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Google hiring 1,000 journalists in effort to control American news flow

It’s about controlling information offline and online

By Alex Christoforou | The Duran | September 19, 2017

Google is learning from its mistakes.

Not being able to place Hillary Clinton in office, the search monopoly has decided that online influence over what Americans think, say, and do is not enough to guarantee the right woman enters the White House.

Google is now embarking on a 5 year plan, where they will seed 1,000 aspiring, liberal left journalists into America’s local media markets.

Poynter reports that the Google News Lab will be working with Report For America (RFA) to hire 1,000 journalists all around the country.

Many local newsrooms have been cut to the bone so often that there’s hardly any bone left. But starting early next year, some may get the chance to rebuild, at least by one.

On Monday, a new project was announced at the Google News Lab Summit that aims to place 1,000 journalists in local newsrooms in the next five years. Report For America takes ideas from several existing organizations, including the Peace Corps, Americorps, Teach for America and public media.

Unlike foreign or domestic service programs or public media, however, RFA gets no government funding. But they are calling RFA a national service project. That might make some journalists uncomfortable – the idea of service and patriotism. But at its most fundamental, local journalism is about protecting democracy, said co-founder Charles Sennott, founder and CEO of the GroundTruth Project.

“I think journalism needs that kind of passion for public service to bring it back and to really address some of the ailments of the heart of journalism,” he said.

Here’s how RFA will work: On one end, emerging journalists will apply to be part of RFA. On the other, newsrooms will apply for a journalist. RFA will pay 50 percent of that journalist’s salary, with the newsroom paying 25 percent and local donors paying the other 25 percent. That reporter will work in the local newsroom for a year, with the opportunity to renew.

Zerohedge reports…

Of course, while the press release above tries to tout the shared financial responsibility of these 1,000 journalists, presumably as a testament to their ‘independence’, it took about 35 seconds to figure out that the primary funder of the journalists’ salaries, RFA, is funded by none other than Google News Lab.

Meanwhile, as a further testament to RFA’s ‘independence, we noticed that their Advisory Board is flooded with reputable, ‘impartial’ news organizations like the New York Times, NPR, CBS, ABC, etc….

We are sure that these 1,000 journalists will never be called upon by Google to report on the news in a way that benefits the giant search company.

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

The NYT’s Yellow Journalism on Russia

By Robert Parry | Consortium News | September 15, 2017

Reading The New York Times these days is like getting a daily dose of the “Two Minutes Hate” as envisioned in George Orwell’s 1984, except applied to America’s new/old enemy Russia. Even routine international behavior, such as Russia using fictitious names for potential adversaries during a military drill, is transformed into something weird and evil.

In the snide and alarmist style that the Times now always applies to Russia, reporter Andrew Higgins wrote – referring to a fictitious war-game “enemy” – “The country does not exist, so it has neither an army nor any real citizens, though it has acquired a feisty following of would-be patriots online. Starting on Thursday, however, the fictional state, Veishnoriya, a distillation of the Kremlin’s darkest fears about the West, becomes the target of the combined military might of Russia and its ally Belarus.”

This snarky front-page story in Thursday’s print editions also played into the Times’ larger narrative about Russia as a disseminator of “fake news.” You see the Russkies are even inventing “fictional” enemies to bully. Hah-hah-hah! The article was entitled, “Russia’s War Games With Fake Enemies Cause Real Alarm.”

Of course, the U.S. and its allies also conduct war games against fictitious enemies, but you wouldn’t know that from reading the Times. For instance, U.S. war games in 2015 substituted five made-up states – Ariana, Atropia, Donovia, Gorgas and Limaria – for nations near the Caucasus mountains along the borders of Russia and Iran.

In earlier war games, the U.S. used both fictitious names and colors in place of actual countries. For instance, in 1981, the Reagan administration conducted “Ocean Venture” with that war-game scenario focused on a group of islands called “Amber and the Amberdines,” obvious stand-ins for Grenada and the Grenadines, with “Orange” used to represent Cuba.

In those cases, the maneuvers by the powerful U.S. military were clearly intended to intimidate far weaker countries. Yet, the U.S. mainstream media did not treat those war rehearsals for what they were, implicit aggression, but rather mocked protests from the obvious targets as paranoia since we all know the U.S. would never violate international law and invade some weak country! (As it turned out, Ocean Venture ’81 was a dress rehearsal for the actual U.S. invasion of Grenada in 1983.)

Yet, as far as the Times and its many imitators in the major media are concerned, there’s one standard for “us” and another for Russia and other countries that “we” don’t like.

Yellow Journalism

But the Times’ behavior over the past several years suggests something even more sinister than biased reporting. The “newspaper of record” has slid into yellow journalism, the practice of two earlier New York newspapers – William Randolph Hearst’s New York Journal and Joseph Pulitzer’s New York World – that in the 1890s manipulated facts about the crisis in Cuba to push the United States into war with Spain, a conflict that many historians say marked the beginning of America’s global empire.

Except in today’s instance, The New York Times is prepping the American people for what could become World War III. The daily message is that you must learn to hate Russia and its President Vladimir Putin so much that, first, you should support vast new spending on America’s Military-Industrial Complex and, second, you’ll be ginned up for nuclear war if it comes to that.

At this stage, the Times doesn’t even try for a cosmetic appearance of objective journalism. Look at how the Times has twisted the history of the Ukraine crisis, treating it simply as a case of “Russian aggression” or a “Russian invasion.” The Times routinely ignores what actually happened in Ukraine in late 2013 and early 2014 when the U.S. government aided and abetted a violent coup that overthrew Ukraine’s elected President Viktor Yanukovych after he had been demonized in the Western media.

Even as neo-Nazi and ultranationalist protesters hurled Molotov cocktails at police, Yanukovych signaled a willingness to compromise and ordered his police to avoid worsening violence. But compromise wasn’t good enough for U.S. neocons – such as Assistant Secretary of State Victoria Nuland; Sen. John McCain; and National Endowment for Democracy President Carl Gershman. They had invested too much in moving Ukraine away from Russia.

Nuland put the U.S. spending at $5 billion and was caught discussing with U.S. Ambassador Geoffrey Pyatt who should be in the new government and how to “glue” or “midwife this thing”; McCain appeared on stage urging on far-right militants; and Gershman was overseeing scores of NED projects inside Ukraine, which he had deemed the “biggest prize” and an important step in achieving an even bigger regime change in Russia, or as he put it: “Ukraine’s choice to join Europe will accelerate the demise of the ideology of Russian imperialism that Putin represents. … Putin may find himself on the losing end not just in the near abroad but within Russia itself.”

The Putsch

So, on Feb. 20, 2014, instead of seeking peace, a sniper firing from a building controlled by anti-Yanukovych forces killed both police and protesters, touching off a day of carnage. Immediately, the Western media blamed Yanukovych.

Shaken by the violence, Yanukovych again tried to pacify matters by reaching a compromise — guaranteed by France, Germany and Poland — to relinquish some of his powers and move up an election so he could be voted out of office peacefully. He also pulled back the police.

At that juncture, the neo-Nazis and ultra-nationalists spearheaded a violent putsch on Feb. 22, 2014, forcing Yanukovych and other officials to flee for their lives. Ignoring the agreement guaranteed by the three European nations, Nuland and the U.S. State Department quickly deemed the coup regime “legitimate.”

However, ethnic Russians in Crimea and eastern Ukraine, which represented Yanukovych’s electoral base, resisted the coup and turned to Russia for protection. Contrary to the Times’ narrative, there was no “Russian invasion” of Crimea because Russian troops were already there as part of an agreement for its Sevastopol naval base. That’s why you’ve never seen photos of Russian troops crashing across Ukraine’s borders in tanks or splashing ashore in Crimea with an amphibious landing or descending by parachute. They were already inside Crimea.

The Crimean autonomous government also voted to undertake a referendum on whether to leave the failed Ukrainian state and to rejoin Russia, which had governed Crimea since the Eighteenth Century. In that referendum, Crimean citizens voted by some 96 percent to exit Ukraine and seek reunion with Russia, a democratic and voluntary process that the Times always calls “annexation.”

The Times and much of the U.S. mainstream media refuses even to acknowledge that there is another side to the Ukraine story. Anyone who mentions this reality is deemed a “Kremlin stooge” in much the same way that people who questioned the mainstream certainty about Iraq’s WMD in 2002-03 were called “Saddam apologists.”

But what is particularly remarkable about the endless Russia-bashing is that – because it started under President Obama – it sucked in many American liberals and even some progressives. That process grew even worse when the contempt for Russia merged with the Left’s revulsion over Donald Trump’s election.

Many liberals came to view the dubious claims of Russian “meddling” in the 2016 election as the golden ticket to remove Trump from the White House. So, amid that frenzy, all standards of proof were jettisoned to make Russia-gate the new Watergate.

The Times, The Washington Post and pretty much the entire U.S. news media joined the “resistance” to Trump’s presidency and embraced the neocon “regime change” goal for Putin’s Russia. Very few people care about the enormous risks that this “strategy” entails.

For one, even if the U.S. government were to succeed in destabilizing nuclear-armed Russia sufficiently to force out President Putin, the neocon dream of another malleable Boris Yeltsin in the Kremlin is far less likely than the emergence of an extreme Russian nationalist who might be ready to push the nuclear button rather than accept further humiliation of Mother Russia.

The truth is that the world has much less to fear from the calculating Vladimir Putin than from the guy who might follow a deposed Vladimir Putin amid economic desperation and political chaos in Russia. But the possibility of nuclear Armageddon doesn’t seem to bother the neocon/liberal-interventionist New York Times. Nor apparently does the principle of fair and honest journalism.

The Times and rest of the mainstream media are just having too much fun hating Russia and Putin to worry about the possible extermination of life on planet Earth.

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

September 15, 2017 Posted by | Deception, Fake News, Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Russophobia, Timeless or most popular | , | 1 Comment

Has the NYT Gone Collectively Mad?

By Robert Parry | Consortium News | September 11, 2017

For those of us who have taught journalism or worked as editors, a sign that an article is the product of sloppy or dishonest journalism is that a key point will be declared as flat fact when it is unproven or a point in serious dispute – and it then becomes the foundation for other claims, building a story like a high-rise constructed on sand.

This use of speculation as fact is something to guard against particularly in the work of inexperienced or opinionated reporters. But what happens when this sort of unprofessional work tops page one of The New York Times one day as a major “investigative” article and reemerges the next in even more strident form as a major Times editorial? Are we dealing then with an inept journalist who got carried away with his thesis or are we facing institutional corruption or even a collective madness driven by ideological fervor?

What is stunning about the lede story in last Friday’s print edition of The New York Times is that it offers no real evidence to support its provocative claim that – as the headline states – “To Sway Vote, Russia Used Army of Fake Americans” or its subhead: “Flooding Twitter and Facebook, Impostors Helped Fuel Anger in Polarized U.S.”

In the old days, this wildly speculative article, which spills over three pages, would have earned an F in a J-school class or gotten a rookie reporter a stern rebuke from a senior editor. But now such unprofessionalism is highlighted by The New York Times, which boasts that it is the standard-setter of American journalism, the nation’s “newspaper of record.”

In this case, it allows reporter Scott Shane to introduce his thesis by citing some Internet accounts that apparently used fake identities, but he ties none of them to the Russian government. Acting like he has minimal familiarity with the Internet – yes, a lot of people do use fake identities – Shane builds his case on the assumption that accounts that cited references to purloined Democratic emails must be somehow from an agent or a bot connected to the Kremlin.

For instance, Shane cites the fake identity of “Melvin Redick,” who suggested on June 8, 2016, that people visit DCLeaks which, a few days earlier, had posted some emails from prominent Americans, which Shane states as fact – not allegation – were “stolen … by Russian hackers.”

Shane then adds, also as flat fact, that “The site’s phony promoters were in the vanguard of a cyberarmy of counterfeit Facebook and Twitter accounts, a legion of Russian-controlled impostors whose operations are still being unraveled.”

