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Mueller report takes ‘Russian meddling’ for granted, offers no actual evidence

RT | April 18, 2019

Special counsel Robert Mueller’s ‘Russiagate’ report has cleared Donald Trump of ‘collusion’ charges but maintains that Russia meddled in the 2016 US presidential election. Yet concrete evidence of that is nowhere to be seen.

The report by Mueller and his team, made public on Thursday by the US Department of Justice, exonerates not just Trump but all Americans of any “collusion” with Russia, “obliterating” the Russiagate conspiracy theory, as journalist Glenn Greenwald put it.

However, it asserts that Russian “interference” in the election did happen, and says it consisted of a campaign on social media as well as Russian military intelligence (repeatedly referred to by its old, Soviet-era name, GRU) “hacking” the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC), the DNC, and the private email account of Hillary Clinton’s campaign chair, John Podesta.

As evidence of this, the report basically offers nothing but Mueller’s indictment of “GRU agents,” delivered on the eve of the Helsinki Summit between Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin in what was surely a cosmic coincidence.

Indictments are not evidence, however, but allegations. Any time it looks like the report might be bringing up proof, it ends up being redacted, ostensibly to protect sources and methods, and out of concern it might cause “harm to an ongoing matter.”

‘Active measures’ on social media

Mueller’s report leads with the claim that the Internet Research Agency (IRA) ran an “active measures” campaign of social media influence. Citing Facebook and Twitter estimates, the report says this consisted of 470 Facebook accounts that made 80,000 posts that may have been seen by up to 126 million people, between January 2015 and August 2017 (almost a year after the election), and 3,814 Twitter accounts that “may have been” in contact with about 1.4 million people.

Those numbers may seem substantial but, as investigative journalist Gareth Porter pointed out in November 2018, they should be regarded against the background of 33 trillion Facebook posts made during the same period.

According to Mueller, the IRA mind-controlled the American electorate by spending “approximately $100,000” on Facebook ads, hiring someone to walk around New York City “dressed up as Santa Claus with a Trump mask,” and getting Trump campaign affiliates to promote “dozens of tweets, posts, and other political content created by the IRA.” Dozens!

Meanwhile, the key evidence against IRA’s alleged boss Evgeny Prigozhin is that he “appeared together in public photographs” with Putin.

Alleged hacking & release

The report claims that the GRU hacked their way into 29 DCCC computers and another 30 DNC computers, and downloaded data using software called “X-Tunnel.” It is unclear how Mueller’s investigators claim to know this, as the report makes no mention of them or FBI actually examining DNC or DCCC computers. Presumably they took the word of CrowdStrike, the Democrats’ private contractor, for it.

However obtained, the documents were published first through DCLeaks and Guccifer 2.0 – which the report claims are “fictitious online personas” created by the GRU – and later through WikiLeaks. What is Mueller’s proof that these two entities were “GRU” cutouts? In a word, this:

That the Guccifer 2.0 persona provided reporters access to a restricted portion of the DCLeaks website tends to indicate that both personas were operated by the same or a closely-related group of people.(p. 43)

However, the report acknowledges that the “first known contact” between Guccifer 2.0 and WikiLeaks was on September 15, 2016 – months after the DNC and DCCC documents were published! Here we do get actual evidence: direct messages on Twitter obtained by investigators. Behold, these “spies” are so good, they don’t even talk – and when they do, they use unsecured channels!

Mueller notably claims “it is clear that the stolen DNC and Podesta documents were transferred from the GRU to WikiLeaks” (the rest of that sentence is redacted), but the report clearly implies the investigators do not actually know how. On page 47, the report says Mueller “cannot rule out that stolen documents were transferred to WikiLeaks through intermediaries who visited during the summer of 2016.”

Strangely, the report accuses WikiLeaks co-founder Julian Assange of making “public statements apparently designed to obscure the source” of the materials (p.48), notably the offer of a reward for finding the murderer of DNC staffer Seth Rich – even though this can be read as corroborating the intermediaries theory, and Assange never actually said Rich was his source.

The rest of Mueller’s report goes on to discuss the Trump campaign’s contacts with anyone even remotely Russian and to create torturous constructions that the president had “obstructed” justice by basically defending himself from charges of being a Russian agent – neither of which resulted in any indictments, however. But the central premise that the 22-month investigation, breathless media coverage, and the 448-page report are based on – that Russia somehow meddled in the 2016 election – remains unproven.

April 18, 2019 Posted by | Fake News, Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Russophobia | , | Leave a comment

Bernie Sanders’ Foreign Policy Vision is Incoherent and Dangerous

Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., steps off a Black Hawk helicopter at the Afghan National Police Academy Feb. 20, in Kabul, Afghanistan. Ernesto Hernandez Fonte | DVIDS
By Alex Rubinstein | MintPress News | April 16, 2019

Senator Bernie Sanders (I-VT) is now leading the pack of Democratic contenders for the 2020 presidential nomination. In the previous election cycle, Sanders served as an anti-establishment underdog, bucking Democratic orthodoxy with a strong progressive economic message. But this time the field is more crowded with like-minded candidates –“progressives” like Elizabeth Warren, Cory Booker, and Kamala Harris. It follows then that in order to distinguish himself, Sanders needs visionary solutions to problems outside of the economic realm. In the foreign policy arena, however, he is looking for inspiration on Israel-Palestine from tried-and-failed Democratic presidents of the past — namely, Jimmy Carter and Bill Clinton — all while echoing Trump and Bush Jr. administration talking points.

