Aletho News


Iraq +15: Accumulated Evil of the Whole

By Nat Parry | Consortium News | March 19, 2018

Robert Jackson, the Chief United States Prosecutor at the Nuremberg Trials of Nazi war criminals, once denounced aggressive war as “the greatest menace of our time.” With much of Europe laying in smoldering ruin, he said in 1945 that “to initiate a war of aggression … is not only an international crime: it is the supreme international crime differing only from other war crimes in that it contains within itself the accumulated evil of whole.”

When it comes to the U.S. invasion of Iraq 15 years ago today, the accumulated evil of the whole is difficult to fully comprehend. Estimates of the war’s costs vary, but commonly cited figures put the financial cost for U.S. taxpayers at upwards of a trillion dollars, the cost in Iraqi lives in the hundreds of thousands, and U.S. soldier deaths at nearly 5,000. Another 100,000 Americans have been wounded and four million Iraqis driven from their homes as refugees.

As staggering as those numbers may be, they don’t come close to describing the true cost of the war, or the magnitude of the crime that was committed by launching it on March 19-20, 2003. Besides the cost in blood and treasure, the cost to basic principles of international justice, long-term geopolitical stability, and the impacts on the U.S. political system are equally profound.

Lessons Learned and Forgotten

Although for a time, it seemed that the lessons of the war were widely understood and had tangible effects on American politics – with Democrats, for example, taking control of Congress in the midterm elections of 2006 based primarily on growing antiwar sentiment around the country and Barack Obama defeating Hillary Clinton in the 2008 primaries based largely on the two candidates’ opposing views on the Iraq War – the political establishment has, since then, effectively swept these lessons under the rug.

One of those lessons, of course, was that proclamations of the intelligence community should be treated with huge grain of salt. In the build-up to war with Iraq a decade and a half ago, there were those who pushed back on the politicized and “cherry-picked” intelligence that the Bush administration was using to convince the American people of the need to go to war, but for the most part, the media and political establishment parroted these claims without showing the due diligence of independently confirming the claims or even applying basic principles of logic.

For example, even as United Nations weapons inspectors, led by Swedish diplomat Hans Blix, were coming up empty-handed when acting on tips from the U.S. intelligence community, few within the mainstream media were willing to draw the logical conclusion that the intelligence was wrong (or that the Bush administration was lying). Instead, they assumed that the UN inspectors were simply incompetent or that Saddam Hussein was just really good at hiding his weapons of mass destruction.

Yet, despite being misled so thoroughly back in 2002 and 2003, today Americans show the same credulousness to the intelligence community when it claims that “Russia hacked the 2016 election,” without offering proof. Liberals, in particular, have hitched their wagons to the investigation being led by Special Counsel Robert Mueller, who is widely hailed as a paragon of virtue, while the truth is, as FBI Director during the Bush administration, he was a key enabler of the WMD narrative used to launch an illegal war.

Mueller testified to Congress that “Iraq has moved to the top of my list” of threats to the domestic security of the United States. “As we previously briefed this Committee,” Mueller said on February 11, 2003, “Iraq’s WMD program poses a clear threat to our national security.” He warned that Baghdad might provide WMDs to al-Qaeda to carry out a catastrophic attack in the United States.

Mueller drew criticism at the time, including from FBI whistleblower Coleen Rowley, for conflating Iraq and al-Qaeda, with demands that the FBI produce whatever evidence it had on this supposed connection.

Today, of course, Mueller is celebrated by Democrats as the best hope for bringing down the presidency of Donald Trump. George W. Bush has also enjoyed a revival of his image thanks largely to his public criticisms of Trump, with a majority of Democrats now viewing the 43rd president favorably. Many Democrats have also embraced aggressive war – often couched in the rhetoric of “humanitarian interventionism” – as their preferred option to deal with foreign policy challenges such as the Syrian conflict.

When the Democratic Party chose Clinton as its nominee in 2016, it appeared that Democrats had also embraced her willingness to use military force to achieve “regime change” in countries that are seen as a threat to U.S. interests – whether Iraq, Iran or Syria.

As a senator from New York during the build-up for military action against Iraq, Clinton not only voted to authorize the U.S. invasion, but fervently supported the war – which she backed with or without UN Security Council authorization. Her speech on the floor of the Senate on Oct. 10, 2002 arguing for military action promoted the same falsehoods that were being used by the Bush administration to build support for the war, claiming for example that Saddam Hussein had “given aid, comfort, and sanctuary to terrorists, including al-Qaeda members.”

“If left unchecked,” she said, “Saddam Hussein will continue to increase his capacity to wage biological and chemical warfare, and will keep trying to develop nuclear weapons. Should he succeed in that endeavor, he could alter the political and security landscape of the Middle East, which as we know all too well affects American security.”

Clinton maintained support for the war even as it became obvious that Iraq in fact had no weapons of mass destruction – the primary casus belli for the war – only cooling her enthusiasm in 2006 when it became clear that the Democratic base had turned decisively against the war and her hawkish position endangered her chances for the 2008 presidential nomination. But eight years later, the Democrats had apparently moved on, and her support for the war was no longer considered a disqualification for the presidency.

One of the lessons that should be recalled today, especially as the U.S. gears up today for possible confrontations with countries including North Korea and Russia, is how easy it was in 2002-2003 for the Bush administration to convince Americans that they were under threat from the regime of Saddam Hussein some 7,000 miles away. The claims about Iraq’s WMDs were untrue, with many saying so in real time – including by the newly formed group Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity, which was regularly issuing memoranda to the president and to the American people debunking the falsehoods that were being promoted by the U.S. intelligence community.

But even if the claims about Iraq’s alleged stockpiles were true, there was still no reason to assume that Saddam Hussein was on the verge of launching a surprise attack against the United States. Indeed, while Americans were all but convinced that Iraq threatened their safety and security, it was actually the U.S. government that was threatening Iraqis.

Far from posing an imminent threat to the United States, in 2003, Iraq was a country that had already been devastated by a U.S.-led war a decade earlier and crippling economic sanctions that caused the deaths of 1.5 million Iraqis (leading to the resignation of two UN humanitarian coordinators who called the sanctions genocidal).

Threats and Bluster

Although the invasion didn’t officially begin until March 20, 2003 (still the 19th in Washington), the United States had been explicitly threatening to attack the country as early as January 2003, with the Pentagon publicizing plans for a so-called “shock and awe” bombing campaign.

“If the Pentagon sticks to its current war plan,” CBS News reported on January 24, “one day in March the Air Force and Navy will launch between 300 and 400 cruise missiles at targets in Iraq. … [T]his is more than the number that were launched during the entire 40 days of the first Gulf War. On the second day, the plan calls for launching another 300 to 400 cruise missiles.”

A Pentagon official warned: “There will not be a safe place in Baghdad.”

These public threats appeared to be a form of intimidation and psychological warfare, and were almost certainly in violation of the UN Charter, which states:  “All Members shall refrain in their international relations from the threat or use of force against the territorial integrity or political independence of any state, or in any other manner inconsistent with the Purposes of the United Nations.”

The Pentagon’s vaunted “shock and awe” attack began with limited bombing on March 19-20, as U.S. forces unsuccessfully attempted to kill Hussein. Attacks continued against a small number of targets until March 21, when the main bombing campaign began. U.S.-led forces launched approximately 1,700 air sorties, with 504 using cruise missiles.

During the invasion, the U.S. also dropped some 10,800 cluster bombs on Iraq despite claiming that only a fraction of that number had been used.

“The Pentagon presented a misleading picture during the war of the extent to which cluster weapons were being used and of the civilian casualties they were causing,” reported USA Today in late 2003. Despite claims that only 1,500 cluster weapons had been used resulting in just one civilian casualty, “in fact, the United States used 10,782 cluster weapons,” including many that were fired into urban areas from late March to early April 2003.

The cluster bombs killed hundreds of Iraqi civilians and left behind thousands of unexploded bomblets that continued to kill and injure civilians weeks after the fighting stopped.

(Because of the indiscriminate effect of these weapons, their use is banned by the international Convention on Cluster Munitions, which the United States has refused to sign.)

Attempting to kill Hussein, Bush ordered the bombing of an Iraqi residential restaurant on April 7. A single B-1B bomber dropped four precision-guided 2,000-pound bombs. The four bunker-penetrating bombs destroyed the target building, the al Saa restaurant block and several surrounding structures, leaving a 60-foot crater and unknown casualties.

Diners, including children, were ripped apart by the bombs. One mother found her daughter’s torso and then her severed head. U.S. intelligence later confirmed that Hussein wasn’t there.

Resistance and Torture

It was evident within weeks of the initial invasion that the Bush administration had misjudged the critical question of whether Iraqis would fight. They put up stiffer than expected resistance even in southern Iraqi cities such as Umm Qasr, Basra and Nasiriya where Hussein’s support was considered weak, and soon after the fall of the regime on April 9, when the Bush administration decided to disband the Iraqi army, it helped spark an anti-U.S. insurgency led by many former Iraqi military figures.

Despite Bush’s triumphant May 1 landing on an aircraft carrier and his speech in front of a giant “Mission Accomplished” banner, it looked as though the collapse of the Baathist government had been just the first stage in what would become a long-running war of attrition. After the Iraqi conventional forces had been disbanded, the U.S. military began to notice in May 2003 a steadily increasing flurry of attacks on U.S. occupiers in various regions of the so-called “Sunni Triangle.”

These included groups of insurgents firing assault rifles and rocket-propelled grenades at U.S. occupation troops, as well as increasing use of improvised explosive devices on U.S. convoys.

