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US, EU States Agree on Conditions to Preserve Iranian Nuclear Deal – Reports

Sputnik – 24.04.2018

The United States, Germany, France and the United Kingdom have agreed on the conditions under which Washington will remain committed to the Iran nuclear deal, also known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), media reported Tuesday.

Under the new agreements, the European and US sides decided that they needed to threaten Iran with new sanctions because of its missile tests and regional policy, but the JCPOA itself would not be altered, according to the Sueddeutsche Zeitung newspaper.

The media also noted citing diplomatic sources that the negotiations had not finished yet.

Trump has repeatedly criticized the JCPOA – negotiated by the previous US President Barack Obama’s administration – as being perhaps the worst deal in US history and threatened to withdraw Washington from the deal if it was not amended.

On July 14, 2015, the European Union, Iran and the P5+1 group of countries — Russia, China, France, the United Kingdom, the United States and Germany — signed the JCPOA to ensure the peaceful nature of Iran’s nuclear program. Under this agreement, Iran pledged to not seek to develop or acquire nuclear weapons in exchange for the lifting of sanctions imposed against Iran.

April 23, 2018 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Wars for Israel | , , , , | Leave a comment

Is the U.S. Government Evil? You Tell Me

By John W. Whitehead | The Rutherford Institute | April 23, 2018

Is the U.S. government evil?

You tell me.

This is a government that treats its citizens like faceless statistics and economic units to be bought, sold, bartered, traded, tracked, tortured, and eventually eliminated once they’ve outgrown their usefulness.

This is a government that treats human beings like lab rats to be caged, branded, experimented upon, and then discarded and left to suffer from the after-effects.

This is a government that repeatedly lies, cheats, steals, spies, kills, maims, enslaves, breaks the laws, overreaches its authority, and abuses its power at almost every turn.

This is a government that wages wars for profit, jails its own people for profit, and then turns a blind eye and a deaf ear while its henchmen rape and kill and pillage.

No, this is not a government that can be trusted to do what is right or moral or humane or honorable but instead seems to gravitate towards corruption, malevolence, misconduct, greed, cruelty, brutality and injustice.

This is not a government you should trust with your life, your loved ones, your livelihood or your freedoms.

This is the face of evil, disguised as a democracy, sold to the people as an institution that has their best interests at heart.

Don’t fall for the lie.

The government has never had our best interests at heart.

Endless wars. The government didn’t have our best interests at heart when it propelled us into endless oil-fueled wars and military occupations in the Middle East that wreaked havoc on our economy, stretched thin our military resources and subjected us to horrific blowback.

A police state. There is no way the government had our best interests at heart when it passed laws subjecting us to all manner of invasive searches and surveillance, censoring our speech and stifling our expression, rendering us anti-government extremists for daring to disagree with its dictates, locking us up for criticizing government policies on social media, encouraging Americans to spy and snitch on their fellow citizens, and allowing government agents to grope, strip, search, taser, shoot and kill us.

Battlefield America. Certainly the government did not have our best interests at heart when it turned America into a battlefield, transforming law enforcement agencies into extensions of the military, conducting military drills on domestic soil, distributing “free” military equipment and weaponry to local police, and desensitizing Americans to the menace of the police state with active shooter drills, color-coded terror alerts, and randomly conducted security checkpoints at “soft” targets such as shopping malls and sports arenas.

Secret human experimentation. One would also be hard-pressed to suggest that the American government had our best interests at heart when it conducted secret experiments on an unsuspecting populace—citizens and noncitizens alike—making healthy people sick by spraying them with chemicals, injecting them with infectious diseases and exposing them to airborne toxins. The government reasoned that it was legitimate (and cheaper) to experiment on people who did not have full rights in society such as prisoners, mental patients, and poor blacks.

For instance, there was the CIA’s Cold War-era program, MKULTRA, in which the government began secretly experimenting on hundreds of unsuspecting American civilians and military personnel by dosing them with LSD, some having the hallucinogenic drug secretly slipped into their drinks, so that the government could explore its uses in brainwashing and controlling targets. The CIA spent nearly $20 million on its MKULTRA program, reportedly as a means of programming people to carry out assassinations and, to a lesser degree, inducing anxieties and erasing memories, before it was supposedly shut down.

Sounds like the stuff of conspiracy theorists, I know, but the government’s track record of treating Americans like lab rats has been well-documented, including its attempts to expose whole communities to various toxins as part of its efforts to develop lethal biological weapons and study their impact and delivery methods on unsuspecting populations.

John Lennon was right: “We’re being run by maniacs for maniacal ends.”

Unfortunately, the more things change, the more they stay the same.

Just recently, for example, a Fusion Center in Washington State (a Dept. of Homeland Security-linked data collection clearinghouse that shares information between state, local and federal agencies) inadvertently released records on remote mind control tactics (the use of “psycho-electronic” weapons to control people from a distance or subject them to varying degrees of pain).

Mind you, there is no clear evidence to suggest that these particular documents were created by a government agency. Then again, the government—no stranger to diabolical deeds or shady experiments carried out on an unsuspecting populace—has done it before.

After all, this is a government that has become almost indistinguishable from the evil it claims to be fighting, whether that evil takes the form of terrorism, torture, drug traffickingsex trafficking, murder, violence, theft, pornography, scientific experimentations or some other diabolical means of inflicting pain, suffering and servitude on humanity.

For too long now, as I make clear in my book Battlefield America: The War on the American Peoplethe American people have been persuaded to barter their freedoms for phantom promises of security and, in the process, have rationalized turning a blind eye to all manner of government wrongdoing—asset forfeiture schemes, corruption, surveillance, endless wars, SWAT team raids, militarized police, profit-driven private prisons, and so on—because they were the so-called lesser of two evils.

No matter how you rationalize it, the lesser of two evils is still evil.

So how do you fight back?

How do you fight injustice? How do you push back against tyranny? How do you vanquish evil?

You don’t fight it by hiding your head in the sand.

Stop being apathetic. Stop being neutral. Stop being accomplices.

Start recognizing evil and injustice and tyranny for what they are. Demand government transparency. Vote with your feet (i.e., engage in activism, not just politics). Refuse to play politics with your principles. Don’t settle for the lesser of two evils.

As British statesman Edmund Burke warned, “The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men [and women] to do nothing.”

It’s time for good men and women to do something. And soon.

April 23, 2018 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Corruption, Militarism, Subjugation - Torture, Timeless or most popular, War Crimes | , | 3 Comments

‘I’ve seen the censorship’: Syrian blogger tells RT how she was labeled a ‘Russian bot’

How to get a ‘Russian Bot’ label, 101: Just cast doubt on mainstream line on Skripal and Syria!

“They could have stopped and realised the fact if they attacked all the anti-war voices at once it looked suspicious. But no, they’re still going.”

RT | April 23, 2018

Maram Susli, also known as Partisangirl, is a Syrian living in Perth, Australia. If you ask the British government, though, she’s a ‘Russian bot.’ London bases these claims on dodgy numbers from shady sources, Susli tells RT. … transcript/article

April 23, 2018 Posted by | Deception, Full Spectrum Dominance, Timeless or most popular, Video | , , | Leave a comment

‘Another Russophobic Campaign’ Adds to UK Government’s New ‘Project Fear’

Sputnik – April 23, 2018

A new cross-party group that reportedly will help defend Britain from Russia set up by UK lawmakers “may lead to a further deterioration” of bilateral relationships between the two countries, the Russian diplomats in London revealed with regret.

In its statement, the Russian embassy in London responded to the creation of the new Russia Coordination Group in the UK Parliament, pointing to its anti-Russian basis.

