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FDA not fit for purpose – the Makena® fiasco

For years, the FDA allowed a drug to be injected into pregnant women that was neither safe, nor effective. Finally, it has been withdrawn.


Previously, I wrote about Makena, a synthetic hormone given to millions of pregnant woman, to prevent premature birth. It was highly controversial because there was no robust proof that it was safe or effective, despite having FDA-approval.

Last month, after many years of use, the FDA finally decided to withdraw Makena from the market.

Adam Urato, a maternal-foetal medicine specialist at MetroWest Medical Centre, Massachusetts welcomed the decision, but said it took the FDA far too long.

“I cannot believe we’ve been injecting this hormone into pregnant women for 20 years, all the leading medical organisations recommended it, the FDA approved it – and it took this long to finally acknowledge the drug did not work,” he said.

Urato opposed the use of Makena from the start. He testified before the FDA, he wrote in the media and in medical journals, and helped petition the FDA to withdraw the drug from the market.

Adam Urato, maternal-foetal medicine specialist, MetroWest Medical Centre, Massachusetts.

Preterm birth is a major issue in obstetrics. In the US, one in 10 babies are born prematurely, and accounts for most of the neonatal morbidity and mortality.

Physicians were desperate for a solution, and Makena seemed to hold promise.

It wasn’t cheap though. Makena was 5,200% more expensive than generic versions of the same medication.

Large amounts of public money in the Medicaid program and other health insurance dollars were used to pay for the weekly shots at a total cost of $30,000 per pregnancy.

How it began

The drug maker sought fast-track approval of Makena, citing a 2003 study that was so flawed, the FDA’s own statistical reviewer commented that the drug was not worth approving.

The FDA approved it anyway on the basis that the drugmaker conduct more in-depth research into the medication’s effectiveness.

Then, in 2019 a confirmatory trial found the drug did not work. And by this stage, there were documented harms including gestational diabetes, depression, blood clots and a non-statistical doubling in stillbirths.

But instead of pulling the drug off the market, the FDA allowed Makena to be licensed for another four years.

“It should’ve been pulled immediately,” said Urato. “There were substantial profits for the drug company even after a confirmatory trial found it did not work, so it’s no wonder it was dragging its feet.”

It begs the question…

How is it even possible that a drug, which was neither safe nor effective for pregnant women, was allowed to be on the market for so long?

Urato says it’s a direct symptom of the medical-industrial complex – an entanglement of big pharma, medical organisations, and regulatory agencies – that creates an underlying motive to bolster profits, over health.

“For two decades the drug brought in billions in profits, and that money was used to fund physicians, researchers, professional medical societies, and academic institutions,” said Urato.

This makes it exceedingly difficult, if not impossible, for patients to navigate the healthcare system and know who to trust.

“We need elected officials that are going to put the interests of patients and the public first, and not be tainted, or corrupted by industry. We need to separate our politics and our regulatory bodies from industry funding,” he added.

Lesson learned?

Urato feels vindicated for his work, but says it’s no time for a victory lap. Instead, the Makena fiasco should provide us with tangible lessons to safeguard us against such scientific transgressions in the future.

“We must ‘first do no harm’ and follow the precautionary principle,” insisted Urato.

“When you’re exposing developing babies to synthetic chemical compounds, you can’t just assume it’s safe, until harm is proven. You must assume that the chemicals are having chemical effects on the foetus, because that’s what chemicals do.”

The Diethylstilbestrol (DES) disaster should have been a reminder to all obstetricians about the harms of giving synthetic hormones to pregnant women without sufficient data. But once Makena was rolled out, Urato said, “it was like everyone forgot the past.”

“I counselled my patients on my concerns about exposing them and their babies to a synthetic hormone with unknown short and long-term effects, so I guess I could have been accused of peddling ‘misinformation’,” said Urato cognisant that he was going against medical consensus.

“But what is considered misinformation today, may be scientific fact tomorrow. I helped to prevent a generation of mums and babies in my community from being exposed to a useless drug. That’s why it’s so important that doctors have freedom of speech to express their views,” said Urato.

It’s estimated that hundreds of thousands of pregnant mothers and babies were exposed to the ineffective and risky synthetic hormone over the past 2 decades.

“Time and time again, drugs and devices are pulled off the market for safety issues. If the FDA approves a drug, it does not mean that it will be proven to be safe and effective over time. The FDA has lost the public’s trust,” Urato said.

May 17, 2023 Posted by | Corruption, Full Spectrum Dominance, Science and Pseudo-Science | , | Leave a comment

Missed Bacterial Pneumonia Cases Left Untreated Were the Majority of COVID-19 Hospital Deaths

In April 2020, I warned about that the false positive-prone non-quantitative RT-PCR was deadly. Now we know, again, I was (sadly) correct.

By James Lyons-Weiler | Popular Rationalism | May 17, 2023

Hospital protocolists sticking to the strict hand-me-down highly profitable “COVID protocol” may have doomed a majority of admitted COVID-19 patients to death due to a perfect storm of institutional failure.

I first warned FDA in early 2020 that because the commercial kits did not use internal negative controls there would be arbitrarily high COVID-19 false positive rates due to the abuse of non-quantitative PCR. The majority of “cases”, I pointed out, would be false because the test was to be used as a screening device – and when you screen with an imperfect test when prevalence is low, you end up with more false positives than negatives in the set of positives.

Knowing that people who were symptomatic for respiratory infections would be among the most tested population and that Fauci’s medical approach to COVID-19 was to tell people to go home and get as sick as possible, it was readily clear that people would be dying due to lack of treatment for treatable conditions, like bacterial pneumonia and fungal infections in the lung.

Now a study from NIH-funded researchers in Chicago, IL has found that unresolved respiratory infections – not necessarily those involved in SARS-CoV-2 – were present in people who failed to “respond” to mechanical ventilation.

The authors wrote:

“Recent data suggest that secondary pneumonia is present in up to 40% and pneumonia or diffuse alveolar damage is present in over 90% of autopsy specimens obtained from patients with acute SARS-CoV-2 infection (18). Consistent with these observations, we and others found high rates of ventilator-associated pneumonia (VAP) in patients with SARS-CoV-2 pneumonia requiring mechanical ventilation, suggesting that bacterial superinfections such as VAP may contribute to mortality in patients with COVID-19 (7, 19–22). These findings prompt an alternative hypothesis that a relatively low mortality rate directly attributable to primary SARS-CoV-2 infection is offset by a greater risk of death attributable to unresolving VAP (23).”

They concluded:

“These data suggest mortality associated with severe SARS-CoV-2 pneumonia is more often associated with respiratory failure that increases the risk of unresolving VAP and is less frequently associated with multiple-organ dysfunction.”

Unsurprisingly, the study found that people with bacterial pneumonia who were on ventilators had the highest mortality. Although their analysis restricted consideration to bacterial pneumonia cases detected 48 hours after ventilation, they did not distinguish between undiagnosed cases of bacterial pneumonia upon admission and those acquired in-hospital (nosocomial infection). The rate of co-infection is not clear either, due to insufficient testing for bacterial pneumonia in patients once diagnosed with COVID-19.

