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Strzok Hoisted on His Own Petard

By Ray McGovern | Consortium News | July 13, 2018

If FBI agent Peter Strzok were not so glib, it would have been easier to feel some sympathy for him during his tough grilling at the House oversight hearing on Thursday, even though his wounds are self-inflicted. The wounds, of course, ooze from the content of his own text message exchange with his lover and alleged co-conspirator, Lisa Page.

Strzok was a top FBI counterintelligence official and Page an attorney working for then-FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe. The Attorney General fired McCabe in March and DOJ has criminally referred McCabe to federal prosecutors for lying to Justice Department investigators.

On Thursday members of the House Judiciary and Oversight/Government Reform Committees questioned Strzok for eight hours on how he led the investigations of Hillary Clinton’s unauthorized emails and Donald Trump’s campaign’s ties with Russia, if any.

Strzok did his best to be sincerely slick.  Even so, he seemed to feel beleaguered — even ambushed — by the questions of Republicans using his own words against him. “Disingenuous” is the word a Republican Congresswoman used to describe his performance.  Nonetheless, he won consistent plaudits from the Democrats. He showed zero regret for the predicament he put himself into, except for regret at his royal screw-up in thinking he and Lisa could “talk about Hillary” (see below) on their FBI cellphones and no one would ever know.  One wag has suggested that Strzok may have been surreptitiously texting, when he should have been listening to the briefing on “Cellphone Security 101.”

In any case, the chickens have now come home to roost. Most of those chickens, and Strzok’s predicament in general, are demonstrably the result of his own incompetence.  Indeed, Strzok seems the very embodiment of the “Peter Principle.” FBI agents down the line — that is, the non-peter-principle people — are painfully aware of this, and resent the discredit that Strzok and his bosses have brought on the Bureau.  Many are reportedly lining up to testify against what has been going on at the top.

It is always necessary at this point to note that the heads of the FBI, CIA, NSA and even the Department of Justice were operating, as former FBI Director James Comey later put it, in an environment “where Hillary Clinton was going to beat Donald Trump.” Most of them expected to be able to stay in their key positions and were confident they would receive plaudits — not indictments — for the liberties that they, the most senior U.S. law enforcement officials, took with the law. In other words, once the reality that Mrs. Clinton was seen by virtually everyone to be a shoo-in is taken into account, the mind boggles a lot less.

Peter Principle

In a text sent to Page on April 2, 2016, Strzok assured her that it was safe to use official cellphones.  Page: “So look, you say we text on that phone when we talk about Hillary because it can’t be traced.” It goes downhill from there for the star-crossed lovers.

Pity Page, who asked for more time to answer a subpoena to testify to the same joint-committee. It is understandable that she would have trusted Strzok on this. After all, he was not only her lover, but also one of the FBI’s top counterintelligence officials.

How could she ever have expected to taste the bitter irony that the above text exchange could be retrieved, find its way to the Department of Justice Inspector General, to Congress, and then to the rest of us, not to mention far more incriminating exchanges.

The ‘Hillary Dispensation’

There were moments of high irony at Thursday’s hearing. For example, under questioning by Darrell Issa (R-CA), Strzok appealed, in essence, for the same kid-gloves treatment that his FBI and DOJ associates afforded Mrs. Clinton during the Strzok-led investigation of her emails.

Issa: Mr. Strozk, you were part of the Hillary Clinton email investigation, that’s correct?

Strzok: Yes.

Issa: And in that investigation, uh, you were part of the decision for her to, uh, and her lawyers, to go through emails that were produced during, uh, you, if you will, during her time as Secretary, go through and determine which ones were Government, and which ones were not, both the classified and unclassified, is that correct?

Strzok: I was not.

Issa:   You were not involved at all.

Strzok: That’s correct.

Issa: But you’re aware of it.

Strzok: I.. I’m aware of their statements to us about how they did it.

Issa: And do you think it was ok, uh, for Secretary Clinton to determine what could or couldn’t, uh, uh, qualify for her to turn in under the Federal Records Act?

Strzok: I, I can’t speak to that. That was a decision, my understanding between her and her attorneys, and…

Issa:   Ok, but you were aware that in her production she failed to deliver some items that’ve now been ruled were classified, is that correct?

Strzok: I’m aware that we recovered information that was not in the material that she turned over. I don’t know if it was her failure, the failure of the attorneys conducting that sort, or simply because she didn’t have it. I, I don’t know the answer to that question.

Issa: So, I bring up something that came up in the previous round. So far, only you have determined what should be turned over from your private emails, that, or your non-government emails and texts, what should be delivered because it was government in nature. You’ve made that decision.

Strzok: That’s right.

Issa: And it’s your position that nobody else in the way of a government entity should be able to look over your shoulder, so to speak, and make that decision.

Strzok:   That, that’s right.

Issa: So you think it’s ok for the target — and you are a target — of an investigation to determine what should be delivered rather than, if you will, the government, right?

Strzok: Sir, I am not aware of any investigation of which I am a target, not aware I’m a target of any investigation.

At this point Issa tells Strzok he is indeed a target of investigation by Congress. More importantly, Issa makes the point that the content of the texts exchanged on the FBI phones contained a mixture of official business and personal matters.

So why, asks Issa, should we not ask you to provide similar texts from your personal exchanges, since there is likely to be a similar mixture of official and personal matters in those texts? Issa suggests they likely “would be similar.”

Strzok asks if, by “similar,” Issa means “commenting on Mr. Trump or Hillary Clinton or anything else political in nature.” Strzok then adds, “I don’t specifically recall but it is probably a safe assumption.”

Uh oh.

Strzok: No Good Options

If Strzok was distracted by texting during the standard briefing on “NSA Capabilities:101,” he may have missed the part about NSA collecting and storing everything that goes over the Internet. That would include, of course, his private text messages with Page on private phones.

There is, admittedly, a very slim chance Strzok is unaware of this. But, given his naiveté about how well protected the texts on his FBI cellphone were, that possibility cannot be ruled out. In any case, given the high stakes involved, there seems a chance he might be tempted to follow Mrs. Clinton’s example with her emails and try to delete or destroy texts that provide additional incriminating evidence — or get someone else to do so.

