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Pentagon Capitalism and Silicon Valley: Google’s Drone War Project Shows Big Data’s Military Roots

By Elliott GABRIEL | Mint Press News | April 6, 2018

Google — the advertising and search engine monolith that once touted its official commitment, “Don’t be evil” — has thrown its full weight behind the U.S. military-industrial complex’s fast-advancing unmanned drone program – and more than three thousand of its employees will have none of it.

In a letter to Google CEO Sundar Pichai, over 3,100 employees invoked the now-discarded slogan in an appeal demanding that the company not allow its artificial intelligence technology to be used to improve the targeting capabilities of the United States’ deadly drone fleet. Google’s Project Maven is an AI surveillance engine that uses footage captured by the U.S. Armed Forces’ unmanned aerial vehicles to detect and track objects such as vehicles, while combing through, organizing, and feeding the processed data to the Pentagon.

Watch | Project Maven: The Pentagon’s New Artificial Intelligence

The letter, which is fast making the rounds on Google campuses and internal communication servers, demands the cancellation of the project and the public adoption of a policy pledging that neither Google nor its contractors produce technology for warfare. The letter states:

“This plan will irreparably damage Google’s brand and its ability to compete for talent. Amid growing fears of biased and weaponized AI, Google is already struggling to keep the public’s trust. By entering into this contract, Google will join the ranks of companies like Palantir, Raytheon, and General Dynamics. The argument that other firms, like Microsoft and Amazon, are also participating doesn’t make this any less risky for Google. Google’s unique history, its motto Don’t Be Evil, and its direct reach into the lives of billions of users set it apart.”

However, journalist and author Yasha Levine has explained in his new book Surveillance Valley: The Secret Military History of the Internet that Google has long been a leading Silicon Valley vendor to the U.S. repressive state:

“Over the years, [Google] supplied mapping technology used by the U.S. Army in Iraq, hosted data for the Central Intelligence Agency, indexed the National Security Agency’s vast intelligence databases, built military robots, co-launched a spy satellite with the Pentagon, and leased its cloud computing platform to help police departments predict crime. And Google is not alone. From Amazon to eBay to Facebook … Some parts of these companies are so thoroughly intertwined with America’s security services that it is hard to tell where they end and the U.S. government begins.

The grim calculus of remote-controlled warfare

An Air Force RPA reconnaissance drone is retrofitted for use in attack squadron. (Photo: U.S. Air Force)

Thousands of alleged “combatants” have been killed in U.S. drone strikes since the start of the post-9/11 “War on Terror.” Former President Barack Obama ramped up the targeted killing program using drones in 2009, pledging that the use of unmanned aerial platforms was part of a “just war—a war waged proportionally, in last resort, and in self-defense.”

Reports have shown that the use of drones in such locales as Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, Pakistan, Syria, Yemen and other theaters of operations have claimed a vast number of civilian lives — over 15,000 in 2017, according to surveys. According to New York Times Magazine, which surveyed 150 Coalition drone strikes carried out in Iraq over an 18-month period, one out of every five strikes kills civilians.

Watch | Suffering in Silence: a documentary about the war on terror in Pakistan

The American Civil Liberties Union has denounced the use of such tactics as contrary to international law:

“A program of targeted killing far from any battlefield, without charge or trial … violates international law, under which lethal force may be used outside armed conflict zones only as a last resort to prevent imminent threats, when non-lethal means are not available.

There is very little information available to the public about the U.S. targeting of people far from any battlefield, so we don’t know when, where and against whom targeted killing can be authorized … The secrecy and lack of standards for sentencing people to death, resulting in a startling lack of oversight and safeguards, is one of our prime concerns with this program.”

In 2007 at the height of George W. Bush’s “troop surge” in Iraq, Google enlisted in the “Global War on Terror” in a discrete partnership with Lockheed Martin. While enhanced versions of Google Earth were already at the disposal of government agencies, the tech firm helped to design a Google Earth product for the Pentagon’s National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency that displayed a visual representation of U.S. and Iraqi military bases in Iraq as well as the location of Sunni and Shiite neighborhoods in Baghdad, allowing occupation forces to oversee and manage the bloody fratricidal warfare between the groups as well as the possible location of insurgent organizations within their ranks.

It was during this same year that the development and use of Air Force drones in the Iraqi quagmire dramatically increased, nearly doubling between January and October of 2007.

Google defends its public image (and low-profile military ties)

Claiming that it values the input of its employees as an “important part” of its company culture, Google has promised to address the AI-drone issue without making specific comments on the employees’ demands. In a statement Tuesday, the company said:

“Any military use of machine learning naturally raises valid concerns. We’re actively engaged across the company in a comprehensive discussion of this important topic and also with outside experts, as we continue to develop our policies around the development and use of our machine learning technologies.”

Google has also defended its participation in the Pentagon program with the claim that its usage is specifically for non-offensive purposes and uses open-source object-recognition software based on non-classified data that’s freely available to any users of the Google Cloud, and could in fact save lives while saving labor through the use of AI.

Google’s own top corporate chiefs are quite close to the Pentagon: Google vice president Milo Medin serves on the Department of Defense’s tech advisory body, the Defense Innovation Board, which is also chaired by former Google executive chairman Eric Schmidt, who remains an executive board member at Google’s parent company, Alphabet Inc.