The study leads to the stunning potential that perhaps 58% of “COVID” cases were respiratory issues other than COVID (43% bacterial pneumonia, 16% non-pathogen causes of respiratory failure). Treated as “COVID”, these patients were doomed to a fate of non-treatment due to mis- or under-diagnosis.

It is unclear what percentage of deaths attributed to COVID-19 could have been prevented via a standard therapy for bacterial pneumonia, but it is potentially very high. Fauci’s prescription – sending patients home to do nothing – no corticosteroids, no antibiotics just in case it was bacterial – drove the COVID-19 death rate up far higher than it had to be.

Gao et al., 2023. Machine learning links unresolving secondary pneumonia to mortality in patients with severe pneumonia, including COVID-19, Journal of Clinical Investigation (2023). DOI: 10.1172/JCI170682

May 17, 2023 Posted by | Corruption, Science and Pseudo-Science, Timeless or most popular, War Crimes | , | 1 Comment

Hang All the Members of the Liars’ Club?

By Victor Davis Hanson | American Greatness | May 15, 2023

Federal prosecutors last week announced the indictment of U.S. Representative George Santos (R-N.Y.) on a host of charges, including misuse of federal campaign funds and wire fraud, almost all of them resulting from his pathological lies.

Certainly, Santos deserved the attention of prosecutors for lying on federal documents and affidavits that may have helped him win a congressional seat as well as personal lucre.

But if that’s the case, why haven’t federal prosecutors also gone after Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.)? She clearly lied her way into a Harvard Law School professorship and an erstwhile presidential candidacy by claiming, in part, quite falsely she was a Native American, supposedly Harvard’s first indigenous law professor.

Her Senate colleague, Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), flatly lied (he said “misspoke”) about being a Vietnam War veteran. He never confessed to “misspeaking” about his résumé until caught. Both senators, apparently like Santos, gained political traction in their various campaigns from such lies, but the two apparently never put them in writing, or at least not as blatantly as did Santos.

New Federal Standards?

Are federal and states prosecutors now setting a new moral and legal standard by criminalizing Santos’ lies? If true, congratulations—it is long overdue.

Now can we please extend the long arm of the law to reach far beyond a bit player like Santos?

Why not reboot with the really big liars? Their lies far more undermined the integrity of our key agencies and indeed our national security.

So let us start with John Brennan, the former CIA director. He lied on two separate occasions, in one case while under oath before the U.S. Senate. His untruths were not mere campaign finance fabrications. They involved falsely swearing that the CIA did not spy on the computers of Senate staffers (“Let me assure you the CIA was in no way spying on [the committee] or the Senate.”). He also lied that U.S. drone missions in prior years had not killed innocent bystanders (“There hasn’t been a single collateral death because of the exceptional proficiency, precision of the capabilities that we’ve been able to develop.”).

Brennan, only when caught, admitted to both lies. But he faced zero consequences and, in fact, was soon rewarded with an on-air analyst job at MSNBC.

Then we come to James Clapper, the former director of the Office of National Intelligence. Like Santos, he lied. But unlike Santos, Clapper was under oath to Congress. And further unlike Santos, Clapper was not a small fish, but a whale in charge of coordinating the nation’s intelligence bureaus.

Clapper’s lies mattered a great deal, especially when he swore to Congress that the National Security Agency did not spy on Americans. (“No, sir. Not wittingly.”) When caught, Clapper confessed that he gave “the least untruthful answer.” (“I responded in what I thought was the most truthful, or least untruthful, manner by saying ‘no.’”). He faced zero consequences for his perjury. And like Brennan, he marketed his anti-Trump phobias into a comfortable cable news gig.

Note well that both Clapper and Brennan likely lied again when they signed the infamous Hunter Biden laptop letter, with a wink and nod suggesting it was a hallmark example of “Russian disinformation.”

Then we come to the former interim FBI Director Andrew McCabe. He is also currently working as a cable news commentator. McCabe admitted to lying—according to the inspector general, “done knowingly and intentionally”—four separate times to federal investigators, three times under oath. McCabe misled the country in matters that concerned a national election, more specifically lying that he had not leaked to the media to massage media narratives about the FBI’s investigation of the Clinton Foundation.

Then there is James Comey, another former FBI head, who confirmed McCabe had lied. He simply claimed on 245 occasions to House investigators and members that he either had no memory or had no knowledge, when asked under oath to explain some of the wrongdoing of the FBI during his directorship. Remember, Comey and the FBI signed off on the authenticity of Steele document material to obtain a FISA warrant, when they knew it was unreliable and Steele was not credible. Comey also likely leaked to the media a confidential memo officially memorializing a private conversation with the president of the United States.

Should we include yet another former FBI director? Robert Mueller swore under oath to Congress that he knew little about Fusion GPS (“I’m not familiar with that”) and more or less had ignored the Steele dossier. (“It’s not my purview.”) Mueller’s claims cannot be true because revelations about both were the very catalysts that prompted his own special counsel appointment.

Will the Santos prosecutors go after Anthony Fauci, the recently retired head of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases?

Fauci seemingly lied under oath to the Senate when he preposterously claimed the money he channeled through a third party to the Wuhan virology lab did not entail support for gain-of-function virology research. (“The NIH has not ever and does not now fund gain-of-function research in the Wuhan Institute of Virology.”) Many virologists were aghast at Fauci’s claims, since they knew gain-of-function research conducted in China—the point being to skirt U.S. laws—was precisely what the U.S.-subsidized researchers in China were doing.

The Bidens

Prosecutors are currently looking at the various shenanigans of Hunter Biden, whose lies may even be a match for those of George Santos. Joe Biden’s son apparently lied on his firearms background check affidavit when applying for a handgun purchase—so far, with impunity.

When asked point blank on national television whether his lost laptop was his own—he had signed a receipt for it at the repair shop—Biden refused to give a yes or no answer.

Hunter Biden has apparently de facto lied for years when he purportedly did not report either his entire income or his real business expenses accurately, or that he was the father of a child he conceived with an ex-stripper in Arkansas.

If Hunter’s lies do not match the number of Santos’ prevarications, his were at least far more significant. His lie that the laptop was not his prompted current Secretary of State Antony Blinken, a former top Biden 2020 campaign aide, to call up Mike Morell, former interim CIA director. Morell’s mission was to round up as many intelligence authorities as he could to lie on the eve of a presidential election that the laptop had “all the hallmarks” of “Russian disinformation.” He found 51, including himself. Apparently, some active members of the CIA pitched in as well to lend the letter additional authenticity.

Note that Morell swears Blinken called him to solicit signers of the bogus letter, while Blinken claims he did not. So either the current secretary of state or the former interim director of the CIA is lying—or they both are. Again, among the first to sign the fraudulent intelligence letter were Brennan and Clapper. They apparently had earned a reputation as team players, given that both men had been willing to lie under oath to Congress. Misleading the nation again about the laptop to aid Joe Biden’s campaign was small potatoes.

