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Nasrallah on the End of US Hegemony: Trump will Leave the Middle East, Region Already Reshaping – PART I

Interview of Sayed Hassan Nasrallah, Hezbollah Secretary General, with Ghassan Ben Jeddou, founder of the pan-Arab and anti-imperialist Al-Mayadeen channel, January 26, 2019.

Transcript:

[…] Ghassan Ben Jeddou: But I want to return to the United States, as a fact of utmost importance just occurred, Eminent Sayed, on the general and strategic perspective: Trump said he would withdraw (US troops) from Syria, saying that the country was nothing but “sand and death”. My specific question is this: is it (just) a tactical withdrawal, meaning that the United States will withdraw (just) a part of their forces to leave you in a quagmire? Or is it a true (and full) withdrawal, which means a defeat for the United States?

Hassan Nasrallah: I think whenever Trump talks about his intention to withdraw US forces, he is true and sincere. The word “sincere” (applied to Trump) makes you laugh? I mean he is honest with himself (he says what he thinks). During his campaign, he made election promises, and after two years there will be new presidential elections. And everything he has promised to do, he wants to do it. In fact, he already achieved some of his election promises.

One of those promises was: “Why are we sending our children (to fight) abroad and die in a far away region to defend it, to be killed and spend (huge sums of) money?” He stated that the United States spent 7 000 billion…

Ghassan Ben Jeddou: 7 trillion dollars.

Hassan Nasrallah: 7 trillion equals 7 thousand billion. And a few days ago, he said: “We spent 7 000 billion, we sent our armed forces, we made all these sacrifices (in the Middle East), and in the end, I have to go to Iraq in secret, at night? This clearly indicates our failure!” So every time (he talks about his desire to withdraw, he is sincere). Even when he said: “If we continue to defend, for example, Saudi Arabia or the Gulf states, they have to pay for that. If we defend Europe, Europe must pay. If we defend Japan, Japan must pay.”

Obama… sorry, Trump is a charming person! When we listened to Obama, he spoke about human rights, democracy, (free) elections, etc. His attitude and his words were steeped in hypocrisy.

Ghassan Ben Jeddou: When he spoke of the Arab Spring…

Hassan Nasrallah: We’ll come back to this point. From day one, all we hear from Trump is “millions, billions, dollars…” I’m relearning English (thanks to him), you see… And “They have to pay, they have to pay, there are both rich and poor people among them, etc.” Very well. That is why he hasn’t respected anyone in his statements. He was very insulting to Saudi Arabia, and in respect to the Gulf countries in general, including his closest allies, such as Europe, Japan and South Korea, (he didn’t spare anyone). As we say in Lebanese, he buried them alive (under his torrent of abuse). He wants everyone to pay all the US expenses, rightly or wrongly, he makes them (spit) money (forcefully), even as he (already) plunders their resources, raw materials, their future, he confiscates their political freedom and imposes them (US) companies, etc., but he doesn’t pay attention to all this. All that matters to him is that he protects them, so they have to pay billions of dollars for this protection. Thus, he is committed to bring his forces out (of Syria, etc.).

What is happening today in Afghanistan? Even today, to prove that we are broadcasting live – but it should be enough that you say so, without need for additional evidence –, the Taliban announced that they and the US delegation led by Khalil Zad Zalmai had met in Doha and had reached a draft agreement, which may be renegotiated if necessary, and which stipulates that within 18 months, all foreign forces should have left Afghanistan. That’s (what) Trump (is doing)! And we must keep this in mind and remind it to the others when addressing Lebanon and the peoples of the region, so they know that the days of US hegemony in our region (are counted).

As I see it, since the day he became President, Trump intends to withdraw the modest US forces present in Syria under the pretext of the international coalition (against ISIS) since the time of Obama. But the advisers surrounding Trump dissuaded him from doing so because of the growing power of Iran, Russia and President Assad (which would be exacerbated if US withdrew), etc. And they started all over again, and the guy (Trump) stood with patience. He gave them time (to make progress in Syria) but he saw that it was useless. That is why 7 months ago, or so it seems to me, in a speech, he said: “We will leave Syria soon, very soon.”

We are at a time when we must be careful with translations, and ensure that they are accurate, so I asked a (Hezbollah) brother who had the text of the speech in English to send it to me and highlight the passage where he said “soon, very soon”. (And this passage was indeed saying) “soon, very soon” (quote in English). So the media had faithfully translated his remarks.

Everyone went beserk after this statement, with protestations from Mattis, the former Defense Secretary (who resigned in December 2018), and other people denouncing this US withdrawal, which would represent a victory offered free of charge to Iran in the first place, to Russia and to President Assad, a wrong decision, an (ill-advised) visceral reaction, etc. They went to see him. These are important facts that I must relate to you, it is sound information and I could even give you the source. (Mattis, Bolton and others of their ilk) went to see Trump and told him to give them some time. If he was keen to get out of Syria, he should at least give them time to gain (something in the field) in exchange for the withdrawal. Trump said he had no problem with the idea, and asked them how long it would take them. They said 6 months. These 6 months have not been officially announced, but CNN and other US media reported that Trump had given 6 month to his Defense Secretary to prepare the withdrawal from Syria.