Sanders has also brought one Robert Malley onto his foreign policy team. Malley served on President Barack Obama’s National Security Council as “Special Assistant to President Obama & Senior Adviser to the President for the Counter-ISIL Campaign” from February 2014 to January 2017. Under his watch, the U.S led operations which saw the near-total destruction of the historic cities of Mosul in Iraq and Raqqa in Syria.

Despite this, the New York Times opinion section has said Sanders “stands as one of the few candidates with a fully formed vision for American foreign policy,” while The Atlantic claims “It’s Foreign Policy That Distinguishes Bernie This Time.”

As journalist Mathew Yglesias — who is not necessarily known for his moral clarity but is indisputably one of the more knowledgeable wonks on Washington’s most boring inner workings — noted, “There are two main things the president actually does — executive branch appointments, which nobody is really talking about, and then foreign policy.”

Sanders has worked hard to lay out his 2020 foreign policy vision in April. It was the subject of an in-depth article in The New Yorker, and he also touched briefly on it in a Fox News town hall on Monday.

In the New Yorker piece, journalist Benjamin Wallace-Wells recounts his interview with Sanders and his foreign policy advisor, Matt Duss, a former “Policy Analyst” at the notoriously anti-Sanders Center for American Progress, which receives funding from the United Arab Emirates.

Right away, Wallace-Wells notes that “Sanders had scarcely talked about foreign affairs in his 2016 campaign.” This time seems different, however.

Still, Sanders hasn’t done all of his homework, and openly admits it. After getting into some of the nitty-gritty of international affairs and the historic role of U.S. foreign policy, Sanders concedes to Wallace-Wells:

Let me — I should have prefaced everything that I said by saying I most certainly do not believe that I have all the answers, or that this is easy stuff. I mean, you’re dealing with so much — my God.”

A bit later in the story, Sanders seems to blame the ignorance he just owned up to for much of the world’s woes: “You know, a lot of attitudes about foreign policy are based on lack of knowledge.”

A decent staff, except . . .

Earnestly, Wallace-Wells notes that Sanders’ full foreign policy team left him “surprised” by “how mainstream they seemed.”

Among them:

Joe Cirincione, the antinuclear advocate; … Robert Malley, who coördinated Middle East policy in Obama’s National Security Council and is now the president of the International Crisis Group; Suzanne DiMaggio, a specialist in negotiations with adversaries at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace; and Vali Nasr, the dean of the Paul H. Nitze School of Advanced Studies at Johns Hopkins and a specialist in the Shia-Sunni divide.”

Joe Cirincione is a well-known and well-respected progressive figure devoted to denuclearization. Suzanne DiMaggio, for her part, has received praise from Timothy Shorrock — a leading progressive journalist focused on the defense industry and the Korean Peninsula. Her words have also been featured by 38 North, which is arguably the fairest outlet focusing on North Korea and is distinguished by its facts-first approach. She is, however, indisputably part of the establishment, and is respected enough by members of the U.S. Senate that her advice was sought after Trump agreed to an initial meeting with North Korean leader Kim Jong-un.

Like DiMaggio, Vali Nasr appears to be cut from the cloth of dovish foreign policy “experts.” He once wrote: “Without Iran’s military reach and the strength of its network of allies and clients in Iraq and Syria, ISIS would have quickly swept through Damascus, Baghdad, and Erbil.”

Malley is, in truth, the most objectionable of Sanders’ foreign policy team. As Wallace-Wells noted, Malley served as Obama’s Middle East coordinator.

He also worked as an advisor to Obama on the U.S. counter-ISIS campaign up until January 2017. That campaign, notably, included the destruction of Raqqa (80 percent destroyed) and Mosul (eight million tons of debris and 90 percent of the Western portion of the city destroyed.) Malley also spent six months as a Senior Fellow at the ultra-hawkish Council on Foreign Relations think tank.

And Malley also worked for about two and a half years under Clinton as his “Special Assistant for Arab-Israeli Affairs.” He has previously caught the attention of the venerable Palestinian journalist Ali Abunimah, who has tweeted:

Malley isn’t ‘pro-Palestinian.’ He’s a liberal Zionist who believes in and wants to bring about ‘two state’ segregation by soft means.

Peace process industrialists like Robert Malley can never recognize role of BDS or speak openly about [a] one-state solution.”

On Israel-Palestine, Sanders invoked former presidents Jimmy Carter and Bill Clinton as a source of inspiration for him.

As MintPress News has previously covered the policies of those presidents (in contrast with the positioning of President Donald Trump):

Unlike previous U.S. presidents, who have meddled in Israeli elections in order to support peace processes, Trump is doing the opposite by appeasing the settler movement… While Washington orthodoxy dictates strict adherence to a two-state solution, the idea has long stalled a real resolution to Israeli apartheid, as Israeli settlers continue to make bold land grabs. The far-right president, in bucking the trend of supporting peace processes so doomed, coupled with the far-right prime minister [Benjamin Netanyahu], now emboldened by his fifth premiership, are on a path to see the total disappearance of historical Palestine from the map.”

