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How the Department of Homeland Security Created a Deceptive Tale of Russia Hacking US Voter Sites

By Gareth Porter | Consortium News | August 28, 2018

The narrative of Russian intelligence attacking state and local election boards and threatening the integrity of U.S. elections has achieved near-universal acceptance by media and political elites. And now it has been accepted by the Trump administration’s intelligence chief, Dan Coats, as well.

But the real story behind that narrative, recounted here for the first time, reveals that the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) created and nurtured an account that was grossly and deliberately deceptive.

DHS compiled an intelligence report suggesting hackers linked to the Russian government could have targeted voter-related websites in many states and then leaked a sensational story of Russian attacks on those sites without the qualifications that would have revealed a different story. When state election officials began asking questions, they discovered that the DHS claims were false and, in at least one case, laughable.

The National Security Agency and special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigating team have also claimed evidence that Russian military intelligence was behind election infrastructure hacking, but on closer examination, those claims turn out to be speculative and misleading as well. Mueller’s indictment of 12 GRU military intelligence officers does not cite any violations of U.S. election laws though it claims Russia interfered with the 2016 election.

A Sensational Story 

On Sept. 29, 2016, a few weeks after the hacking of election-related websites in Illinois and Arizona, ABC News carried a sensational headline: “Russian Hackers Targeted Nearly Half of States’ Voter Registration Systems, Successfully Infiltrated 4.” The story itself reported that “more than 20 state election systems” had been hacked, and four states had been “breached” by hackers suspected of working for the Russian government. The story cited only sources “knowledgeable” about the matter, indicating that those who were pushing the story were eager to hide the institutional origins of the information.

Behind that sensational story was a federal agency seeking to establish its leadership within the national security state apparatus on cybersecurity, despite its limited resources for such responsibility. In late summer and fall 2016, the Department of Homeland Security was maneuvering politically to designate state and local voter registration databases and voting systems as “critical infrastructure.” Such a designation would make voter-related networks and websites under the protection a “priority sub-sector” in the DHS “National Infrastructure Protection Plan, which already included 16 such sub-sectors.

DHS Secretary Jeh Johnson and other senior DHS officials consulted with many state election officials in the hope of getting their approval for such a designation. Meanwhile, the DHS was finishing an intelligence report that would both highlight the Russian threat to U.S. election infrastructure and the role DHS could play in protecting it, thus creating political impetus to the designation. But several secretaries of state—the officials in charge of the election infrastructure in their state—strongly opposed the designation that Johnson wanted.

On Jan. 6, 2017—the same day three intelligence agencies released a joint “assessment” on Russian interference in the election—Johnson announced the designation anyway.

Media stories continued to reflect the official assumption that cyber attacks on state election websites were Russian-sponsored. Stunningly, The Wall Street Journal reported in December 2016 that DHS was itself behind hacking attempts of Georgia’s election database.

The facts surrounding the two actual breaches of state websites in Illinois and Arizona, as well as the broader context of cyberattacks on state websites, didn’t support that premise at all.

In July, Illinois discovered an intrusion into its voter registration website and the theft of personal information on as many as 200,000 registered voters. (The 2018 Mueller indictments of GRU officers would unaccountably put the figure at 500,000.) Significantly, however, the hackers only had copied the information and had left it unchanged in the database.

That was a crucial clue to the motive behind the hack. DHS Assistant Secretary for Cyber Security and Communications Andy Ozment told a Congressional committee in late September 2016 that the fact hackers hadn’t tampered with the voter data indicated that the aim of the theft was not to influence the electoral process. Instead, it was “possibly for the purpose of selling personal information.” Ozment was contradicting the line that already was being taken on the Illinois and Arizona hacks by the National Protection and Programs Directorate and other senior DHS officials.

In an interview with me last year, Ken Menzel, the legal adviser to the Illinois secretary of state, confirmed what Ozment had testified. “Hackers have been trying constantly to get into it since 2006,” Menzel said, adding that they had been probing every other official Illinois database with such personal data for vulnerabilities as well. “Every governmental database—driver’s licenses, health care, you name it—has people trying to get into it,” said Menzel.

In the other successful cyberattack on an electoral website, hackers had acquired the username and password for the voter database Arizona used during the summer, as Arizona Secretary of State Michele Reagan learned from the FBI. But the reason that it had become known, according to Reagan in an interview with Mother Jones, was that the login and password had shown up for sale on the dark web—the network of websites used by cyber criminals to sell stolen data and other illicit wares.

Furthermore, the FBI had told her that the effort to penetrate the database was the work of a “known hacker” whom the FBI had monitored “frequently” in the past. Thus, there were reasons to believe that both Illinois and Arizona hacking incidents were linked to criminal hackers seeking information they could sell for profit.

Meanwhile, the FBI was unable to come up with any theory about what Russia might have intended to do with voter registration data such as what was taken in the Illinois hack. When FBI Counterintelligence official Bill Priestap was asked in a June 2017 hearing how Moscow might use such data, his answer revealed that he had no clue: “They took the data to understand what it consisted of,” said the struggling Priestap, “so they can affect better understanding and plan accordingly in regards to possibly impacting future elections by knowing what is there and studying it.”

The inability to think of any plausible way for the Russian government to use such data explains why DHS and the intelligence community adopted the argument, as senior DHS officials Samuel Liles and Jeanette Manfra put it, that the hacks “could be intended or used to undermine public confidence in electoral processes and potentially the outcome.” But such a strategy could not have had any effect without a decision by DHS and the U.S. intelligence community to assert publicly that the intrusions and other scanning and probing were Russian operations, despite the absence of hard evidence. So DHS and other agencies were consciously sowing public doubts about U.S. elections that they were attributing to Russia.

DHS Reveals Its Self-Serving Methodology

In June 2017, Liles and Manfra testified to the Senate Intelligence Committee that an October 2016 DHS intelligence report had listed election systems in 21 states that were “potentially targeted by Russian government cyber actors.” They revealed that the sensational story leaked to the press in late September 2016 had been based on a draft of the DHS report. And more importantly, their use of the phrase “potentially targeted” showed that they were arguing only that the cyber incidents it listed were possible indications of a Russian attack on election infrastructure.

Furthermore, Liles and Manfra said the DHS report had “catalogued suspicious activity we observed on state government networks across the country,” which had been “largely based on suspected malicious tactics and infrastructure.” They were referring to a list of eight IP addresses an August 2016 FBI “flash alert” had obtained from the Illinois and Arizona intrusions, which DHS and FBI had not been able to  attribute to the Russian government.

Manfra: No doubt it was the Russians. (C-SPAN)

The DHS officials recalled that the DHS began to “receive reports of cyber-enabled scanning and probing of election-related infrastructure in some states, some of which appeared to originate from servers operated by a Russian company.” Six of the eight IP addresses in the FBI alert were indeed traced to King Servers, owned by a young Russian living in Siberia. But as DHS cyber specialists knew well, the country of ownership of the server doesn’t prove anything about who was responsible for hacking: As cybersecurity expert Jeffrey Carr pointed out, the Russian hackers who coordinated the Russian attack on Georgian government websites in 2008 used a Texas-based company as the hosting provider.

The cybersecurity firm ThreatConnect noted in 2016 that one of the other two IP addresses had hosted a Russian criminal market for five months in 2015. But that was not a serious indicator, either. Private IP addresses are reassigned frequently by server companies, so there is not a necessary connection between users of the same IP address at different times.

