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Fear and Trepidation in Tel Aviv: Is Israel Losing the Syria War?

By Ramzy Baroud | MEMO | July 25, 2017

Israel, which has played a precarious role in the Syrian war since 2011, is furious to learn that the future of the conflict is not to its liking.

The six-year-old Syria war is moving to a new stage, perhaps its final. The Syrian regime is consolidating its control over most of the populated centers, while Daesh is losing ground fast – and everywhere.

Areas evacuated by the rapidly disintegrated militant group are up for grabs. There are many hotly contested regions sought over by the government of Bashar al-Assad in Damascus and its allies, on the one hand, and the various anti-Assad opposition groups and their supporters, on the other.

With Daesh largely vanquished in Iraq – at an extremely high death toll of 40,000 people in Mosul alone – warring parties there are moving west. Shia militias, emboldened by the Iraq victory, have been pushing westward as far as the Iraq-Syria border, converging with forces loyal to the Syrian government on the other side.

Concurrently, first steps at a permanent ceasefire are bearing fruit, compared to many failed attempts in the past.

Following a ceasefire agreement between the United States and Russia on 7 July at the G-20 meeting in Hamburg, Germany, three provinces in southwestern Syria – bordering Jordan and Israeli-occupied Golan Heights – are now relatively quiet. The agreement is likely to be extended elsewhere.

The Israeli government has made it clear to the US that it is displeased with the agreement, and Israeli Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, has been leading strong efforts to undermine the ceasefire.

Netanyahu’s worst fears are, perhaps, actualizing: a solution in Syria that would allow for a permanent Iranian and Hezbollah presence in the country.

In the early phases of the war, such a possibility seemed remote; the constantly changing fortunes in Syria’s brutal combat made the discussion altogether irrelevant.

But things have now changed.

Despite assurances to the contrary, Israel has always been involved in the Syria conflict. Israel’s repeated claims that “it maintains a policy of non-intervention in Syria’s civil war,” only fools US mainstream media US mainstream media.

Not only was Israel involved in the war, it also played no role in the aid efforts, nor did it ever extend a helping hand to Syrian refugees.

Hundreds of thousands of Syrians have perished in the merciless war; many cities and villages were totally destroyed and millions of Syrians have become refugees.

While tiny and poor Lebanon has hosted over a million Syrian refugees, every country in the region and many nations around the world have hosted Syrian refugees, as well. Except Israel.

Even a symbolic government proposal to host 100 Syrian orphans was eventually dropped.

However, the nature of the Israeli involvement in Syria is starting to change. The ceasefire, the growing Russian clout and the inconsistent US position has forced Israel to redefine its role.

A sign of the times has been Netanyahu’s frequent visits to Moscow, to persuade the emboldened Russian President, Vladimir Putin, of Israel’s interests.

While Moscow is treading carefully, unlike Washington it hardly perceives Israeli interests as paramount. When Israel shot down a Syrian missile using an arrow missile last March, the Israeli ambassador to Moscow was summoned for reprimand.

The chastising of Israel took place only days after Netanyahu visited Moscow and “made it clear” to Putin that he wants to “prevent any Syrian settlement from leaving ‘Iran and its proxies with a military presence’ in Syria.”

Since the start of the conflict, Israel wanted to appear as if in control of the situation, at least regarding the conflict in southwestern Syria. It bombed targets in Syria as it saw fit, and casually spoke of maintaining regular contacts with certain opposition groups.

In recent comments before European officials, Netanyahu admitted to striking Iranian convoys in Syria ‘dozens of times.”

But without a joint Israeli-US plan, Israel is now emerging as a weak party. Making that realization quite belatedly, Israel has become increasingly frustrated. After years of lobbying, the Obama Administration refused to [openly] regard Israel’s objectives in Syria as the driving force behind his government’s policies.

Failing to obtain such support from newly-elected President Donald Trump as well, Israel is now attempting to develop its own independent strategy.

On June 18, the Wall Street Journal reported that Israel has been giving “secret aid” to Syrian rebels, in the form of “cash and humanitarian aid.”

The New York Times reported on July 20 of large shipments of Israeli aid that is “expected to (give) ‘glimmer of hope’ for Syrians.”

Needless to say, giving hope to Syrians is not an Israeli priority. Aside from the frequent bombing and refusal to host any refugees, Israel has occupied the Syrian Golan Heights in 1967 and illegally annexed the territory in 1981.

Instead, Israel’s aim is to infiltrate southern Syria to create a buffer against Iranian, Hezbollah and other hostile forces.

Termed “Operation Good Neighbor,” Israel is working diligently to build ties with various heads of tribes and influential groups in that region.

Yet, the Israeli plan appears to be a flimsy attempt at catching up, as Russia and the US, in addition to their regional allies, seem to be converging on an agreement independent from Israel’s own objectives or even security concerns.

Israeli officials are angry, and feel particularly betrayed by Washington. If things continue to move in this direction, Iran could soon have a secured pathway connecting Tehran to Damascus and Beirut,

Israeli National Security Council head, Yaakov Amidror, threatened in a recent press conference that his country is prepared to move against Iran in Syria, alone.

Vehemently rejecting the ceasefire, Amidror said that the Israeli army will “intervene and destroy every attempt to build (permanent Iranian) infrastructure in Syria.”

Netanyahu’s equally charged statements during his European visit also point at the growing frustration in Tel Aviv.

This stands in sharp contrast from the days when the neoconservatives in Washington managed the Middle East through a vision that was largely, if not fully, consistent with Israeli impulses.

The famed strategy paper prepared by a US study group led by Richard Perle in 1996 is of little use now, as the region is no longer shaped by a country or two.

The paper entitled: “A Clean Break: A New Strategy for Securing the Realm”, saw a hostile Arab world masterfully managed by US and Israel.

For a fleeting moment, Tel Aviv hoped that Trump would bring about change to the US attitude.

Indeed, there was that euphoric movement in Israel when the Trump administration struck Syria. But the limited nature of the strike made it clear that the US had no plans for massive military deployment similar to that of Iraq in 2003.

The initial excitement was eventually replaced by cynicism as expressed by this headline in al Monitor:Netanyahu puts Trump on notice over Syria.”

In 1982, taking advantage of sectarian conflicts, Israel invaded Lebanon and installed a government led by its allies. Those days are long gone.

While Israel remains militarily strong, the region itself has changed and Israel is not the only power holding all the cards.

Moreover, the receding global leadership of the US under Trump makes the Israeli-American duo less effective.

With no alternative allies influential enough to fill the gap, Israel is left, for the first time, with very limited options.

With Russia’s determined return to the Middle East, and the decided retreat by the US, the outcome of the Syria war is almost a foregone conclusion. Surely, this is not the ‘new Syria’ that Israel had hoped for.

Read: Israel’s new occupation zone in Syria

July 25, 2017 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Timeless or most popular, War Crimes, Wars for Israel | , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Sending Messages to Russia

By Brian Cloughley | CounterPunch | July 14, 2017

Remember the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics, hosted by Russia? The planning and organization were excellent and the games were an outstanding success in every way. The western media looked frantically for something to criticize and there was indeed one slight hiccup — at the opening, one of the decorative Olympic Rings in the enormous lit-up sign malfunctioned. British and American television stations loved it.  They played the fizzle-pop segment time after time after time, hoping that there would be something else equally disastrous for which evil, incompetent yet curiously threatening Russia could be hung out to dry.

It didn’t happen, of course, and the Russians made fun of the episode at the end of the games, but the attitude of the west was vehemently Cold War and it set the stage for the next few years.

To the anguish and annoyance of much of the Western media, the recent meeting in Hamburg between Presidents Trump and Putin was a success. On the Sunday following their discussions on Friday July 7 there was not one single positive comment piece or headline in any of the usual anti-Russia chorus line — including the Washington Post, London’s  Sunday Telegraph, the New York Times, London’s Mail on Sunday, and the Boston Sunday Globe (to name but a few).

Saturday’s front pages had also been devoid of anything positive, but given the small amount of information that was available immediately after the meeting, this is not surprising, although the Globe managed a front-page headline that “Trump Confronts Putin on Election Meddling” which was a good try. What was predictable but nonetheless deplorable was the totally negative attitude. Western media people do not think it a good thing that the leaders of two large and important nations spoke amicably with each other.

What they really wanted, of course, was for there to be a mighty explosion between Trump and Putin, followed by a snarling walk-out by one or other or preferably both. My goodness, just think of the photo-opportunities, the gleeful headlines, the sententious “I told you so” from the galaxy of talent poised in the wings with venom-tipped keyboard fingers.

Don’t get me wrong : I have no time for Trump whom I judge to be an arrogant, erratic, mendacious, vulgar oaf who would not be permitted to enter my house to clean the lavatory. But he is the President of the United States and thus a most important person. What he says should be regarded as official US policy — or perhaps not, because on July 8 he declared that “Now it is time to move forward in working constructively with Russia” yet next day his Ambassador to the United Nations, Nikki Haley, told the media that in spite of what her President says about Russia, “It doesn’t mean we ever trust Russia. We can’t trust Russia and we won’t ever trust Russia.”

Just what is America’s official policy? It is apparent that the US and British media are firmly opposed to Russia, no matter what it does, but surely we should expect an indication of concerted, practical strategy from the highest strata of government?

When we have the US President saying he wants to “work constructively” with Russia and a minion publicly declaring that Russia can’t be trusted, there is obviously a critical problem.

In days gone by, that sort of insubordinate deviance would have been met with instant dismissal. You can’t have a country sending conflicting diplomatic (or undiplomatic) messages to another country with which it has sensitive relations — or, for that matter, to a country which considers it has most amicable relations with Washington, of which a case in point is Australia.

