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James Petras: Imperialism Cannot Be Trusted to Abide by Its Agreements

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Fars News Agency – July 9, 2016

Dr. James Petras who has been alongside three outstanding leaders of the world – Chile’s late Salvador Allende, Venezuela’s late Hugo Chavez and Greece’s late Andreas Papandreou – as an advisor warns that the United States and other imperialist powers should never be trusted.

The following is a transcript of a recorded interview with professor James Petras by Marwa Osman.

Q: How do you assess the influence of Zionism in setting the agenda for Western governments?

A: I think Zionism has become a very important influence on western, European and US diplomacy, particularly to the Middle East and in particular any questions relating to Israel’s foreign policy. In the US I think it is extremely important. Zionism has set the agenda for the US, it has helped elect officials, it has intimidated critics, it has received enormous funds from the US government and in general we can say that Israel dominates the US policy in the Middle East. The Zionists played a very important role in organizing the invasion of Iraq, they were involved with the war in Afghanistan, they are currently involved in the war inside of Syria, and they have deep positions within the state department and within the Pentagon. In the Pentagon, they have been very prominent in encouraging the US to escalate its wars and destroy the Muslim population in that region. In the treasury department, Israeli Zionists have been influential in imposing sanctions against Iran and I think the agreement was made between Iran and the US despite the pressure from the Zionists and they continue to harass any policy which would implement the Iran-US agreement, that is, what would facilitate trade and investment. So in general, England, France and the United States are very much influenced by Zionist policy regarding the Islamic countries and I think this is a major hindrance to any accommodation and understanding that would lessen the prospect of war and focus attention on the role that Israel plays along with Saudi Arabia as an enemy of the Islamic people and of the population as a whole.

Q: How do you think Zionists have managed to keep such an influence away from the public’s eye and basically away from the media?

A: I think that Zionist influence in the media is enormous. If you look at the major television networks bearing common that Zionists are in the leading positions like CBS, NBS, CNN, New York Times, Washington Post and the Wall Street Journal are very much controlled and influenced by owners and writers tied to Israeli interests. The Financial Times is also no exception to that and that has played a major role in influencing the public opinion and beyond that we have the fact that many Zionists have penetrated the government and they are simply a lobby pressuring the Congress and that plays a role also. Zionists contribute over 60% of the funding of the Democratic Party and about 35 to 40% of Republican Party funding so they influence the government directly and they influence the media and they influence the congress and the electoral process. All of this is accompanied by ferocious attacks on critics of Israel. We have seen many writers and academics who have lost jobs in medical and other professions who have criticized Israel and have been subject to harassment and some have even suffered violent threats against their lives and certainly against their employment.

Q: What are the highlights of your first hand observations during the years you served as an advisor to Andreas Papandreou? Have things changed for the better now?

A: Things are much worse now. When I was in the government back in 1982 till 1985, we implemented a policy much more balanced, criticizing the Israeli aggression against the Palestinians. We saw the Palestinian President at the time, Yasser Arafat, who visited Papandreou and they exchanged similar ideas on the Liberation of Palestine. Papandreou did not pursue his radical commitments that he made in the campaign but he did implement many reforms dealing with women’s rights, with expanding the health programs and the higher education programs. In other words he was an effective social reformer but he did not pursue the maximum agenda which was to withdraw from NATO and from the European Union although he threatened to but it was mainly a bluff. So one can say that in comparison to the current period, Papandreou was certainly much more of a reformer much more effective developing an independent foreign policy than the current governments of Greece. It’s a shame to say that Greece is going backwards rather than at least standing with the independent programs of the past.

Q: Why did the US decide to overthrow the government of President Salvador Allende? Can you depict the depth of US involvement in toppling Chilean government based on your own observations?

A: A number of things that I think are very crucial. One was when the Allende government was democratically elected it proceeded to nationalize the major industries like the copper industry, banks and some of the major industrial plants or turn them into worker represented institutions. So the first objective for Washington, particularly Henry Kissinger, was to undermine the independent economic policy of Chile. The second thing is that Chile served as a democratic alternative in Latin America, an independent foreign policy with good relationships with all of the progressive governments including Cuba and Washington did not want an example in Latin America of a democratically elected socialist government with an independent foreign policy with a critical stance on imperialist wars overseas including the war against China, the US support for the Shah etc. So I think Allende and the socialist government in Chile was overthrown through Washington’s direct involvement with financial aid, with pressures within the Chilean military to eliminate democratically oriented generals and also to pay for certain strikes particularly in the transport industry with the truck owners who were paid very substantial amounts by US CIA officials to paralyze the economy. I was an advisor to the government of Allende at the foreign ministry and I attempted to inform them on the role that Washington was playing in sabotaging the Chilean autonomy in the military. The problem was that the US had a great influence on the military and the military that was allied with the US was not purged and the democratic military officials eventually were ousted and that allowed the coup to move forward.

Q: Comparing the governance model of Allende with Chavez, you believe the reason for Chavez’ success was his structural renewal of the Venezuelan political system while Allende failed to meet its necessity. Do you think this is the reason behind the failure of the uprisings in some Arab countries, while the same fact served as a main factor for the victory of Iran’s 1979 Islamic Revolution?

A: I think both in the case of Imam Khomeini and Chavez, they moved very directly to eliminate the potential of the coup forces in the military. Imam Khomeini got rid of the generals and conspirators of the Shah within the military and therefore eliminated the possibility of intrigues and a military coup. Chavez did the same thing. When he was elected the first thing he did was to evoke a new constitutional assembly and a new constitution was formed and Chavez was very influential in the recruitment and promotion of democratically constitutionally oriented military officials so when Washington promoted the coup against Chavez it was defeated. They only captured a small minority of the military and unlike Allende who believed that the military was a democratic force not taking account of the long term ties to the United States under the previous right wing government. I think that the changes in the military and in the constitution were crucial to the advancement in Iran and Venezuela by making the military and civilian electoral processes work hand in hand. There are many other reasons for the failure of the uprisings in different Arab governments. They failed to mobilize the masses, they relied on simple maneuvers in parliament and elections. They didn’t attempt to organize an independent military that would be nationalistic anti-imperialist. Many of those so called progressive Arab governments were themselves very corrupt and thought they could make deals with the United Sates and I think ultimately fooled themselves and left their countries vulnerable to military coups, US interventions etc. It is hard to believe that if 1 million Arab fighters were recruited in Iraq, they couldn’t have prevented an invasion but Saddam Hussein was too much manipulated by Washington thinking that he could make deals with Washington against Iran and other adversaries with other Persian Gulf countries and he was wrong.

Q: How did you see the mindset of President Papandreou, President Salvador Allende of Chile, and President Hugo Chavez in their fight against US dictatorship?

