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Hezbollah thumbs the nose at Israel

By M K Bhadrakumar | India Punchline | July 19, 2016

The successful mission by a Hezbollah drone entering Israeli air space in the Golan Heights and taking photographs is a significant development at various levels. At its most obvious, Hezbollah has mocked Israel’s vaunted air superiority. Three Israeli missiles, including one fired by an F-16, couldn’t bring down the drone which returned safely to Syria. For Israel, it amounts to a humiliating show of contempt by the Hezbollah. (Sputnik )

Second, Russian radar would have certainly picked up the drone, but did nothing about it. It is straight out of Sherlock Holmes – the dog didn’t bark. The bottom line is, neither will Russia rush to protect the Hezbollah nor move a little finger to deter it.

Third, of course, the drone is a technology demonstrator, underscoring Hezbollah’s growing capability to hit back at Israel if attacked. This particular drone probably didn’t carry weapons, but the next one always could.

To be sure, Israel can only wonder how Hezbollah has gained access to such sophisticated technology. From Russia? Or, Iran? Or, is it Hezbollah technology?

Then, there is the ‘big picture’. Israel has been reminded that Golan Heights is still a frontline. Israel’s best hope is that Syria will remain weak and fragmented with no central authority in Damascus to challenge its future annexation of the occupied territories in Golan Heights. Hezbollah may have signalled that that remains a pipedream. In fact, the Syrian government forces are incrementally gaining the upper hand on the ground. The blockade of Aleppo turns the tide of war. In a telling sign of the tide turning, there are reports that Turkey has sent ‘feelers’ to the Syrian government. (Guardian )

Now, the developments in Turkey can only mean that Ankara may roll back its intervention in Syria. Turkey’s focus is on preempting a Kurdistan taking shape on its borders with tacit US support (which Israel too welcomes) and on this platform Syria, Iran and Iraq are Ankara’s ‘natural allies’.

On the other hand, without Turkey, neither Saudi Arabia nor Qatar or the other Sheikhdoms in the Gulf would have the spunk to advance the ‘regime change’ agenda in Syria. Simply put, Israel is being reduced to a mute witness to dramatic changes and realignments in its very neighbourhood with no role or capacity to influence them politically or militarily. Arguably, Israel and Saudi Arabia are the biggest ‘losers’ in the failed coup in Turkey. Both will be desperately hoping that the US will come up with some bright idea to retrieve the Syrian situation at the 2-day anti-ISIS coalition conference taking place in Washington on July 20-21. But then, the Turkish-US standoff over the extradition of Fetullah Gulen has introduced new uncertainty regarding the US’ capacity to influence the course of events in Syria.

All in all, the drone provocation by Hezbollah calls attention to the big shift in the balance of forces in the Middle East as a result of the Syrian conflict. For the first time, Israel has to contend with superior military power in its neighborhood. Indeed, but for the Russian presence, Israeli jets would have been raining destruction on Syria by now in retaliation. Fortunately, Israel faces no ‘blowback’ as such from the ISIS or the al-Qaeda affiliate Nusra Front — unlike Turkey or Saudi Arabia — for its intervention in the Syrian conflict. (Read an Iranian commentary Turkey Coup: Who Else Is Going the Way Of Iraq and Syria?)

July 20, 2016 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Timeless or most popular | , , , , , | 1 Comment

There’s more to Turkey’s failed coup than meets the eye

By M. K. Bhadrakumar | Indian Punchline | July 18, 2016

Russian President Vladimir Putin did on Sunday what no major western leader from the NATO member countries cared to do when he telephoned his Turkish counterpart Recep Erdogan to convey his sympathy, goodwill and best wishes for the latter’s success in restoring constitutional order and stability as soon as possible after the attempted coup Friday night.

The US Secretary of State John Kerry instead made an overnight air dash to Brussels to have a breakfast meeting on Monday with the EU foreign ministers to discuss a unified stance on the crisis in Turkey. The French Foreign Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault was in an angry mood ahead of the breakfast, saying “questions” have arisen as to whether Turkey is any longer a “viable” ally. He voiced “suspicions” over Turkey’s intentions and insisted that European backing for Erdogan against the coup was not a “blank cheque” for him to suppress his opponents.