The Times’ Version

In other words, Shane tells us, “The Russian information attack on the election did not stop with the hacking and leaking of Democratic emails or the fire hose of stories, true, false and in between, that battered Mrs. Clinton on Russian outlets like RT and Sputnik. Far less splashy, and far more difficult to trace, was Russia’s experimentation on Facebook and Twitter, the American companies that essentially invented the tools of social media and, in this case, did not stop them from being turned into engines of deception and propaganda.”

Besides the obvious point that very few Americans watch RT and/or Sputnik and that Shane offers no details about the alleged falsity of those “fire hose of stories,” let’s examine how his accusations are backed up:

“An investigation by The New York Times, and new research from the cybersecurity firm FireEye, reveals some of the mechanisms by which suspected Russian operators used Twitter and Facebook to spread anti-Clinton messages and promote the hacked material they had leaked. On Wednesday, Facebook officials disclosed that they had shut down several hundred accounts that they believe were created by a Russian company linked to the Kremlin and used to buy $100,000 in ads pushing divisive issues during and after the American election campaign. On Twitter, as on Facebook, Russian fingerprints are on hundreds or thousands of fake accounts that regularly posted anti-Clinton messages.”

Note the weasel words: “suspected”; “believe”; ‘linked”; “fingerprints.” When you see such equivocation, it means that these folks – both the Times and FireEye – don’t have hard evidence; they are speculating.

And it’s worth noting that the supposed “army of fake Americans” may amount to hundreds out of Facebook’s two billion or so monthly users and the $100,000 in ads compare to the company’s annual ad revenue of around $27 billion. (I’d do the math but my calculator doesn’t compute such tiny percentages.)

So, this “army” is really not an “army” and we don’t even know that it is “Russian.” But some readers might say that surely we know that the Kremlin did mastermind the hacking of Democratic emails!

That claim is supported by the Jan. 6 “intelligence community assessment” that was the work of what President Obama’s Director of National Intelligence James Clapper called “hand-picked” analysts from three agencies – the Central Intelligence Agency, National Security Agency and Federal Bureau of Investigation. But, as any intelligence expert will tell you, if you hand-pick the analysts, you are hand-picking the conclusions.

Agreeing with Putin

But some still might protest that the Jan. 6 report surely presented convincing evidence of this serious charge about Russian President Vladimir Putin personally intervening in the U.S. election to help put Donald Trump in the White House. Well, as it turns out, not so much, and if you don’t believe me, we can call to the witness stand none other than New York Times reporter Scott Shane.

Shane wrote at the time: “What is missing from the [the Jan. 6] public report is what many Americans most eagerly anticipated: hard evidence to back up the agencies’ claims that the Russian government engineered the election attack. … Instead, the message from the agencies essentially amounts to ‘trust us.’”

So, even Scott Shane, the author of last Friday’s opus, recognized the lack of “hard evidence” to prove that the Russian government was behind the release of the Democratic emails, a claim that both Putin and WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, who published a trove of the emails, have denied. While it is surely possible that Putin and Assange are lying or don’t know the facts, you might think that their denials would be relevant to this lengthy investigative article, which also could have benefited from some mention of Shane’s own skepticism of last January, but, hey, you don’t want inconvenient details to mess up a cool narrative.

Yet, if you struggle all the way to the end of last Friday’s article, you do find out how flimsy the Times’ case actually is. How, for instance, do we know that “Melvin Redick” is a Russian impostor posing as an American? The proof, according to Shane, is that “His posts were never personal, just news articles reflecting a pro-Russian worldview.”

As it turns out, the Times now operates with what must be called a neo-McCarthyistic approach for identifying people as Kremlin stooges, i.e., anyone who doubts the truthfulness of the State Department’s narratives on Syria, Ukraine and other international topics.

Unreliable Source

In the article’s last section, Shane acknowledges as much in citing one of his experts, “Andrew Weisburd, an Illinois online researcher who has written frequently about Russian influence on social media.” Shane quotes Weisburd as admitting how hard it is to differentiate Americans who just might oppose Hillary Clinton because they didn’t think she’d make a good president from supposed Russian operatives: “Trying to disaggregate the two was difficult, to put it mildly.”

According to Shane, “Mr. Weisburd said he had labeled some Twitter accounts ‘Kremlin trolls’ based simply on their pro-Russia tweets and with no proof of Russian government ties. The Times contacted several such users, who insisted that they had come by their anti-American, pro-Russian views honestly, without payment or instructions from Moscow.”

One of Weisburd’s “Kremlin trolls” turned out to be 66-year-old Marilyn Justice who lives in Nova Scotia and who somehow reached the conclusion that “Hillary’s a warmonger.” During the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia, she reached another conclusion: that U.S. commentators were exhibiting a snide anti-Russia bias perhaps because they indeed were exhibiting a snide anti-Russia bias.

Shane tracked down another “Kremlin troll,” 48-year-old Marcel Sardo, a web producer in Zurich, Switzerland, who dares to dispute the West’s groupthink that Russia was responsible for shooting down Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 over Ukraine on July 17, 2014, and the State Department’s claims that the Syrian government used sarin gas in a Damascus suburb on Aug. 21, 2013.

Presumably, if you don’t toe the line on those dubious U.S. government narratives, you are part of the Kremlin’s propaganda machine. (In both cases, there actually are serious reasons to doubt the Western groupthinks which again lack real evidence.)

But Shane accuses Sardo and his fellow-travelers of spreading “what American officials consider to be Russian disinformation on election hacking, Syria, Ukraine and more.” In other words, if you examine the evidence on MH-17 or the Syrian sarin case and conclude that the U.S. government’s claims are dubious if not downright false, you are somehow disloyal and making Russian officials “gleeful at their success,” as Shane puts it.

But what kind of a traitor are you if you quote Shane’s initial judgment after reading the Jan. 6 report on alleged Russian election meddling? What are you if you agree with his factual observation that the report lacked anything approaching “hard evidence”? That’s a point that also dovetails with what Vladimir Putin has been saying – that “IP addresses can be simply made up. … This is no proof”?

So is Scott Shane a “Kremlin troll,” too? Should the Times immediately fire him as a disloyal foreign agent? What if Putin says that 2 plus 2 equals 4 and your child is taught the same thing in elementary school, what does that say about public school teachers?

Out of such gibberish come the evils of McCarthyism and the death of the Enlightenment. Instead of encouraging a questioning citizenry, the new American paradigm is to silence debate and ridicule anyone who steps out of line.

You might have thought people would have learned something from the disastrous groupthink about Iraqi WMD, a canard that the Times and most of the U.S. mainstream media eagerly promoted.

But if you’re feeling generous and thinking that the Times’ editors must have been chastened by their Iraq-WMD fiasco but perhaps had a bad day last week and somehow allowed an egregious piece of journalism to lead their front page, your kind-heartedness would be shattered on Saturday when the Times’ editorial board penned a laudatory reprise of Scott Shane’s big scoop.

Stripping away even the few caveats that the article had included, the Times’ editors informed us that “a startling investigation by Scott Shane of The New York Times, and new research by the cybersecurity firm FireEye, now reveal, the Kremlin’s stealth intrusion into the election was far broader and more complex, involving a cyberarmy of bloggers posing as Americans and spreading propaganda and disinformation to an American electorate on Facebook, Twitter and other platforms. …

“Now that the scheming is clear, Facebook and Twitter say they are reviewing the 2016 race and studying how to defend against such meddling in the future. … Facing the Russian challenge will involve complicated issues dealing with secret foreign efforts to undermine American free speech.”

But what is the real threat to “American free speech”? Is it the possibility that Russia – in a very mild imitation of what the U.S. government does all over the world – used some Web sites clandestinely to get out its side of various stories, an accusation against Russia that still lacks any real evidence?

Or is the bigger threat that the nearly year-long Russia-gate hysteria will be used to clamp down on Americans who dare question fact-lite or fact-free Official Narratives handed down by the State Department and The New York Times ?

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

September 11, 2017 Posted by | Corruption, Deception, Fake News, Full Spectrum Dominance, Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Russophobia, Timeless or most popular | , , | 3 Comments

NY Times op-ed: Mainstream 9/11 narrative “totally false, literally from the first minutes”

By Kevin Barrett | Veterans Today | September 11, 2017

Today, on the 16th anniversary of the 9/11 neocon coup d’état, the New York Times editorial page has published a column by economist Paul Krugman calling the official narrative “totally false” – and accusing the Bush-Cheney Administration of “rejoicing” at the successful attack on America.

Here is Krugman’s key passage:

In the weeks and months after the atrocity, news media had a narrative about what it meant – basically, that it was a Pearl Harbor moment that brought America together with a new seriousness and resolve. This was comforting and reassuring. It was also totally false, literally from the first minutes.

The truth, as we now know, is that Bush administration officials rejoiced, even as the fires were still burning, at the opportunity they now had to fight the unrelated war they always wanted.”

Krugman does not come right out and say that the Bush-Cheney gang “rejoiced” because they were celebrating a successful covert operation. Nor does he mention the many Israelis who were even more blatantly celebrating their New Pearl Harbor deception:

*The “dancing Israelis,” Mossad agents all, who according to the NYPD had been pre-positioned to film the attacks, and who photographed themselves cheering wildly and flicking cigarette lighters in front of the burning and exploding Twin Towers.

*Benjamin Netanyahu, whose first reaction was that the attacks were “very good,” and who reaffirmed that years later by saying “We are benefitting from one thing” – 9/11.

*Mike Harrari, the legendary Mossad chief, who threw a celebratory party and openly claimed credit for 9/11, according to self-proclaimed eyewitness Dmitri Khalezov.

From ex-Chief Harrari to its agents on the ground in New York, the Mossad wildly and openly celebrated 9/11. The CIA’s reaction was somewhat more ambivalent. According to CIA Iraq Desk asset Susan Lindauer, her Case Officer, Richard Fuisz —who had known ahead of time that a big terror attack would be hitting Lower Manhattan — was on the phone with her on the morning of 9/11 as live television showed the Towers burning and then, suddenly, exploding. Lindauer says that as the Towers exploded, Fuisz’s reaction was an anguished scream: “The goddamn Israelis!”

But just a few weeks later, Bush called a celebratory party at the CIA, broke out the champagne all around, reassured everyone that their jobs were safe, and called 9/11 “just a memory” amidst an atmosphere of relief and rejoicing. (T.H. Meyer, Reality, Truth, and Evil.)

What does “liberal with a conscience” Paul Krugman know about the Bush Administration’s (and Israel’s) celebrations of 9/11? Presumably more than he’s telling us.

Why won’t Krugman just come right out and tell us what he really thinks? Presumably because he knows the New York Times would never publish it.

So Krugman’s breakthrough op-ed — the most truthful assessment of 9/11 ever published in a leading American newspaper — uses the kind of double-speak championed by neoconservative guru Leo Strauss. According to Strauss, ordinary people cannot handle the truth, so “philosophers” (i.e. neocons) should feed them comforting lies…while at the same time letting the truth slip through, from between the lines, in such a way that the philosophers, who are careful readers alert to multiple meanings, will understand the half-hidden message.

Krugman passes the buck for his, and the rest of the liberal media’s, failure to report 9/11 honestly:

The thing was, people just didn’t want to hear about this reality.

Maybe they didn’t want to hear it. But if the New York Times had published screaming headline after screaming headline from 9/12/1001 onward about…

*the controlled demolitions

*the bizarre “failure” of America’s air defenses

*the Israeli celebrations (and huge pre-9/11 operation in America)

*the Secret Service’s behavior in the Florida school where Bush was reading about pet goats

*the absurdity of the “hijackings” narrative

*the grotesquely un-Islamic behavior of the “Islamic extremist” alleged hijackers

*the complete lack of evidence of a plane crash at the Shanksville “Flight 93 crash site”

*the fact that at least nine alleged hijackers turned up alive afterwards

… the American people would have listened, risen up, and overthrown an evil regime that was bent on shredding the Constitution, doubling the military budget, and bankrupting America with wars aimed primarily at genocidally destroying the Middle East for the benefit of expansionist Israel.