Biden, on spec, promulgated the lie when he said in his second debate with Trump, “There are 50 former national intelligence folks who said that what he’s accusing me of is a Russian plant. Five former heads of the CIA, both parties, say what he’s saying is a bunch of garbage. Nobody believes it, except his good friend Rudy Giuliani.”

A subsequent poll suggested the Bidens’ concocted laptop lies may have influenced voters to side with Biden in the election. If true, that was a lie that should be of far more interest to current federal prosecutors than Santos’ crazy fairy tales.

The Lies of the “Big Guy”

So we come to the greatest prevaricator of all.

Joe Biden flat-out lied on numerous occasions, such as when he claimed that he never discussed the family shake-down business with Hunter Biden.

Joe Biden, in fact, turns up on the laptop as someone deeply connected to Hunter Biden’s quid pro quo companies (“10 [percent] for the Big Guy”). Tony Bobulinksi, a former business associate of Hunter’s, has sworn that Joe and his brother Jim Biden were deeply involved in their foreign leveraging efforts.

A photo shows Joe Biden with Hunter’s “business” associates. Will the current Santos prosecutors turn their attention to the Oval Office occupant’s financial records to determine whether his lavish private homes and lifestyle were viable under his reported stated income?

Biden lied to Americans dozens of times to get elected. The tragic death of his wife in a car accident was not due to the drunkenness and fault of a truck driver. That was a horrific smear designed to shift blame onto an innocent man and gain sympathy for himself.

He lied that his son, Beau, died while serving in Iraq.

Biden dropped out of the 1988 presidential race after he was caught lying about his college records and plagiarizing a speech from a British politician.

So we know that in the past, Joe Biden’s lies have left a mark on history in a fashion that Santos’ never will.

When Biden prefaces his whoppers with “No joke!” or “This is the God’s honest truth!” and especially when he swears, “My word as a Biden!” then it is a fair bet that he is lying.

When Biden entered office, he lied about the number of Americans previously vaccinated under the Trump Administration and preposterously claimed there had been no COVID vaccine available.

He lied that his loan forgiveness amnesty passed Congress by two votes. In fact, Biden simply declared amnesty by fiat and never submitted the request to Congress at all.

He repeatedly lies that billionaires pay only three percent of their income in taxes on average. He lies about minor details, from giving his Uncle Frank a purple heart to matters of national concern, such as the price of gas when he entered office. It was most certainly not $5 a gallon!

Biden constantly lies about his résumé. He was never a long-haul truck driver. Nor was he a star athlete almost headed for the Naval Academy on a sports scholarship if only Dallas Cowboys legend Roger Staubach had not beat him out. “I was appointed to the academy in 1965 by a senator who I was running against in 1972. I didn’t come to the academy because I wanted to be a football star. And you had a guy named Staubach and Bellino here. So I went to Delaware.”

His house was never almost destroyed by a fire. He was never raised “politically” as a Puerto Rican. Biden never pinned the Silver Star on a Navy Afghanistan war hero for bringing back the body of a fellow soldier from a deep ravine. He was never arrested, either in South Africa or in Atlanta, for demonstrating on behalf of civil rights.

No foreign leader can believe Biden. He never traveled 17,000 miles with Chinese President Xi Jinping. He lied about his own Amtrak travel. He lied about his record on inflation and economic growth. He lied about upping Social Security payments. (It was a larger-than-usual automatic cost-of-living increase spurred by his inflationary policies.) He lied about the nature of the Trump tax cuts.

Biden keeps lying that the southern border is “secure” even as nearly 2 million people have crossed illegally on his watch and tens of thousands more are massed to enter the country as Title 42 restrictions are lifted.

He insists that five police officers died at the hands of protestors on January 6, 2021. In truth, the one person we know for certain who died violently that day was Ashli Babbitt, an unarmed protester who was shot and killed by a Capitol Police lieutenant with a checkered record, whose identity was suppressed for months while Babbitt’s past was sullied by the press.

Biden’s defenders hint that either he is cognitively compromised and thus not responsible—as if he has told the truth the last 40 years when he was hale!—or his lies are mere “exaggerations” unlike the “lies” of Trump—as if lying about the death of one’s spouse or son or school record or resume or major legislation or his presidency is a mere “exaggeration.”

As a general rule, since 2015, if any federal bureaucrat or elected official lied in service of opposing Donald Trump, he was exempted from consequences. If not, he was properly held responsible for his lying. So the more that the fake Steele dossier, the Russian collusion hoax, and the Russian disinformation laptop lie warped the 2016 and 2020 presidential elections, the more the promulgators of those falsehoods never faced any consequences for their untruths.

So, yes, let federal prosecutors go after the lying George Santos to set a precedent that the lying of government officials has consequences.

But in the great scheme of lying things, Santos is a prevaricating minnow who was snagged to great acclaim because the lying sharks swim and circle with impunity.

May 17, 2023 Posted by | Corruption, Deception, Progressive Hypocrite | , , | Leave a comment

The FBI Vetoed the 2016 Presidential Election

By Jim Bovard | The Libertarian Institute | May 17, 2023

On Monday, Special Counsel John Durham released his final report on the FBI and Justice Department’s abuse of power during the 2016 presidential election. His 316-page report proves that federal law enforcement was weaponized to rig American politics by shielding Hillary Clinton’s campaign and persecuting Donald Trump’s campaign.

Durham’s report is only the latest in a long pattern of abuses by the FBI. In 1945, President Harry Truman noted in his diary, “We want no Gestapo or Secret Police. FBI is tending in that direction.” In the 1948 presidential campaign, Hoover brazenly championed Republican candidate Thomas Dewey, leaking allegations that Truman was part of a corrupt Kansas City political machine. In 1952, Hoover sought to undermine Democratic presidential candidate Adlai Stevenson by spreading rumors that he was a closet homosexual. In 1964, the FBI illegally wiretapped Republican presidential candidate Barry Goldwater’s presidential headquarters and plane and conducted background checks on his campaign staff seeking evidence of homosexual activity. In 1972, acting FBI chief Patrick Gray burned incriminating evidence from the White House in his fireplace shortly after the Watergate break-in by Nixon White House “plumbers;” he was forced to resign in 1973 for that ignition.

But those interventions were child’s play compared to the FBI’s role in the 2016 election. Hillary Clinton, the Democratic Party’s presumptive nominee for years before the primary, had used an insecure private email server to handle top-secret documents while she was Secretary of State from 2009 to 2013. The server, located in a bathroom of Clinton’s Chappaqua, New York, mansion, exposed emails with classified information to detection by foreign sources and others.

Clinton’s private email server was not publicly disclosed until she received a congressional subpoena in 2015. A few months later, the FBI Counterintelligence Division opened a criminal investigation examining the “potential unauthorized storage of classified information on an unauthorized system.” Attorney General Lynch swayed FBI chief Comey to mislead the public by denying that a criminal investigation involving Clinton had commenced; instead, it was referred to simply as a “matter.”