The DHS methodology of selecting reports of cyber incidents involving election-related websites as “potentially targeted” by Russian government-sponsored hackers was based on no objective evidence whatever. The resulting list appears to have included any one of the eight addresses as well as any attack or “scan” on a public website that could be linked in any way to elections.

This methodology conveniently ignored the fact that criminal hackers were constantly trying to get access to every database in those same state, country and municipal systems. Not only for Illinois and Arizona officials, but state electoral officials.

In fact, 14 of the 21 states on the list experienced nothing more than the routine scanning that occurs every day, according to the Senate Intelligence Committee. Only six involved what was referred to as a “malicious access attempt,” meaning an effort to penetrate the site. One of them was in Ohio, where the attempt to find a weakness lasted less than a second and was considered by DHS’s internet security contractor a “non-event” at the time.

State Officials Force DHS to Tell the Truth

For a year, DHS did not inform the 21 states on its list that their election boards or other election-related sites had been attacked in a presumed Russian-sponsored operation. The excuse DHS officials cited was that it could not reveal such sensitive intelligence to state officials without security clearances. But the reluctance to reveal the details about each case was certainly related to the reasonable expectation that states would publicly challenge their claims, creating a potential serious embarrassment.

On Sept. 22, 2017, DHS notified 21 states about the cyber incidents that had been included in the October 2016 report. The public announcement of the notifications said DHS had notified each chief election officer of “any potential targeting we were aware of in their state leading up to the 2016 election.” The phrase “potential targeting” again telegraphed the broad and vague criterion DHS had adopted, but it was ignored in media stories.

But the notifications, which took the form of phone calls lasting only a few minutes, provided a minimum of information and failed to convey the significant qualification that DHS was only suggesting targeting as a possibility. “It was a couple of guys from DHS reading from a script,” recalled one state election official who asked not to be identified. “They said [our state] was targeted by Russian government cyber actors.”

A number of state election officials recognized that this information conflicted with what they knew. And if they complained, they got a more accurate picture from DHS. After Wisconsin Secretary of State Michael Haas demanded further clarification, he got an email response from a DHS official  with a different account. “[B]ased on our external analysis,” the official wrote, “the WI [Wisconsin] IP address affected belongs to the WI Department of Workforce Development, not the Elections Commission.”

California Secretary of State Alex Padilla said DHS initially had notified his office “that Russian cyber actors ‘scanned’ California’s Internet-facing systems in 2016, including Secretary of State websites.” But under further questioning, DHS admitted to Padilla that what the hackers had targeted was the California Department of Technology’s network.

Texas Secretary of State Rolando Pablos and Oklahoma Election Board spokesman Byron Dean also denied that any state website with voter- or election-related information had been targeted, and Pablos demanded that DHS “correct its erroneous notification.”

Despite these embarrassing admissions, a statement issued by DHS spokesman Scott McConnell on Sept. 28, 2017 said the DHS “stood by” its assessment that 21 states “were the target of Russian government cyber actors seeking vulnerabilities and access to U.S. election infrastructure.” The statement retreated from the previous admission that the notifications involved “potential targeting,” but it also revealed for the first time that DHS had defined “targeting” very broadly indeed.

It said the category included “some cases” involving “direct scanning of targeted systems” but also cases in which “malicious actors scanned for vulnerabilities in networks that may be connected to those systems or have similar characteristics in order to gain information about how to later penetrate their target.”

It is true that hackers may scan one website in the hope of learning something that could be useful for penetrating another website, as cybersecurity expert Prof. Herbert S. Lin of Stanford University explained to me in an interview. But including any incident in which that motive was theoretical meant that any state website could be included on the DHS list, without any evidence it was related to a political motive.

Arizona’s further exchanges with DHS revealed just how far DHS had gone in exploiting that escape clause in order to add more states to its “targeted” list. Arizona Secretary of State Michele Reagan tweeted that DHS had informed her that “the Russian government targeted our voter registration systems in 2016.” After meeting with DHS officials in early October 2017, however, Reagan wrote in a blog post that DHS “could not confirm that any attempted Russian government hack occurred whatsoever to any election-related system in Arizona, much less the statewide voter registration database.”

What the DHS said in that meeting, as Reagan’s spokesman Matt Roberts recounted to me, is even more shocking. “When we pressed DHS on what exactly was actually targeted, they said it was the Phoenix public library’s computers system,” Roberts recalled.

In April 2018, a CBS News “60 Minutes” segment reported that the October 2016 DHS intelligence report had included the Russian government hacking of a “county database in Arizona.” Responding to that CBS report, an unidentified “senior Trump administration official” who was well-briefed on the DHS report told Reuters that “media reports” on the issue had sometimes “conflated criminal hacking with Russian government activity,” and that the cyberattack on the target in Arizona “was not perpetrated by the Russian government.”

NSA Finds a GRU Election Plot

National Security Agency headquarters in Fort Meade, Md. (Wikimedia)

NSA intelligence analysts claimed in a May 2017 analysis to have documented an effort by Russian military intelligence (GRU) to hack into U.S. electoral institutions. In an intelligence analysis obtained by The Intercept and reported in June 2017, NSA analysts wrote that the GRU had sent a spear-phishing email—one with an attachment designed to look exactly like one from a trusted institution but that contains malware design to get control of the computer—to a vendor of voting machine technology in Florida. The hackers then designed a fake web page that looked like that of the vendor. They sent it to a list of 122 email addresses NSA believed to be local government organizations that probably were “involved in the management of voter registration systems.” The objective of the new spear-phishing campaign, the NSA suggested, was to get control of their computers through malware to carry out the exfiltration of voter-related data.

But the authors of The Intercept story failed to notice crucial details in the NSA report that should have tipped them off that the attribution of the spear-phishing campaign to the GRU was based merely on the analysts’ own judgment—and that their judgment was faulty.

The Intercept article included a color-coded chart from the original NSA report that provides crucial information missing from the text of the NSA analysis itself as well as The Intercept’s account. The chart clearly distinguishes between the elements of the NSA’s account of the alleged Russian scheme that were based on “Confirmed Information” (shown in green) and those that were based on “Analyst Judgment” (shown in yellow). The connection between the “operator” of the spear-phishing campaign the report describes and an unidentified entity confirmed to be under the authority of the GRU is shown as a yellow line, meaning that it is based on “Analyst Judgment” and labeled “probably.”

A major criterion for any attribution of a hacking incident is whether there are strong similarities to previous hacks identified with a specific actor. But the chart concedes that “several characteristics” of the campaign depicted in the report distinguish it from “another major GRU spear-phishing program,” the identity of which has been redacted from the report.

The NSA chart refers to evidence that the same operator also had launched spear-phishing campaigns on other web-based mail applications, including the Russian company “Mail.ru.” Those targets suggest that the actors were more likely Russian criminal hackers rather than Russian military intelligence.

Even more damaging to its case, the NSA reports that the same operator who had sent the spear-phishing emails also had sent a test email to the “American Samoa Election Office.” Criminal hackers could have been interested in personal information from the database associated with that office. But the idea that Russian military intelligence was planning to hack the voter rolls in American Samoa, an unincorporated U.S. territory with 56,000 inhabitants who can’t even vote in U.S. presidential elections, is plainly risible.

The Mueller Indictment’s Sleight of Hand

The Mueller indictment of GRU officers released on July 13 appeared at first reading to offer new evidence of Russian government responsibility for the hacking of Illinois and other state voter-related websites. A close analysis of the relevant paragraphs, however, confirms the lack of any real intelligence supporting that claim.

