Aletho News


Leaked audio seemingly sheds light on Biden’s efforts to pressure Poroshenko into firing Burisma investigator

RT | May 19, 2020

Audio recordings released by Ukrainian MP Andrii Derkach allegedly offer confirmation that Joe Biden pressured former Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko to fire an attorney general in exchange for a billion-dollar loan.

Former top Ukrainian prosecutor Viktor Shokin filed a criminal complaint in January, alleging that Biden had strong-armed Poroshenko into firing him while he was running multiple investigations into the Burisma gas company where Biden’s son Hunter was a board member.

Biden himself has boasted publicly that he gave Poroshenko an ultimatum to fire Shokin or the offer of the $1 billion in loan guarantees would be rescinded – but the audio recordings, if they are legitimate, add new clarity to the controversy surrounding Shokin’s dismissal.

Andrii Derkach, the independent MP who released the recordings, claims he received the audio files from investigative journalists and that they were recorded by Poroshenko himself.

“If there is a new government and a new prosecutor general, I am prepared to do a public signing of the commitments for the billion dollars,” Biden appears to say in a recording from March 22, 2016.

“I’m not suggesting that’s what you want or don’t want, I’m just suggesting that that’s what we’re prepared to do,” Biden added, as if to deflect from the fact that the offer was a quid pro quo – one billion dollars for the firing of Shokin.

Poroshenko responded that this was “extremely strong motivation” to do what the US administration was asking and named Yuriy Lutsenko (who later took over) as a possible replacement for Shokin. In a signal that the new prosecutor would need to be approved by Washington, Poroshenko said he would not tap Lutsenko for the job if Biden did not think he was appropriate.

A readout of the call posted on the US embassy’s website said the two men discussed a range of issues, but there was no mention of Shokin or the prosecutor general’s position.

In a later conversation on May 13, Biden tells Poroshenko: “I’m a man of my word, and now that a new prosecutor general is in place, we’re ready to move forward and sign that one billion dollar loan guarantee.”

In his complaint against the former US VP, Shokin said Biden “curtailed an objective investigation” into Burisma by having him fired.

Biden, backed up by mainstream US media, has claimed that investigations into Burisma were “dormant” by the time he was lobbying for Shokin’s ouster and insisted that his only concern was that Ukraine had an effective prosecutor general.

Shokin has denied that the investigations were dormant and said that multiple probes into the gas company were still active at the time of his resignation. His claims are backed up by French investigative journalist Olivier Berruyer, who compiled documents which he says prove that the investigations were still ongoing.

Ironically, while Biden has faced no repercussions for his efforts to interfere with criminal investigations in a foreign country using US money as leverage, President Donald Trump was impeached by the House of Representatives for “abuse of power” after Democrats accused him of pressuring Kiev to restart investigations into Burisma while withholding military aid from the country.

May 19, 2020 Posted by | Corruption, Deception | , , | Leave a comment

New tapes of Poroshenko-Biden calls reveal ‘independent’ Ukraine was total US client

©  Reuters / Jonathan Ernst
RT | May 19, 2020

On top of firing a prosecutor on orders from US Vice President Joe Biden, Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko also robbed his own people by raising tariffs to please his US overlords, according to audio of their alleged calls.

On Tuesday, Ukrainian parliamentarian Andrii Derkach published audio recordings of what sounds like Poroshenko’s conversations with various Obama administration officials in 2015 and 2016. Derkach said he got the audio from investigative journalists, who told him that Poroshenko personally recorded the calls. They have not been independently verified.

If true, however, they show the president in Kiev literally taking orders from Washington, even as the US insisted Ukraine was a sovereign and independent nation free to decide its own destiny.

“[I’m] very well indeed, as usual when I hear your voice,” Poroshenko tells Biden in a May 13, 2016 conversation, where he rushes to tell the US vice president how much “progress” he has made in reforming Ukraine to Washington’s liking.

As one of the examples, Poroshenko cites that he has imposed tariffs of 100 percent, even though the IMF asked for only 75 percent, adding “Give us a yard, please!”

“Poroshenko was willing to strip the Ukrainians naked, and even make money on the tariffs,” Derkach said on Monday, noting that they were indeed raised twice.

Raising tariffs on Russian gas imports – and cutting subsidies to poor Ukrainians – was one of the major demands by the IMF in 2013, which the government of President Viktor Yanukovych balked at, before it was ousted in a US-backed coup in February 2014.

Derkach argues that the tariffs and other concessions Poroshenko made to Washington were intended to unblock the $1 billion IMF loan to Ukraine of which the US was a guarantor. Biden had already leveraged the loan to demand the firing of prosecutor Viktor Shokin, who was looking into corruption at the gas company Burisma – which had hired Biden’s son Hunter as a board member earlier that year, presumably as a shield against prosecution.

It became clear after Poroshenko fired Shokin that this would not be enough, and that he would have to give even more, Derkach told reporters in Kiev, pointing to the recordings.

Biden himself boasted about getting Shokin fired at an event in Washington, and his remarks were caught on camera. When current US President Donald Trump brought up the issue of Shokin’s firing with Poroshenko’s successor Volodymyr Zelensky, the Democrats claimed he was improperly seeking foreign assistance in the 2020 election – as Biden was seeking their nomination – and had him impeached in the House of Representatives in December 2019. Trump stayed in office after the Senate acquitted him in February this year. Biden only became the presumptive Democrat nominee in mid-April.

May 19, 2020 Posted by | Corruption, Economics, Malthusian Ideology, Phony Scarcity | , , , | Leave a comment

COMEY urged probe into Flynn by misrepresenting Russian contacts, declassified memo shows

RT | May 19, 2020

Ex-FBI director James Comey pushed to investigate Trump’s incoming national security adviser Michael Flynn despite lacking any evidence Flynn had shared classified info with Russian officials, a newly-declassified memo reveals.

It was Comey who told President Barack Obama and other administration officials that “incoming NSA Flynn is speaking frequently with Russian Ambassador Kislyak” in a meeting documented in the January 2017 memo by National Security Advisor Susan Rice, the unredacted first page of which was obtained by CBS on Tuesday.

The FBI director admits he “has no indication thus far that Flynn has passed classified information to Kislyak,” and no real basis for his insistence that the probe must go on.

The only thing backing his hunch that the meetings between the general and the Russian diplomat “could be an issue”?

“The level of communication is unusual,” Comey tells Obama, according to Rice, hinting that the National Security Council should “potentially” avoid passing “sensitive information related to Russia” to Flynn.

The FBI director did not elaborate on what is supposed to be “unusual” about an incoming foreign policy official speaking with a Russian counterpart, especially in the midst of what was then a rapidly-unraveling diplomatic relationship between the two countries with Obama expelling 35 Russian diplomats and imposing sanctions over alleged-but-never-substantiated “election interference.” Given the circumstances, an absence of communication might have been more unusual. But the timing is certainly auspicious.

Rice, Flynn’s predecessor who authored the memo, relates that the January 5 meeting followed “a briefing by [Intelligence Committee] leadership on Russian hacking during the 2016 Presidential election.”

The previous day, the FBI field office assigned with investigating Flynn attempted to close the case against him, called CROSSFIRE RAZOR, after having found “no derogatory information” to justify continued inclusion in the overarching CROSSFIRE HURRICANE probe (the “Russian collusion” investigation). They were blocked from doing so by Agent Peter Strzok, who added that the orders to keep the investigation going came from the “7th floor” – i.e. agency leadership. The Flynn investigation had been underway since August, beginning the day after Strzok discussed an ‘insurance policy’ that was supposed to keep then-candidate Donald Trump out of office with Comey’s deputy, Andrew McCabe.

While Comey describes his probe of Flynn as “proceeding ‘by the book’” after Obama repeatedly stresses he wants only a “by the book” investigation – both parties presumably hoping to avoid exactly the sequence of revelatory events that are currently unfolding – recently-unsealed documents from the case against Flynn indicate the general was entrapped, with the FBI’s goal being to “prosecute him or get him fired” with an ambush-style interview.

They got both their wishes – after agents tricked him into sitting for questioning without a lawyer present, Flynn was accused of lying about his contacts with Kislyak, fired from his post in the White House, and subsequently pled guilty to lying to a federal agent.