Possibly anticipating a long, drawn-out occupation and counter-insurgency campaign, in a March 2003 memorandum Bush administration lawyers devised legal doctrines to justify certain torture techniques, offering legal rationales “that could render specific conduct, otherwise criminal, not unlawful.”

They argued that the president or anyone acting on the president’s orders were not bound by U.S. laws or international treaties prohibiting torture, asserting that the need for “obtaining intelligence vital to the protection of untold thousands of American citizens” superseded any obligations the administration had under domestic or international law.

“In order to respect the President’s inherent constitutional authority to manage a military campaign,” the memo stated, U.S. prohibitions against torture “must be construed as inapplicable to interrogations undertaken pursuant to his Commander-in-Chief authority.”

Over the course of the next year, disclosures emerged that torture had been used extensively in Iraq for “intelligence gathering.” Investigative journalist Seymour Hersh disclosed in The New Yorker in May 2004 that a 53-page classified Army report written by Gen. Antonio Taguba concluded that Abu Ghraib prison’s military police were urged on by intelligence officers seeking to break down the Iraqis before interrogation.

“Numerous incidents of sadistic, blatant and wanton criminal abuses were inflicted on several detainees,” wrote Taguba.

These actions, authorized at the highest levels, constituted serious breaches of international and domestic law, including the Convention Against Torture, the Geneva Convention relative to the treatment of Prisoners of War, as well as the U.S. War Crimes Act and the Torture Statute.

They also may have played a role in the rise of the ISIS terror group, the origins of which were subsequently traced to an American prison in Iraq dubbed Camp Bucca. This camp was the site of rampant abuse of prisoners, one of whom, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, later became the leader of ISIS. Al-Baghdadi spent four years as a prisoner at Bucca, where he started recruiting others to his cause.

America’s Weapons of Mass Destruction

Besides torture and the use of cluster bombs, the crimes against the Iraqi people over the years included wholesale massacres, long-term poisoning and the destruction of cities.

There was the 2004 assault on Fallujah in which white phosphorus – banned under international law – was used against civilians. There was the 2005 Haditha massacre, in which 24 unarmed civilians were systematically murdered by U.S. marines. There was the 2007 “Collateral Murder” massacre revealed by WikiLeaks in 2010, depicting the indiscriminate killing of more than a dozen civilians in the Iraqi suburb of New Baghdad – including two Reuters news staff.

There is also the tragic legacy of cancer and birth defects caused by the U.S. military’s extensive use of depleted uranium and white phosphorus. In Fallujah the use of depleted uranium led to birth defects in infants 14 times higher than in the Japanese cities targeted by U.S. atomic bombs at close of World War II, Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Noting the birth defects in Fallujah, Al Jazeera journalist Dahr Jamail told Democracy Now! in 2013:

“And going on to Fallujah, because I wrote about this a year ago, and then I returned to the city again this trip, we are seeing an absolute crisis of congenital malformations of newborn. … I mean, these are extremely hard to look at. They’re extremely hard to bear witness to. But it’s something that we all need to pay attention to, because of the amount of depleted uranium used by the U.S. military during both of their brutal attacks on the city of 2004, as well as other toxic munitions like white phosphorus, among other things.”

A report sent to the UN General Assembly by Dr. Nawal Majeed Al-Sammarai, Iraq’s Minister of Women’s Affairs, stated that in September 2009, Fallujah General Hospital had 170 babies born, 75 percent of whom were deformed. A quarter of them died within their first week of life.

The military’s use of depleted uranium also caused a sharp increase in Leukemia and birth defects in the city of Najaf, which saw one of the most severe military actions during the 2003 invasion, with cancer becoming more common than the flu according to local doctors.

By the end of the war, a number of Iraq’s major cities, including Fallujah, Ramadi, and Mosul, had been reduced to rubble and by 2014, a former CIA director conceded that the nation of Iraq had basically been destroyed.

“I think Iraq has pretty much ceased to exist,” said Michael Hayden, noting that it was fragmented into multiple parts which he didn’t see “getting back together.” In other words, the United States, using its own extensive arsenal of actual weapons of mass destruction, had completely destroyed a sovereign nation.

Predictable Consequences

The effects of these policies included the predictable growth of Islamic extremism, with a National Intelligence Estimate – representing the consensus view of the 16 spy services inside the U.S. government – warning in 2006 that a whole new generation of Islamic radicalism was being spawned by the U.S. occupation of Iraq. According to one American intelligence official, the consensus was that “the Iraq war has made the overall terrorism problem worse.”

The assessment noted that several underlying factors were “fueling the spread of the jihadist movement,” including “entrenched grievances, such as corruption, injustice, and fear of Western domination, leading to anger, humiliation, and a sense of powerlessness,” and “pervasive anti-U.S. sentiment among most Muslims all of which jihadists exploit.”

But rather than leading to substantive changes or reversals in U.S. policies, the strategy agreed upon in Washington seemed to be to double down on the failed policies that had given rise to radical jihadist groups. In fact, instead of withdrawing from Iraq, the U.S. decided to send a surge of 20,000 troops in 2007. This is despite the fact that public opinion was decidedly against the war.

A Newsweek poll in early 2007 found that 68 percent of Americans opposed the surge, and in another poll conducted just after Bush’s 2007 State of the Union Address, 64 percent said Congress was not being assertive enough in challenging the Bush administration over its conduct of the war.

An estimated half-million people marched on Washington on Jan. 27, 2007, with messages for the newly sworn in 110th Congress to “Stand up to Bush,” urging Congress to cut the war funding with the slogan, “Not one more dollar, not one more death.” A growing combativeness was also on display in the antiwar movement with this demonstration marked by hundreds of protesters breaking through police lines and charging Capitol Hill.

Although there were additional large-scale protests a couple months later to mark the sixth anniversary of the invasion, including a march on the Pentagon led by Iraq War veterans, over the next year the antiwar movement’s activities steadily declined. While fatigue might explain some of the waning support for mass mobilizations, much of the decline can also surely be explained by the rise of Barack Obama’s candidacy. Millions of people channeled their energies into his campaign, including many motivated by a hope that he represented real change from the Bush years.

One of Obama’s advantages over Clinton in the Democratic primary was that he had been an early opponent of the Iraq War while she had been one of its most vocal supporters. This led many American voters to believe in 2008 that they had elected someone who might rein in some of the U.S. military adventurism and quickly end U.S. involvement in Iraq. But this wasn’t to be the case. The combat mission dragged on well into President Obama’s first term.

War, War and More War

After its well-publicized failures in Iraq, the U.S. turned its attention to Libya, overthrowing the government of Muammar Gaddafi in 2011 utilizing armed militias implicated in war crimes and backed with NATO air power. Following Gaddafi’s ouster, his caches of weapons ended up being shuttled to rebels in Syria, fueling the civil war[sic] there. The Obama administration also took a keen interest in destabilizing the Syrian government and to do so began providing arms that often fell into the hands of extremists.

The CIA trained and armed so-called “moderate” rebel units in Syria, only to watch these groups switch sides by joining forces with Islamist brigades such as ISIS and Al Qaeda’s affiliate the Nusra Front. Others surrendered to Sunni extremist groups with the U.S.-provided weapons presumably ending up in the arsenals of jihadists or sometimes just quit or went missing altogether.

Beyond Syria and Libya, Obama also expanded U.S. military engagements in countries including Yemen, Somalia, Pakistan, and sent a surge of troops to Afghanistan in 2009. And despite belatedly withdrawing U.S. forces from Iraq, with the last U.S. troops finally leaving on December 18, 2011, Obama also presided over a major increase in the use of drone strikes and conventional air wars.

In his first term, Obama dropped 20,000 bombs and missiles, a number that shot up to over 100,000 bombs and missiles dropped in his second term. In 2016, the final year of Obama’s presidency, the U.S. dropped nearly three bombs every hour, 24 hours a day.

Obama also had the distinction of becoming the fourth U.S. president in a row to bomb the nation of Iraq. Under criticism for allowing the rise of ISIS in the country, Obama decided to reverse his earlier decision to disengage with Iraq, and in 2014 started bombing the country again. Addressing the American people on Sept. 10, 2014, President Obama said that “ISIL poses a threat to the people of Iraq and Syria, and the broader Middle East including American citizens, personnel and facilities.”

“If left unchecked,” he continued, “these terrorists could pose a growing threat beyond that region, including to the United States. While we have not yet detected specific plotting against our homeland, ISIL leaders have threatened America and our allies.”

Of course, this is precisely the result that many voices of caution had warned about back in 2002 and 2003, when millions of Americans were taking to the streets in protest of the looming invasion of Iraq. And, to be clear, it wasn’t just the antiwar left urging restraint – establishment figures and paleoconservatives were also voicing concern.

Retired Gen. Anthony Zinni, for example, who served as a Middle East envoy for George W. Bush, warned in October 2002 that by invading Iraq, “we are about to do something that will ignite a fuse in this region that we will rue the day we ever started.” Brent Scowcroft, national security adviser in the first Bush administration, said a strike on Iraq “could unleash an Armageddon in the Middle East.”

No matter, Bush was a gut player who had made up his mind, so those warnings were brushed aside and the invasion proceeded.

Campaign 2016

When presidential candidate Donald Trump began slamming Bush for the Iraq War during the Republican primary campaign in 2015 and 2016, calling the decision to invade Iraq a “big fat mistake,” he not only won over some of the antiwar libertarian vote, but also helped solidify his image as a political outsider who “tells it like it is.”

And after Hillary Clinton emerged as the Democratic nominee, with her track record as an enthusiastic backer of virtually all U.S. interventions and an advocate of deeper involvement in countries such as Syria, voters could have been forgiven for getting the impression that the Republican Party was now the antiwar party and the Democrats were the hawks.