The biggest and worst failure after 9/11 was the failure of the media to report the facts. Krugman and the rest of his liberal media colleagues who dropped the ball are complicit in the worst crimes against humanity ever perpetrated: The murder of 32 million Muslims in a genocidal war aimed at utterly destroying the Middle East, the annihilation of American Constitutional democracy, the bankrupting of the US and global economies, and the wholesale shifting of scarce resources away from taking care of people and building sustainable infrastructure, towards ever-escalating technologies and practices of wholesale destruction and mass murder.

The CONSCIENCE of a liberal?! I suspect that Krugman is suffering from bad conscience, and the disguised doublespeak version of 9/11 truth that he is telling in the NY Times op-ed pages is the rather pathetic result.

I hope and pray that Krugman and others in similar positions will follow the lead of those who, like leading Islamic Studies expert Professor Khaled Abou El Fadl, have been driven by their consciences to speak more forthrightly about 9/11.

September 11, 2017 Posted by | Deception, Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Fake News, False Flag Terrorism, Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Timeless or most popular | , , , , , | 1 Comment

Echoes of Iraq-WMD Fraud in Syria

By Robert Parry | Consortium News | September 10, 2017

The New York Times and other Western media have learned few lessons from the Iraq War, including how the combination of a demonized foreign leader and well-funded “activists” committed to flooding the process with fake data can lead to dangerously false conclusions that perpetuate war.

What we have seen in Syria over the past six years parallels what occurred in Iraq in the run-up to the U.S.-led invasion in 2002-03. In both cases, there was evidence that the “system” was being gamed – by the Iraqi National Congress (INC) in pushing for the Iraq War and by pro-rebel “activists” promoting “regime change” in Syria – but those warnings were ignored. Instead, the flood of propagandistic claims overwhelmed what little skepticism there was in the West.

Regarding Iraq, the INC generated a surge of “defectors” who claimed to know where Saddam Hussein was concealing his WMD stockpiles and where his nuclear program was hidden. In Syria, we have seen something similar with dubious claims about chemical weapons attacks.

The Iraqi “defectors,” of course, were lying, and a little-noticed congressional study revealed that the CIA had correctly debunked some of the fakers but – because of the pro-invasion political pressure from George W. Bush’s White House and the U.S. mainstream media’s contempt for Saddam Hussein – other bogus claims were accepted as true. The result was catastrophic.

But the telltale signs of an INC disinformation campaign were there before the war. For instance, by early February 2003, as the final invasion plans were underway, the parade of Iraqi “walk-ins” was continuing. U.S. intelligence agencies had progressed up to “Source Eighteen,” one fellow who came to epitomize what some CIA analysts suspected was systematic INC coaching of sources.

As the CIA planned a debriefing of Source Eighteen, another Iraqi exile passed on word to the agency that an INC representative had told Source Eighteen to “deliver the act of a lifetime.” CIA analysts weren’t sure what to make of that piece of news since Iraqi exiles frequently badmouthed each other but the value of the warning soon became clear.

U.S. intelligence officers debriefed Source Eighteen the next day and discovered that “Source Eighteen was supposed to have a nuclear engineering background, but was unable to discuss advanced mathematics or physics and described types of ‘nuclear’ reactors that do not exist,” according to a Senate Intelligence Committee report on the Iraq War’s intelligence failures.

“Source Eighteen used the bathroom frequently, particularly when he appeared to be flustered by a line of questioning, suddenly remembering a new piece of information upon his return. During one such incident, Source Eighteen appeared to be reviewing notes,” the report said.

Not surprisingly, U.S. intelligence officers concluded that Source Eighteen was a fabricator. But the sludge of INC-connected disinformation kept oozing through the U.S. intelligence community, fouling the American intelligence product in part because there was little pressure from above demanding strict quality controls. Indeed, the opposite was true.

A more famous fake Iraqi defector earned the code name “Curve Ball” and provided German intelligence agencies details about Iraq’s alleged mobile facilities for producing agents for biological warfare.

Tyler Drumheller, then chief of the CIA’s European Division, said his office had issued repeated warnings about Curve Ball’s accounts. “Everyone in the chain of command knew exactly what was happening,” Drumheller said. [Los Angeles Times, April 2, 2005]

Despite those objections and the lack of direct U.S. contact with Curve Ball, he earned a rating as “credible” or “very credible,” and his information became a core element of the Bush administration’s case for invading Iraq. Drawings of Curve Ball’s imaginary bio-weapons labs were a central feature of Secretary of State Colin Powell’s presentation to the U.N. on Feb. 5, 2003.

The Syrian Parallel

Regarding Syria, a similar mix of factors exists. The Obama administration’s advocacy for Syrian “regime change” and the hostility from many Western interest groups toward President Bashar al-Assad lowered the bar of skepticism enabling propaganda arms of Al Qaeda and its jihadist allies to have enormous success in selling dubious accusations about chemical attacks and other atrocities.

As with the CIA analysts who tripped up a few of the Iraqi liars, some United Nations investigators have seen evidence of the trickery. For instance, they learned from townspeople of Al-Tamanah about how the rebels and allied “activists” staged a chlorine gas attack on the night of April 29-30, 2014, and then sold the false story to a credulous Western media and, initially, to the U.N. investigative team.

“Seven witnesses stated that frequent alerts [about an imminent chlorine weapons attack by the government] had been issued, but in fact no incidents with chemicals took place,” the U.N. report stated. “While people sought safety after the warnings, their homes were looted and rumours spread that the events were being staged. … [T]hey [these witnesses] had come forward to contest the wide-spread false media reports.”

Accounts from other people, who did allege that there had been a government chemical attack on Al-Tamanah, provided suspect evidence, including data from questionable sources, according to the U.N. report.

The report said, “Three witnesses, who did not give any description of the incident on 29-30 April 2014, provided material of unknown source. One witness had second-hand knowledge of two of the five incidents in Al-Tamanah, but did not remember the exact dates. Later that witness provided a USB-stick with information of unknown origin, which was saved in separate folders according to the dates of all the five incidents mentioned by the FFM (the U.N.’s Fact-Finding Mission).

“Another witness provided the dates of all five incidents reading it from a piece of paper, but did not provide any testimony on the incident on 29-30 April 2014. The latter also provided a video titled ‘site where second barrel containing toxic chlorine gas was dropped tamanaa 30 April 14’”

Some other witnesses alleging a Syrian government attack offered curious claims about detecting the chlorine-infused “barrel bombs” based on how the device sounded in its descent.

The U.N. report said, “The eyewitness, who stated to have been on the roof, said to have heard a helicopter and the ‘very loud’ sound of a falling barrel. Some interviewees had referred to a distinct whistling sound of barrels that contain chlorine as they fall. The witness statement could not be corroborated with any further information.”

However, the claim itself is absurd since it is inconceivable that anyone could detect a chlorine canister inside a “barrel bomb” by “a distinct whistling sound.”

The larger point, however, is that the jihadist rebels in Al-Tamanah and their propaganda teams, including relief workers and activists, appear to have organized a coordinated effort at deception complete with a fake video supplied to U.N. investigators and Western media outlets.

For instance, the Telegraph in London reported that “Videos allegedly taken in Al-Tamanah … purport to show the impact sites of two chemical bombs. Activists said that one person had been killed and another 70 injured.”

The Telegraph also quoted supposed weapons expert Eliot Higgins, the founder of Bellingcat, as endorsing the report. “Witnesses have consistently reported the use of helicopters to drop the chemical barrel bombs used,” said Higgins. “As it stands, around a dozen chemical barrel bomb attacks have been alleged in that region in the last three weeks.”

To finish up pointing the finger of guilt at the government, the Telegraph added that “The regime is the only party in the civil war that possesses helicopters” – a claim that also has been in dispute since the rebels had captured government air assets and had received substantial military assistance from Saudi Arabia, Turkey, the United States, Israel, Jordan and other countries.

The Al-Tamanah debunking received no mainstream media attention when the U.N. findings were issued in September 2016 because the U.N. report relied on rebel information to blame two other alleged chlorine attacks on the government and that got all the coverage. But the case should have raised red flags given the extent of the apparent deception.

If the seven townspeople were telling the truth, that would mean that the rebels and their allies issued fake attack warnings, produced propaganda videos to fool the West, and prepped “witnesses” with “evidence” to deceive investigators. Yet, no alarms went off about other rebel claims.

The Ghouta Incident

A more famous attack – with sarin gas on the Damascus suburb of Ghouta on Aug. 21, 2013, killing hundreds – was also eagerly blamed on the Assad regime, as The New York Times, Human Rights Watch, Higgins’s Bellingcat and many other Western outlets jumped to that conclusion despite the unlikely circumstances. Assad had just welcomed U.N. investigators to Damascus to examine chemical attacks that he was blaming on the rebels.

Assad also was facing a “red line” threat from President Obama warning him of possible U.S. military intervention if the Syrian government deployed chemical weapons. Why Assad and his military would choose such a moment to launch a deadly sarin attack, killing mostly civilians, made little sense.

But this became another rush to judgment in the West that brought the Obama administration to the verge of launching a devastating air attack on the Syrian military that might have helped Al Qaeda’s Syrian affiliate and/or the Islamic State win the war.

Eventually, however, the case blaming Assad for the 2013 sarin attack collapsed. An analysis by genuine weapons experts – Theodore A. Postol, a professor of science, technology and national security policy at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and Richard M. Lloyd, an analyst at the military contractor Tesla Laboratories – found that the missile that delivered the sarin had a very short range placing its likely firing position in rebel territory.

Later, reporting by journalist Seymour Hersh implicated Turkish intelligence working with jihadist rebels as the likely source of the sarin.

We also learned in 2016 that a message from the U.S. intelligence community had warned Obama how weak the evidence against Assad was. There was no “slam-dunk” proof, said Director of National Intelligence James Clapper. And Obama cited his rejection of the Washington militaristic “playbook” to bomb Syria as one of his proudest moments as President.

With this background, there should have been extreme skepticism when jihadists and their allies made new claims about the Syrian government engaging in chemical weapons attacks, just like the CIA should have recognized that the Iraqi National Congress’s production of some obviously phony “walk-ins” justified doubts about all of them.

After the invasion of Iraq and the U.S. failure to find the promised WMD caches, INC leader Ahmed Chalabi congratulated his organization as “heroes in error” for its success in using falsehoods to help get the United States to invade.

But the West appears to have learned next to nothing from the Iraq deceptions – or arguably the lessons are being ignored out of a desire to continue the neoconservative “regime change” project for the Middle East.

Pressure to Confirm

U.N. investigators, who have been under intense pressure to confirm accusations against the Syrian government, continue to brush aside contrary evidence, such as testimony regarding the April 4 “sarin incident” at Khan Sheikhoun, that suggested a replay of the Al-Tamanah operation.

In a new U.N. report, testimony from two people, who were apparently considered reliable by investigators from the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons, asserted that anti-government aircraft spotters issued no early-morning warning of a flight leaving the Syrian military airbase of Shayrat, contradicting claims from Al Qaeda’s allies inside Khan Sheikhoun who insisted that there had been such a warning.

If no warplanes left Shayrat airbase around dawn on April 4, then President Trump’s case for retaliating with 59 Tomahawk missiles launched against the base two days later would collapse. The U.S. strike reportedly killed several soldiers at the base and nine civilians, including four children, in nearby neighborhoods. It also risked inflicting death on Russians stationed at the base.

But the U.N. report accepts the version from the activists and rebels inside the Al Qaeda-controlled town and then goes on to endorse other rebel claims regarding alleged Syrian military chemical attacks on at least 20 other occasions.

The New York Times was mightily impressed with the U.N. report’s “unequivocal condemnation” of Assad’s regime and cited it as justification for Israeli warplanes bombing a Syrian military facility on Thursday. Rather than criticize Israel for attacking a neighboring country, the Times framed the action in a positive light as having “brought renewed attention to Syria’s chemical weapons.”

