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At Canada’s New Democratic Party Convention, Palestine Is Set to Be Major Flashpoint

By Yves Engler | Palestine Chronicle | February 9, 2018

At next week’s New Democratic Party convention in Ottawa Palestinian rights are set to be a major flashpoint.

The NDP Socialist Caucus has submitted a resolution calling on the party to “actively campaign in support of the demand of Palestinian unions, civil society and unions across Canada and around the world which call for Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions against the Israeli state until it dismantles the apartheid wall, allows refugees to return home, ends its demolition of Palestinian homes and olive groves, lifts the siege of Gaza, ends its occupation of Palestinian lands, and terminates its apartheid practices.”

A more moderate “Palestine Resolution: renewing the NDP’s commitment to peace and justice” has been endorsed by two dozen riding associations. The motion mostly restates official Canadian policy, except that it calls for “banning settlement products from Canadian markets, and using other forms of diplomatic and economic pressure to end the occupation.”

Already the Canadian Jewish News, Electronic Intifada, National Post, Ottawa Jewish Bulletin, Toronto Star, Le Devoir, Mondoweiss, Canada Talks Israel Palestine and Rabble have published stories regarding the resolutions. The Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs has called on the party leader to “push back against marginal elements within the party” promoting Palestinian rights while the more explicitly antidemocratic Canadian Friends of Simon Wiesenthal has “Urged NDP to Disallow Anti-Israel Resolution at Upcoming Convention”.

Unfortunately, corporate-media-focused party operatives may heed the CIJA/Wiesenthal call. Party insiders will no doubt do everything in their power to avoid discussing the Socialist Caucus BDS resolution and will probably seek to block the Palestine Resolution from being debated publicly on the convention floor. If their backroom procedural shenanigans fail to stop the resolutions from a public airing expect a great deal of concern about associating with the international BDS movement.

For NDPers scared of BDS here is an alternative resolution that places no demands on Israel:

1. The NDP will refrain from excluding electoral candidates who speak up for Palestinian rights.

(During the 2015 federal election the NDP responded to Conservative party pressure by ousting as many as eight individuals from running or contesting nominations to be candidates because they defended Palestinian rights on social media.)

2. NDP MPs will refrain from participating in any Israel parliamentary group until the party is represented on a Nigerian, Algerian or Spanish parliamentary group.

(Vancouver Island MPs Randall Garrison and Murray Rankin are currently members of the Canada Israel Inter-parliamentary Group.)

3. The NDP foreign critic will refuse requests to participate in all expense paid trips to the American Israel Public Affairs Committee’s annual conference.

(Hélène Laverdière spoke at the 2016 AIPAC conference in Washington DC.)

4. NDP MPs will participate in all expense paid lobbying trips to Israel at no greater rate than Paraguay, which is of similar size and distance from Ottawa.

(A 2014 calculation found that 20 NDP MPs had been to Israel with a Zionist lobby organization and 13 months ago recently elected party leader Jagmeet Singh went on an organized trip to the country.)

5. NDP officials will abstain from attending events put on by explicitly racist organizations.

(In 2016 Hélène Laverdière participated in an event in Jerusalem organized by the openly racist Jewish National Fund while NDP MP Pat Martin spoke at a JNF event in Ottawa to “recognize and thank the people that have helped to make JNF Canada what it is today.” Owner of 13 per cent of Israel’s land – which was mostly taken from Palestinians forced from their homes by Zionist forces in 1947-48 – the JNF openly discriminates against the 20% of Israelis who are not Jewish. Its website notes that “a survey commissioned by KKL-JNF reveals that over 70% of the Jewish population in Israel opposes allocating KKL-JNF land to non-Jews, while over 80% prefer the definition of Israel as a Jewish state, rather than as the state of all its citizens.”)

My alternative resolution makes no demands of Israel so it’s hard to link it to the BDS bogeyman. Best of all, the party has the power to immediately implement this small gesture of support for the long-suffering Palestinians.

I will be speaking about “What’s Wrong with NDP Foreign Policy?” on the sidelines of the convention.

–  Yves Engler is the author of Canada and Israel: Building Apartheid and a number of other books.

February 9, 2018 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Solidarity and Activism | , , , | 1 Comment

What’s really behind America’s objections to Trump’s military parade

By Finian Cunningham | RT | February 9, 2018

President Donald Trump’s plan to stage a mega military parade in the American capital provoked a broad swath of opposition, from conservatives and liberals alike.