The US has expressed displeasure regarding the Turkish allegations of an American hand in the failed coup. Indeed, the Turkish allegation has no precedent in NATO’s 67-year old history – of one member plotting regime change in another member country through violent means. Clearly, US and Turkey are on a collision course over the extradition of the Islamist preacher Fethullah Gulen living in exile in Pennsylvania whom the Turkish government has named as the key plotter behind the coup. Turkish Prime Minister Binali Yildirim has warned that Ankara will regard the US as an “enemy” if it harbored Gulen. The dramatic developments expose the cracks appearing in the western alliance system. (See the commentary in the Russian news agency Sputnik entitled NATO R.I.P (1949-2016): Will Turkey-US Rift Over Gulen Destroy Alliance?)

Interestingly, the senior Turkish army officials detained so far include the following:

  • Commander of the Incirlik air base (and 10 of his subordinates) where NATO forces are located and 90 percent of the US’ tactical nuclear weapons in Europe are stored;
  • Army Commander in charge of the border with Syria and Iraq;
  • Corps Commander who commands the NATO contingency force based in Istanbul; and,
  • Former military attaches in Israel and Kuwait.

Most certainly, the needle of suspicion points toward the Americans having had some knowledge of the coup beforehand. Two F-16 aircraft and two ‘tankers’ to provide mid-air refuelling for them and used in the coup attempt actually took off from Incirlik.

Of course, Ankara has been wary of the US and France establishing military bases in northern Syria with the support of local Kurdish tribes, which it suspected would be a stepping stone leading to the creation of a ‘Kurdistan’. (The advisor on foreign affairs to Iran’s supreme leader, Ali Akbar Velayati, who is an influential figure in Tehran alleged on Sunday that the US is attempting to create a Kurdistan state carved out of neighboring countries with Kurdish population, which will be a “second Israel” in the Middle East to serve Washington’s regional interests.)

Today, the famous Saudi whistleblower known as ‘Mujtahid’ has come out with a sensational disclosure that the UAE played a role in the coup and had kept Saudi Arabia in the loop. Also, the deposed ruler of Qatar Hamad bin Khalifa Al-Thani (who is a close friend of Erdogan) has alleged that the US, another Western country (presumably France) had staged the coup and that Saudi Arabia was involved in it. (here and here) Meanwhile, word has leaked to the media that in a closed-door briefing to the Iranian parliament on Sunday, Foreign Minister Mohammad Zarif hinted at Saudi and Qatari involvement in the coup.

Putin’s phone call to Erdogan suggests the possibility that Russian and Turkish intelligence are keeping in touch. The two leaders have agreed to meet shortly.

The timing of the coup attempt – following the failure of the US push to establish a NATO presence in the Black Sea and in the wake of the Russian-Turkish rapprochement – becomes significant. Equally, the signs of shift in Turkey’s interventionist policies in Syria would have unnerved the US and its regional allies.

Israel, Saudi Arabia and Qatar have a great deal to lose if Turkey establishes ties with Syria, which is on the cards. Thus, stopping Erdogan on his tracks has become an urgent imperative for these countries. The spectre of the Syrian government regaining control over the country’s territory haunts Israel, which has been hoping that a weakened and fragmented Syria would work to its advantage to permanently annex the occupied territories in the Golan Heights. Again, Turkey’s abandonment of the ‘regime change’ agenda in Syria means a geopolitical victory for Iran. On the contrary, a triumphant and battle-hardened Hezbollah next door means that its vast superiority in conventional military strength will be rendered even more irrelevant in countering the resistance movement. Significantly, Israel is keeping stony silence.

Will the US and its regional allies simply throw in the towel or will they bide their time to make a renewed bid to depose Erdogan? That is the big question. Erdogan’s popularity is soaring sky-high today within Turkey. He can be trusted to complete the ‘vetting’ process to purge the Gulenists ensconced in the state apparatus and the armed forces. The meeting of the High Military Council due in August to decide on the retirement, promotions and transfers of the military top brass gives Erdogan the free hand to remove the Gulenists.

