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Twitter ‘accidentally’ suspends satirical site Babylon Bee after it mocked Kamala Harris and USPS conspiracies

RT | August 17, 2020

Twitter suspended the account of parody news site The Babylon Bee after it mocked Democrat VP candidate Kamala Harris and ‘mail vote suppression’ conspiracies. It was shortly restored amid protests about censorship.

The Bee went dark around 6 pm on Monday. Archives showed that their last tweet was a story about President Donald Trump “riding around in an SUV” smashing mailboxes “to make it impossible for people to mail in their ballots.”

The tweet before that one was about Harris proposing a “housing plan” where “everybody gets free 10’x10’ room and three meals a day” – a clear reference to prison, as Harris had been a prosecutor before getting elected to the Senate.

One conservative commentator pointed out that Twitter spokesman Nick Pacilio was previously the press secretary for Harris’s abortive presidential campaign.

The publication’s editor in chief Kyle Mann shared a screenshot of the email from Twitter, telling him the account was suspended for “violating rules against platform manipulation and spam.”

According to Twitter’s own rules, behavior that “that manipulates or disrupts people’s experience” is out of bounds. The company defines manipulation as “using Twitter to engage in bulk, aggressive, or deceptive activity that misleads others and/or disrupts their experience.”

Before anyone could figure out if that covers censorship of satire, however, the Bee’s account was back up – only with a greatly diminished follower count. The publication was free to share its latest story, about how the Democrats have reversed their position on the USPS after Trump had his face put on all stamps.

The Bee’s stinging mockery of mainstream media news coverage has made it a lot of enemies over the years, including CNN and the “fact checkers” at Snopes, who argued that Americans are too stupid to realize this kind of content is satire.

Mann and the Bee’s defenders have countered that the site clearly labels stories as satire. If the mainstream media reporting has become so ridiculous that the audience can’t tell it apart from ridicule, that’s not the Bee’s problem but their own, they say.

In a message to another Bee editor, Twitter said the account was “flagged as spam by mistake” by “systems” tasked with doing that, without specifying whether it was a computer algorithm or a person that made the call.

August 18, 2020 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Full Spectrum Dominance | , | 3 Comments

Don’t Forget Trump’s Deal with the CIA on the JFK Records

By Jacob G. Hornberger | FFF | August 17, 2020

In April 2018, President Trump issued an order to the National Archives to continue keeping thousands of CIA records relating to the John Kennedy assassination secret from the American people. The new deadline, which could be extended again by either Trump or a President Biden, was set for October 2021.

Since the order was issued early in the Trump regime, no doubt he felt confident that there would be no adverse political consequences flowing from his order. But now that Trump is engaged in a heated race with Joe Biden, he ought to be called upon to explain and justify his order for continued secrecy in an assassination that took place almost six decades ago.

Given the official narrative of the Kennedy assassination, the massive secrecy in which the Pentagon and the CIA engaged after the assassination has never made any sense.

The official narrative says that a lone nut former U.S. Marine communist killed Kennedy with no apparent motive. The most that proponents of the lone-nut theory have ever come up with on a possible motive is that a little man wanted to become a big man by killing a big man. The big problem with that theory is that the accused assassin, Lee Harvey Oswald, denied that he did it and even contended that he was being framed for the crime. If a little man wanted to become a big man by killing a big man, wouldn’t he be acknowledging that he did it and even boasting about it?

IN 1991, Oliver Stone come out with his movie JFK, which posited that Kennedy had been assassinated as part of a U.S. domestic regime-change operation intended to protect “national security” from a president who had declared an end to the Cold War and an intention to establish peaceful and friendly relations with the Soviet Union and the rest of the communist world. (See FFF’s book JFK’s War with the National Security Establishment: Why Kennedy Was Assassinated by Douglas Horne, who served on the staff of the ARRB.)

At the end of JFK, Stone inserted a blurb pointing out the continued secrecy of federal agencies with respect to records relating to the Kennedy assassination some 30 years after the assassination in what had been presented as nothing more than a lone-nut murder of a president.

While the mainstream media was poo-pooing Stone’s movie, the American people were outraged over the continued secrecy. Public pressure caused Congress to enact the JFK Records Collection Act in 1992, which mandated the release of all assassination-related records of federal agencies, including the Pentagon and the CIA.

To enforce the law, Congress called into existence the Assassination Records Review Board. In its four years of operation, the ARRB secured the release of tens of thousands of records relating to the assassination, some of which pointed to the fraudulent nature of the autopsy that the U.S. military conducted on the president’s body. (See my books The Kennedy Autopsy  and The Kennedy Autopsy 2.)

There were two strange parts of the JFK Records Act:

1. The law expressly prohibited the ARRB from investigating any aspect of the JFK assassination. Doesn’t that seem to be a rather strange provision? If a matter that had intentionally been kept secret for 30 years needed to be investigated, wouldn’t you think that Congress would want it investigated? The no-investigation provision was strictly enforced on the ARRB staff by the ARRB board of trustees.

2.The law permitted federal agencies to keep their records secret for another 25 years, a provision that the CIA took advantage of. Given that this was supposedly just a lone-nut murder, why was secrecy necessary in the first place? What “national security” concern would there have been? And wouldn’t a lapse of 30 years be sufficient for any such “national security” concern? Why another 25 years, especially since continued secrecy would only serve to buttress Stone’s thesis in JFK?

Back in the 1990s, 25 years must have seemed like a long time away, long enough that the CIA and the Pentagon could rest easy. Anyway, by the time those 25 years expired, there was a good chance that no one would care anyway, especially within the mainstream press.

But when that deadline rolled around in 2018, there were people who still cared. They were demanding that Trump release the records.

That’s not what Trump did. Instead, he granted the CIA’s request for at least another 3 1/2 years of secrecy.

Back in 2018, Trump didn’t have to justify his decision, but now that he’s running for reelection, he should be made to account for what he did by being asked the following questions:

1. How could the release of the CIA’s long-secret JFK-assassination-related records possibly pose a threat to “national security”?

2. Why not order an immediate release of those long-secret records now rather than wait until October of next year?

3. If the CIA has nothing to hide, why is it still hiding it almost 60 years after the Kennedy assassination?

The big problem, of course, is the deep loyalty that the mainstream press, Democrats, Republicans, and even some conservative-oriented libertarians have toward the CIA, not to mention the deep fear of being labeled a “conspiracy theorist.” That is why it is unlikely that Trump will be required to justify his deference to the CIA and its desire for continued secrecy in the Kennedy assassination.

Jacob G. Hornberger is founder and president of The Future of Freedom Foundation. He was born and raised in Laredo, Texas, and received his B.A. in economics from Virginia Military Institute and his law degree from the University of Texas. He was a trial attorney for twelve years in Texas. He also was an adjunct professor at the University of Dallas, where he taught law and economics. In 1987, Mr. Hornberger left the practice of law to become director of programs at the Foundation for Economic Education.