More probably, after Thursday’s hearing, Strzok will see it as too late for him to try to cash in on the “Hillary Exemption.” Strzok, after all, is not Hillary Clinton. In addition, it has probably long since dawned on him that his FBI and DOJ co-conspirators may well decide to “throw him under the bus,” one of those delicate expressions we use in Washington. In this connection, Strzok will have noted that last month McCabe asked the Senate Judiciary Committee to give him immunity from prosecution in return for his testimony on how senior officials at the FBI and Justice Department handled the investigation of Mrs. Clinton’s private email server.

If McCabe knows FBI history, he is aware that one of his predecessors as acting director, L. Patrick Gray, famously was left to “twist slowly in the wind” per the instructions of President Richard Nixon’s aide John Ehrlichman, when the Senate Judiciary Committee could not get satisfactory answers from Gray.

Nixon had nominated Gray to lead the FBI after J. Edgar Hoover died in May 1972, but he could never get confirmed by the Senate. Worse still, Gray was forced to resign after less than a year as acting FBI director, after he admitted to having destroyed Watergate-related documents.

Predictable Media Spin

The “mainstream media” remain the main obstacle to understanding what is going on behind the scenes. It would be easier to forgive them, were not a full-blown Constitutional crisis brewing the Executive and Legislature branches, as the DOJ and FBI continue to resist Congress’s requests for original documents. Former CIA chief John Brennan is also being given space to indulge in pre-emptive rhetoric that he apparently thinks will help when they get to him.

The New York Times reported Friday that “Peter Strzok … was hauled before the House but came out swinging. … The embattled F.B.I. agent who oversaw the opening of the Russia investigation mounted an aggressive defense of himself and the F.B.I. on Thursday, rejecting accusations that he let his private political views bias his official actions and labeling Republicans’ preoccupation with him ‘another victory notch in Putin’s belt.’”

The Potomac Times (aka The Washington Post) ran similarly laudatory coverage of Strzok — “Strzok testifies amid partisan fury: heated hearing sheds little light as agent fumes at accusations of FBI bias” — and laced its coverage with a defamatory article about Rep. Jim Jordan (R-OH), who led the most aggressive Republican questioning of Strzok.

According to the Times, Jordan is “under withering scrutiny as he faces numerous accusations that he knew or should have known about the alleged sexual misconduct of a doctor who worked with the Ohio State wrestling team when Jordan was an assistant coach there between 1986 and 1995.” The Times goes on to quote House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA): “Well, many people say that he did know and by his own standard, he should have known.”

And, sadly, do not look to so-called progressive media for more balanced reporting. For example, Democracy Now! Friday morning chose to highlight Strzok’s tortured explanation of what he really meant when he told Page, “We will stop” Trump. Strzok says the “we” he referred to was “the American population [which] would not elect somebody” who behaves like Trump. The context of that text exchange, however, makes it clear who the “we” is — or was.

Finally, for those with the courage to dissect and explain Strzok’s testimony to neighbors still drinking Russia-gate Kool-Aid, please note that Strzok’s name is easier to say, than to spell.  It is pronounced “struck” like “dumbstruck,” or — equally applicable in Strzok’s circumstances — “Moonstruck.” Those watching Thursday’s hearing will have noticed that not all members of the House Judiciary and Oversight/Government Reform Committees had gotten the word on how to pronounce what may now become a household word.

Ray McGovern works with Tell the Word, a publishing arm of the ecumenical Church of the Saviour in inner-city Washington.  A former U.S. Army officer and CIA analyst, he has closely watched Washington goings-on like this for five decades. Ray co-created Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity (VIPS).

July 13, 2018 Posted by | Deception, Mainstream Media, Warmongering | , , , | 1 Comment

Mueller indictment ‘aims to spoil’ Trump-Putin summit – Russian Foreign Ministry

RT | July 13, 2018

The indictment of 12 Russians for allegedly hacking the Democratic Party in 2016 appear to be politically motivated, with the goal of spoiling the upcoming Helsinki summit, the Russian Foreign Ministry said.

“It is regrettable that spreading false information has become the norm in Washington, and [the] indictments are based on openly political motives,” the ministry said on Friday, responding to the announcement by Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein. “The question is for how long will they continue to flog this shameful comedy that disgraces the US.”

Claiming that the people indicted are intelligence officers and hackers does not make them either, the ministry said, adding that the allegation of illegal entry into Democratic Party computers is not backed by any factual evidence.

“The goal of this ‘information attack’ is obviously to spoil the atmosphere prior to the Russian-American summit,” the ministry said in a statement, referring to the forthcoming meeting between Russian President Vladimir Putin and US leader Donald Trump. “The influential political forces in the US, that are opposed to the normalization of relations between our countries and have spread open slander for the past two years, are desperately trying to make the best use of yet another fake,” it added.

The ministry also warned that “sooner or later, the initiators of these lies will have to answer for the damage they have done to American democracy, undermining trust in it for their own personal gains.”

Earlier on Friday, the US Department of Justice announced that 12 people, whom it identified as “Russian intelligence officers,” had been indicted for hacking the Democratic Party and the Hillary Clinton campaign. At the same time, it admitted that the alleged hacking attack in fact did not eventually affect any votes.

The suspects, named as members of the GRU (Russian military intelligence), are alleged to have hacked into the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC), the Democratic National Committee (DNC), and the Clinton campaign during the 2016 presidential election. Left out from the indictment is how the federal investigators obtained any evidence of this, given that the FBI never got access to the DNC servers.

The announcement comes just days before the summit between Trump and his Russian counterpart Putin in Finland on Monday. Ahead of the meeting, which has already provoked concerns among US, UK and Germany’s officials, Trump called Putin a “competitor.” He also said during a joint press conference with the British Prime Minister Theresa May that his administration was “tougher on Russia than anybody.”

At the same time, he also admitted that getting along with Moscow would actually still be “a good thing.” Moscow said it sees the US as “partners” and hopes to use the summit to improve bilateral relations with Washington.

Mueller was appointed special counsel in May last year, to investigate allegations of Trump’s collusion with Russia during the 2016 US presidential election. In February, his prosecutors indicted 13 Russian nationals associated with the Internet Research Agency and Concord Management, accusing them of conducting “information warfare” against the US on social media. Attorneys for Concord challenged the charges in US court, however, saying they amounted to a “make-believe crime” and that Mueller was trying to “justify his own existence” and “indict a Russian ‒ any Russian” for political reasons.