M. K. Bhadrakumar is the former career diplomat in the Indian Foreign Service.

July 20, 2016 Posted by | Timeless or most popular, Wars for Israel | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Gaza in Context

Status Audio Journal | July 19, 2016

July 20, 2016 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Timeless or most popular, Video | , , , , | 1 Comment

Asking Teachers To Monitor Kids for ‘Extremist’ Beliefs, What Could Go Wrong?

By Danielle Jefferis | ACLU | July 20, 2016

Are these the tell-tale signs of kids at risk of committing violence: An 8-year-old who wore a t-shirt saying he wanted to be like a seventh-century Muslim leader? A 17-year-old who sought to draw attention to the water shortage in Gaza by handing out leaflets? A 4-year-old who drew a picture of his dad slicing a vegetable?

Teachers and school officials in the United Kingdom thought so, and they referred these children for investigation as potential terrorists. They were interrogated by U.K. law enforcement. They’re likely subject to ongoing monitoring, with details of their childhoods maintained in secret government files potentially indefinitely.

A report released last week by Rights Watch (UK) highlights these and other children’s experiences under a U.K. countering violent extremism (CVE) program known as Prevent. Prevent imposes a legal obligation on schools to implement policies assessing whether children have “extremist” views or are at risk of engaging in terrorism, and to “intervene as appropriate.” Intervention may include referring the child to a related program in which panels of police officers, teachers, and other government employees identify children they think are vulnerable to terrorist recruitment.

Why should any of this concern Americans? Because the FBI wants to do something a little bit too close for comfort in U.S. schools, and American schoolchildren may come under similar suspicion and scrutiny.

While there’s no similar government-imposed duty on American schools, U.S. CVE initiatives are based on the Prevent model. Due to this, a core component of the U.S. CVE plan tasks teachers, social workers, and school administrators with monitoring and reporting to law enforcement on children in their care. An FBI document released earlier this year tells teachers to spy on their students’ thoughts and suggests that administrators essentially turn schools into mini-FBI offices. Rights Watch’s report shows what might happen if American schools actually follow the FBI’s proposals.

Prevent, unsurprisingly, turns out to be controversial and divisive—a “toxic brand.” Earlier this year, the United Kingdom’s largest teachers union voted to reject the program, calling it ineffective and counterproductive and stating that it causes “suspicion in the classroom and confusion in the staff room.”

We’ve written before about one fundamental concern with CVE programs: They are premised on disproven theories and junk science. Despite years of study, there is no reliable indicator to predict who will engage in violence. In the absence of reliable indicators, the Rights Watch report shows that U.K. programs rely on over-broad and ambiguous criteria describing common and entirely innocent conduct. These so-called indicators include changing one’s style of dress or appearance to match a certain group, expressing a need for identity or belonging, or “becoming quieter” — factors so general it would be difficult to find a child or teenager who hasn’t exhibited such behavior at some point.

Unsurprisingly, when teachers are required to report on “extremist” thoughts or conduct using unreliable and vague criteria, some of those teachers’ suspicions reflect society’s prejudice. Rights Watch found that although Prevent purports to apply to all children at risk of extremism, it disproportionately targeted Muslim children. According to Rights Watch:

“[T]argeting Muslim children, making them feel that they are not welcome to discuss political or religious matters at school, and creating a dynamic in which Muslim youth come to be fearful of the educational setting and distrustful of their teachers and their classmates, is counter-productive, discriminatory, and a violation of the fundamental rights that are at the heart of the very civil society the government seeks to protect.”

CVE programs in the United States using similarly over-broad and ambiguous criteria will inevitably result in discriminatory and unfair targeting of American Muslim children, too.

Another concern about CVE programs is that the government uses them to task people to spy on each other. The Rights Watch report bears out this concern — and its consequences. In the U.K., students fear that reading “controversial” books or engaging in classroom discussion may cause teachers to report them as potential terrorists. Teachers in turn report that Muslim students are ceasing to engage in classroom debate and that teachers themselves are self-censoring the topics they discuss in classrooms. Rights Watch found resulting violations of students’ freedoms of speech and association and their rights to privacy and equal treatment in education.

Here in the United States, the first principle of the National Education Association’s Code of Ethics is a commitment to the student. Teachers may not deny a student’s access to different viewpoints, deliberately suppress or distort subject matter relevant to a student’s progress, or restrict benefits to any student on the basis of race, national origin, or political or religious beliefs. The Rights Watch report is a warning to American principals and teachers of how CVE programs can violate that first principle. It’s also a warning to the U.S. agencies charged with formulating or implementing CVE, including the Departments of Justice, Homeland Security, Health and Human Services, and Education.