But the journalistic (and intelligence) point should have been that the West was fooled in Iraq by self-interested “activists” flooding the Times, the CIA and the world with fake information — so many bogus walk-ins that they overwhelmed whatever half-hearted process there was to weed out lies from truth. The Syrian “opposition” appears to have adopted a similar strategy in Syria with similar success.

Given the history, skepticism should be the rule in Syria, not credulity. Or, as President George W. Bush once said in a different context, “fool me once, shame on — shame on you. Fool me — you can’t get fooled again.”

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

September 10, 2017 Posted by | Deception, Fake News, Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Timeless or most popular | , , , , | Leave a comment

U.N. Enablers of ‘Aggressive War’

By Robert Parry | Consortium News | September 8, 2017

Many people still want to believe that the United Nations engages in impartial investigations and thus is more trustworthy than, say, self-interested governments, whether Russia or the United States. But trust in U.N. agencies is no longer well placed; whatever independence they may have once had has been broken, a reality relevant to recent “investigations” of Syrian chemical weapons use.

There is also the larger issue of the United Nations’ peculiar silence about one of its primary and original responsibilities, shouldered after the horrors of World War II – to stop wars of aggression, which today include “regime change” wars organized, funded and armed by the United States and other Western powers, such as the Iraq invasion in 2003, the overthrow of the Libyan government in 2011, and a series of proxy wars including the ongoing Syrian conflict.

After World War II, the Nuremberg Tribunals declared that a “war of aggression … is not only an international crime; it is the supreme international crime differing only from other war crimes in that it contains within itself the accumulated evil of the whole.”

That recognition became a guiding principle of the United Nations Charter, which specifically prohibits aggression or even threats of aggression against sovereign states.

The Charter declares in Article One that it is a chief U.N. purpose “to take effective collective measures … for the suppression of acts of aggression or other breaches of the peace.” Article Two, which defines the appropriate behavior of U.N. members, adds that “All Members shall refrain in their international relations from the threat or use of force against the territorial integrity or political independence of any state…”

However, instead of enforcing this fundamental rule, the United Nations has, in effect, caved in to the political and financial pressure brought to bear by the United States and its allies. A similar disregard for international law also pervades the U.S. mainstream media and much of the European and Israeli press as well.

There is an assumption that the United States and its allies have the right to intervene militarily anywhere in the world at anytime solely at their own discretion. Though U.S. diplomats and mainstream journalists still voice outrage when adversaries deviate from international law – such as denunciations of Russia over Ukraine’s civil war – there is silence or support when a U.S. president or, say, an Israeli prime minister orders military strikes inside another country. Then, we hear only justifications for these attacks.

Shielding Israel

For instance, on Friday, The New York Times published an article about Israel conducting a bombing raid inside Syria that reportedly killed two Syrians. The article is notable because it contains not a single reference to international law and Israel’s clear-cut violation of it. Instead, the article amounts to a lengthy rationalization for Israel’s aggression, framing the attacks as Israeli self-defense or, as the Times put it, “an escalation of Israel’s efforts to prevent its enemies from gaining access to sophisticated weapons.”

The article also contains no reference to the fact that Israel maintains a sophisticated nuclear arsenal and is known to possess chemical and biological weapons as well. Implicit in the Times article is that the U.S. and Israel live under one set of rules while countries on the U.S.-Israeli enemies list must abide by another. Not to state the obvious but this is a clear violation of the journalistic principle of objectivity.

But the Times is far from alone in applying endless double standards. Hypocrisy now permeates international agencies, including the United Nations, which instead of pressing for accountability in cases of U.S. or Israeli aggression has become an aider and abettor, issuing one-sided reports that justify further aggression while doing little or nothing to stop U.S.-backed acts of aggression.

For instance, there was no serious demand that U.S. and British leaders who organized the 2003 invasion of Iraq, which resulted in the deaths of hundreds of thousands of Iraqis, should face any accountability for committing the “supreme international crime” of an aggressive war. As far as the U.N. is concerned, war-crimes tribunals are for the little guys.

This breakdown in the integrity of the U.N. and related agencies has developed over the past few decades as one U.S. administration after another has exploited U.S. clout as the world’s “unipolar power” to ensure that international bureaucrats conform to U.S. interests. Any U.N. official who deviates from this unwritten rule can expect to have his or her reputation besmirched and career truncated.

So, while harshly critical of alleged abuses by the Syrian military, U.N. officials are notoriously silent when it comes to condemning the U.S., Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Turkey, Israel and other countries that have been “covertly” backing anti-government “rebels” who have engaged in grave crimes against humanity in Syria.

The U.S. and its allies have even mounted overt military operations inside Syrian territory, including airstrikes against the Syrian military and its allies, without permission of the internationally recognized government in Damascus. Yet, the U.N. does nothing to curtail or condemn these clear violations of its own Charter.

Breaking the Independence

The reason is that, for much of this century, the U.S. government has worked to bring key agencies, such as the U.N. Commission on Human Rights (UNCHR), the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), and the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW), under U.S. control and domination.

This drive to neutralize the U.N.’s independence gained powerful momentum after the 9/11 attacks and President George W. Bush’s launching of his “global war on terror.” But this effort continued under President Obama and now under President Trump.

In 2002, after opening the prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, and effectively waiving the Geneva Convention’s protections for prisoners of war, Bush bristled at criticism from the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights Mary C. Robinson.

Soon, Robinson was targeted for removal. Her fierce independence, which also included criticism of Israel, was unacceptable. The Bush administration lobbied hard against her reappointment, leading to her retirement in 2002.

Also, in 2002, the Bush administration engineered the firing of OPCW’s Director General Jose Mauricio Bustani who was viewed as an obstacle to the U.S. plans for invading Iraq.

Bustani, who had been reelected unanimously to the post less than a year earlier, described his removal in a 2013 interview with Marlise Simons of The New York Times, citing how Bush’s emissary, Under-Secretary of State John Bolton, marched into Bustani’s office and announced that he (Bustani) would be fired.

“The story behind [Bustani’s] ouster has been the subject of interpretation and speculation for years, and Mr. Bustani, a Brazilian diplomat, has kept a low profile since then,” wrote Simons. “But with the agency [OPCW] thrust into the spotlight with news of the Nobel [Peace] Prize [in October 2013], Mr. Bustani agreed to discuss what he said was the real reason: the Bush administration’s fear that chemical weapons inspections in Iraq would conflict with Washington’s rationale for invading it. Several officials involved in the events, some speaking publicly about them for the first time, confirmed his account.”

The official U.S. explanation for getting rid of Bustani was incompetence, but Bustani and the other diplomats close to the case reported that Bustani’s real offense was drawing Iraq into acceptance of the OPCW’s conventions for eliminating chemical weapons, just as the Bush administration was planning to pin its propaganda campaign for invading Iraq on the country’s alleged secret stockpile of WMD.

Bustani’s ouster gave President Bush a clearer path to the invasion by letting him frighten Americans with the prospect of Iraq sharing its chemical weapons and possibly a nuclear bomb with Al Qaeda terrorists.

Dismissing Iraq’s insistence that it had destroyed its chemical weapons and didn’t have a nuclear weapons project, Bush launched the invasion in March 2003, only for the world to discover later that the Iraqi government was telling the truth.

Compliant Replacements

In comparison to the independent-minded Bustani, the biography of the current OPCW director general, Ahmet Uzumcu, a career Turkish diplomat, suggests that the OPCW could be expected to slant its case against the Syrian government in the current Syrian conflict.

Not only has Turkey, a NATO ally of the United States, been a key player in supporting the proxy war to overthrow Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, but Uzumcu also served as Turkey’s ambassador to Israel, which has long sought regime change in Syria and has publicly come out in favor of the anti-government rebels.

Another one-time thorn in the side of the U.S. “unipolar power” was the IAEA when it was under the control of Director General Mohamed ElBaradei, an Egyptian. The IAEA challenged the Bush administration’s claims about Iraq having a nuclear program, when one really didn’t exist.

However, being right is no protection when U.S. officials want to bring an agency into line with U.S. policy and propaganda. So, early in the Obama administration – as Secretary of State Hillary Clinton was pushing for a hardline on Iran over its nascent nuclear program – the U.S. government engineered the insertion of a pliable Japanese diplomat, Yukiya Amano, into the IAEA’s top job.

Before his appointment, Amano had portrayed himself as an independent-minded fellow who was resisting U.S.-Israeli propaganda about the Iranian nuclear program. Yet behind the scenes, he was meeting with U.S. and Israeli officials to coordinate on how to serve their interests (even though Israel is an actual rogue nuclear state, not a hypothetical or fictional one).

Amano’s professed doubts about an Iranian nuclear-bomb project, which even the U.S. intelligence community agreed no longer existed, was just a theatrical device to intensify the later impact if he were to declare that Iran indeed was building a secret nuke, thus justifying the desire of Israeli leaders and American neoconservatives to “bomb-bomb-bomb” Iran.

But this U.S. ploy was spoiled by Pvt. Bradley (now Chelsea) Manning’s leaking of hundreds of thousands of pages of U.S. diplomatic cables. Among them were reports on Amano’s hidden collaboration with U.S. and Israeli officials; his agreement with U.S. emissaries on who to fire and who to retain among IAEA officials; and even Amano’s request for additional U.S. financial contributions.

The U.S. embassy cables revealing the truth about Amano were published by the U.K. Guardian in 2011 (although ignored by The New York Times, The Washington Post and other mainstream U.S. news outlets). Despite the silence of the major U.S. news media, Internet outlets, such as Consortiumnews.com, highlighted the Amano cables, meaning that enough Americans knew the facts not to be fooled again. [For details, see Consortiumnews.com’sDid Manning Help Avert War with Iran?”]

A Collective Collapse

So, over the years, there has been a collective collapse of the independence at U.N.-related agencies. An international bureaucrat who gets on the wrong side of the United States or Israel can expect to be fired and humiliated, while those who play ball can be assured of a comfortable life as a “respected” diplomat.

But this reality is little known to most Americans so they are still inclined to be influenced when a “U.N. investigation” reaches some conclusion condemning some country that already is on the receiving end of negative U.S. propaganda.

The New York Times, CNN and other major U.S. news outlets are sure to trumpet these “findings” with great seriousness and respect and to treat any remaining doubters as outside the mainstream. Of course, there’s an entirely different response on the rare occasion when some brave or foolhardy human rights bureaucrat criticizes Israel’s treatment of the Palestinians. Then, the U.N. finding is just a sign of anti-Israeli bias and should be discounted.

In the far more frequent cases when a U.N. report is in line with U.S. propaganda, American journalists almost never turn a critical eye toward the quality of the evidence or the leaps of logic. We saw that happen this week with a thinly sourced and highly dubious U.N. report blaming the Syrian government for an alleged sarin incident on April 4. A major contradiction in the evidence – testimony given to OPCW investigators undercutting the conclusion that a Syrian warplane could have dropped a sarin bomb – was brushed aside by the U.N. human rights investigators and was ignored by the Times and other major U.S. news outlets.

But what is perhaps most troubling is that these biased U.N. reports are now used to justify continued wars of aggression by stronger countries against weaker ones. So, instead of acting as a bulwark to protect the powerless from the powerful as the U.N. Charter intended, the U.N. bureaucracy has turned the original noble purpose of the institution on its head by becoming an enabler of the “supreme international crime,” wars of aggression.

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

September 8, 2017 Posted by | Illegal Occupation, Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Timeless or most popular, War Crimes, Wars for Israel | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

A New Hole in Syria-Sarin Certainty

By Robert Parry | Consortium News | September 7, 2017

The U.S. mainstream media is treating a new United Nations report on the April 4 chemical weapons incident in Khan Sheikhoun as more proof of Syrian government guilt, but that ignores a major contradiction between two groups of U.N. investigators that blows a big hole in the groupthink.