“Instead of looking for ways to restore the Russo-British relationship or at least keeping channels of communications open, Parliament is letting itself to be drawn into another Russophobic campaign launched by the Conservative government,” the embassy said.

The decision to set up the group was made following the initiative by Tom Tugendhat MP, Chair of the Foreign Affairs Committee. The MPs are meant to coordinate “Committee work relating to the scrutiny of Russian-related activity.”

According to Mr. Tugendhat, it is essential that “we understand the extent of Putin’s activity” and “Parliament is well-placed to do this.”

The initiative adds to the list of statements on Russia by the representatives of the UK government, such as the recent remark by the British Foreign Minister Boris Johnson, who said in a televised statement:

“You have to take every possible precaution, and when you look at what Russia has done, not just in this country, in Salisbury, attacks on TV stations, on the democratic processes, on critical national infrastructure — of course we have to be very, very cautious indeed.”

During a press conference on April 20, Russian ambassador to the UK Alexander Yakovenko said that presenting allegations of cybersecurity threats posed by Russia in the UK publicly and without any proof is “reckless, provocative and unfounded policy.”

“Our bilateral relations have reached a new low after the British government accused Russia of poisoning Sergei and Yulia Skripal. Political contacts have been frozen by the British side. Russia is threatened by a new wave of sanctions. Alleged “Cyber threats from Russia” have again been exploited for political purposes,” the embassy said in response to the establishment of The Russia Co-ordination Group.

The effort by British politicians to keep tabs on Russia and the “growing threat” it poses via the new inter-committee group won’t help changing tense relations between the two nations — quite to the contrary, the embassy added. That is despite many Brits actually opposing the government’s policy on Russia.

Ties between Moscow and Britain have been strained, following the poisoning of the former Russian intelligence officer Sergey Skripal and his daughter Yulia in the English city of Salisbury. London was quick to accuse Moscow of being behind the poisoning with the use of the A234 nerve agent. Russia has refuted all allegations and pointed at the complete lack of evidence provided to support such claims.

See Also:

British Government May Be Preparing Public for Cyberattack on Russia – Ambassador

April 23, 2018 Posted by | Russophobia | , | Leave a comment

Palestinians file complaint to UN over Israel violation of anti-racism convention

MEMO | April 23, 2018

Palestinians have filed a complaint to the UN against Israel for numerous violations including breaches of its obligations under international anti-racism treaty.

The move, which is likely to trigger a lengthy and high-profile investigation by world bodies monitoring racism and discrimination, was handed to the UN by the Palestinian ambassador to the international organisation, Ibrahim Khraishi, to the body that monitors the implementation of the UN convention against racism.

In the 350 page document seen by the Guardian, which accuses Israel of establishing an apartheid regime, Palestinians say that Israel is implementing policies that have “the common aim of displacing and replacing the Palestinian people for the purpose of maintaining a colonial occupation”.

Palestinians list a number of Israeli violations in the occupied territories and accuse Israel of seeking to maintain “a Jewish demographic majority in the entirety of historic Palestine”.

“Not only is the purpose of the settlement regime discriminatory in itself, it is further maintained by a system of discriminatory measures, severely depriving Palestinians of their fundamental rights,” the report says.

The complaint sent to the UN is over violations of the 1979 UN Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination. Israel has ratified the convention and Palestinians, who were granted UN observer status in 2014, filed the complaint which is believed to be the first interstate complaint filed under the treaty.

The convention is monitored by the Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination, a body of 18 independent experts that is now tasked with assessing the complaint. Israel will now be required to submit written explanations within three months, including any remedies it has taken. The committee could then move to investigate the claims.

According to Ammar Hijazi, from the Palestinian ministry of foreign affairs, the complaint “does not reach the level of a court order.” Hijazi added that the finding that Israel had breached the treaty would oblige other signatories to the convention, which include the US, to “ensure that such practices are not continued”, reported the Guardian.

In their list of complaints Palestinians say that they are severely limited in their freedom of movement compared to Israeli settlers and are subject to “confiscation and seizure” of their land, including home demolitions.

In addition to the violations relating to the right to equal treatment under the law, Palestinians claim that Israel is in breach of article 3 of the convention, which prohibits racial segregation and apartheid. “It is clear that Israel’s acts are part of a widespread and oppressive regime that is institutionalised and systematic; that accords separate and unequal treatment to Palestinians,” the summary says, calling for the dismantling of all existing Israeli settlements.

April 23, 2018 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Illegal Occupation | , , , , , | 4 Comments

US to Build World’s Largest Consulate Facility in Iraqi Kurdistan – Reports

Sputnik – 23.04.2018

US Ambassador to Iraq Douglas Silliman and Kurdish Prime Minister Nechirvan Barzani led the groundbreaking ceremony for the world’s largest US consulate in Erbil, the capital of Iraqi Kurdistan, local media reported Monday.

As of now, the United States rents buildings from local residents and business owners in Erbil’s district of Ainkawa to house its consulate, which opened in February 2007 and was upgraded to a consulate general in 2011, the Rudaw news agency reported.

“The new consulate building demonstrates that the United States will stand with the people of the Iraqi Kurdistan Region, as they build a future that will be brighter than the past,” Silliman said at the ceremony, as quoted by the media outlet.

The ambassador also called for strengthening US-Kurdish business relations.

Barzani, in turn, thanked Silliman and congratulated him on the decision to start construction.

“We see it as a significant and valuable step, and hope that it will be finished successfully at its schedule time,” he said.

​Barzani also stressed that the development of relations between the United States and the Kurdistan Region lay “in the framework of the diplomatic relations it has with Iraqi federal government.”

The estimated cost of the new US consulate building is $600 million. It will be built on 200,000 square meters (2,152,782 square feet) of land on Erbil-Shaqlawa highway.

April 23, 2018 Posted by | Illegal Occupation | , | 1 Comment

A Shocking Lack of Intelligence in Our Missile Strike on Syria

By Scott Ritter | TruthDig | April 20, 2018

It was a scene that has played out before the American public on multiple occasions in recent history: Representatives of the American defense establishment walked out onto a stage backed by light-blue drapery sporting an oval-shaped sign containing the words “Pentagon” and, below it in smaller letters: “Washington,” along with an image of the unique five-sided building of the same name. With an American flag standing in the background, and standing on a wooden podium emblazoned with the seal of the Department of Defense, Secretary of Defense James Mattis, a former Marine general, accompanied by the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Joseph Dunford, a current Marine general, briefed the American public on the details surrounding a U.S.-led missile attack against targets inside Syria, carried out with the United Kingdom and France, that had transpired the night of April 13, 2018, a little more than an hour before Mattis and Dunford took the stage at 10 p.m. (making the timing of the attack around 4 a.m. on April 14, Syrian time).

“As the world knows,” Mattis announced, “the Syrian people have suffered terribly under the prolonged brutality of the Assad regime. On April 7, the regime decided to again defy the norms of civilized people, showing callous disregard for international law by using chemical weapons to murder women, children and other innocents. We and our allies find these atrocities inexcusable. As our commander in chief, the president has the authority under Article II of the Constitution to use military force overseas to defend important United States national interests. The United States has vital national interests in averting a worsening catastrophe in Syria, and specifically deterring the use and proliferation of chemical weapons.”

Mattis continued: “Earlier today, President Trump directed the U.S. military to conduct operations in consonance with our allies to destroy the Syrian regime’s chemical weapons research development and production capability. Tonight, France, the United Kingdom and the United States took decisive action to strike the Syrian chemical weapons infrastructure.”