The Department of Justice has dropped its charges against Flynn, citing gross misconduct and abuse of power at the FBI, which it claims had no basis for launching its investigation. However, US District Judge Emmet Sullivan has attempted to block the dismissal, appointing a retired judge as independent prosecutor to both argue against the Justice Department’s move and pursue perjury charges against Flynn – essentially charging him with lying about lying.

On Tuesday, Flynn’s attorney filed a writ of mandamus with the US Court of Appeals for the DC Circuit, urging them to force Sullivan to step aside and allow the dismissal of the charges.

May 19, 2020 Posted by | Deception | , , | Leave a comment

How Israel Instructed Its Worst Nightmare in the Art of War

A woman mocks an Israeli tank left behind when withdrawing from south of Lebanon in the year 2000, using it as a hanger to dry cloths. Credit: Younes Zaatari
By Elijah J. Magnier | American Herld Tribune | May 17, 2020

We were Hezbollah trainers. It is an organization that learns quickly. The Hezbollah we met at the beginning (1982) is different from the one we left behind in 2000”. This is what the former Chief of Staff and former Minister of Foreign Affairs, Gabi Ashkenazi, said twenty years after the Israeli unconditional withdrawal from Lebanon.

For the first time we met a non-conventional army, but also an ideological organization with deep faith: and this faith triumphed over us. We were more powerful, more technologically advanced and better armed but not possessing the fighting spirit …They were stronger than us”. This is what Brigadier General Effi Eitam, Commander of the 91st Division in counter-guerrilla operation in south Lebanon said.

Alon Ben-David, senior defense correspondent for Israel’s Channel 13, specialized in defense and military issues, said: “Hezbollah stood up and defeated the powerful Israeli Army”.

Former Prime Minister Ehud Barak, the architect of the Israeli withdrawal from Lebanon, said: “The withdrawal didn’t go as planned. The deterrence of Hezbollah and its capability increased greatly. We withdrew from a nightmare”. Barak meant he had planned to leave behind him a buffer zone under the control of his Israeli proxies led by the “South Lebanon Army” (SLA) commander Antoine Lahad. However, his plans were dismantled and the resistance forced Lahad’s men to run towards the borders, freeing the occupied buffer zone. As they left Lebanon, the Israeli soldiers said: “Thank God we are leaving: no one in Israel wants to return”.

In 1982, Israel believed the time had come to invade Lebanon and force it to sign a peace agreement after eliminating the various Palestinian organizations. These groups had deviated from the Palestinian compass and had become embroiled in sectarian conflict with the Lebanese Phalange, believing that “the road to Jerusalem passed through Jounieh” (the Maronite stronghold on Mt. Lebanon, northwest of Beirut, a slogan used by Abu Iyad). Israel intended Lebanon to become the domicile of its Palestinian conflict. It failed to realize that in so doing it was letting the Shiite genie out of the bottle. Signs of this genie began to appear after the arrival of Sayyed Musa al-Sadr in Lebanon and the return of students of Sayyed Muhammad Baqir al-Sadr from Najaf to their home country and residency in the Lebanese Bekaa. Also, the victory of Imam Khomeini and the “Islamic revolution” in Iran in 1979 was not taken into consideration by Israel, and the potential consequences for the Lebanese Shia were overlooked.

The 1982 Israeli invasion triggered the emergence of the “Islamic resistance in Lebanon”, which later became known as “Hezbollah”, and it forced Israel to leave Lebanon unconditionally in 2000. This made Lebanon the first country to humiliate the Israeli army. Following their victory over the Arabs in 1949, 1956, 1967 and 1973, Israeli officials had come to believe they could occupy any Arab country “with a brass band”.

Israeli soldiers exited through the “Fatima Gate” (on the Lebanese border, also known as Good Fence, HaGader HaTova) under the watchful eyes of Suzanne Goldenberg on the other side of the border. She wrote:

After two decades and the loss of more than 1000 men, the chaotic Israeli withdrawal from southern Lebanon leaves its northern flank dangerously exposed, with Hezbollah guerrillas sitting directly on its border. The scale of the Israeli fiasco was beginning to unfold… After the Israelis pulled out of Bint Jubayl in the middle of the night, their SLA allies, already in a state of collapse in the center of the strip, simply gave up. Branded collaborators, they and their families headed for exile. Behind them, they left tanks and other heavy equipment donated by their patrons. Shlomo Hayun, an Israeli farmer who lives on Shaar Yeshuv farm, said of the withdrawal, “This was the first time I have been ashamed to be Israeli. It was chaotic and disorganized.”

What did Israel and its allies in the Middle East achieve?

In 1978, Israel occupied a part of southern Lebanon and in 1982, for the first time, it occupied an Arab capital, Beirut. During its presence as an occupation force, Israel was responsible for several massacres amounting to war crimes. In 1992, Israel thought that it could strike a death blow to Hezbollah by assassinating its leader, Sayyed Abbas Al-Mousawi. He was replaced by his student, the charismatic leader, Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah. Nasrallah has proved to be more truthful than the Israeli leaders, and thus capable of affecting the Israeli public through his speeches, as Israeli colonel Ronen, chief Intelligence officer for the Central Command of Israel Defence Forces, has said.

The new Hezbollah leader showed his potential for standing up to and confronting Israel through TV appearances. He mastered the psychological aspects of warfare, just as he mastered the art of guerrilla war. He leads a non-conventional but organized army of militants “stronger than several armies in the Middle East,” according to Lieutenant General Gadi Eisenkot, the former Israeli Chief of Staff.

The Israeli doctrine relies on the principle of pre-emptively striking what is considered as a potential threat, in order to extinguish it in its cradle. Israel first annexed Jerusalem by declaring it in 1980 an integral part of the so-called “capital of the state of Israel”. In June 1981, it attacked and destroyed the Iraqi nuclear reactor that France had helped build. In 2007, Israel struck a building in Deir Ezzor, Syria, before it was completed, claiming that the government had been building a nuclear reactor.

6 years after its withdrawal, Israel declared war on Lebanon in 2006, with the aim of eradicating Hezbollah from the south and destroying its military capacity. Avi Kober, a member of the department of political studies at Bar Ilan University and researcher at the Israeli BESA center said:

“The war was conducted under unprecedented and favorable conditions the like which Israel has never enjoyed – internal consensus, broad international support (including tacit support on the part of moderate Arab States), and a sense of having almost unlimited time to achieve the war objectives. The IDF’s performance during this war was unsatisfactory, reflecting flawed military conceptions and poor professionalism and generalship. Not only the IDF fail in achieving battlefield decisions against Hezbollah, that is, denying the enemy’s ability to carry on the fight, despite some tactical achievements, throughout the war, it played into Hizballah’s hands.”

Israel withdrew from the battle without achieving its goals: it was surprised by Hezbollah’s military equipment and fighting capabilities. Hezbollah had managed to hide its advanced weapons from the eyes of Israeli intelligence and its allies, who are present in every country including Lebanon. The result was 121 Israeli soldiers killed, 2,000 wounded, and the pride of the Israeli army and industry destroyed in the Merkava Cemetery in southern Lebanon where the Israeli advance into Wadi al-Hujeir was thwarted.

Hezbollah hit the most advanced class Israeli destroyer, the INS Spear saar-5, opposite the Lebanese coast. In the last 72 hours of the war, Israel fired 2.7 million bomblets, or cluster bombs, to cause long-term pain for Lebanon’s population, either through impeding their return or disrupting cultivation and harvest once they did return. “An unjustified degree of vindictiveness and an effort to punish the population as a whole”, said the report of the UN commission of inquiry conducted in November 2006 (Arkin M. W. (2007), Divining Victory: Airpower in the 2006 Israel-Hezbollah War, Air University Press, Alabama, pp 67-71).

The battle ended, Israel withdrew again, closed the doors behind its army, raised a fence on the Lebanese borders, and installed electronic devices and cameras to prevent any possible Hezbollah crossing into Palestine.

When Israel’s chief of staff Gabi Ashkenazi said “Israel instructed Hezbollah in the art of war”, he was right. Hezbollah has learned from the wars that Israel has waged over the years. In every war, Hezbollah saw the necessity of developing its weapons and training to match and overcome the Israeli army (which is outnumbered) and which enjoys the tacit support of Middle Eastern regimes and the most powerful western countries. Hezbollah developed its special forces’ training and armed itself with precision missiles to impose new rules of engagement, posing a real threat to the continuity of the permanent Israeli violations of Lebanon’s sovereignty.