As the late Robert Parry observed in June 2016, “Amid the celebrations about picking the first woman as a major party’s presumptive nominee, Democrats appear to have given little thought to the fact that they have abandoned a near half-century standing as the party more skeptical about the use of military force. Clinton is an unabashed war hawk who has shown no inclination to rethink her pro-war attitudes.”

The antiwar faction within the Democratic Party was further marginalized during the Democratic National Convention when chants of “No More War” broke out during former Defense Secretary Leon Panetta’s speech. The Democratic establishment responded with chants of “USA!” to drown out the voices for peace and they even turned the lights out on the antiwar section of the crowd. The message was clear: there is no room for the antiwar movement inside the Democratic Party.

While there were numerous factors that played a role in Trump’s stunning victory over Clinton in November 2016, it is no stretch of the imagination to speculate that one of those factors was lingering antiwar sentiment from the Iraq debacle and other engagements of the U.S. military. Many of those fed up with U.S. military adventurism may have fallen for Trump’s quasi-anti-interventionist rhetoric while others may have opted to vote for an alternative party such as the Libertarians or the Greens, both of which took strong stances against U.S. interventionism.

But despite Trump’s occasional statements questioning the wisdom of committing the military to far-off lands such as Iraq or Afghanistan, he was also an advocate for war crimes such as “taking out [the] families” of suspected terrorists. He urged that the U.S. stop being “politically correct” in its waging of war.

So, ultimately, Americans were confronted with choosing between an unreconstructed regime-changing neoconservative Democratic hawk, and a reluctant interventionist who nevertheless wanted to teach terrorists a lesson by killing their children. Although ultimately the neocon won the popular vote, the war crimes advocate carried the Electoral College.

Nawar al-Awlaki, 8, killed by US drone 1/29/17

Following the election it turned out that Trump was a man of his word when it came to killing children. In one of his first military actions as president, Trump ordered an attack on a village in Yemen on Jan. 29, 2017, which claimed the lives of as many as 23 civilians, including a newborn baby and an eight-year-old girl, Nawar al-Awlaki.

Nawar was the daughter of the al-Qaeda propagandist and American citizen Anwar al-Awlaki, who was killed in a September 2011 U.S. drone strike in Yemen.

Normalized Aggression

2017, Trump’s first year in office, turned out to be the deadliest year for civilians in Iraq and Syria since U.S. airstrikes began on the two countries in 2014. The U.S. killed between 3,923 and 6,102 civilians during the year, according to a tally by the monitoring group Airwars. “Non-combatant deaths from Coalition air and artillery strikes rose by more than 200 per cent compared to 2016,” Airwars noted.

While this spike in civilian deaths did make some headlines, including in the Washington Post, for the most part, the thousands of innocents killed by U.S. airstrikes are dismissed as “collateral damage.” The ongoing carnage is considered perfectly normal, barely even eliciting a comment from the pundit class.

This is arguably one of the most enduring legacies of the 2003 invasion of Iraq – an act of military aggression that was based on false pretenses, which brushed aside warnings of caution, and blatantly violated international law. With no one in the media or the Bush administration ever held accountable for promoting this war or for launching it, what we have seen is the normalization of military aggression to a level that would have been unimaginable 20 years ago.

Indeed, I remember well the bombing of Iraq that took place in 1998 as part of Bill Clinton’s Operation Desert Fox. Although this was a very limited bombing campaign, lasting only four days, there were sizable protests in opposition to the military action. I joined a picket of a couple hundred people in front of the White House holding a hand-made sign reading “IMPEACH HIM FOR WAR CRIMES” – a reference to the fact that Congress was at the time impeaching him for lying about a blowjob.

Compare that to what we see today – or, more accurately what we don’t see today – in regards to antiwar advocacy. Despite the fact that the U.S. is now engaged in at least seven military conflicts, there is little in the way of peace activism or even much of a national debate over the wisdom, legality or morality of waging war. Few even raise objections to its significant financial cost to U.S. taxpayers, for example the fact that one day of spending on these wars amounts to about $200 million.

Fifteen years ago, one of the arguments of the antiwar movement was that the war on terror was morphing into a perpetual war without boundaries, without rules, and without any end game. The U.S., in other words, was in danger of finding itself in a state of endless war.

We are now clearly embroiled in that endless war, which is a reality that even Senate war hawk Lindsey Graham acknowledged last year when four U.S. troops were killed in Niger. Claiming that he didn’t know that the U.S. had a military presence in Niger, Graham – who chairs the Senate Subcommittee on State, Foreign Operations, and Related Programs – stated that “this is an endless war without boundaries, no limitation on time or geography.”

Although it wasn’t clear whether he was lamenting or celebrating this endless and borderless war, his words should be taken as a warning of where the U.S. stands on this 15th anniversary of the U.S. invasion of Iraq – in a war without end, without boundaries, without limits on time or geography.

March 19, 2018 Posted by | Timeless or most popular, War Crimes | , , , , | 1 Comment

‘Bomb Iran & execute Snowden’: Brief history of Pompeo’s foreign policy rhetoric

RT | March 13, 2018

Newly-installed Secretary of State Mike Pompeo doesn’t have a huge amount of experience as a diplomat so what can we expect from the former Kansas congressman now that he is heading US foreign policy?

Pompeo landed the top job in the State Department on Tuesday after US President Donald Trump ousted Rex Tillerson. Here’s a flavor of his previous comments on the most pressing foreign policy issues.


Pompeo was appointed CIA director in November 2016. He began his tenure by talking tough on Russia, describing it as a major threat to US interests. “[Russia] has reasserted itself aggressively, invading and occupying Ukraine, threatening Europe, and doing nearly nothing to aid in the destruction and defeat of ISIS.”

He continued with the hawkish rhetoric throughout his time in the CIA. On Sunday he said that Americans are safe from Russia because it has weapons to counter any Russian threat.

“Americans should rest assured that we have a very good understanding of the Russian program and how to make sure that Americans continue to be kept safe from threats from Vladimir Putin,” the then-CIA chief said.


However Russia isn’t the only ‘bad guy’ out there, according to Pompeo. In a revealing interview with the BBC the then-US spy chief attacked alleged Chinese efforts to exert covert influence in the West. He claimed China attempts to post spies in schools and hospitals, as well as trying to steal information from US companies.

“We can watch very focused efforts to steal American information, to infiltrate the United States with spies – with people who are going to work on behalf of the Chinese government against America,” according to Pompeo. “We see it in our schools. We see it in our hospitals and medicals systems. We see it throughout corporate America. It’s also true in other parts of the world… including Europe and the UK.”

North Korea

After becoming CIA director Pompeo spoke of a desire to denuclearize the Korean Peninsula because of the danger of North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un possessing weapons of mass destruction. In recent days he reaffirmed this position, asserting that the Trump administration has “its eyes wide open” on North Korea as Kim agreed to pause nuclear testing ahead of forthcoming negotiations between the two nations.

“The pressure will continue to mount on North Korea,” he told CBS. “There is no relief in sight until the president gets the objective that he has set forth consistently during his entire time in office.”


Pompeo, who, like Trump, had a career as a businessman before turning to politics, has reserved his strongest rhetoric for Iran and the nuclear deal signed by former US President Barack Obama.

His opposition dates back to his time as a congressman when he said that the deal “won’t stop Iran from getting a nuclear bomb and places Israel at more risk.” Pompeo also criticized the Obama administration for not demanding that Iran cease calling for Israel’s destruction as part of the deal.

Before becoming CIA director Pompeo broached the possibility of using force to destroy Iran’s nuclear capacity. “In an unclassified setting, it is under 2,000 sorties to destroy the Iranian nuclear capacity,” he said in 2014. “This is not an insurmountable task for the coalition forces.”

Edward Snowden

Pompeo’s dramatic comments on Iran pale in comparison to the fate he thinks National Security Agency (NSA) whistleblower Edward Snowden deserves. The new secretary of state said that Snowden, who leaked classified NSA information, should be brought back to the US and sentenced to death.

“[He] should brought back from Russia and given due process, and I think the proper outcome would be that he would be given a death sentence,” Pompeo said in February 2016. He also lashed out at Snowden’s appearance via video link at the South by Southwest conference in Austin, Texas, in 2014, fearing it would cause “lawless behavior” in the crowd. The talk went ahead without incident.

Pompeo also had harsh words about WikiLeaks, referring to the whistleblowing organization as a “hostile intelligence service” in April 2017.

March 13, 2018 Posted by | Militarism, Russophobia, Timeless or most popular | , , | 1 Comment

The Healthcare Bait-and-Switch: From the Clintons to Obama and Back Again

By Glen Ford | Black Agenda Report | March 8, 2018

On the campaign trail in January of 2016, Hillary Clinton told Iowa voters that Bernie Sanders’ single payer health care proposal was an idea whose time would never come. “People who have health emergencies can’t wait for us to have a theoretical debate about some better idea that will never, ever come to pass ,” said the presumed shoo-in for president. Two years later, one-third of Democrats in the Senate have endorsed Sanders’ Medicare for All Act and half the Democrats in the U.S. House have signed on to Rep. John Conyers’ Expanded and Improved Medicare for All Act, HR 676 . Polls show 75 percent of Democrats favor “expanding Medicare to provide health insurance to every American,” and 31 percent of the public at-large wants health care to be the first problem the Democrats tackled if they win the White House in 2020.