Gen. Dunford spelled out the scope of this attack. “The targets that were struck and destroyed were specifically associated with the Syrian regime’s chemical weapons program … [t]he first target was a scientific research center located in the greater Damascus area. This military facility was a Syrian center for the research, development, production and testing of chemical and biological warfare technology. The second target was a chemical weapons storage facility west of Homs. We assessed that this was the primary location of Syrian sarin and precursor production equipment. The third target, which was in the vicinity of the second target, contained both a chemical weapons equipment storage facility and an important command post.”

The specificity of language used by Secretary Mattis and Gen. Dunford, declaring Syria to have a chemical weapons program inclusive of a research facility where chemical weapons were produced, a storage facility containing sarin nerve agent precursor production equipment and another that contained chemical weapons equipment and an associated command post, implied a degree of certainty backed by intelligence information sufficient to justify the use of American and allied military force.

Secretary Mattis asserted as much. “I am confident,” he said, “the Syrian regime conducted a chemical attack on innocent people in this last week, yes. Absolutely confident of it. And we have the intelligence level of confidence that we needed to conduct the attack.” When pressed for details about the actual chemical used, Mattis noted, “We are very much aware of one of the agents. There may have been more than one agent used. We are not clear on that yet. We know at least one chemical agent was used.” Later he clarified this statement, declaring, “We’re very confident that chlorine was used. We are not ruling out sarin right now.”

Mattis was asked about a statement he had made the previous day, April 12, when he appeared before the House Armed Services Committee. Then, Mattis put forward a theory that chlorine gas or sarin nerve agent—or a combination of the two—had been used by the Syrian government. He noted, however, that at the time of his presentation, the U.S. and its allies “[didn’t] have evidence” that the Syrian regime carried out the attack on April 7 in the Damascus suburb of Douma. “I believe there was a chemical attack,” Mattis said, “and we’re looking for the evidence.” In response, Mattis noted that his confidence level that the Syrian regime had carried out a chemical attack had increased sometime after he had made that statement.

The next day, April 14, Assistant to the Secretary of Defense for Public Affairs Dana W. White (a former Fox News publicist and professional staff member for the Senate Armed Services Committee as well as a foreign policy adviser to John McCain during his 2008 presidential campaign), together with Director of the Joint Staff Lt. Gen. Kenneth F. McKenzie Jr. (a 1979 graduate of The Citadel who commanded Marines in combat in Iraq and Afghanistan before being promoted to flag rank and assuming various joint service staff assignments), gave a second briefing where more details about the attack were provided.

In terms of the specificity of the intelligence used to justify the attack, White indicated that she had nothing to add to the statement made by Secretary Mattis the previous night. However, in answering questions, Lt. Gen. McKenzie noted that the U.S. military assessed “that there were probably some chemical and nerve agents in that target.” He also noted that by striking the three targets in question “We are confident that we’ve significantly degraded his [Assad’s] ability to ever use chemical weapons again.” White seconded this assessment. “The strikes went to the very heart of the enterprise, to the research, to development, to storage. So we are very confident that we have significantly crippled Assad’s ability to produce these weapons,” she said.

According to the information contained in these two briefings, the United States had a high degree of confidence in the fact that Syria continued to retain a viable chemical weapons capability despite the elimination of such weapons having been certified by the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW), created under the auspices of the United Nations to implement the provisions of the Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC), an international treaty banning the production, retention and use of chemical weapons (keeping in mind that the Syrians have been accused of using sarin nerve agent, a Schedule 1 chemical, the category of which includes the agent itself, as well as its unique-use precursors).

Moreover, the implication of the statements made by Secretary Mattis, Gen. Dunford, Lt. Gen. McKenzie and Dana White was that the United States possessed intelligence information of such specificity as to permit military planners to assess the level of force necessary to ensure that specific quantities of nerve agent assessed as being present in a facility inside the city of Damascus would be destroyed by the weapons employed. The same holds true for the two chemical storage facilities located near Homs, especially the one assessed as containing sarin nerve agent and its precursors. Moreover, the statements implied that United States was in possession of intelligence information of such quality to permit assessments pertaining to having “crippled” Syria’s ability to produce chemical weapons.

There is one major problem with the information provided by these briefings: It is exclusively drawn from assessments, not fact. When one examines the basis for these assessments, it becomes clear that there was a shocking lack of intelligence available to sustain the predicate used to justify the U.S.-led attack on Syria—that the Syrian government possessed, let alone used, chemical weapons in the city of Douma on April 7.

There is a dearth of information about the specific intelligence information used by the United States, France or the United Kingdom to back up their collective claim that Syria used chemical weapons against Douma on April 7. According to The Guardian, intelligence agencies from all three countries “studied videos” from Douma. American officials in particular noted similarities between the Douma images and those from two previously reported sarin incidents in Syria—East Ghouta, in August 2013, and Khan Shaykhun, in April 2017. The first incident set in motion the events that led to Syria signing the CWC and acceding to the supervised elimination of its chemical weapons capabilities; the second has been used to sustain the premise that Syria had retained, in contravention of its obligations under the CWC, a sarin nerve agent capability. This latter finding underpins the totality of the assessments made in support of the American case for attacking Syria: If Syria possesses sarin nerve agent (as the events in Khan Shaykhun would suggest), then logic dictates that there would be an associated research and development facility complete with on-hand stocks of nerve agent (target one), and chemical weapons storage facilities containing sarin nerve agent and precursors as well as associated manufacturing equipment (targets two and three). No actual proof was required, or offered, to sustain these assessments.

Two issues flow from this line of thinking. First, the Khan Shaykhun incident is not without significant controversy, with its conclusions questioned by numerous experts, journalists and governments. Second, even if one accepts the findings that sarin nerve agent was used in Khan Shaykhun, that fact does not automatically sustain any allegations of sarin use in Douma, especially when there is no evidence to sustain that allegation.

One of the major problems confronting those who contend that both sarin and chlorine were used in the alleged Douma incident is the absolute incompatibility of the two substances. A U.S. Army study from the 1950s found that chlorine serves as a catalyst that promotes the decomposition of sarin nerve agent, meaning that if both substances were either combined or released together, the sarin would rapidly decompose. This reality seemed to escape American officials evaluating the Douma incident, who postulated to The Guardian that chlorine and sarin were stored separately in the same cylinder, ignoring how this would be achieved in a gas cylinder of the type alleged to have been used in Douma.

Only after the U.S.-French-U.K. attack of April 13 did one of the nations involved—in this case, France—provide an assessment outlining the intelligence case behind the Douma allegations. “On the intelligence collected by our services,” the report noted, “and in the absence to date of chemical samples analyzed by our own laboratories, France considers, beyond possible doubt, a chemical attack was carried out against civilians at Douma.” The basis of this conclusion was similar to that which underpinned the American assessment: “After examining the videos and images of victims published online, they (intelligence services) were able to conclude with a high degree of confidence that the vast majority are recent and not fabricated.” Without providing any further information or analysis, the French report concluded that “[r]eliable intelligence indicates that Syrian military officials have coordinated what appears to be the use of chemical weapons containing chlorine on Douma, on April 7.”

In short, the French case for war—and by extension, that of its allies, the United States and the United Kingdom—rested solely on “open source” information provided by opponents of the regime of Syrian President Bashar Assad, for whom military intervention by the West was a long-standing objective. The illogic behind the Syrian government employing chemical weapons in a manner that would invite Western military intervention at a time when the battle for Douma was all but over seems never to have been probed in a meaningful fashion by the intelligence agencies of the United States, the United Kingdom—or France.

