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Key U.S. Ally Indicted for Organ Trade Murder Scheme

By Nicolas J.S. Davies | Dissident Voice | July 6, 2020

When President Clinton dropped 23,000 bombs on what was left of Yugoslavia in 1999 and NATO invaded and occupied the Yugoslav province of Kosovo, U.S. officials presented the war to the American public as a “humanitarian intervention” to protect Kosovo’s majority ethnic Albanian population from genocide at the hands of Yugoslav president Slobodan Milosevic. That narrative has been unraveling piece by piece ever since.

In 2008 an international prosecutor, Carla Del Ponte, accused U.S.-backed Prime Minister Hashim Thaci of Kosovo of using the U.S. bombing campaign as cover to murder hundreds of people to sell their internal organs on the international transplant market. Del Ponte’s charges seemed almost too ghoulish to be true. But on June 24th, Thaci, now President of Kosovo, and nine other former leaders of the CIA-backed Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA,) were finally indicted for these 20-year-old crimes by a special war crimes court at The Hague.

From 1996 on, the CIA and other Western intelligence agencies covertly worked with the Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA) to instigate and fuel violence and chaos in Kosovo. The CIA spurned mainstream Kosovar nationalist leaders in favor of gangsters and heroin smugglers like Thaci and his cronies, recruiting them as terrorists and death squads to assassinate Yugoslav police and anyone who opposed them, ethnic Serbs and Albanians alike.

As it has done in country after country since the 1950s, the CIA unleashed a dirty civil war that Western politicians and media dutifully blamed on Yugoslav authorities. But by early 1998, even U.S. envoy Robert Gelbard called the KLA a “terrorist group” and the UN Security Council condemned “acts of terrorism” by the KLA and “all external support for terrorist activity in Kosovo, including finance, arms and training.” Once the war was over and Kosovo was successfully occupied by U.S. and NATO forces, CIA sources openly touted the agency’s role in manufacturing the civil war to set the stage for NATO intervention.

By September 1998, the UN reported that 230,000 civilians had fled the civil war, mostly across the border to Albania, and the UN Security Council passed resolution 1199, calling for a ceasefire, an international monitoring mission, the return of refugees and a political resolution. A new U.S. envoy, Richard Holbrooke, convinced Yugoslav President Milosevic to agree to a unilateral ceasefire and the introduction of a 2,000 member “verification” mission from the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE). But the U.S. and NATO immediately started drawing up plans for a bombing campaign to “enforce” the UN resolution and Yugoslavia’s unilateral ceasefire.

Holbrooke persuaded the chair of the OSCE, Polish foreign minister Bronislaw Geremek, to appoint William Walker, the former U.S. Ambassador to El Salvador during its civil war, to lead the Kosovo Verification Mission (KVM). The U.S. quickly hired 150 Dyncorp mercenaries to form the nucleus of Walker’s team, whose 1,380 members used GPS equipment to map Yugoslav military and civilian infrastructure for the planned NATO bombing campaign. Walker’s deputy, Gabriel Keller, France’s former Ambassador to Yugoslavia, accused Walker of sabotaging the KVM, and CIA sources later admitted that the KVM was a “CIA front” to coordinate with the KLA and spy on Yugoslavia.

The climactic incident of CIA-provoked violence that set the political stage for the NATO bombing and invasion was a firefight at a village called Racak, which the KLA had fortified as a base from which to ambush police patrols and dispatch death squads to kill local “collaborators.” In January 1999, Yugoslav police attacked the KLA base in Racak, leaving 43 men, a woman and a teenage boy dead.

After the firefight, Yugoslav police withdrew from the village, and the KLA reoccupied it and staged the scene to make the firefight look like a massacre of civilians. When William Walker and a KVM team visited Racak the next day, they accepted the KLA’s massacre story and broadcast it to the world, and it became a standard part of the narrative to justify the bombing of Yugoslavia and military occupation of Kosovo.

Autopsies by an international team of medical examiners found traces of gunpowder on the hands of nearly all the bodies, showing that they had fired weapons. They were nearly all killed by multiple gunshots as in a firefight, not by precise shots as in a summary execution, and only one victim was shot at close range. But the full autopsy results were only published much later, and the Finnish chief medical examiner accused Walker of pressuring her to alter them.

Two experienced French journalists and an AP camera crew at the scene challenged the KLA and Walker’s version of what happened in Racak. Christophe Chatelet’s article in Le Monde was headlined, “Were the dead in Racak really massacred in cold blood?” and veteran Yugoslavia correspondent Renaud Girard concluded his story in Le Figaro with another critical question, “Did the KLA seek to transform a military defeat into a political victory?”

NATO immediately threatened to bomb Yugoslavia, and France agreed to host high-level talks. But instead of inviting Kosovo’s mainstream nationalist leaders to the talks in Rambouillet, Secretary Albright flew in a delegation led by KLA commander Hashim Thaci, until then known to Yugoslav authorities only as a gangster and a terrorist.

Albright presented both sides with a draft agreement in two parts, civilian and military. The civilian part granted Kosovo unprecedented autonomy from Yugoslavia, and the Yugoslav delegation accepted that. But the military agreement would have forced Yugoslavia to accept a NATO military occupation, not just of Kosovo but with no geographical limits, in effect placing all of Yugoslavia under NATO occupation.

When Milosevich refused Albright’s terms for unconditional surrender, the U.S. and NATO claimed he had rejected peace, and war was the only answer, the “last resort“.  They did not return to the UN Security Council to try to legitimize their plan, knowing full well that Russia, China and other countries would reject it. When UK Foreign Secretary Robin Cook told Albright the British government was “having trouble with our lawyers” over NATO’s plan for an illegal war of aggression against Yugoslavia, she told him to “get new lawyers“.

In March 1999, the KVM teams were withdrawn and the bombing began. Pascal Neuffer, a Swiss KVM observer reported, “The situation on the ground on the eve of the bombing did not justify a military intervention. We could certainly have continued our work. And the explanations given in the press, saying the mission was compromised by Serb threats, did not correspond to what I saw. Let’s say rather that we were evacuated because NATO had decided to bomb.”

NATO killed thousands of civilians in Kosovo and the rest of Yugoslavia, as  it bombed 19 hospitals, 20 health centers, 69 schools, 25,000 homes, power stations, a national TV station, the Chinese Embassy in Belgrade and other diplomatic missions. After it invaded Kosovo, the U.S. military set up the 955-acre Camp Bondsteel, one of its largest bases in Europe, on its newest occupied territory. Europe’s Human Rights Commissioner, Alvaro Gil-Robles, visited Camp Bondsteel in 2002 and called it “a smaller version of Guantanamo,” exposing it as a secret CIA black site for illegal, unaccountable detention and torture.

But for the people of Kosovo, the ordeal was not over when the bombing stopped. Far more people had fled the bombing than the so-called “ethnic cleansing” the CIA had provoked to set the stage for it. A reported 900,000 refugees, nearly half the population, returned to a shattered, occupied province, now ruled by gangsters and foreign overlords.

Serbs and other minorities became second-class citizens, clinging precariously to homes and communities where many of their families had lived for centuries. More than 200,000 Serbs, Roma and other minorities fled, as the NATO occupation and KLA rule replaced the CIA’s manufactured illusion of ethnic cleansing with the real thing. Camp Bondsteel was the province’s largest employer, and U.S. military contractors also sent Kosovars to work in occupied Afghanistan and Iraq. In 2019, Kosovo’s per capita GDP was only $4,458, less than any country in Europe except Moldova and war-torn, post-coup Ukraine.

In 2007, a German military intelligence report described Kosovo as a “Mafia society” based on the “capture of the state” by criminals. The report named Hashim Thaci, then the leader of the Democratic Party, as an example of “the closest ties between leading political decision makers and the dominant criminal class.” In 2000, 80% of the heroin trade in Europe was controlled by Kosovar gangs, and the presence of thousands of U.S. and NATO troops fueled an explosion of prostitution and sex trafficking, also controlled by Kosovo’s new criminal ruling class.

In 2008, Thaci was elected Prime Minister, and Kosovo unilaterally declared independence from Serbia. (The final dissolution of Yugoslavia in 2006 had left Serbia and Montenegro as separate countries.) The U.S. and 14 allies immediately recognized Kosovo’s independence, and ninety-seven countries, about half the countries in the world, have now done so. But neither Serbia nor the UN have recognized it, leaving Kosovo in long-term diplomatic limbo.

When the court in the Hague unveiled the charges against Thaci on June 24th, he was on his way to Washington for a White House meeting with Trump and President Vucic of Serbia to try to resolve Kosovo’s diplomatic impasse. But when the charges were announced, Thaci’s plane made a U-turn over the Atlantic, he returned to Kosovo and the meeting was canceled.

The accusation of murder and organ trafficking against Thaci was first made in 2008 by Carla Del Ponte, the Chief Prosecutor of the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia (ICTFY), in a book she wrote after stepping down from that position. Del Ponte later explained that the ICTFY was prevented from charging Thaci and his co-defendants by the non-cooperation of NATO and the UN Mission in Kosovo. In an interview for the 2014 documentary, The Weight of Chains 2, she explained, “NATO and the KLA, as allies in the war, couldn’t act against each other.”