The FBI treated Clinton and her coterie like royalty worthy of endless deference, according to a 2018 report by the Justice Department Inspector General. The FBI agreed to destroy the laptops of top Clinton aides after a limited examination of their contents (including a promise not to examine any post-January 31, 2015, emails or content). When BleachBit software and hammers were used to destroy email evidence under congressional subpoena, the FBI treated it as a harmless error. A 2018 Inspector General report criticized FBI investigators for relying on “rapport building” with Team Hillary instead of using subpoenas to compel the discovery of key evidence.

FBI investigators shrugged off every brazen deceit they encountered from Hillary’s staffers. The 2018 Inspector General report revealed that key FBI agents in the investigations were raving partisans. “We’ll stop” Trump from becoming president, lead FBI investigator Peter Strzok texted his mistress/girlfriend, FBI lawyer Lisa Page, in August 2016. One FBI agent labeled Trump supporters as “retarded” and declared “I’m with her [Hillary Clinton]”. Another FBI employee texted that “Trump’s supporters are all poor to middle class, uneducated, lazy POS.”

The FBI delayed interviewing Clinton until the end of the investigation, after she had clinched the Democratic presidential nomination and just before the Democratic National Convention. Comey decided before Clinton was interviewed by FBI agents that she would not be charged with criminal wrongdoing. FBI agents at that interview found Clinton’s answers claiming she didn’t realize she was handling classified documents “strained credulity;” one agent said he filed her responses in the “bucket of hard to impossible to believe.’” The FBI planned to absolve her “absent a confession from Clinton,” the Inspector General noted. There was no recording or transcript of that final interview. Minimizing the evidence and disclosures maximized the arbitrary power of Comey and other FBI officials in a landmark political case.

Shortly after that interview, FBI chief James Comey publicly announced that “no charges are appropriate” because Hillary didn’t intend to violate federal law. But that law is a strict liability statute; “intent” is irrelevant to the criminal violation.

FBI racketeering repeatedly rescued Hillary Clinton. The Clinton Foundation raked in hundreds of million dollars of squirrely foreign contributions while she was Secretary of State and revving up her presidential campaign. The Durham report found that “senior FBI and Department officials placed restrictions on how [the Clinton Foundation investigation was] handled such that essentially no investigative activities occurred for months leading up to the election.” On top of that dereliction, “the FBI appears to have made no effort to investigate…the Clinton campaign’s purported acceptance of a [illegal] campaign contribution that was made by the FBI’s own long-term [confidential human source] on behalf of Insider-I and, ultimately, Foreign Government.”

A few weeks after an effective whitewash, “Clinton allegedly approved a proposal from one of her foreign policy advisors to tie Trump to Russia as a means of distracting the public from her use of a private email server,” according to the Durham report. CIA chief John Brennan briefed President Obama, Vice President Joe Biden, and other top officials on “alleged approval by Hillary Clinton on July 26, 2016 of a proposal…to vilify Donald Trump by stirring up a scandal claiming interference by Russian security services.” There is no evidence that Obama and his policymakers had any objections to Hillary’s vilification proposal (referred to as the “Clinton Plan” in Durham’s report).

FBI officials relied on the “Clinton Plan” to target the Trump campaign even though “No FBI personnel who were interviewed by the Office recalled Crossfire Hurricane personnel taking any action to vet the Clinton Plan intelligence,” the report noted. The Clinton campaign helped bankroll the notorious Steele dossier, which made sweeping, unsubstantiated, and salacious accusations against Trump. The FBI, which was apparently willing to pay any price to defeat Trump, offered former British spy Christopher Steele $1 million in cash if he could prove the charges in that dossier before the 2016 election. There was no proof—but that didn’t stop the FBI from using the dossier to get warrants to spy on Trump campaign officials from the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court. “The FBI discounted or willfully ignored material information that did not support the narrative of a collusive relationship between Trump and Russia,” the report noted. As FBI analysts began to recognize that the Steele dossier was a hoax, FBI bosses ordered “no more memorandums were to be written” analyzing its claims.

After the election, FBI officials devoted themselves to crippling Trump’s presidency with fabricated evidence that Russia massively intervened to help him win. Kevin Clinesmith, a top FBI lawyer, was convicted for falsifying evidence to secure a FISA warrant to unjustifiably target Trump campaign officials. A federal prosecutor declared that the “resulting harm is immeasurable” from Clinesmith’s action. But federal judge James Boasberg conducted a “pity party” at the sentencing, noting that Clinesmith “went from being an obscure government lawyer to standing in the eye of a media hurricane…Clinesmith has lost his job in government service—what has given his life much of its meaning.” Scorning the prosecutor’s recommendation for jail time, the judge gave Clinesmith a wrist slap—400 hours of community service and 12 months of probation.

Though the Durham report vivifies the extent of FBI meddling in the 2016 election, Americans remain in the dark about the full extent of the FBI’s efforts to rig the 2020 election. In December 2019, FBI agents came into possession of a laptop that Hunter Biden, the drug-addicted son of Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden, had abandoned at a Delaware computer repair shop. That laptop’s hard drive was a treasure trove of crimes, including evidence that Hunter and other family members had collected millions in payments from foreign sources for providing access in Washington and other favors. That laptop provided ample warnings of how Joe Biden could be compromised by foreign powers. But FBI bosses blocked their agents from investigating its contents until after the 2020 election. Senator Charles Grassley (R-IA) reported that FBI agents examining the evidence on Hunter Biden “opened an assessment which was used by an FBI headquarters team to improperly discredit negative Hunter Biden information as disinformation and caused investigative activity to cease.”

When news finally leaked out about the Hunter Biden laptop in October 2020, 51 former intelligence officials effectively torpedoed the story by claiming that the laptop was a Russian disinformation ploy. Their letter was orchestrated by Biden presidential campaign advisor—and current Secretary of State—Anthony Blinken. The FBI knew that the laptop was bona fide but said nothing to undercut the falsehoods made by the former spooks. Twitter and other social media outlets suppressed information on the Hunter Biden laptop until after the election. Matt Taibbi and other Twitter Files investigators have provided a torrent of evidence of how the FBI censored Americans prior to the 2020 election, almost always muzzling conservative voices.

Special Counsel John Durham asserted that the FBI’s abuses in the Clinton and Trump investigations caused the agency “severe reputational harm.” But Congress just awarded the FBI a record budget, and that is the only “reputation” that matters inside the Beltway.

Democrats and other Biden allies are treating the Durham report as a nothing-burger. The Washington Post fretted that the Durham report “may fuel rather than end partisan debate about politicization within the Justice Department and FBI.” The FBI announced that it had taken “dozens of corrective actions” to prevent similar “missteps” in the future. Law professor Jonathan Turley scoffed that the FBI’s statement “is ample evidence of a lack of remorse by the FBI like a habitual offender giving a shrug in his court ‘allocution’ before a judge.”