Ground Zero

As far as “objective news sources” go, the Abkhazian Network News Agency, or ANNA, would not logically top any list. Based out of the breakaway Georgian territory of Abkhazia, the ANNA is an unabashed pro-Russian online news outlet known for its gritty front-line reporting from inside Syria, where its reporters, at great risk (many have been wounded while doing their jobs), accompany the Syrian army on combat operations against Islamist militants. Their reporting combines hand-held cameras, running alongside infantry and monitoring tactical command posts, GoPro-type cameras attached to tank turrets and cameras mounted on unmanned aerial vehicles hovering overhead, to provide a full-spectrum look at the ground war inside Syria unmatched by any other news source.

On April 5, 2018, the Syrian army’s vaunted Tiger Force, an elite assault unit of around 1,000 men, captured the village of al-Rayyan, on the western approaches to Douma, from fighters of the Army of Islam, a pro-Saudi jihadist group that had occupied Douma since 2013. The advance of the Tiger Force was the latest in a series of offensives carried out by Syria against rebel-held positions in the district of Eastern Ghouta, in which the city of Douma was located, since the beginning of the year. In March 2018 the Syrian army managed to break the rebel-held territory into three separate pockets, prompting thousands of fighters from groups other than the Army of Islam to agree to surrender their heavy weapons and evacuate Eastern Ghouta, together with their families to the northern Syrian town of Jarablus, adjacent to the Turkish border, which was under the control of the Turkish military and opposition forces belonging to the Free Syrian Army.

Only the area in and around Douma, under the control of the Army of Islam and the remnants of other defeated militant groups, held out. By early April, however, the relentless attacks by the Syrian army pushed even the hardened fighters of the Army of Islam to falter, and negotiations were opened with the Russians, leading to a series of temporary humanitarian cease-fires that quickly broke down amid mutual accusations of violations. The capture of al-Rayyan by the Tiger Force took place after the collapse of one such cease-fire and led to the resumption of negotiations between the Syrian government and the Army of Islam for the evacuation of the Islamists and their families from Douma. Earlier evacuations from Douma, involving thousands of militants and their families, had been conducted by the Russian military, which provided security. The negotiations, however, broke down as factions within the Army of Islam balked at having to leave Douma without their weapons.

On the morning of April 7, the Syrian army, supported by the Syrian and Russian air forces, renewed its assault on Douma. ANNA reporters accompanied Syrian troops from the Tiger Force as they overwhelmed the defenses of the Army of Islam, capturing a swath of open ground known as the Douma Farms, penetrating nearly three kilometers into the Army of Islam positions along a 10-kilometer front. The Tiger Force offensive represented the death knell of the Army of Islam; denied the buffer provided by the Douma Farms, the Army of Islam was trapped in the kind of urban terrain the Tiger Force thrived in, having perfected its house-to-house fighting tactics during the battle for Aleppo in 2017. Faced with inevitable defeat, the Army of Islam reached out to the Russians to renew negotiations that would lead to surrendering Douma to Syrian government control.

As the Army of Islam defenses crumbled in the face of the Tiger Force offensive, and the inevitability of defeat settled in among the leadership of the Army of Islam, a coordinated series of messages from various humanitarian organizations with a long history of opposition to the regime of Bashar Assad began to come out from within Douma about a series of chemical weapons attacks by the Syrian air force against the civilian population of Douma.

Among the first, a tweet from the Ghouta Media Center, a well-known outlet for anti-Assad information, was illustrative of what was to follow: “A new #Chemical massacre in #Syria was committed, this time in #Douma_city, 75 civilians were suffocated till death & 1000 suffocation cases, by a barrel was dropped by #Assad helicopters around 9:00pm contains the toxic #Sarin gas, some activists reached bodies in some basements.” Another group, known as the Douma Revolution, published a series of videos on its Facebook page on April 7 that would later be shown repeatedly on Western television channels as evidence of a chemical weapons attack.

By the morning of April 8, news of the alleged chemical weapons attack reached the front lines, where they were dismissed by the officers and men of the Tiger Force. “[Militants] claim we shelled them with chemical weapons,” a senior Tiger Force officer told ANNA reporters during a lull in the fighting on the morning of April 8, as the initial reports of a chemical attack in Douma became public, “but that is a lie, because at the same time we were advancing forward, not one of our soldiers has a gas mask.” Another Tiger Force officer made a similar argument. “We have no protection against the chemical weapons,” he told ANNA. “Those dogs used the chemical weapons themselves and said we did it. If we had that kind of weapon, we would have to carry gas masks. Go to the front and see for yourselves—what are you going to see? We are all here preparing to advance.” A third Tiger Force officer emphasized this point. “We do not have chemical weapons. We breathe the same air. If we had used chemical weapons, we would have suffered ourselves. There are only 20 meters between us. This is just a publicity stunt.”

The “publicity stunt,” however, had served its purpose. By April 8, the White Helmets, the nongovernmental organization lionized by many as a vaunted search-and-rescue organization credited with saving thousands of lives in the face of Syrian and Russian aerial bombardment, and demonized by others as a vehicle for generating anti-regime propaganda and promoting Western military intervention to topple Assad, and the Syrian American Medical Society (SAMS), another NGO possessing a similarly controversial pedigree, had published a joint statement on the Douma attack, the contents of which would be repeated verbatim (and seemingly without question) by Western media outlets and government agencies.

On Saturday, 07/04/2019 at 7:45 PM local time, amidst continuous bombardment of residential neighborhoods in the city of Douma, more than 500 cases—the majority of whom are women and children—were brought to local medical centers with symptoms indicative of exposure to a chemical agent. Patients have shown signs of respiratory distress, central cyanosis, excessive oral foaming, corneal burns, and the emission of chlorine-like odor.

During clinical examination, medical staff observed bradycardia, wheezing and coarse bronchial sounds. One of the injured was declared dead on arrival. Other patients were treated with humidified oxygen and bronchodilators, after which their condition improved. In several cases involving more severe exposure to the chemical agents, medical staff put patients on a ventilator, including four children. Six casualties were reported at the center, one of whom was a woman who had convulsions and pinpoint pupils.

SAMS has documented 43 casualties with similar clinical symptoms of excessive oral foaming, cyanosis, and corneal burns. Civil Defense [White Helmet] volunteers were unable to evacuate the bodies due to the intensity of the odor and the lack of protective equipment. The reported symptoms indicate that the victims suffocated from the exposure to toxic chemicals, most likely an organophosphate element.

These reports succeeded in generating the desired results—the United States was joined by the United Kingdom and France in condemning the alleged chemical weapons attack as a violation of international law that demanded an international response. President Trump tweeted out his own response, replete with ominously threatening language: “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!”

By April 9, the U.N. Security Council was meeting in emergency session, leading to the inevitable rhetorical clash between the ambassadors from the United States and Russia. “The Russian regime, whose hands are all covered in the blood of Syrian children, cannot be ashamed by pictures of its victims,” U.S. Ambassador Nikki Haley told the Security Council. She also took aim at Syria’s president, noting, “Only a monster does this.” For its part, Russia’s ambassador stated: “There was no chemical weapons attack,” adding that “[t]he boorishness against my country is unacceptable and exceeds Cold War standards.”

While a war of words transpired in New York, on the ground in Syria the situation was evolving in a manner which began to threaten the narrative marketed by the White Helmets, SAMS and other sources that had peddled the information used by Washington, London and Paris to build a case sustaining the allegation of chemical weapons use by the Syrian government. The Army of Islam, having been thoroughly defeated on the field of battle by the Syrian army, abandoned Douma for refuge in rebel-held Idlib province. As the probability of unfettered access to the actual sites of the alleged chemical attacks became reality, the locations and people captured on film at what had become Ground Zero in Douma were about to be placed under a microscope of scrutiny where fact would ultimately triumph over fiction.