August 18, 2020 Posted by | Book Review, Deception, Film Review, Timeless or most popular | , , | 6 Comments

Russia takes Europe’s support to calm Belarus

Opposition protests in Minsk, Belarus, August 16, 2020
By M. K. BHADRAKUMAR | Indian Punchline | August 18, 2020

The mercurial Belarus President Alexander Lukashenko has not been an easy ally for the Kremlin. But the growing interference by Belarus’ “New European” neighbours is setting the stage for a “colour revolution” with potentially anti-Russian orientation. Poland, egged on by the US, has convinced itself that it has become a regional heavyweight and eyes Belarus as a valuable piece of real estate that could shift the military balance on Russia’s western borders.    

Indeed, historically, present-day Belarus figured in all four major invasions of Russia since the 18th century — by Sweden allied with Poland (1708-1709); by Napoleon through the North European Plain (1812); and by Germany, twice (1914 and 1941). Plainly put, Belarus forms a buffer zone crucial to Russia’s national security.   

In post-Soviet history, with the Baltic states and Poland having been integrated into NATO and a pro-western regime installed in power in Ukraine since 2014, the western alliance has advanced closer to Russia than ever before. If during the Cold War era, the nearest NATO power was 1,600 kms from St. Petersburg, that distance has shrunk to a mere 160 kms today.

Furthermore, the signing of an Enhanced Defence Cooperation Agreement between the US and Poland on August 15 has made the latter “a lynchpin of regional security” (as the US state department describes Poland.) The agreement signed in Warsaw provides the legal basis for the establishment of American military bases in Poland, which harbours historical animosity against Russia.

The Russian Foreign Ministry said on August 17 that increased US military presence in Poland “aggravates the difficult situation near Russia’s Western borders, facilitating an escalation of tensions and increasing the risk of inadvertent incidents.” It flagged that the latest US-Poland defence agreement “will help qualitatively strengthen the offensive capability of the US forces in Poland.”

To be sure, the Belarus developments cannot be seen in isolation. A Kremlin statement said that on August 15 Lukashenko reached out to President Vladimir Putin to brief him on the developments. It said that the two leaders discussed the unrest in Belarus following the presidential election of August 9 and and both sides “expressed confidence that all existing problems will be settled soon.”

However, the next day, Putin called Lukashenko for another discussion. The Kremlin readout said that after a discussion touching on the external interference fuelling the unrest in Belarus, the “Russian side reaffirmed its readiness to render the necessary assistance to resolve the challenges facing Belarus based on the principles of the Treaty on the Creation of a Union State, as well as through the Collective Security Treaty Organisation, if necessary.”

That was a dramatic announcement, with ominous overtones of past Russian doctrines of collective security. Clearly, the announcement had the desired effect. Lukashenko has voiced on August 17 his readiness to hold fresh elections in accordance with a new constitution to be drafted in the coming few months.

The protests in Belarus may not subside easily. A transfer of power has become inevitable at some point and Moscow senses that the priority should be to navigate the developing situation toward an orderly transition. But Moscow’s capacity to navigate Belarus to calmer waters and stimulate a rational political dialogue is limited when external interference to stir up tensions continues.

Indeed, for the first time since protests began in Belarus a week ago, Washington has openly warned Moscow to stay out of the situation. An unnamed “senior Trump administration official” told the media on August 17, “The massive number of Belarusians peacefully protesting make clear that the government can no longer ignore their calls for democracy… Russia must also respect Belarus’ sovereignty and the right of its people to freely and fairly elect their own leaders.”

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo also said on August 15 (while on a visit to Poland) that the US is discussing with the European Union to “try to help as best as we can the Belarusian people achieve sovereignty and freedom.”

To be sure, a Russian intervention in Belarus would be viewed by Europe as a negative development. Therefore, Putin is moving cautiously. But the fact is also that the European countries are struggling with the pandemic and a grave economic crisis. It’s unclear whether the major European powers would be inclined to follow the lead of Washington and Poland to provoke Russia.

Significantly, German Chancellor Angela Merkel telephoned Putin on August 19 in the first such contact since protests erupted in Minsk. A Kremlin statement said Putin and Merkel “thoroughly discussed” the emergent situation and “Russia pointed out that foreign attempts to interfere in the country’s domestic affairs were unacceptable and could further escalate tensions.”

Summing up Merkel’s conversation with Putin, the German Spokesman Steffen Seibert stated, “The chancellor said the Belarusian government must refrain from the use of force against peaceful demonstrators, immediately release political prisoners and enter into a national dialogue with the opposition and society to overcome the crisis.”

A Russian-German convergence seems possible over Belarus. Significantly, French President Emmanuel Macron has since called Putin and the latter again “emphasised that interfering in the (Belarus) republic’s domestic affairs and putting pressure on the Belarusian leadership would be unacceptable.” The Kremlin readout said Putin and Macron “expressed interest in the prompt resolution of the problems.”

Subsequently, Putin also reached out to the  President of the European Council Charles Michel where, again, he expressed concern over “some countries’ attempts to put pressure on the Belarusian leadership and destabilise the internal political situation.” This was a reference to Poland and Lithuania, two EU member countries and strong allies of the US, who are principally culpable for destabilising Belarus.

But the big question is whether the Cold Warriors in Washington and the “New Europeans” in Central Europe would be satisfied with anything less than a regime change in Belarus that brings that country into their orbit. A Russian military intervention would lend credibility to their thesis of “revanchist Russia”.

A sub-text here is that the German-Russian proximity greatly annoys Washington and Warsaw. A recent paper by the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington, DC, noted, “Compared to many of its neighbours, Germany has longstanding political, economic, and cultural ties to Russia—not to mention a streak of skepticism toward the United States that inclines parts of the German political class to sympathise with Russian views about the need for a less U.S.-centric international order.”

Equally, there is growing acrimony lately in German-American relations following Washington’s recent threats of “crushing legal and economic sanctions” if German companies took part in any form in the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline project, which would carry natural gas from Russia to Germany. (Incidentally, Poland also staunchly opposes the Nord Stream 2 project, which bypasses it.)

The German Minister of State Niels Annen has “firmly rejected” the proposed US sanctions and hit back saying, “Threatening a close friend and ally with sanctions, and using that kind of language, will not work. European energy policy will be decided in Brussels, and not in Washington, DC.”

These acerbic exchanges between German and American politicians as well as the recent move by the Trump administration to withdraw over 12,000 troops from Germany (and to divert some of them to Poland) highlight the complexities of Germany’s relationship with the US and Poland. The right-wing Polish government is happy to perform as the US’ Trojan horse within the EU.  

However, so long as the EU refuses to rally behind Poland, whose rightwing populist leadership is already viewed with scepticism as something of an enfant terrible in the portals of Old Europe, Moscow gets diplomatic space. Putin’s calculus is working on this basis.

The bottom line is that Russia has legitimate interests in Belarus and Moscow’s preference is for an orderly transition in Belarus through consultations between Lukashenko and the political opposition. A helpful stance by the EU, therefore, matters to Putin.