Google itself has long been interested in developing its own line of drone products, including private delivery drones.

The company is also a leader in AI and machine-learning technology. Its subsidiary DeepMind Technologies, Inc. has recently developed a program based on Google Street View that allows AI-based platforms to take part in long-range navigation and cross complicated urban environments. The navigator AI system is capable of steering everything from autonomous, self-driving cars to robotic vacuums and even unmanned drones.

Watch | Eric Schmidt at the Artificial Intelligence and Global Security Summit

Last November in a keynote address on artificial intelligence in warfare before Washington-based think-tank the Center for a New American Security, Schmidt pinned anxiety about his company’s acquisition of DeepMind on “a general concern in the tech community of somehow the military-industrial complex using their stuff to kill people incorrectly, if you will.”

“It comes from a, it’s essentially related to the history of the Vietnam War and the founding of the tech industry,” Schmidt added.

Indeed, Levine argues:

“In the 1960s, America was a global power overseeing an increasingly volatile world: conflicts and regional insurgencies against U.S.-allied governments from South America to Southeast Asia and the Middle East. These were not traditional wars that involved big armies but guerrilla campaigns and local rebellions, frequently fought in regions where Americans had little previous experience. Who were these people? Why were they rebelling? What could be done to stop them? In military circles, it was believed that these questions were of vital importance to America’s pacification efforts, and some argued that the only effective way to answer them was to develop and leverage computer-aided information technology.”

Surveillance capitalism’s military-industrial roots

In a 2014 essay for Monthly Review magazine titled “Surveillance Capitalism: Monopoly-Finance Capital, the Military-Industrial Complex, and the Digital Age,” authors John Bellamy Foster and Robert W. McChesney coined the phrase surveillance capitalism, tracing its origins to the inception of a post-World War II “new Pentagon capitalism” that came to be known as the military-industrial complex.

Under the model – revolutionized by then-Army Chief of Staff and later President Dwight D. Eisenhower – the U.S. technological, scientific research and industrial capacity were to become “organic parts of our military structure” in conditions of national emergency, effectively giving the civilian economy a dual-use purpose. In a 1946 memorandum, Eisenhower noted:

“The future security of the nation… demands that all those civilian resources which by conversion or redirection constitute our main support in time of emergency be associated closely with the activities of the Army in time of peace.”

The model became a permanent feature of the U.S. economy, giving birth to a sprawling military-civilian economic base Eisenhower famously criticized in his 1961 farewell address to the nation. Civilian industry, science, and academia were used alongside an exorbitant and perpetually-expanding war budget to underwrite the Defense Department’s never-ending state of conflict with Cold War enemies and unruly populations, making the world safe for the unchallenged reign of U.S. monopoly capitalism (imperialism) and “pump-priming” the economy whenever an additional surge of “military Keynesian” government spending was required.

Watch | Richard Wolff On Trump’s Defence Spending

According to the popular history of the internet’s origin, it was conceived in 1969 by scientists at the Defense Department’s Advanced Research Projects Agency (ARPA), who sought to create a means of “internetworking” Pentagon-sponsored computer mainframes belonging to government agencies, universities and defense contractors across the United States and NATO bloc. Known as Arpanet, the decentralized system allowed for military nodes – down to a battlefield level – to network and share data quickly and wirelessly. In the event of a nuclear strike or major war where swathes of the network were destroyed, the Arpanet would remain operational.

Levine posits that a primary purpose of conceiving the “information superhighway” was the need for a computerized counterinsurgency tool that could predict and check the “perceived global spread of communism” and provide real-time surveillance of potential threat groups:

“The Internet came out of this effort: an attempt to build computer systems that could collect and share intelligence, watch the world in real time, and study and analyze people and political movements with the ultimate goal of predicting and preventing social upheaval. Some even dreamed of creating a sort of early warning radar for human societies: a networked computer system that watched for social and political threats and intercepted them in much the same way that traditional radar did for hostile aircraft. In other words, the Internet was hardwired to be a surveillance tool from the start. No matter what we use the network for today — dating, directions, encrypted chat, email, or just reading the news — it always had a dual-use nature rooted in intelligence gathering and war.”

The Arpanet system formed the backbone of U.S. military communications from 1969 until 1989, when the World Wide Web was introduced to civilian consumers. The unveiling of the World Wide Web opened the floodgates to the use of the internet by users across the globe, as well as its subsequent commercialization and the resulting dot com boom of the mid-to-late 1990s, when Google was founded.

Watch | Yasha Levine on why we lost our fear of computers as tools of social control

The rapid advance of digital technology has ensured that the U.S. economy — and social life itself — is now dominated by big-data giants like Google, Apple, Facebook and Amazon (GAFA), as well as Microsoft, Intel, Cisco Systems, IBM and Hewlett-Packard. This new technology-dominated market environment, where private user info is parsed, monetized, packaged and sold, has been encapsulated by the well-worn cliché: “data is the new gold.”

Vast strides in biometrics, analytics research, AI, and deep-learning technology – perfected not only by Google but by academic researchers and technology firms across the globe – have vastly boosted the state’s ability to surveil and control populations and police dissent across the globe. Many of the technologies developed by global arms, surveillance, and data-analysis firms are supplied to countries requiring tailor-made solutions to unrest such as India, China, Myanmar, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Bahrain, and Azerbaijan.