For years Australia has been trying to ingratiate itself with the US by supporting it in its stance of military confrontation against China (a vital Australian trade partner), by, amongst other things, letting the Pentagon establish yet another vast US military base and joining in saber-rattling military exercises. But in February the US President insulted the Australian Prime Minister by abruptly ending a telephone call with him. Sure, the Australian PM seemed to take it lightly when he mimicked Trump during an informal social event, but the damage to US-Australia relations had been done, and the American President has caused many Australians to distrust his country, which is quite an achievement. The messages were mixed, but the damage could have been rectified by a simple apology from Trump for his offensive treatment of Australia’s prime minister. But it is difficult to imagine Trump making a sincere apology for any of his actions or statements.

Which brings us back to his policy towards Russia, which is in self-contradictory tatters.

According to MSN news, Trump tweeted on Sunday July 9 that “Sanctions were not discussed at my meeting with President Putin . . .” But according to the Washington Post (which is not the most dependable source in reporting anything to do with Russia, but in this case seems to be accurate) “Immediately after Friday’s meeting with Vladimir Putin, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said the president told his Russian counterpart that members of Congress are pushing for additional sanctions . . .”

No foreign service, no government, no country, can operate effectively in international affairs when there are contradictory statements at such levels about matters of enormous importance. Nobody knows where they stand, and Trump’s tweet fandangos serve only to further complicate US-Russia relations about which there are increasingly grave doubts. The rabid anti-Russia diatribes in the US Senate have made it clear that no matter what Trump might try to do in order to establish cordial relations, both US political parties are inflexible in their determination that no peaceful progress will be permitted.

In order to advance the cause of confrontation, Washington’s politicians feed the media with meaty nuggets of condemnation. Western Intelligence agencies, which work closely with the staffs of the Washington Post and the New York Times (and, in the UK, with the Daily Telegraph ), do their bit in the disinformation process by publishing material based on leaks from “anonymous sources” who provide unverifiable yet ostensibly authoritative snippets of weighty garbage.

There is a major split in government in Washington, with President Trump — of all people — apparently intent on seeking balanced rapprochement with Russia, while the political Establishment and the Pentagon, backed to the hilt by the Fourth Estate, are relentlessly intent on a malevolent campaign of insult, innuendo and increasing military deployment close to Russia’s borders in Bulgaria, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland and Romania.

President Trump said “We look forward to a lot of very positive things happening for Russia and the United States and for everybody concerned” which is a positive approach to bilateral relations, echoed by President Putin’s “I’m very glad to be able to meet you personally, and I hope that, as you have said, our meetings will yield positive results.”

Russia’s Foreign Secretary, Sergei Lavrov, told the media the “My feeling is that it’s been confirmed that the presidents, both the Russian and the American, are driven above all by the countries’ national interests and that they understand these interests primarily as looking for mutually beneficial agreements and not trying to act out some confrontation scenarios, not trying to create problems out of nothing.”

You couldn’t have asked for a more positive and constructive approach by both nations, and the talks would indeed have “yielded positive results” had not the entire clique in Washington made it clear that no such thing would be permitted.

The United States is sending mixed messages to Russia, but they are equally clear: on one hand there is desire for mutually beneficial rapprochement and on the other there is determination to intensify military and economic confrontation.  If these conflicts continue, there will be confusion.  If the Washington Warriors succeed in their campaign of malevolent hostility there will be war.

The arteries of diplomatic decency and mutually beneficial compromise are being blocked by clots.

July 14, 2017 Posted by | Fake News, Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Russophobia, Timeless or most popular | , , , | Leave a comment

How Russia-gate Met the Magnitsky Myth

By Robert Parry | Consortium News | July 13, 2107

Near the center of the current furor over Donald Trump Jr.’s meeting with a Russian lawyer in June 2016 is a documentary that almost no one in the West has been allowed to see, a film that flips the script on the story of the late Sergei Magnitsky and his employer, hedge-fund operator William Browder.

The Russian lawyer, Natalie Veselnitskaya, who met with Trump Jr. and other advisers to Donald Trump Sr.’s campaign, represented a company that had run afoul of a U.S. investigation into money-laundering allegedly connected to the Magnitsky case and his death in a Russian prison in 2009. His death sparked a campaign spearheaded by Browder, who used his wealth and clout to lobby the U.S. Congress in 2012 to enact the Magnitsky Act to punish alleged human rights abusers in Russia. The law became what might be called the first shot in the New Cold War.

According to Browder’s narrative, companies ostensibly under his control had been hijacked by corrupt Russian officials in furtherance of a $230 million tax-fraud scheme; he then dispatched his “lawyer” Magnitsky to investigate and – after supposedly uncovering evidence of the fraud – Magnitsky blew the whistle only to be arrested by the same corrupt officials who then had him locked up in prison where he died of heart failure from physical abuse.

Despite Russian denials – and the “dog ate my homework” quality of Browder’s self-serving narrative – the dramatic tale became a cause celebre in the West. The story eventually attracted the attention of Russian filmmaker Andrei Nekrasov, a known critic of President Vladimir Putin. Nekrasov decided to produce a docu-drama that would present Browder’s narrative to a wider public. Nekrasov even said he hoped that he might recruit Browder as the narrator of the tale.

However, the project took an unexpected turn when Nekrasov’s research kept turning up contradictions to Browder’s storyline, which began to look more and more like a corporate cover story. Nekrasov discovered that a woman working in Browder’s company was the actual whistleblower and that Magnitsky – rather than a crusading lawyer – was an accountant who was implicated in the scheme.

So, the planned docudrama suddenly was transformed into a documentary with a dramatic reversal as Nekrasov struggles with what he knows will be a dangerous decision to confront Browder with what appear to be deceptions. In the film, you see Browder go from a friendly collaborator into an angry adversary who tries to bully Nekrasov into backing down.

Blocked Premiere

Ultimately, Nekrasov completes his extraordinary film – entitled “The Magnitsky Act: Behind the Scenes” – and it was set for a premiere at the European Parliament in Brussels in April 2016. However, at the last moment – faced with Browder’s legal threats – the parliamentarians pulled the plug. Nekrasov encountered similar resistance in the United States, a situation that, in part, brought Natalie Veselnitskaya into this controversy.

Film director Andrei Nekrasov

As a lawyer defending Prevezon, a real-estate company registered in Cyprus, on a money-laundering charge, she was dealing with U.S. prosecutors in New York City and, in that role, became an advocate for lifting the U.S. sanctions, The Washington Post reported.

That was when she turned to promoter Rob Goldstone to set up a meeting at Trump Tower with Donald Trump Jr. To secure the sit-down on June 9, 2016, Goldstone dangled the prospect that Veselnitskaya had some derogatory financial information from the Russian government about Russians supporting the Democratic National Committee. Trump Jr. jumped at the possibility and brought senior Trump campaign advisers, Paul Manafort and Jared Kushner, along.

By all accounts, Veselnitskaya had little or nothing to offer about the DNC and turned the conversation instead to the Magnitsky Act and Putin’s retaliatory measure to the sanctions, canceling a program in which American parents adopted Russian children. One source told me that Veselnitskaya also wanted to enhance her stature in Russia with the boast that she had taken a meeting at Trump Tower with Trump’s son.

But another goal of Veselnitskaya’s U.S. trip was to participate in an effort to give Americans a chance to see Nekrasov’s blacklisted documentary. She traveled to Washington in the days after her Trump Tower meeting and attended a House Foreign Affairs Committee hearing, according to The Washington Post.

There were hopes to show the documentary to members of Congress but the offer was rebuffed. Instead a room was rented at the Newseum near Capitol Hill. Browder’s lawyers. who had successfully intimidated the European Parliament, also tried to strong arm the Newseum, but its officials responded that they were only renting out a room and that they had allowed other controversial presentations in the past.

Their stand wasn’t exactly a profile in courage. “We’re not going to allow them not to show the film,” said Scott Williams, the chief operating officer of the Newseum. “We often have people renting for events that other people would love not to have happen.”

In an article about the controversy in June 2016, The New York Times added that “A screening at the Newseum is especially controversial because it could attract lawmakers or their aides.” Heaven forbid!

One-Time Showing

So, Nekrasov’s documentary got a one-time showing with Veselnitskaya reportedly in attendance and with a follow-up discussion moderated by journalist Seymour Hersh. However, except for that audience, the public of the United States and Europe has been essentially shielded from the documentary’s discoveries, all the better for the Magnitsky myth to retain its power as a seminal propaganda moment of the New Cold War.

After the Newseum presentation, a Washington Post editorial branded Nekrasov’s documentary Russian “agit-prop” and sought to discredit Nekrasov without addressing his many documented examples of Browder’s misrepresenting both big and small facts in the case. Instead, the Post accused Nekrasov of using “facts highly selectively” and insinuated that he was merely a pawn in the Kremlin’s “campaign to discredit Mr. Browder and the Magnitsky Act.”

The Post also misrepresented the structure of the film by noting that it mixed fictional scenes with real-life interviews and action, a point that was technically true but willfully misleading because the fictional scenes were from Nekrasov’s original idea for a docu-drama that he shows as part of explaining his evolution from a believer in Browder’s self-exculpatory story to a skeptic. But the Post’s deception is something that almost no American would realize because almost no one got to see the film.

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

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

The Post’s gleeful editorial had the feel of something you might read in a totalitarian society where the public only hears about dissent when the Official Organs of the State denounce some almost unknown person for saying something that almost no one heard.

New Paradigm

The Post’s satisfaction that Nekrasov’s documentary would not draw a large audience represents what is becoming a new paradigm in U.S. mainstream journalism, the idea that it is the media’s duty to protect the American people from seeing divergent narratives on sensitive geopolitical issues.

Over the past year, we have seen a growing hysteria about “Russian propaganda” and “fake news” with The New York Times and other major news outlets eagerly awaiting algorithms that can be unleashed on the Internet to eradicate information that groups like Google’s First Draft Coalition deem “false.”

First Draft consists of the Times, the Post, other mainstream outlets, and establishment-approved online news sites, such as Bellingcat with links to the pro-NATO think tank, Atlantic Council. First Draft’s job will be to serve as a kind of Ministry of Truth and thus shield the public from information that is deemed propaganda or untrue.

In the meantime, there is the ad hoc approach that was applied to Nekrasov’s documentary. Having missed the Newseum showing, I was only able to view the film because I was given a special password to an online version.

