Aletho News

ΑΛΗΘΩΣ

Narrative Collapse: Mueller Probe Reveals Manafort Was Lobbying Against Russia

By Chris Menahan – InformationLiberation – September 15, 2018

Paul Manafort was lobbying against Russian interests in Ukraine — not for them as Rachel Maddow and others have been claiming for months — according to new documents released from special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation.

According to records produced by Mueller himself, the nature of the work Manafort did in Ukraine (lobbying *against* Russia’s interests) is the polar opposite of how it’s been portrayed in US media. The level of narrative manipulation here is a astounding https://t.co/fxbqQSCvhy

— Michael Tracey (@mtracey) September 14, 2018

The Real News’ Aaron Maté broke it all down Friday on Twitter:

 

 


Maté wrote Friday in The Nation :

It is often speculated that Manafort’s Ukraine stint is relevant to a Trump-Russia conspiracy plot because, the theory goes, he served Kremlin interests during his time there. The opposite is the case, as Manafort’s former partner-turned-prosecution-witness, Rick Gates, reaffirmed during trial. Gates testified that Manafort pushed his client, then–Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych, to align with the European Union and away from Russia. According to Gates, Manafort was paid lucratively to craft a policy known as “Engage Ukraine,” which “became the strategy for helping Ukraine enter the European Union.” Given that the tug-of-war between Russia and the EU (with US backing) over Ukraine sparked a full-blown international crisis and a new Cold War, Manafort’s strategy would be an odd one for a supposed Kremlin stooge.

Putting aside Manafort’s record in Ukraine, there have been attempts to tie him to a potential Russia conspiracy via his financial debts to Russian tycoon Oleg Deripaska. During the campaign, Manafort wrote to an associate about leveraging his position in the Trump camp in order to “get whole” with Deripaska, even suggesting that he offer “private briefings.” Could this have been, pundits suggest, where a collusion plot was hatched?

Deripaska denies ever having been offered private briefings by Manafort. Another impediment to tying Deripaska to a Trump-Russia collusion plot is that Deripaska has connections to the figure arguably most responsible for the allegations of collusion. Christopher Steele, the former British intelligence agent whose DNC-funded “dossier” alleged a longstanding Trump-Kremlin conspiracy, has served as an intermediary for contacts between Deripaska and US officials. Deripaska even has a link to Mueller and the federal agency he once headed. In 2009, when Mueller was in charge of the FBI, Deripaska ponied up millions of dollars for a secret effort to rescue a captured CIA operative, Robert Levinson, in Iran. In return, the FBI–with the encouragement of Steele–helped secure a visa for Deripaska, who had been banned from the United States for alleged ties to Russian organized crime. In short, Deripaska’s various contacts make plain that Manafort’s financial ties to him, illicit or not, do not necessarily lead to a Kremlin conspiracy.

Most critically, Mueller has yet to allege one. Prosecutors openly acknowledged before Manafort’s first trial that the case had nothing to do with “evidence or argument concerning collusion with the Russian government,” while the judge in Manafort’s upcoming second trial notes that the collusion investigation is “wholly irrelevant to the charges in this case.”

The same could be said for all of the other charges in the Mueller investigation to date.

No doubt Rachel Maddow, Chris Hayes and the rest of the fake news media will be issuing formal retractions any day now!

 


… Any day now, I’m sure!

September 15, 2018 Posted by | Fake News, Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Russophobia | | 1 Comment

Erdogan, Putin to Meet Monday in Sochi as Turkey Moves More Weapons into Syria

21st Century Wire | September 15, 2018

Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan is scheduled to meet Russia’s President Vladimir Putin in Sochi on Monday, amid reports of a heavy Turkish arms drop into Syria in recent days.

The two leaders last met at a summit earlier this month in Tehran, and this next meeting will come just days after the Turkish army sent more ‘arms and ammunition’ into Syria’s Idlib and Hama provinces, according to a report by the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR) released on Saturday.

