With Chemical Weapons,” saying:
“Russia proved again on Tuesday that there is no crime heinous enough to make it turn against Syria’s president, Bashar al-Assad. It vetoed a resolution before the United Nations Security Council that would have punished Syria for using chemical weapons.”
Fact: Throughout six years of Obama’s war, now Trump’s, using terrorists as imperial foot soldiers against a sovereign independent state threatening no one, claims about Assad using chemical weapons were fabricated – bogus accusations without evidence.
Fact: Plenty of clear evidence proves ISIS, al-Nusra and other US-supported terrorists used CWs numerous times – their elements trained in their use by Pentagon contractors in Turkey and Jordan, Saudi Arabia at times supplying toxins.
Times editors: “The Kremlin’s decision was in keeping with President Vladimir Putin’s vigorous support of the Syrian military in a six-year-long war that has killed half a million people.”
Fact: No mention by Times editors about Washington’s full responsibility for mass slaughter and destruction – NATO, Israel, and other rogue allies sharing blame.
Fact: Syria was invaded by US-supported terrorists, recruited from scores of countries, trained in Turkey, Jordan and elsewhere, responsible for horrific atrocities, mostly against defenseless civilians.
Times editors: “Although Moscow had made clear in advance that it would veto the resolution, (Washington), Britain and France were right to insist on a vote and to expose Russia’s moral bankruptcy.”
Fact: As usual, Times editors turned truth on its head, ignoring US-orchestrated aggression, vilifying Russia’s righteous mission.
Times editors: Mr. Putin’s argument that the resolution interfered with cease-fire negotiations between the Syrian government and the rebels was… not credible.”
Fact: The resolution was introduced to undermine peace talks, apparently wanting endless war continued.
Separately, Times editors claimed White House signals give “autocrats… a green light” to do what they please. What rubbish!
Most of America’s allies are rogue states, alliances formed long before Trump’s ascension to power – notably key NATO ones, Israel, Saudi Arabia, and other Gulf states, partners in US high crimes.
Maybe Times editors forgot.
Stephen Lendman can be reached at email@example.com. His new book is titled Flashpoint in Ukraine: How the US Drive for Hegemony Risks WW III.
The New York Times has made it official. In a Sunday front-page article entitled “Trump Ruled the Tabloid Media. Washington Is a Different Story,” the paper gloats that Donald Trump has proved powerless to stop a flood of leaks threatening to capsize his administration.
As reporters Glenn Thrush and Michael M. Grynbaum put it: “This New York-iest of politicians, now an idiosyncratic, write-your-own-rules president, has stumbled into the most conventional of Washington traps: believing he can master an entrenched political press corps with far deeper connections to the permanent government of federal law enforcement and executive department officials than he has.”
Thrush and Grynbaum add a few paragraphs later that Trump “is being force-fed lessons all presidents eventually learn – that the iron triangle of the Washington press corps, West Wing staff and federal bureaucracy is simply too powerful to bully.”
Iron triangle? Permanent government? In its tale of how Trump went from being a favorite of the New York Post and Daily News to fodder for the big-time Washington news media, the Times seems to be going out of its way to confirm dark paranoid fears of a “deep state” lurking behind the scenes and dictating what political leaders can and cannot do. “Too powerful to bully” by a “write-your-own-rules president” is another way of saying that the permanent government wants to do things its way and will not put up with a president telling it to take a different approach.
Entrenched interests are nothing new, of course. But a major news outlet bragging about collaborating with such elements in order to cripple a legally established government is. The Times was beside itself with outrage when top White House adviser Steve Bannon described the media as “the opposition party.” But one can’t help but wonder what all the fuss is about since an alliance aimed at hamstringing a presidency is nothing if not oppositional.
If so, a few things are worth keeping in mind. One is that Trump was elected, even if only by an Eighteenth-Century relic known as the Electoral College, whereas the deep state, permanent government, or whatever else you want to call it was not. Where Trump gave speeches, kissed babies, and otherwise sought out the vote, the deep state did nothing. To the degree this country is still a democracy, that must count for something. So if the conflict between president and the deep state ever comes down to a question of legitimacy, there is no doubt who will come out ahead: The Donald.