From searches that I did on Wednesday, Nekrasov’s film was not available on Amazon although a pro-Magnitsky documentary was. I did find a streaming service that appeared to have the film available.

But the Post’s editors were right in their expectation that “The film won’t grab a wide audience.” Instead, it has become a good example of how political and legal pressure can effectively black out what we used to call “the other side of the story.” The film now, however, has unexpectedly become a factor in the larger drama of Russia-gate and the drive to remove Donald Trump Sr. from the White House.

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

July 13, 2017 Posted by | Deception, Fake News, Full Spectrum Dominance, Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Russophobia | , , | Leave a comment

Oust Trump, War With Russia

By Finian CUNNINGHAM | Strategic Culture Foundation | 13.07.2017

Behind the sensational Western media coverage now linking the US president’s son to alleged Russian collusion in the American election, the real euphoria stems from relief that, at last, some «evidence» has been found.

For more than seven months now, the US corporate media have been running unrelenting claims that somehow Donald J Trump colluded with Russian state-sponsored hackers to get elected over his Democrat rival Hillary Clinton.

The media campaign has been dismissed as a witch hunt by Trump. Perhaps more sinisterly, US-Russia relations have also become deeply toxic due to the allegations. Not even a friendly meeting between Trump and Putin at last weekend’s G20 summit in Germany seems able to lift the poisonous cloud over bilateral relations.

However, the never-ending «Russia-gate» story was, to be frank, at risk of boring people to death from the sheer lack of evidence to shore up the conjecture of Trump being a Russian stooge. Despite the fact that three separate government probes have been working on the issue, they have nothing to show for it.

Then this week the «Russia-gate» story-tellers got a lifeline with reports that the president’s eldest son, Donald Jr, held a meeting with a Russian lawyer over a year ago at Trump Tower in New York City. The disclosure came from emails sent by Trump’s son to a mediator who promised «dirt on Clinton» that would damage her election campaign.

Democrats, Republicans, supporters of Clinton and the anti-Trump media are now cock-a-hoop that they have a «smoking gun» to prove the narrative of Trump-Russia collusion. Trump Jr is being accused of betraying his country by consorting with a foreign enemy, Russia.

A Washington Post comment noted: «Donald Trump Jr’s emails are the clearest indication yet that Trump campaign officials and family members were willing to deal with a foreign adversary in their mutual goal of taking down Hillary Clinton, and their revelation is dramatic proof that the Russia investigation is alive with no end in sight.»

Meanwhile, the New York Times reported: «Rancor at White House as Russia Story Refuses to Let the Page Turn». It goes on to comment with a tone of satisfaction: «Every time the president tries to put the furor behind him, more disclosures thrust it back to the fore, and people close to him are anonymously blaming one another.»

What the media outlets decline to say is that the Russia-gate story has not gone away precisely because the media have dutifully amplified leaks and anonymous intelligence claims – more accurately, innuendo – pillorying Trump as a Russian patsy.

The Deep State rulers of the US, comprising the military-intelligence apparatus, never wanted businessman Trump to become president. Unlike Clinton, Trump was insufficiently hawkish towards Russia. Ever since his shock election last November, the Deep State and its media machine have been full throttle to oust the «wrong president». The «Russian collusion» claims are the spearhead of this attack, an attack could qualify as a «soft coup» against the elected president.

With Trump’s son now admitting that he met with a Russian lawyer last summer as the head of his father’s election campaign, the anti-Trump campaign senses a mortal wound and are going full pelt to exploit it.

But the drama has the hallmarks of yet more media-driven sensation that is out of all proportion to the facts. Trump Jr’s lawyer dismissed the latest claims as «much ado about nothing».

The Russian government, which has consistently rejected any claims of interfering in the US election, said that the speculation about Trump and the «Kremlin-connected attorney» is «making a mountain out of a molehill».

As Trump Jr told Fox News this week, he held the meeting simply because he was interested in hearing «opposition research» on Hillary Clinton. As it turned out, no such information was forthcoming and the meeting ended inconclusively after only 20 minutes. That was the end of it. Apparently, Trump Sr wasn’t even told about the brief interview, so insignificant was it at the time.

It seems a fair and plausible observation that Trump Jr was simply doing what any political campaigner would do. Get dirt on opponents.

The US media are thus guilty of «protesting too much» about what is a rather prosaic matter. Apart from the obvious axe they want to grind against President Trump, the other reason for the media hysteria over the latest twist in the Russia-gate affair is that the Deep State and their media machine have, at last, something resembling hard evidence. This is why they are grandstanding. It is from relief that they have found something approximating a story to justify all the months of shrill speculation.

The hypocrisy of the pious media, pundits and politicians over Trump Jr’s betrayal is quickly revealed when one considers that Hillary Clinton’s campaign actively worked with the CIA-backed Kiev regime to dig up dirt on Trump during the election, as reported by Cristina Laila. «Where is the call for Hillary Clinton and her aides to be interviewed by the Senate intelligence panel,» she asks.

According to US media interviews given by Nataliya Veselnitskaya, the Russian lawyer at the center of the Trump brouhaha, she is adamant that she was not acting for the Kremlin. The Kremlin also denies knowing her. She maintains that she not did approach the Trump campaign to provide «dirt» on Clinton, but rather to lobby against US sanctions imposed on her Russian business clients.

The claim that Veselnitskaya was «acting on Russian government information to help Donald Trump» apparently stems solely from the assertion made by the former British tabloid journalist Rob Goldstone, who wrote to Donald Jr to set up the meeting. It was Goldstone who described the meeting with Veselnitskaya as conveying «Russian government information to help your father’s campaign».

In other words that is not «proof» of Russian government involvement. It is simply hearsay from a tabloid hack with self-serving reasons.

Questions that the US media should be asking are: Was Goldstone hamming up his Russian government claims in order to sell Trump a mediation service and a scoop? Also, how did private emails between Goldstone and Trump end up in the possession of the New York Times ? Did Goldstone flog them to the newspaper in order to cash in on the brewing Russia-gate scandal?

As with so much else in the Russia-gate affair, the latest twist seems to be another concoction to turn wild speculation into the semblance of fact. It is as if the US media conceived the headline «Trump colluded with Russia» a long time ago, and have ever since been chasing to find a «story» to fit the headline.

There are too many holes in the whole Russia-gate affair for it to stand up. It is only the servile US media operating on the agenda of the powerful anti-Trump Deep State that make this non-story appear to stand up.

So desperate is the Deep State to oust Trump from office, it is willing to damage US-Russia relations beyond repair, to the point of risking all-out war.

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

Democrats Gone Mad: The Year of Living Stupidly

By Glen Ford | Black Agenda Report | July 12, 2017

For more than a year now, the collective U.S. ruling class, with Democratic Party and corporate media operatives in the vanguard, has frozen the national political discourse in a McCarthyite time warp. A random visit to a July 26, 2016, issue of the New York Times reveals the same obsession as that which consumes the newspaper today: “Following the Links from Russian Hackers to the U.S. Election,” “Spy Agency Consensus Grows That Russia Hacked D.N.C.” A year later, the allegations persist, piled ever higher with innuendo and outright nonsense. However, proof of the predicate act — that Russia, not Wikileaks, penetrated the DNC — remains totally absent.

What is the purpose of this torture-by-media? Clearly, the Trump White House has been crippled by the tsunami that never ebbs, but the Democrats have not been strengthened in the process, and the corporate media’s standing among the public erodes by the day. A poll conducted last month showed majorities of voters want Congress to ease up on Russia investigations and get to work on healthcare, terrorism, national security, the economy and jobs. Almost three out of four respondents to the Harvard-Harris poll said lawmakers aren’t paying attention to the issues that are important to them — including 68 percent of Democrats. Sixty-two percent of voters say there is no hard evidence of White House “collusion” with Russia, and 64 percent think the investigations are hurting the country.

The non-stop vilification of Russia and Trump has seriously backfired on the corporate media. Another poll by Harvard-Harris, conducted back in May, showed that two out of three Americans believe the so-called “mainstream” press is full of “fake news” — including a majority of Democrats. The Russiagate blitzkrieg, designed to delegitimize Trump and demonize Vladimir Putin, has exacerbated an already existing crisis of legitimacy for the entire U.S. political system. “Every major institution from the presidency to the courts is now seen as operating in a partisan fashion in one direction or the other,” said poll co-director Mark Penn.

The only unequivocal winner is the bipartisan War Party, which has used the manufactured crisis to drench the nation in anti-Russian hysteria – worse than back in the bad old days of the Red Scares. By March, Black Congresswoman Bonnie Watson Coleman (D-NJ) was using much the same language as Dick Cheney to describe the Kremlin. “I think this attack that we’ve experienced is a form of war, a form of war on our fundamental democratic principles,” said the hopelessly brainwashed representative of the Black Misleadership Class. “Liberal” Democratic Maryland Rep. Ben Cardin called the nonexistent “attack” a “political Pearl Harbor.”

If the U.S. Congress actually took seriously its Constitutional powers to declare war, the human race would already have been exterminated.

So insane have the Democrats become, that we are probably better off with war powers effectively in the hands of Donald Trump, than with California’s Barbara Lee, the only member of Congress that voted against the invasion of Afghanistan in 2001. She was in her “right mind” then, but no longer. Trump’s willingness to talk with the leader of Russia, in Hamburg, infuriated Rep. Lee, who tweeted: “Outraged by President Trump’s 2 hr meeting w/Putin, the man who orchestrated attacks on our democracy. Where do his loyalties lie?” A better question is: When and where did Lee join the War Party?

The dogs of war at U.S. intelligence agencies have led the charge against Trump since they encamped at Hillary Clinton’s campaign headquarters, last year. The spoiled oligarch was not trusted to maintain the momentum of the U.S. military offensive begun by Barack Obama in 2011, with the unprovoked war against Libya. The state of war must be preserved, whatever the cost to the empire’s domestic institutions. Skilled in the arts of regime change, the spooks joined with their longtime partners in corporate media propaganda, to foment a “color revolution” at home. Barbara Lee is a recent recruit.