Mueller accused two GRU officers of working with unidentified “co-conspirators” on those hacks. But the only alleged evidence linking the GRU to the operators in the hacking incidents is the claim that a GRU official named Anatoly Kovalev and “co-conspirators” deleted search history related to the preparation for the hack after the FBI issued its alert on the hacking identifying the IP address associated with it in August 2016.

A careful reading of the relevant paragraphs shows that the claim is spurious. The first sentence in Paragraph 71 says that both Kovalev and his “co-conspirators” researched domains used by U.S. state boards of elections and other entities “for website vulnerabilities.” The second says Kovalev and “co-conspirators” had searched for “state political party email addresses, including filtered queries for email addresses listed on state Republican Party websites.”

Mueller: Don’t read the fine print. (The White House/Wikimedia)

Searching for website vulnerabilities would be evidence of intent to hack them, of course, but searching Republican Party websites for email addresses is hardly evidence of any hacking plan. And Paragraph 74 states that Kovalev “deleted his search history”—not the search histories of any “co-conspirator”—thus revealing that there were no joint searches and suggesting that the subject Kovalev had searched was Republican Party emails. So any deletion by Kovalev of his search history after the FBI alert would not be evidence of his involvement in the hacking of the Illinois election board website.

With this rhetorical misdirection unraveled, it becomes clear that the repetition in every paragraph of the section of the phrase “Kovalev and his co-conspirators” was aimed at giving the reader the impression the accusation is based on hard intelligence about possible collusion that doesn’t exist.

The Need for Critical Scrutiny of DHS Cyberattack Claims

The DHS campaign to establish its role as the protector of U.S. electoral institutions is not the only case in which that agency has used a devious means to sow fear of Russian cyberattacks. In December 2016, DHS and the FBI published a long list of IP addresses as indicators of possible Russian cyberattacks. But most of the addresses on the list had no connection with Russian intelligence, as former U.S. government cyber-warfare officer Rob Lee found on close examination.

When someone at the Burlington, Vt., Electric Company spotted one of those IP addresses on one of its computers, the company reported it to DHS. But instead of quietly investigating the address to verify that it was indeed an indicator of Russian intrusion, DHS immediately informed The Washington Post. The result was a sensational story that Russian hackers had penetrated the U.S. power grid. In fact, the IP address in question was merely Yahoo’s email server, as Rob Lee told me, and the computer had not even been connected to the power grid. The threat to the power grid was a tall tale created by a DHS official, which the Post had to embarrassingly retract.

Since May 2017, DHS, in partnership with the FBI, has begun an even more ambitious campaign to focus public attention on what it says are Russian “targeting” and “intrusions” into “major, high value assets that operate components of our Nation’s critical infrastructure”, including energy, nuclear, water, aviation and critical manufacturing sectors. Any evidence of such an intrusion must be taken seriously by the U.S. government and reported by news media. But in light of the DHS record on alleged threats to election infrastructure and the Burlington power grid, and its well-known ambition to assume leadership over cyber protection, the public interest demands that the news media examine DHS claims about Russian cyber threats far more critically than they have up to now.


Gareth Porter is an independent investigative journalist and winner of the 2012 Gellhorn Prize for journalism. His latest book is Manufactured Crisis: The Untold Story of the Iran Nuclear Scare.

August 28, 2018 Posted by | Deception, Fake News, Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Russophobia | , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Guns and Butter Banned and Removed from KPFA Radio

Guns and Butter | August 16, 2018

Dear Guns and Butter Supporters and Listeners,

Guns and Butter has been taken off the KPFA airwaves by the General Manager of the station.

I received on Wednesday, August 8th, before Guns and Butter would have aired on KPFA, the following email from the General Manager:

Bonnie,

KPFA will cease broadcasting “Guns and Butter” effective immediately.

We’ve received an avalanche of negative calls and emails from listeners about your uncritically airing of views by a holocaust denier, climate denial and casting the Parkland mass shooting survivors as crisis actors. As steward of our airways, we can’t defend this content to our listeners.

Sincerely,

Quincy McCoy     Kevin Cartwright
General Manager  Program Director

This was followed by removal of the entire KPFA broadcast archives of Guns and Butter, down the memory hole.

KPFA defines itself as “Free Speech Radio” and this reaction is a form of censorship. There was no discussion of these claims, nor any provision for due process or community involvement before these actions were taken.

Background

On July 24th, after registering unique premiums I had developed for the two-week KPFA Summer Fund Drive, I received an email from the pledge room informing me that Guns and Butter was pre-empted for the two-week fund drive. The show had never been pre-empted during fund drives, no reason was given, nor any prior notice.

On July 18th I received one other message from the station – the General Manager forwarded to me two email complaints from listeners, the day Guns and Butter aired The Impact of Zionist Influence in the U.S., a presentation by Alan Sabrosky as part of a panel, Zionism – Deconstructing the Power Paradigm, from an online conference. The GM wrote that he agreed with the criticism, that there was “nothing in the mission that agrees or allows unbalanced issue shows like this especially about a topic as sensitive as this.”
 
Response to Claims

“Holocaust Denial” Alan Sabrosky is a Jewish American war veteran and former Army War College Director at the Strategic Studies Institute. He did not claim that there was no persecution of Jewish people in fascist Germany. The focus of his talk was on present and future perils, specifically war with Iran. Airing his brief comments on WWII is apparently what has angered some people. There could be an equivalent number of people who appreciated those comments but did not choose to send an email about them.

“Climate Denial” (Whatever that means) Programming on Guns and Butter has covered climate disruption, climate extremes, etc. It has not flat out supported the theory that global warming is the future trend because there are other scientific phenomenon and influences on the climate that are being studied such as sun cycles, space weather and the weakening of the earth’s magnetosphere, among other factors, that should be considered.

“Crisis Actors” No one on the show claimed that Parkland student shooting survivors were crisis actors. What was pointed out was that it was suspicious that the student activist whose political narrative was picked up by the media was not even at the school during the shooting, but showed up right afterward.

About Guns and Butter

Guns and Butter is an educational program that provides a platform for opinions and analyses not heard in the mainstream media. The program is not necessarily about what I think or believe, nor does it constitute an endorsement of every thing said by a guest, but an opportunity for thought and discussion by listeners interested in differing points of view. In a time of extreme polarity in our country, open sharing of ideas is where we need to be.

Guns and Butter spearheaded deep analysis of the seminal event of the 21st Century – the crimes of September 11th that no other program on KPFA would deal with. I also produced many hours of original economic and financial programming with Dr. Michael Hudson, Dr. Michel Chossudovsky, Dr. Webster Tarpley, to name a few. You wouldn’t realize it now, but there wasn’t any other financial/economic programming on the station at the time. The geopolitical coverage on Guns and Butter has also been superb. The show has produced outstanding programming on a wide variety of complex and difficult subjects.

Guns and Butter was created by me and a fellow volunteer reporter in the KPFA Newsroom in 2001. It was approved for broadcast by a democratic vote of the KPFA Program Council that included community members. The program is fully edited and mixed for broadcast, and is a more than full-time stressful job to produce. It has aired for 17 years and has raised multiple hundreds of thousands of dollars for the station, which reflects very strong listener support. I have never received any support from the station.

An unprecedented attack on the 1st Amendment right of free speech is taking place generally. Alternative media on the Internet is being removed, not just from social media platforms, but websites themselves have come under denial of service attack. Youtube has for some time been eliminating channels. I have just learned that Word Press is taking down websites. Computer algorithms are clamping down on search engines for alternative news and has adversely affected many popular sites, including Global Research.