Part of the objection, however, seems to stem from an unspoken embarrassment – that such a military display shatters American democratic pretensions, at home and around the world.

Surprisingly for a nation that repeatedly boasts about having the most powerful military force on the planet – and, indeed, ever in the whole of recorded history – there was scant enthusiasm this week for Trump’s reported proposal for a full-scale military parade to be held later this year along Washington DC’s Pennsylvania Avenue.

Planning details are still in the works for the proposed event, which is only being sketchily discussed at this time, and may not even materialize.

Trump is said to have been wowed by the military procession he attended in Paris last July on France’s annual Bastille Day. Ever since then the American president has been prodding his aides to stage a similar martial spectacle in the US.

America’s Independence Day on July 4 or Veterans Day on November 11 have been suggested as possible dates to hold the event, which would see columns of troops and weapons filing down the iconic avenue stretching from the Congressional government building on Capitol Hill and the president’s White House residence.

The New York Times reported with a tone of misgiving: “Tanks, jets and other killing machines painted olive-drab and tan could be rolling the routes of the nation’s capital later this year for a peacetime parade inspired by President Trump.”

But, it added: “Few lawmakers – if any – said they loved the idea of Mr Trump’s parade. Some shrugged it off. Others called it undemocratic. Many lamented the use of the military’s time and money.”

Politico reported: “Trump’s military parade draws bipartisan rebuke.” It said lawmakers on both sides of the aisle decried such an event as “a break with democratic traditions.”

Senior Democrat Representative Adam Smith is quoted as saying: “A military parade of this kind would also be a departure from the values of our constitutional democracy. A military parade like this – one that is unduly focused on a single person – is what authoritarian regimes do, not democracies.”

Other commentators focused their objections on what they said was such an event pandering to Trump’s notoriously outsized ego.

CNN pundit Chris Cillizza said: “Of course Trump wants a big shiny parade… Bigger is always better in Trump’s world. And might usually makes right. He with the biggest toys wins.”

A Washington Post commentary said that Trump’s penchant for pomp and grandiose ceremony makes him a sucker for “the sort of martial display these days more associated with single-party states and irredentist autocrats.”

Republican Senator Lindsey Graham, who is well connected to the military establishment and often espouses hawkish militarist foreign policy, seemed uncharacteristically coy about the parade idea. He said: “I’m not looking for a Soviet-style hardware display. That’s not who we are. It’s kind of cheesy. I think it shows weakness, quite frankly.”

Politico, again, added: “Two Democratic military veterans in Congress – Reps Ruben Gallego of Arizona and Ted Lieu of California – wrote Defense Secretary James Mattis in a letter Wednesday that just because authoritarian regimes like Russia and North Korea hold massive military parades does not mean that we must as well.”

Some of the public’s opposition appeared to be genuinely based on sound practical reasons.

Military Times, a US publication, cited a survey it conducted among its readers showing that nearly 90 percent of them were against Trump’s idea. They reportedly objected because, they said, it was “a waste of money” or because “our troops are too busy” to participate in such a large-scale spectacle, one which presumably would take a lot of logistical planning and funding to organize.

Nevertheless, what seems to be concerning many among the political establishment is the overt American militarism that such an event would reveal.

Reading between the lines, the stated concerns from politicians and media commentators about maintaining the form of “constitutional democracy” and not being associated with “authoritarianism” are not, one discerns, primarily motivated by genuine constitutional democratic principles. Rather the unspoken concern is the embarrassment about what such a major military display in Washington DC would reveal – the fact that the United States is a massively militarized state.

It is true that big centralized military spectacles are rather rare in the US. Commentators noted that the last event of this kind that took place in Washington DC was nearly 27 years ago, back in the summer of 1991, when then President George Bush Sr held a “victory march” following the First Gulf War against Iraq.

Nonetheless, it can be fairly remarked that military culture is rife across the US in myriad daily and weekly events, from school assemblies saluting the national flag, to veterans marching through every small town jamboree, to fighter jet flyovers at football games.

Arguably, why the military in the US does not participate in annual showpieces in the capital is for the tacit reason of trying to maintain a public appearance of a constitutional democracy amid such rampant militarism endemic to its society. A big display of the kind that Trump is proposing is an awkward demonstration of just how militarized American society is.