Although the Democrats will ultimately harm themselves with the electorate by folding into the War Party, it suits the purposes of party leadership and the fat cats that finance them. The ruling class has nothing to offer the people except the total insecurity of gig-jobs and austerity. The Lords of Capital effectively shut the Democrats down decades ago. They can campaign as if there really is a clash of ideas about the organization of society, but they must propose nothing that fundamentally conflicts with the steady consolidation of wealth and power by the oligarchy (the American one, not the Russians). That goes for Bernie Sanders, too. Heard anything about single payer from him, lately?

The “all Russiagate, all the time” information regime — which also prepares the public for a wider war scenario – provides the illusion of motion that passes for “resistance” to the rule of the rich, as personified by Donald Trump. But there has been no Democratic program to reorder society for at least a generation. And now, under the New McCarthyism, the only politics that is allowed is war politics, consisting of denunciations of those who threaten “our fundamental democratic principles” – which need not be defined or even proven to exist.

That’s why it has been an empty year, albeit a very loud one. As Gil Scott-Heron sang in “Winter in America,” “Nobody’s fighting, ‘cause nobody knows what to save.”

Glen Ford can be contacted at Glen.Ford@BlackAgendaReport.com.

July 12, 2017 Posted by | Fake News, Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Militarism, Progressive Hypocrite, Russophobia, Timeless or most popular | , , , | Leave a comment

Forgetting the ‘Dirty Dossier’ on Trump

By Robert Parry | Consortium News | July 10, 2017

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Czech-ing on Bill

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Mystery Dossier

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Trump Jr. Meeting

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

Sergei Magnitsky

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

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

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

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

Only One Side Heard

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Western Media Blasts Trump After Meeting With Putin

Russian President Vladimir Putin and President of the USA Donald Trump, right, talk during their meeting on the sidelines of the G20 summit in Hamburg. Left: Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov.

© Sputnik/ Michael Klimentyev
Sputnik – July 9, 2017

The first meeting between Vladimir Putin and Donald Trump at the G20 summit in Hamburg evoked a wave of criticism from Western media, as a number of notable news outlets blasted the US President for his conduct during negotiations.

At least several prominent newspapers took a dim view of President Trump’s handling of this meeting, claiming that the Russian leader apparently managed to outplay and outsmart his US counterpart.For example, Die Welt stated that it was clear to all professional observers that the meeting resulted in Trump’s capitulation.

In an apparent effort to underscore Trump’s relative inexperience in foreign affairs, the newspaper claims that the “political pro” Putin knocked out the newbie US President “by the book.”

The article’s author also emphasized the fact that Putin paused for a moment before shaking Trump’s already extended hand.

The Guardian adds that while US politicians apparently felt relieved that Trump managed to avoid “a major gaffe” during the meeting, it was “hardly cause for celebration.”

“It’s an indication of how rapidly our standards are falling when we’re reasonably pleased that President Trump has not made an obvious error,” Thomas Countryman, former US acting undersecretary for arms control and international security, remarked.

Meanwhile the New York Times insists that the meeting with Putin was probably the best part of the summit for Trump, who apparently found himself increasingly ostracized by other delegates.

“The talks with Mr. Putin oddly turned into a bright spot for Mr. Trump on the first full day of the gathering, where the United States found itself increasingly ostracized by other Group of 20 members on major issues, including climate change, immigration and trade,” the newspaper says.

The Los Angeles Times criticized the way Trump discussed the issue of Russia’s alleged meddling in the 2016 US presidential election, arguing that the US President should’ve been more assertive in his inquiries on the subject.

The news website Vox even took this issue up a notch by outright saying that “Putin got Trump to buy his fake news on election interference and to offer a weak endorsement of upcoming sanctions.”

Interestingly enough, the article’s author insisted that “the entire US intelligence community believes the Kremlin mounted a sophisticated campaign” to help Trump win the election, even though this assessment was made only by four out of 17 US intelligence agencies.

Stating that the US leader did not even properly prepare for the meeting, unlike his Russian counterpart, Vox claimed that “Trump — the dealmaker — got outplayed by Putin.”

July 9, 2017 Posted by | Fake News, Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Russophobia | , , , | 1 Comment

Fake News on Russia in the New York Times, 1917-2017

By Edward S. Herman | Monthly Review | July-August 2017

It has been amusing watching the New York Times (Times) and its fellow mainstream media (MSM) cohort express their dismay over the rise and spread of “fake news.” They take it as an obvious truth that what they provide is straightforward and unbiased fact-based news. They do offer such news, but they also provide a steady flow of their own varied forms of genuinely fake news, often in disseminating false or misleading information supplied them by the CIA, other branches of government, and sites of corporate power. An important form of MSM fake news is that which is presented while suppressing information that calls the preferred news into question. This was the case with “The Lie That Wasn’t Shot Down,” the title of a January 18, 1988 Times editorial referring to a propaganda claim of five years earlier that the editors had swallowed and never looked into any further. The lie–that the Soviets knew that Korean airliner 007, which they shot down on August 31, 1983, was a civilian plane–was eventually uncovered by congressman Lee Hamilton, not by the Times.

MSM fake news is especially likely where a party line is quickly formed on a topic, with deviationism therefore immediately looking naïve, unpatriotic or simply wrong. In a dramatic illustration, in a book chapter entitled “Worthy and Unworthy Victims,” Noam Chomsky and I showed that coverage by Time, Newsweek, CBS News and the New York Times of the 1984 murder of the priest Jerzy Popieluzko in communist Poland, a dramatic and politically useful event for the politicized western MSM, exceeded their coverage of the murders of 100 religious figures killed in Latin America by U.S. client states in the post-World War II years taken together.1 It was cheap and free of any negative feedback to focus heavily on the “worthy” victim, whereas looking closely at the deaths of the 100 would have required an expensive and sometimes dangerous research effort and would have upset the State Department. But it was a form of fake news to discriminate so heavily with news (and indignation) on a politically useful victim while ignoring large numbers whose murder the political establishments wanted downplayed or completely suppressed.

The Fake News Tradition on Russia in the New York Times

Fake news on Russia is a Times tradition that can be traced back at least as far as the 1917 revolution. In a classic study of the paper’s coverage of the Russian revolution from February 1917 to March 1920, Walter Lippmann and Charles Merz found that “From the point of view of professional journalism the reporting of the Russian Revolution is nothing short of a disaster. On the essential questions the net effect was almost always misleading, and misleading news is worse than none at all….They can fairly be charged with boundless credulity, and an untiring readiness to be gulled, and on many occasions with a downright lack of common sense.”2 Lippmann and Merz found that strong editorial bias clearly fed into news reporting. The editors very much wanted the communists to lose, and serving this end caused the paper to report atrocities that didn’t happen and the imminent fall of the Bolshevik regime on a regular basis (at least 91 times). There was a heavy and uncritical acceptance of official handouts and reliance on statements from unidentified “high authority.” This was standard Times practice.

This fake news performance of 1917-1920 was repeated often in the years that followed. The Soviet Union was an enemy target up to World War II, and Times coverage was consistently hostile. With the end of World War II and the Soviet Union at that point a major military power, and soon a rival nuclear power, the Cold War was on. Anti-communism became a major U.S. religion, and the Soviet Union was quickly found to be trying to conquer the world and needing containment. With this ideology in place and U.S. plans for its own real global expansion of power well established,3 the communist threat would now help sustain the steady growth of the military-industrial complex and repeated interventions to deal with purported Soviet aggressions.

An Early Great Crime: Guatemala

One of the most flagrant cases in which the Russian threat was used to justify U.S.-organized violence was the overthrow of the social democratic government of Guatemala in 1954 by a small proxy army invading from U.S. ally Somoza’s Nicaragua. This action was provoked by government reforms that upset U.S. officials, including a 1947 law permitting the formation of labor unions, and government plans to buy back (at tax rate valuations) and distribute to landless peasants some of the unused land owned by United Fruit Company and other large landowners. The U.S., which had been perfectly content with the earlier 14-year- long dictatorship of Jose Ubico, could not tolerate this democratic challenge and the elected government, led by Jacobo Arbenz, was soon charged with assorted villainies, with the main fake news base of an alleged Red capture of the Guatemalan government.4

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

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

In 2011, more than half a century after 1954, Elizabeh Malkin reported in the Times that Guatemalan president Alvaro Colom had apologized for that ”great crime [the violent overthrow of the Arbenz government in 1954] …an act of aggression to a government starting its democratic spring.” (“An apology for a Guatemalan Coup, 57 Years Later,” October 20, 2011). Malkin mentions that, according to president Colom, the Arbenz family is “seeking an apology from the United States for its role” in the “great Crime.” There has never been any apology or even acknowledgement of its role in the Great Crime by the editors of the New York Times.

Another Great Crime: Vietnam

There were many fake news reports in the Times and other mainstream publications during the Vietnam war. The claim that the Times was anti-Vietnam-war is misleading and essentially false. In Without Fear or Favor, former Times reporter Harrison Salisbury acknowledged that in 1962, when U.S. intervention escalated, the Times was “deeply and consistently” supportive of the war policy.7 He contends that the paper became steadily more oppositional from 1965, culminating in the publication of the Pentagon Papers in 1971. But Salisbury fails to recognize that from 1954 to the present the paper never abandoned the Cold War framework and language of apologetics, according to which the U.S. was resisting somebody else’s aggression and protecting “South Vietnam.” The paper never applied the word aggression to this country, but used it freely in referring to North Vietnamese actions and those of the National Liberation Front in the southern half of Vietnam.