Today, Hezbollah has sophisticated weapons, including the armed drones that it used in Syria in its war against the Takfirists, and precision missiles that can reach every region, city and airport in Israel. It has anti-ship missiles to neutralize the Israeli navy in any future attack or war on Lebanon and to hit any harbor or oil platform. It is also equipped with missiles that prevent helicopters from being involved in any future battle. The balance of deterrence has been achieved. Hezbollah can take Israel back to the Stone Age just as easily as Israel envisages returning Lebanon to the Stone Age.

Hezbollah is Israel’s worst nightmare, and it was largely created by the Israeli attempt to overthrow the regime in Lebanon, occupy Lebanon, and impose an agreement that Israel could then mold to its own liking. But the tables were turned: a very small force emerged in Lebanon to become a regional power whose powerful support was then extended to the neighboring countries of Syria and Iraq. The harvest journey has begun.

May 19, 2020 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Militarism, Timeless or most popular | , , , , | 2 Comments

The ICC does not pose a ‘strategic threat’ to Israel

Since the International Criminal Court (ICC) determined that Palestine is a state for the purpose of its investigations into war crimes committed by Israel against Palestinian civilians, a fresh round of threats against the institution is taking place. US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has warned of consequences based upon his government’s interpretation of what constitutes a Palestinian state. “The United States reiterates its longstanding objection to any illegitimate ICC investigations. If the ICC continues down its current course, we will exact consequences,” Pompeo said.

The US opposition to a Palestinian state has been further asserted through the so-called ‘deal of the century’, which pretends to advocate for a state while prioritising Israel’s colonial agenda; the latter leaving no possibility of any state-formation. US opposition to ICC investigations, therefore, is permanent.

Meanwhile, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has branded the possible forthcoming war crimes investigations as a “strategic threat”. Speaking during the first cabinet meeting, and claiming he rarely uses the word “strategic” although a common reference when it comes to Iran and the Boycott, Divestments and Sanctions Movement (BDS), Netanyahu declared: “This is a strategic threat to the State of Israel – to the IDF soldiers, to the commanders, to the ministers, to the governments, to everything.”

Israel has long played upon exceptions to maintain its colonisation of Palestine and further entrench its military occupation. US President Donald Trump has awarded Israel unprecedented impunity and normalisation of international law violations, to the point that, bolstered also by the international community’s tacit silence, Israel is politicising the ICC investigation with the aim of maintaining the state of exception.

The forthcoming investigations into Israel’s war crimes against the Palestinian people are not a strategic threat, but a belated response which might tarnish Israel’s image temporarily. Collusion with Israel on behalf of the international community is a major impediment – it must not be forgotten that internationally, Israel enjoys tacit support which allows it to build itself as a strategic threat against Palestinians.

Netanyahu’s rhetoric is a diversion. Israel is not being persecuted by the ICC; its officials face the possibility of being prosecuted for war crimes, which is the standard procedure. Israel’s violence sustains its colonial politics – one cannot exist without the other. Palestinians have faced this strategic threat for decades. Attempting to reverse roles in the face of war crimes evidence is a political manoeuvre which should backfire for Israel if the international community alters its pro-Israel bias and takes a stance in favour of decolonisation.

While Netanyahu attempts to forge allegiances against the ICC, what role will the international community take? If the ICC has determined that Israel has committed war crimes, the least the international community can do is to eliminate the rhetoric of “alleged war crimes” to uphold international law and deconstruct the impunity which has protected Israel. If prioritising Israel’s colonial demands takes precedence over the legislation which regulates what constitutes war crimes, the international community will be facilitating additional violations as annexation looms, and the forthcoming investigations will be overshadowed by a new wave of impunity which could take decades to bring to judicial attention.

May 19, 2020 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, War Crimes | , , , | 1 Comment

As Moderna’s Covid-19 Vaccine Takes The Lead, Its Chief Medical Officer’s Recent Promotion of “Gene-Editing Vaccines” Comes to Light

By Whitney Webb | The Last American Vagabond | May 18, 2020

Moderna’s chief medical officer has described the company’s products as “hacking the software of life” and permanently altering a person’s genetic code. If Moderna is poised to bring the first Covid-19 vaccine to market, a deeper look at his comments and his employer are warranted.

More and more frequently, government officials, political pundits and self-appointed “global health experts” like billionaire Bill Gates have been instructing the public that mass gatherings and any semblance of “normalcy” will not return until a vaccine for the novel coronavirus Covid-19 is created and subsequently distributed to the masses. In recent weeks, it has quickly become apparent that the leading Covid-19 vaccine candidate is the messenger RNA (mRNA) vaccine being developed by Boston-based Moderna Inc.

Today, Moderna announced that its vaccine candidate, named mRNA-1273, “appeared to produce an immune response in eight people who received it.” Moderna’s response is odd given that the “study” in question is focused on safety and “is actually not designed to measure effectiveness of the vaccine,” according to a report in TIME. Notably, none of the study’s findings on vaccine safety were reported aside from claims it was “generally safe.” It is also worth noting that this “safety-focused” study only began in March and thus, to date, represents only an examination of the vaccine’s effects in the very short term.

Major media outlets in multiple countries ran with the headlines trumpeting that Moderna’s Covid-19 vaccine “shows promising early results” and has presented “encouraging early signs” because of its purported ability to produce Covid-19 antibodies in humans. In addition, these media reports failed to raise other simple yet necessary questions such as how a sample size of only eight people can translate into scientific findings of any real significance without further testing involving larger sample sizes. They also failed to note that the study in question is not even finished as a U.S. government press release noted that the findings in question are merely “interim results.” In addition, the study is being led by the U.S.’ National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), itself headed by Dr. Anthony Fauci, who is a key figure in the U.S. government’s coronavirus response.

Though it is unclear if these “encouraging early signs” will be replicated in future tests of larger samples that are actually designed to test the vaccine’s effectiveness, the news is surely welcome to Moderna, given that their past mRNA vaccines failed to produce hardly any immune response at all, explaining why the company has never brought an mRNA vaccine to market in its entire history as a company.

However, since at least last fall, Moderna has sought to resolve this issue by adding “nanoparticles” to its mRNA vaccine, a modification financed by the Pentagon’s Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA). Moderna is a “strategic ally” of DARPA and has received millions from DARPA and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation several years prior to the current coronavirus crisis. DARPA’s plans for nanoparticles and nanotechnology and their potentially Orwellian applications were the subject of a recent The Last American Vagabond report.

Thanks to the “interim results” of this new study, Moderna is set to take the lead in the race to gain government approval for a Covid-19 vaccine. Moderna had already pulled ahead of other Covid-19 vaccine candidates in recent weeks, being the first vaccine in the U.S. to go the human trials (after it was allowed to skip animal trials) and also enjoying strong support from the U.S. government. For instance, Moderna’s Covid-19 vaccine recently received fast-track approval from the Food and Drug administration (FDA) after receiving the “green light” to proceed to Phase 2 testing prior to the results of Phase 1 being published. Moderna’s president, Dr. Stephen Hoge, recently said the company now expects to begin the final third phase of testing sometime this summer.

In addition to support from the FDA, Moderna has also received considerable U.S. government funding ($438 million) from the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority (BARDA), a division of HHS overseen by HHS’ Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response (ASPR) Robert Kadlec. Moderna has also stated that it is directly collaborating with the U.S. government to bring its vaccine candidate to market.

Moderna’s considerable lead has also been the result of backing that it received in January from the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI), which was founded in 2017 by the governments of Norway and India along with the World Economic Forum (WEF) and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. Moderna’s Covid-19 vaccine has also received additional millions from long-time Moderna backer Bill Gates. Gates recently authored an article where he described Moderna’s mRNA vaccine for Covid-19 as the “most exciting” and discussed it at length.

Gates’ affinity for Moderna may owe to the fact that Moderna’s co-founder, MIT’s Robert Langer, is a Gates associate whose lab developed the Gates-funded “quantum dot ‘tattoo’” vaccine identification marker that is “visible using a special smartphone camera app and filter” and was described by Science Alert as “a low-risk tracking system.” Another Langer-Gates partnership is a “birth control microchip” inserted to the body that releases contraceptives and can be turned on and off wirelessly.