A second thing worth keeping in mind is that if ever there was a case of the unspeakable versus the inedible (to quote Oscar Wilde), the contest between a billionaire president and billionaire-owned press is it.
Both sides are more or less correct in what they say about the other. Trump really is a strongman at war with basic democratic norms just as innumerable Times op-ed articles say he is. And giant press organizations like the Times and the Washington Post are every bit as biased and one-sided as Trump maintains – and no less willfully gullible, one might add, than in 2002 or 2003 when they happily swallowed every lie put out by the George W. Bush administration regarding Iraqi WMDs or Saddam Hussein’s support for Al Qaeda.
Trump’s Feb. 16 press conference – surely the most riveting TV since Jerry Springer was in his prime – is a case in point. The President bobbed, weaved, and hurled abuse like a Catskills insult comic. He threw out pseudo-facts, describing his victory, for instance, as “the biggest Electoral College win since Ronald Reagan” when in fact George H. W. Bush, Bill Clinton and Barack Obama all got more votes. But commentators who panned the display as a “freak show” or simply “batshit crazy” didn’t get it. It wasn’t Trump who bombed that afternoon, but the press.
Why? Because reporters behaved with all the intelligence of a pack of Jack Russell terriers barking at a cat up a tree. Basically, they’ve been seized by the idée fixe that Russia is a predator state that hacks elections, threatens U.S. national security, and has now accomplished the neat trick of planting a Kremlin puppet in the Oval Office. It doesn’t matter that evidence is lacking or that the thesis defies common sense. It’s what they believe, what their editors believe, and what the deep state believes too (or at least pretends to). So the purpose of the Feb. 16 press conference was to pin Trump down as to whether he also believes the Russia-did-it thesis and pillory him for deviating from the party line.
More than half the questions that reporters threw out were thus about Russia, about Mike Flynn, the ex-national security adviser who got into trouble for talking to the Russian ambassador before the new administration formally took office, or about reputed contacts between the Trump campaign staff and Moscow. One reporter thus demanded to know if anyone from Trump’s campaign staff had ever spoken with the Russian government or Russian intelligence. Another asked if Trump had requested FBI telephone intercepts before determining that Flynn had not broken the law.
“I just want to get you to clarify this very important point,” said a third. “Can you say definitively that nobody on your campaign had any contacts with the Russians during the campaign?” A fourth wanted to get the President’s reaction to such “provocations” as a Russian communications vessel floating 30 miles off the coast of Connecticut (in international waters). “Is Putin testing you, do you believe, sir?” the reporter asked as if he had just uncovered a Russian agent in the Lincoln Bedroom. “… But do they damage the relationship? Do they undermine this country’s ability to work with Russia?”
When yet another journalist asked yet again “whether you are aware that anyone who advised your campaign had contacts with Russia during the course of the election,” Trump cried out in frustration: “How many times do I have to answer this question?” It was the most intelligent query of the day.
The press played straight into Trump’s hands, all but providing him with his best lines. “Well, I guess one of the reasons I’m here today is to tell you the whole Russian thing, that’s a ruse,” he responded at one point. “That’s a ruse. And by the way, it would be great if we could get along with Russia, just so you understand that. Now tomorrow, you’ll say, ‘Donald Trump wants to get along with Russia, this is terrible.’ It’s not terrible. It’s good.”
The prose may not be very polished, but the sentiments are unassailable. Ditto Trump’s statement a few minutes later that “false reporting by the media, by you people, the false, horrible, fake reporting makes it much harder to make a deal with Russia. … And that’s a shame because if we could get along with Russia – and by the way, China and Japan and everyone – if we could get along, it would be a positive thing, not a negative thing.”