Read more:

Mueller indicts 12 Russians for 2016 presidential election hacking offences

July 13, 2018 Posted by | Deception, Russophobia | | 2 Comments

NATO Is the Model Entangling Alliance

By Jacob G. Hornberger | FFF | July 13, 2018

Suppose I had an unlimited power of attorney to sign your name as a co-signer on any loan I made with the bank. Every time I went to the bank and borrowed money, I could legally obligate you to pay my loan if I defaulted.

How would you like that? My hunch is that you wouldn’t be too excited about that arrangement.

That is precisely the authority that NATO has over the American people, only the obligation is much worse than a financial one. The obligation involves killing and dying. That is, NATO has the authority to obligate young Americans, both men and women, to kill and die for whatever overseas regime that NATO decides to admit as a member of the organization.

How does NATO work? If another nation attacks any member of NATO, the United States is automatically bound to come to its defense.

That is not the type of system on which the United States was founded when the U.S. Constitution called the federal government into existence. The founding principle was that it would be up to Congress to decide whether the country would, in fact, go to war against another nation. There would be nothing automatic about it. If Congress declared war, then it would be the president’s responsibility to wage war. But if Congress failed to declare war, the government could not legally go to war.

Unfortunately, the Constitution did not limit war to the defense of the United States. That means that if Congress decided to declare war against, say, Uruguay, simply because they didn’t like that country’s ruler, there was nothing in the Constitution that would preclude such a war.

However, as a practical matter, a founding principle was that the United States did not involve itself in wars in faraway countries. That foreign policy of “non-interventionism” was encapsulated in John Quincy Adams’s Fourth of July address in 1821, where he observed that America does not go abroad in “search of monsters to destroy.”

U.S. membership in NATO nullifies those founding principles. NATO now decides when the United States goes to war and, equally important, decides which countries the American people are obligated to defend. No congressional declaration of war is required. If, say, Russia were to invade Latvia, the American people, thanks to NATO’s decision to admit Latvia as a member, would be automatically bound to go to war against Russia.

NATO is a blank, signed check which the American people have handed to NATO bureaucrats, a check by which they have obligated the lives of American youth and America’s money in the defense of some faraway nation that NATO has decided to admit as a member.

Of course, it’s easy for people to say, “Jacob, this doesn’t really involve my children, my siblings, or me. We have a professional army.”

But let’s not forget something: Mandatory draft registration. The Pentagon requires every man to register for the draft when he reaches the age of 18. That’s not just some esoteric exercise. It is a very real, practical device that enables the Pentagon to seize millions of young men, if necessary, to wage a NATO war (or any other war that the Pentagon deems is important to get involved in).

Moreover, even though young American women are not forced to register for the draft, there is no doubt that they are as subject to being drafted to go fight, kill, and die in the defense of Latvia, Montenegro, Turkey, and every other member of NATO as young American men are.

Isn’t it amazing that Americans would object to granting someone a power of attorney to obligate them on loans but have no reservations about giving the president, the Pentagon, and NATO bureaucrats the unfettered power to seize their children, spouses, brothers and sisters, and even themselves and the authority to force them to kill and die in the defense of faraway nations, some of which, by the way, are quite autocratic and dictatorial?

Of course, it hasn’t always been that way. George Washington, the father of our country and the first U.S. president, declared “It is our true policy to steer clear of permanent alliance with any portion of the foreign world.” Thomas Jefferson, the author of the Declaration of Independence and America’s third president, echoed Washington’s sentiments: “Peace, commerce, and honest friendship with all nations — entangling alliances with none.”

July 13, 2018 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Militarism | , , , , | 1 Comment

The sea of death

By John Loretz | IPPNW | July 13, 2018

The US conducted 105 atmospheric and underwater tests at its Pacific Ocean proving ground from 1946-1962. Massive amounts of radioactive fallout from those tests spread across the Pacific, causing severe health effects that have continued to this day.

One of the best-known incidents from this reckless and shameful history was the fate of the Japanese fishing boat the Lucky Dragon. Despite being 90 miles away from ground zero, all 23 crew members were covered in thick layers of fallout from the March 1, 1954 Castle Bravo explosion, which, at 15 megatons, was the largest US nuclear test. The entire crew suffered from acute radiation sickness and were hospitalized for months. One crew member died from his injuries.

As it turns out, the Lucky Dragon was not an anomaly. Japanese film maker Hideaki Ito has produced a documentary called “Exposure to Radiation—Post X Years,” which explores how the extensive tuna fishing ground came to be known as “the sea of death.” The fishing crews had no idea they were working in heavily contaminated waters, and contaminated tuna became a health hazard throughout Japan.

Hideaki and his crew surveyed affected communities some 50 years later, and spoke with public health experts about the limited data that’s available. Field maps obtained from what was then the US Atomic Energy Commission, show fallout paths extending across the Pacific and the US, reaching into Canada and parts of Central and South America. Today, cesium-137 from the tests has been detected in ground samples under houses in Okinawa, Kyoto, and Yamagata prefectures.

Hideaki’s full documentary exists only in Japanese. When he visited IPPNW last fall after a showing at an MIT film festival, we encouraged him to make at least a portion of the film available in English. He has now come back to us with an 11-minute abridged version that we highly recommend to anyone concerned about the health and environmental consequences of nuclear testing and their persistent legacy.

“Knowing how much damage was done in order to make nuclear weapons,” Hideaki told us, “I believe it will be a great accomplishment to abolish them.”

July 13, 2018 Posted by | Environmentalism, Militarism, Timeless or most popular, Video | , , , , | 1 Comment

Challenging Chait’s Paradigm

By Hunter DeRensis • Unz Review • July 12, 2018

An article written by Jonathan Chait of New York Magazine has been making the rounds of the Twitterverse since its publication Monday. Described by former CIA officer and anti-Trump 2016 presidential candidate Evan McMullin as “the best summary and assessment of publicly known facts regarding the nature of President Trump’s relationship with Moscow so far,” the article seeks to lay out in systematic fashion the allegation that Donald Trump is a compromised Russian asset, since as early as 1987.

