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How ‘The New York Times’ Deceived the Public on North Korea

By Tim Shorrock | The Nation | November 16, 2018

The New York Times may still have a Judith Miller problem—only now it’s a David Sanger problem.

Miller, of course, is the former Times reporter who helped build the case for the 2003 US invasion of Iraq with a series of reports based on highly questionable sources bent on regime change. The newspaper eventually admitted its errors but didn’t specifically blame Miller, who left the paper soon after the mea culpa and is now a commentator on Fox News.

Now, Sanger, who over the years has been the recipient of dozens of leaks from US intelligence on North Korea’s weapons program and the US attempts to stop it, has come out with his own doozy of a story that raises serious questions about his style of deep-state journalism.

The article may not involve the employment of sleazy sources with an ax to grind, but it does stretch the findings of the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS), a think tank that is deeply integrated with the military-industrial complex and plays an instrumental role in US media coverage on Korea.

“Controversy is raging,” South Korea’s progressive Hankyoreh newspaper declared on Wednesday about the Times report, which it called “riddled with holes and errors.”

Sanger’s story, which appeared on Monday underneath the ominous headline “In North Korea, Missile Bases Suggest a Great Deception,” focused on a new study from CSIS’s “Beyond Parallel” project about the Sakkanmol Missile Operating Base, one of 13 North Korean missile sites, out of a total of 20, that it has identified and analyzed from overhead imagery provided by Digital Globe, a private satellite contractor.

None of the 20 sites has been officially acknowledged by Pyongyang, but the network is “long known to American intelligence agencies,” wrote Sanger.

Sakkanmol, according to CSIS, “is an undeclared operational missile base for short-range ballistic missiles” a little over 50 miles (85 kilometers) north of the border and therefore “one of the closest to the demilitarized zone (DMZ) and Seoul.” Pyongyang’s highly publicized decommissioning last summer of the Sohae satellite launch facility “obscures the military threat to U.S. forces and South Korea from this and other undeclared ballistic missile bases.”

Its authors added a huge caveat at the end: “Some of the information used in the preparation of this study may eventually prove to be incomplete or incorrect.”

But the Times ignored the warning and took the report several steps further. According to Sanger, that analysis of the missile base shows that North Korea is “moving ahead with its ballistic missile program” despite pledges made by Kim Jong-Un to President Trump at their Singapore summit on June 12 to eliminate his nuclear and missile programs if the United States ends its “hostile policy” and agrees to forge a new relationship with North Korea.

The “new commercial satellite images” of the undeclared missile sites, Sanger concluded darkly, suggest that North Korea “has been engaged in a great deception.”

While North Korea has offered to dismantle a major launching site, he asserted, it continues “to make improvements at more than a dozen others that would bolster launches of conventional and nuclear warheads.” That finding “contradicts Mr. Trump’s assertion that his landmark diplomacy is leading to the elimination” of the North’s nuclear weapons and missiles, Sanger concluded.

The implication was that North Korea, by continuing to build missiles after the Singapore summit, is lying to the United States and is therefore untrustworthy as a negotiating partner—and that Trump, by proclaiming that he has neutralized Kim’s threats, has been deceived. The Times-CSIS report was immediately picked up by major media outlets and repeated almost verbatim on NBC Nightly News and NPR, with little additional reporting.

A leading Democrat, Senator Edward Markey of Massachusetts, seized on the report to argue that President Trump is “getting played” by North Korea. “We cannot have another summit with North Korea—not with President Trump, not with the Secretary of State—unless and until the Kim regime takes concrete, tangible actions to halt and roll back its nuclear weapons and ballistic missile programs,” he said in the statement.

But even a cursory analysis of the imagery should have raised questions. On Monday night, a Korean news outlet pointed out that all the photos analyzed in the CSIS report are dated March 29, 2018—almost two and a half months before Trump and Kim met in Singapore on June 12.

The dates make Sanger’s claim that North Korea is “moving ahead” on missile production after its pledges to Trump laughable; indeed, they make his story look like a serious attempt to deceive the American public about the real progress that has been made in ending the standoff.