If the Washington Post and the Times do not agree that bogus assertions about unauthorized contacts with Russia are not poisoning the atmosphere, they should explain very clearly why not. They should also explain what they hope to accomplish with a showdown with Russia and why it will not be a step toward World War III.
But they won’t, of course. The media (with encouragement from parts of the U.S. government) are working themselves into a fit of outrage against Vladimir Putin just as, in past years, they did against Daniel Ortega, Manuel Noriega, Saddam Hussein, Slobodan Milosevic, Saddam Hussein (again), Muammar Gaddafi, Bashar al-Assad, and Viktor Yanukovych. In each instance, the outcome has been war, and so far the present episode shows all signs of heading in the same direction as well.
Reporters may be clueless, but working-class Americans aren’t. They don’t want a war because they’re the ones who would have to fight it. So they’re not unsympathetic to Trump and all the more inclined to give the yapping media short shrift.
This is a classic pattern in which strongmen advance on the basis of a liberal opposition that proves to be weak and feckless. Today’s liberal media are obliging Trump by behaving in a way that is even sillier than usual and well ahead of schedule to boot.
A Fragile Meme
The anti-Russia meme, meanwhile, rests on the thinnest of foundations. The argument that Russia hacked the Democratic National Committee and thereby tipped the election to Trump is based on a single report by CrowdStrike, the California-based cyber-security firm hired by the DNC to look into the mass email leak. The document is festooned with head-spinning techno-jargon.
It says of Cozy Bear and Fancy Bear, the hackers who allegedly penetrated the DNC in behalf of Russian intelligence: “Their tradecraft is superb, operational security second to none, and the extensive usage of ‘living-off-the-land’ techniques enables them to easily bypass many security solutions they encounter. In particular, we identified advanced methods consistent with nation-state level capabilities including deliberate targeting and ‘access management’ tradecraft – both groups were constantly going back into the environment to change out their implants, modify persistent methods, move to new Command & Control channels, and perform other tasks to try to stay ahead of being detected. Both adversaries engage in extensive political and economic espionage for the benefit of the government of the Russian Federation and are believed to be closely linked to the Russian government’s powerful and highly capable intelligence services.”
Impressive? Not to independent tech experts who have already begun taking potshots. Sam Biddle, The Intercept’s extremely smart tech writer, notes that CrowdStrike claims to have proved that Cozy Bear and Fancy Bear are Russian because they left behind Cyrillic comments in their “metadata” along with the name “Felix Edmundovich,” also in Cyrillic, an obvious reference to Felix Edmundovich Dzerzhinsky, founder of the Cheka, as the Soviet political police were originally known.
But, Biddle observes, there’s an obvious contradiction: “Would a group whose ‘tradecraft is superb’ with ‘operational security second to none’ really leave behind the name of a Soviet spy chief imprinted on a document it sent to American journalists? Would these groups really be dumb enough to leave Cyrillic comments on these documents? … It’s very hard to buy the argument that the Democrats were hacked by one of the most sophisticated, diabolical foreign intelligence services in history, and that we know this because they screwed up over and over again.”
Indeed, John McAfee, founder of McAfee Associates and developer of the first commercial anti-virus software, casts doubt on the entire enterprise, wondering whether it is possible to identify a hacker at all. “If I were the Chinese,” he told TV interviewer Larry King in late December, “and I wanted to make it look like the Russians did it, I would use Russian language within the code, I would use Russian techniques of breaking into organizations. … If it looks like the Russians did it, then I can guarantee you: it was not the Russians.” (Quote starts at 4:30.)
This may be too sweeping. Nonetheless, if the press really wanted to get to the bottom of what the Russians are doing, they would not begin with the question of what Trump knew and when he knew it. They would begin, rather, with the question of what we know and how we can be sure. It’s the question that the press should have asked during the run-up to the 2003 invasion of Iraq, but failed to. But it’s the question that reporters should be asking now before the conflict with Russia spins out of control, with consequences that are potentially even more horrendous.
It’s not easy making Donald Trump seem like a peacenik, but that’s what the billionaire’s press has done.
