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Biden was wrong: Intel agencies find no evidence of ‘Russian meddling’ in Italian polls

RT | December 14, 2017

Italian intelligence services did not find evidence to back up allegations voiced by former US Vice President Joe Biden. He claimed Moscow had meddled with Italy’s polls before and plans to do it again.

Two Italian intelligence agencies did not find any evidence of the alleged Russian interference into last year’s constitutional reform referendum, despite conducting “attentive monitoring” of possible foreign meddling, ANSA news agency reported. The chiefs of the Internal Information and Security Agency (AISI) and the External Intelligence and Security Agency (AISE), Mario Parente and Alberto Manenti, respectively, faced the parliamentary intelligence committee this week.

The parliamentary hearings were triggered by an article by Biden, dubbed, “How to stand up to the Kremlin,” published earlier in December by the journal Foreign Affairs. Among the numerous accusations, largely repeating the mainstream media “Russian meddling” narrative, Biden claimed that Moscow interfered in the Italian Constitutional referendum and warned about alleged meddling in the country’s upcoming parliamentary elections.

“A Russian effort is now under way to support the nationalist Northern League and the populist Five Star Movement in Italy’s upcoming parliamentary elections,” Biden stated, without providing any proof to back up the claim. The allegations prompted an angry response from the parties accused of getting Russian support.

Matteo Salvini, leader of the Northern League (Lega Nord), said that Italy’s ruling Democratic party “lost the referendum and will lose the elections, because the Italians have good sense, and not because Putin wants it,” as quoted by La Repubblica.

The 5 Star Movement responded to Biden by stating that “we all must respect the vote” and “know how to lose.” President Barack Obama’s former deputy simply did not get over the Democrats’ defeat last year, and was seeking to blame the Russians for everything he didn’t like, the party said in a Facebook post.

“Today, Biden says it is Russia’s fault, as he says it is Russia’s fault that Trump won and his party lost. Biden goes further and says Russia is helping the 5 Star Movement. He does not provide any evidence, this is unacceptable,” the post reads. The party’s candidate for prime minister, Luigi di Maio, dismissed Biden’s allegations as “fake news,” stating that millions of Italians voted ‘No’ during the referendum on their own, without “being paid by the Russians.”

The 2016 Constitutional referendum was aimed at reorganizing the Italian Senate and redirecting more powers from the regions to central government. The reform, however, failed spectacularly, as nearly 60 percent of Italians voted against it, prompting the resignation of then-PM Matteo Renzi, who currently leads the Democratic Party.

December 14, 2017 Posted by | Deception, Fake News, Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Russophobia | , , | Leave a comment

Why America’s Law Enforcement Empire Resembles Secret Police in a Dictatorship

By Philip M. GIRALDI | Strategic Culture Foundation | 14.12.2017

Secret police are characteristic of dictatorships, or so goes the conventional thinking on the subject. Police in democracies operate for the most part transparently and within a set of rules and guidelines that limits their ability to gratuitously punish citizens who have done nothing wrong. If a policeman operating under rule-of-law steps out of line, he can be held accountable. That is also conventional thinking.

But what happens when an ostensibly “democratic” police force becomes corrupted and starts doing things that are outside its zone of responsibility, and does so to benefit a political relationship that will in turn protect those who have broken the law under cover of carrying out their official duties? That is the characteristic of what we have been calling a “deep state,” where forces drawn generally from the political class and security services conspire together to control what the public is allowed to know while also manipulating nuisances like elections to make sure that the “correct” outcome emerges.

Indeed, deep state operating in a democracy or republic is far more dangerous that the secret police in a dictatorship. That is because in a system where the forces of the state are all-powerful, nearly everyone expects that what they read and what the government says is all a lie. In a democratic system there is what intelligence officers would refer to as plausible denial, which means that even when the government is behaving very badly much of the public will believe that it is acting honorably because they want to trust that the system works. And when the deep state includes management of the media, many citizens will likewise believe what they are reading or hearing is honest reporting, even when it is not.

Due to the events of the past year in particular, many Americans have become convinced that there now exists something like a secret police operating in the United States that is a fusion of some political dealmakers with certain politicized elements in the intelligence and security services. However one regards President Donald Trump and his former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn, there is nevertheless something odd in terms of how they have been investigated and, in the case of Flynn, legally entrapped to convict him of lying to the FBI to force him to cut a deal with the Special Counsel inquiry headed by Robert Mueller.

Consider how, even though meeting with Russians is not illegal, Trump and his associates have been subjected to secret investigation of their Russian ties for nearly two years without any revelations apart from the fact that it was Israel, not Russia, that colluded to undermine White House policy. FBI Director James Comey’s antics during the primaries and electoral campaign, in which he first exonerated and then complained about Hillary Clinton while at the same time validating a dossier full of largely questionable information about Donald Trump’s dealings with Russia provides clear evidence of an organization that has lost its bearings and has become a politicized agent of an incumbency that has itself become corrupted and believes itself to be above the law. And then there is the Central Intelligence Agency’s own John Brennan working with the FBI to undermine the Trumps, illegally digging up dirt from the liaison intelligence partners in Europe and the Middle East.

America’s law enforcement empire has all the characteristics of secret police in a dictatorship. It is not transparent in its actions, has a history of bending the rules to obtain convictions, and its officers are rarely held accountable. It has also been politicized. And to be sure, one should recognize that there are two additional factors driving the growth and transformation of the national security state in the U.S. First is the intense dislike that the top levels of the American intelligence and police agencies have for Donald Trump personally, a contempt that Trump himself has largely earned by his scorn for much of the government that he inherited. Second is the “trust the authorities” culture that has grown up since 9/11, reinforced by fearmongering on the part of the government to justify executive overreach and enabled through anti-terror legislation that has unleashed the CIA, FBI and National Security Agency (NSA) to act with impunity while suffering no consequences whatsoever.

December 14, 2017 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Corruption, Full Spectrum Dominance, Timeless or most popular | , , | 1 Comment

US allegations on Yemen missile ‘provocative’, ‘destructive’: Iran

Press TV – December 14, 2017

Iran’s UN mission has categorically dismissed as “unfounded” US Ambassador Nikki Haley’s claim that a missile fired at Saudi Arabia from Yemen last month was supplied by the Islamic Republic.

In a statement released on Thursday, the mission denounced the US allegations as “irresponsible, provocative and destructive,” saying “this purported evidence … is as much fabricated as the one presented on some other occasions earlier.”

“These accusations seek also to cover up for the Saudi war crimes in Yemen, with the US complicity, and divert international and regional attention from the stalemate war of aggression against the Yemenis that has so far killed more than 10,000 civilians, displaced three million, crippled Yemen’s infrastructure and health system and pushed the country to the brink of the largest famine the world has seen for decades, as the UN has warned,” the statement read.

It went on to accuse the US government of being “constantly at work to deceive the public into believing the cases they put together” to advance its agenda.