Predictably, however, Hillary Clinton’s favorite think tank is still trying to make sure single payer health care never happens. The lavishly funded Center for American Progress (CAP) last week unveiled their counterfeit, sound-alike health care plan, dubbed Medicare Extra for All, whose sole purpose is to distract and confuse a public that is demonstrably “ready” for single payer. The CAP scheme, like Obamacare, keeps the private insurance corporations at the center of the money-stream, doesn’t cover everyone, charges fees, co-pays and premiums, doesn’t save much money, and would fail to provide millions with adequate coverage. “CAP’s plan maintains the current tiered system in which some people have private health insurance, those with the greatest needs have public health insurance, some people will have inadequate coverage and others will have no coverage at all,” writes Dr. Margaret Flowers , of Health Over Profit. “By offering a solution that sounds good to the uninformed — ‘Medicare Extra for All’ –but continues to benefit their Wall Street donors,” said Flowers, “Democrats hope to fool people or buy enough support to undermine efforts for NIMA,” or National Improved Medicare for All, the comprehensive single payer plan supported by the activists like Flowers.

National Improved Medicare for All would save half a trillion dollars a year on administrative costs and another $100 billion on reduced drug costs, according to Flowers. “The CAP plan maintains the complicated multi-payer system that we have today,” she said. “At best, it will only achieve 16% of the administrative savings of a single payer system and it will have less power to reign in the high costs of care.”

The CAP scheme would leave the link between employment and health coverage intact, keeping workers ultimately dependent on the whims of their bosses for healthcare coverage. “When people who have private health insurance lose their job or move, they risk losing their health insurance,” said Flowers. “NIMA creates a health system that covers everyone no matter where they are in the United States and its territories.”

The Obama-Scam, Repackaged

The Center for American Progress is running the same bait-and-switch con that Barack Obama played in the set-up to his Affordable Care Act. Bruce Dixon and I were introduced to Obama’s healthcare scam in June of 2003 when we engaged the then candidate for the U.S. Senate in a month-long telephone and email conversation, at The Black Commentator . At the time, Obama was trailing the field of candidates and in need of every Black vote in Illinois. Dixon and I had just learned that Obama had joined the Democratic Leadership Council (DLC), the corporate money-bag operation for the right wing of the party founded by white southern Democrats including Bill Clinton and Al Gore. On top of that, he’d recently removed his 2002 (mildly) anti-war speech from his campaign website, apparently to get in line with George Bush’s triumphal “Mission Accomplished ” speech, the previous month. Obama denied that he’d become a member of the DLC, and claimed his website was undergoing “routine” updating. (Years later, when the war was clearly lost, Obama’s team would resurrect “The Speech” as proof of his early anti-war credentials.)

Dixon and I decided that the best way to determine if Obama should be in the DLC or not, would be to put him to a three-question “bright line” test on the issues of war, health care and U.S. membership in the NAFTA, the North American Free Trade Agreement. If the candidate answered all three questions correctly, then he should not be a member of the DLC. If he failed, then the DLC was where he belonged, and voters should make their decisions, accordingly.

We presented our bright line questions to Obama in the June 19, 2003 , Cover Story of the publication:

1. Do you favor the withdrawal of the United States from NAFTA? Will you in the Senate introduce or sponsor legislation toward that end?

2. Do you favor the adoption of a single payer system of universal health care to extend the availability of quality health care to all persons in this country? Will you in the Senate introduce or sponsor legislation toward that end?

3. Would you have voted against the October 10 congressional resolution allowing the president to use unilateral force against Iraq?

Note that we specified “a single payer system of universal health care.”

Obama used weasel-language to fudge his answers to the Iraq War and NAFTA questions. On health care, he wrote:

“I favor universal health care for all Americans, and intend to introduce or sponsor legislation toward that end in the U.S. Senate, just as I have at the state level. My campaign is also developing a series of interim proposals – such as an expansion of the successful SCHIP program – so that we can immediately provide more coverage to uninsured children and their families.”

Obama left out the words “single payer.” Only after he became president, six years later, would it become clear that his definition of “universal” health care meant only that all Americans would be required to enroll in an insurance program – just as states require that all drivers be insured.

Despite his use of weasel-wording in all three answers, we at The Black Commentator gave Obama a passing grade. “BC is not seeking to martyr Barack Obama on a left-leaning cross,” we wrote.

(Our actual motive in 2003 was fear of being labeled “crabs in a barrel” for undermining the prospects of such an attractive, progressive-sounding, young Black up-and-coming politician—a failure of political nerve for which I will forever be ashamed.)

A year and a half later, in the week before Obama was sworn into the Senate, he told me that the country was not “ready” for single payer. But, if he really believed that, he would not have spent the next four years misleading the people through his calculated misuse of the term “universal.”

“Universal” was Obama’s bait-and-switch to confuse the public, much of which continued to wishfully assumed that he favored some kind of single payer plan. Once he got in office—and after announcing that “all entitlements, including Social Security, Medicaid and Medicare, would be “on the table” for cutting under his administration—Obama banished single payer advocates like Rep. Conyers from the White House and quite publicly allowed the for-profit healthcare corporations to write his Affordable Care Act, with its “universal” mandate that added many of millions of new “customers” for the industry.

The Democratic Leadership Council disbanded near the end of Obama’s first term in office. Faux-progressives claimed a victory. “One of the things that’s happening right now in Democratic politics is that progressives are winning the battle for the party,” said Progressive Congress president Darcy Burner. “The corporate-focused DLC type of politics isn’t working inside the Democratic party.”

That was nonsense. The DLC went out of business because it had won its battle for corporate hegemony in the party. By 2011, Obama had revealed himself as a full-blooded austerity (and war) president, and was still seeking his “Grand Bargain” with the Republicans. The “progressives” were defenestrated (thrown out of the White House windows) and humiliated in his first year, and were not to rise again until Bernie Sanders, the nominally non-Democrat, made his bid for the White House in 2016—with single payer healthcare at the tip of his spear.

Sanders’ version of single payer is “highly flawed ,” said Health Over Profit’s Margaret Flowers, who is also co-director of Popular Resistance , but, “the fact that the Democrats are proposing something that sounds like NIMA means we are gaining power.” The legislation “calls for a four-year transition period, during which the newly improved Medicare would first insure all children and adults 55 or older, then expand gradually to cover all adults,” writes the Huffington Post .

The Sanders bill’s endorsers in the Senate include a number of obvious Trojan Horses, such as Cory Booker, a deeply reactionary politician who could have been the “first Obama” had he won prominent office just a few years sooner (see The Black Commentator, April 4, 2002, “Fruit of the Poisoned Tree .”) He was among 13 Democrats that voted against creating a reserve fund to allow Americans to import cheaper drugs from Canada, lamely claiming that it didn’t address consumer protection issues. Booker and others are joining the pro-single payer bandwagon to weaken it from the inside, while his allies in the Clinton camp and their Center for American Progress scheme to extend the life of for-profit healthcare under the Medicare brand.

Meanwhile, Donald Trump is the greatest negative motivator for single payer. He last month proposed new rules that would allow sale of short-term insurance policies that omit “essential health benefits”—what Sen. Ron Wyden calls “junk insurance”—to allow the market to work its miracles. But the people are learning that the market will kill you.

BAR executive editor Glen Ford can be contacted at

March 8, 2018 Posted by | Aletho News | , | Leave a comment

‘Progressive’ Journalists Jump the Shark on Russiagate

By Ray McGovern | Consortium News | March 7, 2018

Russiagate’s sensationalist media coverage

Jane Mayer of The New Yorker and Cenk Uygur of The Young Turks are the latest progressives to jump on the anti-Trump, pro-Russiagate bandwagon. They have made it crystal clear that, in Mayer’s words, they are not going to let Republicans, or anyone else, “take down the whole intelligence community,” by God.

Odd? Nothing is too odd when it comes to spinning and dyeing the yarn of Russiagate; especially now that some strands are unraveling from the thin material of the “Steele dossier.”

Before the 2016 election, British ex-spy Christopher Steele was contracted (through a couple of cutouts) by the Clinton campaign and Democratic National Committee to dig up dirt on candidate Donald Trump. They paid him $168,000. They should ask for their money back.

Mayer and Uygur have now joined with other Trump-despisers and new “progressive” fans of the FBI and CIA – among them Amy Goodman and her go-to, lost-in-the-trees journalist, Marcy Wheeler of All of them (well, maybe not Cenk) are staying up nights with needle and thread trying to sew a silk purse out of the sow’s-ear dossier of Steele allegations and then dye it red for danger.

Monday brought a new low, with a truly extraordinary one-two punch by Mayer and Uygur.

A Damning Picture?

Mayer does her part in a New Yorker article, in which she – intentionally or not – cannot seem to see the forest for the trees.

In her article, Mayer explains up front that the Steele dossier “painted a damning picture of collusion between Trump and Russia,” and then goes on to portray him as a paragon of virtue with praise that is fulsome, in the full meaning of that word. For example, a friend of Steele told Mayer that regarding Steele, “Fairness, integrity, and truth, for him, trump any ideology.”

Now, if one refuses to accept this portrait on faith, then you are what Mayer describes as a “Trump defender.” According to Mayer, Trump defenders argue that Steele is “a dishonest Clinton apparatchik who had collaborated with American intelligence and law enforcement officials to fabricate false charges against Trump and his associates, in a dastardly (sic) attempt to nullify the 2016 election. According to this story line, it was not the President who needed to be investigated, but the investigators themselves.”

Can you imagine!

I could not help but think that Mayer wrote her piece some months ago and that she and her editors might have missed more recent documentary evidence that gives considerable support to that “dastardly” story line. But seriously, it should be possible to suspect Steele of misfeasance or malfeasance – or simply telling his contractors what he knows they want to hear – without being labeled a “Trump supporter.” I, for example, am no Trump supporter. I am, however, a former intelligence officer and I have long since concluded that what Steele served up is garbage.