It’s heartwarming that The New York Times and The Washington Post are troubled that President Trump is loosely throwing around accusations of “fake news.” It’s nice that they now realize that truth does not reliably come from the mouth of every senior government official or from every official report.
The Times is even taking out full-page ads in its own pages to offer truisms about truth: “The truth is hard. The truth is hidden. The truth must be pursued. The truth is hard to hear. The truth is rarely simple. The truth isn’t so obvious. …” On Sunday, those truth truisms ran opposite an alarmist column by Jim Rutenberg entitled, “Will the Real Democracy Lovers Please Stand Up?” Meanwhile, The Washington Post launched its own melodramatic slogan, “Dies in Darkness.”
Yet, it was only weeks ago when the Post and Times were eagerly promoting plans for silencing or blacklisting independent news sites that didn’t toe the line on what the U.S. government and its allies were claiming was true.
On Nov. 20, the Times published a lead editorial calling on Facebook and other technology giants to devise algorithms that could eliminate stories that the Times deemed to be “fake.” The Times and other mainstream news outlets – along with a few favored Internet sites – joined a special Google-sponsored task force, called the First Draft Coalition, to decide what is true and what is not. If the Times’ editorial recommendations were followed, the disfavored stories and the sites publishing them would no longer be accessible through popular search engines and platforms, essentially blocking the public’s access to them. [See Consortiumnews.com’s “What to Do About ‘Fake News.’”]
On Thanksgiving Day, the Post ran a front-page story citing an anonymous group, called PropOrNot, blacklisting 200 Web sites, including Consortiumnews.com and other important sources of independent journalism, because we supposedly promoted “Russian propaganda.”
Although PropOrNot and the Post didn’t bother to cite any actual examples or to ask the accused for comment, the point was clear: If you didn’t march in lockstep behind the Official Narrative on, say, the Ukraine crisis or the war in Syria, you were to be isolated, demonized and effectively silenced. In the article, the Post blurred the lines between “fake news” – stories that are simply made up – and what was deemed “propaganda,” in effect, information that didn’t jibe with what the U.S. State Department was saying.
Back then, in November, the big newspapers believed that the truth was easy, simple, obvious, requiring only access to some well-placed government official or a quick reading of the executive summary from some official report. Over the last quarter century or so, the Times, in particular, has made a fetish out of embracing pretty much whatever Officialdom declared to be true. After all, such well-dressed folks with those important-sounding titles couldn’t possibly be lying.
That gullibility went from the serious, such as rejecting overwhelming evidence that Ronald Reagan’s Nicaraguan Contra rebels were deeply involved in drug trafficking, to the silly, trusting the NFL’s absurd Deflategate allegations against Tom Brady. In those “old” days, which apparently ended a few weeks ago, the Times could have run full-page ads, saying “Truth is whatever those in authority say it is.”
In 2002, when the George W. Bush administration was vouching for a motley crew of Iraqi “defectors” describing Saddam Hussein’s hidden WMDs, Iraq’s purchase of some “aluminum tubes” must have been for building nuclear bombs. In 2003, when Secretary of State Colin Powell showed some artist drawings of “mobile chemical weapons labs,” they must really exist – and anyone who doubted Powell’s “slam-dunk” testimony deserved only contempt and ridicule.
When the Obama administration issued a “government assessment” blaming the Syrian military for the sarin gas attack outside Damascus on Aug. 21, 2013, there was no need to scrutinize its dubious assertions or ask for actual proof. To do so made you an “Assad apologist.”
When a bunch of U.S. allies under the effective control of Ukraine’s unsavory SBU intelligence service presented some videos with computer-generated graphics showing Russians supplying the Buk missile that shot down Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 over eastern Ukraine on July 17, 2014, there was no need to examine the holes in the evidence or note that the realistic-looking graphics were fictional and based on dubious assumptions. To do so made you a “Moscow stooge.”