There are some things we just shouldn’t import — and on the top of that list should be a discriminatory government program that turns teachers into spies and stifles children’s ability to learn, ask questions, and debate ideas.

July 20, 2016 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Timeless or most popular | , , | Leave a comment

Legal centre slams Israeli parliament’s new Expulsion Law

MEMO |July 20, 2016

Adalah – The Legal Center for Arab Minority Rights in Israel has slammed a newly-passed Israeli law designed to facilitate the expulsion of publicly-elected Palestinian parliamentarians in the Knesset.

The law, approved overnight by a vote of 62 to 45, is described by Adalah as posing a “grave danger to basic democratic rights”, and intended to expel those Arab Knesset members “who ‘dare’ to stray beyond boundaries dictated to them by Israeli Jewish majority.”

As Adalah explains, under the new law, “a majority of 90 Knesset members may oust a serving Knesset member on two grounds, as enumerated in Section 7A of the Basic Law: The Knesset: 1) incitement to racism; and 2) support for armed struggle against Israel.”

In addition, “the law stipulates that when the Knesset decides on an expulsion, the statements of the ‘suspect’ Knesset member will also be examined and not only their aims or actions.”

The law also provides that: 1) a member’s expulsion lasts for the full period of the Knesset’s remaining term; 2) the commencement of expulsion proceedings requires the support of 70 Knesset members, including a minimum of 10 opposition members; and 3) suspension proceedings may not commence during an election campaign.

Described as “the latest attempt by the government to trample on the political rights of Palestinian citizens of Israel”, according to Adalah, “there are no existing laws in western democratic states comparable to Israel’s new Expulsion Law.”

The Expulsion Law is the latest expression in a disturbing national tendency over the past several years – including many attempts to disqualify Arab Members of Knesset and Arab party lists from participating in the elections, the government’s decision to outlaw the Islamic Movement in 2015, and the Knesset’s approval of a series of laws such as the ‘Electoral Threshold Law’, the ‘Nakba Law’, and the ‘Boycott Law’ – all intended, via varying means, to silence the Arab public.

July 20, 2016 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism | , , , | 1 Comment

The Nice Attack: Things we dare not think about

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By Gearóid Ó Colmáin | American Herald Tribune | July 20, 2016

As the state of emergency is extended in France in the wake of the recent Nice terrorist attacks, the French public is beginning to lose faith in the state’s ability to protect them. But will they ever really understand the true function of the imperial state?

On July 14th Tunisian citizen Mohammed Lahouaiej Bouhlel allegedly drove a 19 tonne lorry into a crowd of people on the Promenade des Anglais beach front in the city of Nice, France, killing 84 people and wounding 303 others.  Richard Gutjahr, a German journalist and actor who is married to former Israeli intelligence (Mossad) agent Einat Wilf, was close to the scene and filmed some of the terrorist attack.

Gutjahr’s Israeli wife, Einat Wilf is a rising star in the world of Zionism and is close to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. So, there is an important Israeli link to the storytelling of the massacre. But perhaps the Israeli link goes further. The Telegraph newspaper reported that a Jewish man did not attend the Bastille Day celebrations after being warned of the attack by his father.

French investigative reporter Eric Laurent shocked television viewers  in 2011 when he revealed in that Jews working in the World Trade Centre had been warned about the September 11th terrorist attacks in New York in 2001.

According to the Israeli press, French Jews were also warned about the Bataclan attacks in November 2015.

The Israeli government has admitted it carried out false-flag terrorist attacks in France, blaming them on Muslims.

‘Islamist’ terrorist attacks serve Zionism’s agenda of taking over the Middle East as they demonise Muslims and Arabs, thus criminalising legitimate resistance to Israeli colonialism. ‘Islamist’ terrrorism also drives the Zionist agenda, referred to by Samuel Huntington as the ‘clash of civilisations’- the idea that Muslims have no place in ‘Western civilisation’.