The various halts in the U.S. bombing war in 1965 and later in the alleged interest of “giving peace a chance” were also fake news, as the Johnson administration used the halts to quiet antiwar protests, while making it clear to the Vietnamese that U.S. officials demanded full surrender. The Times and its colleagues swallowed this bait without a murmur of dissent.8

Furthermore, although from 1965 onward the Times was willing to publish more information that put the war in a less favorable light, it never broke from its heavy dependence on official sources or its reluctance to check out official lies or explore the damage being wrought on Vietnam and its civilian population by the U.S. war machine. In contrast with its eager pursuit of Cambodian refugees from the Khmer Rouge after April 1975, the paper rarely sought out testimony from the millions of Vietnamese refugees fleeing U.S. bombing and chemical warfare. In its opinion columns as well, the new openness was limited to commentators who accepted the premises of the war and would confine their criticisms to its tactical problems and costs–;to us. From beginning to end those who criticized the war as aggression and immoral at its root were excluded from the debate by the Times.9

The 1981 Papal Assassination Attempt. The “Missile Gap,” and “Humanitarian Intervention” in Yugoslavia

Papal Assassination Attempt. A major contribution to Cold War propaganda was provided by fake news on the assassination attempt on Pope John Paul II in Rome in May 1981. This was a time when the Reagan administration was trying hard to demonize the Soviet Union as an “evil empire.” The shooting of the Pope by the Turkish fascist Ali Agca was quickly tied to Moscow, helped by Agca’s confession, after 17 months imprisonment, interrogations, threats, inducements, and access to the media, that the Bulgarians and Soviet KGB were behind it. There was never any credible evidence of this connection, the claims were implausible, and the corruption in the process was remarkable. (See Manufacturing Consent, chapter 4 and Appendix 2). And Agca also periodically claimed to be Jesus Christ. The case against the Bulgarians (and implicitly the KGB) was lost even in Italy’s extremely biased and politicized judicial framework. But the Times bought it, and gave it long, intensive and completely uncritical attention, as did most of the U.S. media.

In 1991, in Senate hearings on the qualifications of Robert Gates to head the CIA, former CIA officer Melvin Goodman testified that the CIA knew [from the start that Agca’s confessions were false because they had “very good penetration” of the Bulgarian secret services. The Times omitted this statement by Goodman in reporting on his testimony. In the same year. with Bulgaria now a member of the Free World, conservative analyst Allen Weinstein obtained permission to examine Bulgarian secret service files on the papal assassination attempt. His mission was widely reported when he went, including in the Times, but when he returned without having found anything implicating Bulgaria or the KGB, a number of papers, including the Times, found this not newsworthy.

Missile Gap. There was a great deal of fake news in the “missile gap” and other gap eras, from roughly 1975 to 1986, with Times reporters passing along official and often false news in a regular stream. An important case occurred in the mid-1970s, at a time when the U.S. war-party was trying to escalate the Cold War and arms race. A 1975 report of CIA professionals found that the Soviets were aiming only for nuclear parity. This was unsatisfactory, so CIA head George H.W. Bush appointed a new team of hardliners, who soon found that the Soviets were achieving nuclear superiority and getting ready to fight a nuclear war. This Team B report was taken at face value in a Times front page article of December 26, 1976 by David Binder, who failed to mention its political bias or purpose and made no attempt by tapping experts with different views to get at the truth. The CIA admitted in 1983 that the Team B estimates were fabrications. But throughout this period, 1975-1986, the Times supported the case for militarization by disseminating lots of fake news. Much of this false information was convincingly refuted by Tom Gervasi in his classic The Myth of Soviet Military Supremacy (New York: Harper & Row, 1986), a book never reviewed in the paper despite the paper’s frequent attention to its subject matter.

Yugoslavia and “Humanitarian Intervention.” The 1990s wars of dismantlement of Yugoslavia succeeded in removing an independent government from power and replacing it with a broken Serbian remnant and poor and unstable failed states in Bosnia and Kosovo. It did provide unwarranted support for the new concept of “humanitarian intervention,” which rested on a mass of fake news. The demonized Serbian leader Slobodan Milosevic was not an ultra-nationalist seeking a “Greater Serbia,” but rather a non-aligned leader on the Western hit list who tried to help Serb minorities in Bosnia, Croatia and Kosovo remain in Yugoslavia as the U.S. and EU supported a legally questionable exodus by several constituent Yugoslav Republics. He supported each of the proposed settlements of these conflicts, sabotaged by Bosnian and U.S. officials who wanted better terms or the outright military defeat of Serbia, the latter of which they achieved. Milosevic had nothing to do with the July 1995 Srebrenica massacre, which involved Bosnian Serbs taking revenge on Bosnian Muslim soldiers who had been ravaging nearby Bosnian Serb villages from their base in Srebrenica under NATO protection. The several thousand Serb civilian deaths were essentially unreported in the MSM, while the numbers of Srebrenica executed victims were correspondingly inflated. The Times’s reporting on these events was fake news on a systematic basis.10

The Putin Era: A Golden Age of Fake News

The U.S. establishment was shocked and thrilled with the 1989-1991 fall of the Soviet Union, and its members were happy with the policies carried out under President Boris Yeltsin, a virtual U.S. client, under whose rule ordinary Russians suffered a calamity but a small set of oligarchs was able to loot the broken state. Yeltsin’s election victory in 1996, greatly assisted by U.S. consultants, advice and money, and otherwise seriously corrupt, was, for the editors of the Times, “A Victory for Russian Democracy” (NYT, ed, July 4, 1996). They were not bothered by either the electoral corruption, the creation of a grand-larceny-based economic oligarchy, or, shortly thereafter, the new rules centralizing power in the office of president.11

Yeltsin’s successor, Vladimir Putin, by gradually abandoning the Yeltsin era subservience was thereby perceived as a steadily increasing menace. His re-election in 2012, although surely less corrupt than Yeltsin’s in 1996, was treated harshly in the media. The lead Times article on May 5, 2012 featured “a slap in the face” from OSCE observers, claims of no real competition, and “thousands of anti-government protesters gathered in Moscow square to chant ‘Russia without Putin’” (Ellen Barry and Michael Schwartz, “After Election, Putin Faces Challenges to Legitimacy”). There had been no “challenges to legitimacy” reported in the Times after Yeltsin’s corrupt victory in 1996.

The process of Putin demonization escalated with the Ukraine crisis of 2014 and its sequel of Kiev warfare against Eastern Ukraine, Russian support of the East Ukraine resistance, and the Crimean referendum and absorption of Crimea by Russia. This was all declared “aggression” by the U.S. and its allies and clients, sanctions were imposed on Russia, and a major U.S.-NATO military buildup was initiated on Russia’s borders. Tensions mounted further with the shootdown of Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 over southeastern Ukraine, effectively, but almost surely falsely, blamed on the “pro-Russian” rebels and Russia itself.12

A further cause of demonization and anti-Russian hostility resulted from the escalated Russian intervention in Syria from 2015 in support of Bashar al-Assad and against ISIS and al-Nusra, an offshoot of al-Qaeda. The U.S. and its NATO and Middle East allies had been committing aggression against Syria, in de facto alliance with ISIS and al-Nusra, for several years. Russian intervention turned the tide, the U.S. (Saudi, etc.) goal of removing Assad was upset and the tacit U.S. allies ISIS and al-Nusra were also weakened. Certainly demonic behavior by Putin!

The Times has treated these further developments with unstinting apologetics–for the February 2014 coup in Kiev, which it never calls a coup, with the U.S. role in the overthrow of the elected government of Victor Yanukovych suppressed, and with anger and horror at the Crimea referendum and Russian absorption, which it never allows to be a defensive response to the Kiev coup. Its call for punishment of the casualty-free Russian “aggression” in Crimea is in marked contrast with its apologetics for the million-plus-casualty–rich U.S. aggression “of choice” (not defensive) in Iraq from March 2003 on. The editors and liberal columnist Paul Krugman angrily cite Putin’s lack of respect for international law,13 with their internalized double standard exempting their own country from criticism for its repeated violations of that law.

In the Times’s reporting and opinion columns Russia is regularly assailed as expansionist and threatening its neighbors, but virtually no mention is made of NATO’s expansion up to the Russian borders and first-strike-threat placement of anti-missile weapons in Eastern Europe, the latter earlier claimed to be in response to a missile threat from Iran! Analyses by political scientist John Mearsheimer and Russia authority Stephen F. Cohen that featured this NATO advance could not make it into the opinion pages of the Times.14 On the other hand, a member of the Russian Pussy Riot band, Maria Alyokhina, was given op-ed space to denounce Putin and Russia,15 and the punk-rock group was granted a meeting with the Times editorial board. Between January 1 and March 31, 2014 the paper had 23 articles featuring the Pussy Riot group and its alleged significance as a symbol of Russian limits on free speech. Pussy Riot had disrupted a church service in Moscow and only stopped upon police intervention, which was at the request of the church authorities. A two year prison sentence followed. In contrast, in February 2014, 84 year old Sister Megan Rice was sentenced to four years in prison in the U.S. for having entered a nuclear weapons site in July 2012 and carried out a symbolic protest action. The Times gave this news a tiny mention in its National Briefing section under the title “Tennessee Nun is Sentenced for Peace Protest.” No op-ed columns or meeting with the Times board for Rice. There are worthy and unworthy protesters as well as victims.

As regards Syria, with Russian help the Assad forces were able to dislodge the rebels from Aleppo, to the dismay of Washington and the MSM. It has been enlightening to see how much concern has been expressed over casualties to civilians in Aleppo, with pictures of forsaken children and many stories of civilian distress. The Times focused heavily on those civilians and children, with great indignation at Putin-Assad inhumanity,16 in sharp contrast with their virtual silence on civilian casualties in Falluja in 2004 and beyond, and recently in rebel-held areas of Syria, and in Mosul (Iraq), under U.S. and allied attack.17 The differential treatment of worthy and unworthy victims has been in full sway in dealing with Syria, displayed again with the chemical weapons casualties and Trump bombing response in April 2017 (discussed below).

A further and important phase of intensifying Russophobia may be dated from the October 2016 presidential debates, where Hillary Clinton declared that Mr. Trump would be a Putin “puppet” as president, and her campaign stressed this threat. This emphasis increased after the election, with the help of the media and intelligence services, as the Clinton camp sought to explain the election loss, maintain party control, and possibly get the election result overturned in the courts or electoral college by blaming the Trump victory on Russia.