In other words, when the U.S. government was gluing black hats on an “enemy” and white hats on a U.S. “ally,” the Times never seemed to object. Nor did pretty much anyone else in the mainstream media. No one seemed to note that both sides usually deserved gray hats. With very few exceptions – when the State Department or other U.S. agencies were making the charges – the Times and its cohorts simply stopped applying responsible journalistic skepticism.
Of course, there is a problem with “fake news,” i.e., stories that are consciously made up for the purpose of making money from lots of clicks. There are also fact-free conspiracy theories that operate without evidence or in defiance of it. No one hates such bogus stories more than I do — and they have long been a bane of serious journalism, dating back centuries, not just to the last election.
But what the Times, the Post and the rest of the mainstream media have typically ignored is that there are many situations in which the facts are not clear or when there are alternative explanations that could reasonably explain a set of facts. There are even times when the evidence goes firmly against what the U.S. government is claiming. At those moments, skepticism and courage are necessary to challenge false or dubious Official Narratives. You might even say, “The truth is rarely simple. The truth isn’t so obvious…”
A Tough Transition
During the transition from the Obama administration to the Trump team, the Times, the Post and other mainstream media outlets got caught in their own transition from trusting whatever the outgoing officials said to distrusting whatever the incoming officials said. In those final days, big media accepted what President Obama’s intelligence agencies asserted about Russia supposedly interfering in the U.S. election despite the lack of publicly available evidence that could be scrutinized and tested.
Even something as squirrelly as the attack on Trump’s National Security Adviser Michael Flynn – with Obama holdovers citing the never-prosecuted Logan Act from 1799 as the pretext for ginning up some kind of criminal-sounding case that scared Trump into firing Flynn – was treated as legitimate, without serious questions asked. Since Obama officials were doing the feeding, the no-skepticism rule applied to the eating. But whatever statements came from Trump, even his few lucid moments explaining why war with nuclear-armed Russia wasn’t such a great idea, were treated as dangerous nonsense.
When Trump scolded the mainstream press for engaging in “fake news” and then applied the phrase “enemy of the people,” the Times, the Post and the rest went into full victimization-mode. When a few news companies were excluded from a White House news briefing, they all rushed to the barricades to defend freedom of the press. Then, Trump went even further – he rejected his invitation to the White House Correspondents Dinner, the black-tie/evening-gown event where mainstream media stars compete to attract the hottest celebrity guests and hobnob with important government officials, a walking-talking conflict-of-interest-filled evening, an orgy of self-importance.
So, the Times, the Post and their mainstream-media friends now feel under attack. Whereas just weeks ago they were demanding that Google, Facebook and other powerful information platforms throttle those of us who showed professional skepticism toward dubious claims from the U.S. government, now the Times, the Post and the others are insisting that we all rally around them, to defend their journalistic freedom. In another full-page ad on Sunday, the Times wrote: “Truth. It’s more important now than ever.”
I would argue that truth is always important, but especially so when government officials are leading countries toward war, when lives are at stake, whether in Iraq or Syria or Ukraine or the many other global hotspots. At those moments in the recent past, the Times did not treat truth – in all its subtlety and nuance – as important at all.
I would argue, too, that the stakes are raised even higher when propagandists and ideologues are risking the prospect of nuclear war that could kill billions and effectively end human civilization. However, in that case, the American people have seen little truly professional journalism nor a real commitment to the truth. Instead, it’s been much more fun to demonize Russian President Vladimir Putin and paint black-and-white pictures of the evil Russians.
At such moments, those New York Times’ truisms about truth are forgotten: “The truth is rarely simple. The truth isn’t so obvious. …”
Investigative reporter Robert Parry broke many of the Iran-Contra stories for The Associated Press and Newsweek in the 1980s.