The irony over the past week is that while many lawmakers and media outlets were squirming over Trump’s gaudy military plans, the US Congress just voted through a Budget Bill for an extra $160 billion spend on the military. The final military budget comes to some $700 billion and represents over half of the total annual federal spend.

Republican and Democrat lawmakers are wrangling over financial cuts to public services and welfare, nearly shutting down the government again from the impasse. But, evidently, politicians of all stripes, whether conservative or liberal, have no problem whatsoever about splurging $700 billion on military. That expenditure is said to be the highest level ever – exceeding even the heights of the Cold War.

This gargantuan year-on-year allocation of economic resources by the US – greater than the combined expenditure of the world’s next 10 biggest military powers, including Russia and China – is a stupendous testimony to the hyper-militarized state that is the US.

It is a self-evident corollary that the grotesque militarization of the American economy is its permanent waging of overseas wars and bellicose foreign policy.

No other nation comes close to the record of American war-making around the planet. Currently, US forces are bombing seven countries simultaneously, including Syria, Afghanistan and Iraq. Over the past quarter decade since its “victory parade” in Washington DC for President Bush Sr, over a million people have been killed in American wars, and a litany of countries have been reduced to rubble or “failed states.”

The real reason why Trump’s plan for a military parade is causing such discomfit among the political class is this: they know the spectacle will only serve to illustrate starkly to the American public and the rest of the world that the United States is a rogue military regime.

February 9, 2018 Posted by | Militarism, Progressive Hypocrite | | 1 Comment

The White Helmets Are A Propaganda Construct

corbettreport | February 9, 2018

Contrary to what its multi-million dollar international PR campaign would have you believe, the “White Helmets” are not a group of volunteer search-and-rescue workers that sprang spontaneously out of the Syrian soil. When you peel back the layers of foreign financing and reveal the foreign intelligence operatives and murky lobbying groups at the heart of the organization, what you find is that the White Helmets are, in fact, a propaganda construct.

TRANSCRIPT AND SOURCES: corbettreport.com/whitehelmets

February 9, 2018 Posted by | Fake News, Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Timeless or most popular, Video | , , , , | 1 Comment

The Middle East Quartet still includes the US, so can it still play a role in the peace process?

By Professor Kamel Hawwash | MEMO | February 9, 2018

Since US President Donald Trump’s decision to recognise Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and the subsequent decision to cut American funding to UNRWA and the Palestinian Authority, the Palestinian leadership in Ramallah has announced formally and repeatedly that Washington cannot continue in its traditional role as the sole sponsor of the peace process. Speaking shortly after Trump’s announcement in December, Mahmoud Abbas said that the Palestinians have been engaged with the President’s advisors to achieve the “deal of the century” but “instead we got the slap of our times”. He concluded that, “The United States has chosen to lose its qualification as a mediator… We will no longer accept that it has a role in the political process.”

At that point, the PA President suggested that the UN should take over as mediator. However, since then, the PA has been searching for an alternative to the US sponsorship which has been based on bringing together a wider group of influential countries to oversee negotiations between the Palestinians and the Israelis.

Israel has been silent on the matter, enjoying the complete US bias in its favour, whether from Trump’s advisors Jason Greenblatt and Jared Kushner, the US Ambassador to Israel David Freidman or the US Ambassador to the UN, Nikki Hayley.

During his recent visit to Israel, US Vice President Mike Pence received a hero’s welcome as he committed to moving the US Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem by the end of 2019. The Palestinians refused to meet him. Trump saw this as an act of disrespect to Pence and the US, and threatened the PA with further cuts in American aid unless they returned to the negotiating table.

The next port of call for the Palestinians for a sponsor of the peace talks was the European Union. Abbas visited the EU headquarters in Brussels recently and held talks with Federica Mogherini, the high representative for foreign affairs and security policy. If Abbas thought that the EU was ready to take a sole or significant role in the peace process, he was disappointed. Mogherini reiterated longstanding EU positions: “I want to, first of all, reassure President Abbas and his delegation of the firm commitment of the European Union to the two-state solution, with Jerusalem as the shared capital of the two states… based on the Oslo Accords and the international consensus embodied in the relevant UN Security Council resolutions.”

Mogherini also reaffirmed the EU’s opposition to the “settlement activity that we consider illegal under international law.” She reminded Abbas that the EU has “already invested a great deal in the Palestinian state-building project” and vowed that EU financial support would continue, “Including to UNRWA.” She did not respond to Abbas’s call for the EU as a bloc to recognise the State of Palestine.