A: Well I think Papandreou was committed to winning the vote and the only way to win the public vote was by taking public opinion. Greece had suffered a military dictatorship like the Shah of Iran. In the early 60s and late 70s Greece had been under right wing governments which hindered Greece’s independence in its foreign policy. They prejudiced Greece’s living standards and in that sense Papandreou was able to understand the dynamics of civil society and to win an election. Now the problem with Papandreou was that he thought he could work within the capitalist system, he thought he could modify capitalism to make it more responsive, he thought he could work with the European Union and NATO and bring them in a more progressive direction and so while he pursued reforms he misread the natures of the limitations imposed by the structure. So on the one hand he would take positions but would take right turns. So it was a very paradoxical situation; I know I used to visit Papandreou to advise him on policies and he would take notes on paper of what I would suggest as an independent anti-imperialist policy and I thought I was having a major influence but when I left the office his secretary told me that I was followed by the US ambassador, so he was playing both sides by using a lot of my advice and criticism on the one hand to make speeches in parliament and on the other hand make practical decisions aligned with his conferences with the US embassy. Now with Chavez, it was a much different story. Chavez was much more committed, honest and in tune with the people. I was in many meetings with President Chavez, I spoke with him in the Sorbonne in Paris where we shared a platform. He was very much committed to fighting imperialism and he was the only major president in the west that opposed the war on terrorism. He said it shouldn’t be a war on terrorism, it should be a war on poverty and misery that create violent confrontation. For opposing Washington’s policies in the Middle East he became a target. Now I think President Chavez was a brilliant political and social analyst but I think he made mistakes by depending too much on the oil industry and social programs when he should have diversified the economy by focusing on being less dependent on oil and more on developing Venezuela as a diversified economy and one that was capable of being more self-sufficient. Allende was a contradiction in the sense that he was very democratic, very socialist but had weak understanding of the military basis, of popular basis for sustaining the government. He believed that every government would respect democracy and of course he was very naive. Washington never paid any attention. They used democracy as a tool to destroy the government. They exploited the weaknesses of the electoral process, they destroyed the independent military and carried out the coup which led to about 15 years of dictatorship and a reversal in all the major changes in agriculture reform, national ownership of the media and resources etc. So I think one has to have a more comprehensive look. You cannot trust imperialism to abide by its agreements.

Q: Are there any interesting memories during the years as their advisor to recall?

A: A lot of it depends on the issues. I once went swimming with Papandreou and when we were swimming I saw that there were people in scuba suits and I asked him why these people were swimming around and he said these are my bodyguards because we received intelligence information that the Mossad may try to assassinate the President Papandreou while we were swimming. So I found that amusing that the president of a country engaged in a vacation with me and at the time took the concern and right to defend himself even under water. Now with President Chavez, I was very impressed by his capacity to not only to engage in serious discussions but also had a very bright kind of a touch with the people. When we finished a major meeting he met with different admirers and audiences and some of them were from his region of the country and President Chavez engaged in a song contest with some of them. I was amused by the fact that Chavez knew the popular songs that corresponded to the audience that attended him in the informal session. And finally with president Salvador Allende, I remember my first meeting with him and it was in the middle of the Vietnam war and I was part of the anti-war movement and I had just come from the United States and I asked President Allende if he could give a statement and he immediately sat down and taped a rousing speech in defense of the Vietnamese and against US imperialism. I was very respectful because he was at that time playing a leading role in the government and taking the time to engage in international solidarity with the American people’s struggle against the war. And clearly Allende distinguished between the progressive American people and the imperialist government in Washington.

July 9, 2016 Posted by | Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Timeless or most popular, Wars for Israel | , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Russia Pushes Back on NATO Expansion

By Natylie Baldwin | Consortium News | July 9, 2016

Can Russian President Vladimir Putin turn the tables on NATO and the European Union in the Balkan states that are not yet members of the Atlanticist project? According to Filip Kovacevic, a political science professor who specializes in Russia and Eastern Europe, Putin has a plan. Some details were provided in an exclusive report in May on the nascent project by Russia to counter NATO expansion into the remaining Balkan countries that have not yet been swept into the Western alliance.

The plan has its origins in the grassroots movement that arose in the aftermath of the first Cold War, which called for non-alignment and cooperation with both East and West. Kovacevic describes the movement as follows:

Russian President Vladimir Putin addresses UN General Assembly on Sept. 28, 2015. (UN Photo)

Putin addresses the UN,  09-28-15. (UN Photo)

Their members were generally young people who were enthusiastic, honest and genuinely committed to the public good, but were plagued by the lack of funding and faced with frequent media blackout and open discrimination. Nonetheless, their programs articulated the most promising and humane geopolitical vision for the Balkans. They conceptualized the Balkans as a territorial bridge between the West and the East rather than as the place of persistent confrontation, or the ‘line of fire’ as formulated by the U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry in 2015. They wanted the Balkans to become a force for peace and human dignity in the world. Their vision still remains the best option for the Balkans people.

This desire for non-alignment is understandable as a continuation of the policy of Tito’s Yugoslavia during the Cold War – the nation that several of the modern day Balkan states were a constituent part of.  However, according to Kovacevic, these groups were easily overwhelmed, in terms of both financial and propaganda resources, in the 1990s by pro-NATO forces in the West.

In addition to providing resources to build up pro-NATO sentiment in the media and NGO sectors of these countries, financial resources and pressure was used to sway a large number of politicians to favor NATO membership, often in opposition to the general population’s views. Some of the unsavory forms of incentive or pressure include what amounts to blackmail and bribery, Kovacevic told me in an email interview:

This is a long-term process. In the U.S. intelligence community it is called ‘seeding.’ The intelligence scholar Roy Godson defines it as ‘identifying potential agents of influence’ at an early stage and then acting to advance their careers. This is typically done covertly, but there have been the historical examples of overt support. …

In the Balkans, the key role in the process of ‘seeding’ was accomplished by various institutes, conferences, retreats, grants, etc. For instance, I was told by a confidential source who participated in the same U.S.-NATO program, the long-time foreign minister and one-time prime minister of Montenegro, Igor Luksic, was a product of such a process. Luksic was chosen as a very young man to attend various conferences and retreats in Brussels and Washington and, after that, his political career really took off. All the while, he promoted the NATO agenda in Montenegro, even though this went against the will of the majority of the population.

Another example is Ranko Krivokapic who was the speaker of the Montenegrin Parliament for over a decade. He traveled on official business to the U.S. a few times every year and boasted to others that he had a lot of friends in the State Department and other institutions of the U.S. government. There are examples like these in Serbia, Macedonia, Croatia, etc. All over the Balkans.