The Inspectors

 At the headquarters of the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) in The Hague, Netherlands, the inspectors maintain a situation center responsible for monitoring news reports from around the world, looking for any initial indication of an event that would fall under the purview. As soon as reports started coming out of Syria of an alleged use of chemical weapons by the Syrian government, the OPCW Situation Center kicked into action, briefing the director-general, Ahmet Üzümcü, on the developments. After years of experience in Syria investigating similar allegations, the situation center had developed significant contacts with various NGOs on the ground inside Syria, including the White Helmets and SAMS, and contact was established between the OPCW and these entities to learn more about what was transpiring on the ground inside Douma. Using the preliminary assessment of the situation center, derived solely from the images provided by anti-regime activists, that an incident had actually occurred inside Syria, the director-general ordered the Fact Finding Mission (FFM), a standing body of inspectors tasked with investigating chemical incidents in Syria, to assemble and prepare for deployment into Syria. By April 9 a team of nine personnel, all volunteers, including several who were pulled out of training courses, were gathered, and preparations were made for the FFM to travel to Syria under protocols associated with what the OPCW called an “Investigation of Alleged Use” (IAU) inspection under Article X of the CWC, where a state party to the CWC requests assistance in investigating an alleged use of chemical weapons. (The Syrian government had formally requested that the OPCW dispatch a team to Syria on April 10.)

A Title X IAU inspection is limited in scope to simply ascertaining whether a chemical agent was used—there would be no attribution of responsibility. By inviting the OPCW to investigate the allegations of chemical weapons use in Douma, the Syrian government (together with its Russian allies, who had joined with Syria in pressing for the OPCW to investigate the Douma allegations) was creating a diplomatic crisis of sorts over the role and function of the inspectors. For the United States, the United Kingdom and France, simply ascertaining whether a chemical agent was used was not enough—they wanted blame attached, and preferably to the Syrian government. The OPCW was not mandated to assign attribution for any alleged chemical incident; as such, the United States pushed a resolution in the Security Council to stand up an investigation team that would be able to assign blame. This resolution was promptly vetoed by Russia.

In the case of Syria, the Security Council had set up an entity, known as the Joint Investigative Mechanism (JIM), which worked hand-in-glove with the OPCW to investigate incidents of alleged chemical weapons use in Syria. The only difference was that the JIM was specifically mandated to assign blame for an attack, something it did with no small amount of controversy. In the aftermath of the joint OPCW/JIM investigation and report of an alleged use of chemical agent in Khan Shaykhun in April 2017, where blame was assigned to the Syrian government despite evidentiary issues related to a lack of chain of custody for samples used in the investigation, a failure to inspect the site of the alleged incident, and other investigatory shortfalls, Russia vetoed the extension of the mandate for the JIM, terminating it.

Without a specifically mandated investigatory mechanism to accompany the OPCW into Syria, any report issued by the OPCW would not be able to ascertain the blame needed by the United States, the United Kingdom and France to justify taking military action against Syria, something all three nations were speaking openly about in the days following the allegations of chemical weapons use in Douma. Indeed, the existence of the OPCW team was viewed by many in the West, including James Mattis, as being irrelevant to the fact-finding process. “We’re trying to get inspectors in,” Mattis told Congress on April 12. “We will not know from this investigating team” who was responsible, Mattis said. “We will not know who did it. Only that it happened.” For Mattis and the other decision makers, who had already reached the conclusion that Syria had employed both chlorine gas and sarin nerve agent in Douma, this wasn’t good enough.

New videos had emerged from within Douma in the days following the alleged chemical attack, provided by the White Helmets, which claimed to show yellow 150-pound chlorine gas cylinders dropped by the Syrian military on targets inside Douma, including one site where numerous deaths were reported. These videos were picked up by the Western media and promoted by anti-regime social media activists such as Elliot Higgins, who posted a detailed assessment of the canisters and their relevance on his Bellingcat website. However, questions soon emerged about the legitimacy of the White Helmet video as proof of a chlorine attack, namely around the lack of damage to the cylinders involved, the lack of any indication that the cylinders contained chlorine gas, or, if they did, any chlorine gas leaked from the cylinders (the regulator valves on both canisters appeared to be undamaged and closed, and the physical integrity of both canisters seemed intact, prompting the question as to how any gas was alleged to have originated from either). Complicating matters further was the fact that, on April 9, a Russian military unit had arrived at the scene of the alleged gas attack to investigate and found no evidence of any chemical attack.

Suddenly, the OPCW fact-finding mission had new relevance. It no longer mattered that it could not assign blame for an alleged chemical weapons incident; the Russians and the Syrians had said that no such attack had taken place, and that no evidence of chemical weapons use existed at a site where numerous casualties from a chemical attack were alleged to have occurred. If the OPCW team confirmed the findings of the Russian reconnaissance team, there would be no case for military action. If, on the other hand, the OPCW team found that a chemical agent had been used in the face of Russian claims that none existed, the United States, the United Kingdom and France would have a stronger case for intervention.

The OPCW advance party deployed to Beirut on Thursday, April 12, and was joined by the rest of the team on Friday, April 13. Their plan was to deploy to Damascus on Saturday, April 14, and begin their work shortly thereafter. If chlorine had been used in Douma, as the White Helmets, SAMS and others claimed, inspectors would be able to find evidence of such in the form of various chloride salts, produced by the hydrochloric acid that was in turn produced through the reaction of chlorine gas with any substance it encountered upon release. The Russian military experts who visited Douma on April 9 were no doubt aware of this. If the OPCW team was able to detect significant traces of chloride salts, then the Russian findings would be debunked, and the claims of the White Helmets, SAMS and others bolstered.

The American-led military attack on Syria took place while the OPCW fact-finding mission assembled in Beirut; on Saturday, April 14, while the team drove to Damascus, Syria was dealing with consequences of this act. Despite this new reality, the Syrian government met with the fact-finding mission to discuss the arrangements needed for the team to travel to Douma to carry out its tasks. Problems soon arose regarding the security of the OPCW team; Russia and Syria claimed that, in the aftermath of the missile strike on Douma, the security environment in Douma had deteriorated when militants, emboldened by the attack, began shooting at Syrian military patrols. This prompted the need for Russia and Syria to find alternative routes into and out of the areas in Douma that needed to be inspected and to clear these routes of debris and mines. On Tuesday, April 17, the OPCW fact-finding mission sent a reconnaissance team to Douma but withdrew after coming under fire, further delaying the arrival of the main body of inspectors and their ability to carry out their assigned tasks.

While the OPCW inspectors waited in Damascus, the Syrian government provided them with access to 22 medical personnel it claimed had treated the alleged victims of the chemical attack, and who could provide testimony that no such attack took place. While the OPCW has not indicated whether these interviews actually took place, or what the findings of any such interviews were, insight into their probable content could be found via Russian media, which aired interviews with two Syrian medical personnel who appeared in the White Helmet video showing victims of the alleged chemical attack being treated in Douma.

In one such interview, a person identified as Khalil Azizah, claiming to be a medical student who works in the emergency room of the central hospital of Douma, declared that “a house in the city was bombed. The upper floors of the building were destroyed and a fire broke out on the first several floors. All those who were injured in this building were brought to us. The residents of the upper floors had signs of smoke inhalation from the fire’s smoke. We provided assistance based upon the symptoms of smoke inhalation. During this time an unknown person came in. I don’t know him. He said that this was an attack using poisonous substances. People were frightened, there was a struggle; the relatives of the wounded began to spray each other with water. Other people without medical training began putting anti-asthma inhalers in children’s mouths. We didn’t see a single patient with signs of chemical poisoning.”