With the departure of the Trump’s national security adviser, political crisis in the US has only depended and is likely to exacerbate into a full-fledged struggle for power and control between Trump and what some call ‘deep-state.’ While Donald Trump is an elected president of the United States of America, he doesn’t seem to be able to exercise power in actual terms. This is evident from the way a so-called ‘pro-Russian’ adviser has been forced to resign. Following this resignation an intense debate has emerged in the US, leading a considerable number of people, 48 per cent according to a recent poll, to reject the way Trump has performed in the first month of his presidency. Already Trump has retracted on Crimea. Accordingly, he is in no hurry to engage Russia in Syria nor does he consider NATO to be “obsolete.” In the same vain, his U-turn towards China is something that nobody could foresee during his election campaign. As of now, a great deal of Trump’s election rhetoric is dead and lies buried deep inside the rubric of deep structures of power, marking the very first instance of its sort when an American president has found himself deeply at odds with the system. And, there is no certainty that he can or may overcome this tussle and emerge as the American ‘knight in shining armour.’
While this may or may not happen, a lot of questions about Trump’s ability to steer the course of American foreign and domestic policies have emerged following Flynn’s resignation and with it the so-called crisis of legitimacy has deepened, leaving minimum to no space for Trump to freely determine the course of American policy making.
The crisis, or the power struggle, has deepened to an extent where an American elected president has been forced to publicly blame American intelligence agencies for feeding the media with information against him and claimed that today’s America was `just like Russia’.
The Russophobia campaign is, indeed, being fed to the American public and the declining support for Trump is more a direct result of this spread of false information than an outcome of actual ‘bad performance.’
The media leaks have already led to Michael Flynn’s resignation. The Washington Post has recently reported that Flynn had “discussed sanctions” with a Russian official during the transition period, although Flynn had assured Vice President Mike Pence that this did not happen.
In turn, The New York Times noted on February 14, 2017, that other officials of the Trump administration and his election campaign have had contacts with Russian intelligence agents as well.
Flynn’s departure just three weeks after Trump’s inauguration as president has allowed the media to claim that the White House was in total disarray.
The media’s propagandist claim has certainly irked Trump who went to his favourite medium of communication, Twitter, to fire off a series of tweets, attacking the media as well as the intelligence agencies. In at least two tweets, Trump named the agencies the Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI) and National Security Agency (NSA) that he said were `running a campaign against him’.
`The real scandal here is that classified information is illegally given out by `intelligence’ like candy. ‘Very un-American’, he tweeted. `Information is being illegally given to the failing New York Times and Washington Post by the intelligence community.
The crisis that has thus ensued and which is being fanned out by the mainstream US media is asking for changes in the policies, particularly towards Russia about Crimea and co-operation in Syria, that Trump had advocated during his election campaign.
We have already seen that some of it has already changed. What this retraction implies, in political terms, is that the establishment has also shown that it has the ability and the grit to undermine Trump if he were to deviate from their script—a script that is premised on the existence of an enemy (Russia) and which the establishment and the deep-state can use to protect, enhance and materialize its own political and economic interests in both domestic and global political and economic arenas.
The “Russophobia” based containment of Donald Trump is, however, not going to remain exclusive to the US’ domestic political circles. On the contrary, it is likely to, and already has, expanded into international political arena and is going to define and shape Trump’s relations with the US’ European allies, who in turn are neither comfortable with Trump’s foreign policy nor are going to allow him to retract the US-NATO security system (read: NATO is no longer “obsolete”).
Interestingly enough, this ‘trans-Atlantic Russophobia’ is being transformed into a new Cold War. The NATO defence ministers have been recently been discussing the presence of their fleets in the Black Sea in a closed summit in Brusells. Clearly, the western bloc on the whole loathes Trump, creating an unprecedented disequilibrium within the Western alliance wherein Trump leads the alliance, but the partners do not know how far he is to be taken seriously due to his inability to control things (read: establishment’s course of action is more appealing to the NATO allies for its anti-Russia, pro-sanctions commitments).
The Trump administration has lost, by losing Flynn, its authority and the ability to guide the American public to its vision. On the contrary, the media-establishment nexus has hijacked Donald Trump’s own vision, forcing him to forget his election rhetoric promises and come out in the open to fight for his political survival through social media.