In fact, as discussion swirled on Twitter, it became clear that Sanger was exaggerating the report. Arms-control experts immediately questioned his assertions, arguing that he had ignored the fact that North Korea and the United States have yet to sign any agreement under which the North would give up its nuclear weapons and missiles. And in the absence of an agreement, it’s status quo for both North Korea and the United States.

North Korea’s missile program “is NOT deception,” Vipin Narang, an associate professor of political science at MIT, posted soon after the story was published. Narang, who writes occasionally for the Times editorial page on North Korea, pointed out that Kim Jong-un has never offered to stop producing ballistic missiles and in fact had ordered more to be produced in January 2018.

“Unless and until there is a deal” with Trump, he wrote, “Kim would be a fool to eliminate and stop improving [them].… So the characterization of ‘deception’ is highly misleading. There’s no deal to violate.” (Like other US analysts, Narang did not question the CSIS report itself, calling it “excellent.”)

The CSIS report was denounced by the government of South Korean President Moon Jae-in as “nothing new,” and Kim Eui-kyeom, its chief spokesperson, took particular exception to the Times’ use of the term “deception.” To his credit, Sanger acknowledged the criticism and quoted the statement in full.

November 20, 2018 Posted by | Fake News, Mainstream Media, Warmongering | , , | 1 Comment

US will remain steadfast partner of Saudi Arabia to ensure Israel’s interests: Trump

Press TV – November 20, 2018

President Donald Trump has said Washington intends to remain a steadfast partner of Saudi Arabia to ensure interests of the United States, Israel and regional partners.

Trump said that it is possible that Saudi Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman had knowledge of the assassination of Saudi dissident journalist Jamal Khashoggi, according to a statement issued by the White House on Tuesday.

Trump said that “King Salman and Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman vigorously deny any knowledge of the planning or execution of the murder of Mr. Khashoggi. Our intelligence agencies continue to assess all information, but it could very well be that the Crown Prince had knowledge of this tragic event – maybe he did and maybe he didn’t!”

“That being said, we may never know all of the facts surrounding the murder of Mr. Jamal Khashoggi. In any case, our relationship is with the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia,” the US president insisted. “They have been a great ally in our very important fight against Iran.”

“The United States intends to remain a steadfast partner of Saudi Arabia to ensure the interests of our country, Israel and all other partners in the region. It is our paramount goal to fully eliminate the threat of terrorism throughout the world!” he added.

He mentioned that Saudi Arabia had “agreed to spend and invest $450 billion in the United States. This is a record amount of money. It will create hundreds of thousands of jobs, tremendous economic development, and much additional wealth for the United States.”

“Of the $450 billion, $110 billion will be spent on the purchase of military equipment from Boeing, Lockheed Martin, Raytheon and many other great U.S. defense contractors. If we foolishly cancel these contracts, Russia and China would be the enormous beneficiaries – and very happy to acquire all of this newfound business. It would be a wonderful gift to them directly from the United States!” he pointed out.

He acknowledged that the “crime against Jamal Khashoggi was a terrible one, and one that our country does not condone,” but implied that due to the murder of a journalist Washington cannot cancel such lucrative business deals with the kingdom.

Some US senators have called on Trump to cancel arms deals with Saudi Arabia as a punishment over the murder of Khashoggi — a US resident who was killed in the Saudi consulate in Istanbul on October 2 after being lured into the mission for some standard paperwork.

While mounting evidence released by Turkey and even the CIA point to bin Salman’s role in the murder, Trump had resisted calls inside Washington to hold him responsible.

In an attempt to ease the criticism, the US Treasury Department imposed economic sanctions on 17 Saudis involved in the murder on Thursday.

The sanctions came after the Saudi public prosecutor announced that five officials faced a possible death sentence in the case but exonerated bin Salman, also known as MBS.

November 20, 2018 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism | , , , , | 3 Comments

Pentagon Fails First Audit, Neocons Demand More Spending!

By Ron Paul | November 19, 2018

The Pentagon has finally completed its first ever audit and the results are as many of us expected. After spending nearly a billion dollars to find out what has happened to trillions in unaccounted-for spending, the long look through the books has concluded that only ten percent of all Pentagon agencies pass muster. I am surprised any of them did.