“While Iran has not supplied Yemen with missiles, these hyperboles are also to serve other US agendas in the Middle East, including covering up for its adventurist acts in the region and its unbridled support for the Israeli regime,” the statement read.

It also stressed “the Yemenis’ right to self-defense” and reiterated that the conflict in the impoverished country had no military solution.

Iran’s Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif also took to twitter to compare Haley’s allegations against Iran to those of former US secretary of defense, Colin Powell, who alleged in 2003 that former Iraqi dictator, Saddam Hussein, was hiding weapons of mass destruction in order to make a case for attacking the country.

The anti-Iran accusations come at a time that the US and Saudi Arabia themselves are under fire for secretly providing weapons to the militants fighting the Syrian government.

Conflict Armament Research (CAR), a UK-based organization that monitors the movement of conventional weapons, warned on Thursday that the sophisticated arms given to the so-called Syria militants fell into the hands of the Daesh terrorist group.

The weapons included anti-tank rockets purchased by the US military that ended up in possession of Daesh within two months of leaving the factory, according to the study, which was funded by the European Union and German government.

This came after the UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said in a confidential report obtained by AFP on Monday, December 11, that the world body’s team, which visited Riyadh last month to scrutinize the alleged evidence, had not yet established a link between them and the Islamic Republic.

On November 4, a missile fired from Yemen targeted the King Khalid International Airport near Riyadh, reaching the Saudi capital for the first time.

The Houthi movement, which has been fighting back a Saudi aggression, said it had fired the missile but the Riyadh regime was quick to point the finger at Iran.

Tehran rejected the allegations as “provocative and baseless,” saying the Yemenis had shown an “independent” reaction to the Saudi bombing campaign on their country.

Speaking at a press conference at a military base in Washington on Thursday, Haley presented what she claimed to be “undeniable” evidence, including the allegedly recovered pieces of the missile, saying it proved that Iran was violating international law by giving missiles to the Houthis.

“It was made in Iran then sent to Houthi militants in Yemen,” she added.

However, a panel appointed by the United Nations Security Council said last month that it had seen no evidence to support Saudi Arabia’s claims that missiles had been transferred to Yemen’s Houthi fighters by external sources.

The Security Council-appointed panel said in its confidential assessment that it had seen no evidence to back up the Saudi claims that short-range ballistic missiles (SRBMs) had been transferred to Yemeni fighters in violation of the Resolution 2216.

It said the tightening of the blockade by the Saudi-led coalition and its invoking of Resolution 2216 had been an attempt to merely “obstruct” the delivery of civilian aid.

“The panel finds that imposition of access restrictions is another attempt by the Saudi Arabia-led coalition to use paragraph 14 of resolution 2216 as justification for obstructing the delivery of commodities that are essentially civilian in nature,” the assessment read.

The Saudi war since 2015, accompanied by the land, naval, and aerial blockade on Yemen, has killed over 12,000 people so far and led to a humanitarian crisis as well as a deadly cholera epidemic.

Saudi Arabia and its allies launched the war in a bid to crush the Houthi movement and reinstate the former Riyadh-friendly regime, but the kingdom has achieved neither of its goals.

The UN has listed Yemen as the world’s number one humanitarian crisis, with 17 million Yemenis in need of food and gripping the country.

The US, which has long been a staunch Saudi ally, signed a deal to sell the kingdom $110 billion in weapons in May.

December 14, 2017 Posted by | Deception, Fake News, Mainstream Media, Warmongering | , , , | 3 Comments

Haneyya: Three means to thwart Trump’s decision over Jerusalem

Palestine Information Center – December 14, 2017

GAZA – The head of the Political Bureau of the Islamic Resistance Movement (Hamas) Ismail Haneyya has outlined three means to confront Trump’s recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and topple ‘the deal of the century’, stressing that the Palestinian people, Hamas, and the resistance will work to achieve this objective on the ground.

In a speech during celebrations marking the 30th Hamas founding anniversary in the Gaza Strip on Thursday, Haneyya stressed that his Movement is now working on two parallel goals: to thwart both the Trump decision and ‘the deal of the century’.

He added, “We will work to force the US administration to retreat from its unjust decision, our goal is to break the US position and annul the Trump decision once and for all.”

He praised the Palestinian people in Jerusalem, the West Bank, Gaza, and in the refugee camps and the diaspora. He saluted the people of all nations from Indonesia to Morocco and all the free people who responded to the call and rose for the sake of Jerusalem.

Objectives of the battle

“No one could take away our sacred sites or change their identity, and no force could grant Jerusalem to the occupier. There is no such thing as the State of Israel in the first place to have a capital called Jerusalem,” he said, stressing that this is not limited to political speeches and positions. Gaza, the West Bank, Jerusalem, Palestinians in the 1948 occupied territories, the refugee camps and the diaspora, know their role well. Our lives, our people and our homes are sacrificed for Jerusalem and Al-Aqsa.”

He noted that the people of Jerusalem removed the Israeli gates installed at Al-Aqsa and prayed in the streets, adding, “If they alone defeated Netanyahu and broke his decision and victoriously entered the Al-Aqsa Mosque, can’t we as a people and a nation foil the decision? Yes, we can.”

He added, “This ominous decision is no less dangerous than the Balfour Declaration,” stressing that the Palestinian and Arab Muslim generations will not allow for this decision to pass.

Haneyya stressed that the second goal of the uprising of our people and nation along with the world’s free people and their religious and political authorities is to overthrow the so-called ‘deal of the century’, which Palestinian President Abu Mazen described as ‘the slap of the century’.

He said, “We as a people and a nation are able to respond to this slap by thwarting the so-called ‘deal of the century’, because the issue of Jerusalem came at a time of proposing projects that aim at liquidating the Palestinian issue.

Three ways

Haneyya stressed that Hamas needs today to follow three paths, the most prominent of which is the achievement of national unity and partnership in the management of the country, adding, “the most effective response would be a unified Palestinian position.” He reiterated Hamas’s adherence to national reconciliation, which was revived over the last few months, with Hamas making important steps along that the path.

He said: “Achieving unity and reconciliation requires speeding up applying all the measures we have agreed upon in Cairo and Gaza and everywhere, and requires that our people live a decent and dignified life in Gaza. Gaza is the stronghold of resistance and the incubator of the national project. And despite fighting three wars, it comes out today to say we are with the resistance and unity with all of Palestine.”

He added, “We have to deal with the details quickly, the issue is bigger and is more serious. We must agree on a national strategy of struggle that takes all reasons of strength and steadfastness into consideration within the framework of the overall popular resistance to confront the occupier, and on the top of that armed and popular resistance.”

Haneyya stressed the need to work quickly to restructure the PLO, the house that includes under its umbrella all Palestinians, so tas to include all national and Islamic forces under it.

Building alliances

Haneyya stressed the need to build strong alliances at the regional and national levels. He said: “The battle of Jerusalem is not our battle alone; it is the battle of the entire nation.” He welcomed every genuine position that supports Jerusalem and every idea that could build a strong Muslim and Arab front at the regional level.”