The Americans went to the Russians and told them… I am sorry to mix the Lebanese dialect and literary Arabic. The United States told Russia that they were ready to get out of all Syria and leave absolutely no soldier behind – I convey their words accurately –, and they were even ready to leave the Al-Tanf region, which has a special significance. Yesterday, a US official said they would leave Syria, but remain at Al Tanf (American base at the Syrian-Iraqi and Syrian-Jordanian border), but back then, they said they’d even leave Al-Tanf, but on condition that Iranian forces leave Syria, and Hezbollah also of course. The United States asked the Russians to go talk to the Iranians and with President Assad to tell them about this agreement proposal, namely an Iranian withdrawal would be carried out together with a full US withdrawal from Syria. And the Americans asserted they were quite ready to conclude such an agreement.

Trump was determined to withdraw his troops even without this bargain, but those around him told him to wait a bit for them to get this deal. The Russians have therefore communicated this proposal to the Iranians, and President Putin informed President Rouhani, who informed me myself. Similarly, the Russians sent a high level delegation to Damascus who met with President Assad and conveyed this proposal to him. The Russians waited a response from Iran and a response from Syria.

On the Iranian side, I am one of the people they have consulted on this issue, and I told them (that in my opinion), the United States would withdraw from Syria in any case, whether the Iranians remained or left; the US try to get something in return to save face and cover their withdrawal (because in truth, they are defeated), to pretend they leave after scoring a big victory, namely the withdrawal of Iranian forces – because ISIS was not eradicated –, to be presented in the United States as a huge success for Trump, and as an even greater success by Netanyahu in the Israeli entity.

Iran has categorically rejected this proposal, saying that they were present at the request of the Syrian government to combat terrorism and takfiri groups, which were still present in Syria. The reason for their presence being still valid, there was no reason to leave. Final point. End of the discussion. President Assad made the same answer, saying he refused that Iran leave Syria – talking about Iranian forces may not be entirely fair, but there are generals, officers, consultants, logistics, etc. President Assad refused on principle to put on the same footing Iranians and Americans, because the first came at his request, and the second are occupants. “The first are friends and the latter are supporting my enemies, (he said). The battle is not over, and even if the Iranians wanted to leave, I would not accept it, and I would ask them to stay.” This US project has failed.

To be honest, it should be noted that the Russians haven’t put any pressure on Assad (for him to accept this proposal), they only conveyed the message. For you know that in the media, there is much talk about the Russian-Iranian issue (to present an alleged divergence or opposition in Syria). It is true that the Russians sometimes exaggerate (in their demands, and exert too much pressure), but to be fair and accurate, (this time), the Russians have only transmitted a message, and in an appropriate (and respectful) way. They said that there was this proposal, and asked (Iran and Syria) their opinion. And when both answered no, this response was forwarded to the US. End of story.

Trump was informed that the attempt had failed, and he began to ask them to work seriously to liquidate ISIS because they had only 6 months. This is why recently, operations and bombings against ISIS intensified and real massacres were committed to end ISIS in this last pocket of the Deir Ezzor region where they are present.

When 6 months have passed, Trump surprised no one (when announcing the US withdrawal from Syria). Mattis, the Defense Secretary, and other officials, had known for 7 months that they only had 6 months before them. You got nothing, you’ve done nothing, so the guy (Trump) decided to leave Syria. Why does he leave Syria? I’m coming to it. He said there was only sand and death (there), nothing else, and that he had no reason to stay. In his eyes, the Syrian people has no value, he couldn’t care less about the future of Syria – and there is even a positive aspect to this. Neither elections, nor freedom, nor democracy, nor any of this interests him. Ultimately, what does he care about in Syria? He cares about Israel, and perhaps about some red lines, some limitations and some (armed) groups. And he believes that he can guarantee his interests through the political hegemony, the political resolution (of the conflict in Syria), pressures, etc.

And he also said something (important): the US Air Force retains its undisputed presence in the Syrian skies. When Trump bombed Damascus after the chemical masquerade, where did his aircraft come from? It came from Qatar and the Mediterranean Sea, from their Al Udeid base (in Qatar) or whatever. Trump does not need to have a military presence in Syria (ground troops) to pursue his military pressure (and stay active and influential). He can do it from his other bases. So he can get out of the Eastern Euphrates region and thus achieve one of his election promises.

But this withdrawal also reflects a failure. The idea to withdraw troops from Syria, Afghanistan and Iraq, the reduced number of troops, reconsideration (of their doctrine) are in fact a new strategy. This is what I call the Trump version of the American (hegemony) project. 

Translation: unz.com/sayedhasan

March 30, 2019 Posted by | Timeless or most popular, Wars for Israel | , , , , | 1 Comment

THE VETO: Exposing CNN, Al Jazeera, Channel 4, western media propaganda war in Syria

Vanessa Beeley | March 21, 2019

I met journalist and friend Rafiq Lutf and cameraman Abdul-Mun’aim Arnous in January 2018 and I was honoured when Rafiq asked me to work with him on his film project, The Veto.

As Dr Shaaban said to me in August 2016, “Western propaganda is paid for in Syrian blood”. This is true. The horrifying bloodshed and loss of life in Syria could never have happened without the colonial media manufacturing consent for another illegal war against a Sovereign nation.

The Veto tracks the evolution of the propaganda campaign waged by Western media against Syria. From Baba Amr in Homs 2011/2012 until the modern day “propaganda construct” – the NATO-member-state funded White Helmets.

It honours Russia and China’s vetoes that have consistently defended Syria’s sovereignty and territorial integrity in the UN.