Khalil Azizah claimed that the incident in question took place on April 8, one day after the alleged attack of April 7. However, he referred to the same video shot by the White Helmets and pointed to his image in the video as one of the personnel providing medical treatment. As such, there is no doubt that the incident Khalil Azizah refers to is the same one recorded by the White Helmets. Moreover, Azizah’s narrative of smoke inhalation is consistent with the finding of the French intelligence report on the Douma chemical attack, which noted that, based upon an examination of the images of the alleged victims, one of the possible explanations behind the symptoms produced was “hydrocyanic acid” (the solution of hydrogen cyanide in water). Hydrogen cyanide is something not found in either chlorine or sarin exposure, but prevalent in the smoke produced by structure fires. The presence of hydrogen cyanide would be explained by a structure fire, and as such, Azizah’s testimony provides a viable alternative explanation for the victims being treated by the Douma hospital, as well as those filmed dead at the scene of the alleged chemical attack.

The Western media aired its own recorded interviews of alleged victims who had fled from Douma to refugee camps along the Turkish border. Complicating the story further, reporters from a variety of news outlets had made their way to the actual site of the alleged Douma chemical attack while the OPCW inspectors were stranded in Damascus. A CBS crew was shown the chlorine canister on the roof of the building where the victims of the chemical attack were claimed to have died and interviewed eyewitnesses who claimed to have been present during the attack. Other journalists visited the same location and interviewed eyewitnesses who claimed no chemical attack had taken place.

Meanwhile, the delay for getting the OPCW inspectors into Douma prompted the United States, the United Kingdom and France to speculate that Russia was sanitizing the site of the attack of any evidence that would show chemicals were used, a charge Russia vehemently denied (and something the various news reports conducted at the scene would suggest was not, in fact, the case). Not to be outdone, the head of the White Helmets claims to have provided the OPCW fact-finding mission the locations of “mass graves” containing the victims of the alleged chemical attack. The forensic viability of these bodies (for which no documentation exists and no chain of custody has been provided linking them to the chemical incident in question, if they in fact exist) is virtually nil, and it is unlikely the OPCW would seek to have them exhumed in any event. The allegations of their existence, however, represents the latest in a series of roadblocks that have been placed in the way of the OPCW inspectors.

The truth is out there, waiting on the ground in Douma. There is no doubt that the OPCW fact-finding mission has the forensic investigatory capability to detect the presence of chemical agents at the scene of the alleged chemical attack of April 7. The amount of chlorine necessary to have produced the number of casualties claimed is significant, and as such the chemical residue unique to such an event would be present in large quantities, and easily detected; no amount of “sanitation” by Russia or any other party could eliminate these traces.

This is the truth of the Douma chemical allegations—they can be readily proved or disproved almost immediately upon arrival at the scene by qualified inspectors from the OPCW. The fact that the United States, the United Kingdom and France opted to attack Syria without allowing the OPCW inspectors to first accomplish their mission provides the clearest indication possible that all three nations knew they possessed a shocking lack of intelligence to sustain their allegations surrounding the use of chemical agents by the Syrian government, and that the missile attack of April 13, was little more than a propaganda exercise designed to promote larger policy objectives regarding U.S., U.K. and French policy in Syria. This conclusion holds regardless of what the ultimate finding is by the OPCW inspectors as to what transpired on the ground in Douma the evening of April 7, 2018.

April 23, 2018 Posted by | Deception, Fake News, False Flag Terrorism, Mainstream Media, Warmongering | , , , | Leave a comment

What Will Weapons Inspectors Find in Syria… And Does it Matter?

By Ron Paul | April 23, 2018

Inspectors from the Organization for the Prevention of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) have finally arrived in Douma, Syria, to assess whether a gas attack took place earlier this month. It has taken a week for the inspectors to begin their work, as charges were thrown back and forth about who was causing the delay.

Proponents of the US and UK position that Assad used gas in Douma have argued that the Syrian and Russian governments are preventing the OPCW inspectors from doing their work. That, they claim, is all the evidence needed to demonstrate that Assad and Putin have something to hide. But it seems strange that if Syria and Russia wanted to prevent an OPCW inspection of the alleged sites they would have been the ones to request the inspection in the first place.

The dispute was solved just days ago, as the OPCW Director-General released a statement explaining that the delay was due to UN security office concerns for the safety of the inspectors.

We are told that even after the OPCW inspectors collect samples from the alleged attack sites, it will take weeks to determine whether there was any gas or other chemicals released. That means there is very little chance President Trump had “slam dunk” evidence that Assad used gas in Douma earlier this month when he decided to launch a military attack on Syria. To date, the US has presented no evidence of who was responsible or even whether an attack took place at all. Even right up to the US missile strike, Defense Secretary Mattis said he was still looking for evidence.

In a Tweet just days ago, Rep. Thomas Massie expressed frustration that in a briefing to Congress last week the Director of National Intelligence, the Secretary of State, and the Secretary of Defense “provided zero real evidence” that Assad carried out the attack. Either they have it and won’t share it with Congress, he wrote, or they have nothing. Either way, he added, it’s not good.

We should share Rep. Massie’s concerns.

US and French authorities have suggested that videos shared on the Internet by the US-funded White Helmets organization were sufficient proof of the attack. If social media postings are these days considered definitive intelligence, why are we still spending $100 billion a year on our massive intelligence community? Maybe it would be cheaper to just hire a few teenagers to scour YouTube?

Even if Assad had gassed his people earlier this month there still would have been no legal justification for the US to fire 100 or so missiles into the country. Of course such a deed would deserve condemnation from all civilized people, but Washington’s outrage is very selective and often politically motivated. Where is the outrage over Saudi Arabia’s horrific three-year war against Yemen? Those horrors are ignored because Saudi Arabia is considered an ally and thus above reproach.

We are not the policemen of the world. Bad leaders do bad things to their people all the time. That’s true even in the US, where our own government steadily chips away at our Constitution by setting up a surveillance state.

We have neither the money nor the authority to launch bombs when we suspect someone has done something wrong overseas. A hasty decision to use force is foolish and dangerous. As Western journalists reporting from Douma are raising big questions about the official US story of the so-called gas attack, Trump’s inclination to shoot first and ask questions later may prove to be his downfall.

April 23, 2018 Posted by | False Flag Terrorism, Militarism, Timeless or most popular | , | 3 Comments

With eye on Pompeo, Zarif reaches New York

By M K Bhadrakumar | Indian Punchline | April 23, 2018

As the May 12 deadline draws close for Trump to waive the sanctions against Iran, as required under the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action or (JCPOA), Tehran has carried the war of words into the enemy camp. Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif arrived in New York over the weekend on a six-day visit, ostensibly to attend High-Level Meeting on Peace-building and Sustaining Peace at the United Nations on April 24-25.

But in reality he is on a Track 1.5 mission to reach out to the US audience as well as to be simply available on call on American soil through next week when the leaders of two key allies of the US – French President Emmanuel Macron an German Chancellor – are scheduled to meet Trump in Washington to discuss policy options with regard to the JCPOA, amongst other things.

The big question is whether President Donald Trump would instruct his top officials to establish direct contact with Zarif in New York on the sidelines of the UN meet. Tehran is drawing encouragement from the remarks last Thursday by Mike Pompeo, CIA Director and Secretary of State-designate at his confirmation hearing in the US Senate.