Blasted by many as kooky and unfit for a mainstream publication, Chait is clear in explaining that he does not accept the ‘Trump as Russian Asset’ story as conclusive. The opening of the article is written as an analogy comparing the whole collusion allegation as “like walking into a dark cavern.” Chait wishes to hold up a lantern and peer deeper into the cave for what might be there. On Twitter he concedes that the whole story could “go nowhere” and Trump’s professed innocence “might well be true.” He only wants to “explore the unlikely scenario on the other side.” In a separate tweet, Chait calls the accusations that Intercept journalist Glenn Greenwald is on the financial take from Russia “totally nuts.” Taking Chait at his word, his article can be taken as unsubstantiated hypothesizing from a viewpoint of honest commentary, separate from the peanut gallery of cranks like Louise Mensch and Seth Abramson. At the same time, he pegs the odds that “the president of the United States has been covertly influenced or personally compromised by a hostile foreign power for decades” at 10 to 20%—higher than the odds many publications gave Trump of even winning the presidency.

While others may combat specific factoids and details in Chait’s unverified theory, it is equally important to address the point of view it is written from. All commentary is inherently biased, but too often in the modern age journalists attempt to write as objective beings without presuppositions. Chait’s commentary is typical of liberal, mainstream elites. It has a deep deference for established institutions (no matter their track records), an acceptance that America has a duty (or even a right) to global hegemony, and that the foreign policy of military empire used to uphold this hegemony is fundamentally good. When you are writing from the top of the world, you are going to be hostile to any view that is more earthbound.

While still writing the introduction, Chait makes two points that are worth expanding before moving on to the body of the article. In the very first paragraph, Chait mentions that in the midst of the 2016 presidential campaign “Russia was already broadcasting its strong preference for Trump through the media.” He links to a Politico Europe article that cites RT programing hosts like the recently-deceased Ed Shultz and television staple Larry King, along with online articles published at RT that were sympathetic to Trump’s campaign. This proposition that Russian media was in the bag for Trump is contradicted by the media actually in Russia, which both adheres closer to the official Kremlin line and has a much more influential following than RT’s foreign broadcasts. The positions expressed here, on Russia’s No. 1 talk show for instance, were much more skeptical of both Donald Trump’s sincerity and governing ability.

Secondly, he makes an all-too-true observation that is ignored all-too-often. “Conspiracy theories tend to attract people far from the corridors of power, and they often hypothesize vast connections within or between governments and especially intelligence agencies. One of the oddities of the Russia scandal is that many of the most exotic and sinister theories have come from people within government and especially within the intelligence field.” Whether or not someone has legitimacy as an intrepid investigator of dominant narratives or is viewed as a baseless theorizer of nonexistent conspiracies does not depend on their honesty or how many facts they can document. If a conspiracy theory originates from within the political center as a defense of the status quo, none dare call it conspiracy. Perhaps this is a legacy of the term’s underhanded creation. Chait’s unintentional acknowledgement of this double standard is helpful in identifying “Russiagate” as uniquely separate from theories generating on the fringe. Not due to any factual basis, but because of narrative difference.

The former intelligence official Chait trots out as an example is John O. Brennan, who has gone on the record saying there is something fishy about the Trump-Russia relationship that might even breach on treasonous. “While the fact that the former CIA director has espoused this theory hardly proves it, perhaps we should give more credence to the possibility that Brennan is making these extraordinary charges of treason and blackmail at the highest levels of government because he knows something we don’t.” Contrary to that impression, Brennan’s statements should make one very skeptical. Or at least that’s the logical conclusion of anyone outside the establishment groupthink previously described. If the former CIA director knows something the public doesn’t, why has no action been taken? If there is solid, irrefutable evidence that Donald Trump has been compromised by a foreign power, why is John Brennan keeping it secret? Congress should be alerted, and Vice President Pence sworn in under the Twenty-fifth Amendment. But in two years since the original start of the investigation, Brennan has presented no such evidence. In fact, using Brennan as the example shows how blind one can be when only seeing life through the establishment paradigm. As CIA director, John Brennan not only provided a real-guard defense of torture, but oversaw U.S. military aid to Syrian jihadists allied with Al-Qaeda. If Donald Trump is a traitor to his country, what does that make Brennan and his aiding and abetting of America’s sworn enemy? The actions of the Obama administration are widely sourced and admitted by public officials, but Chait pays no mind. That’s because people like Chait don’t see crimes committed in defense of the empire as real crimes.

Chait opens his chronology in the year 1987, when Donald Trump both visited Moscow on a business trip and began voicing open political sentiments. Trump’s comments focused on the United States’ relationship with its allies, saying Americans were getting a raw deal. “The safest assumption is that it’s entirely coincidental that Trump launched a national campaign, with himself as spokesman, built around themes that dovetailed closely with Soviet foreign-policy goals shortly after his Moscow stay.” Chait is nothing short of duplicitous here, admitting that the whole premise reaches nothing above coincidental while simultaneously trying to poison the waters. As Trump said, why shouldn’t countries that can afford to defend themselves do so? Why does the burden fall on the American taxpayer to defend the economically rich people of Germany and Japan? The answer, Chait says, is to defend the “liberal international order” of the postwar era. An order that requires U.S. military domination of the planet. Having other countries defend themselves would take away from U.S. preeminence, and most importantly, U.S. power. The idea of Americans protecting America only would at first glance to be the logical, even pro-American answer. But it is certainly the anti-hegemony answer, and to Chait that puts it in the category of a pro-Soviet goal.

In a single sentence, Chait tries to both summarize and dismiss the downturn in Russian-American relations that accelerated during Barack Obama’s second term. “During the Obama administration, Russia grew more estranged from the United States as its aggressive behavior toward its neighbors triggered hostile responses from NATO.” Perhaps it would be unreasonable to expect Chait to detail Russian relations with the West over the past 25 years, such as NATO expansion eastward in contradiction to previous promises, the U.S. withdraw from the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty in 2002, or the 2008 Russo-Georgian War with violence initiated by the latter. But to not only ignore the February 2014 coup in Ukraine that initiated recent hostilities between the U.S. and Russia, but to also put the blame on the latter’s “aggressive behavior,” is at best laughable and at worst dishonest. In February of 2014 the democratically elected government of Ukraine was overthrown in a coup orchestrated by the United States government, an event Chait and his peers do their best to forget. Russia’s subsequent annexation of the Crimean Peninsula (containing the Russian naval base at Sevastopol) was a wholly reactive measure. To say the recent estrangement was triggered by anything else than western aggressive behavior is factually inaccurate.