George Orwell said “The most effective way to destroy people is to deny and obliterate their own understanding of their history.” Western media has been tasked with writing the history of the Syrian conflict to serve the aggressors in the US Coalition of terrorism. As Dr Shaaban also told me:

“The US alliance and its media are focusing on our history, material history, cultural history, identity, our army. Any power that keeps you as an entire state, or any statesman that represents strength or unity will be demonized and destroyed.”

The Veto exposes the criminal intentions of Western media and it archives the progression of the propaganda war waged by the West against Syria. Syrians are writing the history of the Syrian conflict because Syria and her allies have courageously resisted the Imperialist machine.

As Rafiq has said so eloquently “ we are the Veto” and we must use it against the Industrial Media Complex in the West.

Syria’s history belongs to the Syrians and Syria’s final victory must ensure that Western media is never again given the power to destroy a nation, divide its people and promote international terrorism both military and economic.

March 30, 2019 Posted by | Deception, Fake News, Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Timeless or most popular, Video | , , | 1 Comment

Guaido Set to Enact Uprising Rooted in US Regime-Change Operations Manual

By Whitney Webb | MintPress News | March 30, 2019

CARACAS, VENEZUELA — Juan Guaidó, the self-proclaimed “interim president of Venezuela” who is supported by the United States government, recently announced coming “tactical actions” that will be taken by his supporters starting April 6 as part of “Operation Freedom,” an alleged grassroots effort to overthrow Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro.

That operation, according to Guaidó, will be led by “Freedom and Aid Committees” that in turn create “freedom cells” throughout the country — “cells” that will spring to action when Guaidó gives the signal on April 6 and launch large-scale community protests. Guaidó’s stated plan involves the Venezuelan military then taking his side, but his insistence that “all options are still on the table” (i.e., foreign military intervention) reveals his impatience with the military, which has continued to stay loyal to Maduro throughout Guaidó’s “interim presidency.”

However, a document released by the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) in February, and highlighted last month in a report by Devex, details the creation of networks of small teams, or cells, that would operate in a way very similar to what Guaidó describes in his plan for “Operation Freedom.”

Given that Guaidó was trained by a group funded by USAID’s sister organization, the National Endowment for Democracy (NED) — and is known to take his marching orders from Washington, including his self-proclamation as “interim president” and his return to Venezuela following the “humanitarian aid” showdown — it is worth considering that this USAID document may well serve as a roadmap to the upcoming and Guaidó-led “tactical actions” that will comprise “Operation Freedom.”

RED Teams

Titled “Rapid Expeditionary Development (RED) Teams: Demand and Feasibility Assessment,” the 75-page document was produced for the U.S. Global Development Lab, a branch of USAID. It was written as part of an effort to the “widespread sentiment” among the many military, intelligence, and development officials the report’s authors interviewed “that the USG [U.S. government] is woefully underperforming in non-permissive and denied environments,” including Venezuela. Notably, some of the military, intelligence and development officials interviewed by the report’s authors had experience working in a covert capacity in Venezuela.

The approach put forth in this report involves the creation of rapid expeditionary development (RED) teams, who would “be deployed as two-person teams and placed with ‘non-traditional’ USAID partners executing a mix of offensive, defensive, and stability operations in extremis conditions.” The report notes later on that these “non-traditional” partners are U.S. Special Forces (SF) and the CIA.

The report goes on to state that “RED Team members would be catalytic actors, performing development activities alongside local communities while coordinating with interagency partners.” It further states that “[i]t is envisioned that the priority competency of proposed RED Team development officers would be social movement theory (SMT)” and that “RED Team members would be ‘super enablers,’ observing situations on the ground and responding immediately by designing, funding, and implementing small-scale activities.”

In other words, these teams of combined intelligence, military and/or “democracy promoting” personnel would work as “super enablers” of “small-scale activities” focused on “social movement theory” and community mobilizations, such as the mobilizations of protests.

The decentralized nature of RED teams and their focus on engineering “social movements” and “mobilizations” is very similar to Guaidó’s plan for “Operation Freedom.” Operation Freedom is set to begin through “Freedom and Aid committees” that cultivate decentralized “freedom cells” throughout the country and that create mass mobilizations when Guaidó gives the go ahead on April 6. The ultimate goal of Operation Freedom is to have those “freedom cell”-generated protests converge on Venezuela’s presidential palace, where Nicolás Maduro resides. Given Guaidó’s lack of momentum and popularity within Venezuela, it seems highly likely that U.S. government “catalytic actors” may be a key part of his upcoming plan to topple Maduro in little over a week.

Furthermore, an appendix included in the report states that RED Team members, in addition to being trained in social movement theory and community mobilization techniques, would also be trained in “weapons handling and use,” suggesting that their role as “catalytic actors” could also involve Maidan-esque behavior. This is a distinct possibility raised by the report’s claim that RED Team members be trained in the use of both “offensive” and “defensive” weaponry.

In addition, another appendix states that RED Team members would help “identify allies and mobilize small amounts of cash to establish community buy-in/relationship” —  i.e., bribes — and would particularly benefit the CIA by offering a way to “transition covert action into community engagement activities.”

Feeling Bolsonaro’s breath on its neck

Also raising the specter of a Venezuela link is the fact that the document suggests Brazil as a potential location for a RED Team pilot study. Several of those interviewed for the report asserted that “South American countries were ripe for pilots” of the RED Team program, adding that “These [countries were] under-reported, low-profile, idiot-proof locations, where USG civilian access is fairly unrestrained by DS [Diplomatic Security] and where there is a positive American relationship with the host government.”