The Putin connection was given great impetus by the January 6, 2017 release of a report of the Office of Director of National Intelligence (DNI), on Background of Assessing Russian Activities and Intention in Recent US Elections This short document spends more than half of its space describing the Russian-sponsored RT-TV network, which it treats as an illegitimate propaganda source given its sponsorship and sometimes critical reports on U.S. policy and institutions! RT is allegedly part of Russia’s “influence campaign,” and the DNI says that “We assess the influence campaign aspired to help President-elect Trump’s chances of victory when possible by discrediting Secretary Clinton and publicly contrasting her unfavorably to the President-elect.” There is no semblance of proof that there was a planned “campaign” rather than an ongoing expression of opinion and news judgments. All the logic and proofs of a Russian “influence campaign” could be applied with at least equal force to U.S. media and Radio Free Europe’s treatment of any Russian election, and of course the U.S. intervention in the 1996 Russian election was overt, direct and went far beyond any “influence campaign.”

As regards the DNI’s proof of a more direct Russian intervention in the U.S. election, the authors concede the absence of “full supporting evidence,” but they provide no supporting evidence—only assertions, assessments, assumptions and guesses. It states that “We assess that … Putin ordered an influence campaign in 2015” designed to defeat Mrs. Clinton, and “to undermine public faith in the U.S. democratic process,” but it provides no evidence whatsoever for any such order. It also provides no evidence that Russia hacked the Democratic National Committee (DNC), the e-mails of Clinton and former Clinton campaign manager Podesta, or that it gave hacked information to WikiLeaks. Julian Assange and former British diplomat Craig Murray have repeatedly claimed that these sources were leaked by local insiders, not hacked by anybody. And the veteran intelligence agency experts William Binney and Ray McGovern also contend that the WikiLeaks evidence was surely leaked, not hacked.18 It is also notable that among the three intelligence agencies who signed the DNI document, only “moderate confidence” in its findings was expressed by the National Security Agency (NSA), the agency that would most clearly be in possession of proof of Russian hacking and transmission to WikiLeaks as well as any “orders” from Putin.

But the Times has taken the Russian hacking story as established fact, despite the absence of hard evidence (as with the Reds ruling Guatemala, the “missile gaps,” etc.). Times reporter David Sanger refers to the report’s “damning and surprisingly detailed account of Russia’s efforts to undermine the American electoral system,” but he then acknowledges that the published report “contains no information about how the agencies had … come to their conclusions.”19 The report itself includes the amazing statement that “Judgments are not intended to imply that we have proof that shows something to be a fact.” This is a denial of the credibility of its own purported evidence (i.e., “assessments”). Furthermore, if the report was based on “intercepts of conversations” as well as hacked computer data, as Sanger and the DNI claim, why has the DNI failed to quote a single conversation showing Putin’s alleged orders and plans to destabilize the West?

The Times never cites or gives editorial space to William Binney, Ray McGovern or Craig Murray, who are dissident authorities on hacking technology, methodology and the specifics of the DNC hacks. But op-ed space was given to Louise Mensch’s “What to ask about Russian hacking” (NYT, March 17, 2017). Mensch is a notorious conspiracy theorist with no technical background in this area and who is described by Nathan Robinson and Alex Nichols as best-known for “spending most of her time on Twitter issuing frenzied denunciations of imagined armies of online ‘Putinbots’” and is “one of the least credible people on the internet.”20 But she is published in the Times because, in contrast with the well-informed and credible William Binney and Craig Murray, she follows the party line, taking Russian hacking of the DNC as a premise.

The CIA’s brazen intervention in the election process in 2016 and 2017 broke new ground in secret service politicization. Former CIA head Michael Morell had an August 5, 2016 op-ed in the Times entitled “I Ran the C.I.A. Now I’m Endorsing Hillary Clinton”; and former CIA boss Michael Hayden had an op-ed in the Washington Post just days before the election, entitled “Former CIA Chief:- Trump is Russia’s Useful Fool” (November 3, 2016). Morell had another op-ed in the Times on January 6, now openly assailing the new president (“Trump’s Dangerous Anti-CIA Crusade”). These attacks were unrelievedly insulting to Trump and laudatory to Clinton, even making Trump a traitor; they also make it clear that Clinton’s more pugnacious approach to Syria and Russia is much preferred to Trump’s leanings toward negotiation and cooperation with Russia.

This was also true of the further scandal with former Trump Defense Intelligence nominee Michael Flynn’s call from the Russian Ambassador, which possibly included exchanges about future Trump administration policy actions. This was quickly grasped by the outgoing Obama officials, security personnel and MSM, with the FBI interrogating Flynn and with widespread expressions of horror at Flynn’s action, allegedly possibly setting him up for blackmail. But such pre-inauguration meetings with Russian diplomats have been a “common practice” according to Jack Matlock, the U.S. ambassador to Russia under Reagan and Bush, and Matlock had personally arranged such a meeting for Jimmy Carter.21 Obama’s own Russia adviser, Michael McFaul, admitted visiting Moscow for talks with officials in 2008 even before the election. Daniel Lazare makes a good case that not only are the illegality and blackmail threat implausible, but that the FBI’s interrogation of Flynn also reeks of entrapment. And he asks what is wrong with trying to reduce tensions with Russia? “Yet anti-Trump liberals are trying to convince the public that it’s all ‘worse than Watergate’.”22

So the political point of the Assessment seems to have been, at minimum, to tie the Trump administration’s hands in its dealings with Russia. Some non-MSM analysts have argued that we may have been witnessing an incipient spy or palace coup, that fell short but still had the desired effect of weakening the new administration.23 The Times has not offered a word of criticism of this politicization and intervention in the election process by the intelligence agencies, and in fact the editors have been working with them and the Democratic Party as a loosely-knit team in a distinctly un- and anti-democratic program designed to reverse the results of the 2016 election, while using an alleged foreign electoral intervention as their excuse.

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

Another arrow in the campaign quiver labeling Trump a knowing or “useful fool” instrument of Putin was a private intelligence “dossier” written by Christopher Steele, a former British intelligence agent working for Orbis Business Intelligence, a private firm hired by the DNC to dig up dirt on Trump. Steele’s first report, delivered in June 2016, made numerous serious accusations against Trump, most notably that Trump had been caught in a sexual escapade in Moscow, that his political advance had been supported by the Kremlin for at least five years, under the direction of Putin, and with the further aims of sowing discord within the U.S. and disrupting the Western alliance. This document was based on alleged conversations by Steele with distant (Russian) officials; that is, strictly hearsay evidence, whose assertions, where verifiable, are sometimes erroneous.24 But it said just what the Democrats, MSM and CIA wanted said, so intelligence officials declared the author “credible” and the media lapped this up, with the Times covering over its own cooperation in this ugly denigration effort by calling the report “unverified” but nevertheless reporting its claims.25

The Steele dossier also became a central part of the investigation and hearings on “Russia-gate” held by the House Intelligence Committee starting in March 2017, led by Democratic Representative Adam Schiff. While basing his opening statement on the hearsay-laden dossier, Schiff expressed no interest in establishing who funded the Steele effort (he produced 17 individual reports), the identity and exact status of the Russian officials who were the hearsay sources, and how much they were paid. Apparently talking to Russians with a design of influencing a U.S. presidential election is perfectly acceptable if the candidate supported by this Russian intrusion is anti-Russian!

The Times has played a major role in this Russophobia-enhancement process, reminiscent of its 1917-1920 performance in which, as noted back in 1920 “boundless credulity, and an untiring readiness to be gulled” characterized the news-making process. While quoting the CIA’s admission that they were showing no hard evidence, but were relying on “circumstantial evidence” and “capabilities,” the Times was happy to spell these capabilities out at great length and imply that they proved something.26 Editorials and news articles have worked uniformly on the supposition that Russian hacking was proved, which it was not, and that the Russians had given these data to WikiLeaks, also unproven and strenuously denied by Assange and Murray. So these reiterated claims are arguably first class “fake news” swallowed as palatable facts.

The Times has run neck-and-neck with the Washington Post in stirring up fears of the Russian information war and improper involvement with Trump. The Times now easily conflates fake news with any criticism of established institutions, as in Mark Scott and Melissa Eddy’s “Europe Combats a New Foe of Political Stability: Fake News,” February 20, 2017.27 But what is more extraordinary is the uniformity with which the paper’s regular columnists accept as a given the CIA’s Assessment of the Russian hacking and transmission to WikiLeaks, the possibility or likelihood that Trump is a Putin puppet, and the urgent need of a congressional and “non-partisan” investigation of these claims. This swallowing of a new war-party line has extended widely in the liberal media (e.g., Bill Moyers, Robert Reich, Ryan Lizza, Joan Walsh, Rachel Maddow, Katha Pollitt, Joshua Holland, the AlterNet web site, etc.).

Both the Times and Washington Post have given tacit support to the idea that this “fake news” threat needs to be curbed, possibly by some form of voluntary media-organized censorship or government intervention that would at least expose the fakery.

The Times has treated uncritically the Schiff hearings on dealing with Russian propaganda, and its opinion column by Louise Mensch strongly supports government hearings to expose Russian propaganda. Mensch names 26 individuals who should be interrogated about their contacts with Russians, and she supplies questions they should be asked.

The most remarkable media episode in this anti-influence-campaign campaign was the Washington Post‘s piece by Craig Timberg, “Russian propaganda effort helped spread ‘fake news’ during election, experts say” (November 24, 2016). The article features a report by an anonymous author or authors, PropOrNot, that claims to have found 200 web sites that wittingly or unwittingly, were “routine peddlers of Russian propaganda.” While smearing these web sites, the “experts” refused to identify themselves allegedly out of fear of being “targeted by legions of skilled hackers.” As Matt Taibbi says, “You want to blacklist hundreds of people, but you won’t put your name to your claims? Take a hike.”28 But the Post welcomed and featured this McCarthyite effort, which might well be a product of Pentagon or CIA information warfare. (And these entities are themselves well funded and heavily into the propaganda business.)