A deep-dive into Paul Manafort’s past relationships fills the middle of the article, along with Chait’s biased perceptions. “This much was clear in March 2016: The person [Manafort] who managed the campaign of a pro-Russian candidate in Ukraine was now also managing the campaign of a pro-Russian candidate in the United States.” What makes Donald Trump pro-Russian? “Well I hope that we do have good relations with Russia. I say it loud and clear, I’ve been saying it for years. I think it’s a good thing if we have great relationships, or at least good relationships with Russia. That’s very important,” says the President. Donald Trump has not proposed any kind of military alliance with Russia, giving it financial aid of any kind, or granting it favored-nation status. Simply to want “good” relations with a country is enough to be pro-Russian, in Chait’s characterization. Does that make Trump pro-any country he doesn’t wish to bomb? Is Donald Trump equally pro-Peruvian, pro-Nepalese, and pro-Tanzanian as he is pro-Russian? Shouldn’t it be the proper view of the United States to try to have good working relations with all foreign powers, especially if that power has thousands of stockpiled nuclear weapons? A better description of that view would be pro-American.

It is important to emphasize and explain these seemingly small choices of language because of how much they reveal of Chait’s worldview. When one believes that patriotism and defense of empire must be synonymous, and that skepticism of international conflict implies sympathy with a foreign power, it is easy to see why someone would seek out the most nefarious answer. Chait is willing to overlook obvious, mundane explanations to imply Trump has committed wrong because to Chait, he already has by opposing the international order’s chosen script. “It is possible to construct an innocent explanation for all the lying and skulduggery [sic], but it is not the most obvious explanation. More likely, collusion between the Russians and the Trump administration has continued beyond the campaign.” Or, perhaps, politics is naturally a game for liars and the political world is specially made to house them. “Why would Manafort, who has a law degree from Georgetown and years of experience around white-collar crime, behave like this? Of all those in Trump’s camp, he is the furthest thing from a true believer, and he lacks any long-standing personal ties to the president or his family, so what incentive does he have to spend most or all of his remaining years in prison rather than betray Trump?” The most obvious answer would seem to be that there is nothing to betray; if there is no grand conspiracy of Russian collusion, Manafort has not spilled the beans for any reason more inexplicable than there is nothing to spill. Or if that’s too boring, there’s always the answer Chait is giddy to suggest. “One way to make sense of his behavior is the possibility that Manafort is keeping his mouth shut because he’s afraid of being killed.” Creativity knows no bounds.

Chait seeks comfort in those who might be even further down the establishment paradigm than he is. He describes an exchange between House Speaker Paul Ryan and House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy in the summer of 2016 where they joke about Trump and California Congressman Dana Rohrabacher being on Russian President Vladimir Putin’s payroll. While criticizing the GOP leaders’ joke as in bad taste, he describes the foreign policy positions taken by Rohrabacher. He once again uses the phrase “pro-Russian” to describe them, falling into the same verbal trap as before. Of interest, Chait mentions Rohrabacher’s denouncement of U.S. opposition to the Crimean annexation as “hypocrisy” considering America’s foreign policy. The implication is that this is some sort of hokum, but it is nothing more than showing American self-awareness. Verbal reproaches to Russia by the U.S. government are drown out by the facts, including the overthrow of the Ukrainian government just days before Russian actions in Crimea, and the 2003 invasion of Iraq which stands to this day as the biggest crime of the 21st century. But when one is an empire, the indispensable nation, rules just don’t apply to it like they do to other, lesser countries. “He [Rohrabacher] is widely suspected of having an ulterior motive.” What Chait means is his cocktail party peers widely suspect it.

What follows is a description of Trump’s actions as President regarding Russia, which seem to belie Chait’s point of a special closeness. Trump was apparently “apoplectic” when political realities compelled him to sign new sanctions on Russia in the summer of 2017. Since those sanctions ran counter to the explicit platform Trump campaigned and won on, that would seem to be a normal reaction to any policy reversal. Trump says he thinks Russia should be allowed back into the G7. The idea that a geopolitical power player that approaches nuclear parity with the United States should be involved in such a global forum doesn’t require further explanation. During that G7 conference Trump expressed the belief that Crimea rightfully belongs to Russia because the people there speak Russian. He’s not wrong; the people of Crimea are ethnically Russian, speak the language, and culturally identify with Russia proper. The people of Crimea should have the right to vote in a fair, internationally monitored referendum on whether to be a part of Ukraine or Russia. That’s the right of self-determination, an American goal if there ever was one. Chait says Putin engineered the end of the U.S.-South Korea military exercises during the recent negotiations with North Korea. Such an insinuation, outright ignoring the months of talks that have been taking place between North and South Korea, the stated goals of the Moon Jae-in administration, and South Korean public opinion, is naïve to the highest degree. That sort of western-centric view, that the United States is always the decision maker, is further proof of the establishment imperialistic mindset Chait has written his entire article from. He concludes with the foreboding note that Trump is about to meet with Putin in a special summit next month. Somehow Trump meeting with Putin 19 months into his presidential term is scandalous, while George Bush meeting Putin 5 months into his term, and Barack Obama 6 months into his term (in Moscow no less!) garnered so such suspicious coverage.

Chait, to his credit, almost makes it through the entire article without pulling out one of the most overused, most debunked storylines of “Russiagate.” The storyline that anyone who says Russia was not behind the 2016 Democratic National Committee hack (or leak) is “… contradicting the conclusion of every U.S. intelligence agency.” That conclusion was reached not by the U.S. intelligence community but handpicked analysts from only four of seventeen agencies. “But who is bending the president’s ear to split the Western alliance and placate Russia?… His motive for these foreign-policy moves is obviously strong enough in his mind to be worth prolonging an investigation he is desperate to terminate.” It cannot be that good relations with Russia is self-evidently beneficial to the United States, or that Donald Trump is a genuine believer in that policy. Jonathan Chait is so enamored with established Washington foreign policy that no disagreement can be anything other than odious.