Pompeo told the US senators, “I want to fix this (JCPOA) deal. That’s the objective. I think that’s in the best interests.” Alongside, he acknowledged that Iran was not pursuing a nuclear weapon program even before the nuclear deal; nor will it be in future. Pompeo emphasized that as CIA Director, he didn’t find any evidences that Iran violated the nuclear deal and he believes that Tehran cannot expand its program even shortly after a hypothetical US withdrawal from the JCPOA. Even more intriguing was Pompeo’s remark,

  • If there’s no chance that we can fix it (nuclear deal), I will recommend to the president that we do our level best to work with our allies to achieve a better outcome and a better deal. Even after May 12, there’s still much diplomatic work to be done.

Pompeo signaled that Trump may not make a final decision by the May 12 deadline and may instead opt to continue the consultations with European allies with a view to “fixing the flaws of the JCPOA”.

A commentary in the influential Tehran Times noted on Saturday that “the White House hasn’t come to a determined and clear decision on how to deal with the JCPOA yet,” The Iranians never branded Trump as a one-dimensional man. Besides, Tehran is greatly experienced in moving past US rhetoric.

Zarif fired his opening salvo soon after reaching New York when he told CBS’ Face the Nation moderator Margaret Brennan in a fascinating interview that Tehran has kept a number of options ready, “including options that would involve resuming (the nuclear program) at a much greater speed,” but will “make the necessary decision when we see fit.” (Full transcript is here.)

Zarif underscored that Tehran cannot be expected to “unilaterally and one-sidedly implement the deal.” Plainly put, Iran will not accept any unilateral move to scrap the JCPOA. President Hassan Rouhani has also warned from Tehran that the range of Iran’s policy options include “what they (US) cannot imagine.”

Interestingly, Zarif also told the CBS that Tehran is open to a prisoner swap if there is a “change of attitude” on the part of the US. Zarif said, “The United States needs to approach this from a position of dealing with another sovereign government. And if that approach led to change, then the United States would see a difference.”

Pressed by Brennan on whether the Iranians were open to an exchange, Zarif offered an opening: “It is a possibility, certainly from a humanitarian perspective, but it requires a change in attitude.” Zarif just signaled that he’s ready to meet with American counterparts.

Trump has a job cut out for Pompeo. To be sure, Israel must be panicking.

April 23, 2018 Posted by | Wars for Israel | , , , , , , | 1 Comment

MSNBC, where journalism goes to die

By Danielle Ryan | RT | April 23, 2018

It looks like we can add yet another name to the list of journalists that MSNBC has pushed out or fired for refusing to toe the establishment line: Ed Schultz.

Schultz, whose new home is at RT, recently gave an interview to the National Review’s Jamie Weinstein. During the interview, Schultz, who had been mostly quiet about his firing from MSNBC, let loose on the channel.

“There was more oversight and more direction given to me on content at MSNBC than there ever has been here at RT — and I think it’s very sad that that story is not getting out,” Schultz said. “Many times I was told what to lead with on MSNBC — many times I was told what I was not going to do.”

Schultz called MSNBC president Phil Griffin a “watchdog” unlike anything he has experienced since leaving the channel. Asked if Griffin personally told him what to say or what angle to take on a story, Schultz said that had “often” been the case.

Schultz went on to tell Weinstein a particularly disturbing story about MSNBC’s refusal to cover former presidential candidate Bernie Sanders seriously. According to Schultz, five minutes before he was due to cover Sanders’ announcement that he would run for president, Griffin called him up and told him not to report on it.

Why? Because the network was so thoroughly determined to promote Hillary Clinton as the Democratic candidate that giving primetime exposure to a progressive voice like Sanders would be dangerous.

“I think the Clintons were connected to [MSNBC chairman] Andy Lack, connected at the hip. I think that they didn’t want anybody in their primetime or anywhere in their lineup supporting Bernie Sanders — I think that they were in the tank for Hillary Clinton and I think it was managed — and 45 days later I was out at MSNBC.”

But Schultz is not the only former MSNBC host with such stories. Cenk Uygur, host of ‘The Young Turks’ on YouTube, has always been vocal about how he parted ways with the channel.

According to Uygur, shortly before his departure from MSNBC, Griffin called him in for a talk. The problem was not Uygur’s ratings, which were good, but it was his “tone” and the fact that “people in Washington” were not happy about it. In other words, Uygur was coming across as too anti-establishment. He was ruffling too many feathers.

“Outsiders are cool, but we’re not outsiders, we’re insiders,” Griffin told Uygur. “We are the establishment.”

Uygur ignored Griffin’s advice and his ratings shot up — surprise, surprise; people enjoy watching news anchors who actually challenge their guests and engage in real journalism. But the top dogs at MSNBC are apparently willing to forgo high ratings to please “people in Washington.”

Last week, responding to Schultz’s recent comments, Uygur confirmed the accusation that MSNBC was essentially operating as the PR arm of the Clinton campaign.

“I had another on-air talent at MSNBC tell me, off the record, that if they ever criticized Hillary Clinton, they would immediately get a call from management,” Uygur said.

This was confirmed on air by current MSNBC host Mika Brzezinski, who admitted that the Clinton campaign angrily called the network after Brzezinski levelled some mild criticism at Clinton during a previous broadcast.

“NBC got a call from the campaign like I had done something that was journalistically inappropriate or something and needed to be pulled off the air,” Brzezinski said.

There can be no question that MSNBC was firmly pro-Clinton and that the Clinton campaign did everything possible to make sure it stayed that way, but the levels of irony here are outstanding.

Clinton and her media cronies have spent much of the past two years bellowing about “the Russians” and so-called “pro-Trump” Russian media, while at the same time they were calling up American channels — channels which no doubt play a far bigger role in influencing American voters —  to chastise anchors whenever their candidate was the subject of some moderate criticism.

Depressing as it is, none of this should be surprising from MSNBC.

In 2003, Phil Donahue, one of America’s best-known TV hosts, was fired from his primetime MSNBC show in the run-up to the Iraq war. Like Uygur, the problem was not Donahue’s ratings — his was the highest-rated show on the network at the time — but the tone of his show. Donahue’s crime? He had been giving airtime to anti-war guests — and questioning the rush to war was seen to be unpatriotic.

A leaked internal memo revealed that Donahue’s bosses felt he was a “difficult public face for NBC in a time of war” because he was providing “a home for the liberal anti-war agenda at the same time that our competitors are waving the flag at every opportunity.”

“They were terrified of the anti-war voice. And that is not an overstatement,” Donahue said in an interview in 2013. This was particularly a problem for MSNBC because it was owned by General Electric at the time — and the war was going to be a boon for GE business. The company stood to gain billions from Iraq war contracts and to have a voice like Donahue’s on air was unacceptable.

But Donahue was not the only anti-war voice MSNBC was determined to silence. Just weeks after the invasion of Iraq, up-and-coming network star Ashleigh Banfield gave a speech in which she criticized the American media’s “sanitized” coverage of the war.

“It wasn’t journalism,” she said. “Because I’m not so sure that we in America are hesitant to do this again, to fight another war, because it looked like a glorious and courageous and so successful terrific endeavor.” American reporters, she said, had “wrapped themselves in the American flag” instead of doing real journalism that showed the true horror of war.

Following Banfield’s speech, NBC News released a statement slamming their colleague: “Ms. Banfield does not speak for NBC News. We are deeply disappointed and troubled by her remarks, and will review her comments with her.”

After that incident, MSNBC “banished” and sidelined Banfield as punishment. They took away her office, her phone, her computer.

“For 10 months I had to report to work every day and ask where I could sit. If somebody was away I could use their desk,” she explained. They eventually gave her an office in a “tape closet.” Banfield repeatedly asked to be let free of her contract, but NBC news president Neal Shapiro would not allow it. Instead they kept her on but gave her nothing to do.