Human Rights Watch and the BBC followed up on Del Ponte’s allegations, and found evidence that Thaci and his cronies murdered up to 400 mostly Sebian prisoners during the NATO bombing in 1999. Survivors described prison camps in Albania where prisoners were tortured and killed, a yellow house where people’s organs were removed and an unmarked mass grave nearby.

Council of Europe investigator Dick Marty interviewed witnesses, gathered evidence and published a report, which the Council of Europe endorsed in January 2011, but the Kosovo parliament did not approve the plan for a special court in the Hague until 2015. The Kosovo Specialist Chambers and independent prosecutor’s office finally began work in 2017. Now the judges have six months to review the prosecutor’s charges and decide whether the trial should proceed.

A central part of the Western narrative on Yugoslavia was the demonization of President Milosevich of Yugoslavia, who resisted his country’s Western-backed dismemberment throughout the 1990s. Western leaders smeared Milosevich as a “New Hitler” and the “Butcher of the Balkans,” but he was still arguing his innocence when he died in a cell at The Hague in 2006.

Ten years later, at the trial of the Bosnian Serb leader Radovan Karadzic, the judges accepted the prosecution’s evidence that Milosevich strongly opposed Karadzic’s plan to carve out a Serb Republic in Bosnia. They convicted Karadzic of being fully responsible for the resulting civil war, in effect posthumously exonerating Milosevich of responsibility for the actions of the Bosnian Serbs, the most serious of the charges against him.

But the U.S.’s endless campaign to paint all its enemies as “violent dictators” and “New Hitlers” rolls on like a demonization machine on autopilot, against Putin, Xi, Maduro, Khamenei, the late Fidel Castro and any foreign leader who stands up to the imperial dictates of the U.S. government. These smear campaigns serve as pretexts for brutal sanctions and catastrophic wars against our international neighbors, but also as political weapons to attack and diminish any U.S. politician who stands up for peace, diplomacy and disarmament.

As the web of lies spun by Clinton and Albright has unraveled, and the truth behind their lies has spilled out piece by bloody piece, the war on Yugoslavia has emerged as a case study in how U.S. leaders mislead us into war. In many ways, Kosovo established the template that U.S. leaders have used to plunge our country and the world into endless war ever since. What U.S. leaders took away from their “success” in Kosovo was that legality, humanity and truth are no match for CIA-manufactured chaos and lies, and they doubled down on that strategy to plunge the U.S. and the world into endless war.

As it did in Kosovo, the CIA is still running wild, fabricating pretexts for new wars and unlimited military spending, based on sourceless accusations, covert operations and flawed, politicized intelligence. We have allowed American politicians to pat themselves on the back for being tough on “dictators” and “thugs,” letting them settle for the cheap shot instead of tackling the much harder job of reining in the real instigators of war and chaos: the U.S. military and the CIA.

But if the people of Kosovo can hold the CIA-backed gangsters who murdered their people, sold their body parts and hijacked their country accountable for their crimes, is it too much to hope that Americans can do the same and hold our leaders accountable for their far more widespread and systematic war crimes?

Iran recently indicted Donald Trump for the assassination of General Qassem Soleimani, and asked Interpol to issue an international arrest warrant for him. Trump is probably not losing sleep over that, but the indictment of such a key U.S. ally as Thaci is a sign that the U.S. ”accountability-free zone” of impunity for war crimes is finally starting to shrink, at least in the protection it provides to U.S. allies. Should Netanyahu, Bin Salman and Tony Blair be starting to look over their shoulders?

Nicolas J.S.Davies is the author of Blood On Our Hands: the American Invasion and Destruction of Iraq.

July 6, 2020 Posted by | Deception, Mainstream Media, Warmongering | , , , | 1 Comment

US violated UN Charter with drone strike on Soleimani – UN rapporteur on extrajudicial executions

RT | July 7, 2020

The US strike that killed Iranian General Qassem Soleimani was not justified by any ongoing or imminent attack on American interests and violated the UN charter, according to UN rapporteur on arbitrary executions Agnes Callamard.

Washington has produced insufficient evidence that there was any attack on US interests that might have justified the January 3 drone strike on Soleimani’s convoy as it left Baghdad airport, Callamard revealed in a scathing report due to be presented Thursday before the UN Human Rights Council.

“Major General Soleimani was in charge of Iran military strategy, and actions, in Syria and Iraq. But absent an actual imminent threat to life, the course of action taken by the US was unlawful,” an excerpt of the report published by Reuters on Monday reads.

Callamard, whose full title is UN rapporteur for extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions, is demanding accountability for targeted drone killings and wants the deadly weapons to be more strictly regulated. Speaking with Reuters, she called out the UN Security Council for being “missing in action” on the use of the unmanned craft in extrajudicial killings, noting that “the international community, willingly or not, stands largely silent.”

“The world is at a critical time, and possible tipping point, when it comes to the use of drones.”

The targeted killing was believed to be the first time any nation has claimed self-defense as justification for an attack against state forces in a third state’s territory, she added. However, despite the flagrant violation of the UN Charter, no international body has come forward to punish the US for the murder of Soleimani and several others traveling with him, including a high-ranking Iraqi commander.

The January drone strike was met with a barrage of rockets from Tehran, which hit two military bases in Iraq used by US and coalition forces. While no casualties were initially reported, the possibility of the conflict mushrooming into an all-out war led the Iraqi Parliament to issue a resolution ordering all foreign troops off Iraqi soil. However, the Iraqi government did not attempt to enforce that measure.

The US has repeatedly accused Iran of supporting terrorism and plotting attacks on US forces – claims it rarely attempts to back with proof. Tehran, in its turn, considers the assassination of Soleimani to be an act of state terrorism. Last week, Iran issued an arrest warrant for US President Donald Trump and 35 other Americans deemed responsible for the death of its beloved general, seeking the assistance of Interpol in apprehending the suspects.

July 6, 2020 Posted by | War Crimes | , , | 1 Comment

How Climate Trickery Infiltrated the American Geophysical Union

11 presentations – based on private, agenda-driven research – were delivered to the world’s largest gathering of climate scientists.

By Donna Laframboise | Big Picture News | July 6, 2020

I’ve been writing about a far-fetched climate fairy tale that was repackaged and re-positioned – with the result that it now gets taken seriously by supposedly serious scientists (see here and here).

How did this happen? First, billionaire climate activists hired consultants to produce a brand new climate analysis. Because, you know, the world doesn’t have enough climate research, what with governments spending billions on it every year.

This custom research was conducted by a team of noticeably young people. One is still working on his doctorate. Two others were doctoral students at the time. The lead scientist had earned his geobiology PhD seven years earlier. The lead economist had earned his, in sustainable development, a mere three years earlier.

This team produced a 2014 report titled Risky Business: The Economic Risks of Climate Change in the United States. It features a graphic that wildly misrepresents the scientific literature.

Six months after that report appeared, fully 11 presentations based on it were delivered at the world’s largest annual gathering of earth scientists – the American Geophysical Union’s December 2014 conference.

click for source

The first presenter was Kate Gordon. But she isn’t an earth scientist. She’s a lawyer. And a trained community activist. And the Risky Business Project’s founding director. Who’s considered “a leader in the national ‘green jobs’ movement.”

At the time she delivered her AGU presentation, she was employed by The Next Generation, which describes itself as a “political consulting and issue advocacy firm, specializing in progressive and environmental candidates and causes.”

So a professional activist was invited to give a talk to earth scientists. That talk, according to its abstract, told people the Risky Business Project had conducted “groundbreaking new analysis.” After employing “methodological innovations,” she said, it had arrived at “novel insights.”

The thing about lawyers is they can make even a dumpster of stinky trash sound sublime.

Risky Business lead scientist Robert Kopp; click for source

Presentations #2, #8, #9 and #10 were delivered by Risky Business lead scientist Robert Kopp. He was then associate director of Rutgers University’s Institute of Earth, Ocean & Atmospheric Sciences. Which sounds eminently respectable.

So why does the abstract of his first AGU talk tell people that

Projected sea-level rise for 2100 under RCP 8.5 would likely place $80-$160 billion of current property in New York below the high tide line… it would likely increase average annual storm damage by $2.6-$5.2 billion… [bold added]

without mentioning the salient point that the hypothetical climate scenario known as RCP8.5 represents an implausible vision of the future?

Why does the abstract for Kopp’s second presentation mischaracterize RCP8.5 as a “moderately-high business-as-usual emissions scenario”? (italics mine)

Risky Business economist Amir Jina, click for source

Presentations #3, #6, and #11 were delivered by Amir Jina, an economist who earned his PhD in sustainable development that same year. Presenting at the AGU’s premiere event, his talks relied on a background document he himself had coauthored with Kopp and other members of the Risky Business squad.