To reiterate, Jonathan Chait is not convinced that what he wrote is the truth. He admits that there is no conclusive evidence that Donald Trump was a Russian intelligence asset in 1987 or any other year. But what he is convinced about is the utility of the U.S. led liberal world order imposed at the point of a gun. The biases of his language towards permanent military hegemony run through his writing. This leads to the discoloring or even misrepresentation of the facts.

Hunter DeRensis is a senior at George Mason University majoring in History and minoring in Public Policy & Administration. You can follow him on Twitter [@HunterDeRensis]

July 13, 2018 Posted by | Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Russophobia | | Leave a comment

Trump’s Summit with Putin Could Reduce Risk of Nuclear War

By Robert Roth • Unz Review • July 12, 2018

I disagree with President Donald Trump about practically everything. With two exceptions.

First, Trump said it from Day One: “Getting along with Russia and China and with everybody is a very good thing. It’s good for the world, it’s good for the U.S.” He said it again regarding his planned July 16 meeting with Russian president Vladimir Putin.

For some years now, we’ve been sleepwalking toward war with Russia, as I try to show at And we now have an opportunity to reduce that risk, with a couple of easy actions.

That’s why the Trump-Putin summit has my attention. As U.S. Sen. Jeff Merkley observed, “Only nuclear weapons have the capacity to wipe out humanity in the blink of an eye.”

In 1962, the Cuban Missile Crisis took us close to just that catastrophe. Thereafter, the two superpowers negotiated several treaties to decrease the risk of nuclear war. The system that evolved was called Mutually Assured Destruction, or MAD: neither power could launch a first strike because the other could always retaliate. The 1972 Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty preserved that system by prohibiting deployment of weapons that could neutralize a retaliatory strike.

Is that crazy, or what? Could anyone seriously consider starting a nuclear war? Daniel Ellsberg gives the unpleasant answer in “The Doomsday Machine: Confessions of a Nuclear War Planner.” In fact, the so-called “missile defense” system, a gigantic boondoggle for the military-industrial complex, also looks like a plan to wage and “win” a nuclear war.

Such demented thinking was probably behind U.S. withdrawal, in 2002, from the ABM Treaty, and deployment of the “missile defense shield.” The shield, if effective, would make a nuclear first-strike thinkable, because it could defeat the retaliating strike.

Putin repeatedly asked the U.S. to discontinue its missile defense deployment, warning that Russia would have to take counter-measures. But the deployments have continued. Then, on March 1, Putin announced Russian development of new weapons that he claimed would render a missile shield ineffective.

Make your own assessment. You can see Putin’s speech at

His 30-minute description of the new weapons starts at 1h:18m. A transcript, also with videos, is at . Analysis and commentary appear at ; ; ; and .

Putin’s announcement was dismissed as “saber-rattling.” But his tone was not threatening. Rather, he invited the U.S. “to come to the negotiating table to give thought to an updated, future system of international security and civilization’s sustainable development.”

Thankfully, a few senators were listening. Senators Jeff Merkley (D-OR), Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), Bernie Sanders (I-VT), and Edward J. Markey (D-MA) promptly urged the State Department to convene the next U.S.-Russia dialogue as soon as possible. Then in late June, Senator Merkley, along with Senators Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), Dick Durbin (D-IL), Tina Smith (D-MN), Edward J. Markey (D-MA) and Sherrod Brown (D-OH) introduced a Senate resolution in support of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) on the occasion of its “Golden Birthday.” The full resolution can be found at .

The planned Trump-Putin summit offers a chance to jump-start that overdue process. You can help with a couple of small but meaningful actions: (1) Contact the White House at (202) 456-1111 or . Tell the President you support his meeting with Mr. Putin, and hope he will use it to discuss nuclear arms control. (2) Contact any or all of the above-mentioned Senators via the United States Capitol switchboard at (202) 224-3121 or, if you reside in a State represented by one of them, via email. Thank the Senator for his or her work to support nuclear arms control and ask them to keep at it and keep you posted.

Unfortunately, the “Russiagate” investigation and widespread demonization of Putin and Russia create an atmosphere making it difficult to improve U.S.-Russia relations. This brings me to my second point of agreement with Trump, who has repeatedly denounced the investigation as a “witch hunt.” As appalling as most of Trump’s policies are, I can’t support the effort to unseat a constitutionally elected president by a campaign of disinformation and lies.

“Russiagate” is politically motivated, is founded on an act of deception, and has produced no evidence. Its cornerstone, the misleadingly titled “Intelligence Community Assessment” of January 2017, was in fact authored by hand-picked staffers from just three agencies, and even they admitted their judgments “are not intended to imply that we have proof that shows something to be a fact.” For details, see the London Review of Books at , and a summary by former ambassador Jack Matlock at .

But isn’t it pointless to negotiate with the diabolical Vladimir Putin? Again, make your own assessment. Read Oliver Stone’s book of interviews with Putin, or former Australian diplomat Tony Kevin’s “Return to Moscow.” Or just take a look at the interview with Russianist Stephen Cohen posted ..

Robert Roth prosecuted consumer fraud for the attorneys general of New York (1981-91) and Oregon (1993-2007). A shorter version of this article originally appeared in the Eugene, Oregon Register-Guard.

July 13, 2018 Posted by | Militarism, Timeless or most popular | , , | Leave a comment

Ireland’s Intellectuals Bow to the Queen of Chaos

By Aidan O’Brien | CounterPunch |July 13, 2018

Ireland’s oldest university – Trinity College Dublin – gave Hillary Clinton an honorary doctorate in late June. It was one big love in. Clinton was paraded and praised like a people’s champion. And in return Clinton fawned over Dublin’s cutting edge liberal politics.

A Trinity College professor orated about Clinton: “Almost sixty-six million people have given her their vote of confidence, sharing her belief that a true democracy is a society in which everyone is equally valued as a human being.”

And Clinton’s response: “These last few years in Ireland have been a testament to the power of young people to shape the future – from the 2015 marriage equality referendum, which saw historic youth turnout, to this year’s abortion referendum…. No demographic is better positioned to be a force on the side of democracy, progress and equality.”

Behind these delusions, platitudes and lies there is a logic. A disturbing one – one that actually built Trinity College Dublin way back in 1592. And one that sustains the same College today in 2018. It sustains Clinton too. It’s the logic of imperialism. And the shameless culture of empire worship that goes with it.