He called for the formation of action groups that include all forces and components of the nation, adding, “Our nation is invited to forget its differences and internal conflicts and tears, and to seek to re-establish its connection to Jerusalem and the blessed land of Palestine.”

He stressed that Hamas has started and will continue to build alliances in the region to address the Israeli-American project, noting that that would also include “maintaining the strategy of openness to all Arab and Muslim countries and peoples.”

Continuation of Intifada

The third path is the continuation of the intifada, Haneyya said, stressing that it should not stop. “Netanyahu and the US administration are betting on the exhaustion of the Nation.”

Haneyya called on Arab and Muslim nations to make Friday of every week a day of anger and marches for Jerusalem.

He called on scholars and preachers to make Jerusalem present in their speeches and lessons and to incite people and the free world, until the decision is dropped.

He also called on Christian churches in Palestine and the Levant to devote their prayers on Sunday for Jerusalem, the Church of the Resurrection and the Al-Aqsa Mosque, affirming that “We still stick to the Pact of Omar.”

He called on the youths from the Atlantic Ocean to the Gulf to form frameworks to organize events monthly and weekly until Trump’s decision is revoked, adding: “We should not suffice with an emotional event, or with a march or a single event, but we want permanence and persistence. Let young people of our nation form national frameworks and design programs and strategies to support Jerusalem and Palestine and to foil Trump’s decision.”

Hamas and the resistance project

Haneyya paid tribute to the Palestinian people in all places of their presence, saluting the participants in the Hamas anniversary, prominent leaders of the national and Islamic factions, who attended the event, and all segments of the Palestinian people.

Haneyya stressed that this unique national presence that takes part in the Hamas anniversary is a proof that “Hamas is a natural extension of the resistance and steadfastness project on our land, and a proof of the blessed resistance that has been going on in our land since the beginning of the last century.”

He pointed out that other forces and factions preceded Hamas in this regard and will continue with it, noting that this national rally is an evidence of the popularity of Hamas, which keeps the identity and principles and stability and mobilization of our people.

He pointed out that Hamas has served as “a qualitative addition to our people and our resistance. Today, we celebrate this anniversary with these masses.”

“Let us emphasize that the Intifada was for Jerusalem and the resistance is for Jerusalem and Jihad is for Jerusalem, so are the martyrs, the blood, the wounded, the prisoners and all the heroic works”, he highlighted.

The Hamas leader said: “The celebration of Hamas is the celebration of a people and a nation and represents a great contribution to the resistance, Jihad and heroism project. Hamas gave the best of its people for the sake of Jerusalem. The entire Muslim nations celebrate this anniversary because they see in Hamas an example to follow that carries the flag of resistance and represents these nations in the battle to liberate Jerusalem and Al-Aqsa Mosque.”

He said: “The Palestinian issue is central to our nation and our people and the free world. After many thought that the issue has been overshadowed, and that the people of the nation were preoccupied with their concerns.”

In just eight days, the issue of Jerusalem became the center issue for all Muslims and Arabs, he explained, adding that for the first time in the history of the issue, “the whole world is standing on one side, and Netanyahu and Trump are standing on the other, which asserts that the occupation no longer has an important status even among the European countries.”

December 14, 2017 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Solidarity and Activism, Timeless or most popular | , , , , , | 2 Comments

Appropriation of Jerusalem

Photo by Kristoffer Trolle | CC BY 2.0
By Liaquat Ali Khan | CounterPunch | December 14, 2017

In recognizing Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, a state formed by native Jews and Jewish settlers from Europe and America, President Trump and the U.S. Congress have validated the Jewish appropriation of a disputed city. This commentary explains the foul dynamics of settlements. It also illuminates the “sacred” justifications offered to legitimize settler colonialism. In addition to Israel, the United States, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, and many other states, owe their origin to settler colonialism, another name for forcibly taking land from indigenous inhabitants. The criticism of settler colonialism is highly sophisticated in academic circles, college colonialism courses, this year mystifyingly trickling down in high school debates.

An unholy alliance of Zionists, evangelical Christians, politicians fearful of the revengeful Israeli lobbies, radio and TV commentators, Neocon opinion-writers, and self-aggrandizing academics refuses to see Israel as a settler state. In fact, calling Israel a settler state is condemned as anti-Semitic, a handy label swiftly invoked to stop honest conversations about the grinding appropriation of Palestinian occupied territories.

Given the successful drive to criminalize holocaust denials across Europe, efforts are underway to find pathways to criminalize the criticisms of Israel. The prospective criminalization of the BDS (boycott, divestment, sanctions) movement is a shameful suppression of legitimate free speech in no other country but the United States where the First Amendment reigns as the first principle of coexistence. Muffling free speech is unlikely to suppress the fact that Israel is primarily a state of settlers who have brutally suffocated and dislocated the native population of Palestinians.

Immigrants and Settlers

Ordinarily, immigrants are distinguishable from settlers. But the distinction is not valid in Israel. Under the 1950 Law of Return, Israel invites “the child or grandchild of a Jew, the spouse of a Jew, the spouse of a child and grandchild of a Jew to settle in Israel.” Non-Jews or even Jews who have converted to another religion are ineligible to return and settle. Jews mostly from Europe and America and some from the Middle East and East Africa have “returned” to Israel. The prevailing racism prefers white Jews over Jews with darker pigments.

Under international law, immigration is relocating from one country to another. Individuals and families may migrate for economic and existential reasons. Every year, millions of people migrate to foreign countries for economic betterment or to avoid starvation, discrimination, tyranny, torture, and death. Refugees migrate from war-torn countries where the probability of death and starvation escalates. In the 15th century, Jews migrated from Spain to Turkey as the defeat of Moors opened the doors of persecution and death. More recently, Palestinians, Syrians, Libyans, Yemenis, and Afghans have been forced to leave their homes and seek shelter as refugees in neighboring countries.

Settlement too is relocating from one country to another. Unlike immigrants, however, settlers dispossess native inhabitants for ideological or predatory reasons. Immigrants do not forcibly take away the land and homes that belong to the natives. Settlers do. Immigrants live in the mortal fear of deportation. Settlers do not. Immigrants may face discrimination, racism, and hostility in employment, education, and housing.  Settlers are welcome and receive affirmative state assistance and grants. The state may offer jobs, housing, and other facilities to settlers willing to live on the land that once belonged to the natives.

Unlike immigrants, the settlers develop an aggressive relationship with the natives. The purpose of settlements is to make it highly unpleasant and oppressive for the natives to continue to live side by side with the settlers. Apartheid-like conditions are built to show to the natives that they need to relocate themselves to foreign countries. Thus, settlers not only take over the land that belongs to the natives but they also force natives, economically, socially, psychologically, and physically to leave their lands and homes. Other tactics, such as buying homes and lands from helpless natives is defended on the market theory that the real estate ought to be purchasable for a price. The art of tyranny is perfect: first, push the natives to the ground; then, offer to buy their homes.