When getting caught trying to steal an election is a mere “misstep,” it will happen again. How many years will it take until we learn all the details of how the FBI tampered with the 2020 election?

Unless Congress and federal courts rein in the FBI, there needs to be a change in inaugural festivities. Instead of invoking “the will of the people,” will future presidents candidly tout “the will of the FBI”? If that happened, a big swath of the Washington press corps would probably stand up and cheer for their favorite agency.

Jim Bovard is the Junior Fellow for The Libertarian Institute. He is the author of Public Policy Hooligan (2012), Attention Deficit Democracy (2006), Lost Rights: The Destruction of American Liberty (1994), and 7 other books.

May 17, 2023 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Corruption, Deception | , , | Leave a comment

CIA Vet: Durham Report Exposes US Deep State Corruption

By Ekaterina Blinova – Sputnik – 16.05.2023

Special Counsel John Durham’s report helped expose the FBI’s corruption, thus curtailing the intelligence community’s ability to interfere in US politics, according to Larry Johnson, a veteran of the CIA and the State Department’s Office of Counter Terrorism.

Special Counsel John Durham’s much-anticipated report about the origins of the FBI’s Crossfire Hurricane investigation into the 2016 Donald Trump campaign’s alleged ties to “Russia” was released on Monday. The special counsel concluded that the bureau had no factual evidence to open a probe on Trump. The probe lasted from July 31, 2016, when Trump was the Republican nominee, to May 17, 2017, after he had taken presidential office.

“The FBI is totally corrupt,” Johnson told Sputnik. “It’s a totally politicized organization. It really has completely discredited itself. This report confirms that very top officials at the FBI were nothing but liars, liars and engaged in a coup to try to overthrow a democratically-elected president. (…) Trump represented a threat to the deep state policies that wanted to expand NATO, to provoke conflicts around the world. And to basically destroy Russia was one of the objectives. And because Trump was seen as someone who was not going to go along with those objectives, they had to destroy him, or try to destroy him.”

According to Johnson, the FBI and the CIA will not be able to engage in the kind of corrupt acts in 2024 that they did for 2020 and 2016; at least not to the same degree. The newly-released report exposes “everything that they said that Donald Trump was doing with respect to Russia was a complete and utter fabrication,” the CIA veteran underscored.

“[The FBI and CIA] credibility has now certainly been called into question,” Johnson continued. “Just the fact that they can no longer be trusted, that the CIA was so prominently damaged by the admission that the 51 people who signed that letter claiming the Hunter Biden laptop was Russian disinformation, that they were making it up, that they were lying, so none of these people have the credibility now that will allow them to be taken seriously going forward.”

The years-long probe resulted in the conviction of just one FBI operative, Kevin Clinesmith, who admitted to doctoring an email to state that Trump aide Carter Page had never been a CIA asset, despite the evidence to the contrary. However, it’s unlikely that James Comey, Andrew McCabe, Peter Strzok, Lisa Page, and a whole host of FBI personnel allegedly responsible for violations of the bureau’s rules and politically-motivated persecution of Team Trump would ever be brought to justice, according to the CIA veteran.

“The way to understand this, their motive in doing this in 2016, was they fully expected Hillary Clinton to be the president,” Johnson said. “And they felt that if they made any attempts to investigate and prosecute her, that she would punish them. So, therefore, they dropped that investigation and then fabricated the warning against Donald Trump in order to distract, to take away all attention from the substantive allegations against Hillary Clinton. (…) I think there are certainly grounds for a civil lawsuit by Donald Trump and others who are injured, damaged by these lies. Unfortunately, it does not look like the Department of Justice will undertake any prosecutions of these people. So that said, this complete exposure of their corruption, I think, does make it more difficult for them to be as active in 2024.”

May 17, 2023 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Corruption, Deception, Russophobia | | Leave a comment

Canada’s Liberals Try To Defend Plan To Target Anonymous Social Media Accounts

By Didi Rankovic | Reclaim The Net | May 17, 2023

Canada’s ruling Liberals have found themselves accused of working against free press, as they continue their “war on misinformation.”

This time, the Liberals were caught doing this during their party congress that saw attendance from members coming across the country, and one of the things they did was pass a resolution – albeit a non-binding one – regarding the need to tackle “online misinformation.”

Not only are critically minded observers interpreting this as yet another danger likely to be faced by the free press, but how the document was adopted was also not particularly democratic in nature – the vote took place with no prior debate.

And it was on a Saturday morning that this “slipped through” and made it into the convention’s documents, albeit with only a couple of dozen party delegates present and willing to vote.

However – non-binding or otherwise, the intent is clearly there, and now the fear is that the government will find a way to work it into its policy with the aim of increasing control over Canadian media.

For the moment, the facts are that the resolution calls for “exploring options” (a habitually broad wording of initiatives of this sort) that would result in the accountability of internet services for the content they publish.

And, importantly – also exploring options – as to how to “limit” that content from being published on the services’ platforms, but no less importantly, “limit” that content “only to material whose sources can be traced.”

It wasn’t long before observers saw parallels with the way media, and online content is treated here in a way some saw as telling not merely of being “repressive” – but even “more repressive,” than some other regimes, than that in power in Canada.

From CBC (emphasis ours):

“The office would not say whether that means the government will commit to never implementing the resolution.

Responding to criticism Monday, the author of the resolution, B.C. Liberal Catherine Evans, said the policy was never intended to “target reputable Canadian journalists” but rather to combat disinformation people post anonymously online.”

Those who thought officials like Canadian Heritage Minister Pablo Rodriguez – who has managed to make an (international) name for himself for all the wrong reasons – would come out and say, yes – this is the natural progression of the course our policy has been taking for years toward tighter control over information, by often revealing it as “disinformation” for ease of elimination – will be disappointed.

Instead, Rodriguez is quoted as telling CBC News that, “A Liberal government would never implement a policy that would limit freedom of the press or dictate how journalists would do their work.”

And apparently we have to take his word for it.

May 17, 2023 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Full Spectrum Dominance | , | 1 Comment

Former world leaders make nuclear appeal to G7

RT | May 17, 2023

A letter signed by over 250 former heads of state, cabinet ministers, diplomats, and scientists urged the G7 on Wednesday to not allow nuclear arms control talks to fall victim to the current great power confrontation.

“The world badly needs more nuclear arms control, not less,” said the letter, jointly organized by two nonprofits, the European Leadership Network and the Asia-Pacific Leadership Network. “In the darkest hours of the Cold War, the Soviet Union and US were able and willing to discuss and agree measures to reduce the risk of nuclear war. This statement … supports a return to this diplomacy, and protection of nuclear arms control as a global imperative.”

Ahead of the G7 summit in Japan, the signatories called on the five nuclear powers on the UN Security Council – Russia, the US, China, France, and the UK – to “ensure that nuclear arms control will not be made yet another victim of geopolitical competition.”