There is no doubt that Sanders’ presidency would make a real solution to Israeli apartheid less improbable than a second Trump term would. Nor is their any doubt that his foreign policy is markedly less hawkish than that of many in the Democratic field. But he is also flanked from the left by candidates like Tulsi Gabbard and Mike Gravel, and so it is worth examining his milquetoast antidotes with this context in mind.

Sanders’ “solutions”

Sanders — despite being almost 80 years old — is getting hip to the desires of young progressives in the foreign policy realm. As DiMaggio correctly points out: “The case for restraint seems to be gaining ground, particularly in its rejection of preventive wars and efforts to change the regimes of countries that do not directly threaten the United States.”

In other words, the “humanitarian intervention” canard is losing its selling power. Moreover, Sanders rightfully puts more blame on the U.S. for various foreign policy failures over the years. He says:

“How many people in the United States understand that we overthrew a democratically elected government in Iran to put in the Shah? Which then led to the Revolution. How many people in this country do you think know that? So we’re going to have to do a little bit of educating on that.”

But Iran’s revolution was 40 years ago — about half of Sanders’ lifetime. When it comes to Iran today, Sanders differs drastically from the aforementioned views of Nasr, which painted Iran as a force for anti-terrorism in the Middle East. Sanders explicitly rejected this conception of Iran, saying Tehran is “involved in terrorism, doing a lot of bad things.”

In the case of the rivalry between Saudi Arabia and Iran, as well as the Israel-Palestine conflict, Sanders makes “both sides” arguments. On Saudi Arabia, he says “I don’t see why we’d be following the lead or seen as a very, very close ally of a despotic, un-democratic regime.”

Of course, Saudi Arabia is a theocratic petro-monarchy. Denouncing it as “un-democratic” is about the least imaginative criticism conceivable. To Sanders’ credit, however, he has been a leader in efforts to put an end to U.S. support for the Saudi war on Yemen.

Sanders went even further on Fox News, arguing that “Saudi Arabia should not be determining the military or foreign policy of this country.”

For a moment, imagine that Sanders had used that same phrasing regarding Israel, whose lobbyists hold far more sway over elected officials in the U.S.: he would be relentlessly condemned as anti-Semitic or a “self-loathing Jew” — at least, presumably, as he has never made criticism so harsh of the apartheid state and its America lobby. He did, however, say that Representative Ilhan Omar can do a “better job in speaking to the Jewish community,” but rejected the idea that she is an anti-Semite.

Regarding the conflict between Iran and Saudi Arabia, which Sanders seems to mischaracterize as religious instead of geopolitical, he said the U.S., under his watch, would not be “going to be spending trillions of dollars and losing American lives because of [their] long-standing hostilities.”

On Israel-Palestine, Sanders said the following:

While I am very critical of [Prime Minister Benjamin] Netanyahu’s right-wing government, I am not impressed by what I am seeing from Palestinian leadership, as well.

It’s corrupt in many cases, and certainly not effective.”

It is true that Hamas has had problems with corruption, and the Palestinian Authority is far from effective. But Hamas was democratically elected to lead Gaza. In contrast, Netanyahu won his fifth premiership with help from his Likud Party, which hired a PR firm to place 1,200 hidden cameras in Arab polling places. The firm even boasted that, in those areas, the cameras and the uproar they caused “managed to lower the voter turnout to under 50 percent, the lowest in years!”

Sanders’ prescription for the Israel-Palestine conflict is to cut U.S. aid to Israel. But asked whether the aid would be “contingent” on “fuller political rights for Palestinians,” Sanders said he’s “not going to get into the specifics.”

Sanders has previously rejected the prospect of equal rights for Palestinians, saying in 2017 that “if that happens,” in the context of a one-state solution, “that would be the end of Israel.” In the same interview, Sanders said “I don’t support [the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement],” which seeks to economically pressure Israel and Israeli companies into ending apartheid and respecting Palestinian human rights.

In other words, the proper way to reproach Israeli apartheid is to stop giving Israel free handouts. Sanders himself noted that “$3.8 billion is a lot of money!” But sanctioning Israel for its human rights abuses is out of the question.

Let us use a quick metaphor to describe this approach: your child is throwing a fit in the supermarket, knocking over racks of goods and shoveling cereal boxes onto the ground. Instead of grounding them, you say “that’s it! We’re not going to the toy store.”

This approach is in line with his hardline economic angles on almost every issue. In the New Yorker article, Sanders said that the $6 trillion spent on the War on Terror since 2001 is “an unbelievable amount of money.” But the human cost of the War on Terror goes unmentioned.

“I’m not proposing anything particularly radical,” Sanders admitted. “And that is that the United States should have an even-handed approach both to Israel and the Palestinians.”

Perhaps even more troubling than Sanders’ views on Israel are his positions on Venezuela. He expressed worry at what he calls the “rise of a new authoritarian axis” — echoing the “Axis of evil” talking point elevated by George W. Bush.

Asked whether Venezuela’s president, Nicolas Maduro, was part of that axis, Sanders said:

Yeah. …

It is a failed regime. From all of the recent evidence, it appears that the election was fraudulent. And, despite his ideology, what we need to see is democracy established in Venezuela. That does not mean deciding that some politician is the new President, who never won any election.

The world community has got to be mindful of the humanitarian suffering and the hunger that’s going on in Venezuela right now. But, at the end of the day, I think what you want in one of the largest countries in Latin America is free and fair elections, and we want to do everything we can to establish democracy there.”