There is also the fact the European Union has dovetailed its security arrangements to such an extent with NATO that new members are now virtually brought into the NATO structures by default. For example, Mahdi D. Nazemroaya, author of The Globalization of NATO, reports that the E.U.’s Security Strategy was absorbed into NATO during its annual summit in 2006. The emphasis of the summit was on securing energy resources with the goal of ‘co-managing the resources of the EU’s periphery from North Africa to the Caucuses.’ Also implied was the goal of redefining the E.U.’s security borders in synch with both Franco-German and Anglo-American economic and geopolitical interests.

Moreover, British Russia scholar Richard Sakwa, has pointed out that the security integration of the E.U. with NATO was further intensified with the ratification of the Treaty of Lisbon in 2007:

As for the comprehensive character, this is something that has been gaining in intensity in recent years as the foreign and security dimension of the E.U. has effectively merged with the Atlantic security community. The E.U.’s Common Foreign and Security Policy (CFSP) since the Treaty of Lisbon (the “Reform Treaty”) of 13 December 2007, which came into effect in 2009, is now in substance part of an Atlantic system. Acceding countries are now required to align their defense and security policy with that of NATO, resulting in the effective ‘militarization’ of the E.U.

At this point, the forces seeking a non-aligned bridge role for the Balkan states are still very much around, but have suffered marginalization due to lack of resources to take on the powerful and now entrenched pro-NATO political forces. However, with increasing discontent with the weak economic prospects in certain Balkan states, combined with increasing instability in the E.U., it is believed that there is an opening for growth of the movement.

Economic Conditions in the Balkans

The Balkan states comprise Romania, Bulgaria, Albania, Macedonia, Serbia, Kosovo, Montenegro, Bosnia-Herzegovina and Greece.

A map showing stages of NATO's expansion. Dark blue showing original members; lighter blue the "round one" members; aqua the "round two" members; yellow represents neutral states; and brown and red (including Ukraine), otherwise aligned. On the map, Montenegro is one of the tiny brown spots on the eastern Adriatic.

A map showing stages of NATO’s expansion. Dark blue showing original members; lighter blue the “round one” members; aqua the “round two” members; yellow represents neutral states; and brown and red otherwise aligned (including Ukraine, although that has changed since the 2014 U.S.-backed coup).

In 2007, Romania and Bulgaria became E.U. members (three years after joining NATO). Romania’s GDP has barely kept up with its 2008 rate and has a general unemployment rate of 6.4 percent, which sounds reasonable until you look at the youth unemployment rate of 21 percent, which doesn’t bode well.

Bulgaria, on the other hand, is not part of the Eurozone and has not adopted the euro as its currency. Its economic prospects since joining the E.U. have not been impressive either. In the midst of the financial crisis of 2009, its GDP contracted by 5.5 percent, with a current unemployment rate of 7 percent and youth unemployment at 17 percent. Bulgaria is also recognized as one of the union’s most corrupt countries.

Macedonia, Montenegro, Serbia, Kosovo, Bosnia-Herzegovina and Albania are all in the process of E.U. integration, with a supposed approval rate of 80-90 percent among the respective populations of these countries (except for Serbia), despite the virtual rape of Greece and the lackluster performance of Romania and Bulgaria.

It should be noted that all three Balkan nations that are actual E.U. members have higher emigration than immigration rates, another indication that accession to the E.U. doesn’t necessarily translate into a prosperous future for the average person, particularly the young.

There is also the instability highlighted by the British people’s vote to leave the E.U., spurred by disgust with austerity measures imposed by unaccountable bureaucrats in Brussels along with an influx of immigrants – one-third from these poorer E.U. nations – which adversely affect lower-wage natives.

Even if the E.U. had a better track record of effectiveness in terms of improving economic conditions for the masses, it would have a very tall order with some of the prospective Balkan states. Macedonia, for example, has an unemployment rate between 24 and 25 percent as of January 2016, although it has improved from the 2005 high of 37 percent. Despite this improvement, Macedonia still has one of the lowest GDPs in Europe and 72 percent of its citizens claimed they manage their household income only with “difficulty” or “great difficulty” in 2012.

Bosnia-Herzegovina is still feeling the effects of the war of 1992 to 1995 that included major physical destruction of infrastructure and the bottoming out of its GDP. It currently suffers an unemployment rate of 42-43 percent.

Kosovo, a state that owes its existence to a NATO intervention, has 33 percent unemployment, a high crime rate and increasing political violence due to ethnic tensions and a growing ultra-nationalist movement. The Council of Europe compared the government of Kosovo to a mafia state in a 2010 report which revealed trafficking in human organs as well as drugs and weapons throughout Eastern Europe, even implicating the then-prime minister in the operation.

Russia’s Opening

Kovacevic states that the Atlanticist project of E.U. austerity economics and the enabling of Washington’s destabilizing wars via NATO is starting to chip away at its popularity among Balkan populations. He also says Putin is prepared to take advantage of this opening and, since the outbreak of the Ukraine crisis, has turned his attention “to the Balkans with political force and funding not seen since the days of tsar Nicholas II.”

This attention has manifested in the Lovcen Declaration, which was signed on May 6, by members of Russia’s largest political party, United Russia, and the opposition Democratic People’s Party in Montenegro in the village of Njegusi. Kovacevic explains:

One of the most powerful political figures in Montenegro, the metropolitan Amfilohije, the chief bishop of the Serbian Orthodox Church in Montenegro, was present at the signing and gave his blessing. Though in the past Amfilohije has been known to support the authoritarian and pro-NATO prime minister Milo Djukanovic around the election time, he has always publicly opposed NATO membership and has given fiery speeches on its ‘evil nature’ to the point of accusing NATO for continuing Hitler’s anti-Slavic project.

Even more importantly, Amfilohije’s involvement with the Lovcen Declaration reveals one of the fundamental components of Putin’s overall geopolitical plan – the nurturing and intensification of the religious Christian Orthodox connection between the Russians and the Orthodox peoples of the Balkans. This includes not [only] the Serbs, Montenegrins and Macedonians, but also the Greeks and Bulgarians whose states are in NATO and whose religious ‘awakening’ can easily subvert NATO from the inside.

Criticism and minimization of the project have set the tone in Western media, to the extent that it has been covered at all, particularly in relation to utilizing an opposition party for significant influence. But Kovacevic argues that such a dismissive attitude is disingenuous:

[T]he very same method has been used by the U.S. and NATO intelligence services to control the governments of East-Central European states since the collapse of communism. Countless small parties with just a handful of parliamentary deputies were formed with the money coming from the various ‘black budgets’ with the task of entering the governing coalition and then steering the entire government in the direction charted by their foreign founders and mentors.