In Israel, the state-sponsored settlements are ideological and not merely predacious. Predacious settlements may be disorganized, intermittent, and privately sponsored. Ideological settlements are highly coordinated in terms of degrading the local communities economically, morally, and socially. Stereotypes may be promoted to paint the natives as savages and terrorists. Any reactive violence by the natives may be used as a pretext to demolish their homes, issue eviction orders for entire families, arrest men, and dishonor women. The natives may be employed in menial jobs at businesses started by the settlers. In fact, the natives may have no choice but to seek employment in constructing the settlements that the natives detest in their hearts.

In Jerusalem, all distinctions between native Jews and Jewish settlers disappear for ideological purposes since most of them share the common goal of driving the Palestinians out of Jerusalem so that Israel can reclaim this historic city all for itself. Orthodox Jews who oppose the existence of Israel as an anti-Biblical entity, a fast diminishing minority, share no such platform. For Trump, the realtor, a city, any city, belongs to money merchants and any “encroachments “by the have-nots should be forcibly cleared.

Terra Irredenta

Appropriation perpetrated with moral justifications acquires a new meaning. Stealing a loaf of bread seems morally justified if the thief is starving. Land appropriation is palatable if a credible moral excuse can be crafted. Settlers know this moral trick. When settlers are highly educated, their moral justifications for the appropriation of land are crafted in more persuasive (Latin) terms. Over the centuries, settlers in various countries and continents have used moral imperatives to justify the dispossession of native populations and stealing away their lands, hills, rivers, sacred places, olive trees, playgrounds where the native children played, and the cemeteries where native elders were buried. Everything can be stolen if the moral justification is mounted at the barrel of the gun.

In the 15th century, the Catholic Church used two distinct theological edicts to support conquests and colonization. The concept of “terra irredenta” empowered Christian rulers to take away the Iberian lands from the Muslims. The concept of “terra nullius” empowered the European colonizers to take away the land from the native owners in Americas and Africa. In both cases, Christianity, presented as the one and the only one true religion, was invoked as the ultimate justification to legitimize the appropriation of land. Heathens, pagans, and the deniers of Jesus as God could be lawfully converted, enslaved, dispossessed, and even killed if they resisted the Christian Europeans, the true owners of God’s land.

In the 20th century, the European Jews invoked a complex fusion of the two edicts to lay claim to what has been Palestine for centuries under the Ottoman Empire and before. Invoking terra nullius, the Zionists argued that “a people without a land (Jews) are claiming a land without a people.” This argument derived from terra nullius denies the existence of local populations, be they Africans, Native Americans, or Palestinians.

The terra nullius concept, however, is less powerful than terra irredenta under which the land is restored to “legitimate owners.” The Right to Return is conceived in the womb of terra irredenta rather than terra nullius. Terra irredenta creates a mighty distinction between current and original owners. It reverses the logic of ownership. The current owners are deemed illegal intruders whereas the original owners are considered the lawful owners. In the Iberian Peninsula, the Moors were the actual but illegal owners. The Spaniards and the Portuguese were the lawful owners. Therefore, the Moors must be dispossessed and expelled and the land restored to the original owners.

Invoking a similar logic, the European Jews claimed to be the original owners of Palestine since the Palestinians were the illegal occupiers of the sacred land that belonged only to the Jews. Accordingly, Zionist morality dictates that the Palestinians, particularly if they resist the Right to Return, be expelled, detained, killed, and their homes demolished.

Soon after Trump, the realtor, recognized Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, Prime Minister Netanyahu argued that it is “absurd” to deny the “millennial connection of the Jewish people to Jerusalem. You can read it in a very fine book – it’s called the Bible. The sooner the Palestinians come to grips with this reality, the sooner we will move towards peace.”

Much like Netanyahu, President Andrew Jackson (1829-1837) declared that “The Bible is the rock on which this Republic (U.S.) rests.” The Bible-lover Jackson signed the Indian Removal Act, under which 25 million acres of land was donated to white settlers. This land had belonged to Cherokees, Chickasaw, Creek, Choctaw, and Seminole nations, the “unlawful owners” forced to yield their land rights to Jesus-loving Christians.

Trump adores Andrew Jackson. Netanyahu adores Donald Trump. The Christian removal of Native Americans created reservations. The Jewish removal of Palestinians created refugee camps. The Native American Trail of Tears caused tears and death. The Palestinian Trail of Tears caused tears and massacres at Sabra and Shatila.

Conclusion

Invoking the Bible to appropriate land is a Judeo-Christian colonial tradition. First Christians, now Jews, are invoking the concepts of terra irredenta and terra nullius to justify the taking of land from the native owners. The appropriation of Jerusalem as a Jewish city runs counter to historical facts. It simplifies the complex history of a city that experienced the pre-Christ rule of Egyptians, Syrians, and Persians, and post-Christ rule of Arabs, Turks, and the British. Jews had not owned Jerusalem for centuries. Now, they have deadly weapons to do so. The Bible is a sacred book (different parts and versions) for Jews and Christians, even for the Palestinians, but does it justify the terra irredenta appropriation of territories and cities?

December 14, 2017 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Timeless or most popular | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Lavishing Money on the Pentagon

By Jonathan Marshall | Consortium News | December 14, 2017

Wise parents who celebrate Christmas advise their young children not to make unreasonably grandiose requests of Santa. After all, he has to squeeze down a rather narrow chimney to deliver their presents.

But as Christmas approaches this year, leaders of Congress, the Pentagon, and the Trump White House seem to have forgotten that lesson. Their wish list for the U.S. military, if taken seriously, will bust the federal budget at the very time Republicans are ramming through tax legislation that will shrink Uncle Sam’s savings account by more than a trillion dollars over the next decade.

President Trump this week signed into law a $700 billion blueprint for military spending in the current fiscal year. The 2018 National Defense Authorization Act includes funding for more troops, more weapons, more interventions abroad, and more active wars, with Trump’s enthusiastic blessing. “We need our military,” he declared at a White House signing ceremony.

In addition to lavish spending on new weapons — like $10 billion for purchases of the disastrous F-35 Joint Strike Fighter — this Christmas legislation for the military includes all sorts of smaller presents, including billions of dollars to fund NATO’s European Deterrence Initiative (whatever happened to Trump’s demand that our allies pay for their own defense?), missile defense systems of doubtful efficacy, and development of a new cruise missile that would violate the 1987 Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces treaty with Russia.

The bill also earmarks $350 million for military aid to Ukraine, including lethal weaponry — a highly provocative measure that Arizona Senator John McCain has long promoted. Independent analysts, including prominent conservative foreign policy experts, warn that such lethal aid would be destabilizing, provocative, and “extraordinarily foolish.”

Under the arcane rules of Congress, the House and Senate must still translate this blueprint into actual budget appropriations. Therein lies the rub. Back in the days when Republicans still claimed to believe in balanced budgets, they led the way in enacting limits on federal spending.

Current law caps core defense spending at $549 billion in fiscal year 2018. The defense authorization bill, in contrast, pegs the request for core Pentagon operations at $634 billion, with another $66 billion to fight ongoing wars in Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria and other hot spots. The latter funds are not subject to budget caps.