The background document runs to 206 pages – and mentions RCP8.5 approximately once a page – for a total of 196 times. Outrageously, it declares:

RCP 8.5 is a reasonable representation of a world where fossil fuels continue to power relatively robust global economic growth, and is often considered closest to the most likely “business-as-usual” scenario absent new climate policy by major emitting countries. [bold added; see page numbered 14 (p. 18 of the PDF)]

Say, what? Remember how I’ve described RCP8.5 recently? An implausible hallucination predicated on:

1. the burning of more coal than some people think even exists

2. the abrupt reversal of longstanding population trends

3. a slowdown in technological innovation (which has, instead, been accelerating for decades)

Yeah, that all sounds realistic.

Please observe what has happened here. Private, agenda-driven money (aka billionaire climate activists Tom Steyer, Michael Bloomberg, and others) hired consultants who hired a handful of young researchers keen to make a name for themselves.

Those researchers produced a new, hefty, custom climate analysis. Which was privately published (rather than appearing in its entirety in a peer-reviewed scientific journal).

This research took the absurd seriously. It insisted an outlier climate scenario was reasonable. Neglecting to say by whom, it claimed RCP8.5 was often considered to be closest to the most likely scenario.

The hope was that other people would fall for this sleight of hand. The hope was that other people would join the parade and promulgate this fiction.

In the words of climate analyst Roger Pielke Jr.:

There is no hidden conspiracy, all of this is taking place in plain sight and in public…We have a well-funded effort to fundamentally change how climate science is characterized…This effort has been phenomenally successful.

The AGU helped make this happen. When it extended invitations to a professional activist, an individual employed by a consultancy being paid by climate activists, and doctoral students funded by those same climate activists, it legitimized this corruption of science.

LINKS:

July 6, 2020 Posted by | Corruption, Deception, Science and Pseudo-Science, Timeless or most popular | , , , | 1 Comment

Veteran activists called out BLM as a tool of the Democrats from day 1. But agenda-driven $Millions drown out the grassroots

By Helen Buyniski | RT | July 6, 2020

The Black Lives Matter movement has made millions off black Americans’ suffering. A St. Louis activist explains how it comes from a long tradition of white liberals coopting grassroots movements to push a Democratic Party agenda.

The foundation-funded social justice activism of Black Lives Matter is using black pain to cash in on white liberal guilt, dividing American society in pursuit of a Democratic political agenda, St. Louis activist Nyota Uhura told RT.

Uhura founded her website handsupdontshoot in August 2014 to counter false narratives coming out of the St. Louis suburb of Ferguson following the police shooting of 18-year-old Michael Brown.

Having witnessed BLM’s rise up close as the nascent organization swooped into Ferguson amid the calls for justice triggered by Brown’s killing, methodically co-opting the genuine protest energy while ignoring or even obstructing those protesters’ demands, Uhura has fought to warn others of what the organization really represents – leveraging black activism into a boost for the Democratic Party.

The science of co-opting movements

Plucking a few Ferguson residents from the streets for a veneer of local credibility, BLM raised $33 million on the back of Brown’s death – money Uhura says her community never saw. Six years later, black St. Louis remains poor and plagued with violence, while BLM has found a new community to exploit.

“They overshadow the work of the grassroots, then they insert themselves as leaders and they go out in the media and claim to be leading these movements,” Uhura said.

Outlining the methodology of BLM and other astroturfed movements, she added that sometimes they literally just showed up at a protest they didn’t plan and did a news conference. This is a tradition she traces back to white liberals’ hijacking of the 1963 March on Washington.

That tradition has been boiled down to a science, she says, with organizations like NetRoots turning out phony ‘activists’ with the ruthless efficiency of an assembly line. “NetRoots is where activists go to audition to be puppets of the Democrats, special interest and white elite nonprofit,” she continued.

“It happens so fast that all the pieces are in place before you even have a chance to know what hit you… Before you even know it, you’re watching the news and they have coopted your movement.”

White liberal and progressive groups “use the energy of our movement to push their agenda” – in BLM’s case, weaponizing the concept of “intersectionality” to broaden the movement’s scope from race to feminism, immigrant rights, LGBT issues, and other causes that directly affect white people.

“In order to mobilize people, they need those black faces out front – because what are they going to look like protesting? Just in terms of optics it’ll look like a Klan rally,” Uhura joked. She has a point – just 17 percent of last month’s protesters were black, according to a Pew Research poll published last week, a statistic the organization’s foes are unlikely to let it forget.

Real activists disenfranchised

Uhura is far from the only grassroots activist to publicly speak out against BLM for pulling a bait-and-switch, substituting the Democratic Party’s pet causes in place of justice for the victims of police violence. The group’s Cincinnati chapter dropped the iconic phrase from its name in 2018, alleging the national organization “capitalized off a nameless groundswell of resistance sweeping the nation, branded it as their own, and profited off [black people’s deaths]” without making an effort to get justice for victims’ families.

The Cincinnati chapter also says that BLM’s 2015 conference in Cleveland – where 12-year-old Tamir Rice had just been gunned down by a cop for holding a toy gun – focused almost exclusively on black transgender rights, further dividing a suffering community.

Los Angeles activists slammed BLM’s local chapter for ignoring the killing of Ezell Ford, a mentally-ill man shot by police in 2014, to travel to Ferguson and piggyback on the Michael Brown shooting. Upon their return to Los Angeles, where the activist community was demanding the city’s district attorney indict Ford’s killers, BLM Los Angeles not only continued to ignore the injustice, one of its leaders actually bestowed a ‘Women in Action’ award on the same DA who exonerated the cops who killed him.

Others take issue with what they see as obvious grifting by some of BLM’s most prominent representatives. DeRay McKesson has promoted brands from Apple to McDonald’s, and even got himself arrested in a Twitter T-shirt in what many activists believe was a staged promotion.

Shaun King is so legendary for making large sums of money raised “for the movement” disappear that the Daily Beast wrote a story about it. King recently announced a “Truth, Justice and Reconciliation Commission” in conjunction with three of the same “progressive prosecutors” that activists like Uhura have denounced for failing to police the police.

‘They always march us back into the voting booth’

Like all controlled opposition movements, one of BLM’s primary functions is to derail meaningful change. Uhura explained, “They always march us back into the voting booth.”

Well-heeled movement activists consistently divert money and energy into electing Democratic Party candidates or “progressive” prosecutors, none of whom hold police accountable when they murder innocent black men, whether it’s in Ferguson, Los Angeles, or New York City.

For this reason, she’s not convinced by the group’s recent calls to defund police, or the Minneapolis City Council’s pledge to do just that – the governments of Ferguson and St. Louis promised all manner of reforms they didn’t deliver. Many that did pass were hopelessly watered-down or have since been rolled back, and Uhura sees ‘defund the police’ as just another fundraising tactic.

The only electoral solution to the black community’s problems is “weaponizing our politics,” according to the veteran activist – all incumbents have to go. They’ve had their chance to make a difference, and proven themselves unwilling to deliver. “It might take one or two election cycles to mold a person into what we need, but right now we’re losing anyway,” she explained. “We have to just clean house and get rid of everybody. How can it be worse?”

BLM recently came under fire for doling out just six percent of its donations to local chapters over the past three years, with a whopping 83 percent going to pay consultants and travel costs. The complicated route the money takes from donor to chapter has elicited extensive speculation about the possibility of money laundering, and BLM representatives have been almost cartoonishly cagey when asked by reporters about their finances

Co-founder Alicia Garza has denied the group is backed by foundations at all, even though billionaire currency speculator George Soros alone has given over $33 million to BLM, its founders, and associated groups, and the Ford Foundation pledged to raise $100 million in 2016. Fellow co-founder Patrisse Cullors has held up a fact-check by PolitiFact, funded by the same Omidyar Network that funds BLM, as “proof” the group isn’t linked with the Democratic Party.

But it’s the group’s function as an ideological launderer that has thus far insulated it from accountability. From the corporations pouring millions of dollars into its coffers to burnish their woke cred, to the politicians donning Kente cloths and pandering their way to re-election, BLM positions itself as ‘the’ black activism group, overshadowing grassroots campaigners and sucking up all available cash – literally starving out the competition, as genuine movements struggle to be heard by the media and greater public over the foundation-funded din.

This model of activism has been so successful over the decades that it has come to dominate every cause from environmentalism to civil liberties, offering young people a “romanticized view of activism where it’s all hashtags, all patty-cake, all sugar and cream, when nothing could be further from the truth.”

Uhura, however, is confident that BLM’s true nature will be exposed, citing the movement’s own inherent discrimination: “How does Black Lives Matter get to decide WHICH black lives matter when they purposefully omit straight black people and straight black men whose death they profit from?”

But as long as grassroots activists are losing ground to foundation-funded rivals, new BLMs will keep popping up. Real activists must “create an alternative” to foundation-funded movements, she says – or risk losing the next generation to the Democratic operatives and keeping justice out of the reach of black communities forever.

Helen Buyniski is an American journalist and political commentator at RT. Follow her on Twitter @velocirapture23

July 6, 2020 Posted by | Corruption, Full Spectrum Dominance, Progressive Hypocrite, Solidarity and Activism | | 1 Comment

US ‘Made-Up’ Claims of Russia-Taliban Collusion Aim to Derail Peace Process, Group Says

Sputnik – 06.07.2020

Late last month, The New York Times, citing anonymous US intelligence sources, published an article claiming that Russian military intelligence offered bounties to Taliban-linked militants for attacks on American soldiers in Afghanistan and that US President Donald Trump had been informed about this.