The extent of Silicon Valley’s integration with the U.S. government was laid bare to the public in 2013, when Edward Snowden provided evidence proving that the U.S. National Security Agency (NSA) and Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) had direct access to the internal servers of nine major tech firms – AOL, Apple, Facebook, Google, Microsoft, PalTalk, Skype, YouTube, and Yahoo – each of which provided direct access through major internet service providers to the NSA through its secret projects like Boundless Informant and Prism.

Foster and McChesney explained:

“These monopolistic corporate entities readily cooperate with the repressive arm of the state in the form of its military, intelligence, and police functions. The result is to enhance enormously the secret national security state, relative to the government as a whole.

Edward Snowden’s revelations of the NSA’s Prism program, together with other leaks, have shown a pattern of a tight interweaving of the military with giant computer-Internet corporations, creating what has been called a ‘military-digital complex.’ Indeed, Beatrice Edwards, the executive director of the Government Accountability Project, argues that what has emerged is a ‘government-corporate surveillance complex.”

Information superiority and the modern battlefield

At present, the digitalization of the military-industrial complex gives the United States a commanding edge in terms of military technology and high-tech warfare, which is augmented by optical spy satellites capable of capturing remarkably detailed ground-level imagery, successive generations of wireless networking technologies, pattern-recognition and machine-learning systems, and unmanned warfighting platforms.

As a matter of survival, however, all modern militaries – both regular and irregular, large and small – are being forced to adapt to the digitization of warfare. China, Russia, and even non-state actors like Lebanese resistance group Hezbollah are fast making technological advances to keep pace in the informationized battlefield.

The weaponized nature of digital technology is a pandora’s box that may prove impossible to close. Be that as it may, Google’s employees are livid about their participation in these developments:

“We cannot outsource the moral responsibility of our technologies to third parties … Building this technology to assist the U.S. Government in military surveillance – and potentially lethal outcomes – is not acceptable.”

While the tech conglomerate workers’ attempt to decouple Google from the Pentagon may be in vain, one can only applaud their efforts to protest the tech conglomerate’s complicity in the bloodshed wrought by U.S. imperialism through its array of increasingly high-tech implements of death.

April 9, 2018 Posted by | Book Review, Militarism, Solidarity and Activism, Timeless or most popular, Video, War Crimes | , | Leave a comment

Syria chemical attack: Theresa May says Assad’s allies should be held to account

RT | April 9, 2018

Prime Minister Theresa May said all supporters of Syria’s leader Bashar Assad should be held to account over an alleged chemical attack on a formerly rebel-held town. Russia says there is currently no evidence of the attack.

Speaking in Copenhagen, Denmark, the Tory leader said that if allegations of a chemical attack against the town of Douma, Eastern Ghouta are confirmed, Assad – along with his allies, which include Iran and Russia – should pay the price.

“Yes, this is about the actions, the brutal actions of Assad and his regime, but it’s also about the backers of that regime. And, of course, Russia is one of those backers,” May said during a news conference in Denmark.

“This is a brutal regime that is attacking its own people, and we are very clear that it must be held to account, and its backers must be held to account too,” she told reporters as she stood beside her Danish counterpart, Lars Lokke Rasmussen, a close ally.

Allegations of the attack in Eastern Ghouta on Saturday, which is thought to have killed 70 people, were reported by the humanitarian aid group, the White Helmets. The group, however, has itself been repeatedly accused of having ties to terrorists.

Syria and Russia have rejected the claims as “fabrication,” while Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said no evidence has been found of chemical weapons being deployed in Douma.

Theresa May’s comments come after the US and France threatened a “joint, strong response,” with US President Donald Trump tweeting that there will be a “big price to pay” for the attack.

April 9, 2018 Posted by | False Flag Terrorism, Russophobia, War Crimes | , , , , | 11 Comments

Corbyn calls on Boris Johnson to come clean about Skripal attack, Novichok & Russia

RT | April 9, 2018

Jeremy Corbyn has called on Boris Johnson to “tell us what he knows,” after he insisted the Porton Down military lab had said the substance used to poison Sergei and Yulia Skripal was unequivocally Russian – and was proven wrong.

As the Labour leader was speaking at the launch of the party’s London elections campaign in Westminster, Corbyn said that if Johnson “has evidence that hasn’t been made public yet, I think he has a responsibility to do so.”

“[Johnson] claimed that he was 101 percent sure on German television who was responsible for the disgusting attack on the Skripals. The Foreign Office then listened to what Porton Down said and removed their own statement in support of what he had said,” Corbyn said.

“My response is Boris Johnson has got to tell us what he knows. Because it doesn’t do anybody any good to throw around assertions against people,” the Labour leader added. “It does us all good to support the Organization for the Elimination of Chemical Weapons handing in their investigations. And hold to account those who committed this terrible crime on the streets of this country.”

Corbyn’s comments come only a day after Johnson lashed out at the Labour leader in the Telegraph, stating that he was giving “false credibility” to propaganda from Moscow by refusing to agree “unequivocally” that Russia was responsible for the attack on the Skripals.