Hillary Clinton personifies the last thirty years of US imperialism. And so by honoring her, Trinity College honors three decades of US savagery across the planet. Firstly, during Hillary’s “reign”, there were the wars which the US orchestrated – for example, in Rwanda, Yugoslavia, Iraq, Libya, Syria, Ukraine and Yemen. And secondly, there’s the neoliberal wars against the global working class which Bill and Hillary Clinton have sold nonstop – from NAFTA (1994) to the repeal of Glass-Steagall (1999) and onto the bailout of the banks (2008 – to the present). The resulting social chaos across the world is a testament to Hillary Clinton’s politics. She more than Donald Trump is the face of the corrupt American Empire.

Her contempt for America, democracy and the world is no secret. The Podesta emails (released by WikiLeaks in 2016) – for example – reveal a two faced politician: a Wall Street Clinton and a Main Street Clinton. For $225,000 a speech Clinton tells the banksters the truth. And for votes she tells the American people fairytales. In her own words: “But if everybody’s watching, you know, all of the back room discussions and the deals, you know, then people get a little nervous, to say the least. So, you need both a public and a private position.”

Referring to the Podesta emails in October 2016, the New York Times noted that: “Mrs. Clinton describes herself as “far removed” from average Americans and their finances.” The reason? “The Clintons have made more than $120 million in speeches to Wall Street and special interests since Bill Clinton left the White House in 2001.” These facts sum up the deep politics of Clinton. To say the least, she represents America’s 1%.

And so she had no problem dismissing half of America’s 99% as “a basket of deplorables”. And no problem either conspiring against the other half of America’s 99% – those who vote Democrat. In November, 2017 CNN reported: “Sen. Elizabeth Warren [Massachusetts] said she believes that the Democratic National Committee [DNC] was “rigged” in favor of former Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton during the 2016 primary. Asked…… by CNN’s Jake Tapper whether she believes that the Democratic campaign organization was tipped in favor of Clinton over her primary opponent, independent Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, Warren responded without hesitation: “Yes.””

Because Clinton’s political machine had all the corporate money – she or her handlers got to pick the members of the DNC. Therefore in key Democratic primaries the superdelegates, which decided the vote, were her puppets. Such are Clinton’s democratic credentials.

Clinton’s real heart of darkness, however, is found in the bowels of US foreign policy. The key to understanding Hillary Clinton’s view of the world and humanity is Madeleine Albright (Bill Clinton’s Secretary of State). And the key to understanding Albright’s dark heart is her infamous words on CBS television in 1996. Asked about the death of 500,000 children – caused by the US / UK sanctions against Iraq – Madeleine Albright said that “we think the price is worth it”.

This barbaric sentiment reflects the soul of Hillary Clinton’s Weltanschauung because it was Hillary who prompted Bill Clinton to appoint Madeleine Albright as Secretary of State. Hillary clearly identified herself with Albright’s take on the world. Writing in in 2016, Lisette Mejia quotes Albright as saying: “I would not have been secretary of state if it had not been for Hillary Clinton….. She would go to [Bill] and say,…. ’Why wouldn’t you name Madeleine? She is more in tune with your views than anyone else and she expresses them better than anyone else.”

The fact that Hillary Clinton tried to quickly follow in the footsteps of Bill Clinton (she twice attempted to be the US President  – in 2008 and 2016), indeed suggests that Madeleine Albright was “more in tune with [her own] views than anyone else”. And expressed “them better than anyone else”. And the fact that Hillary actually ended up following in the footsteps of Albright in the US Department of State (she was Obama’s first Secretary of State, 2009-13), points to a startling parallel between these two female imperialists. One that eerily manifested itself in another blunt barbaric remark caught on camera. When asked in a 2011 television interview to comment on the murder of Muammar al-Gaddafi (and indirectly on the murder of Libya – a clear case of genocide), Hillary casually said “we came, we saw, he [and Libya] died”. And then she laughed.

No one has expressed the horrors of US imperialism in the last three decades better than Hillary Clinton (in one guise or the other). And no one has supported them more than Hillary Clinton.

So why did Trinity College Dublin celebrate her? Firstly: as Edward Said wrote in a 2003 preface to his book Orientalism (1978), “there always is a chorus of willing intellectuals to say calming words about benign or altruistic empires, as if one shouldn’t trust the evidence of one’s eyes watching the destruction and misery and death brought by the latest mission civilizatrice.” Trinity College Dublin is the embodiment of this chorus.

And secondly: Trinity College Dublin was built in 1592 by the first queen of chaos (Britain’s Queen Elizabeth I), so it only makes sense that it celebrates the latest queen of chaos – Hillary Clinton (the image is Diana Johnstone’s). The chaos theory of Empire is in the DNA of Ireland’s model university. Trinity College might reject the chaos of revolution (a statue of Edmund Burke – the critic of the French Revolution – guards the entrance of the university), but it has always defended the chaos of imperialism.

When Britain’s Tudor Queen built Trinity College in Dublin – the Irish were like the Iraqis and Libyans of today. They were fair game, thrash, expendable, a price worth paying and a laugh. And Trinity College rationalized it for the imperialists. That was it’s raison d’être.

Edward Said explains, in his book Culture And Imperialism (1993), the Irish situation back then as follows: “In Ireland, [Angus] Calder says, the idea of murdering Gaels was from the start ‘as part of a royal army or with royal approval, [considered] patriotic, heroic and just.’ The idea of English racial superiority became ingrained; so humane a poet and gentleman as Edmund Spenser in his View of the Present State of Ireland (1596) was boldly proposing that since the Irish were barbarian Scythians, most of them should be exterminated.”

The idea of Irish inferiority and the inferiority of colonized people’s everywhere ‘became ingrained’ in places like Trinity College Dublin. How else could the Empire have survived?

Today the American establishment continues what the British establishment started way back in the 16th century. And so places like Trinity College Dublin continue to dress up barbarism in the clothes of civilization – yesterday they did it for Britain, today for America. As Noam Chomsky has insinuated so often – the general rule is that intellectuals lie for a living. Ireland’s intellectual-class have just proved the point.

Aidan O’Brien lives in Dublin, Ireland.