There is no evidence of electoral fraud in Venezuela. It is also worth noting that, while Sanders rejected the U.S.-backed coup leader Juan Guaidó, his inclusion of Venezuela in the “authoritarian axis” follows in the footsteps of the Trump administration’s own rebrand of the “axis of evil” — the “troika of tyranny.” While Sanders undoubtedly has ruled out the possibility of a military intervention in Venezuela should he become president, he says nothing of rolling back sanctions against Venezuela — or Iran, for that matter.

“I have reviewed sanctions across the world. Very few of them have really been a positive, helpful factor,” the UN special rapporteur on unilateral coercive measures recently told The Grayzone. “It’s like going into microsurgery using a kitchen knife. It’s a very blunt tool to achieve [regime change].”

While Sanders positions himself as an anti-war candidate, so too did Trump. And he echoes the Trump talking points: China and Russia are our enemies; Maduro won his presidency through election fraud; and Iran is a sponsor of terror.

In a rare mainstream media broadcasting of an anti-interventionist Syrian-American, a real estate agent named Tony asked Sanders in his town hall on Fox News on Monday whether he would “partake in any foreign affairs that don’t directly affect our national security,” adding, “I believe we need to stay out of Syria, Venezuela, and other countries.”

Sanders’ immediately touted his anti-Iraq war credentials before doing the same regarding his record on Yemen. But before long, he said, “clearly we are concerned about China and concerned about Russia.”

“Clearly we need a strong defense,” Sanders added.

Sanders has previously, and repeatedly, called for countries that have funded and armed the jihadist proxy war in Syria — Qatar, Turkey, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, et al. — to “get their hands dirty, their boots on the ground” in Syria.

Imagine all the farmers

One anecdote from the New Yorker article lays bare the candidate’s half baked solutions to foreign policy as a chief executive:

He remembered, in a gauzy way, a program he had overseen as the mayor of Burlington, in which kids from his city traveled to the Soviet city of Yaroslavl, and Russian children traveled to Vermont.”

Sanders has sought to implement similar solutions even more recently, having proposed a failed amendment to dedicate 0.1 percent of the military budget “to support exchange programs to bring foreign teenagers to the U.S. and send American kids abroad.”

“To bring farmers from Turkey to farmers in Iowa. You know, just to get people to see each other as human beings. I think it could go a distance,” Sanders said.

Turkey? More like bologna. While a Soviet-U.S. exchange program, during the Cold War, is a solid program that could have, if nationally implemented, perhaps even altered the course of world history, the prospect of Turkish farmers going to Iowa or vice-versa seems purposefully meaningless. Turkey is, after all, a nuke-holding NATO ally.

Wallce-Wells, the New Yorker reporter, smartly noted that Sanders’ list of enemies — the “authoritarian axis” — was a lot better defined than his list of allies. And so, he “asked about where he thought his allies might come from.” The candidate deflected from offering a real strategy, however, arguing that climate change will help usher in a new era of global solidarity and peacebuilding.

Maybe I’m wrong on this, or maybe I’m seeing something that other people don’t see, but I look at climate change as a very, very serious threat — to the entire planet, to every country on earth.”

Sanders made the exact same deflection in his Fox News town hall. After bloviating about “concerns” with Russia and China, he placed climate change front and center of the “national security” debate.

This vision for a new era of international cooperation is lofty and utopian enough to make even John Lennon’s eyes roll in his grave.

April 18, 2019 Posted by | Science and Pseudo-Science | , | Leave a comment

EU finds no ‘evidence’ Kaspersky Lab software spies for Russia, despite claims by US

RT | April 18, 2019

A recently published document reveals the European Commission has no evidence that Kaspersky Lab software spies on users on behalf of the Russian government, despite the EU and US labeling it “malicious.”

“The Commission is not in possession of any evidence regarding potential issues related to the use of Kaspersky Lab products,” reads a letter from an EC representative to a Belgian member of parliament, dated last Friday.

The European Commission was responding to a request by Belgian MEP Gerolf Annemans who asked last month if it knows “of any reason other than certain press articles that justifies the labelling of Kaspersky as ‘dangerous’ or ‘malicious’.” Annemans also wanted to know if other programs and devices, other than those of Kaspersky, were also flagged as “malicious.”

Reacting to the latest EU letter, Kaspersky said, “this is another evidence not to let the geopolitical agenda fool you with fake news.”

The EU’s proclamation of Kaspersky software as “malicious” did not happen in a vacuum. The announcement came at a time of unprecedented Russian hysteria, originating in the US. In 2017, Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s ‘Russiagate’ investigation was in its infancy, talk of collusion dominated the airwaves… and Kaspersky wasn’t left untouched either.

The Department of Homeland Security banned all federal agencies from using Kaspersky software in September 2017, citing national security concerns but providing no evidence. Company founder and Chief Executive Eugene Kaspersky denounced the move as “baseless paranoia at best,” and the company filed a lawsuit.

Later, Kaspersky found its ads banned from Twitter and its products pulled from store shelves at Best Buy. Eugene Kaspersky called the Twitter ban a case of “blatant censorship.”

April 18, 2019 Posted by | Russophobia | , | 2 Comments

How Has Former MI6 Spymaster Richard Dearlove Dodged Scrutiny Despite Links To Russiagate?