Meet Dr. Zaks

With Moderna taking a firm lead relative to the other Covid-19 vaccine hopefuls, it is worth taking a closer look at the man who has overseen its development, Moderna’s current Chief Medical Officer, Dr. Tal Zaks. Zaks, an Israeli citizen who began his career at GlaxoSmithKline, oversees “preclinical development, clinical development and regulatory affairs” for Moderna and all of its subsidiaries.

In a 2017 TED Talk, two years after joining Moderna, Zaks spoke at length about how he views mRNA vaccines and their modality, including those he produces at Moderna. In a speech entitled “The disease-eradicating potential of gene editing,” Zaks’ description of Moderna’s mRNA products as, making permanent edits to human genes, clashes with often touted claims that the genetic material in mRNA vaccines “degrade” over time and do not permanently alter human genetics like DNA vaccines.

Beginning his talk, Zaks states that Moderna and similar companies “are actually hacking the software of life and that it’s changing the way we think of and treat disease.” He describes mRNA as “critical information that determines what a cell will actually do” and then states that, if one could “introduce a line of code or change a line of code” in a person’s genome, that has “profound implications for everything.” He then falsely claims that Moderna’s products at the time were proven to “work in people” as the company, prior to Covid-19, was never able to convince the federal government to license its mRNA vaccines for human use due to their lack of effectiveness.

Zaks further described his view of well-known diseases like cancer as being caused by “screwed-up DNA” that can be “fixed” with Moderna mRNA vaccines, which he also refers to in the talk as “information therapy” given that he says Moderna’s vaccines work by altering the “operating systems” of human cells, i.e. their genetic code.

The summary of Zaks’ talk encapsulates his view as the following simple question: “If our cells are the hardware and our genetic material the operating system, what if we could change a few lines of code?” — seemingly suggesting that the permanent introduction of changes into the human genome is as simple as troubleshooting or programming a computer or phone application. It also says that Zaks considers the future of “personalized medicine” to be “gene-editing vaccines tailored to each patient’s immune system.” The Ted Talk recommended after viewing Zaks’ speech on the Ted Talk website notably broaches a key point that Zaks overlooks, namely that gene-editing can “change an entire species – forever.”

Zaks’ statements are noteworthy and concerning for several reasons, including the fact that DARPA — Moderna’s “strategic ally” — is also openly funding research aimed at “reprogramming genes” and “manipulat[ing] genes or control[ling] gene expression to combat viruses and help human bodies withstand infection” caused by Covid-19. The DARPA-backed project would use a method that is known to cause severe genetic damage that has actually been shown to aggravate the conditions it was meant to cure.

With such permanent gene-altering technology on the fast-track to become the first Covid-19 vaccine widely available for use, it is deeply concerning that this experimental vaccine with potentially far-reaching consequences is being rammed through thanks to fervent support from both the U.S. government and controversial philanthropists that apparently have little interest in studies examining the mRNA vaccine’s long-term effects. Given that the stage has already been set for mandatory vaccinations that will be “distributed” throughout the U.S. by the military, now is the time to vigorously raise awareness about the Moderna vaccine’s gravely under-reported ability to “hack the software of life” in ways that could harm public health.

May 19, 2020 Posted by | Corruption, Science and Pseudo-Science | , | Leave a comment

Morbidly Obtuse: Pelosi and the Media versus Hydroxychloroquine

By Thomas L. Knapp | William Lloyd Garrison Center | May 19, 2020

When US president Donald Trump mentioned that he’s taking hydroxychloroquine, he immediately got an extra dose of flak from both the mainstream media and noted medical experts such as US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA).

Trump has been using the drug prophylactically versus COVID-19 — which he’s likely been exposed to via a personal valet —  with the concurrence of his physician.

Pelosi chided Trump for taking “something that has not been approved by the scientists” (it has been) and worried that he’s at risk of side effects because he’s “morbidly obese” (he’s not).

A Bing search on the terms “hydroxychloroquine” and “unproven” returns nearly 28,000 results for the 24 hours following Trump’s statement. The media apparently want us to believe that there’s something sketchy and experimental about hydroxychloroquine.

Contra Pelosi, hydroxychloroquine was “approved by the scientists” at the US Food and Drug Administration in 1955.

Those scientists deemed it both “safe” in general and “effective” for certain disorders (obviously not including a virus which they couldn’t even know existed for anther 65 years), with doctors permitted to prescribe it “off-label” for other maladies.

As of 2017, hydroxychloroquine was the 128th most prescribed drug in the United States, at more than 5 million prescriptions. It appears on the World Health Organization’s List of Essential Medicines. Nobody was calling it “unproven” in any way until Donald Trump mentioned it, and nobody would be calling it that now if he HADN’T mentioned it.

Is hydroxychloroquine effective either as a treatment for, or protector against, COVID-19? Various juries are likely to be out on that question for a long time.

Are there known side effects associated with the drug’s use? Sure. Find a drug with no side effects and you’ve probably found a drug with no effects at all.

Do any of the facts above really matter? No.

It’s none of the FDA’s business what drugs Donald Trump decides to take.

It’s none of Nancy Pelosi’s business, either, unless he feels like discussing it with her.

It’s only the media’s business because he decided to tell them about it.

And if you decide to take hydroxychloroquine, or any other drug, it’s nobody else’s business either.

It’s probably a good idea to consult your doctor before taking just about any medication, but that’s YOUR call, not anyone else’s, to make.

It’s YOUR body.

It’s YOUR life.

It’s YOUR decision.

Don’t let Nancy Pelosi, the media, or anyone else tell you otherwise.

Thomas L. Knapp (Twitter: @thomaslknapp) is director and senior news analyst at the William Lloyd Garrison Center for Libertarian Advocacy Journalism ( He lives and works in north central Florida.

May 19, 2020 Posted by | Science and Pseudo-Science | | 1 Comment

US nukes in Poland would not be a deterrent, but a MASSIVE provocation for Russia

By Scott Ritter | RT | May 19, 2020

The US has promoted the deployment of US nuclear weapons on Polish soil as part of NATO’s ‘nuclear sharing’ arrangement. Such a move would only increase the chances of the very war such a deployment seeks to deter.

For the second time in little more than a year, the US ambassadors to Germany and Poland have commented on matters of NATO security in a manner which undermines the unity of the alliance while threatening European security by seeking to alter the balance of power in a way that is unduly provocative to Russia.

Richard Grenell, the US ambassador to Germany and the acting director of national intelligence, put matters into motion by writing an OpEd for the German newspaper Die Welt, criticizing politicians from within Chancellor Angela Merkel’s ruling coalition who were openly calling for the US to withdraw its nuclear weapons from German soil.

Adding fuel to the fire, the US ambassador to Poland, Georgette Mosbacher, tweeted out two days later that “If Germany wants to diminish nuclear capability and weaken NATO, perhaps Poland – which pays its fair share, understands the risks, and is on NATO’s eastern flank – could house the capabilities here.”

The action that provoked the Grenell-Mosbacher media blitz were comments made by Rolf Mützenich, the chairman of the Social Democratic Party in Germany’s parliament, calling for Germany to withdraw from its decades-old nuclear-sharing arrangement with NATO, noting that the deal had outlived its utility.

The US currently maintains a force of some 20 B-61 nuclear bombs on German soil, where they are earmarked for delivery by German aircraft during war. Since 1979, Germany has maintained a force of Tornado fighter-bombers dedicated to the nuclear-sharing mission. The decision by Germany to buy 30 US-manufactured F/A-18 Super Hornet aircraft to replace the Tornado in its nuclear delivery mission prompted Mützenich’s outburst.

Grenell and Mosbacher last teamed up to shake the foundations of NATO-based European security in September 2019, when Grenell’s comments made during the course of an interview with a German newspaper sparked controversy among German politicians sensitive to US criticism of German defense spending levels. “It is actually offensive to assume that the US taxpayer must continue to pay to have 50,000-plus Americans in Germany,” Grenell said, “but the Germans get to spend their surplus on domestic programs.”

Grenell’s comments were in the context of President Donald Trump’s ongoing insistence that America’s NATO allies pay their fair share of the cost of NATO by increasing their respective defense spending to levels matching two percent of their GDP. Germany’s defense budget in 2019 was approximately €43 billion, representing 1.2 percent of GDP. German lawmakers were quick to criticize Grenell’s comments, noting that while Germany’s defense expenditures were far short of what had been promised, it would not allow itself to be “blackmailed” by the US over matters relating to its national security.