In a press conference a few days later, before an extraordinary meeting of the International Donor Group for Palestine at the EU headquarters, Mogherini told reporters that any framework for negotiations must involve “all partners”, sending a strong message that the US could not be excluded: “Nothing without the United States, nothing with the United States alone.”

This must have come as a blow to the Palestinian leadership, which had hoped that the Americans could be sidelined from the peace process.

There are few alternatives for the Palestinians to pursue. France’s attempts to secure a greater role in the peace process resulted in the Paris Conference which took place in much more favourable conditions at the end of the Obama Administration, but it tuned into a damp squib. The conference went ahead but little came out of it, and it has had no follow-up to speak of.

The Chinese, put forward their 4-point peace proposal last August:

  • Advancing the two-state solution based on 1967 borders with East Jerusalem as the capital of a new Palestinian state.
  • Upholding “the concept of common, comprehensive, cooperative and sustainable security,” immediately ending Israeli settlement building, taking immediate measures to prevent violence against civilians, and calling for an early resumption of peace talks.
  • Coordinating international efforts to put forward “peace-promoting measures that entail joint participation at an early date.”
  • Promoting peace through development and cooperation between the Palestinians and Israel.

While little has been heard of the proposal’s potential since last year, the Chinese stepped up their efforts to play a greater role in the peace process following Trump’s Jerusalem announcement. However, responding to a question about China’s possible future role at a regular press briefing on 21 December, Foreign Ministry spokesperson Hua Chunying said: “China’s position on the Palestine issue is consistent. We support and actively promote the Middle East peace process. We support the just cause of the Palestinian people to regain their legitimate national rights… We are willing to continue offering constructive assistance to promote the Israeli-Palestinian peace process.”

The Chinese hosted a symposium last December bringing together Palestinians and Israelis in a bid to break the impasse. The session culminated with the production of a non-binding position paper known as the “Beijing Initiative”, which Deputy Speaker of the Knesset and Zionist Union MK Hilk Bar said in a closing statement was intended to prove that “it is possible and necessary to break the political deadlock and encourage the two leaderships to return to the negotiating table.” A leading member of the Palestinian delegation added: “We have to search for another approach to the peace process… It must include the superpowers and China, may be one of these parties who can play a major role.”

Attempts by Russia, another UN Security Council member to take a leading role in the peace process, go back many years but have not succeeded.

Palestinians have recently favoured an arrangement that mirrors the P5+1 which developed the Iran Nuclear Deal Agreement, which was concluded in 2015. The P5+1 refers to the 5 permanent members of the UN Security Council plus Germany. A similar arrangement could still see the US involved but not monopolising the framework for negotiations.

A possible starting point here could be the Quartet, known formally as the Middle East Quartet, which consists of the US, Russia, the EU and the UN. It describes its mandate as “to help mediate Middle East peace negotiations and to support Palestinian economic development and institution-building in preparation for eventual statehood.”

On the face of it, the Quartet, with an upgrade of its senior team, could be the readymade answer to the Palestinian demand for a downgrading of the US role rather than Washington being excluded altogether. That may go some way towards meeting Israel’s insistence that the US has to be an important player in any future set of negotiations.

The Saban Centre for Middle East Policy at Brookings evaluated the Quartet’s performance in 2012 in its paper “The Middle East Quartet: A post-Mortem.” It concluded that, but for some early successes up to 2003, the Quartet has not provided any tangible benefits, except “ensuring American engagement in the peace process.”

The Palestinians could request that certain countries are added to the group to provide their role with some prominence. These could include Japan, Egypt and China, and perhaps Britain as it leaves the EU. In other words a Q4+ format could be developed, possibly under UN leadership.

The advantage of the above arrangement, which will be challenging to bring together, is that the basic structure already exists. It is likely that the Palestinians would agree to such a grouping, leaving the US and Israel almost certainly rejecting it. However, this would show Palestinian flexibility and confirm US and Israel rejectionism.

There is a need for an alternative framework for negotiations to resolve the conflict other than the 25 years of futile talks led by the Americans whose bias towards Israel is guaranteed and blatant. The longer the void left by the Palestinian rejection of a role for the US exists, the longer that the status quo will continue, allowing Israel to march ahead with its colonial project. A revamped Quartet plus-plus is well worth serious consideration.

February 9, 2018 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Timeless or most popular | , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Soros & the £400k Question: What constitutes ‘foreign interference’ in democracy?