The independent media outlet Muraselon is also citing multiple reports of both Turkish weapons and troops moving into these regions, including to areas under the control of the ‘rebel’ coalition National Liberation Front (NLF) – a collection of unsavory characters and the main rival of Hay’at Tahrir Al-Sham (HTS) in Idlib, according to IRIN:

Turkey’s favourite is the NLF, which is led by Fadlallah al-Hajji, a Muslim Brotherhood ally. The NLF includes Turkey-friendly Islamists like Ahrar al-Sham, the Noureddine al-Zengi Brigades, Failaq al-Sham, Jaish al-Ahrar, and groups that fought under the Free Syrian Army banner, like the Victory Army and the 2nd Coastal Division.

Big but brittle, the NLF is held together by Turkish sponsorship and shared enemies: al-Assad’s government, Syrian Kurdish groups, and hardline jihadists.

Turkey’s escalated military presence and heavy arms drop into known jihadist havens ahead of the upcoming Sochi meeting is unwelcome, and presents the potential risk for a military showdown in the future between Turkish and Syrian/Russian forces – something that all sides have warned against but Turkey’s apparent ‘double-dealing’ isn’t helping.

September 15, 2018 Posted by | Illegal Occupation, Militarism | , , | Leave a comment

Despite US Opposition, Joint Liaison Office Opens On Shared Korean Border

By Tyler Durden – Zero Hedge – 09/15/2018

On Friday an unprecedented development occurred that could put the Korean peninsula on a permanent trajectory of stability should talks between the North and South continue their positive direction, and which signals an intensification of diplomacy between the two.

South Korea has opened a new liaison office in the North Korean city of Gaeseong (or alternately Kaesong), which is to allow for 24-hour communication between the two sides for first time since war. The office is located inside an industrial park and Gaeseong is just inside the North’s side of the border.

It’s being described as allowing “around-the-clock” communication between rival officials on either side the military demarcation line, and could avoid the potential for future misunderstandings or provocations, and further comes amidst a parallel diplomatic push by the United States and its allies for complete North Korean denuclearization.

When the proposal was being finalized this summer, however, the US was opposed to the plan, with the State Department last month saying progress between the two Koreas must occur “in lockstep” with talks on the north’s denuclearization.

According to Bloomberg:

The Aug. 20 announcement of the office’s establishment had raised concerns in the U.S. about whether it would violate sanctions meant to penalize Pyongyang over its nuclear arsenal. But on Thursday, the United Nations Command said it had approved South Korean vehicles and personnel to cross the border into North Korea and begin constructing a communications center at the Gaeseong complex.

Meanwhile the United Nations welcomed the development, with UNC commander Vincent Brooks saying in a statement that communication between two sides is “a way to prevent incidents or crises.”

About 50 South Korean officials crossed into the North to attend the opening ceremony, where South Korean Unification Minister Cho Myoung-gyon told ceremony attendees, “A new chapter in history is starting here today,” and added, “It is a symbol of peace made jointly by South and North Korea.”

The two sides agreed to open the office during the prior historic April summit between South Korean President Moon Jae-in and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, with the two again set to meet in Pyongyang next week. And meanwhile the White House is reportedly working toward plans for another meeting between President Trump and the North Korean leader.

But even though outlets like the New York Times reported the joint liaison’s office as a positive step in relations, much of the reporting this week has failed to recall that Washington firmly opposed it.

September 15, 2018 Posted by | Aletho News | , | Leave a comment

After Cutting All UNWRA Humanitarian Aid, US to Award Israel with $3.3B/Year in Military Aid

By Whitney Webb | Mint Press News | September 14, 2018

WASHINGTON — A massive spending bill, which would deliver $3.3 billion dollars in military aid to Israel over the next year, passed the House on Wednesday under cover of a media blackout. The U.S. Senate had passed a different version of the same bill in early August, a vote that also went largely unreported.

