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Questions a Real MH17 Report Would Answer

By Patrick Armstrong | Russia Insider | August 15, 2015

We are promised a report of the MH17 crash by October. Or is it already completed but you and I can’t see it? Anyway, something that we can all see is supposed to appear in a couple of months – which would be about 15 months after it happened.

Personally, I don’t expect much: the “Putin killed my son” meme has been implanted by thousands of MSM expectorations and nailed down by politicians like Australia’s Julie Bishop demanding that Moscow “accept responsibility for the death of 298 people”. I do not expect a report produced by Ukraine (a beneficiary of that meme), two NATO members, Bishop’s Australia and Malaysia (especially as it was added to the group as an afterthought four months later) to dissent. And I expect even less form the report now that we know that “All parties to the criminal investigation have signed a non-disclosure agreement, which requires consensus among the parties before information regarding the investigation will be released”.

Furthermore we all know perfectly well that if there were radar tracks or satellite photos or air traffic controller conversations or electronic intercepts or “black box” data supporting Bishop’s assertions we would have heard about them. More than once. The fact that we have not is eloquent: “a dog that did not bark in the night”.

But one can hope.

I enumerate here some issues that a real report would discuss and that a cover-up would ignore. In my opinion the list can be used to assess the seriousness of the report. If few or none are addressed, then it’s just not a real investigation. If all we have is “must haves…” or “might haves…” or “large number of high-energy objects” or twitter, or Bellingcat, then it’s a cover-up. After more than a year, with all the access claimed by the Joint Investigation Team, there should be real evidence and real conclusions based on that evidence.

There’s lots of stuff I don’t think we need to worry about. I don’t believe that it was really MH370; there’s no need to take anything Bellingcat says seriously; this is obviously not a Boeing 777 crashing; this so-called missile launch video is fake; this photo of a fighter and MH17 that appeared in one Russian media outlet probably is too; this alleged recording from a Russian newspaper doesn’t convince me. I know there’s a whole industry of fakery out there and a lot of incentives. On the other hand, the Western news media told plenty of lies about “looting the site” and so on. While it’s not in the remit of the JIT to apologise, it might be honourable if it were to acknowledge that as good and respectful a job as possible was done.

The report must address the questions listed below. Maybe the answers can’t be known, but there must at least be indication that the investigators took them into account and either accepted or dismissed them for logical or evidential reasons. For example, pretending that the people who say they saw MH17 shot down by fighter planes do not exist is not acceptable. Drawings like this, or “social media” are not good enough: we have to be shown some boulders from the famous “mountain of evidence”.

Real evidence, real discussion, real consideration, real answers. A real investigation.

I have noted below in italics what, in my opinion, are the truly unavoidable issues. But here’s the summary, if you don’t want to read it all.

IN SUMMARY

The “black boxes” and other data available to the JIT will tell us where MH17 was when it was hit, what direction it was going in, what speed it was travelling.

Analysis of the damage pattern of the wreckage will show where the missile was when it detonated.

Backtracking from that point will show from where it was launched.

Lethal fragments will show what weapon hit it.

These facts, and the route change, are the most important of the important facts.

A report that doesn’t deal with these is a cover-up.

BEFORE

Earlier routes of this daily Amsterdam-Kuala Lumpur flight travelled well south of the fighting area, over the Sea of Azov. This day the plane was sent over the fighting area. Who did it? Then the Flight Aware tracks were changed. Who did that? (Note: this question is very important. First the re-direction and then the falsification. Prima facie evidence of a purposeful conspiracy and one that could not possibly be attributed to Moscow or to the rebels. At the time I looked the routes up on FlightAware and saw the earlier ones well south of the fighting. Then, a few days later, I saw that all the earlier tracks had been moved north. But I didn’t have the wit to make screen captures of the earlier tracks. Others did, however, and here they are.)

Does Carlos the Spanish traffic controller exist? If so, what he says is extremely important evidence. Effort should be made to track down the story.

Where are the recordings of flight traffic controllers’ communications with MH17 in the zones it passed through?

DURING

The Russians have provided radar plots showing the route of MH 17. Where are those from Ukrainian or Polish air traffic controllers? Were there fighter planes near it? (Especially important is the Russian-alleged presence of fighter planes near MH17. That cannot be sloughed over: true or false?)

We know US/NATO exercises were being carried out within radar or satellite observation. Where is this information?

Robert Perry says his contacts in the US intelligence establishment have evidence that the missile was fired from Kiev-held territory. Yes or no?

Numerous people claim to have seen MH17 shot down by fighter planes. Conversations of the first people on the scene reiterate this. “Carlos the flight controller” says it. These testimonies must be investigated and verified or rejected; if the latter, with reasons. (Another of the key points: all this would have been visible on radar. Is it, or isn’t it?)

Many people claim the phone intercepts and social media cited by the US State Department are fakes. True or false?

It is claimed that a Ukrainian air force ground staff member, now in Russia, says he saw Ukrainian fighter planes take off that day, one returning without missiles. Perhaps he’s lying, but the investigation cannot ignore his testimony: he must be interviewed and his statement assessed.

A Buk missile leaves a very prominent trail. Where are the witnesses?