These parties have had minimal public legitimacy, but have made a great political impact with their ‘blackmail’ potential. As they also don’t cost very much, the CIA, the MI6, and the BND regularly create them for every new election cycle.

Now the Russians (primarily, the SVR and the GRU) are using the same rulebook for their own geopolitical interests. In addition, however, Putin’s grand design for the Balkans embodied in the ANS is also likely to prove durable not only because it builds on the traditional cultural and religious ties linking Russia and the Balkans, but also because it rides on the wave of the enormous present popular dissatisfaction with the neoliberal Atlanticist political and economic status quo.

The fact that this declaration was signed in Montenegro is most relevant due to the fact that the country has been officially invited to join NATO, whose subsequent membership is treated in the West as a fait accompli. However, accession requires consensus approval by all current NATO members – one member could veto the move before completion of the process as happened with Macedonia when Greece vetoed their membership aspirations in 2008 when an invitation was to be offered at the Bucharest Summit – as well as approval by the population of Montenegro.

Joining any alliance treaty is arguably something that affects national sovereignty, which requires a referendum as Kovacevic, who is Montenegrin, explains:

The corrupt government of Milo Djukanovic is trying to avoid a national referendum because it knows that it does not have a majority support for NATO. If given a choice, the people of Montenegro would reject the protocol. The Constitution requires a referendum for all matters that affect national sovereignty, but Djukanovic is arguing falsely that NATO membership leaves Montenegrin sovereignty intact.

Kovacevic predicts that a show-down over NATO membership could create instability in the country: “[I]f he [Djukanovic] tries to push this decision through the Parliament (which he no doubt will), wide-scale strikes and demonstrations may take place all over the country. Whoever is pushing Montenegro in NATO is dangerously destabilizing the country in mid-to-long term.

If that happens, Washington may find for the first time in recent memory that forcing instability on a smaller country may ultimately accrue benefits to another great power, helping to facilitate a shift in geopolitics that it didn’t bargain on. As Nazemroaya comments in his book:

The [NATO] alliance is increasingly being viewed as a geopolitical extension of America, an arm of the Pentagon, and a synonym for an evolving American Empire. … Ultimately, NATO is slated to become an institutionalized military force. … Nevertheless, for every action there is a reaction and NATO’s actions have given rise to opposing trends. The Atlantic Alliance is increasingly coming into contact with the zone of Eurasia that is in the process of emerging with its own ideas and alliance. What this will lead to next is the question of the century.


Natylie Baldwin is co-author of Ukraine: Zbig’s Grand Chessboard & How the West Was Checkmated, available from Tayen Lane Publishing.  In October of 2015, she traveled to 6 cities in the Russian Federation and has written several articles based on her conversations and interviews with a cross-section of Russians.

July 9, 2016 Posted by | Corruption, Militarism | , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

French fraudster linked to Netanyahu jailed over vast tax scheme

Press TV – July 7, 2016

A French court has sentenced to eight years in jail a tycoon, who previously made unrelated donations to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, over a massive fraud scheme.

Arnaud Mimran was convicted of fraud on Thursday and sentenced to eight years in prison and one million-euro fine for the 2008-2009 fraud, which French authorities say resulted in a major tax shortfall.

Mimran has been on trial as a key suspect in a 283 million-euro scam in the trade and taxation of carbon emissions permits.

cb1afe6c-434d-41db-a2c8-b87be0cbbe79Ten other defendants were also given prison terms ranging from one to eight years and six were also fined 1 million euros. All the defendants were convicted of aggravated fraud and money-laundering.

Half of the defendants were tried in absentia and one person was acquitted.

The tax scam case has been described as “the heist of a century” by French authorities.

During his trial, the French magnate also testified that on another occasion he had gave 1 million euros to Netanyahu’s election campaign.

Netanyahu’s office has denied any campaign payments and said the contribution was made in 2001 to a fund used while he held no office.

Mimran was convicted of tax offenses in France in the late 1990s as well.

Meanwhile, Israel’s police are reportedly probing whether the prime minister had received illegal contributions from foreign businessmen during his current tenure.

Netanyahu and his wife, Sara, have become embroiled in a series of controversies about how their wealthy lifestyle is funded.

July 9, 2016 Posted by | Corruption, Deception, Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism | , , , | 3 Comments

Human Rights Watch Ranked Among Least Transparent Think Tanks

teleSUR | June 29, 2016

A handful of U.S. think tanks are ranked among the least transparent in terms of financial disclosure.

Human Rights Watch is ranked among one of the least transparent research groups in the United States, according to Transparify’s 2016 think tank transparency report, which details the levels of financial disclosure of 200 think tanks located in 47 countries worldwide.

The survey, conducted by a small nonprofit group gave the Human Rights Watch group a two-star rating—a score that means that all or many donors are listed, but little or no financial information is included—for the third year in year in a row.

“The number of organizations who still consider it acceptable to take money from hidden hands behind closed doors is rapidly dwindling. They are running out of excuses,” said Dr. Hans Gutbrod, executive director of Transparify.

Transparify’s researchers found that only 102 of the think tanks assessed remain opaque, down from 144 four years ago.

Nevertheless, many major groups in the United States received low scores including American Enterprise Institute along with the Hoover Institution, which both received a one-star grade, meaning “that some donors are listed, but not exhaustive or systematic.”

In the United States, think tanks have come to occupy a prominent place in the development of public policy, with their reports being widely distributed among lawmakers in order to support legislative initiatives, according Transparify’s annotated bibliography.

“Government representatives are reportedly utilizing think tanks’ research outputs more often than they use the Congressional Research Service,” Transparify noted.

July 9, 2016 Posted by | Deception, Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Timeless or most popular | , , , | 1 Comment

FBI Vacuums Up Local Law Enforcement Documents To Block Open Records Requests About Orlando Shooting

By Tim Cushing | TechDirt | July 7, 2016

The FBI has decided to insert itself into another public records battle. The agency has long been known to cc: itself to public records requests for Stingray documents, but this time it’s claiming any requests for local law enforcement documents related to the Orlando nightclub shooting need to be routed through it.

A June 20 letter from the FBI, attached to the City or Orlando’s lawsuit over withholding 911 calls and other records from 25 media outlets including the Orlando Sentinel, was also sent to the Seminole County Sheriff’s Office with instructions pertaining to how they should respond to records requests.

The letter requests that agencies deny inquiries and directs departments to “immediately notify the FBI of any requests your agency received” so “the FBI can seek to prevent disclosure through appropriate channels, as necessary.”