Now, after the House’s passage of a slightly altered version of the Senate’s spending bill, officially titled the “Ileana Ros-Lehtinen United States-Israel Security Assistance Authorization Act of 2018,” all that remains is for the two chambers of Congress to reconcile their versions before the product is sent to President Trump’s desk to be signed into law. According to Skopos Labs, the bill now has a 90 percent chance of being enacted. If enacted, the bill will be the largest aid package in American history.

As MintPress previously reported, $3.3 billion was supposed to be the annual limit for U.S. military aid to Israel. However, the figure is actually set to be higher this year as a result of Congress’ recent passage of a massive $716 billion defense bill that provides an additional $550 million in U.S. aid for Israeli missile defense systems. That defense bill also authorizes an additional $1 billion for U.S. weapons stockpiles in Israel.

Furthermore, the $3.3 billion in annual aid is set to continue for the next decade based on the current text of the bill and the 2016 Memorandum of Understanding between Israel and the Obama administration — totaling over $38 billion over the next decade when accounting for annual military aid and annual aid given specifically to fund Israeli missile defense.

That startling figure roughly equates to $23,000 for every Jewish family living in Israel.

In addition to the massive sum the legislation would give to the Israeli military, the bill would also mandate that NASA closely cooperate with the Israel Space Agency (ISA), despite the latter’s history of espionage targeting NASA.

The massive amount of aid the U.S. government is set to give to Israel comes amid Israel’s unprecedented crackdown on unarmed protesters in the Gaza Strip and a looming Israeli military operation aimed at “conquering” the Palestinian enclave. The aid package’s imminent package is also set to coincide with efforts to annex the vast majority of Palestine’s West Bank, which has been militarily occupied by Israel since 1967.

As MintPress noted in a previous report, such grave violations of human rights would normally prevent the U.S. government from providing aid to Israel, given that the Leahy Laws enable the U.S. to withhold military assistance from units and individuals in foreign security forces if they have committed a gross violation of human rights.

However, the U.S. government – particularly under the rabidly pro-Israel administration of President Trump, which just last week cut all funding for Palestinian humanitarian relief through UNRWA – has consistently shown that it is willing to bend the rules for Israel.

Congress waves the Israeli flag

The $3.3 billion military aid package was only one of the bills passed by the House that is set to benefit Israel. Another bill, which has also been largely overlooked by the media, would seek to create a special government envoy tasked with monitoring “anti-Semitism” and criticism of Israel worldwide.

According to the text of the bill – officially titled the “Special Envoy to Monitor and Combat Anti-Semitism Act of 2017” – the envoy would “serve as the primary advisor to, and coordinate efforts across, the United States government relating to monitoring and combating anti-Semitism and anti-Semitic incitement that occur in foreign countries,” and have the rank of ambassador. Only two members of the House voted against the bill: Rep. Justin Amash (R-MI) and Rep. Jerry McNerney (D-CA).

While an effort to combat “anti-Semitism” is a noble cause, the recent endorsement of a controversial definition of the term by Congress, which defines certain criticisms of the state of Israel as anti-Semitic, makes it likely that any envoy appointed to this position would be focused on clamping down on domestic and international criticisms of the Israeli government.

Given the potential dangers that such a position could pose to free speech, not just in the U.S. but abroad, it is surprising that this bill’s passage by an overwhelming majority received next to no media attention. Yet, in light of the media blackout also surrounding the imminent approval of the U.S.’ massive aid package to the Israeli military, it is perhaps not so surprising.

Whitney Webb is a staff writer for MintPress News and a contributor to Ben Swann’s Truth in Media. Her work has appeared on Global Research, the Ron Paul Institute and 21st Century Wire, among others. She has also made radio and TV appearances on RT and Sputnik. She currently lives with her family in southern Chile.

September 15, 2018 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Deception, Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism | , , , , | 2 Comments

Petrov, Boshirov and the Burden of Proof

By Rob Slane | The Blog Mire | September 14, 2018

For some time now, I have been concerned that our generation has been busy burying some of the most cherished legal concepts that many of our forebears seemed to instinctively understand, and which were enshrined into English Common Law. Concepts such as innocent until proven guilty, and that the burden of proof rests with the prosecution to prove its case against the accused, rather than on the accused to prove his or her defense against the accusations.