Mosbacher then jumped into the controversy, tweeting“Poland meets its 2% of GDP spending obligation towards NATO. Germany does not. We would welcome American troops in Germany to come to Poland.”

Some left-wing German politicians proposed that Germany take Grenell up on his offer and begin to negotiate the withdrawal of US troops from German soil (there are some 52,000 Americans – 35,000 soldiers and 17,000 civilians – stationed in Germany today).

But these same politicians made a comment that has proved prescient. “If the Americans pull out their troops,” they noted, “then they should take their nuclear weapons with them. Take them home, of course, and not to Poland, which would be a dramatic escalation in relations to Russia.”

This, of course, is precisely what the Grenell-Mosbacher tag team has proposed today.

“NATO’s nuclear sharing,” the current NATO secretary general, Jens Stoltenberg, wrote in an OpEd published in the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, “is a multilateral arrangement that ensures the benefits, responsibilities and risks of nuclear deterrence are shared among allies.”

“Politically,” Stoltenberg said, “this is significant. It means that participating allies, like Germany, make joint decisions on nuclear policy and planning, and maintain appropriate equipment.”

For its part, Russia has declared the US-NATO nuclear-sharing arrangement as operating in violation of relevant provisions of the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) which prohibits the transfer by a nuclear weapons state of nuclear weapons to a non-nuclear weapons state. While the US challenges this Russian interpretation, the point is that the issue of NATO’s nuclear arsenal is an extremely sensitive one to Russia, made even more so when viewed in the context of the expansion of NATO that brought Poland and other eastern European countries into its fold.

Poland, along with the Czech Republic and Hungary, joined NATO in March of 1999, making a mockery of every assurance that had been given to the former Soviet president, Mikhail Gorbachev, that NATO would never expand eastwards if Germany were allowed to unify.

Russian President Vladimir Putin pointedly referred to these guarantees during his speech to the Munich Security Conference in February of 2007, in the context of NATO’s continued expansion. “[W]e have the right to ask: against whom is this expansion intended? And what happened to the assurances our western partners made after the dissolution of the Warsaw Pact? Where are those declarations today? No one even remembers them.”

Russia remembers. For example, on February 6, 1990, when the former West German foreign minister, Hans-Dietrich Genscher, met with then-British Foreign Minister Douglas Hurd, Genscher told Hurd that “The Russians must have some assurance that if, for example, the Polish Government left the Warsaw Pact one day, they would not join NATO the next.”

These assurances were made by the former US secretary of state, James Baker, to the former Soviet foreign minister, Eduard Shevardnadze, in February 1990, when Baker noted that before Germany could reunify, “There would, of course, have to be iron-clad guarantees that NATO’s jurisdiction or forces would not move eastward.”

These assurances were given, only to be violated during the administration of President Bill Clinton. Today, over 4,500 US troops are stationed on Polish soil, including a reinforced battalion-sized ‘battlegroup’ stationed along the so-called Suwalki Gap separating Poland from the Baltic nations.

“If Russian forces ever established control over the Suwalki region, or even threatened the free movement of NATO personnel and equipment through it, they would effectively cut the Baltic States off from the rest of the Alliance,” a NATO report written in 2018 noted. “Deterring any potential action – or even the threat of action – against Suwalki is therefore essential for NATO’s credibility and Western cohesion.”

For its part, Russia has repeatedly declared that it has no desire to enter a conflict with NATO. However, NATO’s expansion in Poland and other eastern European countries has increasingly placed Russian security interests at risk. The deployment of Aegis Ashore launchers onto Polish soil in an ostensible anti-missile role, while declared by NATO to be exclusively oriented toward protecting Europe from Iranian missiles, is viewed by Russia as a threat to its own strategic missile capability. In response, Russia has deployed nuclear-capable short-range missiles in its Kaliningrad exclave between Poland and Lithuania.

If NATO were to deploy nuclear weapons on Polish soil as part of any upgraded nuclear-sharing agreement, the threat to Russia would be intolerable – every launch of a Polish fighter-bomber would be seen as a potential existential threat, forcing Russia to increase its alert status along its western frontier, as well as its capability to rapidly neutralize such a threat should an actual war break out.

This does not mean that Russia would choose a preemptive nuclear attack – far from it. Instead, Russia would rely on the abilities of the front-line formations of its 1st Guards Tank Army and 20th Combined Arms Army to conduct deep penetration offensive operations designed to capture and/or destroy any forward-deployed nuclear weapons before they could be used. Far from deterring a war with Russia, any deployment of nuclear weapons by the US on Polish soil only increases the likelihood of the very conflict NATO purports to seek to avoid.

Scott Ritter is a former US Marine Corps intelligence officer. He served in the Soviet Union as an inspector implementing the INF Treaty, in General Schwarzkopf’s staff during the Gulf War, and from 1991-1998 as a UN weapons inspector. Follow him on Twitter @RealScottRitter

May 19, 2020 Posted by | Militarism | , , | Leave a comment

On the Situation in Hong Kong as US-China Relations Worsen

By Vladimir Terehov – New Eastern Outlook – 19.05.2020

On the card table where modern world politics are played, the state of affairs in Hong Kong remains a barometer which can provide a rough idea of the current trends in relations between the United States and China. Both of these superpowers play a major role in shaping the bigger global picture of today’s game.

That is why NEO has been monitoring how the situation has been developing in the Hong Kong on a fairly regular basis, or the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region of the People’s Republic of China (HKSAR) as it has officially been known since the former British colony became a part of the PRC in 1997. For almost an entire year now, the HKSAR has been gripped by yet another wave of turbulence, which was last discussed after the local District Council elections were held on November 24, 2019 for all 18 of Hong Kong’s District Councils.

Last year’s riots in Hong Kong coincided with another round of bilateral talks between the United States and China to address their trade and economic issues. Both sides were pushing for the talks to end on a positive note, but of course they each had their own definition of a positive outcome.

China is greatly committed to maintaining relations with the U.S. as one of its main foreign trading partners, and ultimately had to acknowledge the grievances voiced by the American side, which stem from the undeniable fact that Beijing has long been earning hundreds of billions of dollars on an annual basis off its trade with the United States.

It was this commitment that tied Beijing’s hands, preventing China from severely cracking down on the Hong Kong protesters, who acted provocatively in open defiance of Beijing on the streets of Hong Kong. From the looks of it, the protesters strangely seem to have gotten away with blue murder or received a purely symbolic punishment.

The situation in the city has stabilized after a coalition of political pro-democratic parties termed “pan-democratic” in Beijing won last year’s elections. They received 85% of the votes from those who turned out to go to the polls. In other words, the crowds from the streets were the force that took to the polls in local communities, who have their own grievances with the Chinese Central Government, although they did not condone the havoc wreaked in their own city by the particularly violent protesters.

You would think that the Hong Kong factor would play much less of a role in bilateral relations between the US and PRC after they signed the trade deal known as the “Phase 1” agreement on January 15 this year following 18 months of negotiations on the aforementioned trade issues. In other words, one would expect the situation on the city’s streets to be fairly calm, when the routine political process stays within the walls of the Legislative Assembly of the HKSAR and the local District Councils and does not spill out onto the streets.

However, almost immediately after the “Phase 1” trade deal was signed, the global coronavirus pandemic came almost out of nowhere, which is having catastrophic consequences in the United States of all places. It is also probably the country where it has been most politicized, mainly due to the upcoming elections in November, when Americans will elect their president for the next term along with a completely new House of Representatives, and a third of the Senate will be contested.

Although Donald Trump’s chances of being re-elected as president and the success of the Republican Party in the Congress elections looked fairly realistic in February this year, the question of who was to blame inevitably arose as the situation with both the coronavirus and the country’s economy deteriorated. On May 8, the level of unemployed or underemployed in the United States had already hit 22.8%, almost as low as the 25% recorded at the time of the Great Depression in 1933.

The average American voter is not likely to go to the trouble of getting to the bottom of this problem and dig up the detailed root causes, including shortcomings that have long existed in the national healthcare system (i.e. they were there before Donald Trump), and the President’s use of the agencies at his disposal to mislead people about how prepared the country was for natural disasters such as epidemics. As approval ratings fall, the ruling Republican party and government is tempted to point to the finger overseas and blame an external factor for causing the outbreak.