It seems that differing viewpoints are no longer allowed on KPFA’s airwaves and that listeners’ feelings are purportedly being protected by station management when it is information, facts and data that should be given the highest precedence by management, not opinions. It is always uncomfortable hearing something that one finds offensive or that threatens to break one out of one’s bubble, but it is an individual’s responsibility not the station’s to take care of one’s own feelings. And rather than management deciding what listeners should or should not hear because of managements’ own personal biases or pressure from special interest groups, listeners’ ability to think for themselves and make up their own minds should be respected and not be subject to censorship of ideas and unknown research from either the Right or the Left, especially when it comes to KPFA which should be guided by the Pacifica mission that includes the following:

To establish a Foundation organized and operated exclusively for educational purposes. ……… In radio broadcasting operations to engage in any activity that shall contribute to a lasting understanding between nations and between the individuals of all nations, races, creeds and colors; to gather and disseminate information on the causes of conflict between any and all of such groups; and through any and all means compatible with the purposes of this corporation to promote the study of political and economic problems and of the causes of religious, philosophical and racial antagonisms.

Guns and Butter is broadcast on WBAI in New York City every Wednesday at 9AM and is carried on many Pacifica Affiliates and will continue to be archived here on the Guns and Butter website.

We need your financial help to sustain our programming, most especially during this extremely difficult time of alternative media censorship, and we thank you for your support. Thank you to everyone who has signed up for monthly sustainable contributions, and to those of you who have made one-time donations. We cannot express enough our gratitude. As always, your donations are tax-deductible to the full extent of the law. Guns and Butter is a project of Inquiring Systems, a registered 501(c)(3) that has been providing non-profit status to socially responsible organizations since 1978.

August 28, 2018 Posted by | Full Spectrum Dominance, Progressive Hypocrite, Science and Pseudo-Science | , | 1 Comment

US army accuses RT of ‘ridiculous misinformation’ over Syria, but not UN or NBC

FILE PHOTO. © Aboud Hamam / Reuters
RT | August 28, 2018

A US Army colonel has accused RT of ‘ridiculous misinformation’ for reporting a Russian government suggestion that Islamic State is operating inside a US-controlled zone in Syria, despite the UN and NBC reporting the same.

On Thursday, Russian Foreign Ministry spokesperson Maria Zakharova told journalists that Moscow has received information that armed members of Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS) and the Al-Qaeda proxy group Jabhat al-Nusra had found shelter in the Rukban refugee camp, located in the southwest Al-Tanf region of Syria, and that the US knows the terrorists are there.

Don’t be distracted by ridiculous misinformation from @RT_com. The #Coalition is focused on #defeatISIS mission & we continue to work with @MaghaweirThowra to secure the #AlTanf region in southern #Syria. @CJTFOIR@oirdcomsshttps://t.co/8vcbh82CVD

— OIR Spokesman (@OIRSpox) August 26, 2018

Army Colonel Sean Ryan who is the spokesman for Operation Inherent Resolve (OIR), the snappy name for the US-led coalition against IS, took to the one battleground that really matters, Twitter. He accused RT of ‘ridiculous misinformation’. It’s not entirely clear which part of the report he believes is misinformation; the fact that the Foreign Ministry said the statement in the first place, that terrorists are operating in Rukban, or that the US knows all about it.

If he’s got a problem with the information coming from Russia’s Foreign Ministry, then he should direct his objections that way. It is generally accepted in the world of journalism that quoting the statement of a government official is not ‘misinformation’, it’s actually just reporting the news. Attempting to undermine good faith reporting, well that actually is ‘misinformation’.

More worrying would be if Colonel Ryan is saying the US actually knows nothing about terrorists operating in and around the Rukban refugee camp, because that would make the US military the only organisation in the region that hasn’t noticed. That’s even more concerning when you consider the stated US goal of being in Syria is to fight IS rebels.

For the benefit of Colonel Ryan, here are a few people who have noticed the slightly dodgy looking gun-toting terrorists who appear to be putting together cells under their noses.

NBC’s Bill Neely was given access to the area around the Rukban camp, but he reported that his Jordanian helicopter pilot refused to fly over it “for fear of being shot down by ISIS cells in the camp.”

The NBC report goes on to quote the commander of Jordan’s army in the area as saying “militants there have whole weapons systems … small arms, RPGs, anti-aircraft.” Brigadier General Sami Kafawin describes how the militants “consider the camp a safe haven. We consider it an imminent threat.”

Jordan is a US ally at the last time of checking, perhaps Colonel Ryan should phone someone up there.

Earlier this month, the UN named the Rukban refugee camp as being among hotspots ripe for the reemergence of IS. For the sake of Colonel Ryan, he can find a link to the UN report here.

The camp is close to the Jordanian border which was closed because of constant terrorist activity. It doesn’t take a genius to work out that terrorists working in such a remote region might see some opportunities in a nearby camp of 80,000 desperate people.

So, what’s really going on here? When a report from RT is branded misinformation by a US colonel who is responsible for less-than-transparent operations in a distant part of Syria, readers may be well advised to read the contents of that report, and future reports, very carefully. Serving military leaders are not well known for being open with information. However, it’s nice to see that Colonel Ryan is getting some of his news from RT.com.

Publicly criticising outlets like RT has nothing to do with pointing out misinformation, but everything to do with undermining different sources of information which are not singing to your tune.

RT has written to Colonel Ryan in an attempt to clarify his comments, but has not received a reply at the time of writing. It can’t be ruled out that he hasn’t noticed the email.

Read more:

ISIS given ‘breathing space’ in parts of Syria under US-backed forces’ control

August 28, 2018 Posted by | Deception | , , | 1 Comment

The 10 Main Holes in the Official Narrative on the Salisbury Poisonings: #5 – The Feeding of the Ducks

By Rob Slane | The Blog Mire | August 27, 2018

In the previous piece, I began to focus on the official timeline of events on March 4th, as stated by The Metropolitan Police on 17th March, noting that there is a missing 4 hours in the morning, which investigators were very anxious to receive information on at the time, but which they have been conspicuously silent on since. Not only have they failed to update the timeline with information about the Skripals movements on the morning of 4th March, but they have failed to do so despite now having that information. How can I be sure they have it? Because both Sergei and Yulia Skripal have been awake and talking for months now. 

But in this piece, I want to focus on something even more important. Something that is crucial for two reasons:

  1. Firstly, the Metropolitan Police do not mention it in their timeline, even though it absolutely did happen and is vital.
  2. Secondly, it completely demolishes the theory that the Skripals were poisoned by touching a nerve agent on the handle of Mr Skripal’s front door.

The incident in question is the duck feed. But before I come on to it, let’s just remind ourselves of the official timeline once more, so that we can then see where this incident fits in:

Saturday 3rd March

14.40hrs on Saturday 3 March: Yulia arrives at Heathrow Airport on a flight from Russia.

Sunday 4th March

09.15hrs on Sunday, 4 March: Sergei’s car is seen in the area of London Road, Churchill Way North and Wilton Road.

13.30hrs: Sergei’s car is seen being driven down Devizes Road, towards the town centre.

13:40hrs: Sergei and Yulia arrive in Sainsbury’s upper level car park at the Maltings. At some time after this, they go to the Bishops Mill Pub in the town centre.

14.20hrs: They dine at Zizzi Restaurant.

15:35hrs: They leave Zizzi Restaurant.

16.15hrs: Emergency services receive a report from a member of the public and police arrive at the scene within minutes, where they find Sergei and Yulia extremely ill on a park bench near the restaurant.