Even the Pentagon is not surprised by the failure of the audit. “We failed the audit. But we never expected to pass it,” said Deputy Secretary of Defense Patrick Shanahan. Can we imagine any large US company subject to the prying eyes of the IRS being so unfazed by the discovery that its books have been so mis-handled?

As with all government programs, but especially when it comes to military spending, the failure of a program never leads to calls for funding reductions. The Pentagon’s failure to properly account for the trillions of taxpayer dollars shoveled in year after year only means, they say, that we need to send more money! Already they are claiming that with more resources – meaning money – they can fix some of the problems identified by the audit.

If you subsidize something you get much more of it, and in this case we are subsidizing Pentagon incompetence. Expect much more of it.

Outgoing chairman of the House Armed Services Committee, Rep. Mac Thornberry, warned against concluding that this mis-handling trillions of dollars should make us hesitant to continue sending trillions more to the Pentagon. The failed audit “should not be used as an excuse for arbitrary cuts that reverse the progress we have begun on rebuilding our strength and readiness,” he said.

The neocons concur. Writing in the Free Beacon, editor Matthew Continetti (who happens to be Bill Kristol’s son-in-law) warns that now is “the wrong time to cut defense.”

But I agree with the young neoconservative Continetti. I would never support cutting a penny of defense. However the Pentagon’s lost trillions have nothing to do with defense. That is money propping up the high lifestyles of those connected to the military-industrial complex.

Continetti and the neocons love to throw out bogeymen like China and Russia as excuses for more military spending, but in fact they are hardly objective observers. Look at how much the military contractors spend funding the neocon publications and neocon think tanks telling us that we need more military spending! All this money is stolen from the productive economy and diverted to enrich neocon cheerleaders at our expense.

Of course the real problem with the Pentagon and military spending in general is not waste, fraud, and abuse. It is not ten thousand dollar toilet seats or coffee mugs. The problem with military spending is the philosophy that drives it. If the US strategy is to maintain a global military empire, there will never be enough spending. Because there is never enough to control every corner of the globe. But if we are to return to a well-defended republic, military spending could easily be reduced by 75 percent while keeping us completely safe. The choice is ours!

November 20, 2018 Posted by | Corruption, Deception, Militarism | | 2 Comments

North Korea Eliminates 10 Observation Posts in Demilitarised Zone – Seoul

Sputnik – 20.11.2018

North Korea has destroyed 10 observation posts in the demilitarised zone bordering the South in compliance with an agreement reached between Seoul and Pyongyang in September, the South Korean Defence Ministry said in a statement.

Representatives from the defence ministries of the two countries agreed during the inter-Korean summit on 19 September to eliminate 11 observation posts, situated in the demilitarised zone, each by late November. The South Korean Defence Ministry then announced that the two parties had agreed to keep one observation post each.

“The North Korean party eliminated today, November 20, at 3:00 p.m. [6:00 GMT] 10 observation posts by means of explosions as it was agreed,” the ministry said on its Facebook page.

The ministry added that it had been notified about the planned operation by the North Korean side in advance.

Relations between Seoul and Pyongyang began to improve after a historic summit between South Korean President Moon Jae-in and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un in April after more than a year of fears of a war over North Korea’s nuclear weapons programme. The latest inter-Korean summit took place in September and yielded a number of agreements covering such areas as defence, but also culture and sports.

November 20, 2018 Posted by | Aletho News | | 1 Comment

OPCW Votes Against Russian Proposal to Limit Power of Chemical Weapons Watchdog

Sputnik – 20.11.2018

Russia’s envoy to the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) Alexander Shulgin stated earlier in October that the organisation was doomed unless it reconsidered a decision that allowed it to attribute responsibility for chemical attacks.

The motion, proposed by Russia and China was voted down by the OPCW members, with 30 countries voting for and 82 — against it. Moscow and Beijing proposed establishing a special group that should broaden the scope of OPCW mandate.

“Thirty delegations voted for the Russian-Chinese draft decision, 82 against, 31 more abstained, and 10 left the site of the vote. Thus, 71 delegations did not support the western camp. This means that the split in the OPCW is only deepening,” Russian Deputy Trade Minister Georgy Kalamanov noted.

He also stated that Russia was unlikely to join the new attribution mechanism of the organisation.