“There is only one thing that gives the Kremlin succor and lends false credibility to its propaganda onslaught,” Johnson said. “That is when politicians from the targeted countries join in. Sadly, I am driven to the conclusion that Jeremy Corbyn has joined this effort.”

Johnson told Deutsche Welle that Porton Down has categorically traced the nerve agent used on ex-double agent Sergei Skripal back to Russia – leaving the foreign secretary red-faced when the lab chief revealed to Sky News that they had been unable to determine the origin of the nerve agent.

The UK Foreign Office deleted its own tweets that made the same claim.

April 9, 2018 Posted by | Deception, Fake News, False Flag Terrorism | , , | Leave a comment

Skripal Poison Case Becoming British Hostage Scenario

By Finian CUNNINGHAM | Strategic Culture Foundation | 09.04.2018

The British denial of a visitor visa to a Skripal family relative from Russia is fueling concern that the whole affair is far more sinister than what the British government and media have been claiming.

Far from the Skripal father and daughter being the alleged victims of a Russian assassination plot, it now seems increasingly apparent that they are being held against their will by Britain’s authorities. In short, hostages of the British state.

From the outset of the alleged poisoning incident in Salisbury on March 4, the official British narrative has been pocked suspiciously with inconsistencies. The lightning-fast rush to judgment by the British government – within days – to blame the Kremlin for “a brazen murder attempt” was perhaps the main giveaway that the narrative was following a script and foregone conclusion to incriminate Russia.

Last week, the saga took several significant twists raising more doubts about the official British narrative. First, British scientists at the Porton Down warfare laboratory admitted that they hadn’t in fact confirmed the alleged nerve agent used against the Skripals originated from Russia. That admission spectacularly exposed earlier British government claims as false, if not barefaced lies.

Secondly, it emerged that potentially key witness-material was destroyed by the British. Three pet animals in the Salisbury home of Sergei Skripal were declared dead and their remains incinerated. Autopsies could have shed light on the nature of the alleged nerve agent used against the Skripals. Why were the animal remains incinerated? And why did the British authorities disclose the fate of the animals only after the matter was raised by the Russian envoy to the UN Security Council on Thursday?

Thirdly, there is the strangely callous way that the British authorities have refused a visitor visa to a Skripal family relative from Russia who was intending to fly to England to be with her relatives while they are reportedly recuperating from the alleged poison attack.

Russian national Victoria Skripal revealed on Friday to Russian news media that she was refused a visa by British authorities to visit her relatives – cousin Yulia and uncle Sergei – who are reportedly confined to a hospital in Salisbury.

The day before her visa application was rejected, Victoria had a brief telephone conversation with Yulia. It appears that Victoria recorded the conversation and made it available to Russian media to broadcast. The transcript shows that Yulia’s words were guarded. She was obviously not comfortable with speaking freely. Their phone call ended abruptly. But she did manage to advise her cousin in Russia that the latter would probably not be granted a visitor visa. Why would she say such a thing?

British media quickly tried to smear the Russian cousin, Victoria. A BBC journalist said that the British authorities “suspected that Victoria was being used as a pawn by the Kremlin”. Russian’s foreign ministry hit back at that suggestion, saying it was a despicable slur.

For her part, Victoria Skripal told Russian media that she thinks the British authorities have “something to hide” by refusing to grant her a permit to Britain in order to visit her cousin and uncle. Was her visa application rejected by the British authorities because she had the “audacity” to record the phone call with her cousin and make it available to Russian media?

Far more plausible is not that Victoria is a “Kremlin pawn” but that the British fear that Victoria would not be a “London pawn”. The worst thing for the British authorities would be for an independent-minded Skripal relative coming to the Salisbury hospital and asking critical questions about the nature of why her relatives are being held there.

It would be interesting to see what would happen if several other Skripal relatives in Russia were to make similar applications for visitor visas to Britain. Surely, the British authorities could not turn them all down?

For over a month now since the March 4 incident in Salisbury, the Russian consular representatives in Britain have not been allowed access to the Skripal pair, allegedly being treated in hospital.

Fair enough, Sergei Skripal is a disgraced former Russian spy who had been living in England for nearly eight years. He was exiled there by Moscow as part of a spy-swap with Britain’s foreign intelligence MI6 whom Skripal had served as a double agent. It is believed he was given British citizenship by the London authorities.

However, his daughter, 33-year-old Yulia, is a citizen of the Russian Federation. She was visiting her father on holiday when the pair became ill – apparently from exposure to a nerve agent – while sitting in a public park in Salisbury.

Yulia and the Russian authorities are therefore entitled under international law to have consular contact. The Russian embassy in London has been repeatedly denied access by the British authorities to one of its citizens. On the face of it, that is an outrageous breach of international law by the British.

Significantly, Yulia did not express to her cousin during their phone conversation that she did not want to see the Russian consular people. That phone call was obviously initiated by Yulia. Her Russian-based cousin at one point asked her, “Is this your phone?”.

How Yulia got use of the phone is a good question. Was it a hospital staff member who felt obliged to allow her a quick call home? Evidently, the call was held in a rushed manner, and Yulia felt constrained to talk in detail about her confinement. And why would she warn her cousin in Russia that the latter would not be given a visa before the application result was known?