One of the things that is immediately obvious about this timeline is its astonishing vagueness in certain places. For instance, Mr Skripal’s car was apparently seen in three different areas — London Road, Churchill Way North and Wilton Road — at 9:15. Presumably it was seen on CCTV cameras in these locations, and presumably these cameras all have time and date stamps. In which case, why could the timeline not be more precise than suggesting that Mr Skripal’s car was at three locations at the same time?

But the vagueness of the time and location of the car in the morning really is small fry compared to the time and location given at 13:40hrs:

“Sergei and Yulia arrive in Sainsbury’s upper level car park at the Maltings. At some time after this, they go to the Bishops Mill Pub in the town centre.”

At some time after this? What exactly is that supposed to mean? Were there not CCTV cameras in The Maltings and in The Mill that could give a more precise timeline? The unnerving thing – given that this is one of the biggest and most important investigations Britain has ever seen – is that yes indeed there were. And yet what these cameras show has either been ignored in the timeline altogether, or incorporated into it in some sort of vague and nebulous way that – and I don’t know how else to process it – frankly looks very suspect.

I’ll come on to the bit about The Mill in the next piece, but before we get there, perhaps we can jog the memories of investigators by reminding them of a piece of CCTV footage that they certainly do have, which is time stamped, and which shows clearly where Sergei Skripal and Yulia were at a particular time.

After parking the car, at 1:40pm, the two of them were seen near the Avon Playground, in The Maltings, feeding ducks with some local boys. This was at 1:45pm and has been confirmed to me by one of the boys’ mothers, who was shown the CCTV footage by the police, which she said was really clear. She also confirmed to me that Mr Skripal was wearing jeans and a leather jacket, and that Yulia Skripal had a red bag.

The Metropolitan Police apparently don’t think the duck feeding incident important enough to include in their timeline, and so after the parking of the car, we are treated to the vague statement that, “at some time after this, they go to the Bishops Mill Pub.”

But it is incredibly important, for the following reason: it totally, completely and comprehensively debunks the idea that Mr Skripal was poisoned at his home, after his hand came into contact with a deadly nerve agent on the handle of his front door. Why?

BECAUSE HE HANDED BREAD TO THE BOYS, AND NONE OF THEM BECAME CONTAMINATED, THAT’S WHY!

Think about it. Zizzis has remained shut since the incident, because it was apparently contaminated, and the table that the Skripals ate their meal at “had to be destroyed” because of the apparently high concentration of nerve agent there. Likewise, The Mill has been closed ever since. And of course the bench too had to be destroyed, since it was apparently contaminated.

But these were all places visited by the Skripals AFTER the feeding of the ducks.

And so we are asked to believe the following preposterous notion: That Sergei and Yulia Skripal’s hands were contaminated with “military grade nerve agent” at the door of Mr Skripal’s house, so much so that certain places they visited on that afternoon had to undergo months of decontamination, and certain items they touched had to be destroyed.

And yet in between getting the nerve agent on their hands at the door, and the visits to those locations, Mr Skripal was seen on CCTV, at 1:45pm, handing bread to local boys to give to the ducks. With his contaminated hands, apparently. And one of those boys even ate a piece. And yet none of those boys managed to become contaminated the by the “military grade nerve agent” on Mr Skripal’s hands?

No amount of “they might have been wearing gloves” will do. Firstly, the temperature was actually quite warm (8-9 degrees) and so it’s unlikely that they were wearing gloves; secondly, who actually tears bread from a loaf whilst wearing gloves (probably nobody, is my guess); but thirdly, gloves apparently weren’t enough protection to prevent D.S. Bailey from becoming contaminated, allegedly at the door handle.

No, there is no way out of this. The duck feeding incident leaves the “nerve agent on the door handle” theory in tatters. If the duck feed happened – which it did – then the “Skripals becoming contaminated with nerve agent on the door handle” did not happen. To continue to believe that it did, in the light of Mr Skripal handing bread to boys, not one of whom became contaminated, is to cast off all reason and enter a twilight world of the absurd.

But it does at least explain why the incident doesn’t make it onto the timeline!

August 28, 2018 Posted by | Deception, False Flag Terrorism, Russophobia | | Leave a comment

Skripals – When the BBC Hide the Truth

By Craig Murray | August 27, 2018

On 8 July 2018 a lady named Kirsty Eccles asked what, in its enormous ramifications, historians may one day see as the most important Freedom of Information request ever made. The rest of this post requires extremely close and careful reading, and some thought, for you to understand that claim.

Dear British Broadcasting Corporation,

1: Why did BBC Newsnight correspondent Mark Urban keep secret from the licence payers that he had been having meetings with Sergei Skripal only last summer.

2: When did the BBC know this?

3: Please provide me with copies of all correspondence between yourselves and Mark Urban on the subject of Sergei Skripal.

Yours faithfully,

Kirsty Eccles

The ramifications of this little request are enormous as they cut right to the heart of the ramping up of the new Cold War, of the BBC’s propaganda collusion with the security services to that end, and of the concoction of fraudulent evidence in the Steele “dirty dossier”. This also of course casts a strong light on more plausible motives for an attack on the Skripals.

Which is why the BBC point blank refused to answer Kirsty’s request, stating that it was subject to the Freedom of Information exemption for “Journalism”.

10th July 2018
Dear Ms Eccles
Freedom of Information request – RFI20181319
Thank you for your request to the BBC of 8th July 2018, seeking the following information under the
Freedom of Information Act 2000:
1: Why did BBC Newsnight correspondent Mark Urban keep secret from the licence payers that he
had been having meetings with Sergei Skripal only last summer.
2: When did the BBC know this?
3: Please provide me with copies of all correspondence between yourselves and Mark Urban on the
subject of Sergei Skripal.
The information you have requested is excluded from the Act because it is held for the purposes of
‘journalism, art or literature.’ The BBC is therefore not obliged to provide this information to you. Part VI
of Schedule 1 to FOIA provides that information held by the BBC and the other public service broadcasters
is only covered by the Act if it is held for ‘purposes other than those of journalism, art or literature”. The
BBC is not required to supply information held for the purposes of creating the BBC’s output or
information that supports and is closely associated with these creative activities.

The BBC is of course being entirely tendentious here – “journalism” does not include the deliberate suppression of vital information from the public, particularly in order to facilitate the propagation of fake news on behalf of the security services. That black propaganda is precisely what the BBC is knowingly engaged in, and here trying hard to hide.

I have today attempted to contact Mark Urban at Newsnight by phone, with no success, and sent him this email:

To: mark.urban@bbc.co.uk

Dear Mark,

As you may know, I am a journalist working in alternative media, a member of the NUJ, as well as a former British Ambassador. I am researching the Skripal case.

I wish to ask you the following questions.

1) When the Skripals were first poisoned, it was the largest news story in the entire World and you were uniquely positioned having held several meetings with Sergei Skripal the previous year. Yet faced with what should have been a massive career break, you withheld that unique information on a major story from the public for four months. Why?
2) You were an officer in the Royal Tank Regiment together with Skripal’s MI6 handler, Pablo Miller, who also lived in Salisbury. Have you maintained friendship with Miller over the years and how often do you communicate?
3) When you met Skripal in Salisbury, was Miller present all or part of the time, or did you meet Miller separately?
4) Was the BBC aware of your meetings with Miller and/or Skripal at the time?
5) When, four months later, you told the world about your meetings with Skripal after the Rowley/Sturgess incident, you said you had met him to research a book. Yet the only forthcoming book by you advertised is on the Skripal attack. What was the subject of your discussions with Skripal?
6) Pablo Miller worked for Orbis Intelligence. Do you know if Miller contributed to the Christopher Steele dossier on Trump/Russia?
7) Did you discuss the Trump dossier with Skripal and/or Miller?
8) Do you know whether Skripal contributed to the Trump dossier?
9) In your Newsnight piece following the Rowley/Sturgess incident, you stated that security service sources had told you that Yulia Skripal’s telephone may have been bugged. Since January 2017, how many security service briefings or discussions have you had on any of the matter above.