My biggest initial gripe in the Salisbury case was that the British Government completely discarded these concepts and simply presented unsubstantiated accusations as if they were fact. Not only did this prejudice the investigation from the outset, but it went a long way towards poisoning the wells of justice. So much for their much vaunted “British Values”.

More recently, the same has been done again. The Metropolitan Police, The Crown Prosecution Service and Her Majesty’s Government (TMP/CPS/HMG) named two suspects in the case, stating that they had enough evidence to prosecute the men. They then presented at least some of that evidence, before — at least in the case of the Government and the media — then going on to treat the suspects as if it had been proven that they had brought something called “Novichok” into the country and had carried out an assassination attempt on 4th March at the home of Sergei Skripal at 47 Christie Miller Road, Salisbury.

But it has not been proven. Very far from it. Accusations are not convictions. Suspects are not culprits. And if we are going to pretend that the extraordinarily flimsy evidence against the two men — at least that presented in public — is enough to claim “case closed; culprits caught”, then we have basically torn up 1,000 years or so of legal history, and are pretty well lost as a nation.

All of which is a prelude to saying that whatever the two men said in their interview with Margarita Simonyan, the onus is absolutely not on them to make their case, nor to sound convincing, nor to defend themselves. No, the onus is absolutely on their accusers — TMP/CPS/HMG — to present the evidence they claim they have for their assertion that these men attempted to kill Sergei Skripal, Yulia Skripal and Detective Sergeant Nick Bailey.

And so if Petrov and Boshirov had stated in their interview that they went to Salisbury to see St. John’s Church in Lower Bemerton, where the great 17th century poet, George Herbert was minister, the Salisbury branches of Waitrose and Marks and Spencer’s, and Dauwalders coin and stamp shop, yes it would have been jolly strange, but it would also have been neither here nor there as far as the claims against them are concerned. Whether we find their claims plausible, totally implausible, or somewhere in between, I repeat: they are not the ones who need to convince us why they came to Salisbury and what they did there; it is TMP/CPS/HMG who need to convince us why they came to Salisbury and what they did whilst they were there, since they are the ones accusing.

I am aware that some will say this is not a courtroom, and that the claims so far have been made in the media and are therefore not subject to the same thresholds of evidence. However, the problem is that TMP/CPS/HMG:

A) Has presented its evidence (or at least part of it) in public, and
B) Has sent no further evidence to the Russian Attorney General, calling for the extradition of the men.

Which means that the accused — Alexander Petrov and Ruslan Boshirov — have presumably seen as much of the evidence against them as you and I have.

This is disturbing, and the reason given — that the Russian constitution does not allow for the extradition of suspects — is as pathetic as it is disingenuous. It is not TMP/CPS/HMG’s issue if the Russian Government refuses to extradite the suspects. The British side should simply present its evidence through the proper channels, but has instead chosen to do it through a press conference and the media, naming two men who under the law of the land are innocent until proven guilty. Having taken this course, they now have a duty to present the evidence they have against the men to the public.

As far as the interview itself goes, it was at least helpful in that it narrows things down to the following three possibilities:

1. The men are GU Intelligence Officers who came to Salisbury to assassinate Sergei Skripal by placing nerve agent on the handle of his front door. If this is the case, they were therefore lying through their teeth.

2. The men really did come to Salisbury on Saturday 3rd and Sunday 4th March as tourists. In which case not only are they telling the truth, but the claims against them are utterly false and contrived.

3. The men came to Salisbury, not as assassins, but to do something else which they cannot reveal, but they did so posing as tourists. In which case, there is an element of truth behind the tourist claims — they really did see the sights — but there is also an element of deception as they have not told the full story, even though it is not the one their accusers claim.

Much of the commentary in the British Press seems to assume that the onus is on Petrov and Boshirov to prove that 2 is true, and that 1 and 3 are false.