© Wiktor Dabkowski / Global Look Press
By Neil Clark | RT | February 9, 2018

You’d have to have a real sense of humor failure not to laugh. The news that US billionaire George Soros donated £400k to an anti-Brexit group came on the day that YouTube said they found no evidence of Russian interference in Brexit.

Repeat After Me (with robotic arm movements): “Unproven Russian involvement in Brexit – terrible! Impose more sanctions on Moscow! A £400k check from an American billionaire for an anti-Brexit campaigning group – that’s no problem; it’s helping our democracy!”

You don’t have to own a brand new £999 state-of-the art Hypocrisy Detector from Harrods, to pick up on the double standards. Just having a few functioning brain cells and thinking for yourself will do. For months in the UK we’ve been bombarded with Establishment-approved conspiracy theories – peddled in all the ’best’ newspapers – that Russia somehow ‘fixed’ Brexit. Getting Britain to leave the EU was all part of a cunning plot by Vladimir Putin, aka Dr. Evil, to weaken Europe and the ‘free world.’

Even West End musical composer Andrew Lloyd-Webber, who knows quite a bit about phantoms, seemed taken in by it. “By quitting Europe, I fear that we are hastening Putin’s dream of the break-up of the EU – and with it, potentially, western civilisation,” the noble Lord declared in July.

Never mind that we don’t have a single statement from Putin or other senior Kremlin figures saying that they actually supported Brexit. These Establishment Russia-bashers know exactly what The Vlad is thinking.

And never mind that RT and Sputnik, which we are repeatedly told are “propaganda arms of the Russian government,” ran articles by pro- and anti-Brexit writers. The same people who told us Iraq had WMDs in 2003 were absolutely sure it was those dastardly Russkies who had got Britain to vote ‘leave.’ The irony is of course that there was significant foreign interference in Brexit. But it didn’t come from Moscow.

The US has always wanted Britain to stay in the EU. In April 2016, two months before the Referendum, President Obama made it clear what he wanted when he visited the UK. He warned that if Britain exited the EU it would be “at the back of the queue” for trade deals with the US.

Just imagine if Putin had said that. The Russophobes would have spontaneously combusted.

Then of course there was the backing the Remain camp had from the giants of US capital. Goldman Sachs and JP Morgan donated £500,000 each to the ‘Britain Stronger in Europe’ group, Citigroup and Morgan Stanley – £250,000 each.

Again, repeat after me (with robotic arm movements): “This is not foreign interference… This is not foreign interference!”

The point is not whether we are for or against Brexit. Or whether we think George Soros is a malign influence who only acts out of self-interest or an old sweetie-pie with the good of humanity at heart. The point is the double standards that are causing our Hypocrisy Detectors to explode.

Let’s think back to December 2016. Then, the pro-war and fiercely anti-Russian Labour MP Ben Bradshaw told Parliament that it was “highly probable” that Russia had interfered with Brexit.

Fourteen months on, what have we got? On Thursday, the global head of You Tube’s public policy, Juniper Downs, said her company “had conducted a thorough investigation around the Brexit referendum and found no evidence of Russian interference.”

Twitter meanwhile says it detected 49 (yes, 49) accounts from what it claimed to be a “Russian troll factory,” which sent all of 942 messages about Brexit – amounting to less than 0.005% of all the tweets about the Referendum. Twitter said the accounts received “very low levels of engagement” from users. If the Kremlin had planned to use tweets to persuade us to vote ‘leave,’ they didn’t really put much effort into it, did they?

Finally, Facebook said that only three “Kremlin-linked” accounts were found which spent the grand sum of 72p (yes, 72p) on ads during the Referendum campaign. Which amounts to the greater “interference”? 72p or £400K? Erm… tough call, isn’t it?

You might have thought, given his concern with ‘foreign interference’ in British politics, that Ben Bradshaw would have been urging ‘Best for Britain’ to return George Soros’ donation. Au contraire! His only tweets about it were retweets of two critical comments about the Daily Telegraph, and the BBC’s coverage of the story. Conclusion: Those who rail about ‘Russia meddling in Brexit’ but not Soros’ intervention aren’t concerned about ‘foreign interference’ in UK politics, only ‘foreign interference’ from countries they don’t approve of.