I look forward to hearing from you.

Craig Murray

I should very much welcome others also sending emails to Mark Urban to emphasise the public demand for an answer from the BBC to these vital questions. If you have time, write your own email, or if not copy and paste from mine.

To quote that great Scot John Paul Jones, “We have not yet begun to fight”.

August 28, 2018 Posted by | Deception, False Flag Terrorism, Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Russophobia | , , | Leave a comment

US not ready for substantive dialogue with Russia on cybersecurity – Lavrov

RT | August 28, 2018

The US has not yet provided any evidence of ‘Russian hackers’ interfering in the 2016 presidential election, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said Tuesday.

“For the second year we have been proposing that a bilateral working group on cybersecurity should be created to discuss and remove mutual concerns, including those related to influence on electoral processes in [the US and Russia],” he told the Slovak newspaper Pravda.

However, Washington is avoiding a “professional exchange of views,” he said.

It is only surprising “how easily it was possible to put a discussion of this unfounded theme at the center of the intra-American socio-political discussion,” Lavrov noted.

August 28, 2018 Posted by | Russophobia | , | 1 Comment

5 timely reminders that the media think you are an idiot…

By Kit | OffGuardian | August 28, 2018

The corporate media think we are stupid. All of us. They have as much respect for our intellect or ability to reason as they do for the truth. This is displayed, in size 20 font, on the front page of every newspaper every single day. They paint a picture of an absurd world, and expect us all to nod along with it, blithely accepting their stories as true, no matter what laws of reason – or even physics – they bend to suit their purpose.

The world in the newspaper and on the television is not real in any true sense of the word. Merely a crazy fun-house mirror reflection of the truth. Important features shrunk to nothing, tiny flaws blown up out of proportion. Apparently solid shapes that – on inspection – are nothing but strange plays of light and shadow.

With that in mind, let’s remind ourselves of the kind of completely bonkers things we’re all expected to believe.

1. The Inherent silliness of “ISIS”

This section was going to be more specific, but as I looked back over recent history, there was no single absurdity that highlighted how stupid the ISIS story was.

ISIS was, and is, silly. A few bullet points to demonstrate this – and a reminder that these are not exaggerated in any way. These are, supposedly, facts:

  • They were making $1-$3 million PER DAY smuggling oil out of Syria, in convoys kilometres long that the US air force either couldn’t find or wouldn’t bomb because of “risks to civilians”. How they had the technical expertise to extract and process this oil was never explained.
  • They minted their own currency.
  • They published end-of-year reports, like a business, and kept detailed accounts on flash drives and USB sticks. Despite this, no ISIS bank accounts were ever seized, monitored or shut down.
  • They had multiple social media accounts, YouTube channels – often described as “ISIS linked social media accounts” – these accounts weren’t locked, blocked or deleted. The registered owners weren’t arrested. They had their own twitter app which was impossible to block and created their own social network.
  • They had their own TV channel, with an animated logo, a waving flag, in the corner of their videos. Think on this – somebody, somewhere, made that logo.
  • They had fleets of Toyotas, which we’re supposed to believe they just sort of… acquired. They are all clean, new and undamaged. They are all colour-matched too, of course. There are red ones, white ones, black ones and tan ones. With and without logos painted on the hood. They deployed these trucks in photo-shoots and “viral” videos, the theoretical production of which simply boggles the mind. A bunch of black Toyota’s crossing the desert doesn’t look like much, but think about the actual logistics of making the video. They had to drive up to this spot, drop off the camera crew and equipment, drive back over the horizon, properly time their entrance by synchronizing all the driving and spacing the trucks out evenly, drive past the camera crew waving their flags… then drive back and pick up the camera men and equipment. All of this in the middle of a war zone.
  • Of course all their videos had the same music, the ISIS theme, which was Arabic voices singing in close harmony. We’re supposed to believe that – somewhere in the heart of their war-torn empire – a bunch of crazy zealots gathered round a microphone to sing a capella melodies about “death to the west”, while a frustrated technician muttered to himself about “levels” and how Muhammad is flat on the high note. This spawned their own genre of music, which NME did a story on.

It’s so… stupid. And yet the media says it, and expects us to believe it.

ISIS – the all-powerful death cult, the existential threat to Western democracy, on the verge of “regional dominance”. There was a map and everything – world domination by 2020.

Despite all this, ISIS – the untouchable hydra of evil – completely fell apart as a force in the region just months after Russia and Iran got involved in the Syrian war.

Why was this?

Could it be that ISIS were just a media creation – the PR arm of the CIA’s jihadist proxy army – and, in truth, barely existed as fighting force? Existing, rather, to give Western powers an excuse to conduct air strikes on Syrian territory?

Or could it be that the MSM realised that 10,000 insane, bloodthirsty zealots taking time out of their devout holy war to have design meetings about coinage, or shoot music videos in Dune buggies, rings rather hollow?

It’s all a bit silly isn’t it?

2. The Syrian government Is collectively suicidal

Several times, in the last couple of years, Western leaders have made remarkably prescient statements – something along the lines of “We will not tolerate the use of chemical weapons on civilians”, or “We will act if chemical weapons are used”. In fact, in just the last few days both the US and France have reissued these warnings.

Despite these warnings, and though it offers him literally zero strategic advantages of any kind, Assad keeps deploying his super-secret chemical weapons against civilians… just because. He’s winning the war, it’s pretty much over, the only thing that could swing it against him is NATO, and he keeps deliberately inciting them to attack him.

There’s only 2 explanations for that – either he, and his government, are low-key suicidal, or it never happened, and the propagandists in the media truly believe we are completely stupid.

Then there’s the photographs.

Syria knows they have been in America’s crosshairs for years, since well before the start of the Arab spring. They are aware of Israel’s designs on Syrian land, and more than familiar with the US modus operandi re: “humanitarianism”. They KNOW the worst thing they could do is give America, and their NATO allies, even the whisper of a war crime to get indignant about.

… and yet we’re supposed to believe, not only that the regime tortured and executed tens of thousands of “peaceful protestors” for absolutely no reason, but they also kept a carefully photographed and catalogued record of their crimes.

This was brought up in the Guardian today, the famous “Caesar Photographs”, photos of 11,000 people the Assad government tortured and killed, all properly catalogued and numbered and then – conveniently – leaked by some unknown “former guard” and displayed in London like some morbid art exhibition.

The identity of the “leaker” remains a mystery, and there is literally zero evidence the photographs are a) from Syria or b) real.

Does this version of events sound even slightly reasonable?

3. Amnesty International used echolocation to recreate a Syrian prison

They really did. They have some guys claiming to be Syrian resistance members who were held in one of Assad’s “torture prisons”, but they were either blindfolded or in darkness the whole time, so in order to map out the interior of the prison… Amnesty International played sounds to them, to see if they sounded the same. I truly wish I was joking:

Inmates were constantly blindfolded or forced to kneel and cover their eyes when guards entered their cells, so sound became the key sense by which they navigated and measured their environment – and therefore one of the chief tools with which the Forensic team could reconstruct the prison layout. Using a technique of “echo profiling”, sound artist Lawrence Abu Hamdan was able to determine the size of cells, stairwells and corridors by playing different reverberations and asking witnesses to match them with sounds they remembered hearing in the prison.