Character References

Mayer reports that Richard Dearlove, head of MI6 from 1999 to 2004, described Steele as “superb.” Personally, I would shun any “recommendation” from that charlatan. Are memories so short? Dearlove was the intelligence chief who briefed Prime Minister Tony Blair on July 23, 2002 after a quick trip to Washington. The official minutes of that meeting were leaked to the London Times and published on May 1, 2005.

Dearlove explained to Blair that President George W. Bush had decided to attack Iraq for regime change and that the war was to be “justified by the conjunction of terrorism and weapons of mass destruction.” Dearlove added matter-of-factly, “The intelligence and facts are being fixed around the policy.”

Another character reference Mayer gives for Steele is former CIA Deputy Director John McLaughlin (from 2000 to 2004) who, with his boss George Tenet, did the fixing of intelligence to “justify” the war on Iraq. State Department intelligence director at the time, Carl Ford, told the authors of “Hubris: The Inside Story of Spin, Scandal, and the Selling of the Iraq War” that both McLaughlin and Tenet “should have been shot” for what they did.

And then there is CIA veteran spy John Sipher who, Mayer says, “ran the Agency’s Russia program before retiring, in 2014.” Sipher tells her he thinks the Steele dossier is “generally credible” in “saying what Russia might be up to.” Sipher may be a good case officer but he has shown himself to be something of a cipher on substance.

Worse still, he displays a distinct inclination toward the remarkable view of former National Intelligence Director James Clapper, who has said that Russians are “typically, almost genetically driven to co-opt, penetrate, gain favor, whatever.” If Mayer wanted to find some ostensibly authoritative figure to endorse the kind of material in Steele’s dossier, she surely picked a good one in Sipher.

Mayer notes, “It’s too early to make a final judgment about how much of Steele’s dossier will be proved wrong, but a number of Steele’s major claims have been backed up by subsequent disclosures. She includes, as flat fact, his claim that the Kremlin and WikiLeaks were working together to release the DNC’s emails, but provides no evidence.

Major Holes

Mayer, however, should know better. There have been lots of holes in the accusation that the Russians hacked the DNC and gave the material to WikiLeaks to publish. Here’s one major gap we reported on Jan. 20, 2017: President Barack Obama told his last press conference on Jan. 18, that the U.S. intelligence community had no idea how the Democratic emails reached WikiLeaks.

Using lawyerly language, Obama admitted that “the conclusions of the intelligence community with respect to the Russian hacking were not conclusive as to whether WikiLeaks was witting or not in being the conduit through which we heard about the DNC e-mails that were leaked.”

It is necessary to carefully parse Obama’s words since he prides himself in his oratorical constructs. He offered a similarly designed comment at a Dec. 16, 2016 press conference when he said: “based on uniform intelligence assessments, the Russians were responsible for hacking the DNC. … the information was in the hands of WikiLeaks.”

Note the disconnect between the confidence about hacking and the stark declarative sentence about the information ending up at WikiLeaks. Obama does not bridge the gap because to do so would be a bald-faced lie, which some honest intelligence officer might call him on. So, he simply presented the two sides of the chasm – implies a connection – but leaves it to the listener to make the leap.

It was, of course, WikiLeaks that published the very damaging Democratic information, for example, on the DNC’s dirty tricks that marginalized Sen. Bernie Sanders and ensured that Secretary of State Hillary Clinton would win the Democratic nomination. What remained to be demonstrated was that it was “the Russians” who gave those emails to WikiLeaks. And that is what the U.S. intelligence community could not honestly say.

Saying it now, without evidence, does not make it true.

Cenk Also in Sync

Cenk Uygur of The Young Turks at once picked up, big time, on the part of Mayer’s article that homes in on an “astonishing” report from Steele in late November 2016 quoting one “senior Russian official.” According to that official, “The Kremlin had intervened to block Trump’s initial choice for secretary of state, Mitt Romney.” Steele’s late November memo alleged that the Kremlin had asked Trump to appoint someone who would be prepared to lift Ukraine-related sanctions and cooperate on security issues like Syria.

Mayer commented, “As fantastical as the memo sounds, subsequent events could be said to support it.” Fantastical or not, Uygur decided to run with it. His amazing 12-minute video is titled: “New Steele Dossier: Putin PICKED Trump’s Secretary of State.” Uygur asks: “Who does Tillerson work for; and that also goes for the President.”

Return to Sanity

As an antidote to all the above, let me offer this cogent piece on the views of Joseph E. diGenova, who speaks out of his unique experience, including as Counsel to the U.S. Senate Select Committee on Intelligence (the Church Committee). The article is entitled: “The Politicization of the FBI.”

“Over the past year,” diGenova wrote, “facts have emerged that suggest there was a plot by high-ranking FBI and Department of Justice (DOJ) officials in the Obama administration, acting under color of law, to exonerate Hillary Clinton of federal crimes and then, if she lost the election, to frame Donald Trump and his campaign for colluding with Russia to steal the presidency.”

He pointed out that nearly half of Americans, according to a CBS poll, believe that Mueller’s Trump-Russia collusion probe is “politically motivated.” And, he noted, 63 percent of polled voters in a Harvard CAPS-Harris Poll believe that the FBI withheld vital information from Congress about the Clinton and Russia collusion investigations.

This skepticism is entirely warranted, as diGenova explains, with the Russiagate probe being characterized by overreach from the beginning.

Ray McGovern works with Tell the Word, a publishing arm of the ecumenical Church of the Saviour in inner-city Washington. He served in Army and CIA intelligence analysis for 30 years and, after retiring, co-founded Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity (VIPS).

March 7, 2018 Posted by | Fake News, Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Progressive Hypocrite, Russophobia | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Analysts alarmed over Pentagon’s 60,000-strong Syrian rebel force

‘US aid ends up with extremists’

RT | March 7, 2018

Analysts have warned that US-supported groups in Syria often defect to extremists with their weapons. That’s after it was revealed the Pentagon plans to spend around $300 million to train and equip a 60,000-strong army in Syria.

Commenting on the Pentagon’s plans to build, train and equip a massive ‘Vetted Syrian Opposition’ to fight Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS) in Syria, a number of US-based experts told RT the move has nothing to do with combatting terrorism. Instead, US weapons and aid could easily land in the hands of Islamist extremists, as has often been seen in the past.

“In the past, some of the groups who were the recipient of US aid ended up either taking over or [being] defeated by some of the radical forces on the ground in Syria. Or some of them ended up joining the extremists and taking some of the weapons with them,” Edmund Ghareeb, a scholar at the American University in Washington, DC, told RT.

Another expert said an armed formation will help Washington tighten its grip over rebel-controlled parts of Syria, while stressing that the US’ “hostile military presence in Syria” has no legal basis. “They want to create… conditions in Syria where the country is still divided. The record of the US and the CIA’s operations in Syria is that the people they have supported all along have been extremists,” said Nicolas J.S. Davies, the author of ‘Blood On Our Hands: the American Invasion and Destruction of Iraq.’

He argued that the State Department and Pentagon “clearly want to push ahead with a plan to basically keep forces under their control in command of all Syrian territory east of the Euphrates river.”

While the US justifies its presence in Syria with claims it is fighting terrorists, the only area IS “has survived is the area that is under American and its allies’ control,” Daoud Khairallah, a professor of international law at Georgetown University, believes.“One would wonder whether they are getting assistance from Americans for their survivability, ” Khairallah told RT.

Pentagon pays monthly allowance to rebels, seeks to establish large force in Syria

Following the virtual defeat of IS terrorists in Syria, the US appears to be trying to restructure its military presence in the war-torn country. In February, a fiscal year 2019 budget document mulled creating a new army out of elements of the so-called Vetted Syrian Opposition (VSO). The forces are “projected to total approximately 60,000 to 65,000” by October 2018, according to a report titled ‘Justification for FY 2019 Overseas Contingency Operations (OCO)’.

The document explains that some 30,000 fighters will conduct “ongoing combat missions” against remaining pockets of IS in the Middle Euphrates River Valley (MERV), while another 35,000-strong contingent will form Internal Security Forces in liberated areas.

Creating the massive new military structure of rather questionable legality, roughly equivalent to the size of the Canadian armed forces, is an expensive endeavor. Besides seeking $250 million for border security requirements for areas outside of Iraq and Syria, the Pentagon is seeking some $300 million from US lawmakers to implement the creation of the new opposition bulwark machine that will be funded through the Syrian Train and Equip Program. Launched under the Obama administration in 2014, the program identified and trained selected Syrian opposition forces to fight IS.

The Pentagon plans to spend the bulk of the new funds on arming the forces. Nearly $50 million is allocated for buying AK-47s, PKM machine guns, as well as RPG-7 anti-tank rocket-propelled grenade launchers. Mortar launchers and sniper rifles are also on the menu next to hand grenades, different types of vehicles and tons of ammunition.

Washington plans to pay a monthly allowance to its force, in addition to providing the new force with uniforms, hygiene kits and medical equipment. “[The Department of Defense] will transition to a stabilization effort that will focus on support to local Internal Security Forces, who will receive stipends for their efforts to secure liberated territory and prevent the re-emergence of ISIS or its affiliates,” the document reads. “Currently, 10,000 established partner force personnel are being paid stipends. The individual stipend payments range from $200 to $400 per month.”

While Washington maintains that its goal is to defeat IS, Moscow has repeatedly questioned US intentions, especially as the American presence in Syria is viewed as a violation of sovereignty.

The Russian military last month asserted that the true US goal is to capture “economic assets” in Syria, warning that America’s presence constitutes a dangerous threat to the political process and territorial integrity of the country.