At his signing ceremony, Trump called on Congress to overturn its spending cap on the military. Many Republicans would be amenable, but Democrats may demand a parallel relaxation of budget limits on domestic spending, a non-starter for conservatives.

Supporters of increased military spending, led by the Pentagon, point to how overworked the armed services are in today’s world environment.

“We aren’t big enough to do everything we’re being tasked to do,” complained Admiral William Moran, vice chief of naval operations, in recent congressional testimony.

Policing the World

Moran was right: it’s a lot harder to police the world with 300 ships then it was several decades ago with nearly 600 vessels and only one serious foe.

Seen another way, however, budgetary realities might be sending us a message that it’s no longer feasible, or in the national interest, to maintain nearly a quarter million troops in more than 170 countries and territories abroad.

Nor is it necessary for our defense to carry out vast military exercises from the Baltic States to the Sea of Japan in order to maintain dominance in Central Europe, the Pacific and Indian Oceans, the Persian Gulf, the Middle East, North Africa, and any number of other locations — all while conducting live military operations in Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria, Somalia, Yemen, Niger, and other war zones.

Those who can’t see their way to setting limits on runaway military spending should reflect on the fact that the roughly $65 billion a year the Pentagon spends on active war-fighting, through the “Overseas Contingency Operations” fund, is roughly equal to Russia’s entire military budget. Only China spends more than that amount. And after those two countries, the next 15 biggest military spenders are all U.S. allies or reasonably friendly toward the United States.

Where Does the Money Go?

Taxpayers should also reflect on the fact that the Pentagon has never passed a full audit and has only a foggy idea of where all its money goes.

“The United States Army’s finances are so jumbled it had to make trillions of dollars of improper accounting adjustments to create an illusion that its books are balanced,” Reuters reported last year.

“The Defense Department’s Inspector General . . . said the Army made $2.8 trillion in wrongful adjustments to accounting entries in one quarter alone in 2015, and $6.5 trillion for the year. Yet the Army lacked receipts and invoices to support those numbers or simply made them up. . .

“For years, the Inspector General – the Defense Department’s official auditor – has inserted a disclaimer on all military annual reports. The accounting is so unreliable that ‘the basic financial statements may have undetected misstatements that are both material and pervasive.’”

We may not know for sure where the money goes, but we know it amounts to a vast sum every year. Since 9/11, Americans have paid nearly $5 trillion for its foreign wars, according to Brown University’s Cost of War project — or about $25,000 per taxpayer. If Congress really wants to ease the tax burden on middle-class Americans, putting an end to our permanent state of war would be a good place to start.

Jonathan Marshall writes frequently on Pentagon programs, including “US Arms Makers Invest in a New Cold War,” “New Navy Ship Leaking Tax Dollars,” “Trump Adds to Washington’s ‘Swamp’,”  “Learning to Love — and Use — the Bomb,” and “Rising Budget Stakes for Space Warfare.”

December 14, 2017 Posted by | Economics, Militarism | | 4 Comments

Yemen, Afghanistan in focus as landmine casualties spike

Press TV – December 14, 2017

Landmines killed 8,605 people in several countries in 2016, despite an international ban on the deadly device, a monitoring group says.

According to the annual report released Thursday by Landmine Monitor, about three-quarters of the known casualties were civilians, including more than 1,000 children who were injured and nearly 500 who were killed.

The number of the casualties — which were mostly recorded in Afghanistan, Libya, Ukraine and Yemen — showed a 30% surge compared to 2015.

“A few intense conflicts, where utter disregard for civilian safety persists, have resulted in very high numbers of mine casualties for the second year in a row,” Loren Persi, an editor of the Landmine Monitor said.

Persi described the spike as “alarming”, adding that the true number of the victims would be significantly higher if the data gathering were complete.

The surge comes after a 18-year decline in landmine casualties since the Mine Ban Treaty first came into force in 1999.

The treaty bans the use of landmines and other explosive devices placed on or under the ground, designed to blow up when somebody unintentionally steps on them.

These weapons can be continuously deadly weapons for many years, long after the war has ended. About 80% of landmine victims are civilians.

The Mine Ban Treaty, which has been signed by 163 countries, also bans production, stockpiling and transfer of the deadly landmines.

December 14, 2017 Posted by | Militarism | , , , | Leave a comment

Turkey reclaims Muslim leadership

By M K Bhadrakumar | Indian Punchline | December 13, 2017

The Istanbul Declaration of the Organization of Islamic Conference declaring East Jerusalem as the capital of the state of Palestine is a landmark event. The Turkish initiative to convene an extraordinary summit in Istanbul today targeted such an outcome. The summit was well attended, although convened at short notice.

A notable absentee was King Salman of Saudi Arabia. The Saudi minister for religious affairs apparently represented his country. On Tuesday, Turkey openly taunted Saudi Arabia. Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said, “Some Arab countries have shown very weak responses (on Jerusalem). It seems some countries are very timid of the United States.” He added that Saudi Arabia had yet to say how it would participate.

The Istanbul Declaration says it “rejects and condemns in the strongest terms the unilateral decision by the president of the United States America recognizing Jerusalem as the so-called capital of Israel, the occupying power.” It urges the world to recognize East Jerusalem as the occupied capital of the Palestinian state and invites “all countries to recognize the state of Palestine and East Jerusalem as its occupied capital.”

The OIC has set the bar high. But OIC is largely ineffectual and its declarations and statements remain on paper only. Is it any different now? Yes, it could be different. One, the Istanbul Declaration at one stroke debunks United States’ pretension so far to be the charioteer of the Middle East peace process. Washington’s locus standii as mediator has come under questioning from none other than Palestine President Mahmoud Abbas, who has been widely regarded as a cats-paw of the US (and Israeli) intelligence and Saudi Arabia.

The fact that Abbas’ back has stiffened only reflects that the ground beneath the feet has shifted. The popular opinion in the Muslim Middle East has become so overwhelmingly anti-American. This has geopolitical implications. Interestingly, Moscow deputed a representative to attend the OIC summit in Istanbul as observer.

Israel was gaining in confidence lately that it could break out of isolation and form a quasi-alliance with Saudi Arabia. It was not a realistic hope and was predicated on the political personality of the young Saudi Crown Prince. But such hopes must now be mothballed. Israel also may have to live with the reality of a strong Iranian presence in Syria for years to come. Clearly, Israel overreached. It is doubtful whether Israel gains anything at all out of Trump’s decision on Jerusalem. Even a re-location of the US embassy from Tel Aviv may take years – and, for all you know, kept in abeyance indefinitely by Washington as a matter of expediency.

The known unknown is about the mantle of leadership in the Islamic world. The Istanbul summit was a personal initiative of President Recep Erdogan. A poll conducted by Pew has come up with the finding that Erdogan is today the most popular figure in the Muslim Middle East.