Here’s a report that sources in the Ukrainian security structure say Ukrainian forces shot it down by accident. Why should this particular story, of the innumerable assertions of this and that, be considered, you ask? Because it wouldn’t be the first time Ukrainian air defence units shot down a civilian aircraft by accident and then lied about it. That fact alone makes it worthy of at least a paragraph in a real report.

THE WRECKAGE

If the cause was an internal explosion, the wreckage should show unmistakable evidence. This possibility must be ruled out. (Of course an internal explosion – which no one expects to have been the case – would change everything.)

Graham Phillips tells us the area still has many fragments and that the investigators seem to be incurious about them. Is this true?

What do the autopsies on the pilots tell us? Is this story about a coverup true? Are those bullet holes in the pilot’s chair? Are those bullet holes in the pilots’ section of the nose? These questions should be fairly easily answered one way or the other. (A serious report must account for the apparently circular holes shown in many photographs).

The wreckage probably contains missile warhead fragments and/or bullets. These are carefully designed – they are not random bits of language. A Buk warhead has thousands of distinctive fragments; depending on their shape, the type of Buk warhead can be determined. Likewise a piece of linked rod warhead would be apodictic evidence of an air to air missile (is this one? source). A cannon round would be apodictic evidence of gunfire. The shape, composition and weight of lethal fragments are diagnostic in identifying the weapon that brought it down. (If bullets or non-Buk warhead fragments are found, the conventional Western accusation is decisively contradicted.)

There should be enough evidence from the destruction pattern of the wreckage to show where the warhead was when it detonated. That combined with the location and direction of travel of MH17 at the moment of detonation will tell us from where the missile was fired. The omission of this information would be another fatal flaw. (Another key piece of evidence: for example Almaz-Antey’s analysis concludes it was a Buk, of a model no longer possessed by Russian air defence forces, and that it could only have been fired from Kiev-held territory).

THE INVESTIGATION

Why does Ukraine have a veto on publication?

Why was Malaysia – the owner of the aircraft, after all – only added to the JIT in November 2014?

Why are Belgium and Australia on the investigation team at all? Especially after the Foreign Minister of the latter already decided Russia was culpable?

We had remarkably full information on the Germanwings crash in the Alps within weeks, with many details from the “black boxes” including sound in the cockpit. Why has this investigation taken so long?

AND…

We are told (recently) that the investigators believe they may have recovered fragments of a Buk missile from the crash site. Does this make sense to you? It doesn’t to me. MH17 was heading south-east at an altitude of 10,000 metres. The US scenario has the missile fired from north-west (head on), the Almaz-Antey reconstruction has the missile coming from the south-west (starboard side). The fragments of the aircraft would continue with their momentum, the fragments of the missile body and engine with their momentum; in neither case would one expect to see wreckage from the two very close to each other.

Absence of evidence is evidence of absence.

(especially when you know that any real evidence would have been

plastered on every front page, news program and op-ed piece.)

August 17, 2015 Posted by | Deception, Mainstream Media, Warmongering | , | Leave a comment

LAPD Holds Pregnant Woman at Gunpoint in Case of Mistaken Identity

By Carlos Miller | PINAC | August 15, 2015

LAPD-truck2In another case of mistaken identity that could have turned deadly, Los Angeles police held a pregnant woman at gunpoint while ordering her out of her pickup truck, making her walk to the middle of street with her hands in the air and yelling at her to get down on her knees.

LAPD said they were in fear for their lives because the woman, who is due to give birth next week, was driving a truck matching the description of a truck driven by a murder suspect.

They said that because the woman’s truck had dark, tinted windows, they were unable to determine if it was being driven by the man they were seeking or if it just happened to be one of almost six million registered vehicles in Los Angeles County that were not connected to the suspect.

The incident, which took place Thursday, was captured on video from an NBC L.A. news helicopter hovering overhead.

The video shows about a dozen cops training their guns on the woman as well as another female passenger who was also ordered out while they all remained behind their patrol cars in the name of “officer safety.”

The video also shows both the driver side and passenger side windows either open or without tints, but we don’t see the initial stop, which may have shown the windows closed  – not that dark tints should excuse them for violating the woman’s rights like that.

However, they’ve already learned that they can shoot up a truck in a case of mistaken identity and not face charges.

After all, it was only in 2013 that LAPD cops shot up a truck driven by two women after claiming it matched the description of a truck being driven by a whistleblower cop turned cop killer named Chris Dorner.

Dorner had been driving a gray Nissan Titan. The women had been driving a blue Toyota Tacoma.

So naturally police began fearing for their lives, which is why they opened fire on the Tacoma, driven by a 47-year-old daughter, accompanied by her 71-year-old mother, both of them delivering newspapers in a residential neighborhood.

Margie Carranza and her mother, Emma Hernandez, ended up receiving a $4.2 million settlement.  The cops ended up on paid desk duty for a while before returning to the streets.

Moments after that shooting, a Torrance police officer shot up another pickup truck thinking it was Dorner’s truck, but that was also a different make and color and driven by a man named David Perdue who looked nothing like Dorner. He ended up receiving a $1.8 million
settlement.