Though both U.N. groups seem determined to blame the Syrian government, the frontline investigators from the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) reported that spotters of departing Syrian military aircraft from Shayrat airbase did not send out a warning of any flights until late that morning – while the alleged dropping of a sarin bomb occurred at around dawn.

The report by the U.N.’s Independent International Commission of Inquiry on the Syrian Arab Republic noted that “two individuals interviewed by the OPCW claimed that on the morning of 4 April the early warning system did not issue warnings until 11 to 11:30 a.m., and that no aircraft were observed until that time.”

If the OPCW’s information is correct – that no warplanes took off from the government’s Shayrat airbase until late in the morning – then the Trump administration’s rationale for launching a retaliatory strike of 59 Tomahawk missiles at that airfield on April 6 is destroyed.

But the U.N. commission’s report – released on Wednesday – simply brushes aside the OPCW’s discovery that no warplanes took off at dawn. The report instead relies on witnesses inside jihadist-controlled Khan Sheikhoun who claim to have heard a warning about 20 minutes before a plane arrived at around 6:45 a.m.

Indeed, the report’s account of the alleged attack relies almost exclusively on “eyewitnesses” in the town, which was under the control of Al Qaeda’s Nusra Front and allied jihadist groups.

The report also gives no attention to the possibility that the alleged sarin incident, which reportedly killed scores of people including women and children, was a staged event by Al Qaeda to reverse the Trump administration’s announcement just days earlier that it was no longer U.S. policy to seek “regime change” in Syria.

The Khan Sheikhoun incident prompted President Trump to launch the missile strike that, according to Syrian media reports, killed several soldiers at the base and nine civilians, including four children, in nearby neighborhoods. It also risked inflicting death on Russians stationed at the base.

Lost History

In the U.N. commission’s report, the possibility of a staged event is not considered even though the OPCW had previously uncovered evidence that a chlorine-gas attack in the rebel-controlled town of Al-Tamanah, which also was blamed on the Syrian government, was staged by Al Qaeda operatives and their civilian “relief workers.”

OPCW investigators, who like most U.N. bureaucrats have seemed eager to endorse allegations of chlorine-gas attacks by the Syrian government, ran into this obstacle when townspeople from Al-Tamanah came forward to testify that a supposed attack on the night of April 29-30, 2014, was a fabrication.

“Seven witnesses stated that frequent alerts [about an imminent chlorine weapons attack by the government] had been issued, but in fact no incidents with chemicals took place,” the OPCW report stated. “[T]hey [these witnesses] had come forward to contest the wide-spread false media reports.”

In addition, accounts from people who did allege that there had been a government chemical attack on Al-Tamanah provided suspect evidence, including data from questionable sources, according to the OPCW report, which added:

“Three witnesses, who did not give any description of the incident on 29-30 April 2014, provided material of unknown source. One witness had second-hand knowledge of two of the five incidents in Al-Tamanah, but did not remember the exact dates. Later that witness provided a USB-stick with information of unknown origin, which was saved in separate folders according to the dates of all the five incidents mentioned by the FFM [the U.N.’s Fact-Finding Mission].

“Another witness provided the dates of all five incidents reading it from a piece of paper, but did not provide any testimony on the incident on 29-30 April 2014. The latter also provided a video titled ‘site where second barrel containing toxic chlorine gas was dropped tamanaa 30 April 14’”

Some other “witnesses” who alleged a Syrian government attack offered ridiculous claims about detecting the chlorine-infused “barrel bomb” based on how the device sounded in its descent.

The report said, “The eyewitness, who stated to have been on the roof, said to have heard a helicopter and the ‘very loud’ sound of a falling barrel. Some interviewees had referred to a distinct whistling sound of barrels that contain chlorine as they fall. The witness statement could not be corroborated with any further information.”

Although the report didn’t say so, there was no plausible explanation for someone detecting a chlorine canister in a “barrel bomb” based on its “distinct whistling sound.” The only logical conclusion is that the chlorine attack had been staged by the jihadists and that their supporters then lied to the OPCW investigators to enrage the world against the Assad regime.

The coordination of the propaganda campaign, with “witnesses” armed with data to make their stories more convincing, further suggests a premeditated and organized conspiracy to “sell” the story, not just some random act by a few individuals.

The Ghouta Attack

There was a similar collapse of the more notorious sarin incident outside Damascus on Aug. 21, 2013, which killed hundreds and was also blamed on the Assad government but now appears to have been carried out as a trick by Al Qaeda operatives to get President Obama to order the U.S. military to devastate the Syrian military and thus help Al Qaeda’s Nusra Front to win the war.

You might have thought that these experiences with staged chemical attacks would have given U.N. investigators more pause when another unlikely incident occurred last April 4 in the town of Khan Sheikhoun, which was under Al Qaeda’s control.

The Trump administration had just announced a U.S. policy reversal, saying that the U.S. goal was no longer “regime change” in Syria but rather to defeat terrorist groups. At the time, Al Qaeda’s Nusra Front, the Islamic State and other jihadist forces were in retreat across much of Syria.

In other words, the Syrian government had little or no reason to provoke U.S. and international outrage by launching a sarin gas attack on a remote town with only marginal strategic significance.

Chemical attacks, especially the alleged use of chlorine but sarin gas as well, also offer minimal military effectiveness if dropped on a town. Chlorine gas in this form rarely kills anyone, and the international outrage over sarin far exceeds any military value.

But the jihadists did have a powerful motive to continue staging chemical attacks as their best argument for derailing international efforts to bring the war to an end, which would have meant defeat for the jihadists and their international allies.

And, we know from the Al-Tamanah case that the jihadists are not above feeding fabricated evidence to U.N. investigators who themselves have strong career motives to point the finger at the Assad regime and thus please the Western powers.

In the Khan Sheikhoun case, a well-placed source told me shortly after the incident that at least some U.S. intelligence analysts concluded that it was a hastily staged event in reaction to the Trump administration’s renunciation of Syrian “regime change.”

The source said some evidence indicated that a drone from a Saudi-Israeli special-operations base inside Jordan delivered the sarin and that the staging of the attack was completed on the ground by jihadist forces. Initial reports of the attack appeared on social media shortly after dawn on April 4.

The Time Element

Syrian and Russian officials seemed to have been caught off-guard by the events, offering up a possible explanation that the Syrian government’s airstrike aimed at a senior jihadist meeting in Khan Sheikhoun at around noon might have accidentally touched off a chemical chain reaction producing sarin-like gas.

But U.S. mainstream media accounts and the new U.N. report cited the time discrepancy – between the dawn attack and the noontime raid – as proof of Russian and Syrian deception. Yet, it made no sense for the Russians and Syrians to lie about the time element since they were admitting to an airstrike and, indeed, matching up the timing would have added to the credibility of their hypothesis.

In other words, if the airstrike had occurred at dawn, there was no motive for the Russians and Syrians not to say so. Instead, the Russian and Syrian response seems to suggest genuine confusion, not a cover-up.

For the U.N. commission to join in this attack line on the timeline further suggests a lack of objectivity, an impression that is bolstered by the rejection of OPCW’s finding that no take-off alert was issued early on the morning of April 4.

Instead, the U.N. commission relied heavily on “eyewitnesses” from the Al Qaeda-controlled town with unnamed individuals even providing the supposed identity of the aircraft, a Syrian government Su-22, and describing the dropping of three conventional bombs and the chemical-weapons device on Khan Sheikhoun around 6:45 a.m.

But there were other holes in the narrative. For instance, in a little-noticed May 29, 2017 report, Theodore Postol, professor of science, technology and national security policy at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, challenged the Syria-government-did-it conclusions of The New York Times, Human Rights Watch and the Establishment’s favorite Internet site, Bellingcat.

Postol’s analysis focused on a New York Times video report, entitled “How Syria And Russia Spun A Chemical Strike,” which followed Bellingcat research that was derived from social media. Postol concluded that “NONE of the forensic evidence in the New York Times video and a follow-on Times news article supports the conclusions reported by the New York Times.” [Emphasis in original.]

The basic weakness of the NYT/Bellingcat analysis was a reliance on social media from the Al Qaeda-controlled Khan Sheikhoun and thus a dependence on “evidence” from the jihadists and their “civil defense” collaborators, known as the White Helmets.

Sophisticated Propaganda

The jihadists and their media teams have become very sophisticated in the production of propaganda videos that are distributed through social media and credulously picked up by major Western news outlets. (A Netflix infomercial for the White Helmets even won an Academy Award earlier this year.)

Postol zeroed in on the Times report’s use of a video taken by anti-government photographer Mohamad Salom Alabd, purporting to show three conventional bombs striking Khan Sheikhoun early in the morning of April 4.

The Times report extrapolated from that video where the bombs would have struck and then accepted that a fourth bomb – not seen in the video – delivered a sarin canister that struck a road and released sarin gas that blew westward into a heavily populated area supposedly killing dozens.

But the Times video analysis – uploaded on April 26 – contained serious forensic problems, Postol said, including showing the wind carrying the smoke from the three bombs in an easterly direction whereas the weather reports from that day – and the presumed direction of the sarin gas – had the wind going to the west.

Indeed, if the wind were blowing toward the east – and if the alleged location of the sarin release was correct – the wind would have carried the sarin away from the nearby populated area and likely would have caused few if any casualties, Postol wrote.

Postol also pointed out that the Times’ location of the three bombing strikes didn’t match up with the supposed damage that the Times claimed to have detected from satellite photos of where the bombs purportedly struck. Rather than buildings being leveled by powerful bombs, the photos showed little or no apparent damage.

The Times also relied on before-and-after satellite photos that had a gap of 44 days, from Feb. 21, 2017, to April 6, 2017, so whatever damage might have occurred couldn’t be tied to whatever might have happened on April 4.

Nor could the hole in the road where the crushed “sarin” canister was found be attributed to an April 4 bombing raid. Al Qaeda jihadists could have excavated the hole the night before as part of a staged provocation. Other images of activists climbing into the supposedly sarin-saturated hole with minimal protective gear should have raised other doubts, Postol noted in earlier reports.

Critics of the White Helmets have identified the photographer of the airstrike, Mohamad Salom Alabd, as a jihadist who appears to have claimed responsibility for killing a Syrian military officer. But the Times described him in a companion article to the video report only as “a journalist or activist who lived in the town.”

Another Debunking

In 2013, the work of Postol and his late partner, Richard M. Lloyd, an analyst at the military contractor Tesla Laboratories, debunked claims from the same trio — Bellingcat, the Times and Human Rights Watch — blaming the Syrian government for the sarin-gas attack outside Damascus on Aug. 21, 2013.

Postol and Lloyd showed that the rocket carrying the sarin had only a fraction of the range that the trio had assumed in tracing its path back to a government base.

Since the much shorter range placed the likely launch point inside rebel-controlled territory, the incident appeared to have been another false-flag provocation, one that almost led President Obama to launch a major retaliatory strike against the Syrian military.

Although the Times grudgingly acknowledged the scientific problems with its analysis, it continued to blame the 2013 incident on the Syrian government. Similarly, Official Washington’s “groupthink” still holds that the Syrian government launched that sarin attack and that Obama chickened out on enforcing his “red line” against chemical weapons use.

Obama’s announcement of that “red line,” in effect, created a powerful incentive for Al Qaeda and other jihadists to stage chemical attacks assuming that the atrocities would be blamed on the government and thus draw in the U.S. military on the jihadist side.

Yet, the 2013 “groupthink” of Syrian government guilt survives. After the April 4, 2017 incident, President Trump took some pleasure in mocking Obama’s weakness in contrast to his supposed toughness in quickly launching a “retaliatory” strike on April 6 (Washington time, although April 7 in Syria).

A Dubious Report

Trump’s attack came even before the White House released a supportive – though unconvincing – intelligence report on April 11. Regarding that report, Postol wrote, “The White House produced a false intelligence report on April 11, 2017 in order to justify an attack on the Syrian airbase at Sheyrat, Syria on April 7, 2017. That attack risked an unintended collision with Russia and a possible breakdown in cooperation between Russia and United States in the war to defeat the Islamic State. The collision also had some potential to escalate into a military conflict with Russia of greater extent and consequence.