By Tyler Durden – Zero Hedge – 04/18/2019

One of the figures involved in the Obama administration’s “Russiagate” scandal who has largely avoided scrutiny is former MI6 spymaster Sir Richard Dearlove, who is intimately linked to several key players in what many now believe was a high-level Set-up against the Trump campaign during the 2016 US election.

Dearlove, who served as chief of MI6 from 1999 to 2004, had contact during the 2016 campaign with dossier author Christopher Steele. He is also a close colleague of Stefan Halper, the alleged FBI and CIA informant who established contact with several Trump campaign advisers. Dearlove and Halper attended a Cambridge political event in July 2016 where Halper had his first contact with Trump campaign adviser Carter Page. –Daily Caller

Of note, Dearlove is best known for peddling a report alleging that Saddam Hussein had WMDs, which then-UK Prime Minister Tony Blair used to justify launching a war against Iraq.

In 2014, the retired British spymaster hosted an event at Cambridge University along with Halper. In attendance was then-director of the Defense Intelligence Agency Michael Flynn, as well as a Russian-born college student Svetlana Lokhova. Both Dearlove and Halper reportedly expressed concerns about Flynn’s contacts with Lokhova – which the 38-year-old Russian-born academic says is complete bullshit.

 

Stefan Halper and the Pentagon, which paid him over $1 million during the Obama administration for “research.”

General Flynn was the guest of honor and he sat on one side of the table in the middle. I sat on the opposite side of the table to Flynn next to Richard Dearlove because I was the only woman at dinner, and it’s a British custom that the only woman gets to sit next to the host,” Lokhova told Fox News, who added that she has never been alone with Flynn. On the contrary, the unplanned encounter was professional and mildly productive.

Sir Richard Dearlove (L), Prof. Christopher Andrew (center), and then-Defense Intelligence Agency Director Michael Flynn (R), at Cambridge University, Feb. 28, 2014. (Photo courtesy Svetlana Lokhova via the Daily Caller)

Dearlove – who has feigned not knowing “Trump-Russia” dossier author Christopher Steele, discussed ongoing matters with the former MI6 spy during a meeting in London’s posh Garrick Club according to the Washington Post.

And as the Daily Caller‘s Chuck Ross points out, “Despite his presence at those key junctures, Dearlove has mostly dodged media attention, as well as that of American lawmakers investigating the origins of the Russia probe,” adding “That’s perhaps a testament to Dearlove’s 38 years in MI6.

As journalist Daniel Lazare wrote last year in Consortium News

A few things stand out about this august group.  One is its in-bred quality.  After helping to run an annual confab known as the Cambridge Intelligence Seminar, Dearlove and Halper are now partners in a private venture calling itself “The Cambridge Security Initiative.”  Both are connected to another London-based intelligence firm known as Hakluyt & Co. Halper is also connected via two books he wrote with Hakluyt representative Jonathan Clarke and Dearlove has a close personal friendship with Hakluyt founder Mike Reynolds, yet another MI6 vet.  Alexander Downer served a half-dozen years on Hakluyt’s international advisory board, while Andrew Wood is linked to Steele via Orbis Business Intelligence, the private research firm that Steele helped found, and which produced the anti-Trump dossier, and where Wood now serves as an unpaid advisor.

Everyone, in short, seems to know everyone else.  But another thing that stands out about this group is its incompetence.  Dearlove and Halper appear to be old-school paranoids for whom every Russian is a Boris Badenov or a Natasha Fatale.  In February 2014, Halper notified US intelligence that Mike Flynn, Trump’s future national security adviser, had grown overly chummy with an Anglo-Russian scholar named Svetlana Lokhova whom Halper suspected of being a spy – suspicions that Lokhova convincingly argues are absurd.

Dearlove, meanwhile, has showered praise upon Halper – a longtime suspected CIA and FBI informant, and has been involved in US politics at the highest levels for decades, becoming George H.W. Bush’s National Director for Policy Development during his presidential campaign. After Bush lost to Reagan, Halper worked as Reagan’s Deputy Assistant Secretary of State – where he served under three different Secretaries.

He then became a senior advisor to the Department of Defense and DOJ between 1984 and 2001. Halper’s former father-in-law was Ray Cline, former Deputy Director of the CIA. He also allegedly spied on the Carter administration – collecting information on foreign policy (an account disputed by Ray Cline).

Halper received a DoD contract from the Obama administration for $411,575 – made in two payments, and had a start date of September 26, 2016 – three days after a September 23 Yahoo! News article by Michael Isikoff about Trump aide Carter Page, which used information fed to Isikoff by “pissgate” dossier creator Christopher Steele. The FBI would use the Yahoo! article along with the unverified “pissgate” dossier as supporting evidence in an FISA warrant application for Page.

Most famously, however, Halper is known for infiltrating the Trump campaign on behalf of the Obama DOJ – spying on advisers Carter Page and George Papadopoulos, who he lured into his orbit under the guise of seeking legitimate professional relationships.

Meanwhile, his buddy Richard Dearlove has remained largely out of the spotlight despite his glaring connections to Russiagate.

April 18, 2019 Posted by | Deception, Russophobia | , , | 1 Comment

Damascus should take control over northeast Syria: Russia FM

Press TV – April 18, 2019

Russia says the legitimate Syrian government should immediately take control over the country’s northeastern region, including the East Euphrates River, which is held by US-backed Kurdish militants.