LAPD Chief Charlie Beck determined the eight cops who left Carranza’s truck with more than 102 bullets violated department policy, but said he was not allowed to disclose what, if any, discipline they may receive because a state law protects cops’ personnel files from public eyes.

So with that type of job security, it is no wonder LAPD officers tend to shoot first and ask questions later.

LAPD have not released the name of the murder suspect they were seeking, who they say is also responsible for several burglaries in the area, nor the make and model of his truck, not that it would make a difference to them as we saw in the Dorner incidents.

The women, who also had two kids in the back seat of the truck, were released after police determined they were not the murder suspect. They are probably also eligible for a settlement.

August 17, 2015 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Subjugation - Torture, Video | , , , | 1 Comment

Saudi Arabia Builds Naval Base on Occupied Yemeni Island

Al-Manar | August 17, 2015

Saudi Arabia has invaded and occupied Yemen’s strategic Island of Socotra in the Indian Ocean and is now building its biggest naval base there, Fars news agency reported.

“Hundreds of workers from Asian countries have been deployed by the Saudi navy to construct the kingdom’s naval base on the island,” Arabic-language Al-Ittihad news website quoted informed sources as saying on Sunday.

Socotra is a small archipelago of four islands in the Indian Ocean; the largest island, also called Socotra, is about 95 percent of the landmass of the archipelago. Socotra is located between the continents of Asia and Africa.

Saudi Arabia is launching a wide-scale military campaign against Yemen and it has been striking the impoverished nation for the last 144 days to restore power to fugitive president Abed-Rabbu Mansour Hadi, a close ally of Riyadh.

The Saudi-led aggression has so far killed at least 5,419 Yemenis, including hundreds of women and children.

August 17, 2015 Posted by | Illegal Occupation, Militarism | , , | Leave a comment

Fish farms in Gaza counter Israeli restrictions on fishing limit

MEMO | August 17 2015

a8Israel’s occupation of the Gaza Strip is ongoing, despite frequent reminders that it “withdrew” its settlers and army posts 10 years ago. Legally and practically it is still the occupying power and it remains inflexible.

For example, Palestinian territorial waters off the coast of the Gaza Strip as defined by the 1982 UN Convention on the Law of the Sea, should extend to 12 nautical miles (22.2 km or 13.8 miles) but the Israeli navy enforces a six mile limit, sometimes even five and a half miles, for Gaza’s fishermen. In addition, the Israeli occupation authorities often make petty and spiteful “security” excuses to reduce the already reduced fishing limit to three miles.

On top of that, Palestinian fisherman are harassed by the Israeli navy on a daily basis; their boats are fired upon, sunk and confiscated, and the fishermen themselves are often arrested if they are not killed or wounded in the process. All of this, of course, has an impact on the amount of fish caught off the Gaza coast, which should be a rich fishing ground. Catching more and larger fish requires sailing into international waters, as fishermen from other countries do.

Palestinian investors in Gaza have thus resorted to fish farming. Speaking to MEMO, Yasser Al-Haj said that he invested in this sector for personal gain as well as to ease the crisis in the Palestinian market. Although it is not regarded as a solution to the crisis, it can alleviate it.

Al-Haj’s newly-opened fish farm only produces one type of fish, sea bream. It is imported from Israel and then raised in this farm and others. He says that his farm produces 7 per cent of the Gaza Strip’s needs and sells about 250kg a day. One kilo of sea bream costs about $12.

For an ordinary middle-class citizen, this price is high, but for a poor citizen it is very expensive, given the average income in the Gaza Strip. The high price is set by many factors, including the price of fish feed from Israel, which is $1,850 per tonne, plus the issue of the power cuts suffered across the territory.

Fish farms require generators to keep the oxygen moving and water pumping continuously in the ponds. Yasser Al-Haj notes that he is unable to breed the fish in the sea because of pollution, which poses a danger to the fish and people who eat them. The sewage processing plants aren’t working due to the power cuts and lack of maintenance resulting from the Israeli blockade.

Images from MEMO photographer: Mohammad Asad

August 17, 2015 Posted by | Economics, Subjugation - Torture | , , , , | Leave a comment

Israeli forces destroy 100 trees to build separation wall in Beit Jala

Ma’an – August 17, 2015

aa_picture_20140725_2881049_highBETHLEHEM – Israeli forces on Monday destroyed more than 100 trees as they leveled Palestinian-owned land in the Beit Jala area to make way for construction of the separation wall, locals said.

Israeli bulldozers reportedly destroyed the trees in an area known as Bir Onah, near the illegal settlement of Gilo.

The trees belonged to the Al-Shatla, Abu Eid, Abu Ghattas, Abu Saada, Khaliliya, and Abu Mohor families, locals said.

Witnesses told official Palestinian news agency Wafa that Israeli bulldozers razed an area of 30 dunams near Beit Jala for the expansion of the wall following a recent court ruling to change the route of the controversial infrastructure.

Residents in Beit Jala have been engaged in a nine-year legal battle against a 2006 Israeli military order to build the separation wall around Beit Jala and Har Gilo.

In 2013, 58 local landowners as well as nuns from the Salesian convent who joined their legal action, lost an appeal against the route of the separation wall.