The latest reports from Brussels disclosed that in the 30-minute phone conversation earlier today between Putin and Charles Michel, they “discussed options to facilitate a dialogue between Minsk and the opposition, including with the OSCE mediation.”

August 18, 2020 Posted by | Aletho News | , , , , | Leave a comment

Despite normalization, Israel pressing US not to sell UAE F-35 jets

Press TV – August 18, 2020

Israel has kept up the pressure on the United States not to provide the United Arabs of Emirates (UAE) with F-35 stealth fighter jets despite a recent normalization deal reached between Tel Aviv and Abu Dhabi.

Two unnamed Israeli officials, familiar with the moves to establish diplomatic relations with the UAE, told Haaretz on Monday that Tel Aviv had pressured Washington to block the sale of the advanced fighter planes fearing that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his confidants may have made a secret agreement without consulting military officials.

Since the announcement of the normalization pact last week, several sources, who had been previously involved in contacts between the two sides, raised concerns that as part of the new understandings, Netanyahu may have abandoned Israel’s traditionally vehement opposition to the sale of sensitive military equipment and technology to the UAE, particularly F-35 fighter jets.

According to the report, during the secret talks led by Netanyahu and Netanyahu confidants Mossad head Yossi Cohen, Israeli Ambassador to the United States Ron Dermer and National Security Adviser Meir Ben Shabbat, there may have been a secret agreement made on this issue without informing Israel’s top military officials, who were excluded until now from the talks.

The Israeli sources said that the Persian Gulf Arab states, including the UAE, had pressed Israel numerous times to lift its objections so that such deals could go through.

They said that the normalization agreements would not change Israel’s long-standing objection to the sale of American F-35 fighter jets to Abu Dhabi.

Under understandings dating back decades, Washington has refrained from Middle East arms sales that could blunt Israel’s “qualitative military edge” (QME). This has applied to the F-35, denied to Arab states, while Israel has bought and deployed it.

Reports say that the driving factor for the UAE to sign the agreement with Israel has been a US weapons deal to the tune of tens of billions of dollars, including supplying F-35 jets, advanced UAVs and other arms.

A day after the normalization deal, Amos Yadlin, a former general in the Israeli air force and the ex-head of the Israeli military tweeted, “It is important to remember that Abu Dhabi seeks to acquire very sophisticated weapons from the United States.”

In an interview with Israel’s Kan Bet public radio on Sunday, Yadlin said, “We know they are asking for very sophisticated weapons from the Americans and the Israelis, and what’s stopping this is that there is no peace treaty between the countries and the Israeli qualitative edge. And it could be, and that’s what I was warning about in my tweet”.

In a statement on Tuesday, Netanyahu’s Office said that Israel has not softened its opposition to any US arms sales to the UAE that could diminish its military superiority as part of the US-brokered normalization pact.

“In the talks (on the UAE normalization deal), Israel did not change its consistent positions against the sale to any country in the Middle East of weapons and defense technologies that could tip the (military) balance,” Netanyahu’s office said.

The statement followed a report in Israel’s Yedioth Ahronoth newspaper that the Trump administration planned a “giant” sale of advanced F-35 jets to Abu Dhabi as part of the Persian Gulf country’s move last week to normalize ties with Israel.

The Trump administration has signaled that the UAE could clinch unspecified new US arms sales after last Thursday’s normalization announcement.

Under pressure from Israel and the Israeli lobby in Washington, the US Congress had earlier blocked a plan for such a sale.

The US has sold the warplanes to a range of allies, including South Korea, Japan, and Israel, but experts say sales to the Persian Gulf Arab states require a deeper review due to US policy for Israel to maintain a qualitative military edge in the Middle East.

August 18, 2020 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism | , , , | 1 Comment

Democrats’ election platform demands end to ‘forever wars’ — most of which were launched last time Biden held office

By Helen Buyniski | RT | August 17, 2020

The Democratic Party’s 2020 electoral platform includes a call to end the US’ “forever wars” – which sounds great, except that a Democratic president started many of those wars and the party has stonewalled efforts to end them.

“Democrats know it’s time to bring nearly two decades of unceasing conflict to an end,” the platform, released in draft form on Monday and expected to be approved by Democratic leaders later this week, reads.

It’s a relatively uncontroversial statement in itself: at nearly 19 years and counting, the US war in Afghanistan is the longest conflict in American history. The various satellite wars that have sprung up as part of the “War on Terror” have devastated large swathes of the Middle East – and the US itself, which has spent upwards of $6 trillion on fighting them while much of the country slid into a permanent recession – over the past two decades.

However, the responsibility for many of those satellite conflicts lies with Democrat Barack Obama’s administration, which liberally bombed Syria, Libya, Pakistan, Yemen, and Somalia in addition to Afghanistan and Iraq, turning the already-disastrous two-front War on Terror of his predecessor George W. Bush into a regional quagmire. Democratic candidate Joe Biden was Obama’s vice president, cheering those wars on and defending his boss’ decisions. Now, the party wants Americans to believe only he can put an end to them.

The 2020 platform promises a “durable and inclusive political settlement in Afghanistan” along with an end to US support for the Saudi-led war in Yemen and a repeal of the threadbare 2001 Authorization for Use of Military Force (AUMF) that has been repeatedly (mis)used to excuse US interventions in the Middle East under the guise of fighting terrorism. All great ideas, but the party has been here before.

Despite receiving the Nobel Peace Prize shortly after his inauguration, Obama didn’t bring the peace he promised in his 2008 campaign – he just made war more palatable to the liberals who had previously protested against it. By dramatically expanding the US drone program and cloaking murderous airstrikes in the warm fuzzy rhetoric of spreading democracy and “responsibility to protect,” Obama, his Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, and the Democrats in his administration took the wars out of sight, and out of mind for the average American.

Even while taking credit for “ending” the war in Iraq, launched in 2003 on the fraudulent pretext that leader Saddam Hussein was amassing weapons of mass destruction and/or was somehow involved in the 9/11 terror attacks, Obama subsequently returned US troops to Iraq under the pretext of fighting the Islamic State terror group (IS, ISIS/ISIL). However, IS is widely considered an outgrowth of the US’ botched Iraq policy, which destabilized the region by flooding the country with many of the suddenly-unemployed (but still well-armed) remnants of Saddam Hussein’s military. At the same time, the CIA has a long history of supporting terror groups that dovetail with its political aims, from arming and training al-Qaeda’s predecessors to fight the Soviets in Afghanistan to arming and training so-called “moderate rebels” whose tactics are often indistinguishable from ISIL or al-Qaeda to take out the Syrian government. Terrorism has thrived amid the war “against” it.

That the Democrats should campaign in 2020 on ending forever wars suggests they might have learned something from 2016, when then-candidate Donald Trump pledged to do just that, luring disaffected liberals who couldn’t bring themselves to vote for notorious warmonger Hillary Clinton. Her flippant dismissal of the brutal murder of Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi – “We came, we saw, he died!” – remains chilling years after she helped reduce the country with the highest standard of living on the African continent to a failed state where slaves are sold in open markets.