“The New York Times and other mainstream media immediately and without proper review of the evidence adopted the false narrative produced by the White House even though that narrative was totally unjustified based on the forensic evidence. The New York Times used an organization, Bellingcat, for its source of analysis even though Bellingcat has a long history of making false claims based on distorted assertions about forensic evidence that either does not exist, or is absolutely without any evidence of valid sources.”

Postol continued, “This history of New York Times publishing of inaccurate information and then sticking by it when solid science-based forensic evidence disproves the original narrative cannot be explained in terms of simple error. The facts overwhelmingly point to a New York Times management that is unconcerned about the accuracy of its reporting.

“The problems exposed in this particular review of a New York Times analysis of critically important events related to the US national security is not unique to this particular story. This author could easily point to other serious errors in New York Times reporting on important technical issues associated with our national security.

“In these cases, like in this case, the New York Times management has not only allowed the reporting of false information without reviewing the facts for accuracy, but it has repeatedly continued to report the same wrong information in follow-on articles. It may be inappropriate to call this ‘fake news,’ but this loaded term comes perilously close to actually describing what is happening.”

Referring to some of the photographed scenes in Khan Sheikhoun, including a dead goat that appeared to have been dragged into location near the “sarin crater,” Postol called the operation “a rather amateurish attempt to create a false narrative.”

Now, another U.N. agency has joined that narrative, despite a key contradiction from fellow U.N. investigators.

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

September 7, 2017 Posted by | Deception, Fake News, Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Timeless or most popular | , , , | Leave a comment

The New York Times solves Russia collusion case: Russia spent $100,000 in Facebook Ads to defeat Hillary

By Alex Christforou | The Duran | September 7, 2017

Who would have known that all it takes to beat Hillary Clinton, subvert “exceptional” US democracy, and send the entire western mainstream media into “red scare” panic mode was $100,000 in Facebook ads.

The New York Times has uncovered the smoking gun that lead to the rise of Trump, and the fall of “Crooked” Hillary Clinton.

According to the “groundbreaking” reporting of the New York Times…

Providing new evidence of Russian interference in the 2016 election, Facebook disclosed on Wednesday that it had identified more than $100,000 worth of divisive ads on hot-button issues purchased by a shadowy Russian company linked to the Kremlin.

Most of the 3,000 ads did not refer to particular candidates but instead focused on divisive social issues such as race, gay rights, gun control and immigration, according to a post on Facebook by Alex Stamos, that company’s chief security officer. The ads, which ran between June 2015 and May 2017, were linked to some 470 fake accounts and pages the company said it had shut down.

Mr. Stamos wrote that while some of the ads specifically mentioned the two candidates, most focused instead on issues that were polarizing the electorate: “divisive social and political messages across the ideological spectrum — touching on topics from LGBT matters to race issues to immigration to gun rights.”

Buried deep inside the NYT article, is an admission that there is zero evidence that Trump colluded with the Russians…

To date, while news reports have uncovered many meetings and contacts between Trump associates and Russians, there has been no evidence proving collusion in the hacking or other Russian activities.

According to The Gateway Pundit, Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s probe into Russian interference in the 2016 election has taken yet another strange turn. This time, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg has transferred data on ads “likely” purchased by Russian entities.

Those dastardly “Russian entities” always out to destroy American democracy, and using Zuckerberg’s neo-liberal Facebook to accomplish their evil desires… and doing it on a shoestring budget.

If Hillary Clinton only knew about the power of Facebook ads, she might have directed $101,000 to FB, outspend Russia, and be the Madame President that she so richly deserved.

CNBC adds…

An internal Facebook investigation has found it is “likely” Russian operatives spent $100,000 on ads with “divisive messages” between June 2015 and May 2017.

blog post on the issue, which was published on Wednesday, said the operation involved 3,000 separate ads over a two-year period and was likely to have been run out of Russia. In addition, Facebook found 470 affiliated fake accounts and pages.

The social media giant has turned over all information about those ads to special counsel Robert Mueller, a source familiar with the matter said told Reuters on Wednesday. That includes copies of the ads and the identity of the buyers, the source said.

Former FBI Director Mueller is investigating Russian efforts to influence the 2016 election and whether the Trump campaign colluded with the Kremlin.

September 7, 2017 Posted by | Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Russophobia | , | 1 Comment

Newsweek Claims Russia Orchestrated Boston Marathon Bombing

Sputnik | September 6, 2017

Online publication Newsweek upped the ante in explosive rhetoric Sunday by suggesting the Tsarnaev brothers, responsible for the 2013 Boston Marathon terror attack, were operating on behalf of Moscow – even though Russian security agencies tipped off the FBI and CIA that Tamerlan Tsarnaev and his mother presented imminent security risks.

Since evidence is apparently optional for arguments published by Newsweek, this time, an author featured in the publication seems to have looked out onto the world, found it bloody and complicated, and decided to pin any old recent disaster on Russia.

The United Kingdom’s Brexit vote, the Syrian refugee crisis in Europe and the rise of right-leaning politicians can all be traced back to one single, remarkably effective cause: Moscow. “Russia must accept a share of responsibility” in all of these events, Andrei Kovalev wrote in a September 3 op-ed for Newsweek.

As for the Boston bombing, he asks, “Did the emigrants, the brothers Tsarnaev, of Chechen nationality, responsible for the Boston attack, act on their own initiative? It seems most unlikely.”

Kovalev worked as a diplomat in the Soviet Union under Mikhail Gorbachev as well as for Russian presidents Boris Yeltsin and Vladimir Putin. “Sometimes I am reproached for attributing to the Kremlin too much influence in the world,” he confessed in the article.

In reality, Russian security services sent warnings to multiple US agencies explaining that Chechen-American Tamerlan Tsarnaev had “changed drastically since 2010” and that he and his mother were adherents to “radical Islam” long before the Boston attack occurred. “The Russians were concerned that mother and son were very religious and strong believers, and they could be militants if they returned to Russia,” a US official told the New York Times in 2013.

“You have Russian intelligence services contacting two agencies without our federal government responsible for our national security, the FBI and CIA … they tell us, ‘We believe you have a radical Islamist in your midst,'” South Carolina Senator Lindsey Graham explained at the time.

Newsweek’s readers quickly pointed out that the claim that Russia had orchestrated the Boston Marathon terror attack originated with Louise Mensch, a former UK member of Parliament who shot to fame as a darling of the Russia-bashing wing of the Trump resistance, but, given her penchant for calling literally any critic a Russian spy, has somewhat fallen from favor. Mensch was recently embarrassed by the Guardian for broadcasting information around the internet that was made up by a hoaxer but supported her “Russians are behind it all” agenda. As Radio Sputnik’s Fault Lines host Garland Nixon joked, “pretty much everybody that dies, the death was related to Vladimir Putin,” in Mensch’s world.

​When faced with accusations of spreading deleterious and false information, Mensch doubled down and said the Guardian was being operated by Russian security agency spies, too. The former MP alleged that one of her collaborators, Claude Taylor, had been duped, but that her reporting remained free of falsehoods.

Mensch has nevertheless been published by the New York Times, the Guardian and the Sun in addition to making TV appearances on MSNBC and Bill Maher’s “Real Time” show. A running list of her baseless conspiracies includes Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg acting as a mole and Putin ordering the assassination of Breitbart News founder Andrew Breitbart to pave the way for Steve Bannon to take the reins of the organization.

Newsweek, too, has gotten quite good at getting things wrong. It previously deleted two slanderous articles attacking a former Sputnik News editor following a defamation lawsuit settlement levied by now-attorney and former Sputnik weekend editor William Moran. During the scandal, in which the young lawyer represented himself in legal proceedings alleging slander against himself and Sputnik as a whole, Newsweek Editor-in-Chief Jim Impoco was fired. The February ouster was first reported by Politico.

Newsweek was forced to settle with Moran in July. “I brought this case before I was admitted to the bar and was up against the talented attorneys at mega law firm Pepper Hamilton,” Moran said in a statement that month after a settlement was reached between the publication and recent Georgetown Law graduate for an undisclosed sum.

Shortly after, Editor-in-Chief Matt McAllester was forced to take a leave of absence for “personal reasons” in the beginning of August following an age and sex discrimination suit filed against Time Inc. by its former European editor, Catherine Mayer, in which McAllester is featured as the main offender. By August 25, McAllester had been dismissed from his position, the New York Post reported, citing internal company memos.

See Also:

Newsweek Seems to Fire Disgraced Writer Eichenwald After Humiliating Settlement

Newsweek Takes Down Fabricated Sputnik-Trump Collusion Stories After Humiliating Settlement

Newsweek Shamefully Silent as Twitter Demands Retraction From Implicated Writer

September 5, 2017 Posted by | Deception, Fake News, Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Russophobia | , , , | 1 Comment

We Told You So: Google Is NSA

By Phil Butler – New Eastern Outlook – 04.09.2017

Google wants to be Big Brother’s eyeballs on you. All us Internet gurus knew this since before the NSA was found out spying on everybody. But now the Mountain View boys are more determined than ever to filter your information, and to obliterate any semblance of truth reaching people.

If I had led into an article with that paragraph even five years ago, I’d have been instantly labeled a “conspiracy theorist” or worse. How about now dear reader? Is the idea the technocrats and their huge monied handlers want to run you crazy? I didn’t think so. But if you need proof beyond the obvious, Google’s 160-page handbook tells us all exactly how they plan to spoon feed us only “their” news. The lengthy handbook is a heavy read for the average person, but the book does lay out an Orwellian machination unlike anything seen since the Nazi propaganda machine of Hitler. Pay close attention to the “instructional” on page 108 where Google dictates who does and does not meet rating criteria. The section under Fails to Meet (FailsM) is a steamrolling of the free press, and suggested hiding certain kinds of sites:

“Pages that directly contradict well established historical facts (e.g., unsubstantiated conspiracy theories), unless the query clearly indicates the user is seeking an alternative viewpoint.”

As per usual, Google has obscured its real intentions with the idea some super smart algorithm is “filtering” or “learning” results to help your life be better. Once again Google supposes to do “what is good for us” by destroying some sources and propping up others. Using terms like “search quality rating guidelines” and “page quality rating guidelines” the little Machiavellis at Google provide justification for controlling what you see and read on the web. Censorship and monopolization of internet information and business – this is the case against the Mountain View boys this time.

Then there’s the section concerning how Google will rank the best of the best news sites entitled “A High Level of Expertise/Authoritativeness/Trustworthiness (EAT)”. The acronym should clue you that Google search users are about to be fed some bullshit truth. “High Quality Pages” for the Google oligarchs means that either the page owner pays Google through the nose, or that the site in question serves Google’s masters well – period. At the top of this matrix of sources are newspapers (High News 1) like The Washington Post and New York Times, followed by the articles within those pages (High News 2). On down the list of authority pages are government sites like the US State Department and White House, and then pages categorized (believe it or not) “High Humor”. So, Google has factored out the importance of truth or even the importance of the news story itself, in favor of “who” wrote the story and the “reality” Google wants you to accept – Big Brother’s network – end of story.

Melissa Dykes of Truth Stream Media made a video about the new Big Brother effort, and Government Slaves did their take as well. And the latter even suggests alternatives to using Google Search, such as Yandex and DuckDuckGo, for those refusing the totalitarian tendencies we see headed our way these days. For people who would rather boycott the imminent evil Government Slaves also lists 400 sites for independent news outside Google’s MATIX. My advice for everyone is to start making the transition away from Google and Facebook now. My own vast experience in dealing with these tech people has revealed people with no morals whatsoever, people willing to do anything necessary to perpetuate their dominance in digital. Google has destroyed millions of people’s livelihoods, broken its own code, lawyers itself around anti-trust and fair practice rules, avoided taxes, and colluded against the people of the United States with the intelligence agencies. All these assertions are not just this writer’s ramblings. Back in 2014 John W. Whitehead wrote about the NSA and Google for the Huffington Post :

“Just look around you. It’s happened already. Thanks to an insidious partnership between Google and the National Security Agency (NSA) that grows more invasive and more subtle with every passing day, “we the people” have become little more than data consumer commodities to be bought, sold and paid for over and over again.”