This January, Brazil inaugurated Jair Bolsonaro as president, a fascist who has made his intention to align the country close to Washington’s interests no secret. During Bolsonaro’s recent visit to Washington, he became the first president of that country to visit CIA headquarters in Langley, Virginia. President Donald Trump said during his meeting with Bolsonaro that “We have a great alliance with Brazil — better than we’ve ever had before” and spoke in favor of Brazil joining NATO.

Though Bolsonaro’s government has claimed late in February that it would not allow the U.S. to launch a military intervention from its territory, Bolsonaro’s son, Eduardo Bolsonaro — an adviser to his father and a Brazilian congressman — said last week that “use of force will be necessary” in Venezuela “at some point” and, echoing the Trump administration, added that “all options are on the table.” If Bolsonaro’s government does allow the “use of force,” but not a full-blown foreign military intervention per se, its closeness to the Trump administration and the CIA suggests that covert actions, such as those carried out by the proposed RED Teams, are a distinct possibility.

Frontier Design Group

The RED Team report was authored by members of Frontier Design Group (FDG) for USAID’s Global Development Lab. FDG is a national security contractor and its mission statement on its website is quite revealing:

Since our founding, Frontier has focused on the challenges and opportunities that concern the “3Ds” of Defense, Development and Diplomacy and critical intersections with the intelligence community. Our work has focused on the wicked and sometimes overlapping problem sets of fragility, violent extremism, terrorism, civil war, and insurgency. Our work on these complex issues has included projects with the U.S. Departments of State and Defense, USAID, the National Counterterrorism Center and the U.S. Institute of Peace.”

FDG also states on is website that it also regularly does work for the Council on Foreign Relations and the Omidyar Group — which is controlled by Pierre Omidyar, a billionaire with deep ties to the U.S. national security establishment that were the subject of a recent MintPress series. According to journalist Tim Shorrock, who mentions the document in a recent investigation focusing on Pierre Omidyar for Washington Babylon, FDG was the “sole contractor” hired by USAID to create a “new counterinsurgency doctrine for the Trump administration” and the fruit of that effort is the “RED Team” document described above.

One of the co-authors of the document is Alexa Courtney, FDG founder and former USAID liaison officer with the Department of Defense; former manager of civilian counterterrorism operations in Afghanistan for USAID; and former counterinsurgency specialist for U.S. intelligence contractor Booz Allen Hamilton.

In addition, according to Shorrock, Courtney’s name has also been found “on several Caerus [Associates] contracts with USAID and US intelligence that were leaked to me on a thumb drive, including a $77 million USAID project to track ‘licit and illicit networks’ in Honduras.” Courtney, according to her LinkedIn account, was also recently honored by Chevron Corporation for her “demonstrated leadership and impact on development results.” MintPress recently reported on the role of Chevron in the current U.S.-led effort to topple Maduro and replace him with Guaidó.

Send in the USAID

Though Devex was told last month that USAID was “still working on the details in formulating the Rapid Expeditionary Development (RED) Teams initiative,” Courtney stated that the report’s contents had been “received really favorably” by “very senior” and “influential” former and current government officials she had interviewed during the creation of the document.

For instance, one respondent asserted that the RED Team system would “restore the long-lost doing capacity of USAID.” Another USAID official with 15 years of experience, including in “extremely denied environments,” stated that:

We have to be involved in national security or USAID will not be relevant. Anybody who doesn’t think we need to be working in combat elements or working with SF [special forces] groups is just naïve. We are either going to be up front or irrelevant … USAID is going through a lot right now, but this is an area where we can be of utility. It must happen.”

Given that the document represents the efforts of the sole contractor tasked with developing the current administration’s new counterterrorism strategy, there is plenty of reason to believe that its contents — published for over a year — have been or are set to be put to use in Venezuela, potentially as part of the upcoming “Operation Freedom,” set to begin on April 6.

This is supported by the troubling correlation between a document produced by the NED-funded group CANVAS and the recent power outages that have taken place throughout Venezuela, which were described as U.S.-led “sabotage” by the country’s government. A recent report by The Grayzone detailed how a September 2010 memo by CANVAS — which trained Juan Guaidó — described in detail how the potential collapse of the country’s electrical infrastructure, like that recently seen in Venezuela, would be “a watershed event” that “would likely have the impact of galvanizing public unrest in a way that no opposition group could ever hope to generate.”

The document specifically named the Simon Bolivar Hydroelectric Plant at Guri Dam, which failed earlier this month as a result of what the Venezuelan government asserted was “sabotage” conducted by the U.S. government. That claim was bolstered by U.S. Senator Marco Rubio’s apparent foreknowledge of the power outage. Thus, there is a precedent of correlation between these types of documents and actions that occur in relation to the current U.S. regime-change effort in Venezuela.

Furthermore, it would make sense for the Trump administration to attempt to enact such an initiative as that described in the document, given its apparent inability to launch a military intervention in Venezuela, despite its frequent claims that “all options are on the table.” Indeed, U.S. allies — including those close to Venezuela, like Colombia — have rejected military intervention, given the U.S.’ past role in bloody coups and civil wars throughout the region.

Thus, with its hands tied when it comes to military intervention, only covert actions — such as those described in the RED Team document — are likely to be enacted by the U.S. government, at least at this stage of its ongoing “regime change” effort in Venezuela.