“There is a need to resolve the issue concerning the country’s northeast and the left bank of the Euphrates River in order to achieve one of the priority tasks and ensure the restoration of the legitimate government’s control over the region,” Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said at a press conference on Wednesday.

The top Russian diplomat underlined the need to build dialog with Kurdish groups and secure the interests of Turkey “as far as security in Syria’s border areas is concerned.”

Northeastern Syria is currently controlled by the so-called Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), a US-backed anti-Damascus alliance of mainly Kurdish militants, which include the Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG).

Turkey considers the YPG a terrorist organization and an extension of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), which has been fighting for an autonomous region inside Turkey since 1984.

The United States is a key advocate of autonomy for Syrian Kurds which Damascus has roundly rejected.

Many observers believe Washington plans to carve out a foothold in the region through supporting Syrian Kurds.

In February, a senior adviser to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad flatly rejected the idea of giving Syrian Kurds a measure of autonomy, saying such a move would open the door to the partition of the country.

The Kurdish-led authority that runs much of north and east Syria has presented a roadmap for a deal with Assad in recent meetings with Russia.

Also in February, President Assad called on SDF militants to return to the Syrian army, warning them against reliance on the United States.

“We say to those groups who are betting on the Americans, the Americans will not protect you. The Americans will put you in their pockets so you can be tools in the barter, and they have started with it,” he said.

Russia has been helping Syrian forces in their fight against foreign-backed Takfiri militants. The military assistance began in September 2015 at the official request of the Syrian government.

Foreign-backed militancy, supported by the United States and many of its Western and regional allies, erupted in Syria in 2011.

The militants and Takfiri terrorists overran large swathes of Syria’s territory.

The Daesh terrorist group, which once held large swaths of land in Syria, has now been completely defeated in the Arab country and has lost almost all of its occupied territories.

Syria has now reestablished its reign over nearly its entire expanse.

April 18, 2019 Posted by | Illegal Occupation | , , | 4 Comments

Understanding Saudi Arabia’s Role in Post-Coup Sudan

By Adam Garrie | EurasiaFuture | April 18, 2019

In previous times, when Saudi Arabia sought to intervene in the affairs of foreign nations, it did so overtly. Whether funding foreign masjids to advance Saudi Arabia’s Wahhabi school of Sunni Islam or sponsoring militant groups with unambiguous links to Riyadh, it used to be that when Saudi Arabia wanted change in a foreign nation, there was no real attempt to hide such developments.

Under the de facto leadership of Crown Prince Muhammad bin Salman, this has partly changed. While western media has struggled to form a cohesive narrative through which to portray military strongman and US citizen Khalifa Haftar’s ongoing attempt to take Tripoli, Haftar’s own movements make it clear just how much Saudi Arabia is backing the renegade military man who once fled Libya as a traitor in the late 1980s.

Haftar was in Riyadh where he met the Saudi monarch just days before he began his assault on Tripoli. It has further been reported that Haftar has received millions of dollars from Riyadh. Thus, it is clear that in spite of Riyadh’s US partner’s support of the fledgling and endlessly corrupt Tripoli regime, Saudi Arabia along with its Egyptian and Emirati allies are firmly behind Haftar.

Recent events in Sudan have served as a reminder to the world that whilst long serving and recently ousted President Omar al-Bashir came to power in 1989 with the backing of the Muslim Brotherhood, since then, Bashir had become something of a post-ideological/poly-ideological political survivor. At various times Bashir has been friendly with and had disputes with countries as diverse as Iran, the United States, Saudi Arabia, Gaddafi’s Libya, Assad’s Syria, Egypt, Qatar and Turkey. In many ways, the only two nations with whom Bashir has had consistently good relations were China and Russia. In respect of just about every other country that seeks strategic relations with Khartoum, Bashir’s career was something of a geopolitical game of ping-pong.

Recent years however had seen Bashir’s Sudan greatly improve relations with Turkey and also Turkey’s closest Arab ally Qatar. To this end, Turkey has signed an agreement with Khartoum to construct a modern port at the location of a once prominent Ottoman Port at Suakin. Yet whilst this apparently win-win project did not immediately radiate political overtones, there were in fact many to be found. Suakin was a traditional Ottoman port of call for those on the Hajj to the Holy City of Mecca. From Suakin, pilgrims would take a short maritime journey to Jeddah before moving on to Mecca. For Saudi Arabia, this was seen as a Turkish attempt to influence what could once again become a major route for those on the Hajj. As Turkey and Saudi Arabia continue to compete for influence among the region’s millions of Sunni Muslims, Riyadh certainly took notice of the Turkey-Sudan port deal.

Although Sudan continues to provide mercenaries to the Saudi coalition in nearby Yemen, Bashir’s juggling act between Saudi Arabia on the one hand and the Turkey-Qatari partnership on the other, proved to be one that has self-evidently been a source of consternation in Riyadh.

To be sure, issues of poverty, corruption, genuine human rights concerns and a general political fatigue in the face of Bashir’s lengthy rule were in fact sources of the protests which led to the former President’s ouster. That being said, the rapidity with which Sudan’s new military rulers have moved against Bashir suggests that there is more to the situation than meets the eye.