Notice the FBI says “prevent disclosure,” rather than, say, “assist in determining which documents can be released.” The letter [PDF] claims that all records generated by local law enforcement agencies are now the FBI’s by proxy and that the “investigative documents” exemption [Exemption 7(A)] prevents the release of all documents related to the shooting.

The FBI flat-out states all documents are [evidence and] belong to it.

The FBI considers information obtained from state and local law enforcement agencies in furtherance of its investigation to be evidence, or potential evidence.

Presto! Instant blanket exemption from disclosure at both federal and state level. The FBI takes care to point out which Florida Sunshine Law exemption local agencies can use to withhold documents from requesters.

There’s significant public interest in these documents, especially those related to EMS/police response to emergency calls. This obviously conflicts with the FBI’s determination that its ongoing investigation — which now apparently contains every document created by every responding law enforcement agency in Florida — should preempt any and all requests for documents via Florida open records laws.

Not for nothing have there been several efforts mounted to alter blanket exemptions like the one the FBI is using to insert itself into local level records requests. Unfortunately, it’s very likely the FBI’s wielding of this “open investigation” exemption will be granted deference by the federal court currently presiding over an open records lawsuit between the Orlando Sentinel and the City of Orlando, even though this fight never should have included a federal agency conducting its own concurrent investigation of the mass shooting.

July 9, 2016 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Deception | , | Leave a comment

Lesser Evil Politics: Really, Noam? Hubert Humphrey?

By David McDonald | CounterPunch | July 8, 2016

Is no one else tired of alternate history politics? You know, how you caused the Iraq War because you voted for Nader in 2000? I would rather jump into a pool of sludge than read more on that one. The entire enterprise is suspect because it involves just making stuff up and once you go there the sky’s the limit so you can blame anyone for anything. That’s why this tactic never dies. We are spared Al Gore in the present instance, but the price is steep.

Now Noam Chomsky has brought a cudgel to this fight. Trust me, it’s a blunt instrument.

Back in ’68, Chomsky says, “the ultraleft faction of the peace movement” caused the election of Richard Nixon by “minimizing the comparative danger” of a Nixon presidency, thereby making the huge strategic mistake of foisting Nixon on the world, prolonging the Vietnam War by “six years” and causing senseless deaths and untold suffering because we voted our hearts, not our minds.

Fortunately for those of us who were running around doing stuff in the antiwar movement and not voting Democrat, not a word of this is true.

The first fail is this: Nixon could not have been defeated even if every last member of “the ultraleft faction of the peace movement” had voted for the Democrat Humphrey, along with all their friends and relations. The devil is in those pesky electoral votes. The difference of .7% in popular vote ballooned to an electoral defeat of 301 to 191 to 46 (George Wallace), so Humphrey would have needed to pick up a bunch of states with 79 electoral votes to get to 270.

Let’s look at one of them: California. This state has a lot of data, a lot of 3rd party candidates and is favorable for Chomsky’s argument since Nixon’s victory margin there was only three percentage points. (His margin was closer in only 5 states totaling 84 electoral votes but greater in 26 others.) Nevertheless, Humphrey came up short by 223,346 votes. Now, if all the votes for all 3rd party candidates are thrown in with an equal number for their friends and family, and if this total is doubled again to account for ultraleft abstentions, Humphrey still loses California by over 10,000 votes. Chomsky’s LEV argument fails the test of arithmetic.

Really? How was it that the combined antiwar forces of 1968 could not marshal another couple hundred thousand votes (if they got their heads on straight) and could only muster 52,000 votes for all the third parties in a very contested election? Well, we didn’t have the vote. The voting age was 21. If you graduated high school after 1965 you were too young to vote in 1968. That was almost everybody in the movement. Repeat: the antiwar movement could not have saved Humphrey if it wanted to, because we didn’t have the vote. Fail.

The second fail is the preposterous charge of extending the war by 6 years. The war only lasted 6 more years under Nixon/Ford, so the Democrat, if elected, would have had to declare not just immediate but instant withdrawal. As we shall see, that is an otherworldly conjecture. Why not just claim to shorten the war by several years? This is not the only time this brief reads like a really sloppy first draft and makes an unforced error.

Chomsky himself has noted elsewhere the manner in which the decision to withdraw from Vietnam was actually made by the rulers of America. Sorry, but background. The single most important event of the Vietnam War occurred on January 31, 1968: the Tet Offensive. An armed insurrection broke out in every major town and every provincial capital and in Saigon itself, where the US Embassy was breached and partly overrun. Though this insurrection was short-lived and massively attacked with the full might of the assembled US military; although the insurrectionary forces were at least savagely repressed if not obliterated almost everywhere, and though it took years to rebuild the networks that were sacrificed in those few days; and notwithstanding the fact that the “insurrection” failed to mobilize any segment of the South Vietnamese society in noticeable let alone decisive numbers and relied instead of members of the NLF; nevertheless, the Tet Offensive is widely understood as one of the greatest military victories of history because it destroyed the will of the American people to pursue the war.

Many colonial powers have endured uprisings by subject peoples and continued more or less unfazed, like the British in India and the French in Algeria, at least for a while. But in America we were fed, for years, the lie that the war was being won and pacification of local hamlets and villages was happily proceeding. The end was in sight. So the shock of Tet in America was total. Suddenly a lot of people stopped believing anything the government said about Vietnam.

President Lyndon Johnson also stopped believing what he heard about Vietnam and in the wake of Tet instructed his new Secretary of Defense, an old pal and Democratic Party fixer going back to Truman, to assess the government’s ability to field the 205,000 more troops requested by Gen. Westmoreland as the way to put Tet behind them and go on winning the war. That was the official task but Johnson was tired of hearing totally different stories from different parts of his government and wanted to put the entire security cabinet, as the Israelis would call it, in the same room where they would be forced to arrive at an agreed assessment with no chance of weaseling out later. After three days the new Secretary of Defense concluded there was no way whatsoever to win the war and the US should adopt the strategy called “Vietnamization,” the effort to turn over fighting to the armed forces of the puppet government Washington had been propping up for over a decade. Everyone understood this could not be an overnight affair like evacuating Dunkirk, for dozens of reasons. Everyone also knew Vietnamization would never work and the real point was to disguise defeat. Whole books have been written about this. Allies had to be placated and lies prepared not just for our own but also the people of the unfortunate countries who followed the US down this rabbit hole and provided troops, like Australia and South Korea, the latter providing 50,000. Withdrawal was never going to happen in less than years, on purpose. Total fail #2.

Oddly, Chomsky’s brief never mentions by name the person we should have voted for back when we doomed the Vietnamese to six more years of war in our ultra-left fever. This is at least consistent with Chomsky’s past practice regarding Humphrey. Between when he started writing on social and political issues in February of 1967 with the explosive publication of “The Responsibility of Intellectuals” and the 1968 election Chomsky penned five important essays that established him forever as a leading American intellectual, scourge of the Vietnam War, and a man who names names. A man who would out the head of his own department in writing as no more than an academic war profiteer.