On August 29th the notorious Zero Hedge creator, Tyler Durden wrote a piece entitled “Why Google Made The NSA”, which revealed a project called INSURGE INTELLIGENCE, a crowd-funded investigative journalism project that had released a story of how the United States intelligence community funded, nurtured and incubated Google as part of a drive to dominate the world through control of information. You read that correctly. My past assertions that Sergey Brin and Larry Page were “lifted up” by unseen money were probably correct. While I presumed George Soros or Rockefeller being behind it, it’s conceivable Uncle Sam was the spook in the woodpile. The Zero Hedge story delves deep into a “deep state” we never imagined in our worst nightmares. The report unveils Pentagon Highlands Forum’s more or less taking over tech giants like Google to pursue mass surveillance. Furthermore, the report shows how the intelligence community has played a key role in secret efforts to manipulate the media and the public. The endless crisis and war we find ourselves in, is in large part because of the efforts of Google and the other technocratic institutions. In another section the author frames how the Obama administration really consolidated this “Big Brother” control:

“Under Obama, the nexus of corporate, industry, and financial power represented by the interests that participate in the Pentagon Highlands Forum has consolidated itself to an unprecedented degree.”

These people refer to themselves as “the gatekeepers”. Their arrogance is only exceeded by their amoral agnosticism. The successes of the information age, Silicon Valley’s dubious venture capital bonanzas, the mysterious ways in which fairly ordinary innovators were propelling into the limelight warns us to the underlying swamp Donald Trump described. But it is the immensity of the network that should clue us. Imagine a new president taking office and fending off attacks as best he could, only to discover that the whole machine of the US government being under such a controlling influence. It’s easy to theorize after learning all this, how Trump did an about face on so many issues. He must have been overwhelmed. Or, he was part of the plan all along.

Finally, if we expand on this news and include other technocrats like Bill Gates or Jeff Bezos, then understanding world crises caused by bad US policy becomes simpler. It’s a corporation – all of it is a corporation for war and friction. Bezos walking with former Marine General and current Secretary of Defense, “Mad Dog” Mattis at Amazon is symbolic. Trump’s posture with Israel, the Saudis, even on domestic policy tells us those campaign promises sank in the wake of a deep state ship at full steam forward. If we allow Google and other such players to continue unchecked….

Well, you are as capable as I of completing that sentence. I only pray we are not too late.

September 4, 2017 Posted by | Deception, Fake News, Full Spectrum Dominance, Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Timeless or most popular | , , , | Leave a comment

Russia-gate’s Totalitarian Style

By Robert Parry | Consortium News | September 2, 2017

It is a basic rule from Journalism 101 that when an allegation is in serious doubt – or hasn’t been established as fact – you should convey that uncertainty to your reader by using words like “alleged” or “purportedly.” But The New York Times and pretty much the entire U.S. news media have abandoned that principle in their avid pursuit of Russia-gate.

When Russia is the target of an article, the Times typically casts aside all uncertainty about Russia’s guilt, a pattern that we’ve seen in the Times in earlier sloppy reporting about other “enemy” countries, such as Iraq or Syria, as well Russia’s involvement in Ukraine’s civil war. Again and again, the Times regurgitates highly tendentious claims by the U.S. government as undeniable truth.

So, despite the lack of publicly provided evidence that the Russian government did “hack” Democratic emails and slip them to WikiLeaks to damage Hillary Clinton and help Donald Trump, the Times continues to treat those allegations as flat fact.

For a while, the Times also repeated the false claim that “all 17 U.S. intelligence agencies” concurred in the Russia-did-it conclusion, a lie that was used to intimidate and silence skeptics of the thinly sourced Russia-gate reports issued by President Obama’s intelligence chiefs.

Only after two of those chiefs – Director of National Intelligence James Clapper and CIA Director John Brennan – admitted that the key Jan. 6 report was produced by what Clapper called “hand-picked” analysts from just three agencies, the Times was forced to run an embarrassing correction retracting the “17 agencies” canard.

But the Times then switched its phrasing to a claim that Russian guilt was a “consensus” of the U.S. intelligence community, a misleading formulation that still suggests that all 17 agencies were onboard without actually saying so – all the better to fool the Times readers.

The Times seems to have forgotten what one of its own journalists observed immediately after reading the Jan. 6 report. Scott Shane wrote: “What is missing from the public report is what many Americans most eagerly anticipated: hard evidence to back up the agencies’ claims that the Russian government engineered the election attack. … Instead, the message from the agencies essentially amounts to ‘trust us.’”

However, if that was the calculation of Obama’s intelligence chiefs – that proof would not be required – they got that right, since the Times and pretty much every other major U.S. news outlet has chosen to trust, not verify, on Russia-gate.

Dropping the Attribution

In story after story, the Times doesn’t even bother to attribute the claims of Russian guilt. That guilt is just presented as flat fact even though the Russian government denies it and WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange says he did not get the emails from Russia or any other government.

Of course, it is possible the Russian government is lying and that some cut-outs were used to hide from Assange the real source of the emails. But the point is that we don’t know the truth and neither does The New York Times – and likely neither does the U.S. government (although it talks boldly about its “high confidence” in the evidence-lite conclusions of those “hand-picked” analysts).

And, the Times continues with this pattern of asserting as certain what is both in dispute and lacking in verifiable evidence. In a front-page Russia-gate story on Saturday, the Times treats Russian guilt as flat fact again. The online version of the story carried the headline: “Russian Election Hacking Efforts, Wider Than Previously Known, Draw Little Scrutiny.”

The Times’ article opens with an alarmist lede about voters in heavily Democratic Durham, North Carolina, encountering problems with computer rolls:

“Susan Greenhalgh, a troubleshooter at a nonpartisan election monitoring group, knew that the company that provided Durham’s software, VR Systems, had been penetrated by Russian hackers months before. ‘It felt like tampering, or some kind of cyberattack,’ Ms. Greenhalgh said about the voting troubles in Durham.”

The Times reported that Greenhalgh “knew” this supposed fact because she heard it on “a CNN report.”

If you read deeper into the story, you learn that “local officials blamed human error and software malfunctions — and no clear-cut evidence of digital sabotage has emerged, much less a Russian role in it.” But the Times clearly doesn’t buy that explanation, adding:

“After a presidential campaign scarred by Russian meddling, local, state and federal agencies have conducted little of the type of digital forensic investigation required to assess the impact, if any, on voting in at least 21 states whose election systems were targeted by Russian hackers, according to interviews with nearly two dozen national security and state officials and election technology specialists.”

But was the 2016 campaign really “scarred by Russian meddling”? For instance, the “fake news” hysteria of last fall was actually traced to young entrepreneurs who were exploiting the gullibility of Donald Trump’s supporters to get lots of “clicks” and thus make more ad revenue. The stories didn’t trace back to the Russian government. (Even the Times discovered that reality although it apparently has since been forgotten.)

‘Undermining’ American Democracy

The Jan. 6 report by those “hand-picked” analysts from CIA, FBI and the National Security Agency did tack on a seven-page appendix from 2012 that accused Russia’s RT network of seeking to undermine U.S. democracy. But the complaints were bizarre if not laughable, including the charge that RT covered the Occupy Wall Street protests, reported on the dangers of “fracking,” and allowed third-party presidential candidates to state their views after they were excluded from the two-party debate between Republican Mitt Romney and Democrat Barack Obama.

That such silly examples of “undermining” American democracy were even cited in the Jan. 6 report should have been an alarm bell to any professional journalist that the report was a classic case of biased analysis if not outright propaganda. But the report was issued amid the frenzy over the incoming Trump presidency when Democrats – and much of the mainstream media – were enlisting in the #Resistance. The Jan. 6 report was viewed as a crucial weapon to take out Trump, so skepticism was suppressed.

Because of that – and with Trump continuing to alarm many Americans with his erratic temperament and his coy encouragement of white nationalism – the flimsy Russian “hacking” case has firmed up into a not-to-be-questioned groupthink, as the Times story on Saturday makes clear:

“The assaults on the vast back-end election apparatus [i.e. voting rolls] … have received far less attention than other aspects of the Russian interference, such as the hacking of Democratic emails and spreading of false or damaging information about Mrs. Clinton. Yet the hacking of electoral systems was more extensive than previously disclosed, The New York Times found.”

In other words, even though there has been no solid proof of this “Russian interference” – either the “hacking of Democratic emails” or the “spreading of false or damaging information about Mrs. Clinton” – the Times reports those allegations as flat fact before extending the suspicions into the supposed “hacking of electoral systems” despite the lack of supporting evidence and in the face of counter-explanations from local officials. As far as the Times is concerned, the problem couldn’t be that some volunteer poll worker screwed up the software. No, it must be the dirty work of Russia! Russia! Russia!

The Times asserts that “Russian efforts to compromise American election systems … include combing through voter databases, scanning for vulnerabilities or seeking to alter data, which have been identified in multiple states.” Again, the Times does not apply words like “alleged”; it is just flat fact.

Uncertainty Acknowledged

Yet, oddly, the quote used to back up this key accusation acknowledges how little is actually known. The Times cites Michael Daniel, the cybersecurity coordinator in the Obama White House, as saying:

“We don’t know if any of the [computer] problems were an accident, or the random problems you get with computer systems, or whether it was a local hacker, or actual malfeasance by a sovereign nation-state. … If you really want to know what happened, you’d have to do a lot of forensics, a lot of research and investigation, and you may not find out even then.’”

Which is exactly the point: as far as we know from the public record, no U.S. government forensics have been done on the Russian “hacking” allegations, period. Regarding the “hack” of the Democratic National Committee’s emails, the FBI did not secure the computers for examination but instead relied on the checkered reputation of a private outfit called Crowdstrike, which based much of its conclusion on the fact that Russian lettering and a reference to a famous Russian spy were inserted into the metadata. Why the supposedly crack Russian government hackers would be so sloppy has never been explained. It also could not be excluded that these insertions were done deliberately to incriminate the Russians.

Without skepticism, the Times accepts that there is some secret U.S. government information that should bolster the public’s confidence about Russian guilt, but none of that evidence is spelled out, other than ironically to say what the Russians weren’t doing.

The Times cited the Jan. 6 report’s determination that “The Russians shied away from measures that might alter the ‘tallying’ of votes, … a conclusion drawn from American spying and intercepts of Russian officials’ communications and an analysis by the Department of Homeland Security, according to the current and former government officials.”

But this seems to be the one U.S. government conclusion that the Times doubts, i.e., a finding of Russian innocence on the question of altering the vote count.

Again accepting as flat fact all the other U.S. government claims about Russia, the Times writes: “Apart from the Russian influence campaign intended to undermine Mrs. Clinton and other Democratic officials, the impact of the quieter Russian hacking efforts at the state and county level has not been widely studied.”

There’s, of course, another rule from Journalism 101: that when there is a serious accusation, the accused is afforded a meaningful chance to dispute the allegation, but the Times lengthy article ignores that principle, too. The Russian government and WikiLeaks do not get a shot at knocking down the various allegations and suspicions.

Deep-seated Bias

The reality is that the Times has engaged in a long pattern of anti-Russia prejudice going back a number of years but escalating dramatically since 2013 when prominent neoconservatives began to target Russia as an obstacle to their agendas of “regime change” in Syria and “bomb-bomb-bombing” Iran.

By September 2013, the neocons were targeting Ukraine as what neocon National Endowment for Democracy president Carl Gershman deemed the “biggest prize” and an important step toward an even bigger prize, neutralizing or ousting Russian President Vladimir Putin.

When neocon U.S. officials, such as Assistant Secretary of State Victoria Nuland and Sen. John McCain, encouraged a coup that overthrew Ukraine’s elected President Viktor Yanukovych, the Times served as a cheerleader for the coup-makers even though the violence was spearheaded by neo-Nazis and extreme Ukrainian nationalists.