Although the truck slaughtered over 84 people and injured hundreds more, there was no blood visible on the published photos of the vehicle. Perhaps there is a simple explanation for this apparent discrepancy. I hope to see a good ‘debunking’ video or article of the blood problem soon!

We are also informed that police opened up the barricades to the Promenade des Anglais minutes before the attack. There have been reports of up to four trucks in the area that day. Trucks are not authorised to drive through streets during festivals or national holidays. France is in a state of emergency! How is all of this possible?

Bouhlel’s patsy profile

Bouhlel, who was married with three children, was also said to have been a practising homosexual in a relationship with a 73 year old man, frequenting gay bars in the Tunisian city of Souse, where the Mossad have an office. The Mossad have increased espionage in Tunisia since the US/Israeli fomented ‘Arab Spring’ in 2011.

The truck appears to have been parked for nine hours near the Negresco Hotel, which is an infamous gay locale in Nice. There are reports that Bouhlel may have worked as a rent-boy. The identity of his 73 year old ‘partner’ remains unknown. Why?

Homosexuals, who are often the victims of child abuse, are sometimes used by intelligence agencies as double agents and patsies. The terrorist’s sister told the media he had had psychological problems. He is said to have been suffering from a nervous breakdown. Bouhlel had all the classic characteristics of an intelligence patsy.

Although the US/Israeli-created ‘Islamic State’ has been blamed for the Nice Attack, Bouhlel does not seem to have had any links with Islamist organisations. In fact, his profile is remarkably similar to that of Saleh Abdeslam, who was blamed for the Bataclan attack in Paris in 2015 and recent Orlando massacre in the USA –  a homosexual, narcotics and alcohol abuser and petty criminal known to the police.

 Fides quaerens intellectum

The French people are losing faith in the government, faith in the police, faith in the system. They are beginning to understand something profound- that they are most definitely governed by incompetent fools and possibly even by psychopaths.

Medieval Christendom was characterised by the all-pervasive doctrine of fides quaerens intellectum -faith seeking understanding. The faith of the people in the transcendental authority of God as revealed in the scriptures was supplemented with increasing understanding of their meaning through human reason.

Since the French revolution the bourgeois state has supplanted divine authority and citizens are indoctrinated into the belief in state infallibility concerning observance of the principle of the rule of law. Hitherto, there has been widespread faith in the bourgeois state and understanding of its mysteries has been copiously provided by its myriad sacerdotal institutions. But it now looks like this holy war may be undermining people’s faith in the bourgeois order and its catechism of human rights, democracy and freedom.

It is difficult to believe the story of what happened in Nice. We are told that Bouhlel was shot dead. But another suspect was seen being arrested by police at the crime scene. Who is this suspect? Was there a second terrorist or did Bouhlel rise from the dead? There are too many unanswered questions.

Some videos of the massacre scene posted on line appear to show dummies rather than dead bodies. The authenticity of those videos cannot be verified. But there is little that can be verified in these terrorist attacks as the highly paid press reporters who the public believe ask hard questions and investigate terrorist attacks do not do so. On the contrary, they smugly attack and ridicule citizen journalists and Internet activists for seeking the truth.

The French government is now encouraging youth to join the army reserve. It may become treasonous not to enlist. We are passing from an era where dissent is ridiculed towards an era where dissent is criminalised.

The public is being told to believe a story for which there is scant evidence. Why should they? Why should they believe governments who serve the interests of foreign bond-holders and bankers? Why should they trust a ruling class who, instead of fighting to raise the material, cultural, moral and intellectual welfare of the people, do the opposite, attempting at every opportunity to rob, acculturate, demoralise and stultify the masses?

In his work The Republic Plato described oligarchy as  a city-state where the rich are constantly conspiring against the poor. Aristotle in his book on Politics notes how Greek tyrants would take oaths to protect the interests of their class by conspiring against the masses and, in an era long before the surveillance systems of today, Greek tyrants would force citizens to congregate in special areas of the city so that the state could constantly spy on them.

The extraction of surplus value from labour is the primordial conspiracy against human creativity. Is it inconceivable that terrorism would be the art of governance in a world where finance capital and the moral turpitude it engenders, triumphs over honest labour and solidarity; where enterprises of lies and war flout all laws; where the poor man is locked up for minor misdemeanours while wealthy war criminals walk free?