July 13, 2018 Posted by | Timeless or most popular, War Crimes | , , , , | Leave a comment

The Globalist Elite Fears Peace, Wants War

By Federico PIERACCINI | Strategic Culture Foundation | 13.07.2018

The announced meeting between Trump and Putin has already produced a good result by revealing the hypocrisy of the media and politicians. The meeting has been branded as the greatest danger to humanity, according to the Western globalist elite, because of the danger that “peace could break out between Russia and the United States”.

Sometimes reality is stranger than fiction. The following so stretches credulity that sources will have to be cited and exact quotations given to be believed.

A case in point is the following title: “Fears growing over the prospect of Trump ‘peace deal’ with Putin.” The Times does not here fear a military escalation in Ukraine, an armed clash in Syria, a false-flag poisoning in England, or a new Cold War. The Times does not fear a nuclear apocalypse, the end of humanity, the suffering of hundreds of millions of people. No, one of the most authoritative and respected broadsheets in the world is fearful of the prospect of peace! The Times is afraid that the heads of two nuclear-armed superpowers are able to talk to each other. The Times fears that Putin and Trump will be able to come to some kind of agreement that can help avert the danger of a global catastrophe. These are the times in which we live. And this is the type of media we deal with. The problem with The Times is that it forms public opinion in the worst possible way, confusing, deceiving, and disorienting its readers. It is not by accident the world in which we live is increasingly divorced from logic and rationality.

Even if the outcome of this meeting does not see any substantial progress, the most important thing to be achieved will be the dialogue between the two leaders and the opening of negotiation channels for both sides.

In The Times article, it is assumed that Trump and Putin want to reach an agreement regarding Europe. The insinuation is that Putin is manipulating Trump in order to destabilize Europe. For years now we have been inundated with such fabrications by the media on behalf of their editors and shareholders, all part of the deep state conglomerate. Facts have in fact proven that Putin has always desired a strong and united Europe, looking to integrate Europe into the Eurasian dream. Putin and Xi Jinping would like to see a European Union more resistant to American pressure and able to gain greater independence. The combination of mass migration and sanctions against Russia and Iran, which end up hurting Europeans, opens the way for alternative parties that are not necessarily willing to [obey] Washington’s marching orders.

Trump’s focus for the meeting will be to convince Putin to put even more pressure on Europe and Iran, perhaps in exchange for the recognition of Crimea and the ending of sanctions. For Putin and for Russia it is a strategic issue. While sanctions are bad, the top priority for Moscow remains the alliance with Iran, the need to further strengthen relations with European countries, and to defeat terrorism in Syria. Perhaps only a revision of the ABM treaty and the withdrawal of these weapons from Europe would be an interesting offer for Putin. However, reality shows us that the ABM treaty is a pillar of Washington’s military-industrial complex, and that it is also Eastern European countries that want such offensive and defensive systems in their own countries, seeing them as a deterrents against Russia. Are they victims of their own propaganda, or are billions of dollars pouring into their pockets? Either way, it does not really matter. The most important point for Moscow will be the withdrawal of the Aegis Ashore ABM systems as well as military ships with the same Aegis system. But this is not something that Trump will be able to negotiate with his military leaders. For the military-industrial complex, the ABM system, thanks to maintenance, innovation and direct or indirect commissions, is a gravy train that too many interests intend to keep riding.

From the Kremlin’s point of view, the removal of sanctions remains necessary for the restoration of normal relations with the West. But this would be difficult to achieve, given that Moscow would have little to offer Washington in exchange. The strategists at the Pentagon demand a withdrawal from Syria, an end to support for Donbass, and a cessation of relations with Iran. There is simply too much divergence to reach a common position. Moreover, Europe’s sanctions against Russia benefit Washington, as they hurt the Europeans and thereby undermine what is a major trading competitor to the US. The US withdrawal from the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) can be looked at in the same light, blocking US allies from doing business with Iran.

Putin will keep faith with his commitments to Syria and with his allies, unwilling to betray his word even for the recognition of Crimea. On the other hand, as already mentioned, the priority remains the removal of the ABM; and while Crimea is already under the control of the Russian Federation, Syria remains an unstable territory that risks propelling Islamist terrorism to Russia’s soft underbelly in the Caucasus. For Moscow, involvement in Syria has always been a matter of national security, and this certainly remains the same now, even with Donald Trump’s unrealistic offers.

It should be kept in mind that Putin is aiming for a medium- to long-term strategy in the Middle East, where Iran, Syria and the entire Shiite arc serves to counter Saudi and Israeli aggression and hegemony. This strange alliance has emerged as the only way to deter war and dial down the heat in the region, because the crazy actions from Netanyahu or Mohammad bin Salman are deterred by a strong Iranian military. Preventing a confrontation between Iran and Saudis/Israelis also means not making Tehran appear weak or isolated. Such considerations seem beyond the strategists in Washington, let alone in Tel Aviv or Riyadh.

While it is difficult to achieve a positive outcome from the meeting between Trump and Putin, it is important that there is a meeting in the first place, contrary to what The Times thinks. The media and the conglomerate of power that revolves around the US deep state fear diplomacy in particular. The same narrative that was proclaimed weeks before and after the meeting between Trump and Kim Jong-un is being repeated with regard to Trump’s meeting with Putin.

Washington bases its power on force, both economic and military. But this power also rests on the posture assumed and image projected. The United States and its deep state considers negotiating with opponents to be wrong and counterproductive. They consider dialogue to be synonymous with weakness, and any concession is interpreted as surrender. This result of 70 years of American exceptionalism and 30 years of Unipolarity, has allowed the US the ability to decide unilaterally the fate of others.

Today, in a multipolar world, the dynamics are different and therefore more complex. You cannot always employ a zero-sum mentality, as The Times does. The rest of the world recognizes that a dialogue between Putin and Trump is something positive, but we must not forget that, as in Korea, if diplomacy does not bring significant progress, then the hawks surrounding Trump will again be in the ascendant. The tasks for Rouhani, Putin and Kim Jong-un are complex and quite different from each other, but they share in common the belief that dialogue is the only way to avoid a catastrophic war. But apparently, peace is not the best possible result for everyone.

July 13, 2018 Posted by | Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Militarism, Wars for Israel | , , , | 1 Comment