Reports have now emerged that Bashir is under arrest whilst the country’s new self-proclaimed rulers issue frequent statements of extreme disapprobation against their former boss. This combined with the fact that Turkeys’ calls for calm and moderation are becoming increasingly vocal whilst Saudi state media is celebrating the fact that Sudan’s new regime has refused to receive Qatar’s foreign minister, makes it clear that the new forces in Khartoum are acting in a manner that leans heavily towards Riyadh and away from the Turkey-Qatar partnership that Bashir had been drawing ever closer to in his final years in power.

Although the situation in Khartoum remains fluid to the point of being chaotic, it is already becoming clear that while the origins of the coup where in many ways organic, the management of events since the ouster of Omar al-Bashir has been one that is incredibly favourable towards Saudi Arabia whilst being notably less so to Turkey and Qatar.

This likewise proves that in the age of Muhammad bin Salman, direct intervention into foreign nations via religious groups and militants has been replaced by using Riyadh’s economic influence to force rulers of poorer nations to do as Saudi Arabia wishes.

April 18, 2019 Posted by | Aletho News | , , | Leave a comment

Facebook bans British anti-immigrant groups including EDL, BNP and Britain First

RT | April 18, 2019

Facebook has banned 12 high-profile, anti-immigrant British organizations and individuals including the English Defence League, the British National Party, Britain First and Jayda Fransen.

The silicon valley company said it took the decision because it bans users who “proclaim a violent or hateful mission or are engaged in acts of hate or violence.”

“Individuals and organisations who spread hate, or attack or call for the exclusion of others on the basis of who they are, have no place on Facebook,” it said in a statement.

The following organizations and people are now prohibited from the site: The British National Party and Nick Griffin, Britain First and Paul Golding and Jayda Fransen, English Defence League and Paul Ray, Knights Templar International and Jim Dowson, National Front and Tony Martin, and Jack Renshaw.

They were all outlawed under Facebook’s ‘Dangerous Individuals & Organisations policy’. They will no longer be allowed a presence on Facebook or Instagram and posts and other content which expresses praise or support for them will also be banned.

“Our work against organised hate is ongoing and we will continue to review individuals, organisations, pages, groups and content against our Community Standards,” the statement added.

The Knights Templar International said it was “horrified” by the ban, and that it was investigating legal options. “Facebook has deemed our Christian organisation as dangerous and de-platformed us despite never being charged, let alone found guilty of any crime whatsoever,” it said in a statement. “This is a development that would have made the Soviets blush.”

In February the social media giant banned EDL founder Tommy Robinson from its platforms saying the prominent anti-immigration activist repeatedly breached its policies on Hate speech.

April 18, 2019 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Full Spectrum Dominance | , | Leave a comment

Australia’s electoral officials ‘work with social media to tackle misinformation

RT | April 18, 2019

Australian electoral authorities have for the first time set up a cybersecurity task force, an official said on Thursday.

They are also working with social media companies to tackle misinformation in the run up to general elections on May 18.

Australian Electoral Commissioner Tom Rogers said safeguarding the election’s integrity gained priority “due to experiences in other countries,” AP reported.

Rogers is having daily briefings with the Electoral Integrity Assurance Task Force, which comprises the nation’s major security agencies and government departments. He declined to detail the task force’s functions, saying they included dealing with disinformation spread through social media.

April 18, 2019 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Full Spectrum Dominance | | 1 Comment

Academic: Saudi arrest campaign against Palestinians

MEMO | April 18, 2019

Saudi is carrying out an arrest campaign against Palestinians in the country, an exiled academic has said according to Al-Resalah newspaper.

On Twitter, Said Bin Nasser Al-Ghamdi wrote: “In the kingdom, a new and wide arrest campaign against a number of Palestinians, another number under travel ban, their accounts were frozen and their organisations were confiscated.”

Al-Ghamdi said that these Palestinians are accused of “sympathising with the resistance in Palestine, having an interest in the issue of Jerusalem and Gaza or supporting Hamas.”

He also said that authorities arrested Saudis, who sponsored the Palestinians or employed them in the kingdom.

In early March, Saudi announced the arrest of 50 people over security concerns, they included 30 of its own nationals, six Palestinians and three Jordanians.

April 18, 2019 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Subjugation - Torture | , , , , | 1 Comment

Rumors of War: Washington Is Looking for a Fight

By Philip M. GIRALDI | Strategic Culture Foundation | 18.04.2019

It is depressing to observe how the United States of America has become the evil empire. Having served in the United States Army during the Vietnam War and in the Central Intelligence Agency for the second half of the Cold War, I had an insider’s viewpoint of how an essentially pragmatic national security policy was being transformed bit by bit into a bipartisan doctrine that featured as a sine qua non global dominance for Washington. Unfortunately, when the Soviet Union collapsed the opportunity to end once and for all the bipolar nuclear confrontation that threatened global annihilation was squandered as President Bill Clinton chose instead to humiliate and use NATO to contain an already demoralized and effectively leaderless Russia.

American Exceptionalism became the battle cry for an increasingly clueless federal government as well as for a media-deluded public. When 9/11 arrived, the country was ready to lash out at the rest of the world. President George W. Bush growled that “There’s a new sheriff in town and you are either with us or against us.” Afghanistan followed, then Iraq, and, in a spirit of bipartisanship, the Democrats came up with Libya and the first serious engagement in Syria. In its current manifestation, one finds a United States that threatens Iran on a nearly weekly basis and tears up arms control agreements with Russia while also maintaining deployments of US forces in Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan, Somalia and places like Mali. Scattered across the globe are 800 American military bases while Washington’s principal enemies du jour Russia and China have, respectively, only one and none.