On December 23, 2016 President Obama signed the Portman-Murphy “Countering Disinformation and Propaganda Act,” which will supposedly allow this country to more effectively combat foreign (Russian, Chinese) propaganda and disinformation. It will encourage more government counter-propaganda efforts (which will, by patriotic definition, not be U.S. propaganda) and provide funding to non-government entities that will help in this enterprise. It is clearly a follow-on to the claims of Russian hacking and propaganda, and shares the spirit of the listing of 200 knowing or “useful fools” of Moscow featured in the Washington Post. Perhaps PropOrNot will qualify for a subsidy and be able to enlarge its list of 200. Liberals have been quiet on this new threat to freedom of speech, undoubtedly influenced by their fears of Russian-based fake news and propaganda. But they may wake up, even if belatedly, when Trump or one of his successors puts it to work on their own notions of fake news and propaganda.

The success of the war party’s campaign to contain or overthrow any tendencies of Trump to ease tensions with Russia was dramatically clear in the Trump administration’s speedy bombing response to the April 4, 2017 Syrian chemical weapons deaths. The Times and other MSM editors and journalists greeted this aggressive move with almost uniform enthusiasm,29 and once again did not require evidence of Assad’s guilt beyond their government’s say-so. The action was damaging to Assad and Russia, but served the rebels well. But the MSM never ask cui bono? in cases like this. In 2003 a similar charge against Assad, which brought the U.S. to the brink of a full-scale bombing war in Syria, turned out to be a false flag operation, and some potent authorities believe the current case is equally problematic.30 But Trump moved quickly (and unlawfully) and any further rapproachement between this country and Russia was set back. The CIA, Pentagon, liberal-Democrats and rest of the war party had won an important skirmish in the struggle for and against permanent war.

  1. Manufacturing Consent (New York: Pantheon, 1988, 2002, 2008), chap. 2.
  2. Walter Lippmann and Charles Merz, A Test of the News (New York: New Republic, 1920).
  3. On the Grand Area framework, see Noam Chomsky, “Lecture one, The New Framework of Order,” On Power And Ideology: The Managua Lectures (Boston, South End Press, 1987).
  4. Edward Herman, “Returning Guatemala to the Fold,” in Gary Rawnsley, ed., Cold War Propaganda in the 1950s (London, Macmillan, 1999).
  5. Ronald Schneider, Communism in Guatemala, 1944-1954 (New York: Praeger, 1959), 41, 196-7, 294.
  6. “The Guatemala Incident,” New York Times (ed., April 8, 1950).
  7. Harrison Salisbury, Without Fear or Favor (New York: Times Books, 1980), 486.
  8. Richard DuBoff and Edward Herman, America’s Vietnam Policy: The Strategy of Deception (Washington, D.C.: Public Affairs Press, 1966).
  9. See Manufacturing Consent, chap. 6 (Vietnam).
  10. Edward S. Herman and David Peterson, “The Dismantling of Yugoslavia,” Monthly Review, October 2007; Herman and Peterson, “Marlise Simons on the Yugoslavia Tribunal: A Study in Total Propaganda Service,” ZNet, April 16, 2005.
  11. Stephen F. Cohen, Failed Crusade: America and the Tragedy of Post-Communist Russia (New York: W.W. Norton, 2000).
  12. Robert Parry, “Troubling Gaps in the New MH-17 Report,” Consortiumnews.com. September 28, 2016.
  13. Paul Krugman says “Mr. Putin is someone who doesn’t worry about little things like international law,” in “The Siberian Candidate,” New York Times, July 22, 2016. The fake news implication is that U.S. leaders do worry about it.
  14. A version of Mearsheimer’s article “Why the Ukraine Crisis Is the West’s Fault,” published in Foreign Affairs, Sept. 10, 2014, was offered to the Times but not accepted. Stephen Cohen’s 2012 article “The Demonization of Putin” was also rejected by the paper.
  15. “Sochi Under Siege,” New York Times, February 21, 2014.
  16. Michael Kimmelman, “Aleppo’s F aces Beckon to Us, To Little Avail,” New York Times,, Dec. 15, 2016. Above this front page article are four photos of dead or injured children, the most prominent one in Syria. The accompanying editorial: “Aleppo’s Destroyers: Assad, Putin, Iran,” December. 15, 2016, omits some key actors and killers.
  17. Rick Sterling, “How US Propaganda Plays in Syrian War,” Consortiumnews.com, September. 23, 2016.
  18. William Binney and Ray McGovern, “The Dubious Case on Russian ‘Hacking’,” Consortiumnews.com January 6, 2017.
  19. David Sanger, “Putin Ordered ‘Influence Campaign’ Aimed at U.S. Election, Report Says,” NYT, January 6, 4017.
  20. Nathan Robinson and Alex Nichols, “What Constitutes Reasonable Mainstream Opinion,” Current Affairs, March 22, 2017.
  21. “Contacts With Russian Embassy,” JackAMatlock.com, March 4, 2017.
  22. Daniel Lazare, “Democrats, Liberals, Catch McCarthyistic Fever,” Consortiumnew.com, February 17, 2917.
  23. Robert Parry, “A Spy Coup in America?,” Consortiumnews,com, Dec. 18, 2016; Andre Damon, “Democratic Party Floats Proposal for a Palace Coup,” Information Clearing House, March 23, 2017.
  24. Robert Parry, “The Sleazy Origins of Russia-gate,” Consortiumnews.com, March 29, 2017.
  25. Scott Shane et al, “How a Sensational, Unverified Dossier Became a Crisis for Donald Trump,” New York Times, January 11, 2017.
  26. Matt Fegenheimer and Scott Shane,” “Bipartisan Voices Back U.S. Agencies On Russia Hacking,” NYT, January 6, 2017; Michael Shear and David Sanger, “Putin Led a Complex Cyberattack Scheme to Aid Trump, Report Finds,“ NYT January 7, 2017; Andrew Kramer, “How the Kremlin Recruited an Army of Specialists to Wage Its Cyberwar,” NYT, Dec. 30, 2016.
  27. Robert Parry, “NYT’s Fake News about Fake News,”Consortium news.com, February 22, 2017.
  28. Matt Taibbi, “The ‘Washington Post’ ‘Blacklist’ Story Is Shameful and Disgusting,” Rolling Stone.com, November 28, 2016.
  29. Adam Johnson, “Out of 47 Media Editorials on Trump’s Syria Strikes, Only One Opposed,” Fair, April 11, 2017.
  30. Scott Ritter, “Wag the Dog—How Al Qaeda Played Donald Trump And The American Media: Responsibility for the chemical event in Khan Sheikhoun is still very much in question,” Huffingtonpost.com, April 9, 2017; James Carden, ”The Chemical Weapons Attack in Syria; Is there a place for skepticism?,” Nation, April 11, 2017.

Edward S. Herman is an economist and media analyst with a specialty in corporate and regulatory issues as well as political economy and the media.

July 8, 2017 Posted by | Deception, Fake News, Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Russophobia, Timeless or most popular | , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Hiding US Lies About Libyan Invasion

By Joe Lauria | Consortium News | July 7, 2017

In George Orwell’s 1949 dystopian novel 1984, the protagonist Winston Smith’s job was to delve into The Times of London archive and rewrite stories that could cause trouble for the totalitarian government ruling Britain. For instance, if the government made a prediction of wheat or automobile production in their five-year plan and that prediction did not come true, Winston would go into the archives and “correct” the numbers in the article on record.

In writing a response the other day to a critic of my recently published book on Hillary Clinton’s electoral defeat, I was researching how the U.S. corporate media covered a 2016 British parliamentary report on Libya that showed how then Secretary of State Clinton and other Western leaders lied about an impending genocide in Libya to justify their 2011 attack on that country.

I first searched The New York Times archives to find that the paper never did a staff-written story on this explosive parliamentary report. It only ran an Associated Press article. But when you click on the link for the AP article you get a message saying that it is no longer available on nytimes.com.

Using a combination of different keywords, a search of The Washington Post archives was even worse. I could find no story on the parliamentary report at all. A search of The Los Angeles Times archives likewise comes up empty.

Protecting Policy

Ignoring or downplaying a story is one way U.S. corporate media deliberately buries news critical of American foreign policy. It is often news vital for Americans to understand their government’s actions abroad, actions which could mean death or life for U.S. soldiers and countless civilians of other lands.

British newspapers widely covered the story. As did the International Edition of CNN, which has separate editors from CNN’s U.S. website. An online search found no domestic CNN story. There’s also no video online indicating that CNN domestic or CNN International television reported the story.

The Asia edition of The Wall Street Journal had a story. It’s not clear if it appeared in the U.S. edition. Newsweek ran a story online. But it does not mention the United States even once. It laid the blame entirely on the British and French governments, as if the U.S. had nothing to do with the devastation of Libya on false pretenses. The U.S. gave the same false war rationale as the British and French did.

It is a black mark on the Congress’ two foreign affairs committees that neither undertook a similar inquiry (although congressional Republicans did obsess over the Sept. 11, 2012 attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, which occurred about a year after the Obama administration facilitated the military overthrow and brutal murder of Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi).

Voice of America, which broadcasts outside the United States, ran a story on its website about the British parliamentary report, though the article confined criticism of the U.S. to not being prepared for the aftermath, not for the intervention itself.

A thorough online search shows that The Nation magazine and several alternative news sites, including ConsortiumNews and Salon, appear to be the only U.S.-based media that accurately covered the blockbuster story that undermined the entire U.S. narrative for leaving Libya a failed state.

Rationale for an Attack

The United States peddled its false story of a coming genocide in Libya under the doctrine of Responsibility to Protect to justify military intervention. On its face R2P appears to be a rare instance of morality in foreign and military policy: a coalition of nations with U.N. Security Council authorization would take military action to stop an impending massacre. It would have been hard to argue against such a policy in Libya if indeed its genuine purpose was to stop a massacre, after which the military operation would withdraw.

But that is not where it ended. While arguing that intervention was necessary to stop a massacre in Libya, the real intent, as the British report says, was regime change. That’s not what American officials said at the outset and what corporate media reported.