But while Trump has profoundly failed to keep his end-the-wars promise, instead increasing the number of drone strikes beyond Obama’s sky-high levels, even Trump’s minimal efforts to withdraw troops from Syria and Afghanistan have been ferociously opposed by the Democrats.

Indeed, the only foreign policy acts the self-styled #Resistance has praised from their political nemesis have been his bombings of Syria in response to extremely dubious reports of gas attacks by the Assad government. CNN’s Fareed Zakaria claimed the strike represented the day Trump “became president of the United States.”

The disingenuous call to end the military quagmires is far from the only lofty pledge embedded in the Democrats’ platform, which alternates between eye-rolling social-justice pandering and common-sense measures with broad appeal.

The party has also pledged to “end the Trump Administration’s politicization of the armed forces,” improve healthcare for veterans, “root out systemic racism from our military justice system,” and “prioritize more effective and less costly diplomatic, intelligence and law enforcement tools” over military invasions in conducting foreign policy.

It remains to be seen which, if any, of those promises they will keep.

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

August 18, 2020 Posted by | Militarism | , , , , , , | 1 Comment

US intelligence saying IRAN is paying bounties to kill Americans in Afghanistan is pure parody

By Scott Ritter | RT | August 18, 2020

It was Russia in June, now it’s Tehran. Don’t US analysts understand that Taliban fighters really don’t need any more motivation to target American troops? This is simply politicized (un)intelligence that isn’t fooling anyone.

According to CNN, the Iranian government has paid “bounties” to the Haqqani network, a terrorist group with close links to the Taliban, for six attacks on US and coalition forces in Afghanistan in 2019, including one on December 11 which targeted Bagram Air Base, north of Kabul, which wounded four US personnel.

This explosive allegation was contained in a Pentagon briefing document which was reviewed by CNN. While the bounties mentioned were attributed to an unnamed “foreign government,” CNN claims that sources “familiar with” the intelligence named the country as Iran. These bounties, and the attacks on US personnel they underwrote, played a role in the deliberations that led to the assassination of Major General Qassem Soleimani, the head of the Iranian Quds Force, by US forces in early January 2020, the network reported.

The CNN report comes on the heels of similar allegations regarding “bounties” paid by Russian military intelligence to the Taliban, likewise for the purpose of underwriting attacks on US and coalition personnel in Afghanistan. The Russian bounty story has since turned out to have been based upon uncorroborated raw intelligence deemed by senior US officials as being too poorly sourced to be actionable by the president or his senior advisers. The intelligence was leaked to the press regardless, in what appeared to be an effort to undermine President Trump’s ongoing efforts to forge a peace agreement with the Taliban and to embarrass him in the leadup to the 2020 presidential election.

At first blush, it appears that the CNN reporting is cut from the same cloth as was the Russian “bounty” story. First and foremost (as the CNN reports notes), the Haqqani network did not, and does not, need financial incentives from outside agencies to motivate it to carry out attacks against US and/or coalition targets. As such, even if payments were in fact sent from Iran to the Haqqani network, the likelihood that they were linked to the December 11 attack, or any other, is virtually nil.

The linkage attributed to the December 11 attack on Bagram Air Base and the decision by the US to assassinate Qassem Soleimani is likewise tenuous. In the days, weeks and months following the Soleimani assassination, the Trump administration was called to task by Congress and the media about its justification for the Soleimani strike. While a great deal of weight was given to a rocket attack on K-2 Air Base in Iraq on December 27 that killed a US civilian contractor, there was no mention at any time about any Iranian “bounty” scheme ongoing inside Afghanistan, despite the fact that a direct correlation between such a “bounty” and the need to kill Soleimani would have been a stronger argument in favor of the attack on the Iranian general.

US intelligence has claimed that Iran has been providing “modest” amounts of armaments to the Taliban on an ongoing basis since 2007, something both the Taliban and Iran deny. According to statements made by US intelligence spokespersons in November 2019, this assistance was beefed up in 2015 to assist the Taliban in confronting Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS) inside Afghanistan. No mention was made of any “bounty” scheme, although Secretary of State Mike Pompeo did link the Iranian assistance to an attack on US forces in May 2019.

While there is evidence to suggest that Iran and the Taliban enjoyed some sort of a relationship dating back to 2007, this relationship seemed focused on supporting Taliban forces based out of western Afghanistan, along the border with Iran; there was no evidence that this relationship included the payment of “bounties” for targeting US personnel.

Moreover, there was no suggestion that at the time of the December 27, 2019 attack on Bagram Air Base, Iran was providing support to the Haqqani network, a Sunni terrorist organization with close links to Pakistani intelligence and which operates out of the Pakistani city of Quetta. Indeed, the first indication of an Iranian connection to the Haqqani network came in the aftermath of the signing of the US-Taliban peace agreement in February 2020, when fringe elements of the Taliban, including allies within the Haqqani network, broke away in order to continue the struggle against the US in Afghanistan.

Even this reporting is sketchy – the alleged Iranian-Taliban-Haqqani cooperation was in the “early stages of forming,” not indicative of the kind of maturity that would have had to exist to sustain any viable bounty scheme. Moreover, any cooperation that was still in its infancy in February 2020, could not have been the basis of an arrangement regarding an attack that took place in December 2019. Finally, an Iranian-Haqqani bounty scheme would fly in the face of the public commitment by the Haqqani network in support of the US-Taliban peace agreement. In short, the CNN report fails on matters of fact and logic.

The timing of the CNN report provides the greatest insight as to why such a poorly sourced and thinly argued claim would be made against Iran at this time, coming as it does on the heels of the US losing a major vote in the UN Security Council concerning the lifting of an arms embargo against Iran.

This embarrassing defeat, in which the US was only able to garner a single additional vote in support of its resolution, has set the stage for an even greater confrontation at the UN over so-called “snap-back” sanctions the US seeks to impose on Iran.

The Iran-Haqqani bounty allegation was leaked by persons in the US intelligence community who have no qualms about injecting manufactured and/or misleading intelligence into the American news cycle at a critically sensitive time, with less than 90 days remaining until the 2020 US presidential election. Instead of seeking to embarrass President Trump, this leak is designed to bolster the Trump administration’s argument that Iran is a threat worthy of sustaining a major confrontation at the Security Council which could threaten the legitimacy and viability of that organization.

In the end, the motives behind an intelligence leak are irrelevant. The US intelligence community, through its repeated use of well-timed leaks to influence policy by deceiving the American public about the truth, has shown itself to be a highly politicized institution that operates at the whim of nameless partisan operatives, and not in the best interests of the United States.

That it can still ask for and receive a budget in excess of $80 billion per year is a harsh indictment of just how decrepit the US system of government has become, where a blind eye continues to be turned when it comes to the blatant abuse of intelligence for purposes other than what it was intended for.