Not so. The onus is on TMP/CPS/HMG to back up their claims with evidence, which basically means proving that number 1 is true, and that numbers 2 and 3 are false.

And so when a Downing Street spokesperson dismissed the men’s story, saying it was an insult to people’s intelligence, this is a mealy mouthed smokescreen, and an insult to our intelligence, designed to obscure the basic fact that it is for TMP/CPS/HMG to back up their accusations, not for the two men they have accused to back up their defence

So although the question of what to make of Petrov’s and Boshirov’s claims is interesting, it is not the real one we should be asking. The real question is simply this: Have TMP/CPS/HMG presented credible evidence to back up their claims against the two? Let’s see.

The basic evidence they have advanced against them is as follows:

1. That they flew into London from Moscow on 2nd March, and flew back on 4th March.

2. That they visited Salisbury on 3rd and 4th March.

3. That they are GU Intelligence Officers.

4. That they visited the home of Sergei Skripal on 4th March, and there applied “Novichok” on the front door handle.

5. That traces of “Novichok” were found in the London hotel they were staying in.

Regarding points 1 and 2, both men have admitted that they are true. They did indeed fly into London from Moscow on 2nd March, and then back on 4th March. They did indeed visit Salisbury on 3rd and 4th March. So far then, the men agree with the assessment of TMP/CPS/HMG and the claims are therefore not incriminating.

Regarding point 3, although Theresa May claimed in her speech to the House of Commons that these men were GU officers (well, she said GRU), in his press conference of that same day, Neil Basu did not do the same. So far no evidence has been presented to back up Mrs May’s claim that the two men are intelligence officers; on the contrary, the fact that they turned out to have travelled under their real names, rather than using aliases, as alleged by the Metropolitan Police, if anything undermines the claim. As things stand, the assertion that they are GU officers is just that: an assertion backed up by nothing.

Regarding point 4, the Metropolitan Police showed a CCTV still of the two men walking near the Shell garage on Wilton Road at 11:48am on 4th March. Is this evidence that the two men went to Christie Miller Road to apply nerve agent to a door handle? No, it isn’t. It is evidence that they were on the Wilton Road at 11:48am and nothing more. Real evidence would be footage showing the two men at 47 Christie Miller Road just after noon on that day. If the Metropolitan Police want us to believe that the two men were there, they are going to have to do better than showing an image of them on a different street altogether. Perhaps even an image from the CCTV camera that Mr Skripal’s niece, Victoria, claims Mr Skripal had on his house.

And regarding point 5, if “Novichok” (or “Novichok or related agent” as Porton Down have referred to it) was found in the hotel room on 4th May:

Firstly, how on earth would the two men have left traces of it there and not in other places they visited?

Secondly, how did they themselves manage to avoid contamination?

Thirdly, why wasn’t the hotel immediately cordoned off when the discovery was made?

Fourthly, why were the guests who stayed in the hotel between the 4th March and 4th May not contacted and checked over?

Fifthly, why was the OPCW not informed?

And sixthly, why was the hotel owner not informed about nerve agent being found in his hotel until 6th September, when TV crews turned up outside his hotel?

In other words, unless a reasonable explanation for this clear negligence and failure to act responsibly can be given, we have every right to dismiss the claim that “Novichok” was found in the hotel room. I’m certainly not prepared to just accept the word of people who have acted in such a shoddy way as to not even inform the hotel owner of what was apparently found on his property, and nor should you.

To conclude, I don’t entirely know what to make of Petrov’s and Boshirov’s claims. The images of them in Salisbury City Centre, after the Metropolitan Police claim they had put “Novichok” on the door handle, do not remotely fit the bill of assassins having carried out their deed, but do possibly fit the bill of tourists looking around a city. On the other hand, their wandering up the Wilton Road certainly looks odd.

But as I say, they are under no obligation to prove their defence. The obligation is entirely on the shoulders of TMP/CPS/HMG to prove their case against the two men. And so far they have spectacularly failed to do so.

September 15, 2018 Posted by | Deception, False Flag Terrorism, Russophobia | | 2 Comments