There’s no reports as to why exactly the men were locked up, how they got away, why they were released and not executed like everyone else OR – indeed – where they acquired their bat-like super hearing.

… But we do now have a 3D model of Assad’s “torture prison”. We even know which room is the crematorium too, because it looked like the snow on the roof had melted in one satellite photo… and the only thing that makes a roof hot is the burning corpses of dissidents.

The whole process is part of a completely made up recently developed field known as “forensic architecture”. In simple terms, it seems “forensic architecture” is looking at the outside of a building – or indeed a photograph of the outside of a building – and guessing what’s inside. While this might seem difficult, pointless, or even insane to most people… to the mainstream media it is worth of thousands of words of coverage and, indeed, winning media awards.

Does any of that really make any sense to you?

4. Jeremy Corbyn hates the Jews

Jeremy Corbyn is soft – maybe, arguably – too soft for the job that history has violently hoisted on to his shoulders, but soft none the less. He rides his bike to work, wears cardigans, is a vegetarian. He has campaigned for peace and against war his entire life. He was arrested for protesting apartheid whilst Margaret Thatcher was calling Nelson Mandela a terrorist, he spoke out against Pinochet while the General was a darling on both sides of the Atlantic.

He has won two international peace prizes.

The idea that, during a public career dedicated to the socialist ideals of decency and fairness, he was secretly thinking “Bloody Jews!” the whole time is completely absurd. Insultingly absurd, and there is not a single piece of evidence to suggest otherwise. There is nothing more to be said on the matter.

5. Russiagate

This is the big one, currently. The grand-daddy of the nothingburgers. Russiagate never happened. There was no collusion, no cheating or vote hacking or pay-offs. They have found literally zero evidence anything ever took place, seizing upon tiny anecdotal scraps and blaring them out in FULL CAPS HEADLINES to make a case in the court of public opinion that would never stand in an actual court.

Where “Russiagate” is different from most invented media schlock however, is the sheer weight of counter evidence. For most media fiction you can say “Well, there’s very little evidence to support that” (see Corbyn = anti-Semite as a classic example). With Russiagate you can go even further: There is a ton – A TON – of evidence to the contrary, clear-cut evidence that Russia (and Putin) have nothing to do with Trump being President. The media refuse to acknowledge this evidence, directly and contemptuously challenging the public’s ability to reason.

Below is a list of unchallenged, non-controversial facts about Russiagate:

  • The only proven, admitted, wrong-doing in the 2016 Presidential election was carried out by the DNC, who rigged the primaries so Clinton would be the democratic candidate. This was later admitted to by members of the DNC.
  • The e-mails which first brought this to light were published by WikiLeaks, there is no proven link between WikiLeaks and the Russian government.
  • Julian Assange, founder of WikiLeaks claimed the e-mails were from an internal leak, not the result of a hack.
  • The “Trump-Russia” dossier, a collection of (possibly fabricated) dirt put together by British ex-spy Christopher Steele, was paid for by the DNC and Clinton’s campaign.

These facts, alone, should bring Russiagate down… but there’s more. Since becoming President, Donald Trump has:

These are policies that not only run counter to ALL of Russia’s interests, but very nearly brought us to the brink of World War 3.

And yet we’re told, over and over, to ignore our own logical minds and believe that Trump is Putin’s “puppet”. That Trump is “soft” on Russia.

Why would a product of Russian collusion pursue policies harmful to Russia? How many Russians need to die before we accept that Trump is anything but soft?

The media line on this issue is insane, and dangerous. In refusing to acknowledge the actual truth – that the US Deep State is pushing for conflict with Russia – the media are dragging us toward apocalypse, smiling happily to themselves as they go.

They are either all delusional morons, think WE are all delusional morons, or – most probably – both.

The inmates are running the asylum, declaring the rest of us insane because none of us are hearing voices.

This is why the media is in decline, why the BBC is losing its audience and the newspapers have plummeting readership, because people are tired of being treated like idiots and herded like cattle. We’ve made a collective decision to cut the bullshit out of our lives. The world is heading towards a split, two parallel universes running together – the real world, where reasonable pragmatic people get on with the struggles of life, and the media world, where fake people write about pretend events in newspapers nobody reads.

The media has become that manipulative spouse who lies and cheats and tells you it’s all your fault. A narcissistic gaslighter who just will not change.

It’s time to make a clean break.

August 28, 2018 Posted by | Deception, Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Fake News, Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Russophobia, Timeless or most popular | , , , , , | 1 Comment

The Crucifixion of Jeremy Corbyn

Israel’s friends demand total surrender

By Philip Giraldi • Unz Review • August 28, 2018

Many believe that the easily observable dominance of the friends of Israel over some aspects of government policy is a phenomenon unique to the United States, where committed Jews and Christian Zionists are able to control both politicians and the media message relating to what is going on in the Middle East. Unfortunately, the reality is that there exists an “Israel Lobby” in many countries, all dedicated to advancing the agendas promoted by successive Israeli governments no matter what the actual interests of the host country might be. Failure to confront Israel’s crimes against humanity combined with an inability to resist its demands regarding how issues like anti-Semitism and hate speech are defined has done terrible damage to free speech in Western Europe and, most notably, in the Anglophone world.

For the United States this corruption of the media and the political process by Israel has meant endless wars in the Middle East as well of loss of civil liberties at home, but some other countries have compromised their own declared values far beyond that. Former Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper praised Israel completely inaccurately as a light that “… burns bright, upheld by the universal principles of all civilized nations – freedom, democracy justice.” He has also said “I will defend Israel whatever the cost” to Canada, an assertion that some might regard as very, very odd for a Canadian head of state.

In some other cases, Israel plays hardball directly, threatening retribution against governments that do not fall in line. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu recently warned New Zealand that backing a U.N. resolution condemning Israeli settlements would be a “declaration of war.” He was able to do so because he had confidence in the power of the Israel Lobby in that country to mobilize and produce the desired result.

It might surprise some that the “Mother of Parliaments” in Great Britain is perhaps the legislative body most dominated by Israeli interests, more in many respects than the Congress in the United States. The ruling Conservative Party has a Friends of Israel caucus that includes more than 80% of its Parliamentary membership. BICOM , the Britain Israel Communications and Research Centre, is an American Israel Political Action Committee (AIPAC) clone located in London. It is well funded and politically powerful, working through its various “Friends of Israel” proxies. Americans might be surprised to learn how that power is manifest, including that in Britain Jewish organizations uniquely are allowed to patrol heavily Jewish London neighborhoods in police-like uniforms while driving police-type vehicles. There have been reports of the patrols threatening Muslims who seek to enter the areas.

Prime Minister Theresa May is careful never to offend either Israel or the wealthy and powerful British Jewish community. After Secretary of State John Kerry described Israel’s government as “extreme right wing” on December 28, 2016, May sprang to Tel Aviv’s defense, saying “we do not believe that it is appropriate to attack the composition of the democratically elected government of an ally.” May’s rejoinder could have been written by Netanyahu, and maybe it was. Two weeks later, her government cited “reservations” over a French government sponsored mid-January Middle East peace conference and would not sign a joint statement calling for a negotiated two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict after Netanyahu vociferously condemned the proceedings.

