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Hiroshima – A Criminal Enterprise From Which Nothing Has Been Learned

By Felicity Arbuthnot | Global Research | August 8, 2016

When Paul Tibbets was thirteen years old he flew a bi-plane over Florida’s Miami Beach dropping a promotional cargo of Babe Ruth Candy Bars directly on to the promotional target area, in an advertising stunt. It was his first solo flight and: “From that moment he became hooked on flying.”

He became a test pilot and: “one of the first Americans to fly in world War Two.” Seventeen years later he had graduated from dropping Candy Bars to dropping the world’s first atomic bomb on Hiroshima.

Thirty years later, the now retired Brigadier-General Paul Warfield Tibbets Junior (image right) told authors Gordon Thomas and Max Morgan-Witts, for their minutely detailed and definitive book (1) on one of the world’s greatest crimes, of the background to the venture.  Most would surely conclude it was a criminal project from the start, on every level.

Tibbets told the authors:

“I got called on this bomb job … I was told I was going to destroy one city with one bomb. That was quite a thought … We had, working in my organization, a murderer, three men guilty of manslaughter and several felons; all of them had escaped from prison.

“The murderer was serving life; the manslaughter guys were doing ten to fifteen years; the felons three to five. After escaping they had enlisted under false names. They were all skilled technicians … They were all good, real good at their jobs and we needed ‘em. We told them that if they gave us no trouble, they would have no trouble from us.

“After it was over, we called each of them in and handed them their dossiers and a box of matches and said ‘Go burn ‘em.’ You see, I was not running a police department, I was running an outfit that was unique.”

The crime which the “oufit” committed was also unique, making the odd murder, manslaughter or felony on home soil pale in to insignificance in comparison.

In Hiroshima, a millisecond after 8.16 a.m., on 6th August 1945, the temperature at the core of the hundreds of feet wide fireball reached 50,000,000 degrees. Flesh burned two miles distant from it’s outer parameters.

80,000 people were killed or mortally injured instantly. The main area targeted was “the city’s principal residential, commercial and military quarters.”

The entrance to the Shima Clinic was flanked by great stone columns – “They were rammed straight down in to the ground.” The building was destroyed: “The occupants were vapourised.”

Just three of the city’s fifty five hospitals remained usable, one hundred and eighty of Hiroshima’s two hundred doctors were dead or injured and 1,654 of 1,780 nurses.

Sixty two thousand buildings were destroyed as all utilities and transportation systems. Just sixteen fire fighting vehicles remained workable.

People standing, walking, the schoolgirls manning the communications centre in Hiroshima Castle and ninety percent of the castle’s occupants, including American prisoners of war, were also vapourised. Gives a whole new meaning to the US military’s much vaunted “No soldier left behind.”

“The radiant heat set alight Radio Hiroshima, burnt out the tramcars, trucks, railway rolling stock.

“Stone walls, steel doors and asphalt pavement glowed red hot.” Clothing fused to skin. “More than a mile from the epicenter” mens’ caps fused to their scalps, womens’ kimonos to their bodies and childrens’ socks to their legs. All the above decimations happened in the time a crew member of the US bomber, “Enola Gay”, took to blink from the flash behind his goggles. What he saw when he opened them and looked down was, he said : “a peep in to hell.”

At home base, as Hiroshima was incinerated, a party was being prepared to welcome the arsonists. ”The biggest blow out” with free beer, all star soft ball game, a jitter bug contest, prizes, star attractions, a movie and the cooks working overtime to prepare a sumptuous fare.

Hiroshima’s destruction had a uranium-based detonation. Three days later on 9th August, Nagasaki was destroyed by a plutonium-based detonation to ascertain which would be the most “effective” in the new nuclear age warfare.

Not even a nod or thought had been given to the Hague Convention which had very specific legal guidelines to protection of civilians in war. One might speculate that Hiroshima also vapourised any pretention of such considerations for all time, in spite the subsequent Geneva Convention and it’s additional protocols.

In May this year, President Obama visited Hiroshima, he said (2): “Seventy-one years ago, on a bright cloudless morning, death fell from the sky and the world was changed. A flash of light and a wall of fire destroyed a city and demonstrated that mankind possessed the means to destroy itself.

“Why do we come to this place, to Hiroshima? We come to ponder a terrible force unleashed in a not-so-distant past. We come to mourn the dead, including over 100,000 Japanese men, women and children, thousands of Koreans, a dozen Americans held prisoner.

“Their souls speak to us. They ask us to look inward, to take stock of who we are and what we might become.”

Obama ended his Hiroshima address with: “Those who died, they are like us. Ordinary people understand this, I think. They do not want more war. They would rather that the wonders of science be focused on improving life and not eliminating it. When the choices made by nations, when the choices made by leaders, reflect this simple wisdom, then the lesson of Hiroshima is done.”

For a Nobel Peace Prize Laureate and a constitutional law expert, his words are especially cheap. The man who began his Presidency with a public commitment to build a nuclear weapons free world (speech in Czech Republic, 5th April 2009) has, mind bendingly, committed to a thirty year, one Trillion $ nuclear arsenal upgrade. (3)

The epitaph at Hiroshima was written by Tadayoshi Saika, Professor of English Literature at Hiroshima University. He also provided the English translation, “Let all the souls here rest in peace for we shall not repeat the evil.”

On November 3, 1983, an explanation plaque in English was added in order to convey Professor Saika’s intent that “we” refers to “all humanity”, not specifically the Japanese or Americans, and that the “error” is the “evil of war”:

“The inscription on the front panel offers a prayer for the peaceful repose of the victims and a pledge on behalf of all humanity never to repeat the evil of war. It expresses the spirit of Hiroshima – enduring grief, transcending hatred, pursuing harmony … and yearning for genuine, lasting world peace.” (Wikipedia.)

Did President Obama have a twinge of conscience as he read it? Or did he even bother? He is surely amongst the most unworthy of Nobel Peace Prize Laureates. And will the rest of the world heed the words, the pledge and the spirit, before it is too late?

Notes

  1. Ruin From The Air, The Atomic Mission to Hiroshima: ISBN 0-586-06705-1
  2. http://www.nytimes.com/2016/05/28/world/asia/text-of-president-obamas-speech-in-hiroshima-japan.html?_r=0
  3. http://historynewsnetwork.org/article/162279

August 6, 2017 Posted by | Timeless or most popular, War Crimes | , | Leave a comment

ON THE BEACH 2017. THE BECKONING OF NUCLEAR WAR.

Gregory Peck in a scene from the 1959 movie, “On the Beach,” showing how a nuclear war ends life on the planet.
By John Pilger | August 4, 2017

The U.S. submarine captain says, “We’ve all got to die one day, some sooner and some later. The trouble always has been that you’re never ready, because you don’t know when it’s coming. Well, now we do know and there’s nothing to be done about it.”

He says he will be dead by September. It will take about a week to die, though no one can be sure. Animals live the longest.

The war was over in a month. The United States, Russia and China were the protagonists. It is not clear if it was started by accident or mistake. There was no victor. The Northern Hemisphere is contaminated and lifeless now.

A curtain of radioactivity is moving south towards Australia and New Zealand, southern Africa and South America. By September, the last cities, towns and villages will succumb. As in the north, most buildings will remain untouched, some illuminated by the last flickers of electric light.

This is the way the world ends

Not with a bang but a whimper   

These lines from T.S. Eliot’s poem The Hollow Men appear at the beginning of Nevil Shute’s novel On the Beach, which left me close to tears. The endorsements on the cover said the same.

Published in 1957 at the height of the Cold War when too many writers were silent or cowed, it is a masterpiece. At first the language suggests a genteel relic; yet nothing I have read on nuclear war is as unyielding in its warning. No book is more urgent.

Some readers will remember the black and white Hollywood film starring Gregory Peck as the U.S. Navy commander who takes his submarine to Australia to await the silent, formless specter descending on the last of the living world.

I read On the Beach for the first time the other day, finishing it as the U.S. Congress passed a law to wage economic war on Russia, the world’s second most lethal nuclear power. There was no justification for this insane vote, except the promise of plunder.

Aiming Toward a Hot War

The “sanctions” are aimed at Europe, too, mainly Germany, which depends on Russian natural gas and on European companies that do legitimate business with Russia. In what passed for debate on Capitol Hill, the more garrulous senators left no doubt that the embargo was designed to force Europe to import expensive American gas.

Their main aim seems to be war – real war. No provocation as extreme can suggest anything else. They seem to crave it, even though Americans have little idea what war is. The Civil War of 1861-65 was the last on their mainland. War is what the United States does to others.

The only nation to have used nuclear weapons against human beings, they have since destroyed scores of governments, many of them democracies, and laid to waste whole societies – the million deaths in Iraq were a fraction of the carnage in Indochina, which President Reagan called “a noble cause” and President Obama revised as the tragedy of an “exceptional people.” He was not referring to the Vietnamese.

Filming last year at the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, I overheard a National Parks Service guide lecturing a school party of young teenagers. “Listen up,” he said. “We lost 58,000 young soldiers in Vietnam, and they died defending your freedom.”

At a stroke, the truth was inverted. No freedom was defended. Freedom was destroyed. A peasant country was invaded and millions of its people were killed, maimed, dispossessed, poisoned; 60,000 of the invaders took their own lives. Listen up, indeed.

A lobotomy is performed on each generation. Facts are removed. History is excised and replaced by what Time magazine calls “an eternal present.” Harold Pinter described this as “manipulation of power worldwide, while masquerading as a force for universal good, a brilliant, even witty, highly successful act of hypnosis [which meant] that it never happened. Nothing ever happened. Even while it was happening it wasn’t happening. It didn’t matter. It was of no interest.”

Those who call themselves liberals or tendentiously “the left” are eager participants in this manipulation, and its brainwashing, which today revert to one name: Trump.

Trump is mad, a fascist, a dupe of Russia. He is also a gift for “liberal brains pickled in the formaldehyde of identity politics,” wrote Luciana Bohne memorably. The obsession with Trump the man – not Trump as a symptom and caricature of an enduring system – beckons great danger for all of us.

A Narcissistic Media

While they pursue their fossilized anti-Russia agendas, narcissistic media such as the Washington Post, the BBC and the Guardian suppress the essence of the most important political story of our time as they warmonger on a scale I cannot remember in my lifetime.

On 3 Aug., in contrast to the acreage the Guardian has given to drivel that the Russians conspired with Trump (reminiscent of the far-right smearing of John Kennedy as a “Soviet agent”), the paper buried, on page 16, news that the President of the United States was forced to sign a Congressional bill declaring economic war on Russia.

Unlike every other Trump signing, this was conducted in virtual secrecy and attached with a caveat from Trump himself that it was “clearly unconstitutional.”

A coup against the man in the White House is under way. This is not because he is an odious human being, but because he has consistently made clear he does not want war with Russia.

This glimpse of sanity, or simple pragmatism, is anathema to the “national security” managers who guard a system based on war, surveillance, armaments, threats and extreme capitalism. Martin Luther King called them “the greatest purveyors of violence in the world today.”