“The amount by which the planned budget of the OPCW is to be increased was to be spent on attribution, the creation of the mechanism and recruitment of new employees for solving tasks that are not typical of the organization,” Kalamanov said.

Commenting on the issue, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov criticised the attempts to give the organisation the power to place blame.

“Opportunistic attempts to vest the Technical Secretariat of the OPCW… with the functions of a prosecutor are a gross violation of the Chemical Weapons Convention, decisions of the UN Security Council and contrary to the position of the majority of states parties to the convention,” he said at a meeting of the Russian International Affairs Council (RIAC).

Previously, following the poisoning of former Russian military intelligence officer Sergei Skripal in Salisbury, London demanded to establish an investigative commission eligible to assign blame for chemical weapons use. On June 27, the mandate of the OPCW was expanded in line with the UK motion, however, Moscow said it would not recognise it as legitimate since only the UN Security Council is eligible to make such judgments.

November 20, 2018 Posted by | False Flag Terrorism | , | 1 Comment

French bank pays huge US fine for doing business in Cuba, Iran

RT | November 20, 2018

Societe Generale has agreed to pay $1.34 billion to US federal and state authorities to settle a pending legal dispute over violations of US trade sanctions against Iran and other countries.

One of France’s largest banks has also pledged to pay $95 million to resolve another dispute over violations of anti-money laundering regulations.

“We acknowledge and regret the shortcomings that were identified in these settlements, and have cooperated with the US authorities to resolve these matters,” the group CEO Frederic Oudea said in a statement.

“These resolutions, following on the heels of the resolution of other investigations earlier this year, allow the bank to close a chapter on our most important historical disputes.”

The bank, informally known as SocGen, reportedly violated the Trading with the Enemy Act by illegally transferring billions of dollars to partners registered or located in countries targeted by US embargos, including Iran, Sudan, Cuba and Libya.

The banking giant said the settlement wouldn’t have an extra impact on its results for the current financial year. SocGen had previously agreed to $1.3 billion (€1.14 billion) in the US and France to settle investigations over transactions with Libya, and over the suspected rigging of Libor, a benchmark rate tied to finance products and debts. Last year, the bank had paid €963 million ($1.1 billion) over another dispute with the Libyan Investment Authority.

According to the Manhattan US Attorney’s office, the latest fine imposed on SocGen is the second biggest financial penalty issued on a bank for breaching US sanctions. In 2015, French international banking group BNP Paribas agreed to pay $8.9 billion to settle a probe on sanctions violations.

November 20, 2018 Posted by | Economics, Wars for Israel | , , , , | 2 Comments

EU Mulls Iran Sanctions in Light of Alleged Plots in France, Denmark – Reports

Sputnik – 20.11.2018

Until now the EU has been unwilling to join the US sanctions on Iran preferring to maintain close trade ties with the Islamic Republic.

In a most recent policy U-turn, European Union foreign ministers hinted on Monday that their countries could be prepared to impose new economic sanctions on Iran, Reuters reported.

The sudden shift of policy came after France and Denmark accused Tehran of being allegedly behind a series of plots to carry out attacks on their soil. During a meeting in Brussels French and Danish foreign ministers filled in their fellow EU counterparts on the details of the alleged Iranian plots, although no details or names were discussed, Reuters quoted diplomats as saying on Tuesday.

France has imposed sanctions on two Iranians and Iran’s intelligence service over what it says was a botched attempt to stage a bomb attack at a rally near Paris organised by an exiled Iranian opposition group.

In October, France said it was certain about the Iranian intelligence ministry’s role in the June plot to attack a demonstration by Iranian exiles near Paris.

Also in October, Denmark said it suspected an Iranian government intelligence service of plotting an assassination on its territory and is also ready to join possible EU-wide sanctions against the Islamic Republic.

Iran has denied any involvement in either alleged plot and warned that it could pull out of the nuclear deal if EU powers do not stand up for its trade and financial benefits.

The readiness to punish Tehran would be the first such move in years by the EU, which has been trying keep in place the 2015 nuclear accord with Iran. Brussels has been unwilling to consider sanctions, instead seeking talks with Tehran.