Scott Ritter is a former US Marine Corps intelligence officer and author of ‘SCORPION KING: America’s Suicidal Embrace of Nuclear Weapons from FDR to Trump.’ 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

August 18, 2020 Posted by | Deception, Fake News, Mainstream Media, Warmongering | , , , | 1 Comment

Hariri tribunal: Hezbollah, Syria had no link with 2005 blast

Press TV – August 18, 2020

A UN-backed tribunal says it has not been able to establish any link between a 2005 blast in Beirut that killed Lebanon’s former prime minister Rafiq Hariri and the Hezbollah resistance movement or the Syrian government.

The so-called Special Tribunal for Lebanon (SDL) read out a summary of the 2,600-page verdict at The Hague on Tuesday after trying for 15 years and spending some $1 billion to prove allegations of association between the explosion and the Lebanese resistance movement or Damascus.

“There is no evidence that the Hezbollah leadership had any involvement in Mr. Hariri’s murder and there is no direct evidence of Syrian involvement,” said Judge David Re.

Lebanon’s an-Nahar daily ran the headline, “International Justice Defeats Intimidation” even before the decision was announced, referring to extensive attempts by certain parties within and outside the country to implicate the resistance group in the crime.

Hezbollah’s Secretary-General Seyyed Hassan Nasrallah had also said on Friday that he was not concerned about the proceedings, and that if any members of the resistance movement were claimed to be guilty, Hezbollah would stand by their innocence.

The tribunal, however, did not stop short of echoing those who have been trying to make the unfounded allegations against the resistance group and Damascus.

“The trial chamber is of the view that Syria and Hezbollah may have had motives to eliminate Mr. Hariri and his political allies,” the judge said.

Observers said the latter part of the verdict showed that the countries that forced the United Nations Security Council into forming the tribunal in the first place — based on unproven hypotheses, without any legal basis, and in violation of Lebanon’s sovereignty — were still influencing the verdicts that it issues.

Hezbollah — which has rejected the jurisdiction and independence of the court — has denied any link to or interest in the atrocity.

The group has invariably proven itself as a unifying factor in the country, including by forcing Israel into retreat in the occupying regime’s 2000 and 2006 wars on the country.

Israel’s Channel 1 once alleged an association between four people with alleged links to Hezbollah and the 2005 explosion.

The tribunal considered the allegations worthy of its consideration and convicted one of the four, whom it identified as “the main defendant.”

Even with regard to the four, lawyers appointed by the tribunal itself said there was no physical evidence linking them to the crime and that they had to be acquitted.

Hezbollah has condemned the tribunal for serving as an opportunity for Tel Aviv to achieve its “unachieved” goals in Lebanon.

August 18, 2020 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism | , , | Leave a comment

Wolves Prowl Team Biden Borders, Scenting Opportunities

By Alastair Crooke | Strategic Culture Foundation | August 17, 2020

The choice of Vice-President, of course, is primarily about U.S. domestic needs. With BLM and wokeness pervasive in the western sphere, Joe Biden needed to, and committed himself to choosing a black woman, (Kamala Harris is half Indian and Jamaican), since the support of black voters will be crucial in November. But equally importantly, Harris, a career prosecutor, is very aggressive in her speeches — and that’s what Biden needs: i.e. someone with sharp elbows.

She is ‘woke’ on social issues, yet has been notably zealous in incarcerating pot-smoking LA youths, and paradoxically, drew “very little black support in the primaries”. However, in this era of mass protest, Harris will plausibly gild Biden’s ticket –  as a Law and Order Vice-President. That counts. And the ‘woke’ contingent on Wall Street, they love her. That counts too.

But down to ‘brass tacks’: Does this tell us anything about Biden’s probable foreign policy, were he to prevail in November? Harris indeed has not adopted war and militarism as her platform –  however she hasn’t offered a major foreign policy speech, either. Nonetheless, hers, is no blank page –  she has very discernible stances.

Her ‘signature stance’ has been a strong commitment to Israel and to AIPAC: In March 2017, she told the AIPAC Policy Conference: “Let me be clear about what I believe: I stand with Israel –  because of our shared values, which are so fundamental to the founding of both our nations.” At the 2018 AIPAC conference, Harris gave an off-the-record speech in which she recounted how, “As a child, I never sold Girl Scout cookies, I went around with a JNFUSA (The Jewish National Fund) box, collecting funds to plant trees in Israel”. And her husband is Jewish. (She skipped the 2019 conference, along with several other Presidential candidates.)

Apart from unwavering support for Israel (which the more panglossian amongst us may see simply as the entry-price to office in the U.S.), Harris has been noted for bellicose rhetoric toward North Korea and Russia, and for her reluctance to co-sponsor legislation aimed at preventing war with Venezuela and North Korea. In short, on such military intervention issues, she’s in line with—and sometimes to the right of—a hawkish Democratic establishment.

‘Move along: Nothing to see here!’ might seem the appropriate riposte: She’s just ‘boilerplate’ Democrat. Maybe that’s right. But to focus on this would be to miss the wood for the trees –  for the foreign policy real action is happening almost unnoticed elsewhere.

Executive editor of The American Conservative, Kelly Beaucar Vlahos, warns that we might miss noticing the Neo-con “wolves, dressed in NeverTrumper clothing, sniffing around Joe Biden’s foreign policy circle, bent on influencing his China policy – and more” (emphasis added):

“Never-Trumper Republicans have been worming their way into the Biden campaign, offering to flesh out his “coalition” ahead of the election and pushing their way into the foreign policy discussions, particularly on China. Given their shared history with liberal interventionists already in the campaign, don’t for a second think that there aren’t hungry neoconservatives among them trying to get a seat at the table.

“Some hawkish Democrats may see the neocons as convenient allies in preserving an outdated interventionist mindset,” offers Matt Duss, who is Sen. Bernie Sanders’ longtime foreign policy advisor, who maintains close ties with the Democratic campaign to replace President Trump. “And of course, neocons are desperate for any opportunity to salvage their own relevance.””

A Daily Beast report at the end of last month quoted unnamed “individuals who work for conservative think tanks in Washington” acknowledging that they were “informally speaking with members of the Biden team in recent weeks”.

Their focus is said to be on the ‘failing China trade deal’, and Trump’s supposedly ‘weak posture’. Reportedly, they are “so frustrated with the U.S-China trade deal, and the Administration’s efforts to hold Beijing accountable, that they are willing to offer counsel to the Democratic nominee”. And moreover, are proposing not just support to the Democratic candidate, but also to provide guidance on ways to formulate a tough economic posture toward Beijing, (in order to undermine Trump).

In a later update, the Daily Beast says that with the election less than 100 days away, some members of Trump’s own inner circle are pushing him too in the hawkish direction –  urging him to make a new bet: Rather than to put his chips on the trade deal, Trump would hit the electoral jackpot (they counsel) were he just to ‘blow it up’.

Four people knowledgeable about the issue told The Daily Beast that in the past three weeks, an internal campaign has intensified within the Trump administration to convince the president ‘to nuke’ the China trade deal.