Is it inconceivable that such a class of people would orchestrate the most fascinorous conspiracies against the people? Lenin described the state as the means by which one class represses another. We live in a class dictatorship –  where those with property and power use every means necessary to keep the masses under their control. Human freedom is, as Jack London described it, crushed under an iron heel. The entire matrix of commodity production is predicated on lies and deception while man is beholden to its infinite spells and fetishisms.

In the society of the spectacle, who cares if white trucks can slaughter crowds and remain unbesmirched with blood or executed terrorists rise from the dead? Who cares if everything we are told militates against reason? The masters of discourse have a new story for the poor toilers of this world; it is short, simple and palatable enough to be consumed on a junk-food break. We need more security; more surveillance;more war; more respect for wealthy Jews, more contempt for poor Muslims. The world is run by forces beyond our control. Therefore we must submit to the all-merciful police state which is trying to protect us. Those who seek understanding before faith are terrorists.

July 20, 2016 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, False Flag Terrorism | , , , | 1 Comment

Ukrainian Regime Turns Into ‘Mass Grave’ for Journalists – Moscow

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Journalist Pavel Sheremet © Sputnik/Ramil Sitdikov
Sputnik — 20.07.2016

MOSCOW — Ukrainian political system is turning into “mass grave” for journalists and journalism in general, Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said Wednesday, commenting on the killing of journalist Pavel Sheremet in a car bomb attack in Kiev.

Earlier in the day, a car bomb claimed Sheremet’s life in the Ukrainian capital of Kiev. The Ukrainian general prosecutor confirmed Sheremet’s death, classifying it as murder.

“A vehicle with Pavel Sheremet was blown up in Kiev. [He was] a professional journalist, who was not afraid of telling the authorities what he thinks about them — to different authorities and at different periods of time. And he was respected for this. Ukraine (not the country, but the system) is turning into mass grave for journalists and journalism,” Zakharova wrote on her Facebook page.

President Petro Poroshenko ordered investigators to ensure the perpetrators of the attack are brought to justice.

Sheremet is a well-known journalist who worked in Russia, Belarus and Ukraine. He had worked in Kiev for the last five years for the Ukrayinska Pravda news portal and Radio Vesti broadcaster.

In April 2015, Ukrainian opposition journalist Oles Buzina was shot dead in Kiev by two masked gunmen near his home. The incident occurred less than a day after former lawmaker and government critic Oleh Kalashnikov was murdered at his residence in the Ukrainian capital. Another Ukrainian journalist, Donetsk-born Serhiy Sukhobok, was also killed the same month near his house in Kiev.

Reporters Without Borders has repeatedly urged the Ukrainian authorities to investigate the killing of journalists.

July 20, 2016 Posted by | Full Spectrum Dominance | , | Leave a comment

‘Fraud’ Alleged in NYT’s MH-17 Report

By Robert Parry | Consortium News | July 19, 2016

Forensic experts are challenging an amateur report – touted in The New York Times – that claimed Russia faked satellite imagery of Ukrainian anti-aircraft missile batteries in eastern Ukraine on July 17, 2014, the day that Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 was shot out of the sky killing 298 people.

In a Twitter exchange, Dr. Neal Krawetz, founder of the FotoForensics digital image analytical tool, wrote: “‘Bad analysis’ is an understatement. This ‘report’ is outright fraud.”

Another computer imaging expert, Masami Kuramoto, wrote, “This is either amateur hour or supposed to deceive audiences without tech background,” to which Krawetz responded: “Why ‘or’? Amateur hour AND deceptive.”

On Saturday, The New York Times, which usually disdains Internet reports even from qualified experts, chose to highlight the report by arms control researchers at armscontrolwonk.com who appear to have little expertise in the field of forensic photographic analysis.

The Times article suggested that the Russians were falsely claiming that the Ukrainian military had Buk missile systems in eastern Ukraine on the day that MH-17 was shot down. But the presence of Ukrainian anti-aircraft missile batteries in the area has been confirmed by Western intelligence, including a report issued last October on the findings of the Dutch intelligence agency which had access to NATO’s satellite and other data collection.