America’s main geopolitical rival fit this description. The anti-Chinese propaganda campaign quickly gained momentum in the media and led to concrete financial claims being made for “compensation for various damages” from Beijing. This was followed by thinly veiled threats that the US could cancel debt obligations to China, which America owes more than 1 trillion dollars.

US-China relations have taken another nosedive, and have now hit an all-time low. The difference is that this time Beijing has made it clear that it does not intend to show the same level of restraint it did during the negotiations to secure the “Phase 1” trade deal. The Global Times, a semi-official government publication under the auspices of the Chinese Communist Party’s People’s Daily newspaper, discussed whether China is likely to “dump” its US Treasury holdings, or comply with the terms of the “Phase 1” trade deal and prepare for the “Phase 2” negotiations.

It is certainly no coincidence that when the editor of the Global Times published a brief note around the same time (May 8) on the need to increase China’s nuclear arsenal to 1000 warheads “in a relatively short time”, including warheads to be carried on mobile intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs).

There was a place for Hong Kong on the list of symbolic gestures made to Washington. On April 18, 15 Hong Kong riot leaders who organized and participated in “illegal assembly” on the streets in protests that took place on August 18, October 1 and October 20 last year were detained and later released on bail. In response to the anti-Chinese campaign which immediately took hold in the Western media, the Chinese Foreign Ministry released a statement the next day, saying that “their rhetoric revealed their complicity with rioters who have created chaos in the city”.

On May 6, the Hong Kong and Macao Affairs Office of the State Council gave the “black shirts” a stern warning not to appear on the city’s streets, addressed to the particularly violent protesters who dress in black.

Yet a new cause for a very cautious optimism about relations between the two leading world powers can just about be made out (although it is difficult to remember how many of these there have already been). This glimmer of hope was in the form of a telephone call made on May 8 between the China’s Vice-Premier Liu He, US Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and US Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer.

The last time American and Chinese officials at such a senior level had been in contact was when the “Phase 1” trade deal was signed, and both sides expressed a desire to “make the agreement a success”. For this specific purpose, the decision was taken to set up a special intergovernmental body.

It is worth briefly touching on the advantages Russia could have if tensions between the US and China worsen, which are the subject of frequent debate in the country. To draw on an analogy, it would be like some smart swamp creature hoping that a fight between the two biggest hippopotami will help them survive with less predators around, as they all struggle for a shrinking space in a swamp that is drying up. Sooner or later, the smart guy will be accidentally get crushed, without having even been noticed by the brawling creatures themselves. It would be wiser take time during one of the breaks between rounds to try to convince the hippopotami that both of them will still have something useful to bring to the current geopolitical ecosystem. If they continue to fight to the bloody end, it will destroy the entire ecosystem (to put it politely). That includes all of its inhabitants, including yourselves.

Likewise, Hong Kong will only be able to continue to benefit from its current “special” status within China if China normalizes its relations with the United States. In other words, the attempts made by those young rioters who are fighting for some sort of “rights” to encourage the deterioration of relations between China and the US are in direct contradiction to the interests of the vast majority of the population in Hong Kong.

The main political forces in the HKSAR are beginning to gain a greater understanding of this situation, who do not see any alternatives to maintaining a decent level of cooperation with the mainland in order to find a way out of the difficult situation the city has found itself in due to a number of reasons, and last year’s riots are certainly somewhere on the top of the list.

Whatever the case, the situation in Hong Kong still serves as a barometer and reflects relations between the world’s two leading powers. This is also why the situation there needs to be closely monitored.

Vladimir Terekhov is an expert on the issues of the Asia-Pacific Region.

May 19, 2020 Posted by | Economics | , | Leave a comment

COVID Naturally Leads to Corruption

By Tim Kirby | Strategic Culture Foundation | May 19, 2020

Anyone who has paid attention to history knows that political change requires some sort of catalyst to happen. So one could logically expect that the Covid-19 Pandemic would be the perfect excuse for politicians to take action. However, it takes time for the chemical reaction to start working its magic and only now are we starting to see some major actions being taken by Congress for our “benefit”.

Patriot Act 2: the Revenge of Unconstitutionality

Interestingly enough, the Patriot Act is on its way to being reauthorized and naturally expanded while the nation is conveniently on lockdown. Very often the American Right will scream to the YouTube hills that the Constitution is being ripped in half by every move the other side makes. This over exaggeration has a “boy who cried wolf” effect making it seem cliché every time journalists/pundits rage over something being “unconstitutional”. But this time dear friends, Congress is actually defecating on constitutional principles and Right Wing pundits are not over inflating this issue.

The new updated Patriot Act (as it stands today) will allow the government to collect Americans’ web-browsing data without a warrant. The expression “we have sunk to a new low” seems like the appropriate response to such cowardly madness.

So if this Patriot Act update pack goes through, then the 4th Amendment has essentially faded off into the sunset probably never to be seen again. If the government can dive into your personal data without a warrant then what is the point of having warrants at all or privacy? This is more proof that the principles of the Enlightenment are being (or have been) forgotten as only an intellectual minority understands just how fundamental maintaining a system of warrant issuance is as the only means the government should have to “spy” on an individual. It seems obvious to say, but shouldn’t one be put under the government’s scrutiny for taking actions that rouse enough suspicion for a neutral judge to “okay” a warrant? This seems like a great policy, but then again I was born in the Cold War when American principles were still discussed, kind of understood and seemed to matter.

Like any ideology or religion if we all universally forget the ideas of the Constitution then they will no longer become valid. The 4th Amendment is starting to look like Thor – something cool that people used to believe in long ago that has become a cartoon empty version of itself in Hollywood movies.

It also needs to be stated just how weak the logic of expanding the Patriot Act is under pandemic conditions. The original project was put in place to in theory prevent another 9/11 type event from happening. Essentially, mass surveillance was offered as a solution to preventing terrorism on U.S. soil. Since the Coronavirus (as of now) is officially a natural phenomenon, then how could surveillance possibly help? When Patriot Act 1.0 came into being the “ticking time bomb” argument was made that the government needs to be able to act quickly and have no barriers in their fight against terrorism or else we are doomed to another set of planes hitting buildings. This logic is weak but it makes some sense, but how can mass surveillance stop a natural phenomenon? If there was total spying or zero spying on the American people would it really affect the appearance of a new plague?

Unless there is an alternative theory to the origin of Covid-19 in Congress that they are keeping from us, then no amount government overreach can prevent this type of pandemic from happening again. How can knowledge of our browser history prevent Corona 2.0? It can’t, it won’t, but that means nothing, we have a crisis and that is all that is needed for action.

When in doubt, debt your way out

The Coronavirus Plague has damaged economies all over the world. It has been a major punch in the face to American financial stability and the stimulus money sent to Americans is a logical response. Many people have lost their jobs or face abnormal hardships. Everyone pays taxes so in times of trouble we should expect to get our money’s worth from the state. Now drafting a 347,000 word $3 trillion Congressional spending spree is not something we should expect as a solution to the Corona Crisis especially when one-third of it is going to go to state and local governments to compensate for their inefficiency, not the American masses. Obviously this is all designed to bail out those lovely Democrat initiatives that cost lots of taxpayer money yet yield little for society, because if they were so important they would remain “essential” and funded even when the coffers look bare.

It is unclear whether this titanic bill that approaches the annual spending of the United States (which gets the nation further and further into debt as is) will actually go through, but it is the perfect example of the exploitation of a crisis for one’s own gain.

Pelosi and crew are surely going to try to use the current catalyst to save all their programs and keep America on the track that they have routed it on. If the idea really were to help the American people then why not just take the $3 trillion and give every American roughly $9,000. That would help everyone, both MAGA hat wearing factory workers and interpretive dance LGBT activists alike. If the mission really were to provide a solution it could be done in a page or two of text so everyone could understand it, make sense of it and get the help they need. But this is not the objective. This proposal is gargantuan in size so that way everyone can get their piece of the corruption pie in the fine print and keep the pet projects of the Democrats afloat by saving bankrupt but loyal state and local governments.

Stay tuned, the late night horror show will continue.

There is certainly going to be more and more disgusting exploitation of this crisis in the next few weeks/months. The Covid-19 iron is still glowing and everyone is going to strike while they can. New corrupt plans are probably being discussed over brandy as you read this because the economy has and will continue to suffer from this unprecedented event that we are all living through.