For sure, Erdogan is making a determined pitch to reclaim the leadership of the Muslim world, as it used to be under Ottoman sultans. With Saudi Arabia caught up in a difficult transition and its future increasingly uncertain (plus with the brutal war in Yemen where it is bogged down), Turkey’s hour may have come. Erdogan’s main plank is his emphasis on the unity of the ‘Ummah’. His clarion call to put behind sectarian politics gets big resonance. And here Turkey and Iran on the same page, too.

A leadership role will come handy for Erdogan, as it gets him ‘strategic depth’ vis-à-vis the West, apart from consolidating his power base within Turkey. On the other hand, he may take his caliphal authority seriously to reboot the OIC as an interventionist tool to tackle Muslim issues the world over. Countries like Myanmar or India feel the pressure.

All in all, a very transformative period lies ahead for the Muslim world. Trump wouldn’t have anticipated all this in the downstream when he opened the Pandora’s box. He is not known to be a grand strategist. The Anadolu news agency featured an insightful commentary on how Trump’s sense of obligation to the Jewish lobby almost entirely led him to this fateful decision on Jerusalem. Read it here – Trump’s decision: Inside story, expected consequences.

December 14, 2017 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

US-led coalition securing Daesh terrorists, targeting civilians: Syria

Press TV – December 14, 2017

Syria’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Expatriates has censured the US-led coalition purportedly fighting the Daesh terrorist group, saying the military alliance is indeed targeting civilian facilities and providing the extremists with cover.

In two separate letters addressed to United Nations Secretary General Antonio Guterres and the rotating president of the UN Security Council, Koro Bessho, on Thursday, the ministry stated that the US-led coalition has been pretending to fight Daesh, but it has, in fact, been transporting the terrorists from one part of Syria to another and securing them.

The letters further noted that Daesh terrorists have been purged from most regions in Syria only through counter-terrorism operations conducted by government troops and allied fighters from popular defense groups.

They also criticized the so-called advocates of human rights and rule of law for turning a blind eye to the atrocities the US-led coalition is perpetrating in Raqqah and Dayr al-Zawr provinces.

Syria’s official news agency, SANA, reported on Thursday that US-led air raids had claimed the lives of at least 23 civilians, mostly children and women, in the al-Jurze Sharqi village of Dayr al-Zawr province the previous evening.

The US-led coalition has been conducting airstrikes against what are said to be Daesh targets inside Syria since September 2014 without any authorization from the Damascus government or a UN mandate.

The military alliance has repeatedly been accused of targeting and killing civilians. It has also been largely incapable of achieving its declared goal of destroying Daesh.

On October 11, Syrian Foreign Minister Walid al-Muallem said the US-led coalition was trying to destroy the Arab country and prolong the armed conflict there.

Muallem stated that Damascus would demand the dissolution of the military contingent, stressing that thousands of Syrian women and children had been killed by coalition airstrikes in Raqqah and Dayr al-Zawr.

December 14, 2017 Posted by | Illegal Occupation, Timeless or most popular, War Crimes | , , | 1 Comment

Kiev hails US & Canada for greenlighting lethal arms supplies that could kill Ukraine peace process

RT | December 14, 2017

By including Ukraine on the list of countries approved for lethal weapons sales, Canada has become a side in a bloody civil war, undermining a shaky peace process, a senior Russian senator said, as Ukraine’s President Petro Poroshenko applauded the move.

Poroshenko praised the US and Canadian governments for stepping up military cooperation with Ukraine, which could lead to lethal weapons from both countries being supplied to the Ukrainian army, embroiled in a long-running civil conflict with rebel militias from breakaway eastern Ukraine’s Donetsk and Lugansk Republics.

“As it was agreed, the United States authorized security assistance for our country and Canada included Ukraine into the Automatic Firearms Country Control List. The door to enhanced defense assistance for Ukraine has been opened,” Poroshenko wrote on Facebook, as US President Donald Trump signed a new Pentagon funding bill and the government in Ottawa revealed its decision to greenlight the export of “certain prohibited firearms, weapons and devices” to Ukraine by including it into its list.

Unlike the Pentagon bill, Canada’s decision sets no preconditions for selling the armaments to Ukraine. The Canadian government’s only precaution is to examine the export applications on a case-by-case basis, to establish who will be using the weapons and how.

This makes Canada a party to the conflict, says Franz Klintsevich, the first deputy chairman of the Russian Federation Council’s Committee for Defense and Security.

“A very dangerous precedent has been created: Effectively, Canada has become a party to the internal Ukrainian conflict with all ensuing consequences. And this, above all, means that it assumes responsibility for the actions of the Ukrainian forces, trained by Canadian instructors and equipped with Canadian weapons,” Klintsevich said.

Be arming one side, Canada could tip the relative balance of power, fueling the stalled hostilities and shattering the hopes of peace. “To call a spade a spade, Canada has directly opposed the Minsk Accords,” Klintsevich said.

The US approved $500 million in “defensive lethal assistance” to Ukraine on Wednesday as Trump signed into law the 2018 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) drafted by Congress in late November.

The act claims that the US should beef up its military presence in Eastern Europe in face of the perceived “Russian aggression,” as well as to help Ukraine to tackle it. However, the allocation of the funds is conditional on the Ukrainian military undergoing “substantial” reforms. It is ultimately up to the US Secretary of State to decide if Ukraine has met the prerequisites.

Russia may take the issue of weapon sales and lethal aid to Ukraine to the UN Security Council, Yuri Schvytkin, deputy chairman of State Duma’s Defense Committee, told RIA Novosti.

A recent report by the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI) found that US arms sales overseas as well as its ongoing military operations were two main factors that drive global weapons trade, that rose for the first time in five years. With 38 firms that account for combined $217.2 billion in weapon sales, the US ranked first on the list of arms manufacturing countries.

In line with its strategy of encircling Russia with NATO contingents and “purely” defensive military equipment, Washington has recently authorized a shipment of 410 Javelin Missiles as well as 72 Javelin Command Launch Units to Georgia.

The promised delivery was slammed by Moscow, with Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Grigory Karasin arguing in November that it “directly encourages Tbilisi to new dangerous adventures in the region.”

December 14, 2017 Posted by | Militarism, Timeless or most popular, War Crimes | , , , | Leave a comment

Turkey switches to full defiance of US, continues Putin courtship

By M.K. Bhadrakumar | Asia Times | December 14, 2017

On Monday, US National Security Advisor HR McMaster added to tensions in the Middle East when he condemned Turkey and Qatar as prime sponsors of extremist Islamist ideology.

He tore into the Turkish leadership, saying the country’s growing problems with the West are largely due to the rise of the Justice and Development Party in Ankara.

A few days ago, McMaster had described China and Russia as “revisionist powers” encroaching on US allies and undermining the international order, and castigated Iran and North Korea as outlaw regimes that “support terror and are seeking weapons of mass destruction.”

McMaster now rounds on Turkey and Qatar for mentoring a radical Islamist ideology that “is obviously a grave threat to all civilized people.” The stunning part is that Turkey is a NATO ally, while the US Central Command is headquartered in Qatar.