The Taliban believes that claims of its collusion with Russia were made up by intelligence services in Kabul and are aimed at derailing the Afghan peace process, Suhail Shaheen, an official representative of the movement’s political bureau in Qatar, said on Monday.

“We continue our own investigation based on the information in the media. these accusations are false, they are groundless and were launched by an intelligence agency in Kabul to derail and postpone the peace process as well as the formation of a new government,” Shaheen said.

The New York Times reported in June that some units of Russian military intelligence allegedly incentivised the Taliban to attack international coalition troops in Afghanistan.

Russian presidential Spokesman Dmitry Peskov and the Foreign Ministry said the reports were a lie. The White House and the Pentagon said that there did not appear to be any proof for the claims made in the article .

July 6, 2020 Posted by | Deception, Fake News, Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Russophobia | , , , | 1 Comment

BOUNTYGATE: Scapegoating Systemic Military Failure in Afghanistan

By Scott Ritter | Consortium News | July 5, 2020

On the morning of Feb. 27, Beth Sanner, the deputy director of national intelligence for mission integration, arrived at the White House carrying a copy of the Presidential Daily Brief (PDB), a document which, in one form or another, has been made available to every president of the United States since Harry Truman first received what was then known as the “Daily Summary” in February 1946.

The sensitivity of the PDB is without dispute; former White House Press Secretary Ari Fleischer once called the PBD “the most highly sensitized classified document in the government,”while former Vice President Dick Cheney referred to it as “the family jewels.”

The contents of the PDB are rarely shared with the public, not only because of the highly classified nature of the information it contains, but also because of the intimacy it reveals about the relationship between the nation’s chief executive and the intelligence community.

“It’s important for the writers of the presidential daily brief to feel comfortable that the documents will never be politicized and/or unnecessarily exposed for public purview,” former President George W. Bush observed after he left office, giving voice to a more blunt assessment put forward by his vice president who warned that any public release of a PDB would make its authors “spend more time worried about how the report’s going to look on the front page of The Washington Post.

Beth Sanner

Sanner’s job was the same for those who had carried out this task under previous presidents: find a way to engage a politician whose natural instincts might not incline toward the tedious, and often contradictory details contained in many intelligence products. This was especially true for Donald J. Trump, who reportedly disdains detailed written reports, preferring instead oral briefings backed up by graphics.

The end result was a two-phased briefing process, where Sanner would seek to distill critical material to the president orally, leaving the task of picking through the details spelled out in the written product to his senior advisors. This approach was approved beforehand by the director of national intelligence, the director of the CIA and the president’s national security advisor.

Sanner, a veteran CIA analyst who previously headed up the office responsible for preparing the PDB, served as the DNI’s principal advisor “on all aspects of intelligence,” responsible for creating “a consistent and holistic view of intelligence from collection to analysis” and ensures “the delivery of timely, objective, accurate, and relevant intelligence.”

If there was anyone in the intelligence community capable of sorting out the wheat from the chaff when it came to what information was suited for verbal presentation to the president, it was Sanner.

No copy of the PDB for Feb. 27 has been made available to the public to scrutinize, nor will one likely ever be.

However, based upon information gleaned from media reporting derived from anonymous leaks, a picture emerges of at least one of the items contained in the briefing document, the proverbial “ground zero” for the current crisis surrounding allegations that Russia has paid cash bounties to persons affiliated with the Taliban for the purpose of killing American and coalition military personnel in Afghanistan.

Links Between Accounts

Sometime in early January 2020 a combined force of U.S. special operators and Afghan National Intelligence Service (NDS) commandos raided the offices of several businessmen in the northern Afghan city of Konduz and the capital city of Kabul, according to a report in The New York Times. The businessmen were involved in the ancient practice of “Hawala.” It is a traditional system for transferring money in Islamic cultures, involving money paid to an agent who then instructs a remote associate to pay the final recipient.

Afghan security officials claim that the raid had nothing to do with “Russians smuggling money,” but rather was a response to pressure from the Financial Action Task Force (FATF), an international body established in 1989 whose mission is, among other things, to set standards and promote effective implementation of legal, regulatory and operational measures for combating money laundering and terrorist financing.

This explanation, however, seems more of a cover story than fact, if for no other reason than that the FATF, in June 2017, formally recognized that Afghanistan had established “the legal and regulatory framework to meet its commitments in its action plan,” noting that Afghanistan was “therefore no longer subject to the FATF’s monitoring process.”

The joint U.S.-Afghan raid, according to the Times, was not a takedown of the Halawa system in Afghanistan—a virtually impossible task—but rather a particular Halawa network run by Rahmatullah Azizi, a one-time low-level Afghan drug smuggler-turned-high profile businessman, along with a colleague named Habib Muradi.

Azizi’s portfolio is alleged by the Times, quoting a “friend,” to include serving as a contractor for U.S. reconstruction programs, managing undefined business dealings in Russia, which supposedly, according to unnamed U.S. intelligence sources quoted by the Times, included face-to-face meetings with officers from Russian Military Intelligence (GRU), and serving as a bagman for a covert money laundering scheme between the Taliban and Russia.

Some thirteen persons, including members of Azizi’s extended family and close associates, were rounded up in the raids. Both Azizi and Muradi, however, eluded capture, believed by Afghan security officials to have fled to Russia.

Based in large part on information derived from the interrogation of the detainees that followed, U.S. intelligence analysts pieced together a picture of Azizi’s Halawa enterprise—described as “layered and complex”, with money transfers “often sliced into smaller amounts that routed through several regional countries before arriving in Afghanistan.”

What made these transactions even more interesting from an intelligence perspective, were the links made by U.S. analysts between Azizi’s Halawa system, an electronic wire transfer, a Taliban-linked account, and a Russian account that some believed was tied to Unit 29155 (a covert GRU activity believed to be involved with, among other activities, assassinations). The transactions had been picked up by the National Security Agency (NSA), the U.S. intelligence agency responsible for monitoring communications and electronic data worldwide.

The discovery of some $500,000 in cash by U.S. special operators at Azizi’s luxury villa in Kabul was the icing on the cake—the final “dot” in a complex and convoluted game of “connect the dots” that comprised the U.S. intelligence community’s assessment of the alleged Russian (GRU)-Taliban-Azizi connection.

The next task for U.S. intelligence analysts was to see where the Russian (GRU)-Taliban-Azizi connection took them. Using information gathered through detainee debriefings, the analysts broke down money Azizi received through his Halawa pipeline into “packets,” some comprising hundreds of thousands of dollars, which were doled out to entities affiliated with, or sympathetic to, the Taliban.

According to Afghan security officials quoted by the Times, at least some of these payments were specifically for the purpose of killing American troops, amounting to a price tag of around $100,000 per dead American.

The game of “connect the dots” continued as the U.S. intelligence analysts linked this “bounty” money to criminal networks in Parwan Province, where Bagram Air Base—the largest U.S. military installation in Afghanistan—is located. According to Afghan security officials, local criminal networks had carried out attacks on behalf of the Taliban in the past in exchange for money. This linkage prompted U.S. intelligence analysts to take a new look at an April 9, 2019 car bomb attack outside of Bagram Air Base which killed three U.S. Marines.

This information was contained in the PDB that was given to Trump on Feb. 27. According to standard procedure, it would have been vetted by at least three intelligence agencies—the CIA, the National Counterterrorism Center (NCC), and the NSA. Both the CIA and NCC had assessed the finding that the GRU had offered bounties to the Taliban with “moderate confidence,” which in the lexicon used by the intelligence community means that the information is interpreted in various ways, that there are alternative views, or that the information is credible and plausible but not corroborated sufficiently to warrant a higher level of confidence.

The NSA, however, assessed the information with “low confidence,” meaning that they viewed the information as scant, questionable, or very fragmented, that it was difficult to make solid analytic inferences, and that there were significant concerns or problems with the sources of information used.

Floating in the Bowl

All of this information was contained in the PDB carried into the White House by Sanner. The problem for Sanner was the context and relevance of the information she carried. Just five days prior, on Feb. 22, the U.S. and the Taliban had agreed to a seven-day partial ceasefire as prelude to the conclusion of a peace agreement scheduled to be signed in two days’ time, on Feb. 29.

NSA HQ, Fort Meade, Maryland. (Wikimedia Commons)

The U.S. Representative for Afghanistan Zalmay Khalilzad, was in Doha, Qatar, where he was hammering out the final touches to the agreement with his Taliban counterparts. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo was preparing to depart the U.S. for Doha, where he would witness the signing ceremony. The information Sanner carried in the PDB was the proverbial turd in the punchbowl.

The problem was that the intelligence assessment on alleged Russian GRU “bounties” contained zero corroborated information. It was all raw intelligence (characterized by one informed official as an “intelligence collection report”), and there were serious disagreements among the differing analytical communities—in particular the NSA—which took umbrage over what it deemed a misreading of its intercepts and an over reliance on uncorroborated information derived from detainee debriefs.