Sadly, our last line of defense is the strange real estate billionaire who happens to head the executive branch at the moment. Vetoes can be overridden, but Trump needs to send a signal that his answers to the crisis are the ones that are going to happen. He can manipulate the Mainstream Media to get what he wants, and his light being shone onto a topic can be game changing. Sadly, thus far Trump has been focused more on #Obamagate than either of the two issues presented in this piece, meaning that his ego issues could allow the 4th Amendment to die right in front of our faces. In contrast however, at some point he will probably fight the $3 trillion spending bill because Pelosi is involved in it and she is a bad lady so maybe there is some hope.

May 19, 2020 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Corruption | , | 1 Comment

Ghost of J. Edgar Haunts Flynn Investigation

By Coleen Rowley – Consortium News – May 18, 2020

In this time of unprecedented political polarization, it’s disappointing but not surprising to see the Justice Department’s recent request to dismiss its prosecution of retired General Michael Flynn causing yet another media firestorm to swirl around Attorney General William Barr.

Obama Administration former officials, like the hyperventilating authors of this New York Times op-ed, “The Appalling Damage of Dropping the Michael Flynn Case,” go so far as to claim that dropping the case “embeds into official U.S. policy a shockingly extremist view of law enforcement as the enemy of the American people.”

In stark contrast, other former FBI agents, myself included, are appalled at Bureau and other “national security” officials’ numerous suspicious departures from standard FBI/Department of Justice policies that have finally been brought to light, marking this most bizarre investigation aimed at “get(ting) Flynn to lie.”

Flynn was asked to “a friendly chat” with the FBI on Jan. 24, 2017, for which he was told he would not need a lawyer present. The interview was part of the FBI’s Russiagate investigation, a purported scandal that has now all but totally collapsed.

The agents wanted to speak with him about his conversations with Sergey Kislyak, the then Russian ambassador to the U.S., while Flynn was on the Trump transition team as incoming national security advisor. Having already read the transcripts of those intercepted conversations there was nothing the agents could learn from Flynn.

According to FBI administrative notes released earlier this month, an official identified in the press as Bill Priestap, then assistant director of the FBI’s Counterintelligence Division, asked whether the only aim of the upcoming interview with Flynn was to get him to lie about his conversations with Kislyak. “Our goal is to determine if Mike Flynn is going to tell the truth about his relationship with Russians,” said Priestap in a hand-written note. But Priestap was having second thoughts.

“I agreed yesterday that we shouldn’t show Flynn [REDACTED] if he didn’t admit,” he wrote, the redaction presumably meaning the transcript of Flynn’s calls with Kislyak. “I thought about it last night, and I believe we should rethink this. What is our goal? Truth/admission or to get him to lie, so we can prosecute him or get him fired?… Protect our institution by not playing games.”

Flynn was indeed formally charged with lying to an FBI agent and on Dec. 1, 2017 pled guilty after Russiagate Special Counsel Robert Mueller reportedly threatened to prosecute his son. Flynn was fired by Donald Trump after Flynn lied to the vice president about the conversations with Kislyak.

Kislyak. (Flickr)

In those conversations, Flynn asked that the Russians not retaliate for the Obama administration sanctions on Moscow imposed for the now debunked Russiagate allegations. Russia eventually decided not to retaliate. Flynn also asked on behalf of Israel that the Russians veto a UN Security Council resolution condemning illegal Israeli West Bank settlements, which Obama was planning to abstain on. Russia refused this request.

Upon release of the FBI documents this month, Flynn sought to undo his guilty plea and last week the Justice Department dropped the case. The judge, however, has not yet agreed and has asked for expert opinion.

Law Rarely Used

Many former FBI agents will probably recall being instructed in FBI training school (as I was) that Title 18 US Code 1001 (lying to an FBI agent) is mainly to caution a suspect not to lie, in order to get him or her to tell the truth to further an investigation.”

We were taught (and later learned by experience) that, for a lot of reasons, violation of this provision of “lying to the FBI” would almost never be prosecuted, especially if it was the sole “crime” committed. One reason for this was, at least in my law enforcement experience, that many, if not most, people who are embarrassed to be suspected of wrongdoing, do lie, or at least partially fudge the truth during initial interviews, as it’s a natural ego-defense.

So “getting” someone to lie, if that’s “the goal” (as admitted in the released FBI administrative notes on the Flynn case), is actually very easy. If the green light is now on to use T 18 USC 1001 law in this manner, the sky’s the limit. The FBI could lock up the world. In one of the released emails, FBI attorney Lisa Page shows how rare prosecution under 1001 is by writing:

“I have a question for you. Could the admonition re 1001 be given at the beginning of the interview? Or does it have to come following a statement which agents believe to be false? Does the policy speak to that? (I feel bad that I don’t know this but I don’t remember ever having to do this! Plus I’ve only charged it once in the context of lying to a probation officer.)”

‘Rewriting’ the 302

Peter Strzok during congressional hearing in July 2018.

Fired FBI Agent Peter Strzok, a zealous Russiagater who took part in the Flynn interview, and (his paramour) Page, appear in the Flynn case to have run roughshod over basic FBI legal policy by heavily editing the 302  form of the interview, as aptly detailed by retired supervisory agent Thomas Baker and other FBI agents. While Strzok asked Flynn the questions, his partner at the interview, Agent Joe Pientka, took the notes, which Strzok and Page, who wasn’t present, edited, according to released text messages between them.

The rules drilled into new agents are about the need to take verbatim notes, to be timely in documenting an interview on the FD-302 form for use in court, and to disallow edits by supervisors or attorneys who weren’t even present at an interview. These policies—all flouted in the Flynn case—were developed and designed to ensure accuracy during the Hoover era, long before tape recording equipment existed.

302s Only

Hoover’s FBI power was such that the Bureau could usually successfully insist, under federal rules of evidence and trial discovery, that only the final, polished FD-302 interview form would ever be handed over and made public at a trial.

The FBI and DOJ would always fight tooth and nail against “open file discovery,” claiming that other rough investigative and “administrative” documents in a file were not “relevant” and could therefore be kept hidden from the defense at trial.

It wasn’t until a few years after Hoover’s death that courts stopped FBI agents from destroying their contemporaneous interview notes and made the “1A envelope” preserved notes discoverable so that defense attorneys could check to see how closely the content of an agent’s FD-302 transcription conformed to his/her contemporaneous notes.

But the art of transcribing from rough notes in one’s own words what a suspect or defendant said does inherently allow even the most conscientious investigators some leeway, enabling the final 302 court document to be not as accurate as an actual recording of the interview.

In a conspiratorial “ends justify the means” situation that Strzok and Page believed themselves to be operating in, or in the case of any hell-bent, prosecution-focused, overzealous rogue agent(s), the old-fashioned FD-302 Hoover way is, and always was, susceptible to outright abuse.

(It may be appropriate to note that similar over-zealousness to benefit trial prosecutors was long practiced in the FBI laboratory until a top FBI agent-scientist and whistleblower blew the lid off related abuse that allowed FBI managers to rewrite and “strengthen” scientific results obtained by the agents who actually performed the forensic laboratory tests and analysis.)

Hoover. (Flickr)

Anyway, that’s why most other state and local law enforcement agencies in the country went (and/or were forced to go) to tape recording of confessions and other important interviews in the 1980’s to 1990’s. However the FBI bureaucracy long resisted the move to recording devices.

Over the decades, as voice and video recording equipment became more and more prevalent and easy to use, defense attorneys and even judges started to hammer FBI agents about why they continued their old-fashioned reliance on individual agents’ note-taking abilities and memories.

Nevertheless, for nearly 40 years FBI directors and special agents in charge (SACs) would continue arguing about the difficulty of using modern technology to record interrogations and interviews. They always contended (at least in internal arguments, but never publicly admitted on a witness stand) that allowing agents to testify and tell juries what a defendant said could always be relied upon as more successful for the prosecution than allowing a jury to hear a tape or video recording of exactly what a defendant said.

It was well known and even proudly pointed out internally that in “he said-she said” disputes, a jury would always tend to believe the FBI agent over a defendant.

The Flynn 302 fiasco illustrates how FBI managers recognized what an advantage the final “written in your own words” 302 is when it’s declared to be the only relevant document (no “administrative documents,” early drafts, etc. need ever be handed over in discovery) when juries will almost always believe the FBI agent over a defendant. It is rare for administrative documents to become public, as they have in the Flynn case.