In March, a joint proposal by Britain, France and Germany to sanction Iran over its development of ballistic missiles and its role in the Syrian war failed to gather sufficient support across the EU, including from Italy which wants to maintain business ties with Iran.

During the meeting on Monday, the EU foreign ministers tried to balance the EU’s policy towards Iran by speeding up the creation of a special mechanism to trade with Tehran that could be under EU, not national, law.

Dubbed the Special Purpose Vehicle (SPV), this mechanism could be used to help match Iranian oil and gas exports against purchases of EU goods as part of a barter arrangement, thus circumventing US sanctions, which are based on global use of the dollar for oil sales.

Despite technical difficulties and delays, the EU hopes this arrangement could protect individual member states from being hit by the sanctions Washington has threatened to use against countries that continue doing business with Iran.

November 20, 2018 Posted by | Economics, False Flag Terrorism | , , , , | Leave a comment

Prospects for Syrian peace are looking up

By M. K. BHADRAKUMAR | Indian Punchline | November 20, 2018

After prolonged hibernation, the Astana Process on Syrian peace is kinetic, with the troika of ‘guarantor’ states – Russia, Turkey and Iran – set to hold a round of talks in the Kazakh capital on November 28-29. Delegations of the Syrian government and the opposition are also expected to attend. A renewed effort is commencing to create traction for the UN-sponsored negotiations in Geneva.

Much water has flown down the Euphrates since the 9th round of the Astana Process took place in May. Six months is a long time in politics – especially in Middle East politics. But, paradoxically, while Middle Eastern politics is in turmoil, the prospects for peace in Syria may have improved. The setting for tomorrow’s meet – it’s unclear at what level the event will take place – has become largely favorable. At least 10 major reasons can be attributed.

One, Syria is witnessing a period of relative calm. There has been no major fighting for months. Two, Syrian-Jordanian border had reopened and nothing of a feared flare-up happened in the Golan Heights. Three, the Russian-Turkish understanding on Idlib is holding. Four, Israel has been effectively ‘defanged’ (thanks to deployment of Russian S-300 ABM system to Syria). Five, Russia and Iran intend to retain their military footprints in Syria for a foreseeable future, while on the contrary, the US lacks the political will or the military capability to impact the strategic calculations of Moscow, Tehran, Damascus or Ankara.

Six, importantly, Turkey has become an implicit ally of Russia and Iran and is inching closer and closer to a political deal that leaves President Bashar Al-Assad in power. Seven, Russia, Turkey, and Iran are in the lead in shaping the Syria policy, with clear strategic goals and, even more so, the means to achieve them.

Eight, on the other hand, a growing determination on the part of Russia, Iran, and Turkey is discernible to freeze out the United States from any role in shaping Syria’s geo-strategic future. Although the three countries would have tactical differences between them, broadly, Turkey will accommodate Russia and Iran so long as it has a free hand to check the Kurdish forces threatening its security. Significantly, the announcement on the rebooting of the Astana Process comes after the visit by Russian President Vladimir Putin to Turkey on November 19.

Nine, the crisis in Turkish-American relations not only persists but may even deepen in the period ahead. Finally, the Trump administration’s calculations that its re-imposition of sanctions against Iran will either force Iran out of Syria or, better yet, produce a veritable collapse of the Iranian government are turning out to be a mere pipe dream. In fact, the opposite has happened.

Iran is intensifying its coordination with Russia and Turkey, and is creating firewalls to protect its strategic gains in Syria. Again, it is clear by now that the US cannot count on the new government in Baghdad to act against Iranian interests.

On the other hand, the dangerous situation that has arisen on Israel’s border with Gaza (which was precipitated entirely by Israeli hardliners) and the ensuing mayhem in Israel’s domestic politics will seriously delimit Benjamin Netanyahu’s energy and resources to act as ‘spoiler’ in Syria. Moscow has openly snubbed Netanyahu lately by refusing him to schedule his visit.

Similarly, the widening cracks in the US-Saudi alliance in the downstream of the Khashoggi murder all but means an overall Saudi disengagement from the Syrian conflict. The UAE has already begun mending fences with the Syrian government, which would only have been possible with Saudi approval. (See my blog UAE, Saudi sense convergence with Syria.)