Never before in my lifetime has the United States been so belligerent, and that in spite of the fact that there is no single enemy or combination of enemies that actually threaten either the geographical United States or a vital interest. Venezuela is being threatened with invasion primarily because it is in the western hemisphere and therefore subject to Washington’s claimed proconsular authority. Last Wednesday Vice President Mike Pence told the United Nations Security Council that the White House will remove Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro from power, preferably using diplomacy and sanctions, but “all options are on the table.” Pence warned that Russia and other friends of Maduro need to leave now or face the consequences.

The development of the United States as a hostile and somewhat unpredictable force has not gone unnoticed. Russia has accepted that war is coming no matter what it does in dealing with Trump and is upgrading its forces. By some estimates, its army is better equipped and more combat ready than is that of the United States, which spends nearly ten times as much on “defense.”

Iran is also upgrading its defensive capabilities, which are formidable. Now that Washington has withdrawn from the nuclear agreement with Iran, has placed a series of increasingly punitive sanctions on the country, and, most recently, has declared a part of the Iranian military to be a “foreign terrorist organization” and therefore subject to attack by US forces at any time, it is clear that war will be the next step. In three weeks, the United States will seek to enforce a global ban on any purchases of Iranian oil. A number of countries, including US nominal ally Turkey, have said they will ignore the ban and it will be interesting to see what the US Navy intends to do to enforce it. Or what Iran will do to break the blockade.

But even given all of the horrific decisions being made in the White House, there is one organization that is far crazier and possibly even more dangerous. That is the United States Congress, which is, not surprisingly, a legislative body that is viewed positively by only 18 per cent of the American people.

A current bill originally entitled the “Defending American Security from Kremlin Aggression Act (DASKA) of 2019,” is numbered S-1189. It has been introduced in the Senate which will “… require the Secretary of State to determine whether the Russian Federation should be designated as a state sponsor of terrorism and whether Russian-sponsored armed entities in Ukraine should be designated as foreign terrorist organizations.” The bill is sponsored by Republican Senator Cory Gardner of Colorado and is co-sponsored by Democrat Robert Menendez of New Jersey.

The current version of the bill was introduced on April 11th and it is by no means clear what kind of support it might actually have, but the fact that it actually has surfaced at all should be disturbing to anyone who believes it is in the world’s best interest to avoid direct military confrontation between the United States and Russia.

In a a press release by Gardner, who has long been pushing to have Russia listed as a state sponsor of terrorism, a February version of the bill is described as “… comprehensive legislation [that] seeks to increase economic, political, and diplomatic pressure on the Russian Federation in response to Russia’s interference in democratic processes abroad, malign influence in Syria, and aggression against Ukraine, including in the Kerch Strait. The legislation establishes a comprehensive policy response to better position the US government to address Kremlin aggression by creating new policy offices on cyber defenses and sanctions coordination. The bill stands up for NATO and prevents the President from pulling the US out of the Alliance without a Senate vote. It also increases sanctions pressure on Moscow for its interference in democratic processes abroad and continued aggression against Ukraine.”

The February version of the bill included Menendez, Democrat Jeanne Shaheen of New Hampshire, Democrat Ben Cardin of Maryland and Republican Lindsey Graham of South Carolina as co-sponsors, suggesting that provoking war is truly bipartisan in today’s Washington.

Each Senator co-sponsor contributed a personal comment to the press release. Gardner observed that “Putin’s Russia is an outlaw regime that is hell-bent on undermining international law and destroying the US-led liberal global order.” Menendez noted that “President Trump’s willful paralysis in the face of Kremlin aggression has reached a boiling point in Congress” while Graham added that “Our goal is to change the status quo and impose meaningful sanctions and measures against Putin’s Russia. He should cease and desist meddling in the US electoral process, halt cyberattacks on American infrastructure, remove Russia from Ukraine, and stop efforts to create chaos in Syria.” Cardin contributed “Congress continues to take the lead in defending US national security against continuing Russian aggression against democratic institutions at home and abroad” and Shaheen observed that “This legislation builds on previous efforts in Congress to hold Russia accountable for its bellicose behavior against the United States and its determination to destabilize our global world order.”

The Senatorial commentary is, of course, greatly exaggerated and sometimes completely false regarding what is going on in the world, but it is revealing of how ignorant American legislators can be and often are. The Senators also ignore the fact that the designation of presumed Kremlin surrogate forces as “foreign terrorist organizations” is equivalent to a declaration of war against them by the US military, while hypocritically calling Russia a state sponsor of terrorism is bad enough, as it is demonstrably untrue. But the real damage comes from the existence of the bill itself. It will solidify support for hardliners on both sides, guaranteeing that there will be no rapprochement between Washington and Moscow for the foreseeable future, a development that is bad for everyone involved. Whether it can be characterized as an unintended consequence of unwise decision making or perhaps something more sinister involving a deeply corrupted congress and administration remains to be determined.

April 18, 2019 Posted by | Militarism, Russophobia | , , , | 3 Comments