Residents hoped that an Israeli Supreme Court decision in 2014 — which ordered the Israeli state to justify the route of the separation wall in Beit Jala’s Cremisan valley — was an indication that the proposed land seizure could be canceled, with a ruling in April this year in favor of a petition by locals creating further hope construction of the wall could be suspended.

However, in July the Israeli High Court approved construction of the wall using an alternative route, which would still separate the Salesian monastery and convent from the community it serves in Beit Jala.

The Cremisan Valley lies between the sprawling settlement of Gilo in annexed East Jerusalem, and the smaller West Bank settlement of Har Gilo, a few kilometers to the southwest.

Palestinians have long argued the the separation wall in Cremisan had no security benefit for Israel and was being constructed to annex land and connect illegal settlements in the area.

In 2004, the International Court of Justice issued an advisory opinion calling on Israel to stop building the wall and dismantle or re-route sections that had been constructed.

The separation wall will be approximately 708 kilometers long when complete, nearly twice the length of the 1949 Armistice Line due to its meandering route, and 85 percent of the wall will be located in the occupied West Bank, according to UNOCHA.

August 17, 2015 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing | , , , | Leave a comment

Israeli forces punish Kafr Qaddum by damaging the water supply system

International Solidarity Movement | August 16, 2015

Kafr Qaddum, Occupied Palestine – On Saturday the 15th of August 2015, the villagers from Kafr Qaddum once again demonstrated against the blockage of the road leading to Nablus as well as the nearby Kedumin settlement. In solidarity with the local people there were a few international activists and journalists covering the demonstration.

The non-violent protest was immediately suppressed by the Israeli occupation forces shooting dozens of teargas canisters and live ammunition. Instead of the frequently used bad-smelling skunk water, the army drove a bulldozer into the village. This bulldozer destroyed the only water pipe in the village, leaving the people Kafr Qaddum without any connection to water until the pipe is repaired. Especially during the hot summer months, water is a scarce and essential good.

The damaged water pipe

Murad Shtaiwi, one of the leaders of Kafr Qaddum Popular Committee, understands the damage to the water pipe as a way to collectively punish the village for its ongoing resistance. The costs of a new pipe have to be paid for by the municipality. As Murad explains, damaging the water pipe is a deliberate attempt by the Israeli army to suppress the support among the villagers to continue to protests and thus block future demonstrations.

August 17, 2015 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Subjugation - Torture | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Russian bill seeks to make foreign companies accountable for bribery abroad

RT | August 17, 2015

The Russian cabinet has approved a legal amendment that, once passed, would allow foreign companies to be punished for giving bribes in foreign nations if their actions harm the interests of the Russian Federation.

The approved draft, published on the Justice Ministry’s website details the responsibility of foreign firms for so-called commercial bribery or the “illegal transfer of money or other property or promise of such transfer to persons performing managerial duties in a commercial company or other organization with the goal to coerce this person into action or inaction that would be in the interest of the bribe-giver.”

The bill allows Russian law enforcers to open administrative cases against foreign bribe-givers when that bribery damages the interests of the Russian Federation as a state.

Under the current Russian Administrative Code, such actions are punishable with fines proportional to the amount of the given or promised bribe. The ratio can vary from threefold for bribes under 25,000 rubles ($385) to 100-fold for sums over 1 million rubles (about $15,000 at current rate). The law also orders that those who became involved in the bribery scheme, but voluntarily informed the authorities about it, should not be prosecuted.

The explanatory note attached to the document reads that it was developed by the Justice Ministry as a part of the nationwide anti-corruption program approved by President Vladimir Putin in April 2014.

Proportional fines for bribery were introduced in Russia in 2011 on the initiative of then-President Dmitry Medvedev as part of a pro-business liberalization of laws. However, after returning to the presidency and analyzing the situation, Putin criticized the move as ineffective and ordered various federal ministries to draft suggestions and plans to tackle the situation.

In spring 2014, Russian Prosecutor-General Yury Chaika proposed a bill making a prison term the sole punishment for anyone convicted of corruption, saying that compensatory punishment or fines were not a deterrent – one of the key points that provide the rule of law. Chaika’s proposal has not yet been made into a bill.

READ MORE: Rights activists call for tougher punishment for bribery

August 17, 2015 Posted by | Corruption | | Leave a comment

Huckabee traveling to Israel to raise money for presidential campaign

Press TV – August 16, 2015

US presidential candidate Mike Huckabee says he is traveling to Israel this week to raise money for his campaign and meet with a number of Israeli officials to discuss the nuclear accord with Iran.

The former governor of Arkansas opposes the Obama administration’s nuclear agreement with Iran, like most of his Republican colleagues.

Huckabee’s campaign spokeswoman, Alice Stewart, said the presidential hopeful will depart on Tuesday for Israel but did not specify which officials he would meet with.

Stewart declined to say whether he would meet with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netenyahu, citing security concerns.

She said the campaign will disclose details of the trip when he returns. Huckabee announced the trip to Israel on Sunday.

Last month, Huckabee made controversy for saying US President Barack Obama was marching Israelis “to the door of the oven” following the nuclear deal with Iran.