“In the face of the world’s condemnation, [Libyan leader Moammar] Qadhafi chose to escalate his attacks, launching a military campaign against the Libyan people,” President Barack Obama told the nation on March 28, 2011. “Innocent people were targeted for killing. Hospitals and ambulances were attacked. Journalists were arrested, sexually assaulted and killed. … Cities and towns were shelled, mosques were destroyed, and apartment buildings reduced to rubble. Military jets and helicopter gunships were unleashed upon people who had no means to defend themselves against assaults from the air.”

Hillary Clinton, who according to leaked emails was the architect of the attack on Libya, said four days earlier: “When the Libyan people sought to realize their democratic aspirations, they were met by extreme violence from their own government.”

Sen. John Kerry, at the time chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, chimed in: “Time is running out for the Libyan people. The world needs to respond immediately.”

Mustafa Abdul Jalil, head of a transitional council that the U.S., U.K. and France recognized as the legitimate Libyan government, pleaded for a no-fly zone. The University of Pittsburgh–educated Jalil was playing the same game as Ahmed Chalabi had in Iraq. They both sought U.S. military might to bring them to power. He said that if Gaddafi’s forces reached Benghazi they would kill “half a million” people. “If there is no no-fly zone imposed on Qadhafi’s regime, and his ships are not checked, we will have a catastrophe in Libya.”

Report Tells a Different Story

And yet the summary of the September 2016 Foreign Affairs Committee report says: “We have seen no evidence that the UK Government carried out a proper analysis of the nature of the rebellion in Libya. … UK strategy was founded on erroneous assumptions and an incomplete understanding of the evidence.”

The report further said: “Despite his rhetoric, the proposition that Muammar Qadhafi would have ordered the massacre of civilians in Benghazi was not supported by the available evidence. While [he] certainly threatened violence against those who took up arms against his rule, this did not necessarily translate into a threat to everyone in Benghazi. In short, the scale of the threat to civilians was presented with unjustified certainty.”

The committee pointed out that Gaddafi’s forces had taken towns from rebels without attacking civilians. On March 17, two days before NATO’s assault began, Gaddafi told rebels in Benghazi to “throw away your weapons, exactly like your brothers in Ajdabiya and other places did. They laid down their arms and they are safe. We never pursued them at all.” The Libyan leader “also attempted to appease protesters in Benghazi with an offer of development aid before finally deploying troops,” the report said.

In another example, the report indicates that, after fighting in February and March in the city of Misrata, just one percent of people killed by the Libyan government were women or children. “The disparity between male and female casualties suggested that Qadhafi regime forces targeted male combatants in a civil war and did not indiscriminately attack civilians,” the report said.

How then could The New York Times and The Washington Post, the most influential American newspapers, refuse to cover a story of such magnitude, a story that should have been front page news for days? It was a story that undermined the U.S. government’s entire rationale for an unjustified attack that devastated a sovereign nation.

There can be only one reason the story was ignored: precisely because the report exposed a U.S. policy that led to a horrible crime that had to be covered up.

History Spiked

Defending U.S. policy appears to be the underlying motive of U.S. news coverage of the world. The Libya story is just one example. I’ve had personal experience of editors rejecting or changing stories because it would undermine U.S. foreign policy goals.

I twice pitched a story about a now declassified Defense Intelligence Agency document warning of the rise of a U.S.-backed Salafist principality in eastern Syria, intended to pressure Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, that could join with Iraqi extremists to become an “Islamic State,” two years before it happened. My story was twice rejected. It would have undermined the entire American narrative on the War on Terror.

On another occasion, I wrote several articles about the lead-up to a U.N. vote to grant Palestine Observer State status. In each article I mentioned that 130 countries already recognized Palestine as a state and many had diplomatic relations, including Palestinian embassies in their capitals. That essential fact in the story kept getting cut out.

Another story I wrote was spiked about the position Russia, Syria and Iran took on who was responsible for the chemical weapons attack outside Damascus in August 2013. The story also included an interview with a Congressman who demanded to see U.S. intelligence backing its accusation against Assad.

Telling both sides of a story is Journalism 101. But not evidently when the other side is a perceived enemy of the United States. There are only interests in international affairs, not morality. A journalist should not take sides. But American journalists routinely do in international reporting. They take the “American side” rather than neutrally laying out for the reader the complex clash of interests of nations involved in an international dispute.

Downplaying or omitting the adversary’s side of the story is a classic case of Americans explaining a foreign people to other Americans without giving a voice to those people, whether they be Russians, Palestinians, Syrians, Serbs, Iranians or North Koreans. Depriving a people of their voice dehumanizes them, making it easier to go to war against them.

One can only conclude that U.S. corporate media’s mission is not to tell all sides of an international story, or report news critical of U.S. foreign policy, but instead to push an agenda supporting U.S. interests abroad. That’s not journalism. That’s instead the job Winston Smith did.

Joe Lauria is a veteran foreign-affairs journalist. He has written for the Boston Globe, the Sunday Times of London and the Wall Street Journal among other newspapers. He is the author of “How I Lost By Hillary Clinton” published by OR Books, from which part of this article was adapted. He can be reached at joelauria@gmail.com and followed on Twitter at @unjoe.

July 7, 2017 Posted by | Deception, Fake News, Full Spectrum Dominance, Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Timeless or most popular, War Crimes | , , , , , | 1 Comment

MSM, Still Living in Propaganda-ville

By Robert Parry | Consortium news | July 6, 2017

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Lacking Hard Evidence

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

A Belated Correction

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Relying on Outsiders

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Hating Putin

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Trump Meets Putin

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Mad Chase for Russia-gate Prey

By Daniel Lazare | Consortium News | June 30, 2017

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Good for Ratings

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Holes from the Start

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

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

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

BURR: But no content?

COMEY: Correct.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Doubts about CrowdStrike

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Unstable Foundation

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

More Reasons Have Emerged To Doubt The Official Narrative About Syria

By Caitlin Johnstone | Medium | June 25, 2017

The highly decorated Pulitzer Prize-winning investigative journalist Seymour Hersh is back again, throwing yet another monkey wrench in the propaganda narratives of the US war machine.

Hersh’s latest piece, titled “Trump’s Red Line”, was published in the German publication Welt am Sonntag, reportedly after London Review of Books backed out for fear that it would make them “vulnerable to criticism for seeming to take the view of the Syrian and Russian governments”. LRB’s decision is understandable in light of today’s fact-free McCarthyist feeding frenzy given the criticism they’d already received from establishment loyalists for publishing Hersh’s explosive 2013 report “Whose Sarin?”, which attacked establishment allegations of Assad having used chemical weapons that year. Their decision points straight at the invisible state censorship that goes on within the editorial boards of every western outlet and the self-censorship that goes on in the minds of every western journalist when confronted with these uncomfortable and seemingly unreportable truths. The ruling class can make life very difficult for you if you don’t sing their propaganda song.

Hersh’s central source, whom Welt reportedly was able to contact and confirm the veracity of, describes a US president hell bent on attacking Syria regardless of facts, evidence, logic, or what he was being told by his own advisors. Hersh writes that it was known within defense and intelligence agencies that there was not sufficient intel to justify such an attack, breaking down some of the many plot holes in the establishment narrative about the alleged sarin gas strike on civilians in the Idlib province on April 4, but there was no dissuading Trump from an attack which ultimately manifested on April 6 in the form of a cruise missile strike on a Syrian airbase.

Asked by Welt if government lies still infuriate him as much as they did in the early days of his career, Hersh replied,

“It is more than being upset about lying — it’s about the reluctance of us in the press to hold the men and women who run the world’s governments to the highest possible standards. We have a President in America today who lies repeatedly about the most meaningless of information, but he must learn that he cannot lie about the intelligence relied upon before authorizing an act of war. There are those in the Trump administration that understand this, which is why I learned the information I did. If this story creates even a few moments of regret in the white house it will have served a very high purpose.”

We can all be forgiven at this point, I think, for indulging in a little feigned astonishment at the fact that a damning report on some deeply reprehensible behavior by Donald Trump has been forced to seek publication in Germany instead of at the Washington Post or the New York Times. The story has everything these outlets have become known for since November: it makes Trump look evil, it hints at the possibility of a hidden conspiracy that the US public is not privy to, its assertions are reportedly based on the testimony of anonymous insiders, and it describes conflict and a lack of cohesion within the administration. Oh, oops, except this one contains highly critical information about a despicable act of war, something these mainstream outlets have consistently stumped for and which they unequivocally applauded on April 6.

Predictably, there was an instant attack on this article from the intensely shady neocon propaganda outlet Bellingcat. You may remember Bellingcat as the outlet which has defended the known Al Qaeda propaganda network White Helmets and made the absolutely pathetic and indefensible argument that Bana Alabed is a perfectly legitimate Twitter account and not the blatant psy-op that it unquestionably is.

Bellingcat is run by a man named Eliot Higgins, who is thoroughly exposed for the establishment propagandist he is in this excellent piece by Graham Phillips. Higgins is a Senior Fellow at the Atlantic Council, an extremely suspicious virulently anti-Kremlin think tank which is funded by both Saudis and a Ukrainian billionaire, which Paul Craig Roberts has labeled “the marketing arm of the military-security complex”. You may also remember the Atlantic Council as the home of the chief technical director of CrowdStrike, the cyber security firm which to this day is the only organization which has ever directly examined the servers alleged to have been hacked by Russia.

So things are already being shaken up a bit. It is absolutely infuriating that a mere 14 years after the US and coalition forces perpetrated the evil and unforgivable invasion of Iraq based on lies there is so little public skepticism of the narratives being promoted about the US war machine’s next target. I’m glad there are still a few real journalists like Seymour Hersh out there trying to get people asking the questions they should be asking.

Here’s a hyperlink to Hersh’s article again, here’s a link to Welt’s article about their involvement in its publication, and here’s a link to a chat protocol Hersh provided of a security advisor and an active American soldier on duty at a key base near the Syria strikes.

June 30, 2017 Posted by | Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Militarism | , | 2 Comments