It is speculated in British media – most probably at the behest of briefings by shadowy state officials – that Yulia Skripal does not want to see her cousin, or the Russian consular representatives. Even though Yulia did not express that in her phone call. If Yulia didn’t want to see her cousin, why would she bother calling her, apparently out of the blue?

The speculation about Yulia’s preferences are based on the official British premise that the Russian state attempted to carry out an assassination with a toxic chemical on her father. It is therefore insinuated by the official British narrative that Yulia would not want to see the Russian authorities.

But that logic depends entirely on the plausibility of the British version of events. That is, that a Russian state operation used a Russian nerve agent to try to kill Sergei Skripal, and his daughter as collateral damage.

That British version has relied totally on assertion, innuendo and unverified claims made by politicians briefed by secret services. Claims which we are now seeing to be unfounded, as the Porton Down scientists disclosed last week.

At no point have the British produced any evidence to substantiate their high-flown allegations against Russia. Indeed, Britain refuses to give Russia access to alleged samples in order to carry out an independent chemical analysis.

The entire British case relies on a presumption of guilt and a despicable prejudice towards Russia as a malicious actor. That’s it entirely. British prejudice and contempt for due process.

However, what if the Russian government were correct? What if the British state carried out a macabre false flag operation by stealthily injuring the Skripals with some kind of chemical in order to blame it on Russia? For the plausible purpose of adding one more smear campaign in order to demonize and delegitimize Russia as an international power.

No doubt, the situation is disturbing and disorientating especially for Yulia Skripal who apparently was simply visiting her father in England for a happy family reunion.

More sinister, however, is the apparent lack of free will being afforded to Yulia Skripal. The British official position simply conflates their innuendo of a Russian plot, an innuendo which is increasingly untenable.

The denial of a visitor visa to Yulia’s family relatives from Russia points to the sinister conclusion that the British authorities are engaging in a macabre propaganda stunt. Moreover, a propaganda stunt involving the criminal assault on a Russian citizen and the ongoing illegal detention of that citizen.

April 9, 2018 Posted by | Deception, Fake News, False Flag Terrorism, Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Russophobia | , | Leave a comment

Government Propaganda Now Totally Bizarre

By Craig Murray | April 9, 2018

The increasing desperation of government attempts to “prove” the Russians responsible for the Skripal attack has become increasingly bizarre. They now claim GCHQ picked up from Troodos a message from Syria to Moscow that “the package has been delivered”, and a further one that “two people have made their egress”.

Because of course, if you were sending a cryptic message back from Salisbury to Moscow, you would naturally route it back via Syria, in the certain knowledge that all such calls from Syria are picked up from Troodos. I am sure the Russians already knew that, even before I published it in detail five years ago.

Given Russian involvement in Syria, that somebody is reporting in Syria the delivery of a package to Moscow, would not lead any sane human being to conclude it was delivered in Salisbury.

As for the phrase “two people have made their egress”, presumably this was said in Russian and I cannot understand the translation at all. Exit, egress, go out, leave to outside – there is only one Russian word to express all of these and that is phonetically from the stem “vihod”, either as noun or verb. There is no egress/exit choice in Russian.

The only possible explanation is that the person actually said “two people have left” and the British government propagandists have translated this as the weird “made their egress” to try to make it sound more sinister and more like a codeword.

Reminding me of my previous Troodos article was extremely apposite. Because the point of that article was to prove that alleged communications intercepts proving it was the Syrian government which was responsible for certain chemical weapons strikes in Syria were not genuine. I am very sceptical indeed about the claims being made today.

April 9, 2018 Posted by | Deception, Fake News, Mainstream Media, Warmongering | | 2 Comments

The Bipartisan Pandering To Jewish Interests

By Philip Giraldi | American Herald Tribune | April 9, 2018

Most Americans are certainly unaware of the many provisions benefiting Israeli and broader Jewish interests which are inserted into U.S. government legislation and procedural guidelines. Holocaust survivors, which include any Jews who were alive in Europe in 1945, for example, are exempt from the requirement to pay taxes on reparations received from Germany. All other Americans are subject to income taxes on all income, no matter what the source. As the reparations don’t count as income, they are also not included in the calculation of benefits like Medicaid, meaning that a Jewish survivor can have a relatively high income and still receive benefits actually intended for those who are indigent.

In January 2014 the Obama Administration appointed Aviva Sufian to be the Administration’s first Special Envoy for U.S. Holocaust Survivor Services. Her task was to implement policy establishing “… that Holocaust survivors should age in place and avoid the institutional care that health providers and government services generally recommend for the infirm.” That means providing special benefits for survivors that other Americans do not receive, to include expensive in-home care paid for by the taxpayer. The State Department also has a Special Envoy to Identify and Combat Anti-Semitism, which “advances U.S. foreign policy on Anti-Semitism,” whatever that is supposed to mean, as combating anti-Semitism is not a foreign policy and would not appear to be a vital national interest of the United States.

The pandering to Jewish interests is widespread in the federal government and is bipartisan. Israel runs a large trade surplus with the United States because it has free access to the U.S. market and can also bid on government contracts, a privilege normally afforded only to NATO allies. Plus Washington foots the bill for more than 20% of Israeli defense spending, even allowing Israel to use American taxpayer provided dollars to buy weapons from its own defense industry, which competes with that of the U.S.