“This president’s foreign policy is the most feckless in American history,” he said. “It is so naive that he would trust the Iranians. By doing so, he will take the Israelis and march them to the door of the oven.”

Analysts believe his remarks were aimed at appealing to Israel advocacy groups in order to receive campaign contributions from Zionist donors.

Huckabee is currently at 7th place among Republican presidential hopefuls, holding steady at six percent.

August 17, 2015 Posted by | Corruption, Wars for Israel | , , , | 1 Comment

Neocons to Americans: Trust Us Again

By Robert Parry | Consortium News | August 16, 2015

America’s neocons insist that their only mistake was falling for some false intelligence about Iraq’s WMD and that they shouldn’t be stripped of their powerful positions of influence for just one little boo-boo. That’s the point of view taken by Washington Post editorial page editor Fred Hiatt as he whines about the unfairness of applying “a single-interest litmus test,” i.e., the Iraq War debacle, to judge him and his fellow war boosters.

After noting that many other important people were on the same pro-war bandwagon with him, Hiatt criticizes President Barack Obama for citing the Iraq War as an argument not to listen to many of the same neocons who now are trying to sabotage the Iran nuclear agreement. Hiatt thinks it’s the height of unfairness for Obama or anyone else to suggest that people who want to kill the Iran deal — and thus keep alive the option to bomb-bomb-bomb Iran — “are lusting for another war.”

Hiatt also faults Obama for not issuing a serious war threat to Iran, a missing ultimatum that explains why the nuclear agreement falls “so far short.” Hiatt adds: “war is not always avoidable, and the judicious use of force early in a crisis, or even the threat of force, can sometimes forestall worse bloodshed later.”

But it should be noted that the neocons – and Hiatt in particular – did not simply make one mistake when they joined President George W. Bush’s rush to war in 2002-03. They continued with their warmongering in Iraq for years, often bashing the handful of brave souls in Official Washington who dared challenge the neocons’ pro-war enthusiasm. Hiatt and his fellow “opinion leaders” were, in effect, the enforcers of the Iraq War “group think” – and they have never sought to make amends for that bullying.

The Destruction of Joe Wilson

Take, for instance, the case of CIA officer Valerie Plame and her husband, former U.S. Ambassador Joseph Wilson. Hiatt’s editorial section waged a long vendetta against Wilson for challenging one particularly egregious lie, Bush’s nationally televised claim about Iraq seeking “yellowcake” uranium from Niger, a suggestion that Iraq was working on a secret nuclear bomb. The Post’s get-Wilson campaign included publishing a column that identified Plame as a CIA officer, thus destroying her undercover career.

At that point, you might have thought that Hiatt would have stepped forward and tried to ameliorate the harm that he and his editorial page had inflicted on this patriotic American family, whose offense was to point out a false claim that Bush had used to sell the Iraq War to the American people. But instead Hiatt simply piled on the abuse, essentially driving Wilson and Plame out of government circles and indeed out of Washington.

In effect, Hiatt applied a “a single-issue litmus test” to disqualify the Wilson family from the ranks of those Americans who should be listened to. Joe Wilson had failed the test by being right about the Iraq War, so he obviously needed to be drummed out of public life.

The fact that Hiatt remains the Post’s editorial-page editor and that Wilson ended up decamping his family to New Mexico speaks volumes about the upside-down world that Official Washington has become. Be conspicuously, obstinately and nastily wrong about possibly the biggest foreign-policy blunder in U.S. history and you should be cut some slack, but dare be right and off with your head.

And the Iraq War wasn’t just a minor error. In the dozen years since Bush launched his war of aggression in Iraq, the bloody folly has destabilized the entire Middle East, resulted in hundreds of thousands of deaths (including nearly 4,500 U.S. soldiers), wasted well over $1 trillion, spread the grotesque violence of Sunni terrorism across the region, and sent a flood of refugees into Europe threatening the Continent’s unity.

Yet, what is perhaps most remarkable is that almost no one who aided and abetted the catastrophic and illegal decision has been held accountable in any meaningful way. That applies to Bush and his senior advisers who haven’t spent a single day inside a jail cell; it applies to Official Washington’s well-funded think tanks where neoconservatives still dominate; and it applies to the national news media where almost no one who disseminated pro-war propaganda was fired (with the possible exception of Judith Miller who was dumped by The New York Times but landed on her feet as a Fox News “on-air personality” and an op-ed contributor to The Wall Street Journal ).

The Plame-Gate Affair

While the overall performance of the Post’s editorial page during the Iraq War was one of the most shameful examples of journalistic malfeasance in modern U.S. history, arguably the ugliest part was the Post’s years-long assault on Wilson and Plame. The so-called “Plame-gate Affair” began in early 2002 when the CIA recruited ex-Ambassador Wilson to investigate what turned out to be a forged document indicating a possible Iraqi yellowcake purchase in Niger. The document had aroused Vice President Dick Cheney’s interest.

Having served in Africa, Wilson accepted the CIA’s assignment and returned with a conclusion that Iraq had almost surely not obtained any uranium from Niger, an assessment shared by other U.S. officials who checked out the story. However, the bogus allegation was not so easily quashed.