Arguably, Turkey no longer qualifies to be a NATO member. McMaster spoke at a rare public policy platform with his British counterpart Mark Sedwill, at an event hosted by the Policy Exchange think tank in Washington. How any of this transmutes into Anglo-American policy will bear watching. (Interestingly, on a visit to Greece last week, Erdogan publicly sought a revision of the 1923 Treaty of Lausanne, which was negotiated under the tutelage of Britain and the US and ceded, amongst other things, all Turkish claims on the Dodecanese Islands and Cyprus.

Significantly, McMaster’s outburst came within hours of a meeting in Ankara between Erdogan and Russian President Vladimir Putin, their eighth this year, during a combined day-long trip by the Russian leader which included stops in Egypt, Turkey and the Hmeimim airbase in Syria.

Ironically, if it was the perceived Soviet threat to Turkey that Harry Truman and Dean Acheson blew out of proportion to lay the ground for an enthusiastically pro-American Turkish prime minister, Adnan Menderes, to bring Turkey into the NATO fold in 1952, 55 years later the blossoming of Russo-Turkish cooperation prompts Washington to doubt Turkey’s credentials as an ally.

But then, NATO has no precedents of ousting a member state and its decisions are taken unanimously. To be sure, Erdogan will only leave the NATO tent kicking and screaming. His intent is to shake off US hegemony, which he can do better while inside the NATO tent. He is in turn taunting, provoking, snubbing, defying and – worse still –ridiculing US regional strategies.

Erdogan’s talks with Putin on Monday suggest a new stage in their coordination to undermine US interests in the Middle East. Putin announced that they agreed on a loan agreement, which will be signed “very shortly,” to pursue the “significant prospects for expanding our military and technical cooperation.”

Erdogan added that “the relevant agencies of our two countries are expected to complete what needs to be done this week” with regard to Turkey’s purchase of Russia’s S-400 missile system. It is a huge snub to Washington and some of its NATO allies that the Russian system cannot be integrated into the alliance’s defenses.

Again, Erdogan announced that Turkey and Russia are “determined to complete in the shortest possible time” the Turkish Stream (which will bring more Russian gas to Turkey and use Turkey as a hub to supply southern Europe) and the US$25 billion Akkuyu Nuclear Power Plant. The US opposes the Turkish Stream, which will frustrate its plans to export LNG to Europe.

Putin joined Erdogan to criticize the US decision regarding Jerusalem. Putin said, “It is destabilizing the region and wiping out the prospect of peace”; Erdogan said he was “pleased” by Putin’s stand. Erdogan said the OIC (Organization of Islamic Cooperation) summit in Istanbul on Wednesday would be a “turning point” on the crisis; Putin promised to send a representative.

Most stunning, though, are the emerging contours of a profound Russo-Turkish action plan in Syria. They attribute centrality to the Astana peace process, which also includes Iran but leaves the US and its regional allies in the cold. Following Putin-Erdogan talks, the next meeting at Astana has been announced.

Equally, Russia and Turkey are collaborating to organize a congress of Syrian National Dialogue in Sochi. Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu signaled on Tuesday that Turkey no longer objects to Kurdish participation. Evidently, Russia is leveraging its influence with the Kurdish groups. This badly isolates the US, which is increasingly left with rump elements of Kurdish militant groups as its remaining allies. An open-ended US military presence in Syria becomes pointless since the capacity to influence a Syrian settlement is nearing zero.

After returning to Moscow, Putin submitted to the Duma a new agreement on expanding the Russian base in the Syrian port city of Tartus. The balance of forces in the Mediterranean region is dramatically shifting even before a Syrian settlement is negotiated.

Meanwhile, Cavusoglu hinted that Turkey and Russia plan to create new facts on the ground in northern Syria. “Threats for Turkey are coming from Afrin. We may enter this region without a warning. If we carry out the operation there, we will agree on all its aspects with our allies, including Russia.”

Putin apparently heeded Erdogan’s concerns that Afrin is a crucial region for Turkish national security. This is a paradigm shift. If Turkey kicks out the Kurdish militia from Afrin in coordination with Russia, it is a slap to America’s face. A flashpoint may arise.

What emerges is that denying the US any form of land access to Syria’s Mediterranean coast and reducing the American bases in Syria as remote and isolated pockets would be a Russo-Turkish enterprise. McMaster’s rage is understandable.

December 14, 2017 Posted by | Aletho News | , , , , , | 2 Comments

The Foundering Russia-gate ‘Scandal’

By Robert Parry | Consortium News | December 13, 2017

The disclosure of fiercely anti-Trump text messages between two romantically involved senior FBI officials who played key roles in the early Russia-gate inquiry has turned the supposed Russian-election-meddling “scandal” into its own scandal, by providing evidence that some government investigators saw it as their duty to block or destroy Donald Trump’s presidency.

As much as the U.S. mainstream media has mocked the idea that an American “deep state” exists and that it has maneuvered to remove Trump from office, the text messages between senior FBI counterintelligence official Peter Strzok and senior FBI lawyer Lisa Page reveal how two high-ranking members of the government’s intelligence/legal bureaucracy saw their role as protecting the United States from an election that might elevate to the presidency someone as unfit as Trump.

In one Aug. 6, 2016 text exchange, Page told Strzok: “Maybe you’re meant to stay where you are because you’re meant to protect the country from that menace.” At the end of that text, she sent Strzok a link to a David Brooks column in The New York Times, which concludes with the clarion call: “There comes a time when neutrality and laying low become dishonorable. If you’re not in revolt, you’re in cahoots. When this period and your name are mentioned, decades hence, your grandkids will look away in shame.”

Apparently after reading that stirring advice, Strzok replied, “And of course I’ll try and approach it that way. I just know it will be tough at times. I can protect our country at many levels, not sure if that helps.”

At a House Judiciary Committee hearing on Wednesday, Rep. Jim Jordan, R-Ohio, criticized Strzok’s boast that “I can protect our country at many levels.” Jordan said: “this guy thought he was super-agent James Bond at the FBI [deciding] there’s no way we can let the American people make Donald Trump the next president.”

In the text messages, Strzok also expressed visceral contempt for working-class Trump voters, for instance, writing on Aug. 26, 2016, “Just went to a southern Virginia Walmart. I could SMELL the Trump support. … it’s scary real down here.”

Another text message suggested that other senior government officials – alarmed at the possibility of a Trump presidency – joined the discussion. In an apparent reference to an August 2016 meeting with FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe, Strzok wrote to Page, “I want to believe the path you threw out for consideration in Andy’s office — that there’s no way he gets elected — but I’m afraid we can’t take that risk.”

It’s unclear what strategy these FBI officials were contemplating to ensure Trump’s defeat, but the comments mesh with what an intelligence source told me after the 2016 election, that there was a plan among senior Obama administration officials to use the allegations about Russian meddling to block Trump’s momentum with the voters and — if elected — to persuade members of the Electoral College to deny Trump a majority of votes and thus throw the selection of a new president into the House of Representatives under the rules of the Twelfth Amendment.