Indeed, in the past year there has been a virtual flood of legislation that has been favorable to Israel and some Jewish-related issues even though there is no actual interest in play for other Americans. On the contrary, much of the legislation actually denies to citizens and residents the Constitutional rights to free speech and freedom of association. The most recent legislation benefiting Israel and punishing Israel’s host of enemies was rolled into the omnibus spending bill that was signed into law on March 23rd. Israel received additional money for its “defense” while the Palestinians saw money going both to the Palestinian Authority as well as to the United Nations to help refugees in the Middle East cut dramatically.

Twenty-four states are now requiring statements pledging not to boycott Israel from those citizens and organizations that receive government funding or even seek local government employment. Two bills in Congress also seek to define as anti-Semitism any criticism of Israel. On December 12th 2017 the Anti-Semitism Awareness Act was approved by the House of Representatives with 402 affirmative votes and only two libertarian-leaning congressmen voting “no.” The Israel Anti-Boycott Act that is also currently making its way through the Congress would far exceed what is happening at the state level and would set a new standard for deference to Israeli interests on the part of the national government. It would criminalize any U.S. citizen “engaged in interstate or foreign commerce” who supports a boycott of Israel or who even goes about “requesting the furnishing of information” regarding it, with penalties enforced through amendments of two existing laws, the Export Administration Act of 1979 and the Export-Import Act of 1945, that include potential fines of between $250,000 and $1 million and up to 20 years in prison.

Accustomed as I am to learning about the latest Israeli tricks to gain additional money and other forms of support from the American taxpayer, I was recently shocked to read about a case in which a U.S. government employee was actually fired for revealing information that might embarrass the Jewish state. Grant Smith of the Institute for Research Middle Eastern Policy (IRMEP) is reporting how former Los Alamos National Lab nuclear policy specialist James Doyle was fired after he wrote in an article for the International Institute for Strategic Studies journal stating that “Nuclear weapons did not deter… Iraq from attacking Israel during the 1991 Gulf War.” The article had been cleared for publication but an unnamed congressional staffer spotted it and complained. A second review was made and “Doyle’s pay was cut, his home computer searched and he was fired.”

Doyle’s crime was to break the “legislative rule” that no federal government employee can confirm that Israel has nuclear weapons. The rule is ridiculous as the existence of the Israeli nuclear arsenal is well attested, including by Colin Powell, who confirmed that “Israel had over 200 nuclear weapons pointed at Iran.” Powell made the statement when he was out of office but even prominent Israel-firster Senator Chuck Schumer has confirmed the existence of the arsenal without consequence.

The reason for acute Israeli sensitivity on its nukes is the Symington Amendment in Section 101 of the U.S. Arms Export Control Act of 1976 which bans foreign aid to any country that has nuclear weapons and has not signed the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty. Which means that Israel’s annual $3.1 billion in aid might be in jeopardy if Washington were to enforce its own laws, though one cannot imagine that President Donald Trump or the Attorney General will take the necessary steps to do so.

Another sticky bit of law consists of the so-called Leahy Amendments, which prohibit the U.S. Department of State and Department of Defense from providing military assistance to foreign security force units that violate human rights “with impunity.” Israel’s numerous brutal assaults on Gaza, including the current one in which it is shooting dead unarmed demonstrators, is a textbook case for when the Leahy Amendments should be applied, but, of course, they never will be. Even Senator Patrick Leahy, who sponsored the bill they are based on, has been silent when it comes to Israel, as is the entire United States government and the Zionist-dominated mainstream media.

April 9, 2018 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism | , , , , , | 2 Comments

Two Israeli warplanes carried out strikes on Syrian airbase – Russian MoD

RT | April 9, 2018

Two Israeli F-15 fighters targeted Syria’s T-4 airbase in Homs province, the Russian Defense Ministry said on Monday. The jets fired eight guided missiles, but five of them were shot down before they hit the airfield.

In a statement on Monday, the Russian military said: “Two Israeli Air Force F-15 jets fired eight guided missiles at the T-4 airfield.” The Israeli aircraft did not enter Syrian airspace and launched the strikes while flying over Lebanon.

“Syrian air defense units have shot down five guided missiles,” the military said, but confirmed that three of the missiles “reached the western part of the airfield.”

Lebanese Armed Forces have also confirmed that Israeli fighter jets and a reconnaissance plane violated the country’s borders and remained in Lebanon’s airspace for about ten minutes. Israel’s aircraft were flying over Lebanon’s northern areas as well as over the sea, it said.

As a result of the strike, there were several “martyrs [killed] and wounded” among Syrian soldiers, SANA news agency reported, without specifying the number of casualties.

Three Iranian troops were killed in the Israeli airstrike on Sunday night, state news agency FARS reported later on Monday. The “Zionist attack in Homs” took the lives of Seyyed Ammar Moussavi, Mehdi Lotfi Niasar and Akbar Zavar Jannati, it said, publishing photographs of the soldiers.

The Israeli embassy in Moscow refused to comment on the Russian Defense Ministry’s report, Alex Gandler, the diplomatic mission’s press attache, told Sputnik. Asked about the Russian military’s statement, an Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) spokesman said he had no immediate comment, the Jerusalem Post reported.