Suffice to say, the so-called Syrian opposition is finding itself rudderless. Their erstwhile mentors – US, Turkey, Saudi Arabia, UAE – have either reached a dead end or have turned to new priorities in their self-interests accepting the defeat in the Syrian conflict.

Meanwhile, the appointment of Norwegian diplomat Geir Pederson as the UN Secretary-General’s new special envoy for Syria becomes a positive factor. Russia has warmly noted that “we know him as an experienced and unbiased diplomat.” Pederson’s predecessor Staffan de Mistura was widely perceived as a sidekick of the US. Clearly, the Astana Process is not wasting time by kickstarting the work on a Syrian settlement even as Perdersen moves in.

November 20, 2018 Posted by | Aletho News | , , , , , | 3 Comments

UNRWA reduces deficit from $446m to $21m

MEMO | November 20, 2018

The Commissioner-General of the UN Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) said on Monday that its budget deficit for 2018 has been reduced from $446m to $21m. Pierre Krähenbühl made the announcement during a conference in Jordan, at which he thanked donor countries including Japan, EU members, Saudi Arabia, Qatar and the UAE, as well as the agency’s Advisory Committee, Jordan’s King Abdullah II and the Republic of Turkey.

Krähenbühl told the conference that this year was “very difficult” due to the US government’s decision to stop its donations to UNRWA. Apart from a relatively small amount of core funding from the UN’s main budget, UNRWA relies entirely on voluntary donations from UN member states.

According to the Jordanian newspaper Al-Sabeel, the Commissioner General noted that the budget deficit caused much “tension and suffering” for Palestinian refugees. An end to American support, he pointed out, had “repercussions” for the essential basic services provided by UNRWA to the refugees.

He called for those countries which have pledged support for the agency to “turn their pledges into funds in UNRWA’s bank accounts” in order to cover the remaining deficit.

November 20, 2018 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Subjugation - Torture | , , | Leave a comment

Registering Israel’s Useful Idiots

FDD and AIPAC need adult supervision

By Philip Giraldi • Unz Review • November 20, 2018

Depending on what criteria one uses, there are between 200 and 600 groups in the United States that wholly or in part are dedicated to furthering the interests of Israel. The organizations are both Jewish, like the Zionist Organization of America, and Christian Zionist to include John Hagee’s Christians United for Israel, but the funding of the Israel Lobby and both its political and media access comes overwhelmingly from Jewish supporters and advocates.

Many of the groups are registered with the Internal Revenue Service for tax purposes as 501(c)3 “educational” or “charitable” foundations, which enables them to solicit tax exempt donations. One might dispute whether promoting Israeli interests in the United States is actually educational, but as of right now the Department of the Treasury believes it can be so construed, protected by the First Amendment.

But there is a more serious consideration in terms of the actual relationships that many of the groups enjoy with the Israeli government. To be sure, many of them boast on their promotional literature and websites about their relationships with the Benjamin Netanyahu and his cabinet, so the issue of dual loyalty or, worse, acting as actual Israeli government agents must be considered.

There is a legal remedy to hostile foreigners acting against American interests and that is the Foreign Agents Registration Act of 1938 (FARA). Originally intended to identify and monitor agents of Nazi Germany propagandizing in the United States, it has since been applied to individuals and groups linked to other nations. Most recently, it was used against Russian news agencies RT America and Sputnik, which were forced to register. It is also being considered for Qatar based al-Jazeera.

FARA requires identified agents to be transparent in terms of their funding and contacts while also being publicly identified as representing the interests of a foreign nation. They must report to the Department of Justice every contact they have with congressmen or other government officials. The text of the Act defines a foreign agent as

“any person who acts as an agent, representative, employee, or servant, or any person who acts in any other capacity at the order, request, or under the direction or control, of a foreign principal or of a person any of whose activities are directly or indirectly supervised, directed, controlled, financed, or subsidized in whole or in major part by a foreign principal, and who directly or through any other person— (i) engages within the United States in political activities for or in the interests of such foreign principal; (ii) acts within the United States as a public relations counsel, publicity agent, information-service employee or political consultant for or in the interests of such foreign principal; (iii) within the United States solicits, collects, disburses, or dispenses contributions, loans, money, or other things of value for or in the interest of such foreign principal; or (iv) within the United States represents the interests of such foreign principal before any agency or official of the Government of the United States.”