Those who are quite happy peddling ludicrous conspiracy theories about Russians shout “conspiracy theorist” (or worse) at those who report factually on proven meddling from others. The Daily Express hit the nail on the head in their Friday editorial which said: “Just what does George Soros think he is doing pouring £400,000 into a campaign to stop Brexit. For a start he is not actually a resident of this country so it has nothing to do with him.”

That really is the rub of the matter. And Bradshaw and co. have no adequate response except to shoot the messenger.

If we look at the affair with an even wider lens, the hypocrisy is even greater. The US has been gripped by an anti-Russian frenzy not seen since the days of Senator Joe McCarthy. The unsubstantiated claim that Russia fixed the election for Donald Trump is repeated by ‘liberals’ and many neocons too, as a statement of fact. “I don’t know that the public understands the gravity of what the Russians were able to do and continue to do here in the United States. They’ve attacked us. They’re trying to undermine our democracy,” film director Rob Reiner said.

But the number one country round the world for undermining democracy and interfering in the affairs of other sovereign states is the US itself.

While Establishment journos and pundits have been foaming at the mouth over ‘Russiagate’ and getting terribly excited over ‘smoking guns’ which turn out – surprise, surprise – to be damp squibs, there’s been less attention paid to the boasts of former Vice President Joe Biden on how he got the allegedly ‘independent’ Ukrainian government to sack its prosecutor general in a few hours. “I looked at them and said: ‘I’m leaving in six hours. If the prosecutor is not fired, you’re not getting the money…”

“I said, ‘I’m telling you, you’re not getting the billion dollars,” Biden said during a meeting of the US’ Council on Foreign Relations. “Well, son of a b***h. He got fired.”

Again, just imagine the furore if a leading Russian government figure boasted about how he used financial inducements to get another country’s Prosecutor General to be sacked. Or if a tape was leaked in which the Russian Ambassador and a Russian Foreign Ministry spokesperson could be heard discussing who should or shouldn’t be in the new ‘democratic’ government of another sovereign state. But we had the US Ambassador to Ukraine and the US Assistant Secretary of State doing exactly that in 2014 – and the ‘Russia is interfering in the Free World!’ brigade were as silent as a group of Trappist monks.

It’s fair to say that Orwell would have a field day with the doublespeak that’s currently on show. The cognitive dissonance is there for all to see. Repeat After Me: Unproven Russian interference – Bad. Proven interference from other external sources – Good. What’s your problem?

Follow Neil Clark @NeilClark66

Read more:

No Russian interference in Brexit referendum – YouTube exec tells parliamentary committee

‘Son of b***h got fired’: Joe Biden forced Ukraine to sack prosecutor general ‘in six hours’

February 9, 2018 Posted by | Progressive Hypocrite, Russophobia, Timeless or most popular | , , , | 1 Comment

‘This is Nuts’: Liberals Launch ‘Largest Mobilization in History’ in Defense of Russiagate Probe

By Coleen Rowley and Nat Parry | Consortium News | February 9, 2018

With Democrats and self-styled #Resistance activists placing their hopes for taking down Donald Trump’s presidency in the investigation being led by Special Counsel Robert Mueller, online groups such as MoveOn and Avaaz are launching campaigns to come to the Special Counsel’s defense in the event of him being removed by the president.

Robert Mueller with President George W. Bush
(White House photo)

In an action alert to supporters on Wednesday, Avaaz announced plans to hold some 600 events around the country to defend Mueller in case Trump tries to fire him. “This is nuts,” Avaaz writes. “Trump is clearly gearing up to fire the independent official investigating Russia’s influence over the election — if he does, he’ll have delivered a death blow to one of the fundamental pillars of our democracy.”

Avaaz claims that hundreds of thousands of supporters have signed up for actions protesting Mueller’s possible removal, and that more than 25 national organizations support the protests. The group calls it potentially “the largest national mobilization in history.”

Considering all of the threats to democracy posed by unconstitutional overreach, unfair elections, corruption, and voter suppression – not to mention environmental challenges, economic inequality, an out-of-control U.S. foreign policy, numerous foreign conflicts that the U.S. is engaged in, and the ever-present threat of nuclear war – it is telling that the liberal establishment is mobilizing on this particular issue.

Social psychologists have long talked about how emotional manipulation can work effectively to snooker a large percentage of the population, to get them, at least temporarily, to believe the exact opposite of the facts. These techniques are known in the intelligence community as “perception management,” and have been refined since the 1980s “to keep the American people compliant and confused,” as the late Robert Parry has reported. We saw this in action last decade, when after months of disinformation, about 70% of Americans came to falsely believe that Saddam Hussein was behind 9/11 when the truth was the opposite – Saddam was actually an enemy of the Al Qaeda perpetrators.