Citing its own correspondent, Lebanon’s Al-Mayadeen channel said earlier on Monday that an Israeli reconnaissance aircraft was airborne during the attack on the Syrian base. The missiles crossed Lebanese airspace over Keserwan and Bekaa, heading towards Syria, according to the broadcaster.

The missile attack took place on Sunday night in Syria’s Homs governorate. State news agency SANA reported there were several “martyrs and wounded,” but did not disclose the exact number of casualties. The report also said that the US was “probably” behind the attack, although Washington denied any complicity in the strike.

“At this time, the Department of Defense is not conducting airstrikes in Syria,” the Pentagon told Reuters in a statement. “However, we continue to closely watch the situation and support the ongoing diplomatic efforts to hold those who use chemical weapons, in Syria and otherwise, accountable.”

France, which was also suspected of being involved in the attack, denied any responsibility for the military strike, AFP reported on Monday.

The strike on the T-4 base came shortly after Western powers accused the Syrian government of orchestrating an alleged chlorine attack in the militant-held town of Douma. The chemical incident was reported by the White Helmets, a controversial group repeatedly accused of having ties to terrorists.

Commenting on the unconfirmed gas attack, US President Donald Trump denounced the “mindless” atrocity, which he described as a “humanitarian disaster for no reason whatsoever.” He also accused Russia and Iran of bearing responsibility for the incident, due to their support for Syrian President Bashar Assad.

Washington and Paris have already held telephone talks, during which Trump and his French counterpart Emmanuel Macron decided to oppose Russia at the upcoming United Nations Security Council meeting, which is being convened to discuss the Douma incident. President Macron previously signaled that Paris might consider unilateral actions, including a military strike, if chemical weapons were ever used in Syria again.

The Russian Foreign Ministry denounced allegations regarding the chemical attack, calling them a “continuous series of fake news” and “baseless speculation.” It noted that Moscow had already warned about a false-flag chemical attack being prepared in recent months. Damascus also rejected the accusations, with the Syrian Foreign Ministry pointing out that similar allegations emerge every time the Syrian Army makes advances in its fight against terrorists.


Red Crescent found no trace of previous ‘Ghouta chem attack’ used by US to blame Damascus & Moscow

April 9, 2018 Posted by | Aletho News | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Douma Chemical Attack: Another Link in the Chain of Staged Provocations

By Peter KORZUN | Strategic Culture Foundation | 09.04.2018

What happened in Syria on April 7 had been expected. While raising hue and cry over the alleged chemical attack in Douma, a rebel-held suburb of the capital, Western officials and media wasted no time to put the blame on the Assad government.

The US State Department issued a statement saying that by shielding Damascus Moscow has breached its international commitments. The administration immediately called on Russia to cease its support of Syria’s government. President Trump wants an international action. As usual, few people in the West raised their voices to emphasize the need to investigate first and make conclusions afterwards.

It strikes the eye that Moscow’s warnings about a CW provocation being prepared to dash the rising hopes for peaceful settlement in Syria appear to be forgotten! The Defense Ministry shared the information that the ringleaders of Jabhat al-Nusra and the Free Syrian Army were plotting false flag chemical attacks in areas under their control. Moscow warned but the West did not listen.

It’s the same old song and dance. Last year, the Syrian government was blamed for a sarin gas attack on Khan Sheikhun that prompted a US cruise missile strike on a Syrian air base. The American president’s approval ratings went up as a result. This time, the alleged attack occurred right after the Russia-Turkey-Iran summit that took place in Ankara on April 4 to promote the Syria conflict settlement.

As before, all “evidence” boils down to White Helmets’ report and a video going viral that does not look or sound very convincing. There was no independent verification. The White Helmets have iffy reputation, to put it mildly. The organization is known to pursue political interests of outside actors.

No explanation was given to a simple question: what does Syria’s government need this attack for? It is victorious everywhere and the operation in Eastern Ghouta has been a success. Douma is the last remaining stronghold still controlled by rebels in the area and will be liberated soon. It’s a matter of a few days. The army’s combat actions are supported by Russian aviation. What does Syria’s government stand to gain by using CW? Nothing.

Syria army units are operating in Douma. By launching an attack, the Syrian government would hit its own troops, This argument appears to be largely missing in Western media reports. President Trump has recently promised to withdraw American forces from Syria. Why would President Assad give him a pretext to renege on his word?

But the world “indignation” against Russia-supported President Assad benefits the extremists a lot. They are cornered and need time to take a breath and receive support. Actually, the ballyhoo raised in the West is their only chance to at least slow down the offensive. A government forces’ victory in Douma would deal a heavy blow to terrorist groups, sounding the death knell for the rebellion. Sounds simple but that’s what it is. There is each and every reason to believe the incident was staged by terrorists.

Right after the alleged attack, they asked for talks. The ringleaders believe that this is their chance for a negotiated truce. The militants keep their fingers crossed hoping that NATO member states which clandestinely support them will get involved one way or another. Just last February, Secretary of Defense James Mattis warned Syria of “dire consequences” if it executed chemical strikes. French President Macron said he would order strikes if CW were used. It’s worth noting that today the US president’s National Security Team is led by a person known as a trigger happy hawk advocating the use of force as a foreign policy tool.