Moreover, none of the intelligence linking the GRU to the Taliban provided any indication of how far up the Russian chain of command knowledge of the “bounties” went, and whether or not anyone at the Kremlin-let alone President Vladimir Putin-were aware of it.

None of the information contained in the PDB was “actionable.” The president couldn’t very well pick up the phone to complain to Putin based on a case drawn solely from unverified, and in some cases unverifiable, information.

To brief the president about an assessment which, if taken at face value, could unravel a peace agreement that represented a core commitment of the president to his domestic political base—to bring U.S. troops home from endless overseas wars—was the epitome of the politicization of intelligence, especially when there was no consensus among the U.S. intelligence community that the assessment was even correct to begin with.

This was a matter which could, and would, be handled by the president’s national security advisors. Sanner would not be briefing the president in person on this report, a decision that Trump National Security Adviser Robert O’Brien agreed with.

Blaming Russia

Ending America’s nearly 19-year misadventure in Afghanistan had always been an objective of President Trump. Like both presidents before him whose tenure witnessed the deaths of American service members in that hard, distant and inhospitable land, Trump found himself confronting a military and national security establishment convinced that “victory” could be achieved, if only sufficient resources, backed by decisive leadership, were thrown at the problem.

His choice for secretary of defense, James “Mad Dog” Mattis, a retired Marine general who commanded Central Command (the geographical combatant command responsible for, among other regions, Afghanistan) pushed Trump for more troops, more equipment, and a freer hand in taking on the enemy.

By the Fall of 2017, Trump eventually agreed to the dispatch of some 3,000 additional troops to Afghanistan, along with new rules of engagement, which would allow greater flexibility and quicker response times for the employment of U.S. air strikes against hostile forces in Afghanistan.

Mattis: Got what he wanted

It took little more than a year for the president to come to grips with a reality that would be reflected in the findings of Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction John Sopko, that there had been “explicit and sustained efforts by the U.S. government to deliberately mislead the public…to distort statistics to make it appear the United States was winning the war when that was not the case.”

In November 2018, Trump turned on “Mad Dog”, telling the former Marine General “I gave you what you asked for. Unlimited authority, no holds barred. You’re losing. You’re getting your ass kicked. You failed.”

It was probably the most honest assessment of the War in Afghanistan any American president delivered to his serving secretary of defense. By December 2018 Mattis was out, having resigned in the face of Trump’s decision to cut American losses not only in Afghanistan, but also Syria and Iraq.

That same month, U.S. diplomat Khalilizad began the process of direct peace talks with the Taliban that led to the Feb. 29 peace agreement. It was a dispute over Afghan peace talks that led to the firing of National Security Advisor John Bolton. In September 2019—Trump wanted to invite the Taliban leadership to Camp David for a signing ceremony, something Bolton helped quash. Trump cancelled the “summit”, citing a Taliban attack that took the life of an American service member, but Bolton was gone.

Taking on Failure

One doesn’t take on two decades of systemic investment in military failure that had become ingrained in both the psyche and structure of the U.S. military establishment, fire a popular secretary of defense, and then follow that act up with the dismissal of one of the most vindictive bureaucratic infighters in the business without accumulating enemies.

Washington DC has always been a political Peyton Place where no deed goes unpunished. All president’s are confronted by this reality, but Trump’s was a far different case—at no time in America’s history had such a divisive figure won the White House. Trump’s anti-establishment agenda alienated people across all political spectrums, often for cause. But he also came into office bearing a Scarlet Letter which none of his predecessors had to confront—the stigma of a “stolen election” won only through the help of Russian intelligence.

The “Russian interference” mantra was all-pervasive, cited by legions of anti-Trumpers suddenly imbued with a Cold War-era appreciation of global geopolitics, seeing the Russian Bear behind every roadblock encountered, never once pausing to consider that the problem might actually reside closer to home, in the very military establishment Trump sought to challenge.

Afghanistan was no different. Prior to stepping down as the commander of U.S. forces in Afghanistan in September 2018, Army General John Nicholson sought to deflect responsibility for the reality that, despite receiving the reinforcements and freedom of action requested, his forces were losing the fight for Afghanistan.

Unable or unwilling to shoulder responsibility, Nicholson instead took the safe way out—he blamed Russia.

Scapegoating

“We know that Russia is attempting to undercut our military gains and years of military progress in Afghanistan, and make partners question Afghanistan’s stability,” Nicholson wrote in an email to reporters, seemingly oblivious to the history of failure and lies being documented at that moment by Sopko.

In March 2018 Nicholson had accused the Russians of “acting to undermine” U.S. interests in Afghanistan, accusing the Russians of arming the Taliban. But the most telling example of Russian-baiting on the part of the general occurred in February 2017, shortly after President Trump was inaugurated. In an appearance before the Senate Armed Services Committee, Nicholson was confronted by Sen. Bill Nelson, a Florida Democrat and ardent supporter of the U.S. intervention in Afghanistan.

“If Russia is cozying up to the Taliban—and that’s a kind word—if they are giving equipment that we have some evidence that the Taliban is getting…and other things that we can’t mention in this unclassified setting? And the Taliban is also associated with al-Qaida? Therefore Russia is indirectly helping al-Qaeda in Afghanistan?” Nelson asked.

“Your logic is absolutely sound, sir,” was Nicholson’s response.

Except it wasn’t.

Russia has a long and complicated history with Afghanistan. The Soviet Union invaded Afghanistan in 1979, and over the course of the next decade fought a long and costly war with Afghan tribes, backed by American money and arms and a legion of Arab jihadis who would later morph into the very al-Qaeda Sen. Nelson alluded to in his question to General Nicholson.

By 1989 the Soviet Empire was winding down, and with it its disastrous Afghan War. In the decade that followed, Russia was at odds with the Taliban government that arose from the ashes of the Afghan civil war that followed in the wake of the withdrawal of Soviet forces.

Moscow threw its support behind the more moderate forces of the so-called Northern Alliance and, after the al-Qaeda terror attacks on the U.S. on Sept. 11, 2001, was supportive of the U.S.-led intervention to defeat the Taliban and bring stability to a nation that bordered the Central Asian Republics of the former Soviet Union, which Russia viewed as especially sensitive to its own national security.

Realized US Was Losing the War

Fourteen years later, in September 2015, Russia was confronted by the reality that the U.S. had no strategy for victory in Afghanistan and, left to its own devices, Afghanistan was doomed to collapse into an ungovernable morass of tribal, ethnic and religious interests that would spawn extremism capable of migrating over the border, into the former Soviet Central Asian Republics, and into Russia itself.

Russia’s concerns were shared by regional countries such as Pakistan and China, both of which faced serious threats in the form of domestic Islamist extremism.

The capture of the northern Afghan city of Konduz, followed by the rise of an even more militant Islamist group in Afghanistan known as the Islamic State-Khorassan (IS-K), both of which occurred in September 2015, led the Russians to conclude that the U.S. was losing its war in Afghanistan, and Russia’s best hope was to work with the prevailing side—the Taliban—in order to defeat the threat from IS-K, and create the conditions for a negotiated peace settlement in Afghanistan.

None of this history was mentioned by either Gen. Nicholson or Sen. Nelson. Instead, Nicholson sought to cast Russia’s involvement in Afghanistan as “malign”, declaring in a Dec. 16, 2016 briefing that:

“Russia has overtly lent legitimacy to the Taliban. And their narrative goes something like this: that the Taliban are the ones fighting Islamic State, not the Afghan government. And of course … the Afghan government and the U.S. counterterrorism effort are the ones achieving the greatest effect against Islamic State. So, this public legitimacy that Russia lends to the Taliban is not based on fact, but it is used as a way to essentially undermine the Afghan government and the NATO effort and bolster the belligerents.”

Absent from Nicholson’s comments is any appreciation surrounding the creation of IS-K, and the impact it had on the Taliban as a whole.

The formation of IS-K can be causally linked to the disarray that occurred within the internal ranks of the Taliban in the aftermath of the death of Mullah Omar, the founder and moral inspiration of the organization. The struggle to pick a successor to Omar exposed a Taliban fractured into three factions.

One, representing the mainstream faction of the Taliban most closely linked to Mullah Omar, wanted to continue and expand upon the existing struggle against the Government of Afghanistan and the U.S.-led coalition, which supported and sustained it in an effort to re-establish the Emirate that ruled prior to being evicted from power in the months after the terror attacks of 9/11.

Another, grounded in the ranks of Pakistani Taliban, wanted a more radical approach which sought a regional Emirate beyond the borders of Afghanistan.

A third faction had grown tired of years of fighting and viewed the passing of Mullah Omar as an opportunity for a negotiated peace settlement with the Afghan government. IS-K emerged from the ranks of the second group, and posed a real threat to the viability of the Taliban if it could motivate large numbers of the Taliban’s most fanatic fighters to defect from the ranks of the mainstream Taliban.