This deference all takes place in spite of a recent astonishing expose by al-Jazeera, which revealed how the Israeli Embassy in London connived with government officials to “take down” parliamentarians and government ministers who were considered to be critical of the Jewish State. It was also learned that the Israeli Embassy was secretly subsidizing and advising private groups promoting Israeli interests, including associations of Members of Parliament (MPs).

British Labour Leader Jeremy Corbyn has been under unrelenting fire due to the fact that he is the first major political party leader in many years to resist the demands that he place Israel on a pedestal. Corbyn is indeed a man of the left who has consistently opposed racism, extreme nationalism, colonialism and military interventionism. Corbyn’s crime has been that he is critical of the Jewish state and has called for an “end to the repression of the Palestinian people.” As a reward, he has been hounded mercilessly by British Jews, even those in his own party, for over two years.

The invective being spewed by some British Jews and Israel has increased of late, presumably because Theresa May’s Conservative government is perceived as being weak and there is a distinct possibility that the leader of the Labour Party will be the next Prime Minister. That a Prime Minister might be sympathetic to the plight of the Palestinians is viewed as completely unacceptable.

Last month, rightwing Labour Parliamentarian Margaret Hodge raised the stakes, calling Corbyn “a fucking anti-Semite and a racist”. She then wrote in the Guardian that Labour is “a hostile environment for Jews.” The traditionally liberal Guardian has in fact been in the forefront of Jewish criticism of Corbyn, led by its senior editor Jonathan Freedland, who reportedly believes that “his Jewish identity is intimately tied to Israel, and that to attack Israel is to attack him personally… he is demanding the exclusive right to police the parameters of discussions about Israel.” Last month he featured in his paper a letter attacking Corbyn signed by 68 rabbis.

All of the invective has been more-or-less orchestrated by the Israeli government, which directly supports the gaggle of groups that have coalesced to bring down Corbyn. This effort to destroy the Labour leader has included the use of an app disseminating messages via social media accusing Corbyn of anti-Semitism. The app was developed by Israel’s strategic affairs ministry, which “directs Israel’s covert efforts to sabotage the Palestine solidarity movement around the world”.

There are two principal objectives to the “get Corbyn” campaign. The first is to remove him from the Labour Party leadership position, thereby ensuring that he will never be elected Prime Minister, while also eliminating from the party any and all members who are perceived as being “too critical” of Israel. In practice that has meant anyone who criticizes Israel at all. And second it is to establish as a legal principle that the “hate crime” offense of anti-Semitism specifically be defined to include criticism of Israel, thereby making it a criminal offense to write or speak about Israel’s racist behavior towards its Muslim and Christian minority while also making it impossible to freely discuss its war crimes.

The principal argument being made against Corbyn is that the Labour Party is awash with anti-Semitism and Corbyn has done little or nothing to oppose it. Some of the most brutal shots against Corbyn have come from the usual crowd in the United States. Andrew Sullivan recently observed in New York Magazine that “When it emerged, that Naz Shah, a new Labour MP, had opined on Facebook before she was elected that Israel should be relocated to the U.S., and former London mayor Ken Livingstone backed her up by arguing that the Nazis initially favored Zionism, Corbyn didn’t make a big fuss.” Sullivan then went on to write that “It then emerged that Corbyn himself had subscribed to various pro-Palestinian Facebook groups where rank anti-Semitism flourished” and had even “…attended a meeting on Holocaust Memorial Day in 2010, called ‘Never Again for Anyone: Auschwitz to Gaza,’ equating Israelis with Nazis.”

In other words, Corbyn should have been responsible for policing the personal views of Shah and Livingstone, both of whom were subsequently suspended from the Labour Party with Livingstone eventually resigning. He should have also avoided Palestinian Facebook commentary because alleged anti-Semites occasionally contribute their views and ought not to acknowledge in any fashion the Israel war crimes being committed on a daily basis in Gaza.

So Corbyn must go based on the “fact” that he has to be a closet anti-Semite as discerned by the likes of Andrew Sullivan on this side of the Atlantic and a host of Israel-firsters in Britain. But the Labour leader’s worst crime that is being regarded as an “existential threat” to Jewish people everywhere is his resistance to the pressure being exerted on him to endorse and adopt the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance’s (IHRA) precise multi-faceted definition of what constitutes anti-Semitism. The IHRA basic definition of anti-Semitism is reasonable enough, including “a certain perception of Jews, which may be expressed as hatred toward Jews. Rhetorical and physical manifestations of anti-Semitism are directed toward Jewish or non-Jewish individuals and/or their property, toward Jewish community institutions and religious facilities.”

The Labour Party and Corbyn have accepted that definition but have balked at eleven “contemporary examples of anti-Semitism” also provided by IHRA, four of which have nothing to do with Jews and everything to do with Israel. They are:

  • Accusing Jewish citizens of being more loyal to Israel, or to the alleged priorities of Jews worldwide, than to the interests of their own nations.
  • Denying the Jewish people their right to self-determination, e.g., by claiming that the existence of a State of Israel is a racist endeavor.
  • Drawing comparisons of contemporary Israeli policy to that of the Nazis.
  • Applying double standards by requiring of it a behavior not expected or demanded of any other democratic nation.

One might observe that many Jews – not all or even most – but many, do have dual loyalty in which the allegiance to Israel is dominant. I would cite as a prime example the current U.S. Ambassador to Israel David Friedman who spends much of his time defending Israel. And there are also the American Jews who have spied for Israel, to include Jonathan Pollard and AIPAC luminaries Steven J. Rosen and Keith Weissman who obtained classified information from Lawrence Franklin and then passed what they had obtained to Israeli intelligence.

And yes, Israel is a “racist endeavor.” Just check out the recent nationality law passed by the Knesset declaring Israel to be a Jewish State. It grants self-determination only to those living within its borders who are Jews. And if using racial distinctions for full citizenship while also bombing hospitals and schools while lining up snipers to shoot thousands of unarmed Palestinian demonstrators is not Nazi-like behavior, then what is? Israel and its leader are sometimes compared to Nazis and to Adolf Hitler because they behave like Nazis and Adolf Hitler.

And finally there is the definition that challenges any “double standard” in demanding behavior from Israel that is not expected from any other democratic nation. Well, first of all Israel is not a democracy. It is a theocracy or ethnocracy if you prefer wrapped around a police state. Other countries that call themselves democracies have equal rights under law for all citizens. Other democracies do not have hundreds of thousands of settlers stealing land and even water resources from the indigenous population and colonizing it to the benefit of only one segment of its population. Other democracies do not regularly shoot dead unarmed protesters. How many democracies are currently practicing ethnic cleansing, as the Israeli Jews are doing to the Palestinians?

Will Corbyn give in to the IHRA demands to save his skin as party leader? One has to suspect that he will as he is already regularly conceding points and apologizing, publicly delivering the required obeisance to the holocaust as “the worst crime of the twentieth century.” And every time he tries to appease those out to get him he emerges weaker. Even if he submits completely, the Israel firsters who are hot to get him, having just like in American significant control over the media, will continue to attack until they find the precise issue that will bring him down. The Labour National Executive Council will meet in September to vote on full acceptance of the IHRA definition of anti-Semitism. When they, as is likely, kneel before force majeure that will be the end of free speech in Britain. Criticize Israel and you go to jail.

And the same thing is happening in the United States in precisely the same fashion. Criticism of Israel or protesting against it will sooner rather than later be criminalized. I sometimes wonder if Senator Ben Cardin and the others who are promoting the hate legislation really understand what will be lost when they sacrifice the U.S. Constitution to defend Israel. Once free speech is gone, it will never return.

August 28, 2018 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Timeless or most popular | , , , , | 3 Comments