The US and France have been harboring plans to launch a joint operation in Syria for some time. Only a few days ago, a contingent of French forces arrived in Manbij to join American allies there. Actually, a NATO operation has been launched leaving Turkey, a bloc’s member, out in the cold. It’s an open secret that the US-led coalition pursues the goal of partitioning Syria to “contain” Russia, roll back Iran, win the support of rich Persian Gulf Arab states to boost lucrative arms trade and bolster the US and France’s clout in the Middle East.

It would be naïve to think that the chemical attack in Syria and the Skripal scandal are two separate events. They are links in the same chain. With the spy poisoning case leading nowhere, the anti-Russia campaign needs a new impetus. The alleged CW attack is a good pretext to spur the efforts. But any strike in Syria would pose a risk to the lives of Russian servicemen. It could make Moscow respond. The US-led coalition is playing with fire. And as in the Skripal case, the reaction is the same – blame first, wait for the results of investigation second. It just shows that the West is not interested in the truth. It’s looking for new pretexts to damage Russia’s reputation and thus reduce its global clout.

April 9, 2018 Posted by | Illegal Occupation, Militarism, War Crimes | , , , | Leave a comment

Moscow warns Trump against attack on Syria

By M K Bhadrakumar | Indian Punchline | April 9, 2018

The US President Donald Trump has appeared himself at the barricades facing Russia, finally. He has done everything possible so far not to get entangled in the New Cold War. And the Kremlin gave him the benefit of doubt so far. But no more.

How far Trump is seeking a confrontation with Vladimir Putin is hard to say but he is an intelligent man who would know that there is nothing personal about Russian policies. This is the first time Trump has directly criticized Vladimir Putin by name. Trump’s tweet on Sunday is provocative:

  • Many dead, including women and children, in mindless CHEMICAL attack in Syria. Area of atrocity is in lockdown and encircled by Syrian Army, making it completely inaccessible to outside world. President Putin, Russia and Iran are responsible for backing Animal Assad. Big price to pay. Open area immediately for medical help and verification. Another humanitarian disaster for no reason whatsoever. SICK! If President Obama had crossed his stated Red Line In The Sand, the Syrian disaster would have ended long ago! Animal Assad would have been history!

Moscow lost no time to point out that the so-called chemical attack is fake news. In fact, Moscow has been alerting its allies in Syria that precisely this sort of a false flag operation by the Saudi and US-backed terrorist group Jeish al-Islam (which is staring at defeat by the Syrian government forces in Eastern Ghouta) could be expected.

History is repeating. A similar false-flag was staged in Eastern Ghouta in 2013 and it almost prompted then US President Barack Obama to move naval fleets to the Mediterranean for war on Syria, but a prompt Russian initiative on chemical disarmament of Syria under the auspices of the UN defused the US-Saudi plot. Subsequently, investigations by western journalists, including from Associated Press, found that the then Saudi Intelligence Chief, Prince Bandar Bin Sultan only had supplied a chemically armed warhead to the terrorist group in Eastern Ghouta.

The Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov disclosed today in Moscow that the Syrian government had transferred to the UN Security Council and the OPCW the intelligence reports to the effect that a provocation was being prepared with the use of chlorine in East Ghouta. Lavrov added: “The US is taking steps not to leave (Syria) as President [Donald] Trump said, and leave Syria for others, but to establish a foothold there for a very long time – experts believe so.”

So, the big question is what Trump could be up to. Trump mentioned Obama in his tweet. For sure, Moscow is on alert. The Russian Foreign Ministry issued another warning to Washington on Sunday that any US interference in Syria will be “absolutely unacceptable and can lead to very grave consequences.” The text of the statement is reproduced below:

  • The Syrian government army is conducting an operation to free civilians in Eastern Ghouta, a suburb of Damascus, from the control of militants and terrorists. The greater part of this suburb has been liberated. Irreconcilable radicals have mounted fierce resistance in the town of Douma, where they use the remaining civilians as a human shield.
  • In this situation, the Russian Centre for Reconciliation in Syria and the Syrian government forces have created humanitarian corridors for the evacuation of civilians. They will continue with this effort. However, those who are not interested in the early elimination of one of the last seats of terrorism in Syria and in a genuine political settlement are doing their best to hinder the evacuation of civilians.
  • False information is being planted about the alleged use of chlorine and other toxic agents by the Syrian government forces. The latest fake news about a chemical attack on Douma was reported yesterday. These reports are again referenced to the notorious White Helmets, which have been proved more than once to be working hand in glove with the terrorists, as well as to other pseudo-humanitarian organisations headquartered in the UK and the US.
  • We recently warned of the possibility of such dangerous provocations. The goal of these absolutely unsubstantiated lies is to protect the terrorists and the irreconcilable radical opposition that has rejected a political settlement, as well as to justify the possible use of force by external actors.
  • We have to say once again that military interference in Syria, where Russian forces have been deployed at the request of the legitimate government, under contrived and false pretexts is absolutely unacceptable and can lead to very grave consequences.

The detailed Russian explanation suggests that a criticality has arisen. Two Israeli jets fired missiles at a Syrian airbase in Homs province today early morning from Lebanese air space inflicting heavy casualties. Israeli drones have been reported over Lebanon. This could be a dry run for US operations.

April 9, 2018 Posted by | False Flag Terrorism, War Crimes | , , , | 1 Comment