Indeed, the Netherlands’ Military Intelligence and Security Service (MIVD) concluded that the only anti-aircraft weapons in eastern Ukraine capable of bringing down MH-17 at 33,000 feet belonged to the Ukrainian government, not the ethnic Russian rebels. MIVD made that assessment in the context of explaining why commercial aircraft continued to fly over the eastern Ukrainian battle zone in summer 2014. (The MH-17 flight had originated in Amsterdam and carried many Dutch citizens, explaining why the Netherlands took the lead in the investigation.)

MIVD said that based on “state secret” information, it was known that Ukraine possessed some older but “powerful anti-aircraft systems” and “a number of these systems were located in the eastern part of the country.” MIVD added that the rebels lacked that capacity:

“Prior to the crash, the MIVD knew that, in addition to light aircraft artillery, the Separatists also possessed short-range portable air defence systems (man-portable air-defence systems; MANPADS) and that they possibly possessed short-range vehicle-borne air-defence systems. Both types of systems are considered surface-to-air missiles (SAMs). Due to their limited range they do not constitute a danger to civil aviation at cruising altitude.”

I know that I have cited this section of the Dutch report before but I repeat it because The New York Times, The Washington Post and other leading U.S. news organizations have ignored these findings, presumably because they don’t advance the desired propaganda theme blaming the Russians for the tragedy.

In other words, the Times, the Post and the rest of the mainstream U.S. media want the Russians to be guilty, so they exclude from their articles evidence that suggests that some element of the Ukrainian military might have fired the fateful missile. Such “group think” is, of course, the same journalistic malfeasance that led to the false reporting about Iraq’s WMD. Doubts, even expressed by experts, were systematically filtered out then and the same now.

Dishonest Journalism

Further, it is dishonest journalism to ignore a credible government report that bears directly on an important issue, especially while running dubious Internet analyses and accepting propaganda claims from self-interested U.S. officials seeking to make the case against Russia.

For instance, the Dutch report contradicted The Washington Post’s early reporting on MH-17. On July 20, 2014, just three days after the crash. the Post published an article with the title “Russia Supplied Missile Launchers to Separatists, U.S. Official Says.”

In the article, the Post’s Michael Birnbaum and Karen DeYoung reported from Kiev that an anonymous U.S. official said the U.S. government had “confirmed that Russia supplied sophisticated missile launchers to separatists in eastern Ukraine and that attempts were made to move them back across the Russian border.”

This official told the Post that Russia didn’t just supply one Buk battery, but three. Though this account has never been retracted, there were problems with it from the start, including the fact that a U.S. “government assessment” – released by the Director of National Intelligence on July 22, 2014, (two days later) – listed a variety of weapons allegedly provided by the Russians to the ethnic Russian rebels but not a Buk anti-aircraft missile system.

In other words, two days after the Post cited a U.S. official claiming that the Russians had given the rebels three Buk batteries, the DNI’s “government assessment” made no reference to a delivery of one, let alone three Buk systems. And that absence of evidence came in the context of the DNI larding the “government assessment” with every possible innuendo to implicate the Russians, including “social media” entries. But there was no mention of a Buk delivery.

The significance of this missing link is hard to overstate. At the time eastern Ukraine was the focus of extraordinary U.S. intelligence collection because of the potential for the crisis to spin out of control and start World War III. Plus, a Buk missile battery is large and difficult to conceal. The missiles themselves are 16-feet-long and are usually pulled around by truck.

U.S. spy satellites, which supposedly can let you read a license plate in Moscow, would have picked up these images. And, if for some inexplicable reason a Buk battery was missed before July 17, 2014, it would surely have been spotted during an after-action review of the satellite imagery. But the U.S. government has released nothing of the kind.

In the days after the MH-17 crash, I was told by a source that U.S. intelligence had spotted Buk systems in the area but they appeared to be under Ukrainian government control. The source who had been briefed by U.S. intelligence analysts said the likely missile battery that launched the fateful missile was manned by troops dressed in what looked like Ukrainian uniforms.

At that point, the source said CIA analysts were still not ruling out the possibility that the troops might have been eastern Ukrainian rebels in similar uniforms but the initial assessment was that the troops were Ukrainian soldiers. There also was the suggestion that the soldiers were undisciplined and possibly drunk, since the imagery showed what looked like beer bottles scattered around the site, the source said. [See Consortiumnews.com’sWhat Did US Spy Satellites See in Ukraine?”]