Just as Trump’s confrontation with the American establishment is causing unease in the domestic and European political arena, Trump’s fight with the establishment is being equally fought in both domestic and European arenas. Whereas Trump has resorted to twitter to fight back against a sustained media campaign, in the European arena he has hit back by re-casting doubts over the US’ commitment to NATO.
That is to say, while he no doubt has willy-nilly accepted NATO as the “bedrock” of American security, Mattis’ remarks at NATO defence ministers’ meeting show that the crisis is not yet over and that it will remain unsettled unless the dust of the tussle between Trump and American establishment remains in the air—something that may not happen overnight—and unless the all-powerful American establishment succeeds in modifying Trump into a typical Neo-Con hawk.
Salman Rafi Sheikh, research-analyst of International Relations and Pakistan’s foreign and domestic affairs.
Many have expressed their shock and horror that the ‘documentary’ on the White Helmets organisation has won the Oscar for Best Documentary.
The White Helmets purports to be an aid organisation but has been widely discredited as such. What is more, the organisation has been exposed as a handsomely funded western propaganda tool. Even worse, the White Helmets have been exposed as actively supporting (both materially and in terms of PR) the criminal acts of groups like Al-Qaeda/Al-Nusra. The Syrian government which considers the group a terrorist organisation has been totally vindicated. The UN consequently do not recognise the White Hemlets as any sort of aid agency.
Why then did the Hollywood elite honour such a dangerous group? One could say, with a great deal of truth, that the Hollywood elite are out of touch, bordering on the mad, but there is a far more devious reason behind the awarding of a terrorist group.
The truth of the matter is that the US government, typically through the CIA, has for years influenced US news media, the artistic elite and Hollywood, using both willing and unwilling accomplices to propagandise a pro-deep state narrative.
In the 1950s, the young CIA didn’t waste time in this respect. Operation Mockingbird was a CIA initiative wherein US journalists at organisations like the New York Times and CBS were fed propaganda stories to send out to their then virtually monopolised share of American readers and viewers.
Many journalists were paid by the CIA to promote such stories. In other cases, naive journalists were simply given the information and put it out as real news, when in fact it was what today we would call ‘fake news’.
But the CIA didn’t limit their activities to media. The so-called Congress for Cultural Freedom funded artistic performances, publications and exhibitions designed to promote the CIA’s version of the ‘American way’, even though ironically, much of the work promoted was overwhelmingly rejected by Middle America.
The CIA supported all sorts of causes and art forms that many in America found anathema to traditional conservative tastes, ranging from the Abstract Expressionist movement in painting to radical feminism.
Much of the CIA’s meddling in media and creative industries was kept under wraps until the 1970s when many in Congress began questioning the modus operandi of the CIA in the aftermath of the Watergate scandal. The full extent of Operation Mockingbird was not however fully revealed until pertinent information became declassified in 2007.
Much has been reported of so-called Hollywood blacklists against real and alleged communists at the height of the McCarthy era, but little in the mainstream media has been said of the CIA’s influence on Hollywood.
In 2012, much of the CIA’s influence on Hollywood in the post Cold War era was laid bear in a book by Tricia Jenkins called The CIA in Hollywood: How the Agency Shapes Film and Television.
Whilst many thought the era of big CIA would diminish with the end of the Cold War, Jenkins’s book has demonstrated that such ties continue. The rapid expansion of the surveillance state under Presidents George W. Bush and Barack Obama and the current deep state war on alternative media, has only entrenched the position of portions of the US government in actively trying to influence the narratives that audiences often ignorantly consume.
The media-industrial complex/media-entertainment complex is not a conspiracy theory. The trail of influence and money which both directly and indirectly weighs on the content put out by Hollywood and the US mainstream media is very real. It is both historical fact and sadly it is also part of the present reality.
It is for this reason alone that no one should be surprised that Al-Qaeda’s helpers, the White Helmets won an Oscar. What still is more surprising is that many in America do not question why the terrorist organisation blamed for the 9-11 attacks is now lionised as a sound alternative to the secular government of Syria.