In those essays he mentions Humphrey twice, both times in passing. First:

[T]he Vice President tells us that we are fighting “militant Asian Communism” with “its headquarters in Peking” and adds that a Viet Cong victory would directly threaten the United States[.]

This is so beyond stupid that the old Chomsky, who knew when a thing spoke for itself, made no comment. Walter Lippmann, a right-wing commentator, did point out that this bespoke an unseemly lack of confidence in the US Navy. In the second mention in this blistering political year, discussing moral choices, Chomsky puts Humphrey in some spotty company thinking very bad thoughts, but also in passing, like Dante might mention some subsidiary clod shivering in a corner of some circle of hell:

Suppose that it were in the American “national interest” to pound into rubble a small nation that refuses to submit to our will. Would it then be legitimate and proper for us to act “in this national interest”? The Rusks and the Humphreys and the Citizens Committee say “Yes”. Nothing could show more clearly how we are taking the road of the fascist aggressors of a generation ago.

Is this really everything Chomsky wrote about the Man who Might Have Stopped the War? When an endorsement, in Chomsky’s mind at least, might have mattered ? Yes. That is all.

We have seen that it was mathematically impossible for Humphrey to win California, one of his better states. We have seen that the decision to exit Vietnam was taken at the level of the deep state with not an elected official in the room. Further, that the necessity to mask defeat birthed Vietnamization, which allowed for blaming everything on the hapless South Vietnamese Army as it visibly disintegrated. All this would take time. Nobody cared.

It is clear that for something other than the slow-assed withdrawal outlined above to occur Humphrey would have had to take on the entire establishment. The final fail is that Chomsky does not argue what he must: that there was something known about Humphrey’s character at the time that might make such a head-on challenge to his own administration plausible. Who, then, was Hubert Humphrey?

First, as Chomsky notes above, Humphrey was first and foremost an anti-Communist. And not just in words: He made his bones in Minnesota politics by helping to destroy the Farmer-Labor Party and fold it into the Democratic Farmer-Labor Party. This meant wiping out pockets of radicalism left over from the titanic victory of the Teamsters Strike of 1934, often with the use of thugs. In national politics he sponsored a bill to make membership in the Communist Party illegal, sponsored other outlandish pieces of anti-communist legislation, voted to establish detention camps for people like us, was a founder of the anti-communist Americans for Democratic Action and was at least as full-throated an anti-communist with credentials rivaling Nixon’s.

Second, he was an order-taking schnook, and everybody knew it. It is said he advised LBJ early on that Vietnam was a loser but lost his taste for that truth when LBJ froze him out for a couple of months. Since Humphrey considered Johnson’s favor his only possible road into the White House, in the time-honored way of American politicians he proceeded to say exactly what he was told to say for the next four years, never mind that he didn’t believe it. He thus became the Administration’s foremost spokesperson on the war and gave an astonishing 400 speeches defending the Administration’s Vietnam policy.

Robert Kennedy, smelling blood because Clean Gene McCarthy almost handed Johnson his ass in the 1968 New Hampshire primary, entered the race and chased Johnson out within weeks. Before the public announcement that he would not run Johnson coldly told an ashen-faced Humphrey he would have to run against Kennedy and Humphrey, knowing he was dead meat, obeyed. Only Kennedy’s assassination saved him from utter humiliation. He took not one step to distinguish himself from Johnson’s Vietnam position during the entire campaign.

By the record, no one (except his lawyer) ever considered him a man whose thoughts or actions on the war need be discussed. Everything Chomsky himself said about Humphrey during these tumultuous times is quoted in full above. Gabriel Kolko in Anatomy of a War mentions only “Hubert Humphrey’s faltering campaign for the presidency.” In Fred Halstead’s highly detailed history of the antiwar movement Out Now he is again mentioned only once, in passing, as the evident choice of the Democratic Party machine while Jerry Rubin’s index citations run to half a column.

It is not real to think that such a man might impose his will on the machinery of state and speed up the withdrawal from Vietnam. If Chomsky has reasons to believe this, he has kept them to himself. Nothing in history and nothing in Humphrey’s character bears him out. Third and final fail.

Do you still think I have missed the boat? Let’s finally then let the candidates speak for themselves on Vietnam. Here are their respective positions as delivered from the podium during their acceptance speeches.

Humphrey:

“Let those who believe that our cause in Vietnam has been right — and those who believe it has been wrong — agree here and now: Neither vindication nor repudiation will bring peace or be worthy of our country.

The question is: What do we do now?

No one knows what the situation in Vietnam will be on January 20, 1969.

Every heart in America prays that, by then, we shall have reached a cease-fire in all Vietnam, and be in serious negotiation toward a durable peace.

Meanwhile, as a citizen, a candidate, and Vice President, I pledge to you and to my fellow Americans, that I shall do everything within my power to aid the negotiations and to bring a prompt end to this war.”

Nixon:

“We shall begin with Vietnam.

We all hope in this room that there is a chance that current negotiations may bring an honorable end to that war. And we will say nothing during this campaign that might destroy that chance.

But if the war is not ended when the people choose in November, the choice will be clear. Here it is.

For four years this Administration has had at its disposal the greatest military and economic advantage that one nation has ever had over another in any war in history.

For four years, America’s fighting men have set a record for courage and sacrifice unsurpassed in our history.

For four years, this Administration has had the support of the Loyal Opposition for the objective of seeking an honorable end to the struggle.

Never has so much military and economic and diplomatic power been used so ineffectively.

And if after all of this time and all of this sacrifice and all of this support there is still no end in sight, then I say the time has come for the American people to turn to new leadership — not tied to the mistakes and the policies of the past. That is what we offer to America.

And I pledge to you tonight that the first priority foreign policy objective of our next Administration will be to bring an honorable end to the war in Vietnam. We shall not stop there — we need a policy to prevent more Vietnams.”

Can’t tell the difference? Neither could we.

The paucity of effort Chomsky expends on this surreal exercise in alternate history politics is notable. He isn’t really trying. He never mentions Humphrey by name. He fact-checks nothing. He does not even appear to know what a Hobson’s Choice is. That’s because all the thinking, if you want to call it that, was done long ago when Chomsky joined the Democrat’s team and stopped thinking about how to actually forge political independence.

The genius of the Democrats is that they will cheerfully allow you to say anything at all, as a Democrat, so long as you toe the line on election day. No harm, no foul. Hence the livelihoods of predictable shills like Rachel Maddow, Thom Hartmann, Amy Goodman and Juan Gonzales.