Such emotional manipulation is the likely explanation for the fact that so many people are now gearing up to defend someone like Mueller, while largely ignoring other important topics of far greater consequence. With no demonstrations being organized to stop a possible war with North Korea – or an escalation in Syria – hundreds of thousands of Americans are apparently all too eager to go to the mat in defense of an investigation into the president’s possible “collusion” with Russia in its alleged meddling in election 2016.

Setting aside for the moment the merits of the Russiagate narrative, who really is this Robert Mueller that amnesiac liberals clamor to hold up as the champion of the people and defender of democracy? Co-author Coleen Rowley, who as an FBI whistleblower exposed numerous internal problems at the FBI in the early 2000s, didn’t have to be privy to his inner circle to recall just a few of his actions after 9/11 that so shocked the public conscience as to repeatedly generate moral disapproval even on the part of mainstream media. Rowley was only able to scratch the surface in listing some of the more widely reported wrongdoing that should still shock liberal consciences.

Although Mueller and his “joined at the hip” cohort James Comey are now hailed for their impeccable character by much of Washington, the truth is, as top law enforcement officials of the George W. Bush administration (Mueller as FBI Director and Comey as Deputy Attorney General), both presided over post-9/11 cover-ups and secret abuses of the Constitution, enabled Bush-Cheney fabrications used to launch wrongful wars, and exhibited stunning levels of incompetence.

Ironically, recent declassifications of House Intelligence Committee’s and Senate Judiciary Committee Leaders letters (here and here) reveal strong parallels between the way the public so quickly forgot Mueller’s spotty track record with the way the FBI and (the Obama administration’s) Department of Justice rushed, during the summer of 2016, to put a former fellow spy, Christopher Steele up on a pedestal. Steele was declared to be a “reliable source” without apparently vetting or corroborating any of the “opposition research” allegations that he had been hired (and paid $160,000) to quickly produce for the DNC and Hillary Clinton’s campaign.

There are typically at least two major prongs of establishing the “reliability” of any given source in an affidavit, the first – and the one mostly pointed to – being the source’s track record for having furnished accurate and reliable information in the past. Even if it is conceded that Steele would have initially satisfied this part of the test for determining probable cause, based on his having reportedly furnished some important information to FBI agents investigating the FIFA soccer fraud years before, his track record for truthfulness would go right up in smoke only a month or so later, when it was discovered that he had lied to the FBI about his having previously leaked the investigation to the media.  (Moreover, this lie had led the FBI to mislead the FISA court in its first application to surveil Carter Page.)

The second main factor in establishing the reliability of any source’s information would be even more key in this case.  It’s the basis of the particular informant’s knowledge, i.e. was the informant an eye witness or merely reporting double-triple hearsay or just regurgitating the “word on the street?”

If the actual basis of the information is uncertain, the next step for law enforcement would normally be to seek facts that either corroborate or refute the source’s information. It’s been reported that FBI agents did inquire into the basis for Steele’s allegations, but it is not known what Steele told the FBI – other than indications that his info came from secondary sources making it, at best, second- or third-hand. What if anything did the FBI do to establish the reliability of the indirect sources that Steele claimed to be getting his info from? Before vouching for his credibility, did the FBI even consider polygraphing Steele after he (falsely) denied having leaked his info since the FBI was aware of significant similarities of a news article to the info he had supplied them?

Obviously, more questions than answers exist at the present time. But even if the FBI was duped by Steele – whether as the result of their naivete in trusting a fellow former spy, their own sloppiness or recklessness, or political bias – it should be hoped by everyone that the Department of Justice Inspector General can get to the bottom of how the FISA court was ultimately misled.

As they prepare for the “largest mobilization in history” in defense of Mueller and his probe into Russiagate, liberals have tried to sweep all this under the rug as a “nothing burger.” Yet, how can liberals, who in the past have pointed to so many abusive past practices by the FBI, ignore the reality that these sorts of abuses of the FISA process more than likely take place on a daily basis – with the FISA court earning a well-deserved reputation as little more than a rubberstamp?