Of course if Strzok and his fellow FBI agent had asked Flynn for his consent to be tape recorded, Flynn would have undoubtedly quickly realized this was not a friendly interview by agents attempting to actually gain counter-intelligence about Russia.

Not Material

That brings up a whole n’other problem with the Flynn case that again harkens back to Hoover and his pre-Church Committee abuses.

Barr and (former FBI agent, now U.S. Attorney) Jeffrey Jensen concluded, after reviewing the complete file, that Flynn’s “lying to the FBI” was not “material” to a bonafide matter under FBI jurisdiction, but merely predicated upon the entirely specious “Russiagate” counter-intelligence investigation of Flynn that Strzok and Page deliberately kept open on a technicality, even after the FBI ordered it closed because there was no reasonable basis to believe Flynn had ever colluded with the Russian government.

The Flynn case furnishes a sterling example of the post 9-11 “war on terror” having demolished the “wall” that separates intelligence gathering from criminal investigation.

While fraught with problems and contradictory DOJ guidance, the “wall” had existed for a valid reason after Church Committee discovery of abuses under Hoover et. al. who so easily used “national security” and “counter-intelligence” as a pretext to surveil, investigate and use COINTELPRO “disrupt and dismantle” activities to go after America’s national leaders, allowing a way around 4th Amendment protections.

Robert Mueller giving testimony on July 24, 2019. (C-Span screenshot)

I and other former FBI agents believe the egregious plotting to railroad Flynn and “get him to lie,” requires dismissal of these charges. A number of additional significant problems with the Flynn investigation and prosecution are enumerated by attorney and award-winning journalist Glenn Greenwald in his excellent 1 ¾ hour-long detailed expose at The Intercept and by Scott Ritter, who focuses on “why innocent people plead guilty given plea bargaining” abuses in our justice “system.”  Neither Greenwald, Ritter nor I happen to be fans of Flynn or Trump. But wrong is wrong.

It’s hardly extremist to realize that FBI and other law enforcement officials have, over the years, made terrible mistakes, and in some cases, engaged in outright wrongful conduct, sometimes in rogue operations and other times more systemically.

I will venture to say that FBI “entrapment” type actions in manufacturing crimes, as was practiced on Flynn, got its early start as a more normalized standard procedure after 9-11 with Robert Mueller’s FBI gravitating to using con-artist type informants to infiltrate Muslim communities in order to identify, coerce and entrap the more emotionally vulnerable members into committing acts that the FBI could take credit for as “preventing” terrorism.

The FBI found it increasingly difficult to prevent real terrorism spurred by successive administrations committing war crimes that killed so many foreign civilians.

Some FBI and other law enforcement wrongdoing has come to light, like the systemic torture operations perpetrated by certain Chicago police officials; the FBI’s decades-long tolerance for employing murderous mobsters as their “top echelon” informants; the Bureau’s spying on and attempted blackmail of Martin Luther King Jr. and other leaders, as well as law enforcement’s racial profiling and wrongful shootings.

In all too rare instances, innocent people are exonerated. Rather than being happy that this bit of justice is finally happening in the Flynn case, however, Russiagate proponents and Democratic partisans seem especially incensed since the always-flimsy charges of Flynn’s “lying to the FBI” was about all Special Prosecutor Mueller’s probe could show for their nearly two-year long, $32 million dollar massive effort.

We should pay heed to Scott Ritter’s admonition:

“The Obama national security team abused its power by unmasking Flynn’s identity, then leaked Flynn’s identity to the press, using this press reporting to justify the continuance of a baseless counterintelligence investigation in order to set a perjury trap intended to place Flynn in legal jeopardy. This is not how American justice is supposed to be dispensed, and the fact that Flynn had to undergo this ordeal should send a shiver down every American’s spine, because if left unchecked, there but for the grace of God go us all.”

Coleen Rowley, a retired FBI special agent and division legal counsel whose May 2002 memo to then-FBI Director Robert Mueller exposed some of the FBI’s pre-9/11 failures, was named one of TIME magazine’s “Persons of the Year” in 2002. Her 2003 letter to Robert Mueller in opposition to launching the Iraq War is archived in full text on the NYT and her 2013 op-ed entitled “Questions for the FBI Nominee“ was published on the day of James Comey’s confirmation hearing. Assigned to the Omaha, Jackson, MI, New York City field offices, and to the U.S. embassy in Paris, and consulate in Montreal, Rowley taught constitutional law to FBI agents in Minneapolis. 

May 19, 2020 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Corruption, Deception | , | Leave a comment

US donates war equipment to Kiev

By Lucas Leiroz | May 19, 2020

Apparently, Washington is helping to increase the violence in the Donbass. In the midst of a pandemic and the civil war at a softer stage, Kiev is promoting a gradual increase in the actions of pro-Maidan paramilitary groups in the region and receiving international support for this.

The United States has delivered more than $ 25 million worth of night vision devices, thermal cameras, portable communicators and medical equipment to Ukraine for use in the combat zone in Donbas, the US Embassy in Kiev reported.

In its account on a social network, the American Embassy to Kiev published the following note in English and Ukrainian: “Despite COVID-19, our security assistance to Ukraine continues! This week, the Office of Defense Cooperation received more than $ 25 million in night vision devices, thermals, radios, and medical equipment for Ukraine to use in the JFO zone. The United States stands strongly with Ukraine in support of its sovereignty and territorial integrity in the face of Russian aggression”.

The US, according to the note, supports Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity. As we know, since April 2014, Ukraine has carried out an operation against militias in the east of the country – Donbas region – where the popular republics of Donetsk and Lugansk were proclaimed in response to the violent change of government that took place in Kiev in February of the same year. However, the Minsk agreements, signed in September 2014 and February 2015, laid the foundation for a political solution to the conflict. Unfortunately, so far they have not led to a definitive cessation of violence, the outcome of which the UN estimates at around 13,000 deaths.

Despite not putting a real end to the confrontation, the Minsk agreements managed to establish some bases for a peaceful future, so that, since then, the war has reduced the intensity of the fighting and presented a drop in the number of victims. But, since then, Kiev has been constantly denounced for tightening its policies in the region again and promoting an escalation of violence, not only through direct confrontation with separatists, but also through terrorist attacks, secret missions and intelligence operations. In a sense, the Accords have changed the face of war, from being a direct confrontation conflict to becoming a scene of constant tensions and intermittent fighting.

A few weeks ago, the Ukrainian government announced that it will build a naval base in the Sea of Azov. Shortly before, a series of murders had been reported in the regions of the autonomous republics, including the systematic killing of several civil people not involved in the conflicts. Now, everything indicates that the situation will worsen and there will be, possibly, a return to direct war.

The timing of the announcement of the acquisition of new US equipment by Ukrainian forces is extremely strategic; after all, in the midst of a global pandemic that increasingly erodes the foundations of the capitalist system, who will care about an apparently “regional and peripheral” conflict like the Civil War in Donbass? However, we must divide our focus and pay more and more attention to the increase in violence and insecurity anywhere in the world.

In fact, the acquisition of this equipment by Ukraine indicates that Kiev plans to resume direct combat and, most likely, policies of political and ethnic persecution against Russian minorities and political groups opposing the regime established during the Euromaidan in 2014. Without drawing the attention of international society, the Ukrainian government, in international cooperation with the USA, plans a total war. Most likely, the United Nations will not comment on the case until something more serious happens – when, certainly, it will be too late.

It is worth remembering that, in February, the United States delivered tents worth US $ 1.5 million to Ukraine. In the meantime, attacks through explosions, shootings and systematic killings in the vicinity of Lugansk and Donetsk have become increasingly frequent and brutal. With the recent donation of equipment, American investments in the war have increased by tens of millions of dollars; so what’s next now? An even greater aggravation of the conflict with even more frequent attacks and murders of greater magnitude?

Ukraine expects a stance on the part of the rebels, which certainly will not happen. The greater Kiev’s aggression, the greater the rebellious response, with an increasingly strong resistance front. However, the rebel militias do not have much international support and world powers financing their actions and providing ultra-advanced war equipment, which means that, however much the rebel resistance strengthens, it is possible that there will be a major massacre in the Donbass. The faster the international society’s express condemnation to this escalation of violence, the lower the risk of genocide in eastern Ukraine. Coronavirus cannot be used as a smokescreen for international attacks.

Lucas Leiroz is a research fellow in international law at the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro.

May 19, 2020 Posted by | Militarism | , | Leave a comment