Whitney Webb is a MintPress News journalist based in Chile. She has contributed to several independent media outlets including Global Research, EcoWatch, the Ron Paul Institute and 21st Century Wire, among others. She has made several radio and television appearances and is the 2019 winner of the Serena Shim Award for Uncompromised Integrity in Journalism.

March 30, 2019 Posted by | Corruption, Deception | , , , , , , | 2 Comments

The Ambush: 37 years after the killing of Dutch journalists

El Salvador Perspectives | March 28, 2019

Thirty seven years ago this month, four Dutch journalists were ambushed by troops of the Salvadoran army and murdered.

In early 1982, El Salvador was a dangerous place for journalists covering the civil war between FMLN guerrillas and the country’s armed forces. Despite the danger, four Dutch journalists,Koos Koster, Jan Kuiper, Joop Willemse and Hans ter Laag, ventured out to the department of Chalatenango to get an interview with guerrilla fighters. The Salvadoran army ambushed their group and killed all the journalists.

The ambush was one of the war crimes documented in the 1993 UN Truth Commission Report following the conclusion of El Salvador’s civil war:

On the afternoon of 17 March 1982, four Dutch journalists accompanied by five or six members of FMLN, some of them armed, were ambushed by a patrol of the Atonal Battalion of the Salvadorian armed forces while on their way to territory under FMLN control. The incident occurred not far from the San Salvador-Chalatenango road, near the turn off to Santa Rita. The four journalists were killed in the ambush and only one member of FMLN survived. Having analysed the evidence available, the Commission on the Truth has reached the conclusion that the ambush was set up deliberately to surprise and kill the journalists and their escort; that the decision to ambush them was taken by Colonel Mario A. Reyes Mena, Commander of the Fourth Infantry Brigade, with the knowledge of other officers; that no major skirmish preceded or coincided with the shoot-out in which the journalists were killed; and, lastly, that the officer named above and other soldiers concealed the truth and obstructed the judicial investigation….

1. The Commission on the Truth considers that there is full evidence that Dutch journalists Koos Jacobus Andries Koster, Jan Cornelius Kuiper Joop, Hans Lodewijk ter Laag and Johannes Jan Willemsen were killed on 17 March 1982 in an ambush which was planned in advance by the Commander of the Fourth Infantry Brigade, Colonel Mario A. Reyes Mena, with the knowledge of other officers at the El Paraíso barracks, on the basis of intelligence data alerting them to the journalists’ presence, and was carried out by a patrol of soldiers from the Atonal BIRI, under the command of Sergeant Mario Canizales Espinoza.

2. These same officers, the sergeant and others subsequently covered up the truth and obstructed the investigations carried out by the judiciary and other competent authorities.

The commander in charge of the ambush, Colonel Mario A. Reyes Mena, is currently living in the United States.

Today an event was held in San Salvador in commemoration of the Dutch journalists and to urge that the perpetrators of the killings be brought to justice.   The event featured the use of journalism to seek justice for the ambushed journalists with the presentation of a new book titled La Emboscada (The Ambush) written by Colombian journalist Nancy Sáenz and Salvadoran journalist Willian Carballo.   The book covers the Dutch journalists’ work in El Salvador, the ambush, the search for justice, and the path forward.

The new book will be accompanied by a multi-media website in Dutch, Spanish and English with information about the case.   Advocates hope the book and the website will promote interest in the case and keep up pressure on Salvadoran authorities to bring justice for the families of the victims.   As soon as a link to that website becomes available, I will publish it on this blog.

The event today featured two panel discussions.   The first discussion covered emblematic cases of crimes against humanity in El Salvador and where the search for justice stands today.  The second discussion centered on the Dutch journalists and included family members and colleagues of the journalists as well as the authors of the book.

Work on the case in El Salvador seeking justice for the Dutch journalists is being handled by Fundación Comunicándonos and the Salvadoran Association for Human Rights (ASDEHU).

The elimination of a 1993 amnesty law permitted prosecutors in El Salvador to reopen the case after the advocates for the journalists filed a complaint last year. Attorney Pedro Cruz who represents the victims told the assembled audience that he believes the initial investigation phase should be drawing to a close and now a case against military defendants needs to move to the courtroom.

Many of the speakers at today’s event also spoke out against a proposed law of “national reconciliation” proposed in an Ad Hoc Commission of the National Assembly which would re-institute amnesty for war crimes in El Salvador.

The office of El Salvador’s Human Rights Advocate, Raquel de Guevara, also announced her office would work to assure the Dutch journalists case is pushed forward.

March 30, 2019 Posted by | Full Spectrum Dominance, Timeless or most popular, War Crimes | , , | Leave a comment

Guardian Accused Of Whitewashing U.S. Role In Brazil’s Dictatorship

Brasil Wire | March 28, 2019

Kathy Swart is a U.S. Professor, Librarian and expert on the information landscape of Latin America. Following the Guardian’s publication of this article regarding planned commemorations of Brazil’s US-backed 1964 Military Coup, she was compelled to lodge an official complaint with the newspaper. It has yet to respond.


“For years I have enjoyed the Guardian’s articles on many topics. But this article is representative of the disturbing trend I’ve noticed for several years: a whitewashing of U.S. involvement in Brazil’s 1964 coup and dictatorship. As someone who has read widely on Brazil, it is offensive to read this piece because of this glaring omission. Particularly disappointing is the “Quick Guide” to the dictatorship that fails to even mention this extensively documented history. Mr. Phillips must be aware that the U.S. role included spending millions trying to oust Goulart, military assistance, CIA infiltration, and even torture training. The U.S. itself admitted its role 40 years ago—and yet reading the Guardian, one would think this history never occurred.