Other, more run-of-the-mill FISA applications – if they were to be scrutinized as thoroughly as the Carter Page one – would reveal similar sloppiness and lack of factual verification of source information used to secure surveillance orders, especially after FISA surveillances skyrocketed after 9/11 in the “war on terror.” Rather than dismissing the Nunes Memo as a nothing burger, liberals might be better served by taking a closer look at this FISA process which could easily be turned against them instead of Trump.

It must be recognized that FBI agents who go before the secret FISA court and who are virtually assured that whatever they present will be kept secret in perpetuity, have very little reason to be careful in verifying what they present as factual. FISA court judges are responsible for knowing the law but have no way of ascertaining the “facts” presented to them.

Unlike a criminal surveillance authorized by a federal district court, no FBI affidavit justifying the surveillance will ever end up under the microscope of defense attorneys and defendants to be pored over to ensure every asserted detail was correct and if not, to challenge any incorrect factual assertions in pre-trial motions to suppress evidence.

It is therefore shocking to watch how this political manipulation seems to make people who claim to care about the rule of law now want to bury this case of surveillance targeting Carter Page based on the ostensibly specious Steele dossier. This is the one case unique in coming to light among tens of thousands of FISA surveillances cloaked forever in secrecy, given that the FISA system lacks the checks on abusive authority that inherently exist in the criminal justice process, and so the Page case is instructive to learn how the sausage really gets made.

Neither the liberal adulation of Mueller nor the unquestioned credibility accorded Steele by the FBI seem warranted by the facts. It is fair for Americans to ask whether Mueller’s investigation would have ever happened if not for his FBI successor James Comey having signed off on the investigation triggered by the Steele dossier, which was paid for by the Clinton campaign to dig up dirt on her opponent.

In any event, please spare us the solicitations of these political NGOs’ “national mobilization” to protect Mueller. There are at least a million attorneys in this country who do not suffer from the significant conflicts of interest that Robert Mueller has with key witnesses like his close, long-term colleague James Comey and other public officials involved in the investigation.

And, at the end of the day, there are far more important issues to be concerned about than the “integrity” of the Mueller investigation – one being the need to fix FISA court abuses and restoring constitutional rights.

Coleen Rowley, a retired FBI special agent and division legal counsel whose May 2002 memo to then-FBI Director Robert Mueller exposed some of the FBI’s pre-9/11 failures, was named one of TIME magazine’s “Persons of the Year” in 2002. 

Nat Parry is co-author of Neck Deep: The Disastrous Presidency of George W. Bush

February 9, 2018 Posted by | Progressive Hypocrite, Russophobia, Timeless or most popular | , , , , | 2 Comments

Egypt begins major military operation in Sinai, Nile Delta

Press TV – February 9, 2018

Egypt has begun a sweeping military operation against the militants active in violence-torn North Sinai Province in the extreme northwest and the nearby Nile Delta.

The army announced the launch of ‘Operation Sinai 2018’ on Friday, putting the police and military forces on “maximum alert,” AFP reported.

The goal is to tighten control of border districts and “clean up areas where there are terrorist hotbeds,” it added.

The campaign involves the air force, navy and army as well as police, he said.

“The armed forces calls upon the Egyptian people in all parts of the country to closely cooperate with law enforcement forces to confront terrorism, uproot it and immediately report any elements threatening the security and stability of the country,” the military spokesman, Colonel Tamer al-Rifai, said in a televised address.

Last week, The New York Times reported that President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi had kept northern Sinai a closed military area, barring reporters from the region.

The Associated Press has reported that the Egyptian army was bulldozing homes and olive groves to build “a buffer zone” around North Sinai Province’s only airport in the city of el-Arish.

The report said the buffer zone will destroy dozens of hamlets around the airport, forcing thousands of people to leave their homes for an unknown future, sparking some protest by residents despite the government promises of compensation.

Sisi, who is preparing to seek a second term in the upcoming March elections, has vowed that the army will employ “absolute force” in a bid to eliminate terrorism in the Sinai Peninsula.

The Sinai Peninsula has been under a state of emergency since October 2014, after a deadly terrorist attack left 33 Egyptian soldiers dead.

Over the past few years, terrorists have been carrying out anti-government activities and fatal attacks, taking advantage of the turmoil in Egypt that erupted after the country’s first democratically-elected president, Mohamed Morsi, was ousted in a military coup in July 2013.

The Velayat Sinai group, which is affiliated with the Daesh Takfiri terrorists, has claimed responsibility for most of the assaults.

February 9, 2018 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism | , | Leave a comment