The ‘back-story’ here is Biden’s campaign to expand its months of back-channel outreach to Republicans –  with the goal of hitting President Trump on his signature campaign issue: China.

Interviews with several of the most prominent NeverTrump Republicans reveal that for now, the nascent effort to mobilise a ‘Republicans for Biden’ movement –  alongside the extant Lincoln Project –  is loosely defined, and could ultimately take a variety of forms. Essentially, however, Team Biden is being pressed by the Republican strategists to ‘out-Hawk’ Trump on China policy by taking a tougher line than the President. In other words, the campaign is setting up to be about who will be tougher – and will be fought out on the President’s key platform.

Kelley Beaucar Vlahos opines that: “It’s hard to think that real hardline conservative hawks on China, like Steve Bannon and the folks at the Committee on the Present Danger: China [see here] are involved in the Biden collusion. Some of them are certainly neoconservative … They’d be pushing for cold –  if not hot –  war from Trump’s Right – [and therefore would] not be hedging bets with Biden”. Vlahos continues:

“No, it can only be the establishment Republican types, perched at places like Brookings and AEI, who now see some sort of opening on the D-team. But if they seem like the mushy end of the Right flank, think again. These guys are charter members of the Washington foreign policy consensus, mixed in with neoconservative NeverTrumpers, like Eliot Cohen and Robert Kagan (his wife Victoria Nuland was a top neo-con official in the Clinton State Department) and who have despised Trump from the beginning. They think his America First foreign policy is “deeply misguided” and leading the country to “crisis.””

Ah –  It is precisely here where the link back to the choice of Kamala Harris becomes more obvious. She is not likely to bring the Progressive Dems constituency to the Biden campaign (It would take Elizabeth Warren as VP to do that), and she has not had an impressive record of attracting the Black vote in LA. But, she would mesh-in seamlessly with the ‘Washington foreign policy consensus’, whilst still giving ‘the ticket’ a veneer of wokeness.

She thus could be an effective point person for NeverTrumper Republicans. This is a path down which Biden, it seems, is already embarked –  at least as far as China is concerned. On domestic issues – such as energy – Biden tilts more towards Sanders, and even Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (the latter sits on his advisory panel).

And Biden – if elected in November – may not last (or, at least, not attempt a second term). In which case, Harris could theoretically be front-runner for 2024 Presidential contest. And here is the point: If there is one area where these neo-con entryists despise ‘policy weakness’ as much as they do on China, it is Iran. On that issue, Harris is clear. She is an unreserved Israeli partisan.

Anyone therefore hoping for a softening of U.S. policy towards Iran, should Biden win, may be pinning too much hope on Bernie Saunders or ‘The Squad’ being able to ‘round off the sharp edges from U.S. foreign policy stances’ –  they may be being overly-optimistic. It is just too obvious: As China veers towards Iran and the Middle East in search of energy-supply security, the temptation of any success with forcing a hawkish stance on China will be to link the two (Iran and China), and to try to push for a ‘kill-two-birds-with-one-stone’ policy stance.

Keep the eyes fixed on the neo-con ‘wolves’, not on Harris.

August 18, 2020 Posted by | Militarism, Wars for Israel | , , , , | Leave a comment

Managing the Narrative

Corporations and government use internet to control information

By Philip Giraldi • Unz Review • August 18, 2020

Some Americans continue to believe that when they go to the internet they will get a free flow of useful information that will guide them in making decisions or coming to conclusions about the state of the world. That conceit might have been true to an extent twenty years ago, but the growth and consolidation of corporate information management firms has instead limited access to material that it does not approve of, thereby successfully shaping the political and economic environment to conform with their own interests. Facebook, Google and other news and social networking sites now all have advisory panels that are authorized to ban content and limit access by members. This de facto censorship is particularly evident when using the internet information “search” sites themselves, a “service” that is dominated by Google. Ron Unz has observed how when the CEO of Google Sundar Pichai faced congressional scrutiny on July 29th together with other high-tech executives, the questioning was hardly rigorous and no one even asked how the sites are regulated to promote certain information that is approved of while suppressing views or sources that are considered to be undesirable.

The “information” sites generally get a free pass from government scrutiny because they are useful to those who run the country from Washington and Wall Street. That the internet is a national security issue was clearly demonstrated when the Barack Obama Administration sought to develop a switch that could be used to “kill it” in the event of a national crisis. No politician or corporate chief executive wants to get on the bad side of Big Tech and find his or her name largely eliminated from online searches, or, alternatively, coming up all too frequently with negative connotations.

Google, for example, ranks the information that it displays so it can favor certain points of view and dismiss others. Generally speaking, progressive sites are favored and conservative sites are relegated to the bottom of the search with the expectation that they will not be visited. In late July, investigative journalists noted that Google was apparently testing its technical ability to blacklist conservative media on its search engine which processes more than 3.5 billion online searches every day, comprising 94 percent of internet searching. Sites targeted and made to effectively disappear from results included NewsBusters, the Washington Free Beacon, The Blaze, Townhall, The Daily Wire, PragerU, LifeNews, Project Veritas, Judicial Watch, The Resurgent, Breitbart, Drudge, Unz, the Media Research Center and CNSNews. All the sites affected are considered to be politically conservative and no progressive or liberal sites were included.

One has to suspect that the tech companies like Google are working hand-in-hand with some regulators within the Trump administration to “purge” the internet, primarily by removing foreign competition both in hardware and software from countries like China. This will give the ostensibly U.S. companies monopoly status and will also allow the government to have sufficient leverage to control the message. If this process continues, the internet itself will become nationally or regionally controlled and will inevitably cease to be a vehicle for free exchange of views. Recent steps taken by the U.S. to block Huawei 5G technology and also force the sale of sites like TikTok have been explained as “national security” issues, but they are more likely designed to control aspects of the internet.

Washington is also again beating the familiar drum that Russia is interfering in American politics, with an eye on the upcoming election. Last week saw the released of a 77 page report produced by the State Department’s Global Engagement Center (GEC) on Russian internet based news and opinion sources that allegedly are guilty of spreading disinformation and propaganda on behalf of the Kremlin. It is entitled “Understanding Russia’s Disinformation and Propaganda Ecosystem” and has a lead paragraph asserting that “Russia’s disinformation and propaganda ecosystem is the collection of official, proxy, and unattributed communication channels and platforms that Russia uses to create and amplify false narratives.”

Perhaps not surprisingly, The New York Times is hot on the trail of Russian malfeasance, describing the report and its conclusions in a lengthy article “State Dept. Traces Russian Disinformation Links” that appeared on August 5th.