When ethnic Russians in eastern Ukraine and Crimea resisted the Feb. 22, 2014 coup, the Times collaborated with the State Department in presenting this rejection of an unconstitutional transfer of power as a “Russian invasion.”

For instance, on April 21, 2014, the Times led its print editions with an investigative story using photos provided by the coup regime and the State Department to supposedly show that fighters inside Ukraine had previously been photographed inside Russia, except that the two key photographs were both taken inside Ukraine, forcing the Times to run a half-hearted retraction two days later.

Here is the tortured way the Times treated that embarrassing lapse in its journalistic standards: “A packet of American briefing materials … asserts that the photograph was taken in Russia. The same men are also shown in photographs taken in Ukraine. Their appearance in both photographs was presented as evidence of Russian involvement in eastern Ukraine.

“The packet was later provided by American officials to The New York Times, which included that description of the group photograph in an article and caption that was published on Monday. The dispute over the group photograph cast a cloud over one particularly vivid and highly publicized piece of evidence.”

In other words, U.S. officials hand-fed the Times this “scoop” on a Russian “invasion” and the Times swallowed it whole. But the Times never seems to learn any lessons from its credulous approach to whatever the U.S. government provides. You might have thought that the Times’ disgraceful performance in pushing the Iraq-WMD story in 2002 would have given the newspaper pause, but its ideological biases apparently win out every time.

Two Birds, One Stone

In the case of the Russian “hacking” stories, the anti-Russia bias is compounded by an anti-Trump bias, a two-fer that has overwhelmed all notions of journalistic principles not only at the Times but at other mainstream news outlets and many liberal/progressive ones which want desperately to see Trump impeached and view Russia-gate as the pathway to that outcome.

So, while there was almost no skepticism about the Jan. 6 report by those “hand-picked” analysts – even though the report amounts only to a series of “we assess” this and “we assess” that, i.e,, their opinions, not facts – there has been a bubbling media campaign to discredit a July 24 memo by the Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity.

The memo, signed by 17 members of the group including former NSA technical director for world geopolitical and military analysis William Binney, challenged the technological possibility of Russian hackers extracting data over the Internet at the speed reflected in one of the posted documents.

After The Nation published an article by Patrick Lawrence about the VIPS memo (a story that we re-posted at Consortiumnews.com ), editor Katrina vanden Heuvel came under intense pressure inside the liberal magazine to somehow repudiate its findings and restore the Russia-gate groupthink.

Outside pressure also came from a number of mainstream sources, including Washington Post blogger Eric Wemple, who interviewed Nation columnist Katha Pollitt about the inside anger over Lawrence’s story and its citation by Trump defenders, a development which upset Pollitt: “These are our friends now? The Washington Times, Breitbart, Seth Rich truthers and Donald Trump Jr.? Give me a break. It’s very upsetting to me. It’s embarrassing.”

However, in old-fashioned journalism, our reporting was intended to inform the American people and indeed the world as fully and fairly as possible. We had no control over how the information would play out in the public domain. If our information was seized upon by one group or another, so be it. It was the truthfulness of the information that was important, not who cited it.

A Strange Attack

But clearly inside The Nation, Pollitt and others were upset that the VIPS memo had undercut the Russia-gate groupthink. So, in response to this pressure, vanden Heuvel solicited an attack on the VIPS memo by several dissident members of VIPS and she topped Lawrence’s article with a lengthy editor’s note.

Strangely, this solicited attack on the VIPS memo cites as its “first” point that the Jan. 6 intelligence report did not explicitly use the word “hack,” but rather “cyber operation,” adding: “This could mean via the network, the cloud, computers, remote hacking, or direct data removal.”

That uncertainty about how the emails were extracted supposedly undercut the VIPS argument that the download speeds prohibited the possibility of a “hack,” but this pretense that the phrase “cyber operation” isn’t referring to a “hack” amounts to a disingenuous word game. After all, senior U.S. intelligence officials, including former FBI Director James Comey, have stated under oath and in interviews with major news outlets that they were referring to a “hack.”

These officials also have cited the Crowdstrike analysis of the DNC “hack” as support for their analysis, and Clinton campaign chairman John Podesta has described how he was the victim of a “spear-phishing” scam that allowed his emails to be hacked.

After all these months of articles about the Russian “hack,” it seems a bit late to suddenly pretend no one was referring to a “hack” – only after some seasoned experts concluded that a “hack” was not feasible. Despite the latest attacks, the authors of the VIPS memo, including former NSA technology official Binney, stand by their findings.

Russia scholar Stephen Cohen.

However, when the cause is to demonize Russia and/or to unseat Trump, apparently any sleight of hand or McCarthyistic smear is permissible.

In Post blogger Wemple’s article about The Nation’s decision to undercut the VIPS memo, he includes some nasty asides against Russia scholar Stephen Cohen, who happens to be Katrina vanden Heuvel’s husband.

In a snide tone, Wemple describes Cohen as providing “The soft-glove treatment of Russian President Vladimir Putin,” calling it Cohen’s “specialty.”

Wemple also repeats the canard about “a consensus finding of the U.S. intelligence community” when we have known for some time that the Jan. 6 report was the work of those “hand-picked” analysts from three agencies, not a National Intelligence Estimate that would reflect the consensus view of all 17 agencies and include dissents.

What is playing out here – both at The New York Times and across the American media landscape – is a totalitarian-style approach toward any challenge to the groupthink on Russia-gate.

Even though the Obama administration’s intelligence chiefs presented no public evidence to support their “assessments,” anyone who questions their certainty can expect to be smeared and ridiculed. We must all treat unverified opinions as flat fact.

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

September 2, 2017 Posted by | Deception, Fake News, Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Russophobia | , | Leave a comment

More Misleading Russia-gate Propaganda

By Robert Parry | Consortium News | August 29, 2017

There is an inherent danger of news organizations getting infected by “confirmation bias” when they want something to be true so badly that even if the evidence goes in the opposite direction they twist the revelation to fit their narrative. Such is how The Washington Post, The New York Times and their followers in the mainstream media are reacting to newly released emails that actually show Donald Trump’s team having little or no influence in Moscow.

On Tuesday, for instance, the Times published a front-page article designed to advance the Russia-gate narrative, stating: “A business associate of President Trump promised in 2015 to engineer a real estate deal with the aid of the president of Russia, Vladimir V. Putin, that he said would help Mr. Trump win the presidency.”

Wow, that sounds pretty devastating! The Times is finally tying together the loose and scattered threads of the Russia-influencing-the-U.S.-election story. Here you have a supposed business deal in which Putin was to help Trump both make money and get elected. That is surely how a casual reader or a Russia-gate true believer would read it – and was meant to read it. But the lede is misleading.

The reality, as you would find out if you read further into the story, is that the boast from Felix Sater that somehow the construction of a Trump Tower in Moscow would demonstrate Trump’s international business prowess and thus help his election was meaningless. What the incident really shows is that the Trump organization had little or no pull in Russia as Putin’s government apparently didn’t lift a finger to salvage this stillborn building project.

But highlighting that reality would not serve the Times’ endless promotion of Russia-gate. So, this counter-evidence gets buried deep in the story, after a reprise of the “scandal” and the Times hyping the significance of Sater’s emails from 2015 and early 2016. For good measure, the Times includes a brief and dishonest summary of the Ukraine crisis.

The Times reported: “Mr. Sater, a Russian immigrant, said he had lined up financing for the Trump Tower deal with VTB Bank, a Russian bank that was under American sanctions for involvement in Moscow’s efforts to undermine democracy in Ukraine. In another email, Mr. Sater envisioned a ribbon-cutting ceremony in Moscow. ‘I will get Putin on this program and we will get Donald elected,’ Mr. Sater wrote.”

But the idea that Russia acted “to undermine democracy in Ukraine” is another example of the Times’ descent into outright propaganda. The reality is that the U.S. government supported – and indeed encouraged – a coup on Feb. 22, 2014, that overthrew the democratically elected Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych even after he offered to move up scheduled elections so he could be voted out of office through a democratic process.

After Yanukovych’s violent ouster and after the coup regime dispatched military forces to crush resistance among anti-coup, mostly ethnic Russian Ukrainians in the east, Russia provided help to prevent their destruction from an assault spearheaded by neo-Nazis and other extreme Ukrainian nationalists. But that reality would not fit the Times’ preferred Ukraine narrative, so it gets summarized as Moscow trying “to undermine democracy in Ukraine.”

Empty Boasts

However, leaving aside the Times’ propagandistic approach to Ukraine, there is this more immediate point about Russia-gate: none of Sater’s boastful claims proved true and this incident really underscored the lack of useful connections between Trump’s people and the Kremlin. One of Trump’s lawyers, Michael Cohen, even used a general press email address in a plea for assistance from Putin’s personal spokesman.

Deeper in the story, the Times admits these inconvenient facts: “There is no evidence in the emails that Mr. Sater delivered on his promises, and one email suggests that Mr. Sater overstated his Russian ties. In January 2016, Mr. Cohen wrote to Mr. Putin’s spokesman, Dmitri S. Peskov, asking for help restarting the Trump Tower project, which had stalled. But Mr. Sater did not appear to have Mr. Peskov’s direct email, and instead wrote to a general inbox for press inquiries.”

The Times added: “The project never got government permits or financing, and died weeks later. … The emails obtained by The Times make no mention of Russian efforts to damage Hillary Clinton’s campaign or the hacking of Democrats’ emails.”

In other words, the Russia-gate narrative – that somehow Putin foresaw Trump’s election (although almost no one else did) and sought to curry favor with the future U.S. president by lining Trump’s pockets with lucrative real estate deals while doing whatever he could to help Trump win – is knocked down by these new disclosures, not supported by them.

Instead of clearing the way for Trump to construct the building and thus – in Sater’s view – boost Trump’s election chances, Putin and his government wouldn’t even approve permits or assist in the financing.

And, this failed building project was not the first Trump proposal in Russia to fall apart. A couple of years earlier, a Moscow hotel plan died apparently because Trump would not – or could not – put up adequate financing for his share, overvaluing the magic of the Trump brand. But one would think that if the Kremlin were grooming Trump to be its Manchurian candidate and take over the U.S. government, money would have been no obstacle.

Along the same lines, there’s the relative pittance that RT paid Gen. Michael Flynn to speak at the TV network’s tenth anniversary in Moscow in December 2015. The amount totaled $45,386 with Flynn netting $33,750 after his speakers’ bureau took its cut. Democrats and the U.S. mainstream media treated this fact as important evidence of Russia buying influence in the Trump campaign and White House, since Flynn was both a campaign adviser and briefly national security adviser.

But the actual evidence suggests something quite different. Besides Flynn’s relatively modest speaking fee, it turned out that RT negotiated Flynn’s rate downward, a fact that The Washington Post buried deep inside an article on Flynn’s Russia-connected payments. The Post wrote, “RT balked at paying Flynn’s original asking price. ‘Sorry it took us longer to get back to you but the problem is that the speaking fee is a bit too high and exceeds our budget at the moment,’ Alina Mikhaleva, RT’s head of marketing, wrote a Flynn associate about a month before the event.”

Yet, if Putin were splurging to induce Americans near Trump to betray their country, it makes no sense that Putin’s supposed flunkies at RT would be quibbling with Flynn over a relatively modest speaking fee; they’d be falling over themselves to pay him more.

So, what the evidence really indicates is that Putin, like almost everybody else in the world, didn’t anticipate Trump’s ascendance to the White House, at least not in the time frame of these events – and thus was doing nothing to buy influence with his entourage or boost his election chances by helping him construct a glittering Trump Tower in Moscow.

But that recognition of reality would undermine the much beloved story of Putin-Trump collusion, so the key facts and the clear logic are downplayed or ignored – all the better to deceive Americans who are dependent on the Times, the Post and the mainstream media.

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

August 30, 2017 Posted by | Fake News, Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Russophobia | , | Leave a comment