The scheme involved having some Democrats vote for former Secretary of State Colin Powell (which did happen), making him the third-place vote-getter in the Electoral College and thus eligible for selection by the House. But the plan fizzled when enough of Trump’s electors stayed loyal to their candidate to officially make him President.

After that, Trump’s opponents turned to the Russia-gate investigation as the vehicle to create the conditions for somehow nullifying the election, impeaching Trump, or at least weakening him sufficiently so he could not take steps to improve relations with Russia.

In one of her text messages to Strzok, Page made reference to a possible Watergate-style ouster of Trump, writing: “Bought all the president’s men. Figure I needed to brush up on watergate.”

As a key feature in this oust-Trump effort, Democrats have continued to lie by claiming that “all 17 U.S. intelligence agencies concurred” in the assessment that Russia hacked the Democratic emails last year on orders from President Vladimir Putin and then slipped them to WikiLeaks to undermine Hillary Clinton’s campaign.

That canard was used in the early months of the Russia-gate imbroglio to silence any skepticism about the “hacking” accusation, and the falsehood was repeated again by a Democratic congressman during Wednesday’s hearing of the House Judiciary Committee.

But the “consensus” claim was never true. In May 2017 testimony, President Obama’s Director of National Intelligence James Clapper acknowledged that the Jan. 6 “Intelligence Community Assessment” was put together by “hand-picked” analysts from only three agencies: the CIA, FBI and National Security Agency.

Biased at the Creation

And, the new revelations of high-level FBI bias puts Clapper’s statement about “hand-picked” analysts in sharper perspective, since any intelligence veteran will tell you that if you hand-pick the analysts you are effectively hand-picking the analysis.

Although it has not yet been spelled out exactly what role Strzok and Page may have had in the Jan. 6 report, I was told by one source that Strzok had a direct hand in writing it. Whether that is indeed the case, Strzok, as a senior FBI counterintelligence official, would almost surely have had input into the selection of the FBI analysts and thus into the substance of the report itself. [For challenges from intelligence experts to the Jan. 6 report, see Consortiumnews.com’sMore Holes in the Russia-gate Narrative.“]

If the FBI contributors to the Jan. 6 report shared Strzok’s contempt for Trump, it could explain why claims from an unverified dossier of Democratic-financed “dirt” on Trump, including salacious charges that Russian intelligence operatives videotaped Trump being urinated on by prostitutes in a five-star Moscow hotel, was added as a classified appendix to the report and presented personally to President-elect Trump.

Though Democrats and the Clinton campaign long denied financing the dossier – prepared by ex-British spy Christopher Steele who claimed to rely on second- and third-hand information from anonymous Russian contacts – it was revealed in October 2017 that the Democratic National Committee and the Clinton campaign shared in the costs, with the payments going to the “oppo” research firm, Fusion GPS, through the Democrats’ law firm, Perkins Coie.

That discovery helped ensnare another senior Justice Department official, Associate Attorney General Bruce Ohr, who talked with Steele during the campaign and had a post-election meeting with Fusion GPS co-founder Glenn Simpson. Recently, Simpson has acknowledged that Ohr’s wife, Nellie Ohr, was hired by Fusion GPS last year to investigate Trump.

Bruce Ohr has since been demoted and Strzok was quietly removed from the Russia-gate investigation last July although the reasons for these moves were not publicly explained at the time.

Still, the drive for “another Watergate” to oust an unpopular – and to many insiders, unfit – President remains at the center of the thinking among the top mainstream news organizations as they have scrambled for Russia-gate “scoops” over the past year even at the cost of making serious reporting errors.

For instance, last Friday, CNN — and then CBS News and MSNBC — trumpeted an email supposedly sent from someone named Michael J. Erickson on Sept. 4, 2016, to Donald Trump Jr. that involved WikiLeaks offering the Trump campaign pre-publication access to purloined Democratic National Committee emails that WikiLeaks published on Sept. 13, nine days later.

Grasping for Confirmation

Since the Jan. 6 report alleged that WikiLeaks received the “hacked” emails from Russia — a claim that WikiLeaks and Russia deny — the story seemed to finally tie together the notion that the Trump campaign had at least indirectly colluded with Russia.

This new “evidence” spread like wildfire across social media. As The Intercept’s Glenn Greenwald wrote in an article critical of the media’s performance, some Russia-gate enthusiasts heralded the revelation with graphics of cannons booming and nukes exploding.

But the story soon collapsed when it turned out that the date on the email was actually Sept. 14, 2016, i.e., the day after WikiLeaks released the batch of DNC emails, not Sept. 4. It appeared that “Erickson” – whoever he was – had simply alerted the Trump campaign to the public existence of the WikiLeaks disclosure.

Greenwald noted, “So numerous are the false stories about Russia and Trump over the last year that I literally cannot list them all.”

Yet, despite the cascade of errors and grudging corrections, including some belated admissions that there was no “17-intelligence-agency consensus” on Russian “hacking” – The New York Times made a preemptive strike against the new documentary evidence that the Russia-gate investigation was riddled with conflicts of interest.

The Times’ lead editorial on Wednesday mocked reporters at Fox News for living in an “alternate universe” where the Russia-gate “investigation is ‘illegitimate and corrupt,’ or so says Gregg Jarrett, a legal analyst who appears regularly on [Sean] Hannity’s nightly exercise in presidential ego-stroking.”

Though briefly mentioning the situation with Strzok’s text messages, the Times offered no details or context for the concerns, instead just heaping ridicule on anyone who questions the Russia-gate narrative.

“To put it mildly, this is insane,” the Times declared. “The primary purpose of Mr. Mueller’s investigation is not to take down Mr. Trump. It’s to protect America’s national security and the integrity of its elections by determining whether a presidential campaign conspired with a foreign adversary to influence the 2016 election – a proposition that grows more plausible every day.”

The Times fumed that “roughly three-quarters of Republicans still refuse to accept that Russia interfered in the 2016 election – a fact that is glaringly obvious to everyone else, including the nation’s intelligence community.” (There we go again with the false suggestion of a consensus within the intelligence community.)

The Times also took to task Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-South Carolina, for seeking “a Special Counsel to investigate ALL THINGS 2016 – not just Trump and Russia.” The Times insisted that “None of these attacks or insinuations are grounded in good faith.”

But what are the Times editors so afraid of? As much as they try to insult and intimidate anyone who demands serious evidence about the Russia-gate allegations, why shouldn’t the American people be informed about how Washington insiders manipulate elite opinion in pursuit of reversing “mistaken” judgments by the unwashed masses?

Do the Times editors really believe in democracy – a process that historically has had its share of warts and mistakes – or are they just elitists who think they know best and turn away their noses from the smell of working-class people at Walmart?

Investigative reporter Robert Parry broke many of the Iran-Contra stories for The Associated Press and Newsweek in the 1980s.

December 14, 2017 Posted by | Deception, Fake News, Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Russophobia | , , | Leave a comment