The government report identifies a number of online sites that it claims are actively involved in the “disinformation” effort. The Times article focuses on one site in particular, describing how “The report states that the Strategic Culture Foundation [website] is directed by Russia’s foreign intelligence service, the S.V.R., and stands as ‘a prime example of longstanding Russian tactics to conceal direct state involvement in disinformation and propaganda outlets.’ The organization publishes a wide variety of fringe voices and conspiracy theories in English, while trying to obscure its Russian government sponsorship.” It also quotes Lea Gabrielle, the GEC Director, who explained that “The Kremlin bears direct responsibility for cultivating these tactics and platforms as part of its approach of using information and disinformation as a weapon.”

As Russia has been falsely accused of supporting the election of Donald Trump in 2016 and the existence of alternative news sites funded wholly or in part by a foreign government is not ipso facto an act of war, it is interesting to note the “evidence” that The Times provides based on its own investigation to suggest that Moscow is about to disrupt the upcoming election. It is: “Absent from the report is any mention of how one of the writers for the Strategic Culture Foundation weighed in this spring on a Democratic primary race in New York. The writer, Michael Averko, published articles on the foundation’s website and in a local publication in Westchester County, N.Y., attacking Evelyn N. Farkas, a former Obama administration official who was running for Congress. In recent weeks, the F.B.I. questioned Mr. Averko about the Strategic Culture Foundation and its ties to Russia. While those attacks did not have a decisive effect on the election, they showed Moscow’s continuing efforts to influence votes in the United States…”

Excuse me, but someone writing for an alternative website with relatively low readership criticizing a candidate for congress does not equate to the Kremlin’s interfering in an American election. Also, the claim that the Strategic Culture Foundation is a disinformation mechanism is overwrought. Yes, the site is located in Moscow and it may have some government support but it features numerous American and European contributors in addition to Russians. I have been writing for the site for nearly three years and I know many of the other Americans who also do so. We are generally speaking antiwar and often critical of U.S. foreign policy but the contributors include conservatives like myself, libertarians and progressives and we write on all kinds of subjects.

And here is the interesting part: not one of us has ever been told what to write. Not one of us has ever even had a suggestion coming from Moscow on a good topic for an article. Not one of us has ever had an article or headline changed or altered by an editor. Putting on my ex-intelligence officer hat for a moment, that is no way to run an influencing or disinformation operation intended to subvert an election. Sure, Russia has a point of view on the upcoming election and its managed media outlets will reflect that bias but the sweeping allegations are nonsense, particularly in an election that will include billions of dollars in real disinformation coming from the Democratic and Republican parties.

Putting together what you no longer can find when you search the internet with government attempts to suppress alternative news sites one has to conclude that we Americans are in the middle of an information war. Who controls the narrative controls the people, or so it seems. It is a dangerous development, particularly at a time when no one knows whom to trust and what to believe. How it will play out between now and the November election is anyone’s guess.

Philip M. Giraldi, Ph.D., is Executive Director of the Council for the National Interest, a 501(c)3 tax deductible educational foundation (Federal ID Number #52-1739023) that seeks a more interests-based U.S. foreign policy in the Middle East. Website is, address is P.O. Box 2157, Purcellville VA 20134 and its email is

August 18, 2020 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Deception, Full Spectrum Dominance | , , | Leave a comment

Senate chairman subpoenas FBI Director, ex-State official as Russia-Ukraine probe intensifies

John Solomon Reports | August 17, 2020

A powerful Senate committee chairman has subpoenaed FBI Director Chris Wray and a former State Department official in an intensifying investigation into possible U.S. corruption in Russia and Ukraine and declared there is evidence Joe Biden’s family engaged in a “glaring conflict of interest.”

Senate Homeland Security and Government Affairs Committee Chairman Ron Johnson announced the actions Monday, strongly accusing Democrats of levying false allegations against him and other GOP investigators to distract from the evidence his committee has gathered about Joe and Hunter Biden’s dealings in Ukraine.

“We didn’t target Joe and Hunter Biden for investigation; their previous actions had put them in the middle of it,” Johnson wrote in a letter released Monday that provided a detailed timeline of Joe Biden’s Ukraine policy actions and his son’s hiring with the Ukraine natural gas company Burisma Holdings.

“Many in the media, in an ongoing attempt to provide cover for former Vice President Biden, continue to repeat the mantra that there is ‘no evidence of wrongdoing or illegal activity’ related to Hunter Biden’s position on Burisma’s board,” the senator wrote. “I could not disagree more.”

Johnson noted evidence gathered by his committee showed Joe Biden met with his son’s business partner, Devon Archer, in April 2014 and within a month the vice president then visited Ukraine and both his son Hunter and the business partner were put on the Burisma board as the firm faced multiple corruption investigations.

“Isn’t it obvious what message Hunter’s position on Burisma’s board sent to Ukrainian officials?” Johnson asked. “The answer: If you want U.S. support, don’t touch Burisma. It also raised a host of questions, including: 1) How could former Vice President Biden look any Ukrainian official (or any other world leader) in the face and demand action to fight corruption? 2) Did this glaring conflict of interest affect the work and efforts of other U.S. officials who worked on anti-corruption measures?”

You can read Johnson’s letter here:

File 2020-08-09 RHJ letter re Investigation history purpose goals 1805.pdf

Sources familiar with Johnson’s investigation say the committee has secured testimony from at least one State Department official who worked in Ukraine saying the Bidens’ conduct created the appearance of a conflict of interest and undercut U.S. efforts to fight corruption in Kiev.

Johnson also divulged that late last week he issued a formal subpoena to Wray demanding he immediately surrender records from the Russia collusion probe that the committee has been seeking for months.

The subpoena gives Wray until 5 p.m. on Aug. 20 to comply and demands all records from the probe known as Crossfire Hurricane, including those provided for a damning report by the Justice Department inspector general.

You can view the subpoena here:

File FBI Subpoena 20200806.pdf

Johnson also announced his committee has prepared a subpoena for Jonathan Winer, a former Obama State Department official who had extensive contact with British intelligence operative Christopher Steele, the author of a flawed dossier that helped propel the FBI probe into now disproven Trump-Russia collusion.

“Mr Winers counsel has not responded since Thursday as to whether he would accept service of the subpoena,” Johnson said. “If he does not respond by tomorrow, we will be forced to effect service through the U.S. Marshals. More subpoenas can be expected to be issued in the coming days and weeks.”

Johnson and Senate Finance Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley have been pursuing a two-track investigation for more than two years, examining both failures and corruption in the FBI’s Russia probe as well as the issue of the Bidens’ conflicts in Ukraine.

As the 2020 election draws nearer and the committee’s evidence mounts in the Biden portion of the probe, Democrats have repeatedly attacked Johnson and Grassley accusing them of accepting evidence with Ukrainian officials tied to Russia.

In his letter, Johnson adamantly denies he has talked with or received documents from the Russian-tied Ukrainians, accusing Democrats like Sen. Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut of knowingly fomenting disinformation.

“The only problem with their overblown handwringing is that they all knew full well that we have been briefed repeatedly, and we had already told them that we had NOT received the alleged Russian disinformation,” Johnson wrote. “The very transparent goal of their own disinformation campaign and feigned concern is to attack our character in order to marginalize the eventual findings of our investigation.”