March 7, 2018 Posted by | Illegal Occupation, Militarism | , , , | 1 Comment

Iran trade is not vulnerable to US sanctions

By M K Bhadrakumar | Indian Punchline | February 28, 2018

The fear mongers among the Indian elite spread a canard that India needs to be watchful of American wrath if it expands economic ties with Iran. Of course, that is plain baloney. The Modi government has announced a decision to sequester India-Iran relations from US sanctions by allowing Indian companies and entities to use the national currency. This decision coincided with President Hassan Rouhani’s recent visit and becomes a landmark event in the chronicle of India-Iran relations.

Interestingly, European countries are also moving in the same direction as India. Their plan is to offer euro-denominated credits to Iranian buyers of their goods and services, which will keep the transactions beyond the reach of any US sanctions. France has already announced its intention to offer dedicated, euro-dominated export guarantees to Iranian buyers, which dispense with any US link, whether to the dollar or otherwise.

Like India, European countries also are staunch supporters of the Iran nuclear deal. Like India, they also are on the lookout for increasing their trade with Iran. The head of France’s state-owned Public Investment Bank (Bpifrance) Nicolas Dufurcq said last week with a touch of sarcasm, “This is a completely separate flow (of money). There is no dollar in this scheme… no one holding a US passport.” (One might say about the Indian elite, perhaps – “no one holding a Green Card.”)

Dufurcq was addressing French lawmakers in Paris. He disclosed that there is a pipeline of about 1.5 billion euros in potential contracts for French exporters in the Iranian market. France used to have close business ties with Iran and French manufacturing plants are still operating in Iran. Other European countries such as Germany, Belgium, Austria and Italy are also following the French example to insulate their economic relations with Iran from US sanctions. Italy and Iran agreed recently on a framework agreement that provides Italian credit up to 5 billion euros for its companies making investments in Iran. The credit agreement is between state-owned agencies in the two countries.

Unfortunately, Indian analysts largely go by the jaundiced opinions about Iran disseminated by the US media. The stunning reality is that in the last financial year the post-sanctions Iranian economy surged by 16%. Importantly, Iran is unique among the petrodollar states of the Persian Gulf in having a concerted strategy to grow its non-oil economy. And that is where lucrative business opportunities lie for Indian trade and industry.

Of course, the stabilization of oil prices above $50 per barrel also helps boost Iran’s income. Thus, the Modi government’s plans for a huge expansion of economic relations with Iran are based on a sound assessment. This is what Professor Juan Cole, the noted American expert on the Middle East wrote in his blog Informed Comment :

  • US pressure on Iran is not insignificant and does slow its economic progress. But if you tallied up wins and losses, there does not seem much question that Iran is gradually winning. That progress by Tehran is because of the nuclear accord, which reassured most of the world. Tehran should stick with it.

To be sure, Iran intends to stick to the nuclear accord and keep its part of the bargain so long as the international community abides by the July 2015 agreement. Tehran places great store on the support from European countries. (Read a piece in LobLog by former British diplomat Peter Jenkins, A Nuclear Deal With Iran Remains The Least Bad Option)

Iranian foreign policy is making an historic shift in its integration with the international community. The Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei said on February 19 in a national address, “In foreign policy today, the top priorities for us include preferring East to West.” Of course, it is another side of the Iranian ideology of preserving the country’s strategic autonomy. Yet, importantly, Khamenei didn’t exclude the West.

Détente with the US was Iran’s expectation in negotiating the 2015 nuclear deal but the growing feeling is that this will not be possible so long as the Trump administration is in power. It was an historic mistake on the part of the Obama administration not to have taken the nuclear deal to its logical conclusion by removing the residual US sanctions that hamper banking ties and, secondly, by engaging Iran constructively on issues of regional security and stability. The bottom line is that Iran has a surprisingly flexible foreign policy – pragmatic to dealings with the West. It’s the Israeli lobby, stupid – in Washington and Delhi!

February 28, 2018 Posted by | Economics, Fake News, Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Wars for Israel | , , , , | 5 Comments

Endgame Russia: NATO Sprawl Invades Eastern Europe, No More Illusions

By Robert BRIDGE | Strategic Culture Foundation | 26.02.2018

In the past, the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) justified its militarization of large swaths of Eastern Europe by pointing to the omnipresent threat of terrorism, or some ‘rogue’ foreign state, inherently understood to be Iran. Today the mask has slipped and it is no longer denied that NATO’s primary target is Russia.

But first, a trip down nightmare lane. The road to ruin – at least as far as US-Russia relations were concerned – began immediately following the 9/11 terror attacks. Three months after that fateful day, in December 2001, George W. Bush informed Vladimir Putin that the US was withdrawing from the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty, a strange move considering that the treaty had kept the peace between the nuclear superpowers since 1972. This geopolitical “mistake,” as Putin rightly defined it, allowed the US to begin the process of deploying a missile defense system, smack on the border with Russia, allegedly to shield the continent against an attack by Iran. Never mind the fact that Tehran had absolutely no reason, not to mention the wherewithal, to carry out such a suicidal mission. But Washington has never been one to let facts get in the way of a forced move on the global chess board.

Thus, the Bush administration advocated on behalf of a land-based missile defense system with interceptors based in Poland and a radar station in the Czech Republic. However, due to serious objections from Russia, not to mention the apprehensive citizens of the host countries, the plan had reached an impasse in 2008 – just as Obama was replacing Bush in the White House. Some would call that impeccable timing. What happened next can only be described as a devious sleight of hand on the part of Washington.

In September 2009, the Nobel Peace Prize winner, Barack Obama, announced to great fanfare that the US would “shelve” the Bush plan. This announcement was received in Moscow and beyond as a sign that America’s first black president was truly the real deal when it came to working on behalf of global peace. Suddenly, it appeared that the Bush reign of error had been an ugly anomaly, a bad eight-year dream. That grand illusion lasted for about as long as it took to read that sentence.

Barack Obama, the man who had seduced the global masses with his velvety albeit teleprompted delivery, shifted gears the very next day, announcing that the US would be deploying, in four phases, sea-based SM-3 interceptor missiles in Eastern Europe instead. An opinion piece in the New York Times, penned by then Secretary of Defense Robert M. Gates, provided all the information to understand that the world had been hoodwinked.

“Steady technological advances in our missile defense program — from kill vehicles to the abilities to network radars and sensors — give us confidence in this plan,” Gates wrote. “The SM-3 has had eight successful tests since 2007, and we will continue to develop it to give it the capacity to intercept long-range missiles like ICBMs. It is now more than able to deal with the threat from multiple short- and medium-range missiles — a very real threat to our allies and some 80,000 American troops based in Europe that was not addressed by the previous plan.”

“We are strengthening — not scrapping — missile defense in Europe,” he concluded.

With the benefit of hindsight and common sense, it seems that Washington’s plan from the start was to move forward with the sophisticated SM-3 system; the bulky Bush initiative just provided the necessary distraction to usher in the advanced Obama plan, which presents a major threat to the global strategic balance.

But all that is ancient history compared to what is happening today. Under the guise of ‘Russia aggression,’ a concept that was peddled to the unsuspecting masses based on the fake news of a Russian ‘invasion’ of Ukraine and Crimea, compounded by claims that Russia somehow swayed the 2016 US presidential elections, US-led NATO has dropped all pretensions and declared open season on Russia. Combined with Donald Trump’s empty threat that the US would exit NATO if member states did not start spending more on defense (2 percent of annual GDP), Eastern Europe has become a veritable hothouse of paranoia-driven militarization.

In what the Kremlin has described as the greatest amassing of military assets on its border since World War II, NATO troops and hardware have set up camp from as far north as Estonia, down through Latvia and Lithuania, into Romania and Poland, where the rotation of US troops is now standard operating procedure.

Meanwhile, massive military games aimed at deterring the Russian bogeyman continue unabated on Russia’s border. In April, British journalist Neil Clark described just one of these exercises, dubbed Summer Shield. The NATO military exercises “got underway at the Adazi military base. Soldiers from Latvia, the US, Bulgaria, Estonia, Canada, Lithuania, the UK, Luxembourg, Romania, Slovakia, Germany and also non-NATO member Sweden are taking part in the drills,” Clark wrote.

He then went on to make a rather unsettling yet accurate observation: “Today’s mantra regarding ‘Russian aggression’ is the 2003 equivalent of ‘Saddam’s Weapons of Mass Destruction,’ to be repeated ad nauseum by anyone supporting NATO’s Drang nach Osten. And like the WMD claim, it’s based on zero evidence.”

Such reckless behavior would have been difficult to fathom less than a decade ago.

But these are brave new times, and American madness has settled upon the realm of foreign relations like a noxious cloud, forcing client states to crack open their tattered wallets or be left out in the cold when the big, bad Russian bear comes a knocking.

Consider the case of Romania, one of Europe’s poorest countries. Prompted by Donald Trump’s warning that North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) members must fork over 2 percent of their GDP on military spending, Bucharest just made a down payment on a $1 billion American-made M142 HIMARS (High Mobility Artillery Rocket System), as well as four new multi-function corvettes.

Romanian Defence Minister Mihai Fifor told Jane’s that these exorbitant purchases would “improve Romania’s national and allied defense capability” and emphasized that Romania’s commitment to the 2% of GDP spending cap “for the next 10 years is strong”.

Prime Minister Viorica Dancila said, “We want those procurement programs to also strengthen our defence industry based on offset arrangements where possible”.

This was not the first American military incursion into Romania under the guise of guarding against Iran and other alleged rogue players.

In May 2016, the US activated its $800 million missile shield in Romania, which Russia obviously views as a direct threat.