Subsequently, the source said, these analysts reviewed other intelligence data, including recorded phone intercepts, and concluded that the shoot-down was carried out by a rogue element of the Ukrainian government, working with a rabidly anti-Russian oligarch, but that senior Ukrainian leaders, such as President Petro Poroshenko and Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk, were not implicated. However, I have not been able to determine if this assessment was a dissident opinion or a consensus within U.S. intelligence circles.

Another intelligence source told me that CIA analysts did brief Dutch authorities during the preparation of the Dutch Safety Board’s report but that the U.S. information remained classified and unavailable for public release. In the Dutch reports, there is no reference to U.S.-supplied information although they do reflect sensitive details about Russian-made weapons systems, secrets declassified by Moscow for the investigation.

An NYT Pattern?

So, what to make of the Times hyping an amateur analysis of two Russian satellite photos and reporting that they showed manipulation. Though the claim seems to be designed to raise doubts about the presence of Ukrainian Buk missile batteries in eastern Ukraine, the presence of those missiles is really not in doubt.

And it makes sense the Ukrainians would move their anti-aircraft missiles toward the front because of fears that the powerful Ukrainian offensive then underway against ethnic Russian rebels might provoke Russia to launch a full-scale invasion of Ukraine. Shifting anti-aircraft missile batteries toward the border would be a normal military preparation in such a situation.

That’s particularly true because a Ukrainian fighter plane was shot down along the border on July 16, 2014, presumably from an air-to-air missile fired by a Russian plane. Tensions were high at the time and the possibility that an out-of-control Ukrainian crew misidentified MH-17 as a Russian military jet or Putin’s plane cannot be dismissed.

But all this context is missing from the Times article by reporter Andrew E. Kramer, who has been a regular contributor to the Times’ anti-Russian propaganda. He treats the findings by some nuclear arms control researchers at the Middlebury Institute for International Studies as definitive though there’s no reason to believe that these folks have any special expertise in applying this software whose creator says requires careful analysis.

The new report was based on the filtering software Tungstene designed by Roger Cozien, who has warned against rushing to judge “anomalies” in photographs as intentional falsifications when they may result from the normal process of saving an image or making innocent adjustments.

In an interview in Time magazine, Cozien said, “These filters aim at detecting anomalies. They give you any and all specific and particular information which can be found in the photograph file. And these particularities, called ‘singularities’, are sometimes only accidental: this is because the image was not well re-saved or that the camera had specific features, for example.

“The software in itself is neutral: it does not know what is an alteration or a manipulation. So, when it notices an error, the operator needs to consider whether it is an image manipulation, or just an accident.”

In other words, anomalies can be introduced by innocent actions related to saving or modifying an image, such as transferring it to a different format, adjusting the contrast or adding a word box. But it is difficult for a layman to assess the intricacies involved.

To buttress the new report, Kramer cited the work of Bellingcat, a group of “citizen journalists” who have made a solid business out of reaffirming whatever Western propaganda is claiming, whether about Syria, Ukraine or Russia.

Bellingcat’s founder Eliot Higgins also had raised doubts about the Russian photos – using Dr. Krawetz’s FotoForensics software – but those findings were subsequently debunked by Dr. Krawetz himself and other experts. While Kramer cited Higgins’s earlier analysis, the Times reporter left out the fact that those findings were disputed by professional experts.

Dr. Krawetz also found the new photographic analysis both amateurish and deceptive. When I contacted him by email, he declined an interview and noted that Bellingcat fans were already on the offensive, trying to shut down dissent to the new report.

In an email to me, he wrote: “I have already seen the Bellingcat trolls verbally attack me, their ‘reporters’ use intimidation tactics, and their CEO insults me. (Hmmm … First he uses my software, then his team seeks me out as an expert, then he insults me when my opinion differs from his.)”

If it’s true that the first casualty of war is truth, the old saying also seems to apply to a new Cold War.

[For more on Bellingcat and its erroneous work, see Consortiumnews.com’sMH-17 Case: ‘Old’ Journalism vs. ‘New.’”]


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).

July 20, 2016 Posted by | Deception, Mainstream Media, Warmongering | , , | Leave a comment