It’s curious that Mr. Phillips took the trouble to cite James Green but not to refer to any of the facts of U.S. involvement detailed in his book, We Cannot Remain Silent: Opposition to Brazil’s Military Dictatorship in the United States. In the article in question, Green points out that the military’s rationale for throwing the coup — “anti-communism” — was a pretext. Who do you think encouraged the military to use anti-communism as a pretext? Green and others have documented how the U.S. leveraged McCarthyite sentiment to spin its support of Right-wing dictators as about “quelling communism.” The communist threat to Brazil was an invention of propagandists in Washington and Brazil’s military (a separate well-referenced source describes how the CIA paid peasants to call themselves communists and set fire to landholder’s buildings to create the illusion of a communist threat). Green’s book illustrates how it was actually U.S. financial interests that drove the coup. By not mentioning U.S. involvement, you are simply perpetuating a false narrative from the Cold War.

But U.S. meddling did not end with throwing coups. Journalists from other media have described its intervention in Brazil’s more recent affairs, such as NSA spying on Petrobras, the 2016 coup against Rousseff, and the conviction of Lula without evidence. Again, the Guardian remains silent on these stories. For example, last week you published 3 separate pieces on Bolsonaro’s trip to the U.S. but failed to mention an off-agenda visit to the CIA with his justice minister. This was a major story in Brazil; even Brazilians know the CIA had much to do with its coup. And yet you fail to mention this historic visit? You are writing history with revisionism by omission. Ignorance is not a likely explanation, so why are you whitewashing the U.S. involvement? Is it because the Guardian is under the editorial influence of US and UK foreign policy? If not, what is your explanation for these omissions?”

Kathy Swart

March 30, 2019 Posted by | Deception, Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Timeless or most popular | , , , | 1 Comment

Defence of European empires was original NATO goal

Second in a four-part series on the 70th anniversary of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization

By Yves Engler · March 30, 2019

The first installment  in this series discussed how NATO was set up partly to blunt the European Left. The other major factor driving the creation of NATO was a desire to bolster colonial authority and bring the world under a US geopolitical umbrella.

From the outset Canadian officials had an incredibly expansive definition of NATO’s supposed defensive character, which says an “attack against one ally is considered as an attack against all allies.” As part of the Parliamentary debate over NATO external minister Lester Pearson said: “There is no better way of ensuring the security of the Pacific Ocean at this particular moment than by working out, between the great democratic powers, a security arrangement the effects of which will be felt all over the world, including the Pacific area.” Two years later he said: “The defence of the Middle East is vital to the successful defence of Europe and north Atlantic area.” In 1953 Pearson went even further: “There is now only a relatively small [5000 kilometre] geographical gap between southeast Asia and the area covered by the North Atlantic treaty, which goes to the eastern boundaries of Turkey.”

In one sense the popular portrayal of NATO as a defensive arrangement was apt. After Europe’s second Great War the colonial powers were economically weak while anti-colonial movements could increasingly garner outside support. The Soviets and Mao’s China, for instance, aided the Vietnamese. Similarly, Egypt supported Algerian nationalists and Angola benefited from highly altruistic Cuban backing. The international balance of forces had swung away from the colonial powers.

To maintain their colonies European powers increasingly depended on North American diplomatic and financial assistance. NATO passed numerous resolutions supporting European colonial authority. In the fall of 1951 Pearson responded to moves in Iran and Egypt to weaken British influence by telling Parliament: “The Middle  East is strategically far too important to the defence of the North Atlantic area to allow it to become a power vacuum or to pass into unfriendly hands.”

The next year Ottawa recognized the colonies of Vietnam, Cambodia and Laos as “associated states” of France, according to an internal report, “to assist  a NATO colleague, sorely tried by foreign and domestic problems.” More significantly, Canada gave France hundreds of millions of dollars in military equipment through NATO’s Mutual Assistance Program. These weapons were mostly used to suppress the Vietnamese and Algerian independence movements. In 1953 Pearson told the House: “The assistance  we have given to France as a member of the NATO association may have helped her recently in the discharge of some of her obligations in Indo-China.” Similarly, Canadian and US aid was used by the Dutch to maintain their dominance over Indonesia and West Papua New Guinea, by the Belgians in the Congo, Rwanda and Burundi, by the Portuguese in Angola, Mozambique and Guinea-Bissau and by the British in numerous places. Between 1950 and 1958 Ottawa donated a whopping $1,526,956,000 ($8 billion today) in ammunition, fighter jets, military training, etc. to European countries through the NATO Mutual Assistance Program.

The role NATO played in North American/European subjugation of the Global South made Asians and Africans wary of the organization. The Nigerian Labour Party’s 1964 pamphlet The NATO Conspiracy in Africa documents that organization’s military involvement on the continent from bases to naval agreements. In 1956 NATO established a Committee for Africa and in June 1959 NATO’s North Atlantic Council, the organization’s main political decision-making body, warned that the communists would take advantage of African independence to the detriment of Western political and economic interests.

The north Atlantic alliance was designed to maintain unity among the historic colonial powers — and the US — in the midst of a de-colonizing world. It was also meant to strengthen US influence around the world. In a history of the 1950-53 US-led Korean war David Bercuson writes that Canada’s external minister “agreed with [President] Truman, [Secretary of State] Dean Acheson, and other American leaders that the Korean conflict was NATO’s first true test, even if it was taking place half a world away.”