“At the moment the interceptor missiles installed have a range of 500 kilometers, soon this will go up to 1000 kilometers, and worse than that, they can be rearmed with 2400km-range offensive missiles even today, and it can be done by simply switching the software, so that even the Romanians themselves won’t know,” Vladimir Putin told reporters during a visit to Greece in May 2016.

“We have been saying since the early 2000s that we will have to react somehow to your moves to undermine international security. No one is listening to us,” Putin warned.

It remains to be seen how long NATO tone deafness will continue before the militarization of Eastern Europe gets completely out of control and the situation becomes untenable. Or perhaps the point of no return has already come to pass and, fait accompli, we are merely enjoying an illusory calm before the storm.

February 26, 2018 Posted by | Deception, Militarism, Timeless or most popular | , , | 2 Comments

New US Sanctions Against Russia Are Coming, ‘Expect Them’ Soon – US Treasury Sec

Sputnik – February 14, 2018

The United States Secretary of the Treasury revealed that sanctions against the people mentioned in the so-called ‘Kremlin list’ would be soon introduced.

“We are actively working on those sanctions. And you should expect them in… [the] near future,” US Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin told the US Senate Finance Committee.

Previously responding to the “Kremlin report” release, Russian President Vladimir Putin described the sanctions as a deadlock solution, which is likely to lead to losses for those who introduced them.Putin expressed hope the West would soon “get bored with the sanctions policy” and Russia-US relations would normalize.

“The policy of artificially imposed restrictions in international business relations is a dead-end road that leads everyone, including the initiators of such a policy, to missed profits and direct losses,” Russian President stated.

In January, the US published the so-called “Kremlin report,” which listed names of 114 Russian politicians, including the Russian presidential administration and members of the government, as well as 96 businessmen.

Inclusion on the list implies that restrictive measures against named officials can be introduced in the future.

Commenting on the release of the report, Vladimir Putin called it an “unfriendly step” by the US administration, which harms Moscow-Washington relations.

In the wake of the publication, the Association of European Businesses (AEB) warned that the US Treasury’s “Kremlin Report” can affect the interests of European investors and European companies doing business in Russia.

The “Kremlin Report” was drafted in accordance with the law called Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanction Act and signed by the US President Donald Trump in August 2017.

On July 28 the Russian Foreign Ministry suspended the use of all US Embassy warehouses and its compound in Moscow amid the new US anti-Russia sanctions bill and follows a series of restrictive measures which have been imposed by Washington since 2014. It is similar to Washington’s decision to expel 35 Russian diplomats and suspend the use of diplomatic assets by Moscow in late 2016.

The relationship between Russia and the US worsened amid the internal conflict in Ukraine and Crimea’s reunification with Russia. Although Moscow denied all the allegations of meddling in Ukrainian internal affairs, a number of Western countries imposed sanctions on Russia, with the Kremlin then introducing response measures and launching the policy to replace foreign imports with domestic products.

February 14, 2018 Posted by | Economics, Russophobia | , | Leave a comment

Steele wrote memo based on information fed through Clinton campaign — released documents

RT | February 5, 2018

People close to Hillary Clinton were feeding information to Christopher Steele who compiled the Trump dossier on Trump’s alleged connections with Russia, according to a criminal referral filed by Republican senators.

A newly-released document from the Senate Judiciary Committee says Steele wrote an additional memo, besides the controversial dossier, using information that came from the Clinton campaign.

The newly-released memorandum is an unclassified and heavily-redacted version of the criminal referral targeting Steele, filed on January 4 by Republican Senators Chuck Grassley and Lindsey Graham. It is addressed to Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein and Director of the FBI Christopher Wray who Grassley and Graham are asking to investigate Steele.

The report reveals coordination between the extended Clinton circle and the Obama administration in an attempt to source damaging information about then-candidate Trump.

Steele was hired by private firm Fusion GPS in June 2016 to gather information on alleged links between Trump and Russia. His dossier, parts of which were leaked to the media before the elections, was the basis for the warrant to spy on Trump adviser, Carter Page, according to the memo released on Friday.

The report alleges that there was a circular flow of information between Clinton associates and Steele. A memorandum dated October 19, 2016 says that foreign sources provided the information to an unnamed associate of Hillary and Bill Clinton, who then gave the information to an unnamed official in the Obama State Department, who would then pass the information to Steele.

“It is troubling enough that the Clinton Campaign funded Mr. Steele’s work, but that these Clinton associates were contemporaneously feeding Mr. Steele allegations raises additional concerns about his credibility,” the report states.

“It appears that either Steele lied to the FBI and the British court, or that the classified documents reviewed by the Committee contain materially false statements,” the report states.

On January 4, Senators Grassley and Graham referred Steele to the FBI for further investigation after reviewing Justice Department documents that conflicted with Steele’s sworn court statements about the distribution of his research.

“Seeking transparency and cooperation should not be this challenging.  The government should not be blotting out information that it admits isn’t secret, and it should not take dramatic steps by Congress and the White House to get answers that the American people are demanding. There are still many questions that can only be answered by complete transparency.  That means declassifying as much of the underlying documents as possible,” Grassley said in the release accompanying the document.

Leaked to Buzzfeed in January 2017, Steele’s dossier contains unverified allegations that Russia holds information on Trump which it’s using to blackmail the US president. It further alleges sustained and close working contacts between Trump aides and Kremlin representatives, with Russia “feeding Trump and his team valuable intelligence on his opponents” for years prior to 2016. The allegations have not been proven.

As alleged in the ‘Nunes memo‘, this dossier “formed an essential part” of the FISA probable cause order obtained by the FBI from the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISC) in 2016 to spy on Trump adviser Carter Page. The warrant was extended three times, also on the basis of the Steele dossier.

February 5, 2018 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Deception | , , , | Leave a comment

Nunes Memo Details Weaponization of FISA Court for Political Advantage

By Kenneth Whittle | Disobedient Media | February 4, 2018

On Friday, the much anticipated “Nunes Memo” was finally released to the general public. Disobedient Media previously reported on the push to prevent the memo from being released. While there is much contained in the four pages, the most glaring issue contained in the memo is the FBI’s willful concealment of pertinent details of which they were required by law to turn over to the FISA court when seeking the initial surveillance warrant on Carter Page, a former volunteer foreign policy adviser for the Trump campaign.

According to the memo, former director James Comey signed three FISA applications on behalf of the FBI.  Additionally, Deputy Director Andrew McCabe, former Deputy Attorney General Sally Yates, former Deputy Attorney General Dana Boente, and acting Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, each signed one or more applications on behalf of the DOJ.

Under 50 U.S.C. § 1805(d)(1), a FISA order on an American citizen must be renewed by the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISC) every 90 days. In order to protect the rights of Americans, each subsequent renewal requires a separate finding of probable cause. This means that the in order to be granted a renewal, the government is required to produce all material and relevant facts to the court, including any information which may be potentially favorable to the target of the FISA application.

On four separate occasions the Obama administration essentially claimed before the FISA court that Page had betrayed his country by working for a hostile foreign nation, and therefore it was necessary that the government violate his Fourth Amendment rights. However, in this case, the government purposely withheld relevant information from the government not once, but four separate times.

According to the memo, at no time during the initial application process for the warrant to surveil Page, or in any of the three renewals of that application, did the government disclose to the FISA Court the nature of their relationship with Christopher Steele, his relationship with the Democratic National Committee (DNC), or his relationship with the Clinton campaign. Instead, the memo simply, yet vaguely states that, “Steele was working for a named U.S. person.”

Instead, the government purposefully withheld information from the court that the “dossier” compiled by Steele was done so on behalf of the DNC and the Hillary Clinton campaign. It was further withheld from the court that the DNC had paid Steele over $160,000 for his work in compiling this “dossier”, and that the money was funneled to Steele through the law firm Perkins Coie, which represents both the Hillary Clinton campaign as well as the DNC in legal matters. According to the National Review, the Clinton campaign and the DNC paid at least $9.1 million to Perkins Coie from mid-2015 to late 2016.

The government further held from the court the fact that the FBI had authorized payments to Steele. According to the New York Post, in October 2016 the FBI contracted to pay Steele $50,000 to “help corroborate the dirt on Trump.”

In March of 2017, CNN also reported that the FBI had entered into an arrangement with Steele, whereby they agreed to cover all of his expenses.

While it is extremely disconcerting that the government willfully concealed the existence of their financial relationship with Steele, a foreign national, what is more troubling is the fact that the government used tax payer dollars to do so. In other words, every single American who did not vote for Hillary Clinton, whether they voted for Trump or a third party candidate or did not vote at all – were forced to finance the Clinton campaign-funded opposition research.

In other words, the public’s tax dollars were spent on creating fake “evidence” to tie Trump with Russia, a false narrative that put the planet at heightened risk for nuclear war, for the sake of the Clinton’s hurt feelings.

Why the media refuses to mention or cover this fact, this author does not know. But this is an extremely important fact that every American, whether left, right, up, down, should remember, as it is the perfect example of the corruption which exists within our tax payer-funded institutions, which we are told to have nothing but the utmost respect for.

According to the memo, in an effort to corroborate Steele’s dossier, the FBI extensively cited a September 23, 2016, Yahoo News article by Michael Isikoff, titled “U.S. intel officials probe ties between Trump adviser and Kremlin”, which focuses on Page’s July 2016 trip to Moscow. However, when presenting this article to the court the FBI falsely assessed that Steele did not provide this information directly to Isikoff.  Meaning that the FBI was aware that the article they presented to the court was not corroborating evidence from a separate source, because the information in the article was provided to Isikoff by Steele himself.  In fact, as the memo points out, Steele himself has stated in British court filings that in September 2016 he met with Yahoo News, as well as several other outlets including the New York Times, the Washington Post, and the New Yorker.