Wilson was stunned when Bush included the Niger allegations in his State of the Union Address in January 2003. Initially, Wilson began alerting a few journalists about the discredited claim while trying to keep his name out of the newspapers. However, in July 2003 – after the U.S. invasion in March 2003 had failed to turn up any WMD stockpiles – Wilson penned an op-ed article for The New York Times describing what he didn’t find in Africa and saying the White House had “twisted” pre-war intelligence.

Though Wilson’s article focused on his own investigation, it represented the first time a Washington insider had gone public with evidence regarding the Bush administration’s fraudulent case for war. Thus, Wilson became a major target for retribution from the White House and particularly Cheney’s office.

As part of the campaign to destroy Wilson’s credibility, senior Bush administration officials leaked to journalists that Wilson’s wife worked in the CIA office that had dispatched him to Niger, a suggestion that the trip might have been some kind of junket. When right-wing columnist Robert Novak published Plame’s covert identity in The Washington Post’s op-ed section, Plame’s CIA career was destroyed.

Accusations of Lying

However, instead of showing any remorse for the harm his editorial section had done, Hiatt simply enlisted in the Bush administration’s war against Wilson, promoting every anti-Wilson talking point that the White House could dream up. The Post’s assault on Wilson went on for years.

For instance, in a Sept. 1, 2006, editorial, Hiatt accused Wilson of lying when he had claimed the White House had leaked his wife’s name. The context of Hiatt’s broadside was the disclosure that Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage was the first administration official to tell Novak that Plame was a CIA officer and had played a small role in Wilson’s Niger trip.

Because Armitage was considered a reluctant supporter of the Iraq War, the Post editorial jumped to the conclusion that “it follows that one of the most sensational charges leveled against the Bush White House – that it orchestrated the leak of Ms. Plame’s identity – is untrue.”

But Hiatt’s logic was faulty for several reasons. First, Armitage may have been cozier with some senior officials in Bush’s White House than was generally understood. And, just because Armitage may have been the first to share the classified information with Novak didn’t mean that there was no parallel White House operation to peddle Plame’s identity to reporters.

In fact, evidence uncovered by special prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald, who examined the Plame leak, supported a conclusion that White House officials, under the direction of Vice President Cheney and including Cheney aide Lewis Libby and Bush political adviser Karl Rove, approached a number of reporters with this information.

Indeed, Rove appears to have confirmed Plame’s identity for Novak and also leaked the information to Time magazine’s Matthew Cooper. Meanwhile, Libby, who was indicted on perjury and obstruction charges in the case, had pitched the information to The New York Times’ Judith Miller. The Post’s editorial acknowledged that Libby and other White House officials were not “blameless,” since they allegedly released Plame’s identity while “trying to discredit Mr. Wilson.” But the Post reserved its harshest condemnation for Wilson.

“It now appears that the person most responsible for the end of Ms. Plame’s CIA career is Mr. Wilson,” the editorial said. “Mr. Wilson chose to go public with an explosive charge, claiming – falsely, as it turned out – that he had debunked reports of Iraqi uranium-shopping in Niger and that his report had circulated to senior administration officials.

“He ought to have expected that both those officials and journalists such as Mr. Novak would ask why a retired ambassador would have been sent on such a mission and that the answer would point to his wife. He diverted responsibility from himself and his false charges by claiming that President Bush’s closest aides had engaged in an illegal conspiracy. It’s unfortunate that so many people took him seriously.”

A Smear or a Lie

The Post’s editorial, however, was at best an argumentative smear and most likely a willful lie. By then, the evidence was clear that Wilson, along with other government investigators, had debunked the reports of Iraq acquiring yellowcake in Niger and that those findings did circulate to senior levels, explaining why CIA Director George Tenet struck the yellowcake claims from other Bush speeches.

The Post’s accusation about Wilson “falsely” claiming to have debunked the yellowcake reports apparently was based on Wilson’s inclusion in his report of speculation from one Niger official who suspected that Iraq might have been interested in buying yellowcake, although the Iraqi officials never mentioned yellowcake and made no effort to buy any. This irrelevant point had become a centerpiece of Republican attacks on Wilson and was recycled by the Post.

Plus, contrary to the Post’s assertion that Wilson “ought to have expected” that the White House and Novak would zero in on Wilson’s wife, a reasonable expectation in a normal world would have been just the opposite. Even amid the ugly partisanship of modern Washington, it was shocking to many longtime observers of government that any administration official or an experienced journalist would disclose the name of a covert CIA officer for such a flimsy reason as trying to discredit her husband.

Hiatt also bought into the Republican argument that Plame really wasn’t “covert” at all – and thus there was nothing wrong in exposing her counter-proliferation work for the CIA. The Post was among the U.S. media outlets that gave a podium for right-wing lawyer Victoria Toensing to make this bogus argument in defense of Cheney’s chief of staff Lewis Libby.

On Feb. 18, 2007, as jurors were about to begin deliberations in Libby’s obstruction case, the Post ran a prominent Outlook article by Toensing, who had been buzzing around the TV pundit shows decrying Libby’s prosecution. In the Post article, she wrote that “Plame was not covert. She worked at CIA headquarters and had not been stationed abroad within five years of the date of Novak’s column.”