Designed to maintain internal unity among the leading capitalist powers, NATO was the military alliance of the post-WWII US-centered multilateral order, which included the International Monetary Fund (IMF), World Bank, International Trade Organization (ITO) and the United Nations. (For its first two decades the UN was little more than an arm of the State Department.)

A growing capitalist power, Canada was well placed to benefit from US-centered multilateral imperialism. The Canadian elite’s business, cultural, familial and racial ties with their US counterparts meant their position and profits were likely to expand alongside Washington’s global position.

NATO bolstered colonial authority and helped bring the world under the US geopolitical umbrella, from which the Canadian elite hoped to benefit.

March 30, 2019 Posted by | Aletho News | , , , , | Leave a comment

Silencing the Whistle: The Intercept Shutters Snowden Archive, Citing Cost

By Whitney Webb | MintPress News | March 30, 2019

NEW YORK — On March 13, a report in the Daily Beast revealed that the New York-based outlet The Intercept would be shutting down its archive of the trove of government documents entrusted to a handful of journalists, including Intercept co-founders Glenn Greenwald and Laura Poitras, by whistleblower Edward Snowden. However, that account did not include the role of Greenwald, as well as Jeremy Scahill — another Intercept co-founder, in the controversial decision to shutter the archive.

According to a timeline of events written by Poitras that was shared and published by journalist and former Intercept columnist Barrett Brown, both Scahill and Greenwald were intimately involved in the decision to close the Snowden archive.

While other outlets — such as the Jeff Bezos-owned Washington Post and the New York Times — also possess much (though not all) of the archive, the Intercept was the only outlet with the (full) archive that had continued to publish documents, albeit at a remarkably slow pace, in recent years. In total, fewer than 10 percent of the Snowden documents have been published since 2013. Thus, the closing of the publication’s Snowden archive will likely mean the end of any future publications, unless Greenwald’s promise of finding “the right partner … that has the funds to robustly publish” is fulfilled.

Poitras told Brown that she first caught wind of the coming end of the Snowden archive on March 6, when Scahill and Intercept editor-in-chief Betsy Reed asked to meet with her “to explain how we’ve assessed our priorities in the course of the budget process, and made some restructuring decisions.” During the resulting two-hour meeting, which Poitras described as “tense,” she realized that they had “decided to eliminate the research department. I object to this on the grounds Field of Vision [Intercept sister company where Poitras works] is dependent [on the] research department, and the Snowden archive security protocols are overseen by them.”

Poitras later sent two emails opposing the research department’s elimination and, in one of those emails, argued that the research department should stay, as it represented “only 1.5% of the total budget” of First Look Media, The Intercept’s parent company, which is wholly owned by billionaire Pierre Omidyar. The last of those emails was sent on March 10 and Poitras told Brown:

Throughout these conversations and email exchanges, there was no mention of shutting down the archive. That was not on the table. That decision was made on either Monday March 11 or Tuesday March 12, again without my involvement or consent.”

She then noted that “On Tuesday March 12, on a phone call with Glenn and the CFO [Drew Wilson], I am told that Glenn and Betsy [Reed] had decided to shut down the archive because it was no longer of value [emphasis added] to the Intercept.” Poitras stated that this was:

the first time I … heard about the decision. On the call, Glenn says we should not make this decision public because it would look bad for him and the Intercept. I objected to the decision. I am confident the decision to shut the archive was made to pave [the way] to fire/eliminate the research team.”

Notably, Edward Snowden — who was granted asylum in Russia after going public as a whistleblower — had not been consulted by Greenwald or Reed over what, according to Poitras, was their decision to shut down the Snowden documents. Snowden was subsequently informed of the decision by Poitras on March 14 and has yet to publicly comment on the closure.

Omidyar’s suddenly shallow pockets

The publicly stated reason offered by Greenwald and other Intercept employees for the closure of the Snowden archive has been budget constraints. For instance, Greenwald — in explaining the closure on Twitter — asserted that it was very expensive to publish the documents and that the Intercept only had a fraction of the budget enjoyed by other, larger news organizations like the Washington Post, which had stopped published Snowden documents years ago, allegedly “for cost reasons.”

Yet, as Poitras pointed out, the research department accounted for a minuscule 1.5 percent of First Look Media’s budget. Greenwald’s claim that the archive was shuttered owing to its high cost to the company is also greatly undermined by the fact that he, along with several other Intercept employees — Reed and Scahill among them — receive massive salaries that dwarf those of journalists working for similar nonprofit publications.

Greenwald, for instance, received $1.6 million from First Look Media, of which Omidyar is the sole shareholder, from 2014 to 2017. His yearly salary peaked in 2015, when he made over $518,000. Reed and Scahill both earn well over $300,000 annually from First Look. According to journalist Mark Ames, Scahill made over $43,000 per article at the Intercept in 2014. Other writers at the site, by comparison, have a base salary of $50,000, which itself is higher than the national average for journalists.

The Columbia Journalism Review recently noted that these salaries are massive when compared to those doled out by comparable progressive and “independent” news outlets. For instance, editor-in-chief of Mother Jones, Clara Jeffrey, earns just under $200,000 annually while the sites’s D.C. correspondent David Corn made just over $171,000 in 2017.