In spite of language that would presumably cover many of the hundreds of Jewish organizations acting for Israel, FARA has never been used to compel registration of any such groups or individuals even when it was public knowledge that they were working closely with the Israeli government to coordinate positions and promote other Israeli interests. That failure is at a minimum a tribute to Jewish power in the United States, but it is also due to the fact that the organizations are funded from within the United States by wealthy American Jews, not by Israel, which is the argument sometimes inaccurately made by the groups themselves to demonstrate that they are not being directed by the Israeli government.

The difficulty in proving that one is directed by a foreign government has been definitively resolved regarding one group the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies (FDD), which has become the leading neoconservative bastion seeking a war with Iran, Israel’s bête noir. The recent al-Jazeera expose on the activities of the Israeli lobbies in both Britain and the United States, which I wrote about last week, included a surreptitiously filmed conversation with Sima Vaknin-Gil, a former Israeli intelligence officer who now heads the Ministry of Strategic Affairs, which is tasked with countering what is perceived to be anti-Israeli activity worldwide. The Ministry is particularly focused on the non-violent Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement (BDS), which is increasingly active in both the United States and Europe.

Vaknin-Gil was discussing his activities with Tony Kleinfeld, an undercover investigative reporter who was secretly recording and filming his encounters with various members of the Israel Lobby as well as of the Israeli government. Vaknin-Gil provided explicit confirmation that the FDD works directly with the Israeli government, making it an Israeli agent by the definition of FARA.

For those who are unfamiliar with FDD, it is probably currently the most prominent neocon organization though it nevertheless claims to be a non-partisan “research group.” It focuses on foreign policy and security issues by “Fighting Terrorism and Promoting Freedom,” as it informs us on its website masthead. It works to “defend free nations against their enemies,” which frequently means in practice anyone whom Israel considers to be hostile, most particularly Iran. FDD’s Leadership Council has featured former CIA Director James Woolsey, Senator Joe Lieberman, and Bill Kristol. Its Executive Director is Canadian import Mark Dubowitz, who is obsessed with Iran. Its advisors and experts are mostly Jewish and most of its funding comes from Jewish oligarchs.

FDD’s auditorium has become a preferred venue for senior officials of the Trump Administration to go and make hardline speeches, just as the American Enterprise Institute was under George W. Bush. Mike Pence, Mike Pompeo, John Bolton and Nikki Haley have all spoken there recently, frequently focusing on Iran and the threat that it allegedly constitutes.

FDD aside, Vaknin-Gil also confirmed that there were other groups in the United States doing the same sorts of things on behalf of Israel. He said “We have FDD. We have others working on this,” elaborating that FDD is “working on” projects for Israel including “data gathering, information analysis, working on activist organizations, money trail.”

So Vaknin-Gil was admitting that FDD and others were working as Israeli proxies, collecting information on U.S. citizens, spying on legal organizations, and both planning and executing disinformation at Israeli direction. Kleinfeld also spoke with a Jonathan Schanzer, a senior official in FDD, who filled in a bit more of what the foundation is up to in terms of discrediting groups in the U.S. that support the BDS movement.

Schanzer admitted “BDS has taken everybody by surprise” before complaining that the Jewish response has been “a complete mess. I don’t think that anybody’s doing a good job. We’re not even doing a good job.” He then complained that attempts to discredit Palestinian groups by linking them to terrorist groups had failed, as also had the use of the label anti-Semitism. “Personally I think anti-Semitism as a smear is not what it used to be.”

So, when will the Justice Department move on FDD now that its true colors have been exposed by al-Jazeera? The group must be required to register if justice be done, but will it? Its principal partner in crime the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) has avoided registering for more than sixty years by claiming that it is an American organization working to educate the U.S. public about the all the good things connected to Israel. Even though it meets regularly with Israeli government officials, it claims not to be representing Israeli interests. But just as in the case of FDD, it is time to require AIPAC to register as what it really is: a foreign agent. As a registered agent, it will still be able to exercise First Amendment rights to defend Israel but it would not be able to be involved in lobbying on Capitol Hill and directing money to politicians who are described as pro-Israeli, as it does now. Its finances will be transparent and it will be perceived as an official advocate for Israel, not as an educational resource for what is happening in the Middle East. Hopefully, when AIPAC stops throwing money around, the politicians and media types will find another place to roost.