Mujahideen who fought Soviets, Aug. 1985 (Wikimedia Commons)

For the Russians, who witnessed the growing potency of the Taliban as manifested in its short-lived capture of Konduz, the biggest danger it faced wasn’t a Taliban victory over the U.S.-dominated Afghan government, but rather the emergence of a regionally-minded Islamist extremist movement that could serve as a model and inspiration for Muslim men of combat age to rally around, allowing the violent instability to fester locally and spread regionally for decades to come. The mainstream Taliban were no longer viewed as a force to be confronted, but rather contained through co-option.

In a statement before U.S. troops in December 2016, then-President Barack Obama openly admitted that “the U.S. cannot eliminate the Taliban or end violence in that country [Afghanistan].” Russia had reached that conclusion more than a year prior, following the Taliban capture of Konduz.

A year before Obama made this announcement, Zamir Kabulov, Russia’s special representative to Afghanistan, noted that “Taliban interests objectively coincide with ours” when it came to limiting the spread of the Islamic State in Afghanistan, and he acknowledged that Russia had “opened communication channels with the Taliban to exchange information.”

For its part, the Taliban was at first cold to the thought of cooperating with the Russians. A spokesperson declared that they “do not see a need for receiving aid from anyone concerning so-called Daesh [Islamic State] and neither have we contacted nor talked with anyone about this issue.”

Many of the Taliban leadership had a history of fighting against the Soviets in the 1980s and were loath to be seen as working with their old enemies. The rise of IS-K in Afghanistan, however, created a common threat that helped salve old wounds, and while the Taliban balked at any overt relationship, the Russians began a backchannel process of discreet diplomatic engagement. (Kabulov had a history of negotiations with the Taliban dating back to the mid-1990’s).

By November 2018 this effort had matured into what was called the “Moscow Format”, a process of diplomatic engagement between Russia and Afghanistan’s neighbors which resulted in the first-ever dispatch of a Taliban delegation to Moscow for the purpose of discussing the conditions necessary for peace talks to be held about ending the conflict in Afghanistan.

When President Trump terminated the U.S.-Taliban peace negotiations in September 2019, it was the “Moscow Format” that kept the peace process alive, with Russia hosting a delegation from the Taliban to discuss the future of the peace process.

The Russian involvement helped keep the window of negotiations with the Taliban open, helping to facilitate the eventual return of the U.S. to the negotiating table this February, and played no small part in the eventual successful conclusion of the Feb. 27, 2020 peace agreement—a fact which no one in the U.S. was willing to publicly acknowledge.

Bad Intelligence

The Intelligence Collection Report that found its way into the Feb. 27 PDB did not appear in a vacuum. The singling out of the Hawala network operated by Rahmatullah Azizi was the manifestation of a larger anti-Russian animus that had existed in the intelligence collection priorities of the U.S. military, the CIA and the Afghan NDS since 2015.

This animus can be traced to internal bias that existed in both U.S. Central Command and the CIA against anything Russian, and the impact this bias had on the intelligence cycle as it applied to Afghanistan.

The existence of this kind of bias is the death knell of any professional intelligence effort, as it destroys the objectivity needed to produce effective analysis.

Sherman Kent

Sherman Kent, the dean of U.S. intelligence analysis (the CIA’s Center for Intelligence Analysis is named after him), warned of this danger, noting that while there was no excuse for policy or political bias, the existence of analytic or cognitive bias was ingrained in human condition, requiring a continuous effort by those responsible for overseeing analytical tasks to minimize.

Kent urged analysts “to resist the tendency to see what they expect to see in the information,” and “urged special caution when a whole team of analysts immediately agrees on an interpretation of yesterday’s development or a prediction about tomorrow’s.”

Part of a Litany of Intel Failures

The nexus of theory and reality was rarely, if ever, achieved within the U.S. intelligence community. From exaggerated Cold War estimates of Soviet military capability (the “bomber” and “missile” gaps), the underestimation of Viet Cong and North Vietnamese military capability, a failure to accurately predict the need for, and impact of, Gorbachev’s policies of reform in the Soviet Union, the debacle that was Iraqi WMD, a similar misreading of Iran’s nuclear capability and intent, and the two decade failure that was (and is) the Afghanistan experience, the U.S. intelligence community has a track record of imbuing its analysis with both political and cognitive bias—and getting it very, very wrong about so many things.

The Russian bounty story is no exception. It represents the nexus of two separate analytical streams, both of which were amply imbued with policy bias; one, representing America’s anger at not being able to control the fate of Russia in the aftermath of the collapse of the Soviet Union, and the second, America’s total misread of the reality of Afghanistan (and the Taliban) as it related to the Global War on Terror (GWOT).

For the first decade or so, these streams lived separate but equal lives, populated by analytical teams whose work rarely intersected (indeed, if truth be told, the Russian/Eurasian “house” was frequently robbed of its best talent to feed the insatiable appetite for more and better “analysis” driven by the GWOT enterprise.)

The election of Barack Obama, however, changed the intelligence landscape and, in doing so, initiated processes which allow these two heretofore disparate intelligence streams to drift together.

Under President Obama, the U.S. “surged” some 17,000 additional combat troops into Afghanistan in an effort to turn the tide of battle. By September 2012, these troops had been withdrawn; the “surge” was over, with little to show for it besides an additional 1,300 U.S. troops killed and tens of thousands more wounded. The “surge” had failed, but like any failure rooted in Presidential policy, it was instead sold as a success.

That same year the Obama administration suffered another policy failure of similar magnitude. In 2008, Russian President Vladimir Putin swapped places with Prime Minister Dmitri Medvedev, and when Obama took office, his team of Russian experts, led by a Stanford professor named Michael McFaul, sold him on the concept of a “reset” of U.S.-Russian relations, which had soured under eight years of the Bush Presidency.

But the “reset” was decidedly one-sided—it placed all of the blame for the bad blood between the two nations on Putin, and none on two successive eight-year presidential administrations, led by Bill Clinton and George W. Bush, which saw the U.S. expand the NATO alliance up to Russia’s borders, abandon foundational arms control agreements, and basically behave like Russia was a defeated foe whose only acceptable posture was one of acquiescence and subservience.

This was a game Russia’s first President, Boris Yeltsin, only seemed too happy to play. His hand-picked successor, Vladimir Putin, however, would not.

With Medvedev installed as president, McFaul sought to empower Medvedev politically—in effect, to give him the “Yeltsin” treatment—in hopes that an empowered Medvedev might be able to muscle Putin out of the picture.

For any number of reasons (perhaps most important being Putin had no intention of allowing himself to be so squeezed, and Medvedev was never inclined to do any squeezing), the Russian “reset” failed. Putin was reelected as president in March 2012. McFaul’s gambit had failed, and from that moment forward, U.S.-Russian relations became a “zero sum game” for the U.S.—any Russian success was seen as a U.S. failure, and vice versa.

In 2014, after watching a duly elected, pro-Russian Ukrainian president, Viktor Yanukovych, removed from office by a popular uprising which, if not U.S. sponsored, was U.S. supported, Putin responded by annexing the Russian-majority Crimean peninsula and supporting pro-Russian secessionists in the breakaway Donbas region of Ukraine.

This action created a schism between Russia and the U.S. and Europe, resulting in the implementation of economic sanctions against Russia by both entities, and the emergence of a new Cold War-like relationship between Russia and NATO.

In 2015 Russia followed up its Ukraine action by dispatching its military into Syria where, at the invitation of the Syria government, it helped turn the tide on the battlefield in favor of Syria’s embattled president, Bashar al-Assad, against an assortment of jihadist groups.

Overnight, the intelligence backwater that had been Russian/European affairs was suddenly thrust front and center on the world stage and, with it, into the heart of American politics. The McFaul school of Putin-phobia suddenly became dogma, and any academic who had published a book or article critical of the Russian president was elevated in status and stature, up to and including a seat at the table in the senior-most decision-making circles of the U.S. intelligence community.

The Russians were suddenly imbued with near super-human capability, up to and including the ability to steal an American presidential election.

After the failure of the Obama surge in Afghanistan, and the withdrawal from Iraq at the end of 2011 of all U.S. combat troops, the mindset throughout the Central Command area of operations was “stability.” This was the command guidance and pity the intelligence analyst who tried to raise a red flag or inject a modicum of reality into the intelligence enterprise whose mission it was to sustain this sense of stability.

Indeed, when the Islamic State roared out of the western deserts of Iraq to establish itself in eastern Syria, dozens of CENTCOM intelligence analysts officially complained that their senior management was purposefully manipulating the analytical product produced by CENTCOM to paint a deliberately misleading “rosy” picture of truth on the ground out of fear of angering the Commanding General and his senior staff.

For anyone who has spent any time in the military, the importance of command guidance, whether written or verbal, when it comes to establishing both priorities and approach, cannot be overstated. In short, what the general wants, the general gets; woe be the junior officer or analyst who didn’t get the memo.

By 2016, the commander of U.S. forces in Afghanistan, Gen. Nicholson, wanted to see Russians undermining U.S. policy objectives in Afghanistan. The poisonous culture that existed inside CENTCOM’s intelligence enterprise was only too happy to comply.

The corruption of intelligence at “ground zero” ended up corrupting the entire U.S. intelligence community, especially when there was a systemic desire to transfer blame for the failure of U.S. policy in Afghanistan anywhere other than where it belonged—squarely on the shoulders of U.S. policy makers and the military that did their bidding.