Given that the research department was allegedly axed owing to “financial constraints” despite representing only 1.5 percent of First Look Media’s budget, it seems strange that Greenwald, Scahill and Reed — who were, according to Poitras, the brains behind the lay-off and archive-shuttering decision — were unwilling to apply those same financial constraints to their own massive salaries.

Furthermore, this also undercuts Greenwald’s claim that he is just waiting for the “right partner… that has the funds to robustly publish” the archive. Omidyar has a net worth of over $12 billion dollars and Greenwald’s annual salary from Omidyar has topped half a million dollars. It is hard to imagine what type of “partner” with “the funds to robustly publish” Greenwald has envisioned, since First Look’s massive funding and a multi-billionaire owner was insufficient to keep the Snowden archive open.

The real reason almost certainly not cost

This all suggests that the real reason behind the archive’s closure lies closer to the fact that Greenwald and Reed both allegedly felt that the archive was “no longer of value” to the Intercept. Given that many of the publication’s most high-profile and lauded reports have been based on that archive, it seems strange that the troves of documents — 90 percent of which have never been made public and ostensibly contain material for a litany of new and explosive investigations — would no longer hold value to the outlet that was ostensibly founded to publish said documents.

A more compelling reason for why the Snowden archive failed to retain its value to the Intercept in the eyes of Greenwald, Scahill and Reed lies in the troubling government and corporate connections of their benefactor Pierre Omidyar, who — as the sole shareholder of First Look Media — pays their enormous salaries.

As journalist Tim Shorrock recently wrote at Washington Babylon, a likely motive behind the decision to shut down the Snowden archive was related to “the extensive relationships the Omidyar Group, the billionaire’s holding company, and the Omidyar Network, his investment vehicle, have forged over the past decade with the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) and other elements of the national security state,” as well as “the massive funds Omidyar and his allies in the world of billionaire philanthropy control through their foundations and investment funds.” MintPress has recently published several reports on both aspects of Omidyar’s many connections to the national security state and the non-profit industrial complex.

Shorrock goes on to further detail his theory, stating:

The Snowden collection had become problematic to Omidyar as he positioned himself as a key player in USAID’s ‘soft power’ strategy to wean the world from ‘extremism’ with massive doses of private and public monies. The classified NSA documents may not have been a problem under the Obama White House, where Omidyar enjoyed privileged status. But under Trump, whose Justice Department has gone beyond Obama’s attacks on whistleblowers by pursuing Julian Assange and WikiLeaks, holding on to the Snowden cache may had become a liability.”

Indeed, were the Snowden archive to become a liability for The Intercept’s owner, Omidyar, it certainly would cease to be of value to the publication. However, there have also long been claims that Omidyar’s involvement with the publication from the very beginning was a means of “privatizing” the Snowden documents, which allegedly contain compromising information about PayPal (owned by Omidyar) and its dealings with the U.S. government and intelligence community.

While both theories deserve careful consideration, the recent revelations regarding the back-story behind the outlet’s decision suggest that issues of “cost” were highly unlikely to have been the true motivation behind the recent closure of the Snowden archive.

Whitney Webb is a MintPress News journalist based in Chile. She has contributed to several independent media outlets including Global Research, EcoWatch, the Ron Paul Institute and 21st Century Wire, among others. She has made several radio and television appearances and is the 2019 winner of the Serena Shim Award for Uncompromised Integrity in Journalism.

March 30, 2019 Posted by | Corruption, Deception, Mainstream Media, Warmongering | | 8 Comments

Journalist says MSNBC politics editor bullied him on DNC’s behalf

RT | March 29, 2019

A freelance journalist has gone public about a bizarre intimidation attempt by a senior MSNBC editor who tried to “bully” him into keeping a story under wraps – on behalf of the Democratic National Committee, not the network.

MSNBC politics managing editor Dafna Linzer tried to pressure Yashar Ali, a journalist who has written for the Huffington Post and New York Magazine, into holding back the release of the Democratic primary debate dates, Ali has claimed in a series of tweets. Linzer wasn’t trying to beat him to the story, or calling on behalf of her own network at all – she was acting wholly on behalf of the DNC, according to Ali.

Ali got wind of the Democratic primary dates, information even the candidates didn’t have, on Thursday morning and called the party to verify them before publishing. They asked him to hold back the information while they made a few calls – which he refused, not wanting to lose the scoop – and then things got weird.

Linzer then called Ali and asked him to hold the story in order to give the DNC time to “make a few phone calls” to state party leaders, informing them of the debate dates. While her own network was planning to break the news later on that day, she spent the call “menacing” Ali, threatening to call his editor and trying several lines of reasoning to convince him to sit on the story – even bringing up her own history as a national security reporter at the Washington Post, when they “would hold stuff all the time.”

While MSNBC generally favors the Democratic Party in its news coverage, the network isn’t a party organ – not officially, at least – and Linzer’s “unethical” behavior, conspiring with party leadership to quash another journalist’s story, set off alarm bells in the journalist. Several other reporters he spoke to urged him to go public.

Neither MSNBC nor Linzer have made any public comment in response to Ali’s tweets so far. In the week since Special Counsel Robert Mueller concluded his investigation, Rachel Maddow and other top-rated MSNBC shows have lost 20 percent of their viewers as Americans realize they spent the last two years being led down the garden path. It’s understandable that Linzer might be a little stressed, now that so much is riding on the network’s “pivot to 2020.”

March 30, 2019 Posted by | Corruption, Full Spectrum Dominance, Mainstream Media, Warmongering | , , | Leave a comment