The collapse of the New START, the only surviving nuclear arms control treaty between the US and Russia, would “threaten a destabilizing arms race” and make it more difficult to bring China, France, and the UK into a multilateral arrangement, according to the signatories.

The letter called on Russia and the US to “compartmentalize” the issue from their conflict over Ukraine, resume their full obligations under the treaty, and commit to “good faith negotiations” on replacing New START before it expires in 2026.

Russia suspended its participation in New START in February, citing Ukraine’s drone attacks on Russian strategic air force bases and the ongoing US support for Kiev in pursuit of a “strategic defeat” of Moscow.

The open letter had a total of 256 signatures from 50 different countries, including six former heads of state, 26 former foreign and defense ministers, 30 former ambassadors, and many scientists, experts, and anti-nuclear campaigners.

One of the most prominent Chinese signatories is Professor Chen Dongxiao, the president of Shanghai Institutes for International Studies. Other notable names included former MI6 head John Scarlett, retired US General Philip Breedlove, and retired German General Klaus Naumann.

The letter was published ahead of the G7 summit in Japan, scheduled to start on Friday. PM Fumio Kishida reportedly plans to have his guests visit his hometown of Hiroshima, which was destroyed in 1945 by a US atomic bomb.

It is not clear what any of that has to do with Russia, however, which was expelled from the group in 2014, after Washington accused Moscow of “invading” Ukraine following the US-backed coup in Kiev.

May 17, 2023 Posted by | Militarism | Leave a comment

Imran Khan and the independence of Pakistan

By Thierry Meyssan | Voltaire Network | May 16, 2023

Pakistan has never been independent. It has always remained a toy in the hands of the United Kingdom and the United States. During the Western war against the Afghan communist regime, it became a rear base for Bin Laden’s mujahideen and Arab fighters. However, for the past decade, a cricket champion like no other has been trying to liberate it, make peace with India and create social services: Imran Khan.

Imran Khan, world cricket champion and former Prime Minister. He is fighting for a modern, more social and independent state.

The Pakistani population is rising up against its army and its political personnel. Everywhere, demonstrations are forming in support of the former Prime Minister, Imran Khan, who has just been released but is the subject of a hundred legal proceedings.


Imran Khan comes from an illustrious Pashtun family. His father is descended from an Indian general and governor of the Punjab, and his mother from a Sufi master who invented the Pashto alphabet. He was educated in Lahore, then in England at Oxford. He speaks Saraiki, Urdu, Pashto and English. He is a cricketer, the most important sport in Pakistan. He was captain of the national team in 1992 and managed to win the World Cup. During the years 1992-96, he devoted himself exclusively to philanthropic activities, opening a hospital for cancer patients and a university with his family’s money. In 1996, he entered politics and created the Pakistan Movement for Justice (PTI). He obtained a seat in the National Assembly in 2018, but was the only one elected from his party.

Imran Khan is not a politician like the others. He recognizes himself in the approach of Mohamed Iqbal (1877-1938), the spiritual father of Pakistan. He intended to break with the religious immobility of Islam and to undertake an effort of interpretation, but he remained prisoner of a communal and legal vision of Islam. Imran Kahn only found his way when he discovered the Iranian philosopher and sociologist Ali Shariati, a friend of Jean-Paul Sartre and Frantz Fanon [1]. Unknown in the West, Shariati proposed to his students to evaluate the precepts of Islam by applying them and to keep only those they found useful. He himself engaged in a reinterpretation of Islam that fascinated Iranian youth. He spoke out against the regime of Shah Reza Pahlevi and supported Ayatollah Rouhollah Khomeiny, then in exile and considered a heretic by all Iranian clerics. He was assassinated by the shah’s secret police, the sawak, in England in 1977, just before Khomeini’s return to his country. So he was the one who instigated the Iranian revolution, but he never knew it.

Imran Khan is therefore a Sunni, an admirer of a Shiite philosopher. He proposes to modernize his country, not by eradicating its religious traditions, but on the contrary, by trying to sort them out to keep only the best. He shows himself to be extraordinarily open and tolerant in a country that was the first in the world to be governed by the Egyptian Brotherhood of the Muslim Brotherhood, a sectarian political party linked to the British MI6 [2]. Like Ali Shariati, he is a revolutionary in the noble sense of the word and an anti-imperialist. In his political life, he never ceased to denounce the Anglo-Saxon takeover of his country. He will therefore logically become the haunt of the British and American imperialists.

When President Barack Obama claimed to have killed Osama Bin Laden in Pakistan [3], the Pakistani political class accused the army of having sheltered the United States’ public enemy number one. In theory, Pakistan has civilian rule, but it has been rocked by numerous military coups. The military is the only effective administration and has gradually gained control of many economic sectors. During the war in Afghanistan, it supported the Afghan mujahideen and of course Osama bin Laden’s Arab fighters on behalf of the CIA. To put her in her place, the civil power organized the “memorandum affair”. A secret document, echoed by the Wall Street Journal, was sent to the Chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff, General Mike Mullen, to prevent a new coup in Pakistan. Imran Khan is not on the side of either the army or the political class. He calls for early elections. He does not believe a word of either the US, the army or the politicians’ version. He campaigns against both corruption and submission to the US, two themes that concern both Pakistani camps. In a few months, his party emerged from the shadows and his discourse won over his people. He formed a coalition and became Prime Minister in 2012.


Inspired by the example of Muhammad when he was head of state, he created a free health care program in Punjab, opened shelters for the homeless and implemented a social protection and anti-poverty program.

He clashed with the Islamists of Tehreek-e-Labbaik Pakistan who demanded the death penalty for blasphemers. During the attack on the former premises of Charlie-Hebdo in Paris and the murder of a teacher Samuel Paty [4] in Conflans-Sainte-Honorine, he attacked the French president, Emmanuel Macron, who justified the attacks against Islam provoked by these crimes. In the end, after having negotiated a shaky agreement with the fanatics of Tehreek-e-Labbaik Pakistan, he ended up banning this movement.

As a symbol of his open-mindedness, he built the Kartarpur Corridor which allows Indian Sikhs [5] to come on pilgrimage to the shrine of their founder Guru Nanak, 5 kilometers inside Pakistan. But the Indian government is not opening an equivalent corridor for Pakistani Sikhs to come on pilgrimage to Dera Baba Nanak in India.

Despite the advancement of the China-Pakistan economic corridor, the situation forces it to ask the International Monetary Fund (IMF) for help. As usual, the IMF demanded neo-liberal structural reforms. The result was a drop in living standards and a return to poverty. He went to Russia after the latter had just intervened militarily against the “integral nationalists” in Ukraine. Let us recall that Stepan Bandera was working at the beginning of the Cold War with the Muslim Brotherhood. Immediately, the United States intervened politically in Pakistan to bring down the government of Imran Khan. After a first attempt, parliamentarians passed a vote of no confidence and dismissed the Prime Minister.