They have encircled Russia and China with missiles and a nuclear arsenal. They have used neo-Nazis to install an unstable, aggressive regime on Russia’s “borderland” – the way through which Hitler invaded, causing the deaths of 27 million people. Their goal is to dismember the modern Russian Federation.

In response, “partnership” is a word used incessantly by Vladimir Putin – anything, it seems, that might halt an evangelical drive to war in the United States. Incredulity in Russia may have now turned to fear and perhaps a certain resolution. The Russians almost certainly have war-gamed nuclear counter strikes. Air-raid drills are not uncommon. Their history tells them to get ready.

The threat is simultaneous. Russia is first, China is next. The U.S. has just completed a huge military exercise with Australia known as Talisman Sabre. They rehearsed a blockade of the Malacca Straits and the South China Sea, through which pass China’s economic lifelines.

The admiral commanding the U.S. Pacific fleet said that, “if required,” he would nuke China. That he would say such a thing publicly in the current perfidious atmosphere begins to make fact of Nevil Shute’s fiction.

Silencing Dissenting Journalists

None of this is considered news. No connection is made as the bloodfest of Passchendaele a century ago is remembered. Honest reporting is no longer welcome in much of the media. Windbags, known as pundits, dominate: editors are infotainment or party-line managers. Where there was once sub-editing, there is the liberation of axe-grinding clichés. Those journalists who do not comply are defenestrated.

The urgency has plenty of precedents. In my film, The Coming War on China, John Bordne, a member of a U.S. Air Force missile combat crew based in Okinawa, Japan, describes how in 1962 – during the Cuban missile crisis – he and his colleagues were “told to launch all the missiles” from their silos.

Nuclear armed, the missiles were aimed at both China and Russia. A junior officer questioned this, and the order was eventually rescinded – but only after they were issued with service revolvers and ordered to shoot at others in a missile crew if they did not “stand down.”

At the height of the Cold War, the anti-communist hysteria in the United States was such that U.S. officials who were on official business in China were accused of treason and sacked. In 1957 – the year Shute wrote On the Beach – no official in the State Department could speak the language of the world’s most populous nation. Mandarin speakers were purged under strictures now echoed in the Congressional bill that has just passed, aimed at Russia.

The bill was bipartisan. There is no fundamental difference between Democrats and Republicans. The terms “left” and “right” are meaningless. Most of America’s modern wars were started not by conservatives, but by liberal Democrats.

When Obama left office, he presided over a record seven wars, including America’s longest war and an unprecedented campaign of extrajudicial killings – murder – by drones.

In his last year, according to a Council on Foreign Relations study, Obama, the “reluctant liberal warrior,” dropped 26,171 bombs – three bombs every hour, 24 hours a day. Having pledged to help “rid the world” of nuclear weapons, the Nobel Peace Laureate built more nuclear warheads than any president since the Cold War.

Trump is a wimp by comparison. It was Obama – with his Secretary of State Hillary Clinton at his side – who destroyed Libya as a modern state and launched the human stampede to Europe. At home, immigration groups knew him as the “deporter-in-chief.”

One of Obama’s last acts as president was to sign a bill that handed a record $618 billion to the Pentagon, reflecting the soaring ascendancy of fascist militarism in the governance of the United States. Trump has endorsed this.

Buried in the detail was the establishment of a “Center for Information Analysis and Response.” This is a ministry of truth. It is tasked with providing an “official narrative of facts” that will prepare us for the real possibility of nuclear war – if we allow it.

Follow John Pilger on twitter @johnpilger

August 5, 2017 Posted by | Fake News, Full Spectrum Dominance, Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Militarism, Timeless or most popular | , , | 1 Comment

Trump Battles the CIA: The Korea Ban & Bad Signs in the Market

By Caleb Maupin – New Eastern Outlook – 02.08.2017

The ban on travel to the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea is primarily an attack on the people in the northern part of the Korean Peninsula. It is a move to further isolate the DPRK, and prevent tourist dollars from flowing in, while also preventing fraternization between Americans and citizens of the country. However, the State Department’s decision also has another target in the crosshairs, one much closer to Washington DC.

According to reports in the press, roughly 5,000 US citizens visit the DPRK each year. Most are tourist youth attracted to the mystique and adventure of traveling to a country so widely demonized in the US media. Communist organizations send political delegations and Christian sects such as the Mennonites often send missionaries and aid workers. However, one can be sure that among the 5,000 people who visit the country each year is more than a few American spies, posing as tourists.

When one looks over the recent history of Americans being arrested in North Korea prior to the tragic death of Otto Warmbier, the reasons for the arrest almost always indicate activities that could be described as espionage. Merrill Newman, for example, was a former member of the US military’s “White Tigers” division during the Korean War. The 85 year old man was arrested in the DPRK as he wore a ring with the insignia of this anti-DPRK fighting and intelligence unit. After being arrested he confessed to participating in some of the war crimes against the Korean people during the 1950-1953 war. Newman stated “I did not realize North Korea was still at war” after his eventual release.

The State Department ban on travel to the DPRK is far more extreme than the widely challenged ban on travel to Cuba, enacted as part of the blockade. Officials say that any American who visits DPRK will automatically have their passport invalidated. The constitutionality of such an extreme ban is likely to be challenged.

In the meantime, however, any efforts by the CIA to gather information inside North Korea, or to manipulate or maneuver within its internal affairs, are greatly limited.

Two divisions of the US Federal Government that have long been at odds in issues of foreign policy have been the military and the Central Intelligence Agency. The nature of the two entity’s work lays the basis for their constant disagreement and conflict. The new State Department policy has essentially declared that the DPRK will be handled with military operations, not with “color revolutions,” plots of a coup, manipulation of the youth, or the other shenanigans carried out by the intelligence agencies.

A Longstanding Fight – CIA vs. Pentagon

The US military brass is trained at West Point, and though a great deal of history and background is provided, the focus of their training is military science and the “art of war.” Meanwhile, the Central Intelligence Agency’s administrators come from Harvard, Yale, and Princeton, and are trained in the subtle art of expanding US influence and quietly neutralizing those who challenge it.

The favorite word of those who extol the military and disfavor the CIA is “strength.” The strategies favored by the Pentagon involve demoralizing opponents of US power with “shock and awe” style crushing of enemies. The mass bombing campaigns in Vietnam and Korea did not win credibility and respect for the US internationally, and this was not their intention. The same can be said for Bush’s unilateral invasion of Iraq. The Pentagon does not concern itself with winning friends and influencing people, but with blowing things up, and its favored foreign policy reflects this.

The CIA, on the other hand, tends to favor soft power, negotiations, and internal subversion of global rivals, all done covertly, with the USA looking like a benevolent “Mr. Nice Guy” on the surface. The CIA favors arming and training third party proxies to fight their enemies, while waging a fierce battle in the field of public relations and propaganda.

The clash between the military and the intelligence agencies has played out dramatically in recent US history. It is widely understood that John F. Kennedy began enacting policies that overwhelmingly favored the CIA prior to his death. Kennedy resisted the efforts to escalate military involvement in Vietnam, while funding and emphasizing CIA-linked operations like the Peace Corps. Kennedy’s often quoted the phrase “those who make peaceful revolution impossible make violent revolution inevitable” stated the CIA’s exact strategy for fighting Communism during the Cold War. The CIA favored “reforms” in US aligned third world regimes that made Marxist-Leninist revolution less appealing, while also presenting the US as a benevolent, charitable country that did not seek to intervene in other countries domestic affairs. The CIA worked to make sure that the hands of the USA during the rise of military dictatorships and the toppling of pro-Soviet world leaders were well hidden.

Prior to Kennedy’s assassination, a hard, right-wing mass movement against him, involving the John Birch Society and many Pentagon linked political figures, called the “Camelot” President a traitor and Soviet agent. Many sections of the military thought Kennedy’s “soft power” strategy for confronting Communism, and his ultimate refusal to invade Cuba with US troops after the CIA’s failed “Bay of Pigs” operation, showed weakness. Films like “Dr. Strangelove” widely mocked the well-known fanaticism of the military brass, which distrusted the intelligence agencies and the ability of politicians to make military decisions. Kennedy’s subtle alliance with the Civil Rights Movement, though inconsistent and widely criticized by activists, also threatened a military brass packed with the sons of wealthy southern families.

After the death of Kennedy, the US military seemed to be on top in the power struggle. Richard Nixon’s electoral victory in 1968, and his “secret plan” to win the Vietnam War with massive bombing, showed the military and its allies as the dominant force in setting policy.

But the demoralizing and unpopular war in Vietnam reversed this by the mid-1970s. Nixon found himself listening and depending more on the advice of Henry Kissinger, opening relations with the People’s Republic of China, and eventually being driven from office. Jimmy Carter took office in 1976 calling himself a “student” of CIA strategist Zbiegniew Brzezinski. Under Reagan, the CIA got stronger, with CIA chief George H.W. Bush rising to be Vice President and eventually Reagan’s successor as commander-in-chief.

The often repeated narrative that the US military’s escalation of the arms race was the key factor in defeating the USSR is said with absolute defensiveness by the Pentagon’s right-wing allies. Though the “strong man Reagan” explanation is more widely understood among the US public, within the circles of power in the USA, the CIA takes more credit.

Under the direction of Brzezinski, who boasted that he “gave the USSR a Vietnam” by funneling money and weapons to insurgents in what he called the “Afghan trap,” the CIA manipulated political situations in Eastern Europe causing unrest and a crisis that eventually toppled the USSR. The CIA widely credits itself for terminating the Soviet Union by manipulating internal problems and applying less blatant forms of external pressure.

The CIA is not a “Conservative” Organization

Many leftists and anti-war activists assume that the CIA is staffed with jingoistic conservatives due to the nature of the job. While the rank-and-file of “the company” may attract a more rightist crowd of Mormons and military types, the leaders of the CIA are not conservative in any sense of the word.

John Brennan, the director of the CIA under Barack Obama admits that he voted for Communist Party Presidential Candidate Gus Hall in the 1976 Presidential election. Brennan was stationed in Riyahl for many years, and at the time of his appointment, many voices came forward to allege that he had actually converted to the Wahabbi brand of Islam. The allegations remain unproven.

The CIA strategist who was most influential between the 1960s and the 1990s was Zbiegnew Brzezinski. To call Brzezinski conservative would be deeply mistaken. Zbeignew’s daughter, Mika Brzezinski is a host on liberal leaning MSNBC’s TV program “Morning Joe.”

Brzezinski developed the art of propaganda, presenting the USA to the world as the homeland of Beatles Music, the paintings of Jackson Pollack, and sexual hedonism. In Eastern Europe, Brzezinski’s policies convinced millions of alienated young people that overthrowing the Marxist-Leninist governments would transform their countries into Disneyland playgrounds packed with consumer goods and never ending rock and roll concerts.

In Afghanistan, Brzezinski worked with a young Saudi billionaire named Osama Bin Laden to fight against the People’s Democratic Party. With US made weapons and funding, complimented by heroin revenue, the insurgents poured acid on women’s faces and hanged literacy campaign volunteers. Brzezinski’s slick propaganda work convinced the world that these Wahabbi extremists were actually Che Guevara-esque freedom fighters, battling the “Soviet Empire” for freedom. CBS news was even caught airing staged, fake battle footage.

The figure known as George Soros has become a favored talking point of right-wing activists in the USA. They present him as the sinister bank-roller of leftist activism. Long before Soros was promoting Democrats and Liberals in the USA, he was bank-rolling CIA supported anti-Communist “color revolutions.” Soros is known to have funded anti-communist, pro-capitalist and pro-western protest movements in the USSR, Czechoslovakia, Yugoslavia, and elsewhere.

During the Cold War, the CIA launched a program called the “Congress for Cultural Freedom.” The program funded the art of Jackson Pollack, as well as the Trotskyist magazine Partisan Review. The CIA also launched a project called MK-Ultra which involved distributing hallucinogenic drugs on college campuses.

Obama’s Administration – The White House Stood With Langley

Barack Obama’s grandparents were prominent executives of the Bank of Hawaii. Obama’s grandmother Madelyn Dunham, actually became the first female Vice-President of the bank. The Bank of Hawaii was key in transferring money to US intelligence operations across Asia.

Obama’s mother, Ann Dunham, was married to Lolo Soetoro, a figure in Indonesia who openly supported the 1965 CIA backed coup d’etat against President Sukharno. Soetoro eventually became a military officer under US backed dictator Suharno. It should be noted that the 1965 coup, which Obama’s grandparent’s Bank of Hawaii was involved in financing, was particularly bloody, and involved mass slaughter of ethnically Chinese people. Some estimate that as many as 500,000 people died.

Obama’s family connections aside, his Presidency was very much favorable to the CIA’s strategy for international relations. Obama’s middle name is Hussein. He attended an Islamic elementary school as a child. Long before becoming President, Obama famously had a meeting with Palestinian scholar Edward Said. He maintained a hostile war of words with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

One is reminded of how Napoleon Bonaparte sent out proclamations saying he was a Muslim as he attempted to seize Syria and Egypt for France. To the Arab world, a key region in US foreign policy strategy, Obama gave the illusion of possibly being a Muslim and an ally against Israel.

The fact that a dark skinned man, whose middle name was “Hussein” occupied the White House probably played a key role during the Arab Spring. The uprisings of youth in Islamic countries did not become a repeat of the 1979 Islamic Revolution of Iran, where western capitalism was replaced by a government proclaiming “war of poverty against wealthy” and “Not capitalism but Islam.”

The USA was able to maneuver within the Arab spring to topple the Islamic Socialist government of Libya, and to reduce the Baath Socialist country of Syria to civil war and chaos. Meanwhile, the US backed autocracies in Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, and elsewhere remained thoroughly intact. The continuation of the Yemeni revolution against a pro-Saudi regime now faces an onslaught of bombs and foreign troops.

The establishment of diplomatic relations between the USA and Cuba, with friendly words while intel operatives worked behind the scenes to plot social media unrest with a “Cuban Twitter,” fits the CIA playbook and strategy completely. The JCPOA negotiations with Iran fit into a similar strategy.

In the final weeks of the Obama administration, desperate “Mr. Nice Guy” maneuvers to increase the credibility of the USA on the global stage were carried out. John Kerry gave a speech criticizing Israel, and the US did not protect Israel from a harshly worded resolution at the UN Security Council.

Trump Stands With The Pentagon

Even before Trump took office, his presidential campaign was loaded with subtle hostility to the CIA. Trump castigated the results of US foreign policy, specifically in Syria and Libya where the CIA had been instrumental. During his debate with Hillary Clinton he criticized the funding of rebels in Syria. He repeatedly said that the policies of Obama and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton had created ISIS.

Trump repeated perspectives that would be popular with the military. The key word repeated in Trump’s foreign policy speeches was “strength.” The idea that a huge military budget and direct military interventions make the USA look stronger as a country has long been a talking point of the military brass, against proponents of soft-power and subtle influence.

At times, Trump seemed to be contradictory when talking about foreign policy. It is no secret that among rank-and-file soldiers, and the white, working class, rural communities they often originate in, right-wing isolationist sentiments are widespread. Trump appealed to those sentiments when talking about the bad results of “toppling regimes” and employing the slogan “America First.”

At the same time, he appealed to the Pentagon’s calls for strength, saying that Obama’s “red line” around chemical weapons had “meant nothing.” It may sound contradictory to favor isolationism, while criticizing a president for not making good on threats to attack a country, but it fits into his overall appeal to sentiments within the military.

At the same time that Trump critiqued foreign policy and echoed isolationist talking points, he consistently called for an increase in military spending. In Trump’s foreign policy rhetoric, the isolationism of rank and file soldiers, the Generals’ lust for strength, and the military-industrial complex’s desire for more profits were all re-assured.

The spat between Trump and the CIA is no secret, and is widely acknowledged, even in mainstream US media. The intelligence agencies continue to repeat, without proof, that Trump received assistance from “Russian meddling” in the 2016 elections. A series of leaks from within the administration have found their way to the press.

The Trump administration fought back first by dramatically crippling the CIA’s operations in the Middle East. The executive order banning travel from 6 countries was widely called a “Muslim ban” in the US press. In reality, it targeted all citizens, Muslim or not, from 6 specific countries. (Note: The ban originally included 7 countries, but Iraq was removed from the list.)

Sudan, Iran, Syria, Yemen, Libya, and Somalia are all the site of ongoing conflicts, and in each of these countries US intelligence agencies are working to influence and coordinate with certain forces. As was pointed out by an opponent of the ban on FOX news, the “travel ban” prevents the CIA from rewarding those who do its bidding with visas. A key “soft power” bribe has been taken away from the CIA for its operations in the Middle East.

Trump ultimately shut down the CIA’s training program for anti-government fighters in Syria, according to reports. Trump has accused Obama of wiretapping him during the Presidential campaign.

Trump has even discussed designating the Muslim Brotherhood, an organization that works closely with the CIA around the world, as a Foreign Terrorist Organization. The Muslim Brotherhood was key in undermining and fighting against Arab Socialism during the cold war. More recently, the Muslim Brotherhood was key in aiding US activities to manipulate the Arab spring, and the create turmoil in Libya and Syria.

The Turkish government, which draws its support from the Muslim Brotherhood, is far less friendly to the United States than just a few years ago. The current spat between Saudi Arabia and the Muslim Brotherhood-supporting state of Qatar may reflect difference within the power structure about relations to the Muslim Brotherhood and its use in the fight against independent governments.

Despite presenting himself as an isolationist, Trump ultimately did what Obama was unwilling to do, and launched direct US attacks on the Syrian government. Many in his base were furious, and even longtime hawks like Ann Coulter denounced Trump’s move. However, the more well connected members of the Republican establishment praised it, using the military’s favorite word, calling the bombing a demonstration of “strength.”

As Donald Trump remains President of the United States, the press is solidly against him. This should be no surprise as the US Central Intelligence Agency, not the Pentagon, is primarily involved with influencing media. From the days of “Project Mockingbird” to today, the CIA works very hard to influence and craft public opinion, especially on issues of foreign policy. The flow of ‘anonymous leaks’ from the intel community into the press reflects the longstanding relationship between the intelligence agencies and the media.

The Specter of Economic Crisis, Greatest Danger to Trump

45343112123Right now, spending in the USA is down. Wal-Marts are shutting their doors, and suburban malls, which employed thousands, are becoming a thing of the past. The post-2008 “new normal” of low wage retail jobs replacing good paying jobs for the next generation is rapidly fading away, as retail itself is being pushed aside by online shopping. Jeff Bezos outstripped Bill Gates as the richest man in the United States in terms of directly traceable assets.

Meanwhile, home ownership is still declining. The basic ability of American families to own houses has widely been eroded, home ownership has not been restored to anywhere near the pre-2008 levels. In neighborhoods across the USA, family homes are not being resold to American families, but to renting institutions.

As property values remain low and home ownership drops in suburban and rural areas, another aspect of the “new normal,” the “prosperous urban centers” hopping with young workers in high tech jobs, are also seeing a new decline in property values. Unemployment is low, but so are wages.

In the unfolding atmosphere of eroded spending power and decreasing incomes, banks in the USA are now cutting back lending. When banks stop lending, it is generally based on an understanding that bad times are ahead and they may not be able to collect.

Between 2000 and 2008, Alan Greenspan and the Federal Reserve did everything possible to hold off a crash. Greenspan legalized all kinds of previously illegal credit card and housing mortgage lending, in order to keep the US public spending money they did not have. While the spending power of the US public was drastically reduced by deindustrialization, automation, and shifts in the global economy, Greenspan spent his final years working tireless to keep sales up. Many will recall how George W. Bush urged Americans who wanted to help their country in the aftermath of 9/11 to “go shopping.”

Greenspan’s maneuvers worked only until 2008. With deregulated banking laws, Americans could keep buying houses and maxing out their credit cards, keeping the economy that faced turmoil from 2001 afloat, until the “bubble burst.”

Alan Greenspan was a high ranking member of the Council on Foreign Relations, a think tank often described as “the CIA’s brain.” He did not make his decisions in isolation, but most likely consulted with other figures in the intelligence community about the need to hold off the crisis as long as possible. Greenspan’s decision to legalize credit and keep the public spending, and temporarily hold off the crisis, was not a decision he made by himself.

As the economy crashed and burned in 2007 and 2008, Bush and his cronies, widely viewed as soft on big money, packed their bags, and Barack Obama was able to ride to the White House almost on a white horse, presented as the savior who offered “hope and change.” Greenspan’s efforts did not prevent a the financial crisis, but enabled it to come at a more convenient time, with less political fallout.

However, the political situation facing the USA is far different today. The intelligence community and a large section of the rich and powerful are adamantly opposed to Donald Trump’s presidency, there may not be any specific motivation to work to hold off a financial catastrophe.

If a financial crash were to occur again, Donald Trump would be the ideal scapegoat. The fallout could be blamed on his unpopular presidency which is already routinely ridiculed and demonized by the press.

Will Trump Come Out On Top?

The fact that Trump’s “infrastructure week” contained so few concrete actions may not have hurt Trump at the moment, but a failure to vastly improve the lives of the rust-belt working class that voted for him could be the ultimate undoing of his presidency.

As Trump battles the intelligence community, and seems to side with the Pentagon, he is facing an uphill battle. Allies of the Pentagon brass are disappointed and opponents of Trump are emboldened. However, Trump has proven that he has the ability to unpredictably reverse circumstances that are hostile to him, and come out victorious. The unexpected 2016 elections results are the most concrete example.

If anything was proven by Trump’s surprise victory or the Brexit vote, as well as the rise of Jeremy Corbyn and Scottish Nationalism in the UK, it is that anti-establishment sentiments are stronger and deeper than ever in western countries. People in the west realize that things are deeply wrong and are looking for answers. The answers offered by the status quo, often answers that are engineered and delivered in coordination with the intelligence community, are proving to be unsatisfactory.

In the age of easy access to information, the intelligence community may have both an advantage and disadvantage in the face of their opponents in the US power structure. On the one hand, their deceptions and crafting of public opinion can be more widely and cheaply disseminated than ever before. However, an audience that once had nowhere else to look can easily find alternative views, and debunk their claims. The economic decline and rising police state repression are making the US public more and more partisan toward opposing the establishment and entrenched power that the CIA’s propaganda activities seek to defend.

Trump and his allies in the Pentagon are in a weaker position as they face off with the Intelligence Community, however, the underlying shift in public opinion and the changes in the global economy give them a competitive edge.

August 3, 2017 Posted by | Deception, Economics | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Going Soft on Corporate Crime a Bipartisan Affair

By Russell Mokhiber | CounterPunch | July 31, 2017

Donald Trump is not a fan of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA), the law that says it’s illegal for any person — corporate or human — to bribe overseas.

Trump has called the FCPA “a horrible law” and has said that the law “puts us at a huge disadvantage.”

And you could argue that the Trump Justice Department’s first two FCPA enforcement cases reflect Trump’s point of view.

Both were declinations — despite the fact that the companies disclosed illegal overseas payments and agreed to disgorge illegally gained proceeds.

Some are using the cases to ask the question — is Trump soft on corporate crime?

As the lawyers say, let’s stipulate for the record that he is.

But let’s also remember that going soft on corporate crime was perfected by the Democrats.

The Obama Justice Department, for example, regularly used declinations — five in Obama’s last year in office — and non prosecution agreements — 22 over the eight years of his administration — to settle corporate FCPA matters.

And since September 2015, when the Obama administration put out the Yates memo calling for more prosecutions of individual executives, there have been 20 FCPA corporate prosecution agreements — yet not one individual has been charged in connection with those cases.

There are those in the get tough on corporate crime camp — like David Uhlmann, former head of the Environmental Crimes Section at the Justice Department and now a University of Michigan Law professor — who argue that if a corporation commits a serious crime, then a corporation should be convicted.

We’re talking guilt — as in guilty pleas.

For environmental crimes, that has been the practice.

Over the past fifteen years, 93 percent of major corporate criminal environmental cases ended with public companies pleading guilty to their crimes.

Same for antitrust corporate crimes.

Over the past fifteen years, 74 percent of major corporate criminal antitrust cases ended with public companies pleading guilty to their crimes.

But only 29 percent of corporate criminal FCPA cases were settled with guilty pleas.

And only 8 percent of securities fraud cases have been settled with guilty pleas.

Why?

You might ask — maybe these corporations weren’t guilty?

Not likely, because in almost every one of these cases — no matter the type of soft settlement — deferred prosecution, non prosecution, declination — the company admits to illegal wrongdoing.

The companies admit to their criminal wrongdoing in documents that are now publically available on a new web site — the Corporate Prosecution Registry — created by University of Virginia Law School Professor Brandon Garrett.

And what do we learn from this comprehensive corporate crime database?

That there is a two tier system of corporate criminal justice — one for the smaller, politically less well connected companies — which generally are forced to plead guilty to their crimes — and one for large, politically well connected public companies — which generally enter into softer alternative resolutions — declinations, non prosecution agreements and deferred prosecution agreements.

Or if they are forced to plead guilty, it’s not the parent forced to plead guilty but some unit that won’t be adversely affected by any debarment or other collateral sanction that might follow.

The dominant corporate narrative —  driven by the corporate crime defense law firms — is that big public companies — especially banks and financial institutions — even if they commit the crimes, can’t withstand the brunt force trauma of a guilty plea.

They say — the company will be driven out of business. Innocent shareholders will lose money and innocent workers lose their jobs. A corporate guilty plea is the equivalent of the corporate death penalty.

Not true.

Top corporate crime prosecutors and defense attorneys — they’re interchangeable and regularly swap places via the revolving door — are expert at crafting guilty pleas that avoid these consequences.

That’s why when prosecutors want to, they can get guilty pleas — even for big banks — who for years dodged any personal or corporate criminal liability for causing the 2008 financial collapse.

Burned by that public criticism, the Obama Justice Department in May 2015, thought it was necessary to throw the public a bone.

And they did just that by forcing Citigroup, JP Morgan Chase, The Royal Bank of Scotland, UBS and Barclays to plead guilty to felonies in connection with a conspiracy to fix foreign exchange markets.

Why doesn’t the Justice Department demand felony guilty pleas from parents in more big corporate crime cases?

Power and money. The big companies don’t want to plead guilty even when they are guilty. They have corporate reputations to protect. And they have the power and money to hire the best corporate criminal defense law firms to get the job done.

The lawyers’ marching orders?

For the corporate parent, anything but a guilty plea.

Move down the corporate crime ladder from guilty plea to deferred prosecution to non prosecution to declination.

In the parallel Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) case, move down the ladder from admission to no admission with a neither admit nor deny consent decree.

In a World Bank proceeding, move down the ladder from a debarment to a reprimand or a conditional non-debarment agreement.

Some say that it was Obama’s slippery slide down the corporate crime ladder — he hit bottom with not one executive or bank criminally charged for the 2008 financial meltdown — that fueled the populist revolt that helped Trump take the White House.

We don’t want to become Brazil, a country battered by wave after wave of corporate crime and corruption.

It’s time to restore a modicum of corporate criminal justice that will deliver tangible deterrence.

Let’s start by moving back up the ladder of corporate justice.

If a company commits a felony, it should plead guilty to a felony.

No more deferrals, non prosecutions and declinations in major corporate crime cases.

Russell Mokhiber is the editor of the Corporate Crime Reporter..

August 1, 2017 Posted by | Corruption | , | Leave a comment

Russia adjusts to realities in US politics

“Trump has nothing to do with the anti-Russia campaign and the public remains indifferent, while an improbable coalition of the Congress and the jeering media is orchestrating the chorus.”

By M.K. Bhadrakumar | Asia Times | July 30, 2017

An instance of such monumental patience is extremely rare, if not unprecedented, in Russian diplomacy: Moscow took 179 days to retaliate against former US President Barack Obama’s expulsion of 35 Russian diplomats on December 30, 2016, ostensibly to show rancour at alleged Russian efforts to interfere with the US presidential election.

The 35 Russian diplomats were “intelligence operatives”, Obama said. He gave them 72 hours to leave American soil, and he impounded two Russian diplomatic compounds as well.

In Moscow, though, President Vladimir Putin responded that Russia wouldn’t retaliate but would decide on further steps only after considering the actions of the incoming new president, Donald Trump.

Putin went on invite the children of American diplomats posted in Russia to a Christmas party in the Kremlin. But he had a master plan.

Putin preferred to start Russia’s discourse with the Trump administration on a creative note. Trump had raised high expectations in Moscow that a brave new world of partnership between Russia and the US might be approaching.

In the months that followed, however, such hopes began dimming even as Russia became a toxic subject in the Washington Beltway.

Nonetheless, residual hope lingered, as Trump deputed state secretary Rex Tillerson to travel to Moscow for talks in April and within the month also received the visiting Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov in the Oval Office.

The Russian spirits certainly soared when Trump and Putin held an extraordinary 126-minute meeting on the sidelines of the G20 summit in Hamburg where they discussed a range of issues complicating the relationship and yet managed to stay in their positions.

However, the pendulum has now swung to the other extreme with the US Congress passing legislation on further sanctions against Russia. What stunned Moscow is the near-unanimity with which the US lawmakers voted for the bill.

Moscow has drawn two conclusions. First, an intensification of US pressure against Russia is on the cards even as Russophobia has morphed into an anti-Russian mindset. A hardening of the US stance on Ukraine is likely. In Syria, too, Russia is far from a commanding position since several players are, pursuing their own agenda.

The sanctions encompass areas where Russia has the capacity to offer cooperation – energy, defense, mining, railway transport, etc. Curiously, the bill seeks to arm-twist third countries that may be inclined toward developing cooperation with Russia – countries such as India, Vietnam, Turkey, Saudi Arabia or Egypt. Again, real pressure will come if the US begins to tamper with the strategic balance with Russia.

Second, the legislation virtually takes the Russia policies out of Trump’s hands. Moscow trusted Trump’s instincts to improve relations with Russia and hoped that he’d call the shots ultimately.

But that may be about to change. Congress is reducing Trump to a subaltern role. Russia has no means to leverage influence in the US Congress. Trump may find a way to strike back at the Congress but it is small comfort if political tensions consequently rise in Washington.

All in all, therefore, Moscow sees that a normalization of Russia-US relations can be ruled out for a foreseeable future. The Congress can be expected to determine the US policy towards Russia through the Trump presidency – and this will be a policy of strangling Russia.

This grim prospect leaves Russia with no alternative but to recognise the US as a strategic and key challenge to its security.

Thus, Moscow’s decision on July 28 to curb the US diplomatic presence in Russia may seem a timid response. After all, Moscow is only responding to Obama’s harsh decision and is merely seeking reciprocity with a ceiling of 455 diplomats for both countries (which is where Russian tally currently stands.)

But on close examination, Washington has been made to look foolish. While Obama expelled 35 Russian diplomats, Putin’s order to slash the number of US diplomatic staff to 455 will affect a few hundred US personnel currently assigned to Russia.

Moscow is signalling that bilateral cooperation has become pointless. Indeed, Trump has nothing to do with the anti-Russia campaign and the American public remains indifferent, while an improbable coalition of the Congress and the jeering media is orchestrating the chorus. But the realities cannot be ignored.

The triumphalism on the Hill will be short-lived, because the potential strategic consequences for US’ core interests and vital interests are yet to sink in. The West’s policy on Russia now onward becomes a point of discord between Washington and the EU.

China, no doubt, gets a huge strategic windfall, since Moscow will seek closer rapprochement with Beijing, especially on security. A Russian observer noted wryly, “we can easily imagine them (Russia and China) holding military drills in the Straits of Florida near Cuba.”

Knowing Putin, Russia’s response will be calibrated. He implied in remarks while visiting Helsinki on Tuesday that Russia will play the long game.

After all, it is not only in the US’ relations with Russia, but also with allies in Europe and Asia – Germany and Japan, in particular – that fault lines have appeared. Russian diplomacy can be trusted to exploit what Germans call the “zeitgeist” – the spirit of our times – as the US’ global influence inexorably declines.

Russia’s cooperation can be crucial to US interests, and Moscow now has an option to cherry pick. Make no mistake, Moscow will exercise its option highly selectively.

July 31, 2017 Posted by | Economics, Russophobia, Timeless or most popular | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

US-Russia ties going south

By M K Bhadrakumar | Indian Punchline | July 30, 2017

Russia and the United States could be hurtling toward a showdown following Moscow’s decision on Friday to retaliate, finally, against President Barack Obama’s expulsion of 35 Russian diplomats in the US and the impounding of two Russian compounds on December 30 last year.

Consular issues usually signal the real state of play in inter-state relations – and often provide a litmus test. Obama’s intention was most certainly to complicate the Russian-American relationship to a point of no return by the time his successor Donald Trump moved into the White House. Obama expected his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin to react strongly, which in turn would have triggered a first-rate crisis in the relationship. But Putin saw through Obama’s game.

He opted instead to tackle President Donald Trump on a pleasant note. But then, Russia eventually became such a toxic subject in the Washington circuit that Trump was put on the defensive when it came to restoring the confiscated Russian properties or granting visas to Russian diplomats newly assigned to the US.

Nonetheless, Moscow waited patiently for over six months before concluding that enough is enough. And it has now hit Washington very hard, as the Foreign Ministry statement on Friday suggests. Moscow had the option to expel 35 American diplomats, but instead chose to apply the principle of parity by demanding that the number of personnel posted in the Moscow embassy and in the 3 American consulates (St. Petersburg, Yekaterinburg and Vladivostok) should not exceed 455 (which is the current strength of Russian personnel in the US.)

The Americans are shell-shocked because, in effect, hundreds of personnel will now have to be called back to Washington. Of course, Moscow has graciously left it to Washington to shuffle the personnel but the ceiling will be at 455, exactly on par with the slots Washington has provided for Russia. Unlike Obama’s decision to order the expelled Russian diplomats to leave the US within 72 hours, Moscow is allowing a month’s time for the excess US personnel to leave Russia.

Meanwhile, Russians also impounded 2 American compounds – a dacha in the bucolic environs of Moscow, which American diplomats and families use for R&R, and a warehouse where they store their supplies imported duty-free from abroad.

The catch is that Americans cannot complain, because parity and reciprocity are universally accepted principles in inter-state relations and Moscow is only demanding what it is entitled to – an equal relationship based on reciprocity. But in reality, the US embassy in Moscow is going to be crippled.

It is an ugly situation for Washington but entirely self-invited, thanks to Obama’s petulance and his ignorance of the Russian grit if challenged. The ‘Deep State’ in the US will cry for Russian blood because the bulk of American personnel to be recalled are most certainly spooks. The CIA station in Russia runs a big show and its undercover operations will be seriously affected.

Moscow has forewarned that there will be a ‘tit-for-tat’ response to any further moves against Russian diplomats in the US. The strong possibility is that a further round of expulsions of diplomats is just round the corner. There is always an option for Washington to discuss and resolve the differences to mutual satisfaction, but the political climate in Washington is not conducive for that.

Interestingly, Moscow has further clarified that Friday’s announcement is only by way of retaliation against Obama’s ill-advised move last December and Moscow reserves the right to react separately apropos the latest US sanctions.

The Russians have taken a tough line, no doubt, based on the estimation that a significant improvement in relations need not be expected for the foreseeable future. This is also evident from an interview with ABC News by Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergey Ryabkov on Sunday.

July 30, 2017 Posted by | Russophobia | , , , | 4 Comments

The “Deep State” Then and Now

By Edward Curtin | July 17, 2017

“… since grasping the present from within is the most problematic task the mind can face.” – Frederic Jameson

Have you ever seen a photograph of yourself from the past and laughed or grimaced at the way you were dressed or your hair style? It’s a common experience. But few people draw the obvious conclusion about the present: that our present appearance might be equally laughable. The personal past seems to be “over there,” an object to be understood and dissected for its meaning, while the present seems opaque and shape-shifting – or just taken-for-granted okay.  “That was then,” says the internal voice, “but I am wiser now.” Historical perspective, even about something as superficial as appearance, rarely illuminates the present, perhaps because it makes us feel ignorant and unfree.

This is even truer with political and social history.

In recent years there has been a spate of books and articles detailing the CIA’s past Cold war cultural and political propaganda efforts, from the creation of the Congress for Cultural Freedom (CCF) with its string of magazines, to its collaboration with many famous writers and intellectuals, including Peter Matthiessen, George Plimpton, Richard Wright, Irving Kristol, et al., and its penetration and working relationships with so many publications and media outlets, including The New York Times, the Paris Review, Encounter, etc. These exposés show how vast was the CIA’s propaganda network throughout the media and the world, and how many people participated in the dirty work.

Joel Whitney, in his recently published book, Finks: How the CIA Tricked the World’s Best Writers (the word “tricked” ignores the eager accomplices), tells this scandalous story in illuminating detail. His account informs and nauseates simultaneously, as one learns how the CIA penetrated NGOs, television, universities, magazines, newspapers, book publishing, etc., finding willing collaborationists everywhere – scoundrels eager to spy on and betray even their friends as they deceived the public worldwide; how well-meaning leftist writers such as Ernest Hemingway and Garcia Marquez were tricked into lending their names and work to propaganda publications; how leftists were set against leftists in an elaborate effort to sow paranoia and confusion that could be used to put the Soviet Union in the worst possible light; and how many front organizations were created to secretly funnel money to support these endeavors and make and break careers. The story makes your skin crawl.

But that was then. What about now? Whitney doesn’t say, presumably because he doesn’t know; doesn’t have documentary evidence to name names.  This is not a criticism.  He does say that “we understand vaguely that our media are linked to our government still today, and to government’s stated foreign policy,” and he wonders if the ideology that drove the CIA’s past endeavors “remains with us. (I am reminded of Emerson’s words: “What you do (or don’t) speaks so loudly that I cannot hear what you say.”). Despite his use of tepid language about the present, especially that word “vaguely,” it seems that Whitney thinks similar propaganda activities are going on today, which is why a blurb for Finks at his publisher’s website (OR Books) and at amazon.com by James Risen of the New York Times, who has written two books about the CIA, strikes such an odd note. It reads:

It may be difficult to believe that the American intellectual elite was once deeply embedded with the CIA. But with Finks, Joel Whitney vividly brings to life the early days of the Cold War, when the CIA’s Ivy League ties were strong, and key American literary figures were willing to secretly do the bidding of the nation’s spymasters.

“Difficult to believe.” For whom?

“Once.” When? In the bad old days?

“When the CIA’s Ivy League ties were strong.” Does the CIA now recruit from community colleges?

Are these the good old days? Such language usage makes one wonder: is it just a quickly scribbled blurb or carefully chosen words?

The Future is Now

No doubt the archives and sealed documents will be pried loose through repeated FOIA requests in thirty or forty years and the moans and groans about today’s bad old days will fill the air. How could they have done such things? It’s just outrageous! But that was then, not now. It’s different now; we are older but wiser.

It’s hard to suppress a sardonic laugh, so I won’t. Today we are obviously drowning in CIA propaganda throughout the corporate mainstream media, and in the alternative online media as well. One has only to see “what they do, or don’t.” The documentation is in the doing, and it doesn’t take a genius to grasp how blatant it is. It is in no way “vague.” But it does take good faith, and a passion for truth, which is sorely lacking.  Why this is so is a key issue I will return to.

As in the past, some propaganda is obvious and other subtler and indirect. Yet it is relentless. There may or may not be a comparable Congress for Cultural Freedom today, but with advanced technology and the internet, it may not be needed. Methods may change; intentions remain the same. What was once done surreptitiously is now done blatantly, as I wrote in January: the deep state has gone shallow. Fifty years ago the CIA coined the term “conspiracy theory” as a weapon to be used to dismiss the truths expressed by critics of its murder of President Kennedy, and those of Malcom X, MLK, and RFK. All the media echoed the CIA line. While they still use the term to dismiss and denounce, their control of the MSM is so complete today that every evil government action is immediately seconded, whether it be the lies about the Attacks of September 11, 2001, the wars against Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria, Libya, Yemen, etc., the coup in Ukraine, the downing of the Malaysian jetliner there, drone murders, the looting of the American people by the elites, alleged sarin gas attacks in Syria, the anti-Russia bashing – everything. The New York Times, the Washington Post, CNN, NPR, etc. – all are stenographers for the deep state.

Denying Existential Freedom

One of the first things an authoritarian governing elite must do is to convince people that they are not free. This has been going on for at least forty years, ever since the Church Committee’s revelations about the CIA in the mid-seventies, including its mind-control programs. Everyone was appalled at the epiphany, so a different tactic was employed. Just have “experts,” social, psychological, and biological “scientists,” repeat ad infinitum that there is no longer any mind control since we now know there is no mind; it is an illusion, and it all comes down to the brain. Biology is destiny, except in culturally diversionary ways in which freedom to choose is extolled – e.g. the latest fashions, gender identity, the best hair style, etc. Create and lavishly fund programs for the study of the brain, while supporting and promoting a vast expansion of pharmaceutical drugs to control people. Do this in the name of helping people with their emotional and behavioral problems that are rooted in their biology and are beyond their control. And create criteria to convince people that they are sick.

We have been told interminably that our lives revolve around our brains (our bodies) and that the answers to our problems lie with more brain research, drugs, genetic testing, etc. It is not coincidental that the U. S. government declared the 1990s the decade of brain research, followed up with 2000-2010 as the decade of the behavior project, and our present decade being devoted to mapping the brain and artificial intelligence, organized by the Office of Science and Technology Project and the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency. How convenient! George H. W. Bush, Clinton, George W. Bush, Obama, Trump — what a difference! But this is science and the welfare of the world. Science for idiots.

Drip by drip, here and there, articles, books, media reports have reiterated  that people are “determined” by biological, genetic, social, and psychological forces over which they have no control. To assert that people are free in the Satrean sense (en soir, condemned to freedom, or free will) has come to be seen as the belief of a delusional fool living in the past, a bad philosopher, an anti-scientist, a poorly informed religionist, one nostalgic for existential cafes, Gauloises, and black berets, but being totally out of it. One who doesn’t grasp the truth since he doesn’t read the New York Times or watch CBS television.

The conventional propaganda – I almost said wisdom – created through decades-long media and academic (don’t forget the pathetic academy) repetition, is that we are not free. Let me repeat: we are not free.

Investigator reporter John Rappoport has consistently exposed the propaganda involved in the creation and expansion of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual (DSM) with its pseudo-scientific falsehoods and collusion between psychiatrists and the pharmaceutical industry. As he correctly notes, the CIA’s MKULTRA mind-control program has morphed into modern psychiatry, both with the same objectives of disabling and controlling people by convincing them that they are not free and are in need of a chemical brain bath.

Can anyone with an awareness of this history doubt there is a hidden hand behind this development? Once you have convinced people that they are not free in the most profound sense, the rest is child’s play.  Convinced that they are puppets, they become puppets to be played. Who would want to get people to believe they were not free?

Terrified to See the Current Truth

There are many excellent writers who, because they are truth seekers, have used logical analysis to deconstruct the patent propaganda of deep state forces and their media scribes. They do so through close reading (a skill once taught in schools) and historical knowledge without waiting for documentation, though sometimes it arrives from sources such as Wikileaks, FOIA requests, or government leakers like Edward Snowden or Chelsey Manning.  While not always definitive, many of these analyses clearly raise disturbing questions that give the lie to the presstitutes’ claims of innocent objectivity. Their arguments are laid bare so the CIA’s and deep-state’s handiwork shines through.  Robert Parry, Michel Chossudovsky, Paul Craig Roberts, John Pilger, James Petras, David Ray Griffin, Graeme MacQueen and many others have so demolished the propaganda that the question of why so many liberals and left-leaning people still refuse to accept the obvious echoes in the ears of those familiar with the Congress for Cultural Freedom’s machinations to set leftists and liberals against each other through media manipulation. While left and right-wing disinformation collaborationists are everywhere and the CIA obviously has its people placed throughout the cultural and media landscape, it is clear to me that there is something else involved.

So much of the ongoing propaganda travels under the banner of “the war on terror,” which is, of course, an outgrowth of the attacks of September 11, 2001, appropriately named and constantly reinforced as 9/11 in a wonderful example of linguistic mind-control: a constant emergency to engender anxiety, depression, panic, and confusion, four of the symptoms that lead the DSM “experts” and their followers to diagnose and drug individuals.  The term 9/11 was first used in the New York Times on September 12, 2001 by Bill Keller, the future Times’ editor.

Douglas Valentine, a true expert on the CIA and author of The CIA as Organized Crime and The Phoenix Program, has shown that the CIA’s highly structured assassination program in Vietnam – the Phoenix Program – is the template for “the war on terror.”  In other books he has shown how the CIA’s role in drug trafficking is directly linked to the massive increased usage of heroin and other street drugs, another face of the drugging of the country. Thus the “institutional” structure and consequent practices of one of the most ruthless propaganda and terrorist organizations of the United States’ deep-state (the Phoenix program) continues to this day here and abroad. To think that the Agency’s handiwork once carried on under the banner of the Committee for Cultural Freedom does not continue today would take extreme naïveté, the inability to reason, historical ignorance, plain bad faith, or a combination thereof.

Which brings me back to the issue of why so many “liberal” Democrats – those whose bibles are the New York Times, NPR, The Washington Post, Democracy Now, etc. – can only see propaganda when they can attribute it to Donald Trump or the Russians. Why has this group, together with their Republican and conservative fellow travelers, embraced a new McCarthyism and allied itself with the deep-state forces that they were once allegedly appalled by? It surely isn’t the policies of the Trump administration or his bloviating personality, for these liberals allied themselves with Obama’s anti-Russian rhetoric, his support for the U.S. orchestrated neo-fascist Ukrainian coup, his destruction of Libya, his wars of aggression across the Middle East, his war on terror, his trillion dollar nuclear weapons modernization, his enjoyment of drone killing, his support for the coup in Honduras, his embrace of the CIA and his CIA Director John Brennan, his prosecution of whistle-blowers, etc. The same media that served the CIA so admirably over the decades became the media that became liberals’ paragons of truth. Why?

Let me try to answer by referring to two articles that appeared side-by-side in The New York Times Magazine for May 28, 2017. Their content, style, and juxtaposition suggest an answer to the schizoid subtleties of master manipulators, and how cultural/political propaganda works in oblique ways off the front pages.

The cover story for that issue, “Aleppo After the Fall,” accompanied by the words “Life And Loss Amid The Ruins of Syria’s Fractious And Devastating Civil War” and a photo of a demolished Aleppo district, sets the tone, especially the lie in the words “civil war.” The war was started under President Obama in March 2011 by the United States/NATO/Israel with the arming of Islamist “freedom fighters” in an effort to overthrow President Bashar al Assad. But the Sunday morning Times reader is immediately told otherwise, as they have been for the past six years of carnage. Most probably don’t notice the deception as they flip to the table of contents where they see a photo of cream puffs and coffee.

As they sip their morning coffee and think about cream puffs, let’s imagine our readers turning to the first major story preceding the Aleppo piece by Robert F. Worth, a contributing writer for the magazine. It is an article titled “Empire of Dust” by Molly Young, also a contributing writer. It is a title that suggests further disintegration of a most serious nature (no, not the American Empire), yet it is an article about Amanda Chantal Bacon and the rise of the wellness industry. A photo of this “beatific” 34 year old entrepreneurial guru in a flowing white gown in a half-lotus position, seated on a marble kitchen countertop surrounded by some “magical” rocks, takes up an entire page. The photo, a Barthian signifier if ever there were one, is clearly meant to be deciphered by the Times’ clientele for secrets to the beautiful, luxurious, and peaceful life due to one of means and exquisite taste, one who will spend five dollars on a newspaper and live a balanced, Epicurean life of self-care and sophistication. Bacon’s massive light-filled kitchen with its marble countertops – a sine qua non of today’s “good life” – serves the usual elitist function of drawing in readers with a discerning, moneyed eye.

Alternately fawning and critical, Young begins by telling the reader, “The amount of time I waste finding and consuming alternative-medicine supplements for ‘brain function’ has made me at least 10 percent dumber, and that paradox is not lost on me. It was that impulse that made me pause last year at a fancy store in Brooklyn when I spotted a glass jar labeled ‘Brain Dust’.” From there Young takes us to Los Angeles, where she interviews the lifestyle guru Bacon, and we hear about Spirit Dust, Beauty Dust, Sex Dust, vaginal steaming, spirit truffles, and sunbathing the vagina, and to the Hamptons where she again spots Brain Dust in an expensive store that also sells “boeuf-bourguignon-flavored dog biscuits.” Young, having traversed the golden triangle – Brooklyn, L.A., and the Hamptons – tells us how Bacon captures her imagination even as she “was ashamed of its capture.” She drinks Power Dusted coffee with the Moon Juice founder who tells her, “I was told growing up in NYC that I had learning disabilities and mental illness. That was all the rage in the ‘90s.” (Presumably they are raging no longer.) After offering mild criticisms’ and writing that after visiting Bacon’s house she “wanted to move to California and eat bee pollen,” Young covertly orders bee pollen from her phone and ends by telling us that the Moon Juice bee pollen she has ordered “would arrive in two to four business days.” The reader is left to wonder who is dumber or smarter despite or because of the Brain Dust.

But if one is feeling brain dead, one can move or jump-cut to the next article, a piece of cosmopolitan gravitas meant to clarify who are the good guys and who the bad in the Middle East, specifically Syria.

Turning to this article on Aleppo, a juxtaposing of pornographic proportions, one is greeted with a two page photo of totally destroyed buildings in front of which walk a woman pushing a toddler in a stroller and a man pushing another toddler in a makeshift wooden cart covered in plastic sheeting. One flips from “Sex Dust” to disgust and heartbreak in a page turn. The reader is walked step-by-step into a piece of political propaganda, as Robert Worth tells us that “The Syrian tragedy started in a moment of deceptive simplicity, when the peaceful protesters of the 2011 Arab Spring seemed destined to inherit the future.”  This deception is then quickly followed with the claim that Assad used “chemical weapons in the town of Khan Sheikhoun in early April,” an assertion backed by no evidence and clearly refuted by Seymour Hersh, among others. Worth tells us that “the Syrian regime (note the sly use of the word regime, a staple of linguistic mind-control) and its Russian allies repeatedly bombed hospitals and civilian areas,” and that in the United States such actions were “widely deplored as a war crime comparable to the worst massacres of the Bosnian war during the 1990s.” One has to give credit to Worth for a masterful double-deception here, first by accusing the Syrians and Russians but not the United States of repeatedly bombing hospitals and civilian areas, and then segueing to the “Bosnian” war with nary a mention of the U.S./NATO conspiracy to dismantle Yugoslavia through proxies and the subsequent massive bombing of Serbia and Serbian civilians that were clearly war crimes committed by the liberal saint, Bill Clinton. Throughout this piece Worth repeatedly accuses the Assad government of war crimes and atrocities while whitewashing the United States. Immediately following his assertion of Syrian war crimes, he tells the Sunday Times’ readers that “ the State Department released satellite photographs suggesting that the regime is burning the bodies of executed prisoners in a crematory at the Sednaya prison complex, north of Damascus, in an alleged effort to hide evidence.” This claim is based on a totally discredited claim  made in February 2017 by Amnesty International, and Worth, knowing that there is no evidence for this, cagily uses the words “suggesting” and “alleged.” But juxtaposed with the war crimes assertions, only a careful reader searching for truth would notice the trick, surely not a Time Magazine reader already predisposed by the daily Times’s constant flow of government lies. Quoting a speech by Assad in which he claimed there was a “huge conspiracy” to dismantle and destroy Syria, Worth dismissively rejects this obvious truth by quoting an anonymous former regime official (a common tactic) who says he was shocked by the speech. If Assad had given a different speech, Worth notes, “the past six years would have unrolled very differently, and oceans of blood might have been spared.” This is the imperial mindset at its finest, all rolled into an extensive New York Times Magazine article meant to enlighten and inform its alleged sophisticated readers.

What I am suggesting with these magazine examples is that the old trick perfected by the Congress for Cultural Freedom to juxtapose cultural pieces with political ones is alive and well today, even if the CCF or its equivalent doesn’t exist, since it isn’t needed. Illiteracy has become the norm and stupidity the rule as the electronic revolution has destroyed people’s ability to concentrate or stay focused long enough to realize they are being taken for a ride by propagandists and that they are being purposely overloaded with information meant to create a felt need for “Brain Dust.” This has been going on for so long that to admit one is still being taken for a ride is equivalent to admitting to gullibility so profound that it must be denied. It is one thing criticize the politicians you hate – George W. Bush and Donald Trump for liberal Democrats and Bill Clinton and Obama for conservative Republicans – and to call them liars; but to contemplate the fact that the CIA has been lying to you through all these mouthpieces and your vaunted news sources are stenographers for the intelligence agencies is too much reality to bear. “I might have looked funny in that old photograph, but today I am with it and stylish.”

Sure.

Everything has become style today, and no doubt the CIA has learned that the trick is to hide truthful substance behind the style. Evidence is beside the point. Just assert things in a slick style. Assert them repeatedly, even when they have been proven false or fraudulent. Sex Dust and Power Dust may be absurd con jobs, but they sell. They meet a “need,” a need created by the society that has slyly equated power with sex for a population that has been convinced they have neither and need drugs to endow them with both. A piece about Brain Dust may not have the drawing power of a Paris Review interview with Ernest Hemingway or Boris Pasternak, but then there were no “lifestyle gurus” in those days when people read real literature, not today’s New York Times best sellers. Propaganda was more literary in those days; it had to have substance. In a “wellness culture,” it has to have style. Today the only time you hear the word substance, is in “substance abuse,” which is fitting.

The CIA is in the styling business; they’ve gone shallow. Everyone looks great that way, or so they think.

July 27, 2017 Posted by | Book Review, Fake News, Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Progressive Hypocrite, Timeless or most popular | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

US says Syria crisis needs political solution, Assad doesn’t have to go first

Press TV – July 21, 2017

US President Donald Trump’s homeland security and counterterrorism adviser says the US is seeking a political resolution to the conflict in Syria and won’t insist on Syrian President Bashar Assad’s immediate ouster.

Tom Bossert said Thursday there needs to be a political outcome in Syria, not a military-imposed one that has no political strategy to fill a void in leadership.

“I don’t think it’s important for us to say Assad must go first,” Bossert said at the Aspen Security Forum, an annual gathering of intelligence and national security officials and experts.

“The US would still like to see Assad go at some point. That would be our desired outcome,” he added.

The administration of former President Barack Obama had chanted “the Assad must go” mantra on major international forums for several years.

Bossert made the remarks following news reports that Trump had decided to end a covert CIA program that has been arming, training and funding anti-Damascus militants since 2013.

US officials said that ending the CIA operation reflects Trump’s interest in finding ways to work with Russia. Moscow had long pushed Washington to end the covert program, which was begun by the Obama administration to overthrow Assad.

However, the CIA effort had failed to achieve its goals and some US lawmakers had proposed cutting its budget. By some estimates, the CIA trained some 10,000 militants.

For years, Damascus has accused the US of supporting militants seeking to topple the government.

Despite halting the CIA program, the US is still militarily involved in Syria. In May, Trump authorized arming the so-called Syrian Democratic Forces — a Kurdish rebel group — using Department of Defense funds.

Since 2015, Russia has been conducting cruise missile strikes and aerial attacks against terrorist positions in Syria at a request from the Syrian government. The US has been leading dozens of its allies in a military mission purportedly aimed rooting out Daesh since 2014.

July 21, 2017 Posted by | War Crimes | , , , | 1 Comment

End of CIA Training Program Removes Roadblock to Real Peace in Syria

Sputnik – 21.07.2017

President Donald Trump’s decision to end CIA training for US-backed rebel groups in Syria opens the way for peace at last and humanitarian relief for the suffering people of that country, analysts told Sputnik.

The move was widely reported in the US media on Wednesday with no denials and has been universally accepted as taking place.

Trump reportedly decided to halt the training about a month ago, after a meeting with CIA Director Mike Pompeo and national security adviser H.R. McMaster, which preceded his talks with Russian President Vladimir Putin at the G20 summit in Hamburg, Germany earlier this month.

SCRAPPING CIA TRAINING PROGRAM OPENS WAY FOR PEACE DEAL IN SYRIA

The CIA program’s goal was to train at least 5,400 allegedly non-Islamist rebels in an armed force to fight Daesh terror group (outlawed in Russia), while also opposing the legitimate Syrian government of President Bashar Assad.

“This decision opens the door noticeably wider for a negotiated resolution of the dire political conflict (and resulting humanitarian catastrophe) inside Syria,” historian and Middle East analyst Helena Cobban, a leading expert on Syria, said on Thursday.

Continued US support for the rebel groups, some of which were extreme Islamists, had effectively blocked any moves in the past to end the conflict in Syria that has lasted nearly six-and-a-half years and cost more than 600,000 lives, Cobban explained.

“So long as the United States’ covert-action teams were working hand-in-glove with the forces working tirelessly to overthrow the government of Syria, it was hard to envision the United States also sitting down with those political forces inside and outside the country who seek a negotiated resolution,” she said.

However, Trump’s decision to end the CIA support program breathed new life into the Syrian peace process, Cobban observed.

The problems plaguing massive US military aid and training for the rebels greatly embarrassed previous President Barack Obama. Senior US officers have testified to Congress that an undetermined number of such rebels have disappeared with US military equipment and actually joined Islamist forces, including Daesh.

On September 16, 2015, then CENTCOM commanding General Lloyd Austin told the US Senate Armed Services Committee that half a billion dollars of funding for military training of Syrian rebels approved by Congress had only produced only four or five opposition troops in the field by that point.

The CIA training and support program for the rebels failed to accomplish any constructive goals, but only spread and intensified the sufferings of ordinary people in Syria, Cobban recalled.

“The CIA’s aid to the Syrian ‘rebels’ prolonged and deepened the suffering of Syria’s people throughout the whole of the past six years,” she said.

The real purpose of the program was not to defeat Daesh, but to topple the legitimate Syrian government of President Bashar Assad, Cobban stated.

The Obama administration added to the CIA program a “very bright green light… to other non-Syrian actors working to overthrow Syria’s legitimate government, like the Saudi and other Gulf Cooperation Council countries, Turkey… and jihadis from all around the world,” she said.

However, a series of policy shifts by Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and the clash in the GCC between Qatar and other member states backed by Saudi Arabia looked likely to distract these previous support sources for the Syrian rebels, Cobban observed.

“With the Turkish government now acting a lot more pragmatically than before, and with the ongoing chaos among the GCC countries, it can be hoped that… groups who supported regime change in Syria will now… die of their own accord,” she said.

The end of CIA training for Syrian rebels was also likely to give a boost to cooperation between governments and other forces in the region that genuinely opposed the Islamic State and other Islamist terror groups, Cobban noted.

Rebels seeking regime change in Damascus were now more likely to “be quashed through the cooperation of all the sincerely anti-jihadi forces in the region. There is still a lot of diplomatic work to do, but this decision from Washington makes it seem at least more possible,” she concluded.

CIA PROGRAM SHOWED 5-YEAR RECORD OF CONSISTENT FAILURES

Trump’s decision to terminate the CIA program has been interpreted by analysts as an acknowledgment that the five-year-old program has totally failed to achieve any of its goals, caused damage to US credibility and was not capable of being reformed.

Author and political activist David Swanson said Trump’s decision to end the CIA training program was a long-belated acknowledgment of its complete failure to produce any significant moderate rebel fighting force, while many recruits actually joined the Islamic State or other Islamist groups.

Swanson said the decision to scrap the rebel military training program expressed “a recognition of reality.”

Previous president Barack Obama had been praised as an alleged moderate and technocrat, yet he had ignored his own best intelligence assessments to launch the costly CIA training program after being given due warning that it would not work, Swanson recalled.

“When Obama was president he had the CIA produce a study on whether aiding proxy forces had ever succeeded on its own terms. The answer was no, yet Obama, the supposedly intelligent technocrat went ahead and did exactly what the study had found would not work,” he said.

Trump’s decision to end the CIA training program was rational and sensible, but came as a surprise because US policies in the Middle East and especially on Syria had not been guided by such considerations, Swanson observed.

“Ending it after years of predictable and predicted failure is only hard to explain because we have come to expect completely illogical madness,” he said.

Trump may also have scrapped the program as part of some quid pro quo arrangement he had negotiated with Putin at their G20 meeting, Swanson noted.

The decision to end the CIA training could indicate “some deal struck between Trump and Putin, but since neither of them is likely to tell us, we are left to speculate,” he said.

Although Trump had ordered the end of the training program, it remained to be seen whether he could ensure that the US armed forces and the CIA obeyed his orders and actually enforced the decision, Swanson cautioned.

“The decision is a good one on its own terms if it’s real. But what goes with it remains to be seen — including whether the US military and CIA actually comply with it,” he warned.

Swanson assessed that the results of the CIA training program had been entirely disastrous.

It had only produced “massive death and suffering, militarization of a region, fueling of hatred and hostility and terrorism for years to come,” he concluded.

The CIA reportedly maintained its program to provide weapons to Syrian opposition fighters since 2012. However, the private intelligence firm Soufran Group noted in a report on Thursday that the training program was ineffective and problematic since its launch.

July 21, 2017 Posted by | Timeless or most popular, War Crimes | , , , | Leave a comment

‘Maintain public confidence’: Obama’s plan to defend from election cyberattacks

RT | July 20, 2017

The Obama administration quietly set up an interagency task force to deal with possible physical and cyber disruptions of the 2016 US presidential election, but believed most cyber incidents would be “unsubstantiated or inconsequential.”

Time magazine, which obtained and published the 15-page Concept of Operations document on Thursday, wrote that the plan was put in place to counter “Russian hacking.” The actual word “Russia” appears nowhere in the document, however.

The planning document, which Time dated to October 2016, shows that the Obama administration set up the Cyber Unified Coordination Group (UCG) to coordinate the response of various federal agencies to “reports of cyber incidents impacting election infrastructure.”

In addition to a lot of training, advice and interagency communication, the first specific action the agencies were instructed to take was to “develop integrated public relations guidance that seeks to maintain public confidence in the electoral system” ‒ a task that fell on the Department of Homeland Security’s (DHS) Office of Public Affairs. The Department of Justice, Director of National Intelligence, and the FBI were supposed to assist with that task.

Any public statements “should be developed to avoid inadvertently calling into doubt the integrity of the voting process and to avoid negative impacts to voter turnout,” the document said.

The FBI was to set up a national command post at its headquarters in Washington, DC, from which it would monitor reports from the entire country from 6am to midnight on Election Day. The FBI would also establish Cyber Incident Command Center (CICC), starting on November 7.

A cyber threat intelligence center was to work with the intelligence community to “aggregate relevant intelligence and information to build and maintain a common threat and incident picture” that would then “set cyber incidents in the context of adversary activity across all domains to draw connections and implications,” the document says.

Cyber Action Teams (CAT) were set up at 26 FBI field offices and one overseas location, ready to deploy in case of a serious incident. Six interagency coordination calls were scheduled for Election Day, once every three hours between 6am and midnight.

The coordination mechanism was supposed to stay in effect until November 11, to “address any post-election cyber incidents (e.g. planted stories calling into question the results).”

For all the concern about potential cyberattacks on the US election systems, however, the document noted that “the vast majority of cyber incidents will be assessed as ‘baseline’ or ‘low’ on the schema,” based on DHS intelligence assessments.

“These are unsubstantiated or inconsequential events, or events that are unlikely to impact health or safety, national security, economic security, foreign relations, civil liberties, or public confidence,” the document explained.

July 20, 2017 Posted by | Russophobia, Timeless or most popular | , , | Leave a comment

Trump ends CIA arms to Salafists in Syria

By Adam Garrie | The Duran | July 19, 2017

Today, two reports emerged within minutes of each other which indicate that under Donald Trump, the United States has fully shifted its policies in Syria away from arming and aiding Salafist/jihadist terrorist fighters and is now allying exclusively with Kurdish.

To a less extent, America is also politically allied with Russia in a limited capacity in south western Syria, something which is more significant due to the shift it represents rather than in terms of size or scope.

Here are the key events:

1. US media reports that Trump ends CIA arming of terrorists

The deeply anti-Trump Washington Post has reported the following,

“President Trump has decided to end the CIA’s covert program to arm and train moderate Syrian rebels battling the government of Bashar al-Assad, a move long sought by Russia, according to U.S. officials.

The program was a central plank of a policy begun by the Obama administration in 2013 to put pressure on Assad to step aside, but even its backers have questioned its efficacy since Russia deployed forces in Syria two years later.

Officials said the phasing out of the secret program reflects Trump’s interest in finding ways to work with Russia, which saw the anti-Assad program as an assault on its interests. The shuttering of the program is also an acknowledgement of Washington’s limited leverage and desire to remove Assad from power”.

The report adds,

“Officials said Trump made the decision to scrap the CIA program nearly a month ago, after an Oval Office meeting with CIA Director Mike Pompeo and national security adviser H.R. McMaster ahead of a July 7 meeting in Germany with Russian President Vladimir Putin”.

While the Washington Post calls this a win for Russia, in reality this will not directly effect Russia one way or another. It is however, a win for Syria.