A Tendentious Argument

Though it might not have been clear to a reader, Toensing was hanging her claim about Plame not being “covert” on a contention that Plame didn’t meet the coverage standards of the Intelligence Identities Protection Act. Toensing’s claim was legalistic at best since it obscured the larger point that Plame was working undercover in a classified CIA position and was running agents abroad whose safety would be put at risk by an unauthorized disclosure of Plame’s identity.

But Toensing, who promoted herself as an author of the Intelligence Identities Protection Act, wasn’t even right about the legal details. The law doesn’t require that a CIA officer be “stationed” abroad in the preceding five years; it simply refers to an officer who “has served within the last five years outside the United States.”

That would cover someone who – while based in the United States – went abroad on official CIA business, as Plame testified under oath in a congressional hearing that she had done within the five-year period. Toensing, who appeared as a Republican witness at the same congressional hearing on March 16, 2007, was asked about her bald assertion that “Plame was not covert.”

“Not under the law,” Toensing responded. “I’m giving you the legal interpretation under the law and I helped draft the law. The person is supposed to reside outside the United States.” But that’s not what the law says, either. It says “served” abroad, not “reside.”

At the hearing, Toensing was reduced to looking like a quibbling kook who missed the forest of damage – done to U.S. national security, to Plame and possibly to the lives of foreign agents – for the trees of how a definition in a law was phrased, and then getting that wrong, too.

After watching Toensing’s bizarre testimony, one had to wonder why the Post would have granted her space on the widely read Outlook section’s front page to issue what she called “indictments” of Joe Wilson, U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald and others who had played a role in exposing the White House hand behind the Plame leak.

Despite Toensing’s high-profile smear of Wilson and Fitzgerald, Libby still was convicted of four felony counts. In response to the conviction, the Post reacted with another dose of its false history of the Plame case and a final insult directed at Wilson, declaring that he “will be remembered as a blowhard.”

With Plame’s CIA career destroyed and Wilson’s reputation battered by Hiatt and his Post colleagues, the Wilsons moved away from Washington. Their ordeal was later recounted in the 2010 movie, “Fair Game,” starring Naomi Watts and Sean Penn. Though Libby was sentenced to 30 months in prison, his sentence was commuted by President Bush to eliminate any jail time.

A Pattern of Dishonesty

While perhaps Hiatt’s vendetta against Joe Wilson was the meanest personal attack in the Post’s multi-year pro-war advocacy, it was just part of a larger picture of complicity and intimidation. Post readers often learned about voices of dissent only by reading Post columnists denouncing the dissenters, a scene reminiscent of a totalitarian society where dissidents never get space to express their opinions but are still excoriated in the official media.

For instance, on Sept. 23, 2002, when former Vice President Al Gore gave a speech criticizing Bush’s “preemptive war” doctrine and Bush’s push for the Iraq invasion, Gore’s talk got scant media coverage, but still elicited a round of Gore-bashing on the TV talk shows and on the Post’s op-ed page.

Post columnist Michael Kelly called Gore’s speech “dishonest, cheap, low” before labeling it “wretched. It was vile. It was contemptible.” [Washington Post, Sept. 25, 2002] Post columnist Charles Krauthammer added that the speech was “a series of cheap shots strung together without logic or coherence.” [Washington Post, Sept. 27, 2002]

While the Post’s wrongheadedness on the Iraq War extended into its news pages – with the rare skeptical article either buried or spiked – Hiatt’s editorial section was like a chorus with virtually every columnist singing from the same pro-invasion song book and Hiatt’s editorials serving as lead vocalist. A study by Columbia University journalism professor Todd Gitlin noted, “The [Post ] editorials during December [2002] and January [2003] numbered nine, and all were hawkish.” [American Prospect, April 1, 2003]

The Post’s martial harmony reached its crescendo after Secretary of State Colin Powell made his bogus presentation to the United Nations on Feb. 5, 2003, accusing Iraq of hiding vast stockpiles of weapons of mass destruction. The next day, Hiatt’s lead editorial hailed Powell’s evidence as “irrefutable” and chastised any remaining skeptics.

“It is hard to imagine how anyone could doubt that Iraq possesses weapons of mass destruction,” the editorial said. Hiatt’s judgment was echoed across the Post’s op-ed page, with Post columnists from Right to Left singing the same note of misguided consensus.

After the U.S. invasion of Iraq on March 19-20, 2003, and months of fruitless searching for the promised WMD caches, Hiatt finally acknowledged that the Post should have been more circumspect in its confident claims about the WMD.

“If you look at the editorials we write running up [to the war], we state as flat fact that he [Saddam Hussein] has weapons of mass destruction,” Hiatt said in an interview with the Columbia Journalism Review. “If that’s not true, it would have been better not to say it.” [CJR, March/April 2004]

Concealing the Truth

But Hiatt’s supposed remorse didn’t stop him and the Post editorial page from continuing its single-minded support for the Iraq War. Hiatt was especially hostile when evidence emerged that revealed how thoroughly he and his colleagues had been gulled.

In June 2005, for instance, The Washington Post decided to ignore the leak of the “Downing Street Memo” in the British press. The “memo” – actually minutes of a meeting of British Prime Minister Tony Blair and his national security team on July 23, 2002 – recounted the words of MI6 chief Richard Dearlove who had just returned from discussions with his intelligence counterparts in Washington.