And there was a beefed-up Russia/Eurasia intelligence apparatus looking for opportunities to foist blame on Russia. Blaming Russia for U.S. policy failure in Afghanistan became the law of the land.

The consequences of this political and cognitive bias is subtle, but apparent to those who know what to look for, and are willing to take the time to look.

Following the leak to The New York Times about the Russian “bounty” intelligence, members of Congress demanded answers about the White House’s claim that the information published by the Times (and mimicked by other mainstream media outlets) was “unverified.”

Rep. Jim Banks, who sits on the Armed Services Committee as one of eight Republican lawmakers briefed by the White House on the substance of the intelligence regarding the alleged Russian “bounties”, tweeted shortly after the meeting ended that, “Having served in Afghanistan during the time the alleged bounties were placed, no one is angrier about this than me.”

Bank’s biography notes that, “In 2014 and 2015, he took a leave of absence from the Indiana State Senate to deploy to Afghanistan during Operations Enduring Freedom and Freedom’s Sentinel.”

Banks’ timeline mirrors that offered by a former senior Taliban leader, Mullah Manan Niazi, who told U.S. reporters who interviewed him after the Russian “bounty” story broke that “the Taliban have been paid by Russian intelligence for attacks on U.S. forces—and on ISIS forces—in Afghanistan from 2014 up to the present.”

Niazi: shady character (ToloNews/YouTube)

Niazi has emerged a key figure behind the crafting of the “bounty” narrative, and yet his voice is absent from The New York Times reporting, for good reason—Niazi is a shady character whose acknowledged ties to both the Afghan Intelligence Service (NDS) and the CIA undermine his credibility as a viable source of information.

Officials, speaking anonymously to the media, have stated that “the bounty hunting story was ‘well-known’ among the intelligence community in Afghanistan, including the CIA’s chief of station and other top officials there, like the military commandos hunting the Taliban. The information was distributed in intelligence reports and highlighted in some of them.”

If this is true, and some of this information found its way into the intelligence report referred to by Rep. Banks, then the U.S. intelligence community has been selling the notion of a Russian bounty on U.S. troops since at least 2015—coincidentally, the same time Russia started siding with the Taliban against IS-K.

Seen in this light, claims that Bolton briefed President Trump on the “bounty” story in March of 2019–nearly a full year before the PDB on it was delivered to the White House—don’t seem too far-fetched, except for one small detail: what was the basis of Bolton’s briefing? What intelligence product had been generated at that time which rose to a level sufficient enough to warrant being briefed to the president of the United States by his national security advisor?

The answer is, of cours–none. There was nothing; if there was, we would be reading about it with enough corroboration to warrant a White House denial. All we have is a story, a rumor, speculation, a “legend” promoted by CIA-funded Taliban turncoats that had seeped itself into the folklore of Afghanistan enough to be assimilated by other Afghans who, once detained and interrogated by the NDS and CIA, repeated the “legend” with sufficient ardor to be included, without question, in the intelligence collection report that actually did make into a PD–on Feb. 27, 2020.

There is another aspect of this narrative that fails completely, namely the basic comprehension of what exactly constitutes a “bounty.”

“Afghan officials said prizes of as much as $100,000 per killed soldier were offered for American and coalition targets,” the Times reported. And yet, when Rukmini Callimachi, a member of the reporting team breaking the story, appeared on MSNBC to elaborate further, she noted that “the funds were being sent from Russia regardless of whether the Taliban followed through with killing soldiers or not. There was no report back to the GRU about casualties. The money continued to flow.”

There is just one problem—that’s not how bounties work. Bounties are the quintessential quid pro quo arrangement—a reward for a service tendered. Do the job, collect the reward. Fail to deliver—there is no reward. The idea that the Russian GRU set up a cash pipeline to the Taliban that was not, in fact, contingent on the killing of U.S. and coalition troops, is the antithesis of a bounty system. It sounds more like financial aid, which it was—and is. Any assessment that lacked this observation is simply a product of bad intelligence.

The Timing

Whoever leaked the Russian “bounty” story to The New York Times knew that, over time, the basics of the story would not be able to stand up under close scrutiny—there were simply too many holes in the underlying logic, and once the totality of the intelligence leaked out (which, by Friday seemed to be the case), the White House would take control of the narrative.

The timing of the leak hints at its true objective. The main thrust of the story was that the president had been briefed on a threat to U.S. forces in the form of a Russian “bounty,” payable to the Taliban, and yet opted to do nothing. On its own, this story would eventually die out of its own volition.

On June 18, the U.S. fulfilled its obligation under the peace agreement to reduce the number of troops in Afghanistan to 8,600 by July 2020. By June 26, the Trump administration was close to finalizing a decision to withdraw more than 4,000 troops from Afghanistan by the fall, a move which would reduce the number of troops from 8,600 to 4,500 and thus pave the way for the complete withdrawal from U.S. forces from Afghanistan by mid-2021.

Both of these measures were unpopular with a military establishment that had been deluding itself for two decades that it could prevail in the Afghan conflict. Moreover, once the troop level had dropped to 4,500, there was no turning back—the total withdrawal of all forces was inevitable, because at that level the U.S. would be unable to defend itself, let alone conduct any sort of meaningful combat operations in support of the Afghan government.

It was at this time that the leaker chose to release his or her information to The New York Times, perfectly timed to create a political furor intended not only to embarrass the president, but more critically, to mobilize Congressional pushback against the Afghan withdrawal.

On Thursday, the House Armed Services Committee voted on an amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act which required the Trump administration to issue several certifications before U.S. forces could be further reduced in Afghanistan, including an assessment of whether any “state actors have provided any incentives to the Taliban, their affiliates, or other foreign terrorist organizations for attacks against United States, coalition, or Afghan security forces or civilians in Afghanistan in the last two years, including the details of any attacks believed to have been connected with such incentives”—a direct reference to the Russian “bounty” leak.

The amendment passed 45-11.

This, more than anything else, seems to have been the objective of the leak. The irony of Congress passing legislation designed to prolong the American war in Afghanistan in the name of protecting American troops deployed to Afghanistan should be apparent to all.

The fact that it is not speaks volumes to just how far down the road of political insanity this country has travelled. On a weekend where America is collectively celebrating the birth of the nation, that celebration will be marred by the knowledge that elected representatives voted to sustain a war everyone knows has already been lost. That they did so on the backs of bad intelligence leaked for the purpose of triggering such a vote only makes matters worse.

Scott Ritter is a former Marine Corps intelligence officer who served in the former Soviet Union implementing arms control treaties, in the Persian Gulf during Operation Desert Storm, and in Iraq overseeing the disarmament of WMD.

July 6, 2020 Posted by | Fake News, Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Militarism, Russophobia, Timeless or most popular | , , , , | Leave a comment

“Woke” America is More Asleep to Injustice Than Ever

AFR3423

By Tony Cartalucci – New Eastern Outlook – 06.07.2020

To drive home just how superficial and empty recent protests in America are and how little besides further division and destruction will become of them – take the fate of two fictional characters recently put in the spotlight by baying activists – PepsiCo’s “Aunt Jemima” breakfast food brand and Mars Incorporated’s “Uncle Ben’s” rice products.

Both came into the crosshairs of “woke” America. Both fictional characters will now no longer be used.

It might appear like a huge victory for “woke” America.

CNN in their article, “The Aunt Jemima brand, acknowledging its racist past, will be retired,” would claim:

Quaker Oats is retiring the more than 130-year-old Aunt Jemima brand and logo, acknowledging its origins are based on a racial stereotype.

“As we work to make progress toward racial equality through several initiatives, we also must take a hard look at our portfolio of brands and ensure they reflect our values and meet our consumers’ expectations,” the Pepsi-owned company said in a statement provided to CNN Business.

And the London Guardian in their article, “Uncle Ben’s rice firm to scrap brand image of black farmer,” would claim:

The rice company Uncle Ben’s is to scrap the image of a black farmer the brand has used since the 1940s and could change its name, as companies react to growing concerns over racial bias and injustice.

The parent company, Mars, said Uncle Ben was a fictional character whose name was first used in 1946 as a reference to an African American Texan rice farmer.

While there is no doubt that both fictional characters represented stereotypes and are rooted in America’s racist past – “woke” America’s belief that somehow this was a priority or some form of victory begs belief. So does the fact that those opposed to expanding mobs and their “cancel culture” have crafted the most anemic counterpoints.

Some claim that the fictional characters were either inspired or portrayed by real African Americans who profited from the branding.

What neither side mentioned was the very real abuses both companies are guilty of – abuses that are both inhumane and rooted in extraordinary, inexcusable, and thus far utterly unaddressed racism.

PepsiCo and Mars Sponsor/Profit From Slavery and Mass Murder 

Both “woke” America as well as those trying to form opposition to it have entirely missed the fact that PepsiCo and Mars Inc. – two multi-billion dollar businesses – are literally engaged in modern day slavery to create their products while sponsoring policy think-tanks that have engineered wars targeting African nations, leading to the deaths of tens of thousands and open-air slave markets where black people – today – are sold into bondage.