Imran Khan, who was in a very small minority in the Assembly but had a huge majority among the population, became the leader of the popular opposition.

He was succeeded as Prime Minister by Shehbaz Sharif, brother of former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif. The Sharif dynasty is involved in many of the financial affairs exposed in the Panama Papers. It has a number of offshore companies that it has used to organize tax evasion. Nawaz Sharif was sentenced to 10 years in prison, then to 7 years in prison in another case, before going into exile in London. As for Shehbaz Sharif, he was exiled in Saudi Arabia during the dictatorship of General Perwez Musharaf.

An attack was organized against him on November 3, 2022, killing one person and injuring three others, including Khan himself, who was wounded in the leg. He accused the Prime Minister, Shehbaz Sharif, of having ordered the attack. According to a video, one of the two gunmen cited Khan’s playing music during prayers and his agreement to talk to Israel, a “kafir” (infidel) nation, as motives. This shooter is a member of the Tehrik-e- Labbaik Pakistan. In reality, Pakistan’s rapprochement with Israel under Imran Khan was the result of favorable pressure from Saudi Arabia.

The US-based journalist Ahmad Noorani accuses on his website General Qamar Javed Bajwa, who has just retired as Pakistan’s Chief of Staff. He claims that he and his family have become considerably richer over the past six years.

Imran Khan then demanded that what he had stolen be confiscated and raised the question of the power of the army: an institution that defends the country, but also plays a murky economic role.

The Sharif government launched an incredible number of legal proceedings, more than 100, against the most popular man in the country. None of them seemed to be very serious, but all of them had high legal stakes, so that Imran Khan could do nothing but answer to the police and the judiciary. At the same time, one of his followers, Senator Azam Khan Swati, who had criticized the attitude of senior officers, was arrested for insulting the army and imprisoned.

But the man did not react as expected. He denounced the instrumentalization of justice and asked his supporters to be voluntarily incarcerated to saturate the system and discredit it. In front of each prison, 500 members of his party gathered and ask to be arrested. Some of them were arrested, but the government quickly realized the trap and tried to disperse them.

Not knowing what to do, the Sharif government once again considered having Khan assassinated during an attempted arrest by the military. His party, the Justice Movement (PTI), surrounded his family palace and prevented the army and police from entering.

In the latest incident, as Imran Khan was on his way to court to answer charges against him, police surrounded the court to arrest him. As his supporters closed the doors of the courtroom, the police broke them down to seize him.

The Westerners, who presented themselves as defenders of human rights, did not lift a finger.

White House spokeswoman Karine Jean-Pierre said, “As we have said before, the United States does not have a position on one candidate or political party over another.

Within hours, spontaneous protests erupted across the country.

The EU commented: “Restraint and composure are needed (…) Pakistan’s challenges can only be met and its path determined by the Pakistanis themselves, through sincere dialogue and respect for the rule of law.

After a few days and several deaths, Imran Khan has just been released.

Translation by Roger Lagassé

May 17, 2023 Posted by | Civil Liberties | , , , | Leave a comment

Ankara condemns arrest of Turkiye journalists by Germany, calls for immediate release

MEMO | May 17, 2023

Ankara, on Wednesday, called on Germany to release Turkish journalists arrested in Frankfurt after reporting on the Fetullah Terrorist Organisation (FETO), the group behind the 2016 defeated coup in Turkiye, Anadolu News Agency reports.

“The detention of Frankfurt Bureau representatives of Sabah newspaper by the German police today, without justification, is an act of harassment and intimidation against the Turkish press. We strongly condemn this heinous act,” the Turkish Foreign Ministry said in a statement.

“We expect the immediate release of journalists who were targeted by a false denunciation of a FETO member for their reporting on the terrorist organisation FETO’s activities in Germany,” it added.

Necessary initiatives have been taken in Germany regarding the issue, and our strong reaction is conveyed to the German ambassador to Ankara, Jurgen Schulz, who was summoned today, the Ministry said.

May 17, 2023 Posted by | Full Spectrum Dominance | , , | Leave a comment

‘Voter anger over Erdogan’s interference in Syria, war fallout, cost him dearly: Analyst

Press TV – May 17, 2023

A Lebanese political expert says incumbent Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan failed to get the support of people in urban areas in the recent election mainly due to his interference in Syria and the fallout of his intervention in the war.

In an interview with the Press TV website, Nasser Qandil, editor-in-chief of Lebanon’s al-Binaa newspaper, noted that most of the youths in cities did not vote for Erdogan – who has been at the pinnacle of Turkish politics for more than two decades – with the slogan “20 years is enough.”

“The issue of Syrian refugees and Erdogan’s role in the Syrian war was among the reasons behind the decrease in his votes in cities,” he said.

“This is while his rival has promised to transfer refugees to their country within two years and deport them if necessary.”

Erdogan gained 49.5 percent of the vote in Sunday’s presidential race compared to 44.9 percent for his challenger, Kemal Kilicdaroglu.

As neither candidate reached the 50 percent threshold needed to win outright, a runoff vote will take place on May 28.

Erdogan took home fewer votes in 2023 than he did in the 2018 presidential contest.

Qandil said that in the second round of the election, Erdogan will face challenges such as heavy economic and social costs of Syrian refugees residing in Turkey, the growing unemployment rate, the rent surge, and the rising competition between Turkish and Syrian workers.

“With the support of Russia, Iran and Persian Gulf states, Erdogan can draw a two-year framework for the Turkish withdrawal from Syria, the return of refugees, and the dispersal of terrorists from Syria’s northeast and northwest,” he said.

“The second round may give better opportunities to Erdogan’s rival, unless he bravely plays his trump card and voices readiness to formulate a timetable for the return of Syrian refugees.”

For more than a decade, Turkey has backed militants fighting against the government of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, and sent its own troops into the Arab country’s northern areas.

In recent months, however, the strategically-located US-led NATO member has taken steps to normalize relations with Syria.

Also in his interview, the Lebanese political analyst compared Erdogan with Kilicdaroglu, saying the incumbent president represents a political religion close to the West, while the latter acts for the Western-oriented and anti-religious secular movement.

Regarding international developments, he argued that Erdogan tends to pay attention to political and economic partnerships, but his rival wants Turkey to play a regional role without being drawn into war and expansionism.

Qandil further emphasized that Erdogan has managed to build a national economy while Kilicdaroglu, with a tendency towards the US, seeks to realize liberalism, eliminate the government’s role in the economy, and legalize homosexuality.

Unlike large cities, suburbs favored Erdogan as they supported an Islamic national identity aligned with the region and were unhappy with Europe’s racist approach towards Turkey’s EU accession bid, he said.

May 17, 2023 Posted by | Economics, Militarism | | Leave a comment

The End of Bakhmut

The Ukrainians are organizing to pull out

By Stephan Bryen | Weapons and Strategy | May 16, 2023

Ukraine is close to retreating from Bakhmut. This could happen anytime now, but it has to happen fast enough before exit routes are closed down. Predictions on a timetable vary, but the Ukrainians should evacuate Bakhmut no later than the weekend, provided they can.