“Bush wanted to remove Saddam, through military action, justified by the conjunction of terrorism and WMD. But the intelligence and facts were being fixed around the policy,” Dearlove said.

Though the Downing Street Memo amounted to a smoking gun regarding how Bush had set his goal first – overthrowing Saddam Hussein – and then searched for a sellable rationalization, the Post’s senior editors deemed the document unworthy to share with their readers.

Only after thousands of Post readers complained did the newspaper deign to give its reasoning. On June 15, 2005, the Post’s lead editorial asserted that “the memos add not a single fact to what was previously known about the administration’s prewar deliberations. Not only that: They add nothing to what was publicly known in July 2002.”

But Hiatt was simply wrong in that assertion. Looking back to 2002 and early 2003, it would be hard to find any commentary in the Post or any other mainstream U.S. news outlet calling Bush’s actions fraudulent, which is what the “Downing Street Memo” and other British evidence revealed Bush’s actions to be.

The British documents also proved that much of the pre-war debate inside the U.S. and British governments was how best to manipulate public opinion by playing games with the intelligence.

Further, official documents of this nature are almost always regarded as front-page news, even if they confirm long-held suspicions. By Hiatt’s and the Post’s reasoning, the Pentagon Papers wouldn’t have been news since some people had previously alleged that U.S. officials had lied about the Vietnam War.

Not a One-Off

In other words, Hiatt’s Iraq War failure wasn’t a one-off affair. It was a long-running campaign to keep the truth from the American people and to silence and even destroy critics of the war. The overall impact of this strategy was to ensure that war was the only option.

And, in that sense, Hiatt’s history as a neocon war propagandist belies his current defense of fellow neocon pundits who are rallying opposition to the Iran nuclear deal. While Hiatt claims that his colleagues shouldn’t be accused of “lusting for another war,” that could well be the consequence if their obstructionism succeeds.

It has long been part of the neocon playbook to pretend that, of course, they don’t want war but then put the United States on a path that leads inevitably to war. Before the Iraq War, for instance, neocons argued that U.S. troops should be deployed to the region to compel Saddam Hussein to let in United Nations weapons inspectors – yet once the soldiers got there and the inspectors inside Iraq were finding no WMD, the neocons argued that the invasion had to proceed because the troops couldn’t just sit there indefinitely while the inspectors raced around futilely searching for the WMD.

Similarly, you could expect that if the neocons succeed in torpedoing the Iran deal, the next move would be to demand that the United States deliver an ultimatum to Iran: capitulate or get bombed. Then, if Iran balked at surrender, the neocons would say that war and “regime change” were the only options to maintain American “credibility.” The neocons are experts at leading the U.S. media, politicians and public by the nose – to precisely the war outcome that the neocons wanted from the beginning. Hiatt is doing his part.

~

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

August 17, 2015 Posted by | Deception, Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Timeless or most popular | , , , , | 3 Comments

US seeking disintegration of entire Mideast: Iran MP

Press TV – August 17, 2015

A senior Iranian lawmaker has slammed recent remarks by a top US military commander on Iraq’s disintegration, saying Washington seeks to break down the entire Middle East.

“The US has created Daesh based on a calculated scheme in order to realize the Greater Middle East plan and disintegrate the region. That’s why the Americans are bringing up the issue of Iraq’s disintegration,” Alaeddin Boroujerdi, the chairman of the National Security and Foreign Policy Committee of the Iranian Parliament (Majlis), said on Sunday.

The Iranian lawmaker’s remarks came after US Army Chief of Staff General Raymond Odierno, who once served as the top US commander in Iraq, said on August 12 that partitioning Iraq “is something that could happen” and “might be the only solution.”

The remarks came as a controversial US Congress bill, the draft of which was released in April, proposes the division of Iraq into three states and allows the Kurdish forces and the Sunni tribesmen to be armed directly without Baghdad’s approval.

The bill stipulates that 25 to 60 percent of the USD 715-million aid money allegedly allocated to Iraq in its war against Daesh will be directly supplied to Sunni and Kurdish forces.

Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi strongly condemned the comments by the top US military commander as “irresponsible,” saying they reflected “ignorance of the Iraqi reality.”

Iraqi politicians, including members of the parliament, as well as religious leaders have also voiced their opposition to the bill.

Syria no-fly zone

Elsewhere in his remarks, Boroujerdi said that Turkey’s pushing for a no-fly zone over Syria is a “strategic mistake” for Ankara.

He said that the move is a violation of international law as well as sovereignty and territorial integrity of the Arab country.

“Turkey is expected to adopt a policy that will contribute to regional stability and security, not [one that will] lead to instability in the region,” he added.

Turkey has been pushing for a no-fly zone over northern Syria, claiming that such a buffer zone could protect Ankara from Syrian airstrikes against foreign-backed militants.

Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu said in an interview last week that he would work with the US to establish what he called a “safe area,” claiming that the buffer zone would protect civilians.

The US has not given the official go-ahead for the plan yet.

August 17, 2015 Posted by | Wars for Israel | , , , , , , | 4 Comments