“I will never forgive him for his cruelty and the manner in which he decided to dispose of me,” Banfield said. Just a gentle reminder at this point that MSNBC bills itself as a ‘progressive’ channel.

If anything, things have only gotten worse since Banfield’s thoughtful comments on the failures of American war journalism. When President Donald Trump fired 59 Tomahawk missiles into Syria last April, MSNBC anchor Brian Williams was visibly awestruck, called the footage “beautiful” and quoted song lyrics on air to mark the occasion.

People scoff at state-funded channels like RT, while singing the praises of channels like MSNBC and CNN. Those networks benefit hugely from the myth that because they are not state-funded, they are somehow independent.

These are networks owned by giant parent corporations with plenty of skin in the political game — yet, it is rarely acknowledged that these corporations have a detrimental influence on the quality of journalism produced by their employees. The truth is rarely uttered, that network stars like Rachel Maddow are completely beholden to those corporate and political interests — and that this basic fact massively influences their reporting.

Maddow’s ratings at MSNBC have been climbing of late, no doubt due to her obsession with the ‘Russiagate’ story — a surefire crowd-pleaser among Democratic Party loyalists. But surely Maddow knows, deep down, if she ever went off script, if she ever upset her bosses by becoming truly controversial, she’d be out. Just like Uygur, Schultz, Donahue and Banfield.

For now, Maddow is safe, because she’s exactly the kind of journalist they love: She pretends to rage against the machine while earning $30,000 a day peddling all the right conspiracy theories and picking on all the right people.

A new promo for MSNBC features the cable network’s top anchors in a series of black and white old-school journalism photos. The voiceover is the late Chet Huntley, a former MSNBC newsman: “American journalism — all of it,” he says with certitude, “is the best anywhere in the world.”

It’s hard to believe that by “best” journalism, Huntley could have meant running non-stop corporate-influenced war propaganda, firing anti-establishment voices, banishing conscientious reporters to tape closets and instructing on-air talent not to ruffle any feathers in Washington.

“This is who we are,” the tagline at the end of the ad reads. But remember, thanks to Griffin and his conversation with Uygur, we know what MSNBC really is.

“We are the establishment.”

Read more:

How to become ‘an Assad apologist’? Just question MSM rhetoric & welcome to the club

US media’s love affair with war: Major outlets showed zero opposition to Syria strikes

MSNBC host claims Obama admin was ‘virtually scandal-free’

April 23, 2018 Posted by | Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Progressive Hypocrite, Timeless or most popular | , , , | 3 Comments

The Mainstream Media Fueled Military Action in Syria and Reprisals against Russia over the Skripals

By Philip Giraldi | American Herald tribune | April 23, 2108

The complicity of America’s Fourth Estate in the evolution of the national security warfare state is often mentioned in passing but rarely analyzed in any detail. But a recent article on Lobe Log by Adam Johnson is refreshing in that it does just that, looking at the editorials in 26 leading newspapers relating to the April 13th strike against Syria for the alleged use of chemical weapons. All of the papers supported the attack in the belief that Syria and its Russian and Iranian allies had done something wrong and had to be punished. Some of the endorsements went well beyond the actual strike itself, urging the White House to do more. The article quotes the Toledo Blade’s assertion that:

“Make no mistake, this was a warning to Vladimir Putin as well as Bashar al-Assad. The United States and its two longtime allies redrew the red line that had been obliterated by a failure of nerve by the US and the West generally: There will be cost for your barbarities…. But in the larger sense, the West did what it should have done a long time ago. It stood up for decency and international law. It stood up for those who are defenseless. It stood up for itself, and for simple humanity, and redeemed some self-respect.”

Another recent editorial intended to stir up hysteria about perfidious Moscow appeared in the New York Times on March 12th. It was entitled “Vladimir Putin’s Toxic Reach”. It said in part:

“The attack on the former spy, Sergei Skripal, who worked for British intelligence, and his daughter Yulia, in which a police officer who responded was also poisoned, was no simple hit job. Like the 2006 murder of Alexander Litvinenko, another British informant, who was poisoned with radioactive polonium 210, the attack on Mr. Skripal was intended to be as horrific, frightening and public as possible. It clearly had the blessing of President Vladimir Putin, who had faced little pushback from Britain in the Litvinenko case. The blame has been made clearer this time and this attack on a NATO ally needs a powerful response both from that organization and, perhaps more important, by the United States.”

These two stories and the many others like them have something in common, which is that they were written without any evident “fact checking” and subsequently have proven to be largely incorrect in terms of their assumptions about Russian and Syrian behavior. They also share a belief that the United States and its allies can both establish and enforce standards for the rest of the world. In these cases, the stakes were very high as there was an assumption that it could be appropriate to risk going to war with a powerful nuclear armed government based on incidents that did not in any way impact upon American or British national security.

Regarding Syria, the first wave of “reporting” on the alleged gassing came from sources linked to the terrorist group that was under attack, Jaish el-Islam. This included the so-called White Helmets, who have been outed and exposed as a virtual PR outfit for those one might call the head-choppers. More recently, with government control reestablished over the Douma neighborhood where the reported deaths took place, independent journalists including the able Robert Fisk, no friend of the al-Assad “regime”, have been entering and discovering that there appears to be no evidence that a gas attack even took place.

Skeptics examining the incident from the beginning noted that the Syrian government had every reason to avoid a provocation in its rollup of the remaining rebel pockets near Damascus while the so-called rebels would have been highly motivated to stage a false flag attack to bring in outside forces in support of their cause. If there was a chemical attack of any kind, it almost surely originated with the terrorists.

Even assuming that the United States was acting in good faith when it attacked Syrian “chemical sites” believing that the al-Assad “regime” had actually used such weapons, one should also assume, given the time frame and lack of definitive intelligence resources, that the decision was based on an assessment that relied on limited information coming from sources hostile to Damascus as well as White House perceptions of persistent bad behavior by the Syrian government.

So a poorly informed Washington clearly went to war without exactly knowing why. As the story continues to unravel, there will, however, be no apologies forthcoming either from the White House or the national media, both of which got it so wrong. The mainstream media never even questioned whether Trump should bomb the Syrian “regime” at all, instead merely debating exactly how much punishment he should inflict.

To their credit, the British public and some former senior officials are beginning to ask questions about Syria through a reluctant media filter and opposition leader in Parliament Jeremy Corbyn has refused to be silenced. Similarly, the story of the poisoning of the Skripals in Salisbury has also begun to come apart. Former U.K. Ambassador Craig Murray has detailed how the narrative was cooked by “liars” in the government to make it look as if the poisoning had a uniquely Russian fingerprint. Meanwhile U.S. investigative reported Gareth Porter sums up the actual evidence or lack thereof, for Russian involvement, suggesting that the entire affair was “based on politically-motivated speculation rather than actual intelligence.”

Here in the United States the mainstream media, which has supported every war since 9/11, has yet to account for its deliberately slanted reporting that has fueled both military action in Syria and reprisals against Russia over the Skripals. Unfortunately, the resulting actions undertaken by the United States and Britain have not been consequence free. The attack on Syria, given the fact that Damascus in no way threatened either the U.S. or U.K., was a war crime under international law. The mass expulsions of Russian officials over the Skripals affair has produced a diplomatic chill not unlike the Cold War, or perhaps even worse, with American U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley declaring that the White House is “locked and loaded” if Syria should again step out of line. One might ask Haley what is to be done when Washington steps out of line? It would be interesting to hear her answer.


*(Snapshot courtesy of the WashingtonPost )

April 23, 2018 Posted by | Mainstream Media, Warmongering | , , , , , | 1 Comment