There are still a couple of roads open to exit the city, secured in part by Ukrainian army attacks on the flanks of the city. But these roadways and fields will not stay available if the Wagner forces pour in fast.

In the last night the Wagner forces stormed and took the two most fortified and defensible parts of the Citadel area of the city, pushing the Ukrainians back into the last part of the Citadel which is mainly low rise buildings. These will be hard to hold. There is also fighting around a portion of the city’s northwestern sector where the Ukrainians are holding out at the Children’s Hospital (long since evacuated of patients). The purpose of the Ukrainian force is to hold this area to keep the road open out of the city in that direction and to divert Wagner forces from taking over the entire Citadel too quickly.


Commander in Chief Valery Zaluzhny with Colonel General Aleksandr Syrskyi (left)

The Ukrainians could negotiate a safe withdrawal with the Russians, but it is unlikely that Zelensky will allow that to happen. Furthermore, the so-called leaks about Prigozhin’s communications with Ukrainian intelligence, which he has heatedly denied, makes it almost impossible for the Wagner’s to make any deals with their Ukrainian enemies.

The battle for Bakhmut is Zelensky’s battle, because he demanded that his army stay there and fight, even after his commanders told him it was too costly and not worth taking needless losses. The battle has raged for eight or nine months and, to a degree, has caused big losses on both sides. Recently his top commanders have put out statements that the fight was worth it. It is likely Zelensky demanded these statements of support.

The big question is, what is next.  The Russians could use their forces to move toward Chasiv Yar and push the Ukrainian army back toward the Dnieper river. The Dnieper is absolutely strategic for Ukraine, and if the Russians can reach its banks, Ukraine will be cut in half. The Ukrainians have to be careful in mounting their planned but not yet executed great offensive, because if they leave their back door open, the Russians have sufficient forces to handle an offensive and to move on toward Chasiv Yar and beyond. There is a danger the Ukrainian army could be trapped from the north and the south and be unable to gain a breakthrough that could justify trying an offensive aimed at the Kherson region, or the Zaporizhzhia region, or even Crimea.

The US and NATO response is to stuff Ukraine with tons of modern weapons, some of which the Russians are blowing up before they ever get near a battlefield. But manpower remains Ukraine’s Achilles’s heel. It is becoming more and more difficult for Ukraine to recruit soldiers, or dragoon young men into service. This will only multiply when the full impact of the Bakhmut defeat is known to the Ukrainian public.

The Ukrainian army leadership also is in doubt. Its top leader. General Valery Zaluzhny seemingly has disappeared, and so too has General Alexander Syrskyi, Commander of the Ukrainian ground forces. There are plenty of rumors and no answers. One of them is that Zelensky went on his European tour while the military opposition was eliminated.  Another is that these two generals were involved in corruption and were caught. A third rumor is that both were killed in a missile strike. If the planned offensive is delayed because the army’s leaders have been killed, for whatever reason, then Zelensky will face overbearing problems.

A key problem understanding the war in Ukraine is the reliability of sources of information and the fact that both sides specialize in disinformation and fake news. Having said that, the information coming from Bakhmut so far is confirmed. The rumors about the fate of Ukraine’s generals are not confirmed.

May 17, 2023 Posted by | Militarism | , , | Leave a comment

Ukraine aid — and US stockpiles — are running out. What’s next?

By Kelley Beaucar Vlahos | Responsible Statecraft | May 17, 2023

There might be a massive new Ukraine aid budget debate on the horizon, as Uncle Sam is depleting the last one at a record pace and Pentagon stockpiles are, by all accounts, running low.

According to a new report by Defense One, some $36.4 billion of the $48.9 billion allocated for Ukraine-related military aid since February 2022 has been delivered, contracted, or “otherwise committed.” There is only $11.3 billion left, and it will “run out in four months.”

The most recent allocation ($1.2 billion last week) came under the U.S. Security Assistance Initiative, which means the additional air defense systems, artillery rounds, and ammunition that have been promised will be farmed out to U.S. defense contractors and won’t be ready for shipment right away. Alternatively, aid has come via the Presidential Drawdown Authority, which sends Ukraine weapons directly from the Pentagon’s stockpiles. According to the Department of Defense, there have been 37 such drawdowns totaling over $21 billion in weapons and supplies since August 2021 when the U.S. first responded to Russian forces massing along the border with Ukraine.

But now reports indicate that American stockpiles of HIMARS, Javelins, Stinger missiles, and 155 mm artillery rounds have been shrinking since late last year, and arms manufacturers are now scrambling to keep up.

This has led the U.S. to go out on an ammo-raising spree, gathering pledges from allies and partners. Some, like South Korea, have resisted but found a way to comply. According to the Wall Street Journal, Washington has sent Ukraine more than one million rounds of 155 mm caliber ammunition, and allies and partners have contributed more on top of that. Moreover, NATO and European partners are being pressed to send whatever they have from their own stockpiles for Ukraine’s anticipated counteroffensive.

So where does this leave us? It would seem that defense contractors need additional money and capacity to backfill the stores. Without more, Ukraine with be under-supplied for both its counteroffensive and whatever follows it. Meanwhile, American stockpiles are waning, which hurts readiness.

One congressional aide “who closely tracks the issue” told POLITICO this week that the money to draw down existing U.S. stockpiles will expire in July. According to the report, which speculated when and how big the next aid package will be, “that would mean the flow of equipment could be disrupted if Kyiv has to wait an extended period for a new tranche of funding.” Would it be included in the appropriations process, or a supplemental? “I expect there will need to be a supplemental at some point,” Senator Susan Collins (R-Maine) told POLITICO. “It’s also clear that it’s taken far too long to get munitions and tanks delivered to the Ukrainians.”

But as Sam Skove points out in his Defense One report, there is the nagging issue of Republican members of Congress who have said they would not support another “blank check” to Ukraine and would expect not only greater oversight but also an articulation of a diplomatic strategy for ending the war before they would support another multi-billion-dollar package. Their position not only reflects a need for a full accounting for where the money is going, but also concern that the American economy right now cannot afford what has become the most expensive U.S.-war-that-is-not-a-U.S.-war in history.

In addition, Skove points out:

American public support for the war is also flagging. Both Democrat and Republican voters’ willingness to pay for the war has fallen, according to a recent poll by the Brookings Institution think tank. For example, the share of Democratic respondents willing to support Ukraine even if it meant higher energy prices at home dipped from 80% last October to 65% last month.

As the president ramps up for what should be a grueling 2024 re-election campaign, what happens on the battlefield in the next few months will no doubt signal how much more the U.S. will press on with such limitless assistance. There is certainly a constituency for continuing “for as long as it takes,” but it’s clear now that our stockpiles are not limitless, and neither is American patience, especially when their own economic security is at stake.

May 17, 2023 Posted by | Economics, Militarism | , | Leave a comment