It is slightly different with Chomsky because he has maintained the step of organizational independence from the Democrats, does not suggest that the Democrats can be reformed or taken over, and yet still demands we vote for them if a vote against them might actually hurt. He has, by his own admission, voted in this manner for the last 17 presidential elections. In practice he is a Democratic Party dues cheater pretending a political independence he has never demonstrated.

July 9, 2016 Posted by | Deception, Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Militarism, Timeless or most popular | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

NATO says ‘ready to stay’ in Afghanistan

Press TV – July 9, 2016

NATO says it is “ready to stay” in Afghanistan, reiterating a pledge on funding for local security forces.

“What we have seen is we are committed and we are ready to stay,” NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said Saturday, highlighting the funding pledge through 2020.

Stoltenberg could not say, however, when NATO’s military engagement in Afghanistan might end.

“There’s no reason to speculate exactly on how long it will continue,” he said, adding that NATO member states would examine the situation again next year.

Under the leadership of the United States, the 28-nation Western military alliance invaded Afghanistan in 2001, starting a war that has killed thousands and cost tens of billions of dollars. The military engagement was meant to obliterate the Taliban, but the militant group has managed to gain more footholds across the country over the past years, and local security forces still struggle to contain the group and other militants, including al-Qaeda and the Takfiri Daesh terrorists.

Stoltenberg said NATO will maintain troops in Afghanistan through 2017 under its train and advise Resolute Support Mission. He did not provide numbers but said the overall NATO force in Afghanistan would be “around the same” as now. Resolute Support currently has about 13,000 troops in Afghanistan.

Washington, the main provider of troops and funding to NATO in Afghanistan, has also backed down on its previous pledges to reduce the number of troops in the country, arguing that Kabul has been quite slow in reforming its military, which the United States claims is gripped by corruption and human rights issues.

US President Barack Obama had previously vowed to slash troop numbers from the current 9,800 to 5,500 by the end of this year. However, he announced on July 6 that the process will draw down and the US would keep 8,400 US troops in Afghanistan.

July 9, 2016 Posted by | Aletho News | , | 1 Comment

Hillary Clinton’s Email Absolution: Two Parties, One Criminal Regime

By Eric Draitser | Stop Imperialism | July 8, 2016

What was your reaction when you heard FBI Director James Comey announce to the world that the Bureau would not be recommending that charges be filed against Hillary Clinton over her handling of emails while she was Secretary of State?  Did you do a humorous spit take with your coffee like some modern day Danny Thomas? Were you frozen in place like Americans were on November 22, 1963? Did your jaw hit the floor with your tongue rolling out like a flabbergasted cartoon character?

Chances are you weren’t the least bit surprised that no charges were recommended. But what does that tell you about our political system?

That millions of Americans weren’t remotely caught off guard by the exculpation of Hillary Clinton is less a commentary about American attitudes than it is a clear indication of the all-pervasive criminality that is at the heart of America’s political ruling class. And the fact that such criminality is seen as par for the course demonstrates once again that the rule of law is more a rhetorical veneer than a juridical reality.

But consider further what the developments of recent days tell us both about the US and, perhaps even more importantly, the perception of the US internationally. For while Washington consistently wields as weapons political abstractions such as transparency, corruption, and freedom, it is unwilling to apply to itself those same cornerstones of America’s collective self-conception. Hypocrisy is perhaps not strong enough a word.

Not Even Hiding It Anymore…    

Remember the good old days when corrupt politicians committed their crimes in smoke-filled rooms, making handshake deals in quiet corners of luxury hotel suites or over lobster at five star restaurants? Those things certainly still happen, but the transgressions, like all things, seem to have lost a bit of their classiness. It may not be the Plaza Hotel, but the Phoenix airport was no less a scene of wanton lawlessness and impropriety when former President, and soon to be First Gentleman, Bill Clinton met privately with Attorney General Loretta Lynch.

The meeting, which only came to light thanks to the work of local ABC15 morning anchor Christopher Sign, has been widely criticized by pundits and legal experts from both sides of the political spectrum.  Naturally, questions about impropriety, and potential illegal tampering in a federal investigation, were immediately raised once the meeting was made public. Of course, nothing was done to alleviate any of those concerns, calling into question the very impartiality of the investigation.

But the larger story has to do with symbolic message being sent by the meeting. Specifically, there is one set of laws for American citizens, and an entirely different set of laws for political elites like the Clintons.

Moreover, there’s more to it than just criminality. There is the air of superiority which oozes from every action taken by the Clintons who have made hundreds of millions of dollars unscrupulously pandering to, and serving the interests of, the financial elite of Wall Street and the corporate oligarchy. That feeling of invincibility is what drives someone like Bill Clinton to demand that the FBI surrounding him at the Phoenix airport dictate to bystanders that there are to be “no photos, no pictures, no cell phones.”  To make such a demand is to see oneself as above the law, above the First Amendment, above the plebs, as it were.

And this sort of behavior is what we’ve come to expect from the Clintons. Who can forget the seemingly endless rap sheet that the dynamic Democrat duo has earned over the decades? The Whitewater Scandal, in many ways a template for the Clinton email scandal, involved shady business practices and political insider dealing by the Clintons and their real estate developer cronies. And, like the email scandal, Whitewater was an example of the Clintons deliberately destroying records that likely implicate them in very serious crimes.

As the New York Times reported in 1992, “The Clintons and Mr. McDougal disagree about what happened to Whitewater’s records. Mr. McDougal says that at Mr. Clinton’s request they were delivered to the Governor’s mansion. The Clintons say many of them have disappeared. Many questions about the enterprise cannot be fully answered without the records.”

So it seems the Clintons have this nasty habit of committing crimes and then destroying the records of those crimes and claiming complete ignorance about what happened. For you and me, such a flimsy excuse would go over like a lead balloon, likely leading to jail time. For the Clintons, the controversy quietly fades away and slips down the memory hole.

And then of course there’s the mysterious death of Deputy White House Counsel Vince Foster, the man who filed three years of delinquent Whitewater corporate tax returns, and then was subsequently found dead a month later. While his death was officially ruled a suicide, the serendipitous development for the Clintons led to speculation that Foster was killed on the order of the Clintons in order to silence a potentially damning source of information about Clinton misdeeds.

Indeed, some claim that evidence exists that Foster was in fact murdered, including the statements from one of the lead prosecutors investigating the death, Miguel Rodriguez, who claims that photos showed a gunshot wound on Foster’s neck, a wound that was not mentioned in the official report. Whether true or not, the speculation about the Clintons’ involvement in a political assassination has only grown.