By most reasonable accounts, the conflict in Syria could have ended far earlier if not for the CIA and other US actors arming, funding and training Salafist jihadist fighters in Syria (often referred to as moderate rebels by the western mainstream media).

As even the Washington Post admits, almost in a gloating fashion, arming such jihadists was a flagship policy of the United States under Barack Obama.

This will take a substantial deal of pressure off the Syrian Arab Army and their fight against remaining terrorists in Syria.

Ever since Trump took office, the general trajectory of US meddling in Syria shifted from arming jihadists to arming, funding and working in close military coordination with Kurdish forces.

Today’s revelation simply affirms what was long the apparent on the ground policy of the United States since February of 2017.

It is key to remember that even after this announcement, the US presence in Syria is still illegal according to international law.

2. FSA jihadists withdraw from front-line in Raqqa 

Almost simultaneous to the Washington Post report, Al-Masdar which is generally the most reliable source of on the ground information in Syria, reported the following,

“The Quwwat al-Nukhba sub-group of the Free Syrian Army (FSA), which fights within the US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), has been dismissed from any and all front-line duties in the ongoing Raqqa operation.

About one week ago, word came out that the FSA-linked group was to give up its positions within Raqqa city and retreat to the SDF’s rear areas outside the urban center. However, contradictory reports then came in suggesting that a compromise was reached whereby the Arab faction could retain its positions within the city – this was supported by some photo evidence.

However, according to the latest reports, Quwwat al-Nukhba has officially withdrawn from all of its front-line positions within Raqqa city and handed them over to the Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG).

 Information on why the Arab militia has been booted out of the operation remains officially unclear. Nonetheless, some sources suggest that the group showed repeated incompetence during Raqqa battle, advancing quickly within the city but then withdrawing from all gains, abandoning them to ISIS, almost as soon as they were taken.

In any case, the United States – who has overall command of the SDF – represents the party that gave the order for the Arab FSA-linked faction to withdraw (perhaps at the behest of Kurdish recommendations).

This now means that the battle to capture Raqqa from ISIS has become an almost exclusively Kurdish operation”.

Raqqa is now officially a two-horse race between US backed Kurdish forces from the north and the Syrian Arab Army approaching from the west and from the south via Dier Ez-Zor, which is fast becoming a bigger hotspot of remaining ISIS fighters in Syria vis-a-vis Raqqa.

The upside of this for Syria is that the danger of a kind of semi-permanent style US funded Salafist insurgency is reduced to almost nil. This is especially true due to Syria’s strong central government vis-a-vis that of Iraq in the mid-2000s and into recent years.

With the US garrison in southern Syria located in At-Tanf now effectively cut off from the rest of the country via strong lines of control by the Syrian Arab Army and its allies, the US would have hit a logistical brick wall if it expended its resources continuing to arm increasingly encircled and materially ineffective jihadist groups like the FSA and its splinter groups and off-shoots.

This move also removes any scant Turkish influence from the race to Raqqa as the few FSA fighters participating in the surge represented the only people who are loyal to a group that is in great part, a Turkish proxy.

Thus, the American decision to force the withdrawal of the minor contingent of the FSA from front-line fighting in Raqqa is close to a de-facto admission that incorporating such jihadists into the final battle with the jihadists of ISIS would be an exercise in futility, one that Kurds themselves also likely oppose.

3. The Russia connection 

At present, there is no overt linkage to these events and Donald Trump’s meeting at the G20 summit with Vladimir Putin. One can however, infer a conclusion that in order to work more effectively with Russia, the United States has dropped the last vestiges of support for jihadists such as the FSA, knowing that it would have reached a similar conclusion based on sheer logistics, even if Russia and the US did not strike a deal to mutually enforce the current ceasefire in south-western Syria along with Jordan.

In this sense, it is wise to remember that hyperbolic linkages of items 1 and 2 with the Trump-Putin meeting are at best circumstantial rather than causal–pragmatic rather than overtly strategic.

This still does not solve the crisis of what Kurdish forces might want as a result of their participation in the race for Raqqa, assuming they partly or wholly win the race.

Furthermore, if Kurds demand further concessions from Damascus including increased autonomy or even independence, many suspect that the United States will strongly back Kurdish demands rather than play the part of a neutral party. This would of course be opposed not only by Syria, Iraq and Iran but most strongly by Turkey which is a traditional US ally, although one which hardly sees eye-to-eye with the US on major Middle Eastern issues ranging from Qatar to Syria.

In this sense, the United States has chosen to infuriate Turkey further, make life slightly less difficult for Syria in terms of battle-field logistics, vaguely placate Russia and most importantly, declare an increased measure of loyalty to Kurds at the expense of the many anti-Kurdish actors in the region, including several technical US allies, namely both Turkey and Iraq.

July 19, 2017 Posted by | Illegal Occupation, War Crimes | , , , , | 1 Comment

Straitjacket of Russophobia prevents Trump returning seized Russian property

By Finian Cunningham | RT | July 18, 2017

The protracted row over the US’ seizure of Russian diplomatic property illustrates how Russophobia has become a dangerous impediment to healthy bilateral relations. All contact with Russia is being seen through a prism of anti-Russia hysteria.

Seven months after ex-US President Barack Obama ordered the confiscation of two Russian diplomatic compounds and the expulsion of 35 diplomats and their families, the row trundles on – much to Moscow’s vexation.

This week, Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergey Ryabkov held lengthy discussions with US Undersecretary of State Thomas Shannon in Washington DC to try to resolve the matter. After two hours of talks, there seems to have been no resolution.

Russia has reportedly said it reserves the right to retaliate by seizing US diplomatic property and expelling American officials.

Ominously, a senior US State Department official, John Sullivan, this week told the Senate Foreign Affairs Committee that the Trump administration would consult with Congress on any decisions taken. The official also said that the diplomatic property issue was “one of a whole host of issues that we are discussing with the Russia Federation”. That indicates the Trump administration is treating the return of Russian sovereign assets as part of a bargaining process. Meaning the row is being used in a provocative manner as leverage over the Russian side.

This is exactly what Russia has warned against.

Ahead of the talks in Washington, Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said if the properties and diplomatic functioning of his country were not restored immediately, then that delay amounted to “daylight robbery”.

Russia’s grievance is understandable. The confiscation and closure of two of its diplomatic compounds in Washington DC and Maryland was ordered by the Obama administration on December 29. The move was said to be in response to an assessment made by US intelligence agencies that Russia had interfered in the November presidential elections to disadvantage Democrat contender Hillary Clinton.

Russia has rejected any allegations that it hacked into the US election. Moscow also points out that no evidence has ever been presented to support the claims made against it. Yet on the back of unsubstantiated allegations of Russian interference, the US seized its diplomatic facilities and expelled staff from the country. This draconian move by the US is a violation of the 1961 Vienna Convention governing diplomatic relations between nations.

Republican presidential winner Donald Trump has repeatedly dismissed claims that Russia interfered in the US elections as “fake news”. He dismisses speculation that his campaign team colluded with Russian government agents to disseminate damaging information about his rival.

So, here we have a striking case of double think. The Trump administration, or at least those close to the president, is of the view that allegations of Russian interference in the US election are baseless, yet the administration has so far refused to return property to Russia which was confiscated on the basis of alleged Russian electoral subterfuge.

Trump’s apparent inability to promptly resolve the dispute by doing the right thing – return the properties to Russia – is testimony to the anti-Russia hysteria that has gripped Washington and the US media.

There are no grounds for the US to continue its seizure of the Russian compounds. There is no evidence of Moscow subverting the presidential election, despite nearly seven months of Congressional investigations, as well as a separate probe carried out by a special prosecutor. There is only the cloud of constant media speculation and claims made by anonymous intelligence sources.

Evidently, Trump is paralyzed by the toxic atmosphere of Russophobia in Washington. Because he cannot act on his own judgement.

If he is seen to do the decent thing and return the Russian property that will be immediately blown up and distorted as “evidence” of Trump being in Russia’s pocket for the “favors” of collusion.

The brouhaha over Trump’s son Donald Jr and his son-in-law Jared Kushner meeting a Russian lawyer last year is another media storm in the teacup about alleged collusion. But the cumulative effect of constant media speculation linking president Trump to Russia inevitably places a straitjacket on normal relations between the two countries.

The meeting between Trump and Russian president Vladimir Putin at the G20 summit earlier this month is another illustration of the toxic impact. The two leaders held a cordial meeting and dealt with several substantive issues over the course of a two-hour discussion. However, while the positive meeting heralded a welcome restoration of normal relations, Trump was quickly put on the defensive by critical media coverage back home.

Likewise the protracted spat over Russian diplomatic property is another hostage to Russophobia. The Trump administration is caught in a contradiction. If the claims of Russian interference in the US elections are fake, as Trump maintains, then there is no logical justification for the continued withholding of Russian property.

The violation of Russian sovereign rights is bound to be seen by Moscow as a gratuitous provocation. When Obama imposed the diplomatic sanctions back in December, the Kremlin did not retaliate then. Instead, it responded magnanimously by inviting American diplomats and their families to official Christmas and New Year celebrations in Moscow.

At around that time, president-elect Trump’s incoming National Security Adviser Michael Flynn held private discussions with Russian ambassador to the US, Sergey Kislyak. According to media reports, US intelligence snooping claimed that Flynn told Kislyak the sanctions would be lifted by the new Trump administration. This may have been why Putin did not retaliate against Obama’s diplomatic confiscations and expulsions.

Shortly after, Trump was forced to sack Flynn for not fully disclosing his communications with the Russian ambassador. This was not an early piece of evidence of “collusion;” rather, it was an early casualty in the US media-intel campaign of Russophobia that has paralyzed the Trump administration from doing any normal business with Moscow.

For the US to issue preconditions that the diplomatic properties will be returned in exchange for “improved behavior” from Russia on international matters is an outrageous insult. It’s tantamount to imposing a ransom for goods stolen by the US side.

This is the stuff of agitating aggression towards Russia. During the heyday of the Cold War, there was no such comparable violation of diplomatic rights. Yet, here we are on the back of empty allegations and hysterical Russophobia witnessing an unprecedented affront to Russian sovereign rights.

The reckless infringement by the US is goading reciprocal moves by Russia. After seven months of provocation on this issue, the pressure is on Moscow to retaliate. That will inevitably lead to even more downward spiral in relations. And so it goes. This is how wars are incited.

The Trump administration is paralyzed inside and out. The US Ambassador to the UN, Nikki Haley, is a spigot for anti-Russian claims that Moscow interfered in the American elections. “Everyone knows Russia interfered,” says Haley, unburdened by any need to substantiate her assertion.

With the US media, Washington and the Deep State pummeling Trump on a daily basis over alleged Russia collusion, it is not surprising this White House is under siege to act reasonably on the matter of Russian diplomatic property. Bilateral relations remain trapped in a straitjacket of Russophobia.

Read more:

Obama needs no ‘additional evidence’ of hacking to substantiate anti-Russia sanctions – White House

July 18, 2017 Posted by | Fake News, Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Russophobia, Timeless or most popular | , , | Leave a comment