Johnson’s letter identifies 14 questions he believes Joe Biden should answer and said the dealings documented by his committee — all from U.S. government documents — follow a larger pattern of family members appearing to cash in on the vice president’s policymaking.

“The appearance of family profiteering off of Vice President Biden’s official responsibilities is not unique to the circumstances involving Ukraine and Burisma,” the senator wrote. “Public reporting has also shown Hunter Biden following his father into China and coincidentally landing lucrative business deals and investments there.

“Additionally, the former vice president’s brothers and sister-in-law, Frank, James and Sara Biden, also are reported to have benefited financially from his work as well. We have not had the resources to devote investigatory time to these other allegations, but I point them out to underscore that Ukraine and Burisma seem more of a pattern of conduct than an aberration.”

Johnson’s announcement follows one day after Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Lindsey Graham released a document Sunday he says shows the FBI misled senators on the Intelligence Committee during the Russia probe by falsely suggesting Steele’s dossier was backed up by one of his key sources.

“Somebody needs to go to jail for this,” Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) the panel’s chairman, told the Fox News program Sunday Futures with Maria Bartiromo. “This is a second lie. This is a second crime. They lied to the FISA court. They got rebuked, the FBI did, in 2019 by the FISA court, putting in doubt all FISA applications.”

The document in question contains the draft talking points the FBI used to brief the Senate Intelligence Committee in February 2018, including an assessment that the primary sub-source of the information contained in the Steele dossier had backed up the former MI-6 agent’s reporting.

The primary sub-source “did not cite any significant concerns with the way his reporting was characterized in the dossier to the extent he could identify it,” the FBI memo claimed. “… At minimum, our discussions with [the Primary Sub-source] confirm that the dossier was not fabricated by Steele.”

In fact, by the time the FBI provided senators the briefing, agents had already interviewed Steele’s primary sub-source, who disavowed much of what was attributed to him in the dossier as in “jest” or containing uncorroborated allegations.

You can read the FBI memo Graham released here:

File FBI SSCI Briefing Document 2018.pdf

August 18, 2020 Posted by | Corruption, Deception | , , | Leave a comment

Poland and Lithuania are escalating events in Belarus as they did with Maidan

By Paul Antonopoulos | August 18, 2020

On August 9, presidential elections were held in Belarus with five candidates bidding to be head of state. According to the Central Election Commission, the incumbent president, Alexander Lukashenko, won in the first round with over 80% of the votes. Mass protests began in Belarus right after the announcement of the preliminary election results. People went to the streets, expressing their dissatisfaction with the results of the elections that they believe were unfair. Mass protests turned into riots and there were clashes between rioters and the police. Many people were detained and injured, and two protestors died.

Representatives of the European Union and the U.S. stated that they did not consider the presidential elections fair and appealed to the Belarusian authorities to have a second election. As both the EU and U.S. condemned Lukashenko’s re-election, it was therefore unsurprising that the deputy head of the Polish Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Paweł Jabłoński, stated that Poland did not want the EU to limit itself to only introducing sanctions against Belarus, as he claims it will push Belarus deeper into the sphere of Russian influence.

Tomorrow’s EU summit to discuss the situation in Belarus, and possibly pass sanctions, resulted from Warsaw’s call for prompt action, and above all, Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki who personally exerted pressure immediately after the Belarusian elections.

“We do not want the EU’s reaction to be limited only to presenting an idea for sanctions and adopting a joint statement, which is obviously needed, but to give Belarusians something more,” said Paweł Jabłoński in an interview with PAP. “The point is that we should present a real offer to resolve this conflict in a stable and lasting manner, and this is only possible if we, as the EU, offer Belarus a real perspective of cooperation if a solution based on dialogue is reached.”

Jałoński also pointed out that EU member states should jointly adopt a common position on the events in Belarus.

“We will want to send a signal that if Belarus begins the process of reforms leading to a system in which citizens decide on the direction of changes, the EU is ready for real cooperation with Belarus – primarily economic,” said Jabłoński, adding that “Belarusians should be able to choose their own development path and have a real choice here – our role is to propose this choice.”

This suggests that Warsaw’s main concern is to see the liberalization of the Belarusian economy to follow the same path as the other post-Soviet countries in Eastern Europe. The World Bank estimates that 75% of industrial output comes from state-owned companies, with the state sector employing about half of the Belarusian workforce. Because of this, unemployment in Belarus was at 4.6% in 2019, significantly lower than neighboring Ukraine (8.8%), Latvia (6.52%) and  Lithuania (6.35%), with only Poland having a lower figure at 3.47%. Belarus is also capable of consistent GDP growth without having to rely on remittances like its neighboring countries which are also experiencing population decline due to emigration.

Effectively, what Lukashenko has done is protected the country from neo-liberal policies that spread throughout Eastern Europe after the Soviet Union collapsed in 1991, which resulted in many of the industries being shut down or privatized, impoverishing much of the population. Because of this action, Lukashenko earned the nom de guerre of “the last dictator of Europe” and Belarus the title of “mini-Soviet Union.”

Although Lukashenko has a complicated relationship with Moscow, one that can be cold at times, but generally speaking, Belarus, which gets its etymology from “White Rus(sia)”, has positive relations with its larger neighbor. Lukashenko, who at times panders towards the West, has amicable relations with Syria, Venezuela and other states that are targeted by the U.S. and Western Europe. Due to Lukashenko’s strong relations with these states and his sternness in preventing the liberalization of the economy, it is expected that when an opportunity is presented for the West, a Maidan-like event will begin in Belarus.

Although Poland is pushing for a Maidan-like event to occur, it is not the only neighbor of Belarus that wants this. A faction of the Homeland Union-Lithuanian Christian Democrats in the Seimas, the unicameral parliament of Lithuania, called for the immediate announcement of Lithuanian sanctions against the 39 most influential representatives of the “Alexander Lukashenko regime,” as they termed it.

“Lithuania must clearly, quickly and unambiguously formulate and consolidate strategic provisions for the Belarusian regime at the European Union and transatlantic level, be an icebreaker in the fight for freedom and against tyranny. Sanctions must also send a signal to other influential members of the regime that continued to support Lukashenko, will mean a stalemate and further sanctions against a wider range of the current elite,” said leader of the Seimas opposition, Gabrielius Landsbergis.

It was recently revealed that Lithuania had a key role in the Ukrainian Maidan events, and Poland’s involvements are also well noted. It is unsurprising that both countries are once again united in their demands to escalate tensions and hostilities with Belarus in their mad drive in what they perceive to be the de-Sovietizing and de-Russification of Eastern Europe. Perceiving that Russia and Belarus could be a threat to their security, both Warsaw and Vilnius have taken the opportunity to escalate the protests through rhetoric in the hope that a Maidan-like event will occur in Belarus, thereby further weakening Russian influence in Eastern Europe.

Paul Antonopoulos is an independent geopolitical analyst.

August 18, 2020 Posted by | Economics | , , , | 2 Comments