What’s more, in an article published on January 12, 2017, Isikoff reports on a story by the Wall Street Journal in which Christopher Steele is identified as the author of the infamous dossier, and even notes that Steele was an “FBI asset”.  However, what is most striking about this article is the fact that despite receiving the underline information which served as the basis for his own article in September, Isikoff pretends have not known that Steele was the source of the dossier.

Even more interesting is the close relationship Isikoff had with the DNC during the 2016 Presidential election. According to an email from the DNC released by Wikileaks, Isikoff attended the “Open World Society’s forum” as the guest of DNC official Ali Chalupa. In the email, Chalupa states that she was invited to the forum to speak specifically about Paul Manafort, the former campaign manager for Donald Trump. Chalupa goes on to state that she has been working with Isikoff for the past few weeks and that at the event, she was able to get him “connected him to the Ukrainians.” She adds:

“I invited Michael Isikoff whom I’ve been working with for the past few weeks and connected him to the Ukrainians. More offline tomorrow since there is a big Trump component you and Lauren need to be aware of that will hit in next few weeks and something I’m working on you should be aware of.”

According to the memo, Steele’s relationship with the FBI as a source continued until late October 2016, when he was terminated for what the FBI defines as the most serious violations, “an unauthorized disclosure to the media of his relationship with the FBI”. This unauthorized disclosure occurred in an October 30, 2016, Mother Jones article by David Corn, the reporter who broke the infamous Mitt Romney “47 Percent” story.

Again, the FBI did not notify the court that Steele was leaking information to media outlets, or that he was terminated by the FBI after doing so for the second time.

Before and after his termination, Steele maintained contact with then-Associate Deputy Attorney General Bruce Ohr, whose wife, Nellie Ohr, was employed by Fusion GPS. Ohr would later tell the FBI in an interview in September 2016, that Steele had stated that he, “was desperate that Donald Trump not get elected and was passionate about him not being president.”

Lastly, the memo also reveals that the Steele dossier was so crucial to the investigation, that Deputy Director McCabe testified in December 2017 that no surveillance warrant would have been sought from the FISC without the Steele dossier information. This admission by the former Deputy Director is damning, as it proves that, if it were not for the Clinton campaign and DNC funded dossier created by a foreign national, there would have been no surveillance of Page, and ultimately there would have never been a special counsel appointed.

At the end of the day, every American, regardless of their position on the political spectrum, should be worried about the fact that the FBI and DOJ sought and were granted a warrant to spy on an opposing political campaign based on a document that the FBI itself had neither verified or corroborated. If the FISA court does in fact employ strict “safeguards” and procedures in order to ensure that the rights of American citizens are not being systematically violated, how is it that the FBI and DOJ were able to obtain a surveillance warrant based on unverified allegations? And why did Congress overwhelmingly vote to reauthorize Section 702?

February 5, 2018 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Corruption, Deception | , , , , | Leave a comment

Lying, Spying and Hiding

By Andrew Napolitano • Unz Review • February 1, 2018

I have argued for a few weeks now that House Intelligence Committee members have committed misconduct in office by concealing evidence of spying abuses by the National Security Agency and the FBI. They did this by sitting on a four-page memo that summarizes the abuse of raw intelligence data while Congress was debating a massive expansion of FISA.

FISA is the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act of 1978, which was written to enable the federal government to spy on foreign agents here and abroad. Using absurd and paranoid logic, the secret Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court, which only hears the government’s lawyers, has morphed “foreign intelligence surveillance” into undifferentiated bulk surveillance of all Americans.

Undifferentiated bulk surveillance is the governmental acquisition of fiber-optic data stored and transmitted by nearly everyone in America. This includes all telephone conversations, text messages and emails, as well as all medical, legal and financial records.

Ignorant of the hot potato on which the House Intelligence Committee had been sitting, Congress recently passed and President Donald Trump signed a vast expansion of spying authorities — an expansion that authorizes legislatively the domestic spying that judges were authorizing on everyone in the U.S. without individual suspicion of wrongdoing or probable cause of crime; an expansion that passed in the Senate with no votes to spare; an expansion that evades and avoids the Fourth Amendment; an expansion that the president signed into law the day before we all learned of the House Intelligence Committee memo.

The FISA expansion would never have passed the Senate had the House Intelligence Committee memo and the data on which it is based come to light seven days sooner than it did. Why should 22 members of a House committee keep their 500-plus congressional colleagues in the dark about domestic spying abuses while those colleagues were debating the very subject matter of domestic spying and voting to expand the power of those who have abused it?

The answer to this lies in the nature of the intelligence community today and the influence it has on elected officials in the government. By the judicious, personalized and secret revelation of data, both good and bad — here is what we know about your enemies, and here is what we know about you — the NSA shows its might to the legislators who supposedly regulate it. In reality, the NSA regulates them.

This is but one facet of the deep state — the unseen parts of the government that are not authorized by the Constitution and that never change, no matter which party controls the legislative or executive branch. This time, they almost blew it. If just one conscientious senator had changed her or his vote on the FISA expansion — had that senator known of the NSA and FBI abuses of FISA concealed by the House Intelligence Committee — the expansion would have failed.

Nevertheless, the evidence on which the committee members sat is essentially a Republican-written summary of raw intelligence data. Earlier this week, the Democrats on the committee authored their version — based, they say, on the same raw intelligence data as was used in writing the Republican version. But the House Intelligence Committee, made up of 13 Republicans and nine Democrats, voted to release only the Republican-written memo.

Late last week, when it became apparent that the Republican memo would soon be released, the Department of Justice publicly contradicted President Trump by advising the leadership of the House Intelligence Committee in very strong terms that the memo should not be released to the public.

It soon became apparent that, notwithstanding the DOJ admonition, no one in the DOJ had actually seen the memo. So FBI Director Chris Wray made a secret, hurried trip to the House Intelligence Committee’s vault last Sunday afternoon to view the memo. When asked by the folks who showed it to him whether it contains secret or top-secret material, he couldn’t or wouldn’t say. But he apparently saw in the memo the name of the No. 2 person at the FBI, Deputy Director Andrew McCabe, as one of the abusers of spying authority. That triggered McCabe’s summary departure from the FBI the next day, after a career of 30 years.

The abuse summarized in the Republican memo apparently spans the last year of the Obama administration and the first year of the Trump administration. If it comes through as advertised, it will show the deep state using the government’s powers for petty or political or ideological reasons.

The use of raw intelligence data by the NSA or the FBI for political purposes or to manipulate those in government is as serious a threat to popular government — to personal liberty in a free society — as has ever occurred in America since Congress passed the Alien and Sedition Acts of 1798, which punished speech critical of the government.

What’s going on here?

The government works for us; we should not tolerate its treating us as children. When raw intelligence data is capable of differing interpretations and is relevant to a public dispute — about, for example, whether the NSA and the FBI are trustworthy, whether FISA should even exist, whether spying on everyone all the time keeps us safe and whether the Constitution even permits this — the raw data should be released to the American public.

Where is the personal courage on the House Intelligence Committee? Where is the patriotism? Where is the fidelity to the Constitution? The government exists by our consent. It derives its powers from us. We have a right to know what it has done in our names, who broke our trust, who knew about it, who looked the other way and why and by whom all this was intentionally hidden until after Congress voted to expand FISA.

Everyone in government takes an oath to preserve, protect and defend the Constitution. How many take it meaningfully and seriously?

Copyright 2018 Andrew P. Napolitano. Distributed by

February 1, 2018 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Corruption, Deception | , , , | Leave a comment

US Democrats’ Accusations Against Russia Distract Public From Real Problem

Sputnik – 26.01.2018

US Democrats have asked Facebook and Twitter for evidence of Russia’s involvement in an online campaign to release a politically charged memo.

The move comes as Congressional Republicans have been calling for the public release of a four-page classified memo they claim reveals reported abuses of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) by the Obama administration, which approved surveillance against Trump’s team on behalf of the Clinton campaign.

Dr. Jeanne Zaino, American political analyst and professor of Political Science at Iona College told Radio Sputnik in an interview that by asking for an investigation into allegations that Russian bots are behind #releasethememo, US Democrats are drawing the public’s attention away from the real question. That question is whether the memo actually exposes severe surveillance abuses, Zaino said, noting that Republicans claim the explosive content of the memo could upend special counsel Robert Mueller’s ongoing investigation into allegations of Russian meddling in the 2016 US election and collusion with the Trump campaign.

“They are saying that this push to release the memo is being conducted by Russian bots. Whether that is the case or whether it is not the case… it is almost beside the point, because the real question — particularly in a democracy where we value transparency — should be what does the memo contain,” Zaino told Radio Sputnik.

She pointed out that while the FBI and the Justice Department have been blocking the memo’s release saying it would violate national security, whether that is actually the case should be decided in a court of law.

“They simply cannot keep information and materials top secret just because they think it might embarrass them or embarrass the administration, embarrass Congress or whoever this memo might embarrass,” the analyst said. “I really think that the Democrats are trying to have us look left when in fact we should be looking right and saying what in fact does the memo contain and is it really something that we need to protect for national security reasons.”

​Zaino stressed that she doesn’t know whether the memo “shows abuse of the government surveillance program by the Obama administration”, as is being claimed, but if the question is raised, the memo should be released if it is not protecting national security.

“You cannot just classify [the memo] that way. We have an overclassification problem in this country where almost everything is classified as top secret,” Zaino said. “The Democrats are asking us to focus on the bots, that’s fascinating and interesting, but it doesn’t get to the heart of the question which is what does this memo show and did we see an abuse of the government surveillance programs under the Obama administration.”

January 26, 2018 Posted by | Corruption, Deception, Russophobia | , , , | Leave a comment