This would seem to be a much greater transgression against black people than their crude depictions in company branding and demands much more serious action than merely adjusting marketing strategies – such as demanding boards of directors to resign or full-spectrum, permanent boycotts for these businesses and their many subsidiaries and brands.

Unfortunately for “woke” America, fictional characters are a priority taken head-on all while activists blissfully munch on chocolate bars made by cocoa harvested by African slave labor and sip on drinks made by a corporation which sponsors US wars abroad in which blacks are mass murdered and enslaved.

Your Mars Inc. Chocolate Comes from Slave Labor

If you enjoy chocolate snacks like 3 Musketeers, Snickers, Mars, and Milky Way bars, the chocolate you ate most likely came from a developing nation with dismal working conditions and in many cases, child and slave labor.

Mars Inc. along with Nestle, Hersey, and many other chocolate companies, source cocoa from Africa and especially the nations of Cote d’Ivoire and Ghana.

A Washington Post article published just last year titled, “Cocoa’s child laborers,” would note:

Mars, Nestlé and Hershey pledged nearly two decades ago to stop using cocoa harvested by children. Yet much of the chocolate you buy still starts with child labor.

The article elaborated, noting:

About two-thirds of the world’s cocoa supply comes from West Africa where, according to a 2015 U.S. Labor Department report, more than 2 million children were engaged in dangerous labor in cocoa-growing regions.

When asked this spring, representatives of some of the biggest and best-known brands — Hershey, Mars and Nestlé — could not guarantee that any of their chocolates were produced without child labor.

Black children used as labor and under conditions and for wages bordering slavery to produce cocoa Mars Inc. knowingly uses in its products – and makes billions of dollars off of – seems like a much bigger issue than what is undoubtedly offensive labelling practiced by Mars Inc. through its “Uncle Ben’s” brand.

Indicative of the carefully controlled nature of ongoing protests is how the Washington Post has reported on Mars Inc.’s genuinely offensive, even criminal predation on black labor in Africa in the past as well as Mars Inc.’s offensive branding more recently, but failed to link the two in its most recent reporting – thus artfully avoiding a genuinely “woke” readership and any genuine damage real protests and boycotts would have on Mars Inc. and other corporations whose interests Washington Post regularly serves as a voice for.

Big-Biz like PepsiCo and Mars Inc. are an Affront to All

Mars Inc. – alongside PepsiCo, Nestle, and Hersey – was also involved in funding anti-labelling campaigns to prevent legislation from passing that would force food manufacturers to inform consumers their products contained genetically modified organisms (GMO).

Corporations spending money to hide dangerous ingredients from consumers endangers everyone’s health – black and white, left and right.

Mars Inc., PepsiCo, and others defend such campaigning, claiming that such legislation would be “costly” – as would ensuring  all of their ingredients are ethically procured and free of child and/or slave labor.

Yet Mars Inc., PepsiCo, and others are multi-billion dollar businesses. The Mars family which owns Mars Inc. consists mostly of family members who are billionaires – not mere millionaires – but billionaires.

Their daily “concerns” include ensuring their sprawling 82,000 acre ranches have enough water and that they receive the most lenient penalties when crashing their Porsche SUV’s into vans carrying families.

Mars Inc. and other multi-billion dollar businesses can afford to do better, simply at the cost of being slightly less well-off billionaires or perhaps even being demoted to millionaires – yet they simply and deliberately choose to profit off the backs of poorly informed consumers at home and exploited/enslaved labor abroad.

If what Mars Inc. and PepsiCo contributed to was only limited to cultivating ignorant consumers at home and using slave labor abroad it would be bad enough. And if America’s “woke revolution” was serious about justice, Mars Inc. and PepsiCo would be on the chopping block for much more than their crude, racist marketing, and would have more demanded of them.

But that is not all Mars Inc. and PepsiCo are contributing to.

Sponsoring Warmongering and Mass Murder in Africa (and everywhere else)

Both PepsiCo and Mars Inc. are sponsors of policy think tanks like the Brookings Institution whose “scholars” and “fellows” churn out the blueprints for US wars which are then rubber stamped by the US Congress and sold to the public by the corporate media.

Brooking Institution’s 2019 annual report (PDF) lists both companies – PepsiCo and Mars Inc. – as sponsors as were both companies in 2011 (PDF).

Brookings and its corporate-sponsored staff worked diligently in 2011 to help sell the US military intervention in the North African nation of Libya. It was a key institution involved in creating and spreading the notion of “R2P” or the “responsibility to protect” used as flimsy cover for a long-planned US desire to effect regime change in Libya.

As early as February 2011, the Brookings Institution published articles and papers like, “United States Must Take Lead on Libya,” in which Brookings “Senior Fellows” – funded by the likes of PepsiCo and Mars Inc. – made the nascent calls for US military intervention that would eventually lead to the US arming militants openly and carrying out air strikes across the nation.

Indeed, the US armed militants in eastern Libya – a hotbed for racism and extremism and the epicenters of Al Qaeda in the country – as well as provided roving bands of armed gangs air support as they swept the nation.

When Libyan leader Muammar Qaddafi was violently swept from power later that year, the estimated 2.5 million Africans from across the continent he took in, providing housing and living wages to, found themselves being hunted by US-backed militants.

To explain the blatant and explosive racism that predictably swept Libya in the wake of the US-backed war, articles like the CS Monitor’s “How Qaddafi helped fuel fury toward Africans in Libya,” would claim:

Many experts – and African migrant workers themselves – say the animosity stems from anti-African racism found throughout the Arab world. But some say the anger has been made much worse by Mr. Qaddafi’s moves to buy the loyalty of black Libyans from the south of the country as well as his decades-long efforts to build Africa-wide patronage networks at great cost to the country’s Arab majority.

In other words – the CS Monitor and the Western “experts” it cited claim Qaddafi “fueled fury toward Africans” by merely spending resources to help them. It is an oblique attempt to justify the racism-driven genocide US-backed militants carried out during their “victory lap” in Libya.

Black Africans living in Libya were either driven out of the country, across the Mediterranean and into Europe to face hardship and racism there or either mass murdered in Libya or rounded up and enslaved.

The Western media – partners with institutions like Brookings – denied this at first – or attempted to excuse it like the CS Monitor – but eventually covered the fallout US military intervention in Libya and its long-planned regime change agenda triggered.

Reuters in their article, “African workers live in fear after Gaddafi overthrow,” would admit:

Tens of thousands of foreign workers have fled Libya since the armed revolt against Gaddafi’s 42-year-rule began in February, with Africans afraid they have become targets for fighters who accuse them of being mercenaries for Gaddafi.

This antipathy appears to have spread to all Africans, leaving them vulnerable to attacks, robbery and other abuse by the gun-toting, mostly young, fighters who ousted Gaddafi.

Identity cards of nationals from Chad, Niger, Mali, Sudan and other African states have been found on the bodies of gunmen who anti-Gaddafi fighters say were paid to confront them.

The BBC in its article, “Libya migrant ‘slave market’ footage sparks outrage,” would admit:

Migrants trying to reach Europe have spoken of being held by smugglers and forced to work for little or no money.

The footage released by CNN appears to show youths from Niger and other sub-Saharan countries being sold to buyers for about $400 (£300) at undisclosed locations in Libya.

While these media sources covered the fallout of the 2011 US military intervention, they were careful not to link the fallout directly to the intervention.

The US war against Libya was a humanitarian catastrophe deliberately engineered by Western think tanks funded by big-business like PepsiCo, Mars Inc., and many others, rubber stamped by politicians in Washington – both Democrat and Republican – and eagerly sold to the public by the corporate media.

And even as recently as 2016, Brookings “Senior Fellow” Shadi Hamid in a piece published on Brookings’ site titled, “Everyone says the Libya intervention was a failure. They’re wrong,” would remain insistent in defending the US-led war and the decimated, racist, and dysfunctional Libya left in its wake.

He argues that if the US didn’t intervene, Qaddafi would have successfully eliminated the racist extremists in eastern Libya and particularly in Benghazi who would eventually carry out genocide against Libya’s black population. Hamid simply omits any mention of this or who actually was based in Benghazi and instead refers to them merely as “protesters.”

Thus, PepsiCo and Mars Inc. – alongside oil corporations and weapons manufacturers – are funding an institution that not only engineers and eagerly promotes wars, they fund an institution that is utterly unapologetic about the calamity these wars cause – including wars like in Libya ending tragically for 2.5 million black Africans.

“Woke” America needs to be conscious enough to recognize the true injustice underpinning American society. It is very likely that as protesters in America and online around the globe rail against “Aunt Jemima” and “Uncle Ben’s” many activists are eagerly enjoying many of the other products produced by and profiting PepsiCo and Mars Inc. – oblivious to the fact that the ingredients are procured through child and slave labor in Africa and the profits are directed into promoting wars that leave blacks abroad dead, displaced, or enslaved. And as long as this is the case, nothing of any genuine substance will ever change in America or across the wider Western World.

If real justice is what Americans – all Americans – want, they need to truly wake up to this fact first.

July 6, 2020 Posted by | Economics, Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Progressive Hypocrite | , , , | 3 Comments