To be sure the lovefest for Israel in government extends far beyond FDD and AIPAC. It can be found in many dark corners. National Security Advisor John Bolton recently received the “Defender of Israel” award from the Zionist Organization of America. And one might suggest that the U.S. United Nations delegation, headed by Ambassador Nikki Haley, is directed by the Israeli government, particularly given events of last Friday whereby the U.S. voted against a motion condemning Israel’s continued illegal occupation of the Syrian Golan Heights, thereby recognizing for the first time Israel’s sovereignty over the area. Whether Haley was speaking for herself or for the administration was characteristically unclear, but it hardly matters. Nikki Haley might be referred to as a useful idiot, as Lenin put it, but her consistent pattern of extreme loyalty in defense of Israel marks her out as being particularly beholden to the Jewish state, which will no doubt arrange to richly reward her through some position in financial services for which she is totally unqualified when she leaves her post in January. And then she will be well funded to run for president in 2020. Having Haley in charge, one might just as well vote for Benjamin Netanyahu.

Philip M. Giraldi, Ph.D., is Executive Director of the Council for the National Interest, a 501(c)3 tax deductible educational foundation that seeks a more interests-based U.S. foreign policy in the Middle East. Website is www.councilforthenationalinterest.org, address is P.O. Box 2157, Purcellville VA 20134 and its email is inform@cnionline.org.

November 20, 2018 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism | , , , , | 1 Comment

Airbnb pledges to remove occupied West Bank settlement listings, Israel hits back

RT | November 20, 2018

Global home-rental company Airbnb says it will remove listings of homes located in Israeli settlements in the occupied West Bank. Israeli officials have predictably called the move anti-Semitic and a surrender to terrorism.

Human Rights Watch applauded Airbnb’s move, which came a day before the group’s publication of a (presumably damning) report on the human rights impact of tourist rental listings in settlements. Waleed Assraf, who runs an anti-settlement group for the Palestinian Liberation Organization, was hopeful other companies would follow Airbnb’s example, noting “this will contribute to achieving peace.”

Israeli Tourism Minister Yariv Levin called Airbnb’s move “discriminatory” and ordered his ministry to formulate a retaliatory plan to “limit the company’s activities” in Israel, adding that the country would back settlement listers’ lawsuits in both Israeli and US courts.

Michael Oren, former Israeli ambassador to the US and current deputy minister in PM Netanyahu’s office, called for a revenge boycott, deeming AirBnB’s policy “the very definition of anti-Semitism.” Settler council Yesha agreed that the company’s actions “can only be a result of anti-Semitism or surrendering to terrorism – or both.”

A statement on Airbnb’s website read “We concluded that we should remove listings in Israeli settlements in the occupied West Bank that are at the core of the dispute between Israelis and Palestinians,” explaining that their policy for contested territories like the West Bank, Tibet, and Western Sahara involves “evaluat[ing] whether the existence of listings is contributing to existing human suffering” and “determin[ing] whether the existence of listings in the occupied territory has a direct connection to the larger dispute in the region.” About 200 listings are affected, though they have not yet been taken down.

Palestinian official Saab Erekat wrote to Airbnb’s CEO in January 2016 asking the company to end its relationship with Israeli settlements, and Human Rights Watch called on all businesses to cut ties with companies operating in West Bank settlements in its “Occupation, Inc.,” report shortly thereafter, explaining that the income from such companies relieves the Israeli government of the economic burden of sustaining the illegal settlements. The international Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement has also called for travelers to avoid the home-rental service.

The Israeli settlements, constructed on land captured during the 1967 war, are illegal under international law, but Israel has long disputed this. Settlements have been gradually encroaching on Palestinian land ever since the end of the conflict, accompanied by a heavy military presence and the violence that accompanies it.

November 20, 2018 Posted by | Economics, Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Illegal Occupation | , , , | Leave a comment