But of course there are so many more scandals it’s hard to keep count. From appointments of Clinton Foundation donors to key State Department positions in a sort of “pay for play” scheme, to the salaries paid to people like Hillary’s Deputy Chief of Staff Huma Abedin who, while working for the State Department, also worked for Teneo, a consulting firm run by another close Clinton crony. And who could forget the Clinton Foundation and the myriad conflict of interest issues, lack of transparency, and outright criminality associated with it?

This article would go on for tens of thousands more words were it to chronicle all of Clinton’s scandals. But the true focus here is not even simply on Clinton crimes, but rather on the culture of corruption and lawlessness that exists unfettered in Washington; it is the endemic corruption that the Clintons represent, perhaps better than anyone.

Corruption and Malfeasance: As American as Apple Pie

It is difficult to encapsulate in a few short paragraphs the multi-layered forms of corruption that are embedded in the very fabric of America’s political culture. Perhaps it could be best separated into three distinct, though interrelated, categories: the open door, the closed door, and the revolving door.

The open door of corruption and criminality represents the kind of wrongdoing that takes place out in the open, in full view of the public, but which is treated as anything but criminal. Whether it be lying the US into wars of aggression – the Iraq War was based on lies about weapons of mass destruction, the war on Libya was sold on the pretext of lies about civilians being murdered by the government – or simply the obviously corrupt form of campaign financing that allows Wall Street and the corporate elites to bankroll the alleged “democracy” that the US so proudly proselytizes the world over; these forms of corruption and criminality are in many ways the bedrock of American politics.

As the International Military Tribunal at Nuremberg famously stated, “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 the whole.” By this very definition, every political leader in the US going back decades is guilty of war crimes.

Going further, one can draw on the legacy of Franklin Roosevelt who, in a now legendary speech at Madison Square Garden in 1936, unequivocally proclaimed:

We had to struggle with the old enemies of peace–business and financial monopoly, speculation, reckless banking, class antagonism, sectionalism, war profiteering. They had begun to consider the Government of the United States as a mere appendage to their own affairs. We know now that Government by organized money is just as dangerous as Government by organized mob. Never before in all our history have these forces been so united against one candidate as they stand today. They are unanimous in their hate for me–and I welcome their hatred.

But today, rather than welcoming the hatred of Wall Street and the corporate oligarchy, America’s politicians pander to them, grovel before them, kiss their rings in hopes of securing for themselves a financially and professionally lucrative future. So deep is the rot that most Americans passively accept this as business as usual, failing to understand that it is anything but acceptable.

The closed door forms of criminality are often completely concealed from public view, and what does become known is only thanks to courageous actions by reporters and whistleblowers. Take for instance the activities of the CIA, only a fraction of which were exposed by the Church and Pike Committees, which included obviously criminal activities ranging from the overthrow of governments to assassination of political leaders to domestic spying and propaganda, all of which being blatantly illegal.

But the closed door also conceals the activities of prominent political figures such as Hillary Clinton, whose secret lobbying for things like right wing coup governments in Honduras, shows the degree to which politicians literally conspire in secret. Clinton, like so many of her colleagues, also grovels at the feet of Wall Street financiers, including taking massive payoffs for speeches with the tacit wink-wink-nudge-nudge that goes along with them.

Finally, the revolving door is one of the shining examples of America’s political corruption, or perhaps better put, complete subservience to the corporate oligarchy. When key government officials leave public life and head to that oft-lionized “private sector,” what they are actually providing is access – access to government for corporations and capital.

When the head of the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) leaves her government post and takes a job as President of Merck & Co. Inc’s vaccine division, no one bats an eye.

When the architect of Obamacare, who before working on the health plan was an executive at one of the nation’s largest health insurance providers, leaves her government job and takes a position with Johnson & Johnson’s government affairs and policy group, it garners barely a passing comment.

When Wall Street executives take positions at head of the Treasury Department – Tim Geithner and Hank Paulsen both worked for Goldman Sachs, as just one example – it is simply “the way things are.”  This revolving door form of political corruption may not be anything new, but it is so rarely defined as corruption. But that’s exactly what it is.

However, none of this prevents Washington from publicly admonishing other countries for their corruption problems. Russia? Zimbabwe? Venezuela? China? Nigeria? All corrupt. United States? Well, er, ummm… Democracy! Freedom!  This is the sort of reflexive hypocrisy that typifies American exceptionalism or, as the rest of the world might call it, the arrogance of empire.

July 9, 2016 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Corruption, Deception, Timeless or most popular | , , , , | Leave a comment

Chilcot: Internal memos show Syria may have been on the agenda since 2001

OffGuardian | July 8, 2016

The Chilcot Report was released on Wednesday, and a hard copy can be yours for just £767 (though I would suggest reading it free online here), and while there will doubtless be many and varied autopsies of the evidence and documents, this early observation is an interesting one.

An eagle-eyed reader brought the following documents to our attention, as they contain many sections that hint war with Syria may have been on the NATO/US agenda as far back as October 2001.

First there is this, from a letter dated 11th of October 2001 (all emphasis ours):

… The uncertainty caused by Phase 2 seeming to extend to Iraq, Syria etc because it seems to confirm the UBL [Osama Bin Laden] propaganda this is the West vs Arab [sic]. Tony Blair, letter to GW Bush, 11/10/01

This quote suggests that Syria and “etc.” (Lebanon or Iran, at a guess) were already in the crosshairs. Interestingly, it is followed by:

Incidentally, the leaders all warned about treating Syria like Iraq.

It’s safe to say the warnings of these “leaders” (their names are all redacted), were not heeded by the subsequent administrations.

Then there is this, from Downing Street Chief of Staff Jonathan Powell, dated November 15th 2001:

…urgent pressure on Syria and Iran to crack down on terrorists as a quid pro quo for a warmer relationship with the West and getting a Middle East peace process going – with the unstated threat that risk becoming the next target for military action if they do not co-operate

And then this from a memo entitled “The War against Terrorism: The Second Phase”, dated December 4th 2001:

If toppling Saddam is a prime objective, it is far easier to do it with Syria and Iran in favour or acquiescing rather than hitting all three at once. I favour giving these two a chance at a different relationship…

This quote is interesting, because while it sets out that the British position seems to be in favour of a “different relationship”, the fact that it references “hitting all three at once” very strongly implies that such a recourse was suggested (probably by the US).

While there is nothing absolutely concrete here, there is certainly enough to smoke to suggest a little fire. It definitely adds a little weight to the famous claim of the Gen. Wesley Clark that the Project for a New American Century planned to “take out 7 countries in 5 years.”

July 9, 2016 Posted by | Timeless or most popular, War Crimes, Wars for Israel | , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments