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Hispaniola Rising: How the US Coup in Venezuela Is Taking Root in Haiti and the Dominican Republic

For more than a decade Venezuela has aided the governments of Haiti and the Dominican Republic through a preferential system known as Petrocaribe, and the people of those nations are not taking their governments’ support for the US coup in Venezuela lightly.

By Ariel Fornari | MintPress News | February 15, 2019

As Judas betrayed the Son of Man with a kiss for 20 pieces of silver, the institutionally corrupt governments in Port-au-Prince and Santo Domingo have written another sad chapter in their nation’s history.

Ironically, it was Venezuela that helped to develop the island’s energy infrastructure in recent years. A key part of this is the REFIDOMSA oil refinery in the Dominican Republic which the Venezuelan government helped to develop and partially owns, and which has also been used to help alleviate increased fuel demands and shortages in Haiti.

For more than a decade Venezuela has aided the governments of Haiti and the Dominican Republic through a preferential system known as Petrocaribe, which provided subsidized crude oil prices to meet the countries critical energy demands.  The Petrocaribe oil agreement, allowed for governments to pay only 60 percent of the oil shipments they purchase from Venezuela. The remaining 40 percent could be financed over 25 years at 1 percent interest, as long as oil prices stayed above $40 per barrel. This allowed for tremendous savings, and money that (according to the agreement) was supposed to be used for socially beneficial purposes.

Countries such as Nicaragua, Jamaica, Cuba, and many islands in the eastern Caribbean have successfully utilized Petrocaribe funds and other Venezuelan support mechanisms, investing in vital infrastructure, education, healthcare, and have used the funding to avoid austerity deals with the IMF and other international financial institutions. Corrupt politicians in Hispaniola, though, whose regimes are closely aligned with Washington, have by contrast become well-known for robbing many of the funds meant for the social needs of their population.

For this reason, the date of January 10, 2019, will go down in the historical memory of the Dominican and Haitian peoples, as an ignominious reminder of the historically aberrant role of the Organization of American States (OAS), when that body was used as a front by neo-conservative policymakers in Washington. It was on that date that the governments of Haiti and the Dominican Republic voted to no longer recognize Venezuela’s legitimately elected president.

The people of Hispaniola, on both sides of the island, are waking up. They are coming to understand how the political orders in their countries are being managed by Washington and how local corrupt elites are stealing the solidarity funds sent by Venezuela while failing to meet the needs of the local population. Haitians and Dominicans are organizing protests, meeting at homes and schools to discuss what is happening, learning on social media and through news spread over Whats App and Facebook. Hispaniola’s betrayal of Venezuela will not be taken lightly.

The people of Hispaniola know better. They know that it was the U.S., not Venezuela, that twice invaded and occupied the Dominican Republic; they know of the multiple coups and occupations that the U.S. has carried out in Haiti.  The Dominican collective memory still bears the deep scars of the over 2,000 Dominicans that perished during the invasion of Santo Domingo by the U. S. marines in April, 1965. (Dominican historians calculate that the actual figure of deaths including civilians & military during the 1965 invasion & occupation, could have been as high as 5,000). Haitians still march annually protesting the 1991 and 2004 Coup d’états, which cost the lives of so many thousands, as many human rights studies verified, such as a paper in the Lancet Medical Journal that found that upward of 8,000 people were killed as a result of the 2004 coup and pro-US paramilitary violence. A decade prior it was estimated that more than 10,000 were killed in the wake of the 1991 coup.

We need also to remember how the U.S. supported the ruthless Trujillo and Duvalierist dictatorships. We must not forget the first U. S. invasion & occupation of Haiti and the Dominican Republic, that took place in the early 20thcentury during the Era of Gunboat Diplomacy in the Central-American and Caribbean Basin.

It is against this compelling & stark historical background, that we are confronted again with tumultuous events in the region, when the U. S. is once more employing the infamous & wholly discredited OAS, in its theatrical charade to lend an air of “legitimacy” to the recent lopsided vote against Venezuela. While 14 of the CARICOM states, Mexico, Italy, Ireland, Greece, Uruguay, Cuba, Russia, Turkey, China, Iran, India, South Africa, and nearly all of the states in mother Africa continue to recognize the elected government, the U.S. has found support from its rightwing and neoliberal allied governments across Latin America, Europe, and in Israel. Shockingly, the Dominican Republic and Haiti joined with the U.S. in denouncing Bolivarian Venezuela.

This eerily reminds some of us old enough to remember, of those similarly turbulent days in the hemisphere during 1962, when an OAS meeting took place in a beach resort known as Punta del Este, Uruguay as Cuba was removed from the body. It was at that OAS meeting, that the legendary Foreign Minister of Cuba Dr. Raul Roa, forever baptized that odious organization as “The Ministry of Yankee Colonies”.

Dominicans won’t accept their government stabbing Caracas in the back

Precisely because of these historical realities that transpired in Hispaniola & the region, vis-à-vis the “Colossus of the North”, the popular movements & social organizations of the Dominican Republic have again assumed their vanguard roles as national leaders, mobilizing throughout the country, reminding the people of the historic legacy serving as background to current events, once again building up the people’s collective consciousness, illustrating that these latest events have not happened in a vacuum.  Within this context, a broad coalition of popular movements & organizations, scheduled a vigil on February 5, 2019, In Santiago, the heart of the northern Cibao region of the country, comprising 13 key provinces which have played a determining role in this country’s history, going back all the way to its independence in the mid 19thCentury.

The deep solidarity bonds of Venezuela towards the Dominican nation can be traced further back in time, when in 1930 the first outflow of Dominican exiles began arriving in the “Patria de Bolivar”, fleeing the U.S. backed Trujillo’s dictatorship. Professor Juan Bosch, a legendary figure of Dominican history & who in 1962 became the first democratically elected President after the fall of Trujillo, arrived in this first contingent of Dominican exiles in Venezuela. Bolivar’s homeland in turn became the safe harbor of patriotic activism against Trujillo, by the Dominican diaspora. This anti-Trujillo militancy from Venezuela became so intense, that the “Satrap of the Caribbean” as Trujillo was sometimes known, ordered an assassination attempt against President Betancourt of Venezuela in 1960. The Dictator Trujillo was finally assassinated in 1961

After the fall of Trujillo & the ascent to power in Dominican Republic of another lackey of U. S. imperialism-President Joaquin Balaguer, whose elections in 1966 were known to have been financed by the U. S. Department of State according to declassified files, over 2,000 Dominican combatants that participated in the Constitutionalist Revolution of 1965, arrived in Venezuela. Afterwards during the re-election of Balaguer in 1971-72, hundreds of Dominicans also migrated to Venezuela.  The situation in D. R. then became so untenable for many Dominicans due to Balaguer’s fierce persecution of opponents, it is estimated upwards of 60,000 of them migrated to Venezuela. Eventually, the Dominican diaspora in Venezuela became the largest migration inflow from the insular Caribbean, up to the ascent to power of Chavez, at which time Cubans began to increasingly arrive in Venezuela, composing in part the core of Chavez’s “Mision Barrio Adentro” massive health clinics projects, in the poor neighborhoods of the country.

In summary, the brotherly hospitality & solidarity afforded to Dominicans in Venezuela, throughout 20thCentury migratory periods, along with the aforementioned fact of Venezuela’s consistent solidarity with Dominican Republic through the generous Petrocaribe oil agreement, this honorable background stands in stark contrast to D. R.’s “Kiss of Judas” vote at the OAS against Venezuela, on January 10, 2019. This “Kiss of Judas” comes at a time when Bolivarian Venezuela faces a mounting economic war undertaken by the U.S. and its allies, compounded by a huge decline in the international price of oil.

With Dominicans aware of their history and learning the truth about the empire’s actions in the region, in the coming months, it appears very likely that the elite consensus in Dominican politics will begin to be shaken, as Danilo Medina faces a crisis of legitimacy.

Jovenel Moïse’s treason and the oncoming tidal wave of resistance

It was Haitians who stood out within our concert of colonized Caribbean nations, as the people which decisively proved in the field of battle, that the very best of Europe could be defeated in war when it finally gained independence from France in 1804. Venezuela’s & Haiti’s history is also intertwined, when in 1816 Petion gave arms, money & men to Bolivar, for the cause of independence of Venezuela, which in turn eventually liberated Colombia, Ecuador, Peru & Bolivia from imperial Spain.

More recently, during the second Presidency of Jean-Bertrand Aristide, Venezuela was one of the only countries which kept providing financial support to the Haitian government as it was embargoed and undermined by the George Bush administration. Furthermore, it was Chavez who was the only Latin American leader who forcefully denounced the 2004 coup against Aristide. Afterwards, during the Preval and then the rightwing Martelly & Moise regimes, Venezuela continued its unconditional solidarity with the people of Haiti, through its Petrocaribe agreement, as well as providing financial assistance for infrastructure projects. Venezuela has never required the conditionalities, nor the political alignment, for its aid, as have the supranational agencies and countries of the north. A true friend.

Regarding Venezuela & Haiti we must remember, that during Chavez’s tenure & following Haiti’s catastrophic 2010 earthquake, the leader of the Bolivarian Revolution soon thereafter announced Venezuela would “write off” Haiti’s undisclosed oil debts.  At an ALBA (Bolivarian Alliance for the Americas) foreign ministers’ meeting after the earthquake, Chavez remarked that “it wasn’t Haiti that had a debt with Venezuela, but just the opposite Venezuela had a debt with that nation.”  He also mentioned that an initial donation of $10 million would be disbursed to Haiti for emergency energy needs, along with an additional $100 million “for starters” towards infrastructure projects. Additionally, Chavez mentioned, one part of ALBA assistance to Haiti would consist of fuel distribution via “mobile service stations” to be up and running within a few weeks. The ALBA plan of aid for Haiti also included support for such sectors as agriculture production, food imports and distribution, and immigration amnesty for Haitians living illegally in the bloc’s member-states. At that time also, Cuba and Venezuela sent assistance and aid workers to Haiti within days of the magnitude-7.0 earthquake that left an estimated 150,000-200,000 dead and more than a million people homeless.

To illustrate that unique internationalist relationship between Venezuela & Haiti, we must witness the Venezolana de Television report of Chavez’s trip to Haiti in 2007,  exemplifying the close emotional bond between these two Caribbean nations, which Chavez in great measure revived as he recuperated its historic memory jogging openly with the peoples of Cite Soleil and Bel Air through the streets of Port-au-Prince. In this report, you will witness the incredible feat of Chavez leaving his vehicle, as he actually joins the joyful masses in Port Au Prince, which are jogging in unison along his motorcade. On the other side of the historical spectrum, when Nixon as Vice President visited Venezuela in 1958 the total opposite occurred at that time. Instead of joyful crowds awaiting Nixon, enraged Venezuelans violently assaulted his limousine, manifesting the people’s rebuke of the U. S.’s close collaboration with the ruthless dictatorship of Perez Jimenez, which had recently ended.

As Moïse’s unpopular government has been caught up in corruption scandals and as complaints grow over the worsening economic situation and a lack of government support for the poor, in recent months the USPGN (Moïse’s own personal security forces) took part in a violent massacre targeting an anti-government slum. With Moïse facing mass protests his government increasingly takes its cues from Washington.

With regards to Jovenel Moïse’s governemnt’s treasonous vote against Venezuela at the OAS, another of its aberrant dimensions was its diametrical position vis-à-vis the Caribbean Community (CARICOM), of which Haiti is a member. CARICOM’s position has been unequivocal in contravention to the virtually neocolonial position of OAS Secretary Almagro, who by all reasonable standards has become a virtual mouthpiece of Uncle Sam at the “Ministry of Yankee Colonies.” CARICOM on the one hand recognizes the legitimacy of President Maduro of Venezuela, while the OAS secretary general Luis Almagro has recognized the so-called “self-proclaimed” interim President of Venezuela, Juan Guaido.

Haiti has long been in the crosshairs of the Empire and its local proxies. In recent years top elites have sought to restructure the county’s economy and political scene. This has come after the U.S. and its allies have essentially neutralized the country’s sovereignty & independence, heavily influencing, installing regimes, or supporting political processes that relied on heavy vote suppression and years of political disenfranchisement (such as in 2016 with one the lowest percentages of voter participation in the world). This is the same unpopular & corrupt regime, which has been the subject of massive nationwide protests against its misuse of Venezuela’s Petrocaribe funds, starting on August, 2018, and which continually burst out throughout the following months & into February, 2019.

These protests were practically made invisible by Western mainstream media, even as their brutal repression has been well documented by citizen journalists and local grassroots groups.

Hispaniola Rising!

In spite of the backstabbing vote of the corrupt Dominican and Haitian administration’s against Venezuela at the OAS, the people of Hispaniola’s solidarity with Venezuela has been manifest in many ways.

Huge marches backed by many grassroots groups and Aristide’s Fanmi Lavalas party have called for an end to the foreign occupation and new sovereign elections, while a smaller opposition party Pitit Dessalin has planned demonstrations in support of the legitimacy of President Maduro. Already Haitian paramilitary and police forces are being used to brutally attack these demonstrations.

Meanwhile, on the other side of Hispaniola, on February 17, 2019, a massive demonstration in support of Venezuela is scheduled to take place, at the Parque Independencia of Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic.  Student groups and activist circles across the country are being mobilized and are coming to understand the threat that Trump and his neo-con allies present.

In view of all the aforementioned, this writer while not an expert on geopolitics or history, by virtue of the fact of having been born in the Caribbean, & having closely observed its regional history since childhood & comprising many decades, I have reasonably concluded that this recent crisis between Venezuela & the Empire (or the “Colossus of the North”), could perhaps be opening a new threshold in the correlation of forces in the hemisphere, to the point where we could almost start leaning towards the conclusion, that perhaps the United States of America is no longer the absolute master of this hemisphere, say as it was the case prior to the Cuban Revolution of 1959.

What we are witnessing now are key nations such as Venezuela deciding to chart a course in favor of thier own people, implementing the re-foundation of the nation-state, while further steering away from the imperial diktat. At the same time, it is obvious that the Empire while commencing its decline, still exerts plenty of hemispheric muscle, as the treacherous OAS vote of Haiti & Dominican Republic has shown, in spite of Venezuela’s committed and honorable solidarity record with these two sister nations. Informing the younger generations about the history of the U.S. empire in the region, about the role of soft power in the media, and what is happening around the region today is vital. Also vital are creating new bonds and working to unify popular sectors to oppose the plans of Washington and their clients, to once again build south-south bonds and regional development from below.

February 20, 2019 Posted by | Solidarity and Activism, Economics, Corruption, Timeless or most popular | , , , , , | Leave a comment

The Ukrainian Election: When No News Is Bad News

By Dmitry BABICH | Strategic Culture Foundation | 15.02.2019

As the Ukrainian presidential election, scheduled to take place on March 31, draws ever closer, Western politicians are going out of their way to protect it from “Russian meddling.” This protection, which became a sort of peculiar Anglo-Saxon sport in the United States and the UK, will figure highly on the agenda of the meeting of the European Union’s foreign ministers on February 18, slated for a discussion of the coming Ukrainian election. A naïve reader of the Western press might wonder why the president of the “newly Westernized” Ukraine, Petro Poroshenko, has an approval rating of just 14%, trailing the comedian Vladimir Zelensky with his 21.9% and former Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko with her 19%. Obviously, some “meddling” must have taken place…

A COUNTRY THAT’S A THREAT TO ITSELF

Upon a closer look, however, the Ukrainian election appears to be more in need of protection from its own forms of Ukrainian extremism and what to the untrained eye might appear to be idiocies, rather than from any meddling from the Russian side. Suffice it to present a brief list of the recent suggestions and real policy moves (some of them coming from the very top echelon of government) which were made in the heat of electoral hysteria. Not surprisingly, most of these suggestions and moves are tied to Russia.

Presidential candidate Vitaly Kupryi simply suggested that Ukraine should officially declare war on Russia, obliging president Petro Poroshenko to announce an immediate mobilization and to use a special law to start moving troops against the “aggressor.” Since Kupryi is a deputy in the Supreme Rada (the Ukrainian parliament), his draft bill, which enjoys the support of a group of equally belligerent deputies, has been officially registered and waits to be reviewed by parliamentarians. Until now, the Supreme Rada has demurred from traveling along this somewhat suicidal path, preferring other, longer, more oblique routes toward a catastrophe. Last week, the Rada made Ukraine’s road towards NATO and the EU legally binding through another special law, altering Ukraine’s constitution, where the neutral, non-bloc status of the country had been enshrined since the 1990s. The parliamentarians also continued working on a draft bill, which makes “denial of Russian aggression against Ukraine” (that is, stating the truth that the war in the Russian-speaking eastern regions of Ukraine is a civil conflict) a criminal offence, punishable by several years in jail. The leading candidate, acting President Petro Poroshenko, has not allowed his parliament to outpace him in belligerent idiocies. He declared the visits by Russian citizens of the Russian-speaking Crimean peninsula to be “heinous crimes — breaches of the Ukrainian border,” which should all be punished by several years in Ukrainian jail. (6.8 million Russian tourists visited Crimea in 2018 alone, so theoretically Poroshenko could land Ukraine into the Guinness Book of World Records as the country with the highest potential prison population).

FAKE CHOICE: “EITHER PUTIN OR POROSHENKO”

As for “Russian meddling” in the elections, some of the candidates, including Poroshenko, are manufacturing this “meddling” themselves, by continuously campaigning not for Ukraine, but rather against Russia and its president Vladimir Putin. For example, Poroshenko’s campaign ad, which was unveiled on the day his candidacy officially launched on January 29, showed a Photoshopped image of the acting Ukrainian president confronting his Russian colleague, with the caption: “Either Poroshenko or Putin.”

The reason why Poroshenko continuously tries to redirect the attention of voters away from the country’s real problems and toward Russia’s ostensible “invasion” is obvious. “Ukraine’s catastrophic economic situation does not leave Poroshenko any room for self-promotion. Economically, this candy billionaire, who became rich working in all the governments, from Kuchma’s to Yanukovich’s, turned up to be rather helpless,” says Mikhail Pogrebinsky, the head of the Kiev-based Center for Political Research and Conflict Studies.

In the last quarter of the year 2018, the average income of a Ukrainian household was 9,400 hryvnas (about $350). This prompted the IMF to declare Ukraine the poorest country in Europe: Ukraine has even bested Moldova for this dubious honor, a nation that was previously at the top of the poverty rankings with an average salary of $375. Oleg Lyashko, a flamboyant nationalist candidate from Ukraine’s Radical party, accused Poroshenko of “taking us to Europe via Africa.”

A SAD END FOR THE FOREIGN “SAVIORS”

No wonder Poroshenko stopped talking about fighting corruption and introducing Western standards of state management, the two pillars of his plans for Ukraine at the beginning of his presidency in 2014. The “parachuting” of foreign specialists into the government (the Georgians Mikheil Saakashvili and Alexander Kvitashvili, the Lithuanian national Aivaras Abromavicius, as well as an American citizen, Natalie Jaresko) ended in dishonorable resignations, coupled with scandals and mutual accusations. When he quit, former Minister of Economy and Trade Abromavicius and former Governor of Odessa Saakashvili accused Poroshenko’s entourage of far-reaching corruption, much worse than the practices under the former president, Viktor Yanukovich. It is interesting to note that both Saakashvili and Poroshenko’s first prosecutor general, Vitaly Yarema, initially justified violent protests against the “corrupt” Yanukovich in 2013 and 2014, when 38 policemen were killed by the US-supported “peaceful protesters” from Maidan. But they both now acknowledge that “corruption schemes have become even more intricate and harmful” for society today compared to the Yanukovich era. Not surprisingly, Yarema was fired days after making such statements.

“The rule of oligarchs over the economy and the extortion of bribes from citizens by state officials have not diminished since Yanukovich’s rule,” writes a popular Kiev-based blogger and political expert Viktor Datsyuk. “What is even worse, the greediness of the ruling elite destroyed the ‘oligarchic consensus’ that had existed in Ukraine for years.” In Datsyuk’s opinion, this may lead to a new Hobbesian “war of all against all” in Ukraine.

SUBMISSION TO THE WEST AS THE NEW CONSENSUS

Upon a closer look, again, a certain “oligarchic consensus” still exists in Ukraine, and that consensus is based on the total submission of the local oligarchs to the “overseers” of Ukraine, who operate from Washington and Brussels.

At the peak of the presidential campaign, Ukraine simply exploded with anger when Poroshenko refused to obey a ruling from Kiev’s administrative court. The court removed Ulyana Suprun from her office — an American of Ukrainian descent, the last of the “foreign specialists” still operating in the Ukrainian government with an American passport. Legally, the ruling of the court was correct: Suprun has been “performing the duties” of the country’s health minister without being officially appointed in due course and in violation of a law that prohibits non-citizens of Ukraine from occupying government positions.

“I gave her citizenship through my own decree,” Poroshenko said, brushing off questions about Suprun NOT relinquishing her American citizenship, as required by the Ukrainian law.

The last time the Western elite was so up in arms to protect a “foreign specialist” inside the Ukrainian elite was in 2017, when Poroshenko suddenly canceled his own decree granting Ukrainian citizenship to Mikheil Saakashvili, the former Georgian president. At the time, Saakashvili was in Western Europe, but somehow he made his way back to Ukraine through a border checkpoint inside a crowd of supporters in September 2017, and was met “by chance” on the Ukrainian side of the border by the heads of influential Rada factions Yulia Tymoshenko (the “Fatherland” party) and Andrei Sadovoy (from the Samooborona, or “Self-Defense” movement). Somehow, the border checkpoint was also visited at that moment by Valentin Nalivaichenko, the former head of the fearsome Ukrainian Security Service (SBU).

They all embraced Saakashvili with grim faces, not quite in keeping with a miraculous and “spontaneous” breakthrough across the heavily guarded border.

A few months later, when Saakashvili somehow fell out of grace with his Western supervisors and was evicted from Ukraine by Poroshenko’s special forces via a chartered flight to Europe, his “friends” Tymoshenko and Nalivaichenko did not lift a finger in his defense.

THE INEVITABLE INCUMBENT

Obviously, after the US and the EU allowed Poroshenko to eject Saakashvili from Ukraine without punishment, it became clear that they had no other serious alternative to Poroshenko. Most likely, they will “allow” Poroshenko to win, using the hugely negative public image of Tymoshenko (70% of Ukrainians do not want to see her as their president under any circumstances).

As for the people who are suggesting realistic alternatives to the current disastrous course, they are being stigmatized as “Russian agents” or, worse, “Putin’s friends.”

This is not a situation in which no news is good news, though. Poroshenko’s continued hold on power in Ukraine means the continued threat of another war in the Donbass, the persecution of political opponents, and dispossession and the loss of legal status for the Ukrainian Orthodox Church under the Moscow Patriarchate. So, Poroshenko should not complain, when, as he himself told journalists, Vladimir Putin refused to take his phone call. “I did not want to help Poroshenko in his electoral campaign,” Putin explained. He had a good reason to say so.

February 18, 2019 Posted by | Corruption, Economics | , | Leave a comment

Elliott Abrams ‘Cabaled Quietly’ to Spring a CIA-Connected Drug Trafficker

By Jefferson Morley | The Deep State | February 15, 2019

Surely, this is just another “loony left” headline about Elliott Abrams, the administration’s point man on Venezuela, whom some say has been unfairly pilloried on Capitol Hill.

If you read this September 1986 National Security Council email, written by NSC staffer Oliver North, you’ll see the headline is not over-stated but factually precise and faithful to the conspiratorial tone of the original source.

When U.S. policymakers needed to spring a convicted CIA-connected drug trafficker from doing hard time in federal prison, who did they call?

Trump’s appointed special envoy to Venezuela, Elliott Abrams.

On Thursday, Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) scorched Abrams for his covering up the infamous El Mozote massacre and lying to Congress during the Iran-Contra conspiracy in the 1980s.

Her interrogation drew rebuke from Max Boot, the apostate conservative, and a chorus of right-wing media commentators. Boot described Omar’s comments as a “disgraceful ad hominem attack.”

Actually the impertinent Congresswoman from Minneapolis could have gone much further about Abrams’ untrustworthy behavior. One of the most revealing stories about Abram’s hypocrisy comes from an impeccably right-wing source, Oliver North, former Republican senatorial candidate and Fox News talking head.

Bagman

The year was 1986. Abrams served as assistant secretary of state for Latin America under President Reagan. He was a 39 year old lawyer and foreign policy polemicist. Even then his perennial scowl and crooked grin managed made him look furtive and self-righteous at the same time.

The Iran-Contra conspiracy was in full swing. The conspiracy, permissively labelled “a scandal,” was a Reagan White House plot to subvert the U.S. Congress’s powers of the purse. North was the coordinator of what can fairly be described as an unconstitutional covert operation, while Abrams played the role of bagman.

To bypass the so-called Boland Amendment, Abrams took payments from the Sultan of Brunei, a petroleum potentate from South Asia, and passed them to the leaders of Reagan’s counterrevolutionary army in Nicaragua. When questioned under oath, Abrams lied. He later pleaded guilty to two counts of deceiving Congress.

As part of the conspiracy, Abrams also put in a good word for a convicted drug trafficker, General Jose Bueso Rosa. He was a Honduran general who had helped the U.S. government with  “sensitive operations” in Central America. As Murray Waas and I wrote in the Washington Post, North did “a favor for a felon.”

So did Abrams.

‘Sensitive Operations’

As an episode of CIA-sanctioned drug trafficking, the Bueso story was  typical. Bueso, it turns out, had helped put together a CIA-trained military intelligence unit known as Battalion 316, which served as death squad for U.S. policymakers.  A Honduran government investigation found that Battalion 316 had captured, tortured and executed some 200 suspected leftists.

Bueso had also trafficked multi-kiloton shipments of cocaine. As CIA Inspector General Frederick Hitz documented in Volume 2 of his report on contra drug trafficking, the agency did business with more than 50 suspected drug traffickers in the 1980s.

(Lazy reporters sometimes say that the CIA was cleared of the allegation. They didn’t bother to read the Sections 800-1148 of Hitz’s report which detail how the agency took no action against four dozen suspected traffickers who aided Reagan’s–and Abrams’–anticommunist crusade.)

IG report that CIA reporters prefer not to read
(Credit: CIA)

Investigating the story for the Post, I spoke on background with law enforcement officials familiar with Bueso’s case. A  wiretap had picked up Bueso repeatedly talking about shipments of “flour” into central Florida, they said.

Given Bueso’s connections, no one in the Reagan Justice Department cared to make a big deal of his cocaine shipments, no matter how hefty. They just wanted a conviction that would put him out of business. Bueso got a generous plea bargain. He would only have to serve five years.

Bueso, however, was led to believe his American friends would save him from serving any time all.

In his September 1986 email, later uncovered by Iran-contra investigators, North worried Bueso might “break his long standing silence.” He might, in other words disclose unpleasant truths about death squads and CIA drug trafficking that might taint professed U.S. ideals of human rights.

So North “cabaled quietly” with Abrams, as well as top Pentagon, CIA and Justice Department officials.  A presidential pardon was out of the question but transfer to a comfortable “Club Fed” facility was arranged.

At a time when U.S. prosecutors meted out ten-year sentences to young black men for the possession of a few ounces of cocaine, Abrams was part of a gang that thought a multi-kiloton trafficker should be treated leniently. Such was his subtle advocacy of human rights.

Bueso got out of prison early–for “good behavior.” Abrams went on to a long career in U.S. foreign policy. Hundreds of thousands of black men remained in jails for years, if not decades.

Question

Rep. Omar could have asked an even tougher question of Abrams, namely, “Does Trump’s policy toward Latin America today involve protection of drug traffickers as Reagan’s policy did in the 1980s?”

She was certainly justified in questioning his veracity.

“I fail to understand why members of this committee or the American people should find any testimony you give today to be truthful,” she said.

————————

Here’s the Omar-Abrams exchange.

February 17, 2019 Posted by | Corruption, Deception, Timeless or most popular, War Crimes | , , | Leave a comment

The First Rule of AIPAC Is: You Do Not Talk about AIPAC

By Thomas L. Knapp | Garrison Center | February 15, 2019

Washington’s political establishment went berserk when US Representative Ilhan Omar (D-MN) publicly noted that US-Israel relations are “all about the Benjamins”  — slang for $100 bills, referring to money shoveled at American politicians by the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC).

Omar was accused of antisemitism — immediately by Republicans, shortly after by members of her own party — and bullied into apologizing. She may or may not be prejudiced against Jews,  but even if she is, that wasn’t her real offense.

Her real offense was  publicly mentioning the irrefutable fact  that many members of Congress take their marching orders from a foreign power’s lobbying apparatus (an apparatus not, as required by law, registered under the Foreign Agents Registration Act), at least partly because those marching orders come with promises of significant donations to those politicians’ campaigns.

AIPAC itself doesn’t make direct donations to political campaigns. But AIPAC and other pro-Israel lobbying groups like Christians United For Israel punch well above their weight in American politics, largely by motivating their supporters to financially support and work for “pro-Israel” candidates in general elections and help weed out “anti-Israel” candidates in party primaries.

By the way, “pro-Israel” in this context always means “supportive of the jingoism of Benjamin Netanyahu’s Likud Party,” and never “supportive of the many Israelis who’d like peace with the Palestinian Arabs.”

One AIPAC supporter  alone, casino magnate Sheldon Adelson, spent $65 million getting Republicans elected, including $25 million supporting Donald Trump, in 2016.  But that $25 million was only put into action after Trump retreated from his early position of “neutrality” in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, publicly prostrated himself to AIPAC in a speech at one of its events, and pronounced himself “the most pro-Israel presidential candidate in history.”

But: We’re not supposed to talk about that. Ever. And it’s easy to see why.

If most Americans noticed that many  members of Congress (as well as most presidents) are selling their influence over US policy to a foreign power, we might do something about it.

For decades, howling “antisemitism” any time the matter came up proved an effective tactic for shutting down public discussion of the “special relationship” under which Israel receives lavish foreign aid subsidies, effective control of US foreign policy in the Middle East, and lately even state (and pending federal) legislation requiring government contractors to sign loyalty oaths to Israel’s government.

The Israeli lobby’s power to prevent that discussion seems to be slipping, however. Why? In part because the lobby’s money and political support, which used to be spent buying both sides of the partisan aisle, has begun tilting heavily Republican in recent years, freeing some Democrats to not “stay bought.” And in part because the newest generation of politicians includes some like Ilhan Omar who aren’t for sale (to Israel, anyway).

Decades of unquestioning obedience to the Israel lobby has drawn the US into needless and costly conflicts  not even remotely related to the defense of the United States. We’ll be better off when the “special relationship,” and the corruption underlying it, ends.

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

February 16, 2019 Posted by | Corruption, Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Wars for Israel | , , | 1 Comment

And now, a word from the Jewish Democratic Council of America

Jewish Democratic Council of America

Friends,

Events of the past week demonstrated that words matter. The Jewish Democratic Council of America (JDCA) immediately condemned Representative Ilhan Omar’s tweet for what it was – an anti-Semitic trope. We followed-up with a statement, denouncing Rep. Omar’s tweet because it represented a form of anti-Semitism that has historically been used to target Jews. We expressed deep concern that a member of Congress would express such incendiary views, and asserted that her constituents and the American people deserved better.

Within 24 hours, House Democratic leadership, as well as dozens of Democratic members of Congress, condemned Rep. Omar’s statement and expressed similar concerns. Facing immense pressure, Rep. Omar “unequivocally” apologized for her tweet. JDCA responded by welcoming Rep. Omar’s recognition that her words were offensive and her willingness to learn. We expressed hope that this would be last time she repeats dangerous stereotypes targeting Jews and said we look forward to engaging with her to voice our deep concerns. We also expressed concern that her apology was in fact equivocal because it repeated some of the same references she had originally tweeted about. JDCA is committed to ensuring that all members of Congress understand the gravity of these issues and calling out anti-Semitism wherever we see it.

JDCA has spoken out against Rep. Omar and other Democrats with whom we disagree before, and we will continue to speak out against anyone who engages in anti-Semitism irrespective of their party affiliation. Speaking truth to power, even within your own party, is consistent with our values. Words matter. But hypocrisy matters too.

JDCA Board on the Hill

That is why JDCA will continue to call out the hypocrisy of Republicans who are quick to criticize anti-Semitism when it’s politically expedient, but refuse to denounce anti-Semitism in their own ranks and at the highest levels of power.There is no question that insinuations of Jewish money controlling American politics is an anti-Semitic canard. So where was the Republican outrage when House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy insinuated just four months ago that Jews were attempting to buy the midterm election? In the last election, Republican state parties and candidates ran attack ads in six states featuring Jews clutching cash. Where was the outrage over the GOP’s widespread use of this anti-Semitic trope? Unfortunately, it wasn’t there. Instead, we have seen Republicans selectively condemn anti-Semitism when it suits their political interests but remain silent when it comes from the highest ranks of power.

Republicans were silent as Donald Trump ran a presidential campaign in which he frequently used anti-Semitic tropes. His final campaign ad – which was explicitly condemned by at least five Jewish groups, including the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) – referred to the same anti-Semitic trope Rep. Omar invoked this week. But that wasn’t the first time, nor would it be the last. In 2015, Trump told a crowd of Jews that “you’re not going to support me because I don’t want your money.” More recently, he promoted an anti-Semitic conspiracy theory on Twitter. And we will never forget that the President of the United States publicly created a moral equivalence between neo-Nazis and those protesting them in Charlottesville.

Again, where is the Republican outrage? There has been none. Just silence.

Republicans have been quick to point to their recent condemnation of Rep. Steve King for his alignment with white supremacy, but as Speaker Nancy Pelosi reminded us on Wednesday, Republicans’ decision to finally take action against King – who has long been known to hold anti-Semitic views – took Republicans 13 years.

Even this past week, 177 House Republicans voted against a bill containing language condemning anti-Semitism. All Democrats – including Rep. Omar – voted for it, but Republicans chose party over principle, and nearly all of them voted “no.” JDCA spoke out after this vote, affirming that it was “blatant hypocrisy on the part of Republicans, plain and simple, and we condemn them for it in the strongest possible terms.”

This hypocrisy is simply unacceptable.

We’ve had enough. Anti-Semitism cannot be tolerated, and we must uniformly hold elected officials to the highest standards. If you are committed to calling out anti-Semitism only when it’s politically expedient, then you are just dedicated to partisanship not principles. That’s why we’re encouraging the GOP to commit to calling out anti-Semitism whenever and wherever it emerges. As JDCA stated on Wednesday in a message to Republicans – “enough of the willful blindness, hypocrisy, and double standards.”

Words matter, but hypocrisy matters too, and if you agree with the work JDCA is doing, please consider supporting our efforts today. Please also check out more of JDCA’s work from this past week on our website, including our response to the breaking news of President Trump’s emergency declaration at our border, an op-ed by Executive Director Halie Soifer published in the Times of Israel, and a letter to the editor published in the Jewish Journal by JDCA Board Member Ada Horwich and Halie Soifer.

JDCA Board on the Hill

Shabbat Shalom,

Ron Klein

Chair, Jewish Democratic Council of America

Halie Soifer

Executive Director, Jewish Democratic Council of America

February 16, 2019 Posted by | Corruption, Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism | , | 1 Comment

Mass Protests in Haiti, Like France’s Yellow Vests, Threaten Modern Oligarchic Structure

By Whitney Webb | MintPress News | February 12, 2019

PORT-AU-PRINCE, HAITI – Throughout recent Latin American history, it is hard to find a country that has been as thoroughly manipulated and plundered by the United States as Haiti has. After over a century of U.S. intervention — from the 19-year-long U.S. military occupation that began in 1915 to the 2010 election rigged by the Hillary Clinton-run State Department — Haiti has become the ultimate neoliberal experiment that has forced its people to live in conditions so horrible that rivers of sewage often run through the city streets.

Even Haiti’s own president, Jovenel Moise — who has presided over the most recent phase of U.S.-backed plunder — recently called the entire country a “latrine.”

Yet — much as in 1791, when Haiti was the site of the first successful slave revolt in the Americas — today the people of Haiti seem to have finally had enough of being slaves in all but name and are taking to the streets en masse in an effort to end the rule of the Haitian Bald-Headed Party (PHTK), the U.S.-backed political party with close ties to the Clintons.

For six days, thousands of Haitians have marched through the country’s capital of Port-au-Prince and other major cities, calling for Moise’s ouster for corruption and gross economic mismanagement in recent years, much of which can be traced directly back to the 2010 earthquake and the subsequent U.S.-UN “relief” effort that let to rigged elections, caused a deadly cholera outbreak and sought to turn the entire country into one massive sweatshop for American clothing companies.

More specifically, Moise has ignited popular ire after being implicated in the embezzlement of a $4 billion loan given to the Haitian government to develop the country via Venezuela’s PetroCaribe program and for his failure to combat the double-digit inflation that has further impoverished the Caribbean nation.

President Moise has thus far responded to the protests much like the president of Haiti’s former colonial ruler, France, where President Emmanuel Macron has sought to disperse the Yellow Vest popular protest movement with police violence. Similarly, Moise has ordered police to shoot tear gas and live ammunition into crowds of unarmed protesters, killing at least four people, including a 14-year-old boy who was not even a part of the protests, and injuring scores more.

Despite the violent response from the Moise-led government, protesters have continued to come out in force, even stoning Moise’s personal home on Saturday. That same day, Moise declared that he would “clean the streets” of every protester by Monday.

Yet the mass protests continued through Monday, when police were seen standing down in Carrefour (a suburb of Port-au-Prince), no longer willing to fire on protesters. In a video of the incident shared on social media, one female protester yells that “the police are afraid.” Late Monday afternoon, local reports asserted that PHTK ruling elite were evacuated via helicopter from the wealthy enclave of Petionville to the Toussaint L’Ouverture International Airport, apparently planning to flee the country — at least temporarily. Other reports stated that at least one police officer had been shot during Monday demonstrations that turned violent and saw several businesses looted.

Local media on Tuesday reported high turnout for protests in several cities.

The international response to the protests in Haiti has been limited, with the UN warning Haitian protesters on Sunday that “in a democracy change must come through the ballot box, and not through violence.” This unintentionally ironic statement ignores the documented meddling of the United States in massaging vote totals and other manipulative tactics in the last two presidential elections. This, combined with the fact that the U.S. has kidnapped and overthrown Jean-Bertrand Aristide, a left-leaning populist politician, each time he won an election — first in 1991 and then in 2004 — has greatly reduced Haitians’ faith in their “democracy.”

The U.S. knows something about election meddling

Since he came to power in February 2017, Moise’s policies have resulted in several mass protests — including last July, when protesters forced Moise’s government to abandon a planned hike in fuel prices; and last November, when protesters demanded Moise’s ouster for the embezzlement of PetroCaribe funds. With so many protests in such a short span of time, the anger among the Haitian population at this unpopular president is pungent and will likely prove difficult to placate this time.

A large part of Moise’s unpopularity is likely related to the fact that he was never popularly elected to begin with. The 2016 election that Moise allegedly won was disorganized and had turn-out so dismal that Moise, the “winner,” received only around 600,000 votes out of a national population of over 11 million. Prominent Haitian politicians called the election an “electoral coup.”

In addition, that election was overseen by Ken Merten, former Obama administration ambassador to Haiti and then Obama’s Haiti Special Coordinator, and was wracked by accusations of vote-buying and -stealing and other fraudulent activities. Merten’s involvement is particularly nefarious given that he oversaw the previous Haiti election (2010) where the U.S. State Department had altered the vote count.

If that were not enough, in addition to the election fraud, Moise was widely believed to have been ineligible for office soon after having been “elected,” after it was revealed that he had laundered money through his personal bank account and was tied to a drug-trafficking operation.

Ultimately, Moise’s unpopular rule is the continuation of that of his predecessor, Michel Martelly, who chose Moise — then a political neophyte — as his successor. Martelly’s rise to power was similar to Moise’s but even more fraudulent. In the 2010 election that saw Martelly “win,” the Hillary Clinton-run State Department changed the vote totals in order to place Martelly in a runoff election for which he hadn’t in fact qualified. When the previous Haitian government resisted, Clinton herself traveled to Haiti and threatened to withdraw all U.S. aid from Haiti if Martelly did not replace the second runoff candidate, Jude Celestin.

After coming to power, it took little time for observers to realize why the U.S., particularly the Clinton-led State Department, had chosen Martelly. Not only was Martelly an avid supporter of neoliberal policies that impoverished his people, he also supported the outright theft of Haitian land by wealthy foreign corporations to create so-called “Free Trade Zones,” and brokered a deal with the Clintons to release Americans who had been arrested for child trafficking.

Furthermore, Martelly also helped squander much of the foreign aid that did make it into Haiti, cementing his reputation as notoriously corrupt, although most of that aid never even made it to Haiti and instead remained in the hands of corrupt foreign contractors.

In addition, Martelly was also a supporter of the Duvalier family — which ruled Haiti with an iron fist during the dictatorships of “Papa Doc” Duvalier and his son “Baby Doc” Duvalier. Indeed, when “Baby Doc” Duvalier returned from exile in France to attend a Haitian government ceremony, Martelly — along with Bill Clinton, who was also in attendance – rose to greet him.

Martelly’s government included several officials who were connected to the Duvalier dictatorship, including his prime minister, Garry Conille, whose father held a cabinet position in the Duvalier dictatorship. In addition, Conille served with Bill Clinton on the Interim Haiti Recovery Commission and had previously worked as a development manager for the United Nations before receiving his prominent position in the government installed by both the U.S. and the UN.

Thus, Haiti under Martelly and Moise has been little different in practice from the Duvalier era. Indeed, as Amy Wilentz noted in a 2014 article in The Nation, “[The Duvalier] political toolbox — authoritarianism, trumped up elections, distrust of free speech, corruption of the forces of order, and no justice — are the methods by which Haiti’s ruler [Martelly] still controls the country.” With Moise serving as the new face of PHTK and Martelly’s chosen successor, this neo-Duvalier era in Haiti that has largely been orchestrated by the U.S. is now in danger of falling apart.

Haiti puts the neo-colonial oligarchy on edge

If the movement to oust the U.S.-backed and illegally installed rulers of Haiti is successful, it could easily send shockwaves through the power structures of the United States and its client states, much as the Haitian revolution did to the colonial powers two centuries ago. Indeed, the Haitian revolution instilled fear in European colonial masters throughout the Americas and the world and inspired countless slave revolts in the United States alone. Today, it still serves as a reminder that the most repressed class of a society can rise up to declare their equality and independence — and win. Perhaps that is why the current oligarchical system has invested so much in robbing Haitians of their economic and political power.

Though today is unlike the late 18th century in the sense that those at the bottom of the rung are no longer called “slaves” and those at the top are no longer called “masters” and “kings,” the record inequality that now exists throughout the world, the U.S. included, has recreated in today’s power structures an ethos eerily similar to that of the feudal-colonial systems of centuries past.

As both Haiti and France have become the new epicenters of popular unrest against predatory elites, much as they were two centuries ago, it is time to see both of these current movements as part of the same struggle for basic human dignity in an era of neocolonialism, imperialism and global oligarchy.

Whitney Webb is a staff writer for MintPress News and has contributed to several other independent, alternative outlets. Her work has appeared on sites such as Global Research, the Ron Paul Institute and 21st Century Wire among others. She also makes guest appearances to discuss politics on radio and television. She currently lives with her family in southern Chile.

February 12, 2019 Posted by | Corruption, Economics, Timeless or most popular | , , , | Leave a comment

Being Marco Rubio

The boyish senator from Florida is owned by the Israel Lobby

By Philip Giraldi • Unz Review • February 12, 2019

Americans consistently indicate in opinion polls that they approve of congress less than any other part of the federal government. The approval rating is sometimes in the single digits. As the congress was intended, per the Founders, to serve as the direct link to the American people, there is a certain irony in its being the most despised branch of government.

One can blame the two major parties for much of the negativity, as the process whereby candidates for office rise through the system that seems designed to weed out anyone who has ever expressed any viewpoint that is not approved by the bipartisan establishment. Indeed, many Americans complain that Democratic and Republican congress critters differ only superficially, both being corrupt from top to bottom and largely driven to stay on top so they can continue to benefit personally from the spoils of office.

One of the emptiest of all the empty suits in the Senate is Marco Rubio of Florida. The boyish looking Rubio is, to be sure, ambitious, but his thought processes, if they exist at all, are hard to discern. He is, more than most congressmen, both totally ignorant and completely programed in what he says and how he says it. Anyone who doubts that judgement should watch the February 2016 debate with former New Jersey governor Chris Christie in which Christie totally destroyed Rubio, effectively ending his bid to become the GOP candidate for president. Christie criticized Rubio for memorizing a “25-second speech that is exactly what his advisers gave him.” The two argued, but Rubio seemed stuck with his stump speech, which Christie called him out on every time he launched into it. Christie eventually turned and told the audience “There it is. The 25-second memorized speech.”

Rubio is pretty much straight-line neocon in his pronouncements, his most recent policy statement being that the Venezuelan people have two choices – change their government or starve. He tweeted it with his usual eloquence: “Hunger & desperation is growing inside #Venezuela & people know the only thing standing in the way of $50 million of food & medicine is #Maduro. Military leaders should make a choice, before a choice is made for them. The window for a negotiated exit is closing fast.” Columnist Whitney Webb responded with “Marco Rubio is openly saying that if Venezuela’s military doesn’t turn on Maduro soon, ‘a choice will made for them’ by the United States. Scariest threat for an imminent invasion of Venezuela I have yet to see.”

Rubio, who is Cuban-American, is inevitably hard-line against taking any steps to improve relations with his ancestral homeland, is hostile to “enemies” Russia and China, and wants American soldiers to stay in Afghanistan and Syria forever. It is a formula for continuous conflict worldwide, with the United States paying the tab both in dollars and in casualties.

But Senator Marco Rubio’s greatest affection is reserved for the Jewish state Israel. Why? Because that’s where his money and political support come from, and, for its part, the Israel Lobby sees Rubio as a perfect simple-minded patsy to advance its agenda. Israel’s promoter with the deepest pockets, casino magnate Sheldon Adelson, was pursued by Rubio who “… consistently championed Israel in speeches on the Senate floor while also pushing legislation aimed at supporting the cause” during the GOP nomination process. Rubio eventually received Adelson’s endorsement in February 2016.

Before acquiring Adelson’s support, Rubio had “already gained support from Miami billionaire Norman Braman and New York billionaire investor Paul Singer, among others.” Both Braman and Singer are known to be major supporters of Israel. Marco’s affection for both Israel and Florida Jews derives largely from his connection to Braman, a former Philadelphia Eagle’s owner and currently a billionaire Miami resident who owns Florida’s largest network of car dealerships. Braman, an active supporter and funder of the illegal Jewish settlements in the Middle East, has been Rubio’s major financial backer since his early days in Florida state politics and as a quid pro quo whenever Marco expresses his love for both Jews and Israel, he is speaking to and for Braman.

Rubio has recently written, or had written for him, an op-ed in The New York Times entitled “The Truth About BDS and the Lies About My Bill” that seeks to explain why recent legislation to protect Israel that the senator sponsored does not violate the First Amendment guarantee of free speech.

Senate bill S.1 for 2019 finally passed out of the Senate last week on a 77 to 23 vote with Rand Paul as the only Republican Senator to vote against it. The full title of S.1 is the Strengthening America’s Security in the Middle East Act of 2019, which might be considered a bit of a fraud as it has nothing to do with the United States and is really all about giving Israel money and anything else it might desire, to include destroying the nonviolent Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement that has targeted Israel’s apartheid. In his speech defending the bill, Rubio openly admitted that he was seeking to help Israel. He also registered his opposition to the impending pullout of U.S. troops from Syria because it would, according to him, “endanger” the Jewish state.

Rubio’s op-ed was written before the final vote on February 5th, but it predicted correctly that the bill would receive “a bipartisan supermajority” in the Senate. Anything having to do with Israel normally receives such “supermajorities” from congressmen who are intimidated, or expecting to be raptured shortly or on the Israel Lobby payroll.

The op-ed’s author comes out swinging, declaring that critics have “echoed false claims made by anti-Israel activists and others that the bill violates Americans’ First Amendment rights. That line of argument is not only wrong but also provides cover for supporters of the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement, who embrace an international campaign of discriminatory economic warfare against Israel, a fellow democracy and America’s strongest ally in the Middle East.”

One supposes that “anti-Israel activists” consist of that increasing number of Americans who want to see Israel held accountable for its war crimes and crimes against humanity. Yes indeed, a boycott is “discriminatory economic warfare” using peaceful and non-threatening means to bring about change. And no, Israel is neither a democracy nor an ally of the United States. Has the Senate approved a treaty of alliance with Israel, Marco? You’re in the Senate and should know the answer to that one.

Rubio goes on to claim that “the goal of the movement is to eliminate any Jewish state between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean Sea.” Wrong again Marco. Even if some BDS supporters might like to see that, it is not a “goal of the movement.” The movement is non-violent and Israel has a large army that would make such an objective a fantasy.

The author then describes how “While the First Amendment protects the right of individuals to free speech, it does not protect the right of entities to engage in discriminatory conduct. Moreover, state governments have the right to set contracting and investment policies, including policies that exclude companies engaged in discriminatory commercial -or investment- related conduct targeting Israel… That’s why, since 2015, more than 25 states, including Florida, have adopted laws or issued executive orders to divest from or prohibit contracts with companies that wage discriminatory economic warfare against Israel.” Wrong again Marco. Free speech includes supporting discriminatory conduct. The American Civil Liberties Union has addressed the issue succinctly, arguing correctly that “Public officials cannot use the power of public office to punish views they don’t agree with. That’s the kind of authoritarian power our Constitution is meant to protect against.” And several state laws protecting Israel from the First Amendment have already been ruled unconstitutional.

Marco then expands on his argument, “The Combating BDS Act does not infringe on Americans’ First Amendment rights or prohibit their right to engage in boycotts. By design, it focuses on business entities — not individuals — … it focuses on conduct, not speech. Indeed, it does not restrict citizens or associations of citizens from engaging in political speech, including against Israel.” Indeed Marco, but how do you explain the fact that several of the well-publicized cases involving BDS legislation have involved individuals not “business entities” who refused to sign pledges regarding Israel, which, when last I checked, was not even part of the United States and has nothing to do with contracting in this country? Those individuals have been denied government benefits and have been fired from jobs they had held for years.

And then there is the hypocrisy issue for Marco Rubio. If openly and vocally opposing trade with or travel to Cuba should similarly be suppressed, would he and his Cubanos associates consider that to be constitutional or perfectly legal? I think not. And Cuba, as far as I know, does not line up snipers to shoot children and medical workers while also stealing land from its rightful owners. Israel is a racist apartheid state. Cuba, for all its faults, is not.

It would be difficult to find more insipid justifications for S.1 than those provided by Marco Rubio. He does not understand that the “state” at all levels is supposed to be politically neutral in terms of providing government services. It is not supposed to retaliate against someone for views they hold, particularly, as in this case, when those views are part of a nonviolent opposition to the policies of a foreign government that many consider to be guilty of crimes against humanity. Rubio clearly believes that you can exercise free speech but government can then punish you by taking away your livelihood or denying you services that you are entitled to if you do not agree with it on an issue that ultimately has nothing to do with the United States. How such a lightweight came to be a Senator of the United States of America eludes me.

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

February 12, 2019 Posted by | Corruption, Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Timeless or most popular | , , , , | 3 Comments

“How I Lost by Hillary Clinton,” a Book Review

By Ann Garrison | Black Agenda Report | February 6, 2019

Rich and manipulative people like Hillary Clinton and her DNC cohorts were defeated by their own emails.

“How I Lost By Hillary Clinton” is a collection of the DNC and Podesta emails published by Wikileaks in 2016, introduced and annotated by Consortium News Editor Joe Lauria, with a foreword by political prisoner Julian Assange. Believe it or not, you don’t have to buy it from Amazon unless you want to toss a few more dollars into the bursting coffers of Jeff Bezos, the world’s richest man, who says his only business option now is to search for new markets in outer space.

Instead you can order a paperback, e-book, or both from OR Books and dive back into the election year that just won’t die. On January 28, CNN reported that “Hillary Clinton tells friends she’s leaving 2020 door open.” A day earlier the New York Daily News had reported less charitably that “Hillary Clinton hasn’t learned her lesson yet.”

Back in November, upper-tier Clinton operatives Mark Penn and Andrew Stein penned “Hillary Will Run Again,” a bullish Wall Street Journal op-ed opening thus:

“Get ready for Hillary Clinton 4.0. More than 30 years in the making, this new version of Mrs. Clinton, when she runs for president in 2020, will come full circle—back to the universal-health-care-promoting progressive firebrand of 1994. True to her name, Mrs. Clinton will fight this out until the last dog dies. She won’t let a little thing like two stunning defeats stand in the way of her claim to the White House.”

I read “Hillary Will Run Again” three times to make sure it wasn’t just a little joke, or maybe even a more sophisticated attempt at satire. Then I read it again, and I still don’t think so, much as I wish it were. I’ll be gladly embarrassed if anyone can convince me I’m wrong.

But what about Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren, Cory Booker, Tulsi Gabbard, Kamala Harris, Kirsten Gillebrand, and whoever announces next? No worries, write Penn and Stein: “You can expect her to run for president once again. Maybe not at first, when the legions of Senate Democrats make their announcements, but definitely by the time the primaries are in full swing.”

Anyone remember “Night of the Living Dead” (1968), “Dawn of the Dead” (1978), “Day of the Dead” (1985), and “Land of the Dead” (2005)? Still watching “The Walking Dead” (2010-) or its spinoff “Fear the Walking Dead” (2015-)? Another grisly sequel or series could be coming soon. “How I Lost by Hillary Clinton” might fortify your psychic battlements before it begins.

We’ve all heard of the Wall Street speeches, finally published as a subset of the Podesta emails, but on the first page of this book, Lauria explains that they were just some of Hillary’s more high-profile influence peddling:

“Clinton spoke to just about anyone who would pay, including a scrap metal and recycling conference in Las Vegas, the automobile dealers association in New Orleans, and the National Association of Convenience Stores in Atlanta. Clinton said that fees from speeches at universities went to the Clinton Foundation and not directly into her pocket.”

Sounds like a tax dodge to me, and it “didn’t stop students at the University of Nevada-Las Vegas protesting her $225,000 haul as the university was hiking tuition.” Between April 2013 and March 2015, Hillary Clinton gave 91 paid speeches averaging $235,304.35 apiece, for a total of $21,648,000.

But she’d rather we didn’t dwell on it

When Joe Lauria was last in the Bay Area, I asked him how he got away with the title “How I Lost by Hillary Clinton.” He said that he, OR Books, and Julian Assange were all of the opinion that the Clinton camp wouldn’t want to attract attention to the book by pestering or suing them, and they haven’t yet. It’s an apt title anyway because so much of the book’s contents are DNC and Podesta emails, mostly penned by Hillary staff if not by Hillary herself.

Clinton the Elitist

The body of the book comes in two sections, the first being “Clinton the Elitist.” Here we read about how Hillary climbed from the upper middle class to the uber-rich via elite schools, specifically Wellesley and Yale Law School, then on to her and her husband’s political careers and all the wealth generated by post-presidential, post-cabinet speeches, book contracts, corporate board appointments, the Clinton Foundation, and other forms of bribery and influence peddling.

Despite the Wellesley and Yale Law School degrees, she sounds incoherent because of her mutually exclusive promises to protect both the financial elite and the rest of us. At Goldman Sachs’s 10/24/2013 AIMS Alternative Investments Symposium in New York City, she said that she had bravely faced Americans still bitter about the 2008 financial crisis that cost millions their homes followed by the bank bailout that transferred enormous wealth to the very Wall Street elites who engineered the crisis. “Too Big to Fail” hadn’t gone down well in the hinterland, but she had taken the flak:

“That was one of the reasons that I started traveling in February of ’09, so people could, you know, literally yell at me for the United States and our banking system causing this everywhere. Now, that’s an oversimplification we know, but it was the conventional wisdom. And I think that there’s a lot that could have been avoided in terms of both misunderstanding and really politicizing what happened with greater transparency, with greater openness on all sides, you know, what happened, how did it happen, how do we prevent it from happening? You guys help us figure it out and let’s make sure that we do it right this time. And I think that everybody was desperately trying to fend off the worst effects institutionally, governmentally, and there just wasn’t that opportunity to try to sort this out, and that came later.”

In other words, “You owe me. I’m one of you. That’s why I say ‘we.’” And Wall Street agreed. The financial services industry and associated PACs contributed $115.5 million to Clinton’s second presidential run, close to 10% of the $1.2 billion raised. They contributed to both the Democratic and Republican Parties, and their presidential candidates, as major corporations and business sectors always do to make sure they own a piece of whoever wins. However, Wall Street gave Trump a measly $7.9 million, most likely because of the widespread certainty that Clinton would win.

Hillary the Hawk

Most of those likely to read “How I Lost by Hillary Clinton” will know Hillary the Hawk, but the book is full of grim elaboration, much of it in her own words. Here’s one choice quote:

“And there is still an argument that goes on inside the administration and inside our friends at NATO and the Europeans. How do you intervene—my view was you intervene as covertly as is possible for Americans to intervene. We used to be much better at this than we are now.”

Here’s another:

“To have a no-fly zone you have to take out all of the air defense, many of which are located in populated areas. So our missiles, even if they are standoff missiles so we’re not putting our pilots at risk—you’re going to kill a lot of Syrians. So all of a sudden this intervention that people talk about so glibly becomes an American and NATO involvement where you take a lot of civilians.“

Civilians aside, Clinton pushed for a no-fly zone in Syria right up and into her final debate with Donald Trump, despite his “America First” crusade against foreign military quagmires. Simultaneously, Obama’s UN Ambassador Samantha Power shrieked at Russia and China for vetoing her demand for a no-fly zone at the UN Security Council. Clinton brushed off fears that bombing Syria risked conflict with nuclear-armed Russia, even after it entered the Syrian theater of war at Syria’s request in October 2015.

I had a hard time putting “How I Lost By Hillary Clinton” down until I was done. Like most Wikileaks releases, it drew me into the minds of those who decide who will live, who will die, who will be impoverished, and who enriched. Not only Hillary Clinton’s mind, but also those of the macabre power elites surrounding her. Who matters and who is collateral damage? Most of us, here and abroad, are in the latter category, and she lost because too many of us knew that.

February 6, 2019 Posted by | Book Review, Corruption, Deception, War Crimes | , , | 1 Comment

As Abbas ages, Fatah moves to consolidate power

By Ramzy Baroud | MEMO | February 5, 2019

Five years after spearheading what is inaptly referred to as a ‘government of national reconciliation’, Palestinian Prime Minister, Rami Hamdallah, has finally resigned.

“We put our government at the disposal of President Mahmoud Abbas, and we welcome the recommendations of the Fatah Central Committee to form a new government,” Hamdallah tweeted, shortly after Abbas had ordered him to dismantle the government.

Since the Palestinian Authority was founded in 1994, 17 governments have been formed, and every single one of them was dominated by the Fatah party, the largest faction within the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO).

Fatah’s monopoly over Palestinian politics has wrought disasters. Neither did the PA deliver the coveted Palestinian state, nor did Fatah use its influence to bring Palestinian factions together. The opposite is true.

Most of these 17 governments were short-lived, except that of Hamdallah, which has governed for five years, even though it failed in its primary mission: healing the terrible rift between Fatah in the Israeli Occupied West Bank, and Hamas in Israel-besieged Gaza.

Moreover, it also fell short of bringing PLO factions closer together. Thus far, the second-largest PLO faction, the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) refuses to participate in a future government that will also be dominated by Fatah.

Palestinian divisions have never been as pronounced as they are today. While all Palestinian factions, Hamas and Islamic Jihad included, bear part of the blame for failing to unify their ranks and form a single national strategy to combat Israeli colonialism and occupation, Abbas bears the largest share.

Even before becoming a president of the PA in January 2005, Abbas has always been a divisive political figure. When he was the PA’s Prime Minister, between March and September 2003 under the late Palestinian leader, Yasser Arafat, Abbas clashed with anyone who would challenge his often self-serving political agenda, including Arafat himself. His constant clashing with Arafat at the time made him a favourite in Washington.

Abbas was elected on a weak popular mandate, as Hamas and others boycotted the presidential elections. His first and only term in office expired in 2009. For a whole decade, neither Abbas nor any government of his has operated with the minimum requirement of democracy. Indeed, for many years the will of the Palestinian people has been hijacked by wealthy men, fighting to preserve their interests while undeservingly claiming the role of leadership.

The 2006 Hamas victory in the Palestinian Legislative Council (PLC) elections was a reminder to Abbas (but also to Israel and the United States) of how dangerous free elections can be. Since then, there has been much talk about the need for new elections, but no sincere efforts have been made to facilitate such a task. Logistical difficulties notwithstanding (for Palestine is, after all an occupied country), neither party wants to take the risk of letting the people have the last word.

Palestine and her people are not only trapped by Israeli walls, fences and armed soldiers, but by their inept leadership as well.

The 2007 Fatah-Hamas clashes which led to the current extreme polarisation have split Palestinians politically, between the West Bank, under Abbas’ authoritative control, and Hamas, in besieged and struggling Gaza. While Israeli leader, Benjamin Netanyahu, often complains of the lack of a ‘Palestinian partner’, his government, with the aid of Washington, has done its utmost to ensure Palestinian division.

Several agreements between Fatah and Hamas have been signed, the latest, which appeared most promising, was achieved in October 2017. Palestinians were cautious, then, but also hopeful as several practical steps were taken this time to transfer legal responsibilities from Hamas to the Hamdallah government, whether in the various Gaza ministries or at the Rafah-Egypt border.

Then, just when the wheels began turning, raising hopes among ordinary Palestinians that this time things were truly changing, Rami Hamdallah’s convoy was attacked as it crossed the main entrance to Gaza, via Israel.

Some sinister force wanted Hamdallah dead, or, at least, it wanted to send a violent message providing the political fodder to those who wanted to stall the political progress between the two main Palestinian parties. Hamas quickly claimed to have apprehended the culprits, while Fatah, without much investigation, declared that Hamas was responsible for the bomb, thus stalling and, eventually, severing all reconciliation talks.

This was followed by clearly orchestrated steps to punish Gaza and push the people in the besieged and war-devastated Strip to the point of complete despair. First, Abbas refused to pay money to the Israeli company that provides some of Gaza’s electricity needs – thus leaving Gaza in the dark; then he significantly slashed salaries to Gaza workers, among other measures.

In response, tens of thousands of Gazans went to the fence separating besieged Gaza from Israel protesting the Israeli siege, which, with Abbas’ latest collective punishment, has become beyond unbearable.

Indeed, Gaza’s ongoing ‘Great March of Return’, which began on March 30, 2018, was a popular response to a people fed up with war, siege, international neglect, but also horrific political tribalism. Since the march began, over 200 Palestinians have been killed and thousands maimed and wounded.

Abbas is now 83-years old with increasingly debilitating health. His supporters within Fatah want to ensure a political transition that guarantees their dominance because political monopoly offers many perks: wealth, privilege, power and prestige. For Fatah, Hamdallah and his ‘reconciliation’ government have ceased to serve any purpose. Additionally, a unity government with other Palestinian groups at this crucial, transitional period seems too risky a gamble for those who want to ensure future dominance.

The tragic truth is that all such politicking is happening within the confines of Israeli military Occupation, and that Israeli fences, walls, trenches, illegal Jewish settlements and Jewish-only bypass roads encircle all Palestinians, from Gaza to Jericho, and from Jerusalem to Rafah; that no Palestinian, Abbas included, is truly free, and that all political titles hold no weight before the power of a single Israeli sniper firing at Palestinian children at the Gaza fence.

Palestinians do need their unity and urgently so, not expressed in mere political compromises between factions, but the unity of a people facing the same brutal and oppressive enemy.

February 5, 2019 Posted by | Corruption, Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Timeless or most popular | , , | Leave a comment

A Passionate Attachment

Deferring to Israel is “what we are”

“I believe that the establishment of the state of Israel was the greatest accomplishment of the twentieth century”
By Philip Giraldi • Unz Review • February 5, 2019

I predicted three weeks ago that the Senate bill on the Middle East, which was rejected three times while the government was shutdown, would quickly receive cloture by a comfortable margin to end debate and proceed to a full vote in the Senate after the federal bureaucracy reopened. That has proven to be the case. Senate Bill S.1 was approved on January 29th 76 for votes to 22 against. Every Republican voted for it, minus only Rand Paul and Jerry Moran, who did not vote. The Republicans were joined by 25 Democrats, all of whom had previous voted “no” to embarrass the White House over the shutdown. Minority Leader Senator Chuck Schumer, who has described himself as Israel’s protector in the Senate, switched his vote as did notoriously pro-Israel Senators Ben Cardin and Bob Menendez. The bill must now be passed by the Senate, which is certain to take place, before being sent on to the House of Representatives for its approval, where there will certainly be some limited debate. It then will go to President Donald Trump for his signature.

Readers will recall that S.1 the Strengthening America’s Security in the Middle East Act of 2019, sponsored by the singularly ambitious though demonstrably brain dead Senator Marco Rubio from Florida, included $33 billion in guaranteed aid to Israel for the next ten years, an unprecedented gesture to America’s closest ally and best friend in the whole world, as Congress might describe it.

But the legislation also incorporated measures to criminalize criticism of Israel, referred to as the Combating BDS Act of 2019. It has been correctly observed that that portion of the bill is clearly unconstitutional as it limits free speech, which is guaranteed by the First Amendment to the Constitution of the United States and is considered to be the bedrock of American civil liberties, but there is no guarantee that the Supreme Court will agree if and when the law is contested. Once free expression is abridged for Israel there will be no end to other grievance groups exploiting the precedent to silence criticism and effectively negate the First Amendment.

The potential destruction of the Bill of Rights is only one aspect of the power that Israel has over American policymakers. The widely ballyhooed election of several Congresswomen who appear willing to challenge the Israeli orthodoxy on Capitol Hill is already being countered by the establishment within the Democratic Party, demonstrating once again how deep the corruption of America’s political class by Israel has gone.

In an early December speech before a largely Jewish audience at the Israeli-American Council gathering in South Florida, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi demonstrated in no uncertain terms just how she and other Congressmen are more responsive to Israel and its supporters than they are to their own constituents. She said in response to a staged question during a “conversation” with Democratic Party top donor Israeli Haim Saban, “I have said to people when they ask me, if this Capitol crumbled to the ground, the one thing that would remain would be our commitment to our aid, I don’t even call it our aid, our cooperation with Israel. That’s fundamental to who we are.”

Now “who we are” is a favorite expression used by a certain type of progressive that was made popular by the smooth talking but devious Barack Obama, meaning “I am taking the moral high ground so don’t ask me any questions or challenge what I have just said.” In Pelosi’s case she is saying precisely that, that American patronage of Israel is a moral imperative, a commitment forever that must be sustained no matter what Israel does and even if the United States itself should fall into ruin.

It is an absurd comment for someone who represents the people of her state and has taken an oath to uphold the U.S. Constitution, the ultimate pander to a right-wing Jewish audience that is socially progressive and consistently votes Democratic, which Pelosi celebrated, while at the same time cheering the bloody repression of the Palestinian people. And while Israel’s cheering section is doing all that, it is also dragging the American people into wars that need not be fought and stealing the taxpayers’ dollars to give to the racist Kleptocrats in charge in Tel Aviv and Jerusalem.

Pelosi, like her partner in crime Senator Chuck Schumer, who also spoke at the conference, has a problem in paying for security along America’s southern border but she does not hesitate to send billions of dollars to Israel every year. One has to wonder at her priorities, but she knows that American Jews are more powerful and relevant to her party’s finances than doing the right thing would be, so there is no evidence of any hesitation on her part to throwing some Arabs and the outliers within her own party under the bus.

And Nancy also spoke of the dissidents in the Democratic Party, all five or so of them, saying “Remove all doubt in your mind. It’s just a question of not paying attention to a few people who may want to go their own way…” Apparently there is plenty of room under that bus for non-believers. And she also threw out a standard line of how “I believe that the establishment of the state of Israel was the greatest accomplishment of the twentieth century” while also unloading on the Arabs saying “We have to I think in Congress make it really clear to Palestinians that we expect them to be responsible negotiators and we haven’t seen a lot of that thus far.”

Apparently, Nancy is unaware that the “establishment” of Israel forced 700,000 people who had lived in Palestine for centuries out of their homes. And she apparently also has missed all those stories of Palestinian “terrorist” children and emergency workers being shot dead by Israeli snipers while they were “negotiating” such things as access to food, water, and medicines from the inside of the Gaza containment fence. Or maybe she’s forgotten about the towns in Israel that can legally ban Christian or Muslim residents as Israel is now officially a Jewish only state. Nancy Pelosi’s extreme efforts to demonstrate loyalty and devotion to a nation that the rest of the world views as a pariah is commendable, but only if one is a sociopath.

There is something completely dead at the heart of American politics which makes basic humanity unacceptable when confronted by a force for evil that has penetrated and manipulated both the national media and the governing political consensus. That is what Israel and its rabid band of supporters have done to the United States. First Amendment? Goodbye. If the U.S. government should crumble under the strain, don’t worry because our support for you is eternal. Kill a couple of hundred Arabs, shoot a few thousand more? No problem. It’s God’s will. And if Israel leads America into a nuclear war? Then we will do what we have to do to protect our ally.

Ask Pelosi and Schumer, “Have you been corrupted?” They will answer “No. Of course not. It is what we are.”

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

February 5, 2019 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Corruption, Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Full Spectrum Dominance, Timeless or most popular, Wars for Israel | , , , , | 1 Comment

Palestinian Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah resigns

MEMO | January 29, 2019

Palestinian Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah has resigned, just days after Palestinian Authority (PA) President Mahmoud Abbas announced plans to form a new government.

In a statement today, PA spokesperson Yusuf Al-Mahmoud said that “the prime minister and his ministers welcome [Fatah, the Palestinian faction which dominates the PA]’s decision to form a new government,” adding that: “Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah has placed his government at the disposal of the President of the Authority [Abbas].”

Hamdallah confirmed the statement in a tweet, writing that: “We put our government at the disposal of President Mahmoud Abbas and we welcome the recommendations of the Fatah Central Committee to form a new government.”

Hamdallah’s resignation came following a request by Abbas this weekend after the latter announced that a new Palestinian government would be formed. Commentators have seen this as a bid by Fatah to strengthen its grip over the PA in the wake of declining popular support and challenges from other Palestinian factions, namely Hamas – which governs the besieged Gaza Strip.

Though Hamdallah is affiliated with Fatah, he does not hold an official position in the organisation. Some Fatah leaders have been disappointed with his performance as prime minister, leading them to seek a “friendlier” alternative, the Jerusalem Post reported. Although it not yet clear who will head the new government, some names have already been floated, including: Minister of the Palestinian Economic Council Mohammed Shtayyeh; Secretary of the PLO’s Executive Committee Saeb Erekat; and Member of Fatah’s Executive Committee Azzam Al-Ahmed.

Abbas’ new government will be comprised only of members of the Palestine Liberation Organisation (PLO) – a symbolic umbrella organisation made  up of a number of Palestinian factions. However, since Hamas and Islamic Jihad are not part of the PLO, they will not be included in the new government.

The move has been interpreted as a deliberate bid to exclude Hamas – which won the Palestinian Legislative Council (PLC) elections in 2006 – from government. Hamas has slammed Abbas’ plans, with the movement’s spokesman Fawzi Barhoum saying: “Fatah’s call for forming a new government consisting of PLO factions will solidify the split between the West Bank and Gaza Strip.” Another Hamas spokesman, Hazem Qassem, called the move a “severe blow to efforts to achieve Palestinian national unity,” the Jerusalem Post reported.

Other Palestinian factions have refused to take part in forming the new government, including the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) and the Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine (DFLP).

Fatah and Hamas have been engaged in a bitter feud since the latter’s victory in the PLC elections. When Fatah refused to cede control of the government, a war broke out between Hamas and Fatah in the Gaza Strip. Hamas emerged victorious and has governed the besieged enclave since 2007.

The current PA government has been in place since mid-2014 and was meant to act as a “national unity government” following a reconciliation deal between Fatah and Hamas. However, the deal quickly broke down in the wake of Israel’s 2014 war on Gaza. Since then, Abbas has rebuffed any engagement with Hamas, imposing sanctions on the Strip, refusing to hold elections and dissolving the PLC.

January 29, 2019 Posted by | Corruption, Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism | , | 1 Comment

The White Helmets, alleged organ traders & child kidnappers, should be condemned not condoned

By Vanessa Beeley | RT | January 22, 2019

The White Helmets, “volunteers” who reportedly “rescue Syrians from rubble.” Never in history has such a group been so feted by the elite, or received so many awards from institutions acting as extensions of US and UK hegemony.

A recent panel at the UN Security Council in New York revealed the shocking evidence of White Helmet involvement in organ trafficking in Syria. The lucrative trade of human body parts, bones, blood and organs is one of the most protected and hidden harvests of war.

The potential of White Helmet involvement in these nefarious activities raises questions that must be answered. Why were the shocking revelations met by a wall of silence from corporate media present at the panel in New York?

Not one media outlet pursued the subject, preferring to divert onto more comfortable issues that did not challenge the iconization of the White Helmets that has been the default position for virtually all state-aligned media since the establishment of the group in 2013 in Jordan and Turkey.

© Screenshot from the presentation of Maxim Grigoriev

Above is one of the slides from the presentation of Maxim Grigoriev, director of the Foundation for the Study of Democracy, given to the panel and audience at the UNSC in New York, December 2018.

In July 2017, I had interviewed residents of the East Aleppo districts that had been under occupation of the various extremist armed groups and the White Helmets. Salaheddin Azazi was a resident of the Jib Al Qubbeh area (also mentioned in Grigoriev’s presentation).

Azazi went through the details of the November 2016 Nusra Front attack on civilians trying to flee via the Syrian and Russian-established humanitarian corridors which had been spun by the White Helmets into a “regime” bombing raid that resulted in a civilian massacre. It was a complete misrepresentation of reality which was seized upon by corporate media with no fact checking. My full report on that incident and the White Helmet involvement in the massacre and subsequent theft of civilian belongings from the dead and dying is here.

“The bodies of the dead and dying were left unattended for ten hours in the street after the Nusra Front rocket attack that killed 15 civilians. The White Helmets did not help them, they stole their belongings,” Salaheddin Azazi, resident of Jib Al Qubbeh and eyewitness to events on 30.11.2016, said.

Discussing the November 2016 events in Jib Al Qubbeh with residents Salaheddin Azazi and Ammar Al Bakr, July 2017 © Vanessa Beeley

Azazi and another resident, Ammar Al Bakr (on the right, in above photo) described how the White Helmets were the “runners” for the organ traffickers.

“The White Helmet drivers would take the injured or dead bodies to the Turkish border. Many of the injured had light wounds, nothing that needed hospitalization but the bodies would come back without organs,” said Ammar Al Bakr.

“The bodies, dead and alive, would be inspected in the towns on the borders with Turkey before being taken by Turkish vehicles to the hospitals but if the injured civilian was a child or young and strong they would be taken directly to the hospital in Turkey because their organs had greater value,” Azazi told me.

According to both of these witnesses, the bodies were worth $2000 dead and $3000 if alive and this market was dominated by the White Helmet operatives who profited from cross-border organ trafficking.

Other civilians I met in July/August 2017 confirmed the threat of organ theft which hung over them during the almost five-year occupation of East Aleppo districts by the armed groups and their White Helmet auxiliaries. Families spoke to me of hiding their children if they were lightly injured to prevent the risk of them being abducted and taken to one of three hospitals – Omar Abdulaziz, Al Quds and Zarzour – that allegedly specialized in organ theft in East Aleppo, all of which had been taken over by militant gangs early on in the conflict. I was told that “foreign doctors” were operating in these three hospitals and were in charge of organ extraction. In post-liberation Eastern Ghouta, similar stories abounded.

In January 2019, I visited survivors from the Jaysh Al Islam controlled Tawbah Prison in Douma, Eastern Ghouta (known as Repentance Prison). I met with former prisoners in Adra Al Balad who spoke of the torture and violent abuse they had received after being kidnapped from Adra Al Ummaliya in 2013 by Jaysh Al Islam and Nusra Front. Familiar descriptions of the White Helmets were forthcoming:

“Regarding the White Helmets, they are terrorists and Takfiris […] they have nothing to do with Humanity […] when they used to see an injured civilian, they used to finish them off. If you come to “rescue” a man would you slaughter them? The White Helmets and the terrorists are one and the same, they are hand in hand,” said Hassan Al Mahmoud Al Othman, one of the survivors I spoke to about their experiences as captives of Jaysh Al Islam and Nusra Front during the six years that Eastern Ghouta was occupied.

The evidence against the White Helmets is mounting on a daily basis and will only increase as Idlib is liberated or a political resolution is achieved in the last Syrian province effectively controlled by Hayat Tahrir Al Sham (HTS) a rebrand of Al Qaeda.

Despite this, Western corporate media and NATO-aligned think tanks, policy influencers and NGOs are stubbornly sticking to the “volunteer hero” script. The Observer recently collaborated with Reader’s Digest to produce a slick homage to the White Helmets “rescued” from Syria by Israel in July 2018, entitled ‘The inside story of Canada’s dramatic rescue of the White Helmets out of Syria.’ It depicts the volunteer “bankers and barbers” as heroes and downtrodden saints fleeing for their lives. A far cry from the image portrayed of organ thieves, child abductors and bone peddlers by the Syrian people who lived under the White Helmet regime of sectarian violence and exploitative abuse.

The White Helmet involvement in the “red market” (a term used to describe the multi-billion-dollar trade in human body parts, tissue and organs) should come as no surprise. James Le Mesurier, the former private security and “democratization” expert who founded the White Helmets in Turkey and Jordan was also present in Pristina, Kosovo in 1999 when he worked under the direction of the notorious Bernard Kouchner, co-founder of MSF (Medecins Sans Frontieres) and former French foreign minister.

Kouchner’s tenure in Kosovo was plagued by controversy and accusations of involvement in human and organ trafficking masterminded by the Albanian mafia gangs within the Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA).

Carla Del Ponte, former chief prosecutor for war crimes in former Yugoslavia, detailed these crimes in her book The Hunt: Me and the War Criminals, which was published in 2008 just after Kosovo declared its independence.

In 2010, an interim report by the Council of Europe vindicated Del Ponte’s claims, which had garnered skepticism and criticism from the NATO-aligned media and spokespeople. Del Ponte persistently complained, at the time, that UN authorities in Kosovo were systematically blocking her investigations into crimes committed by the Kosovo Albanians in the KLA and the rebranded Kosovo Protection Corps (KPC).

James Le Mesurier was responsible for the rebranding of the KLA, linked to Al Qaeda at that stage alongside the Albanian warlords, and their transformation into the Kosovo Protection Corps while they were being accused of running cross-border organ trafficking operations.

A blueprint that Le Mesurier seems to be reproducing with the White Helmets in Syria while attempting to maintain an untarnished White Helmet image, at least in the aligned media and PR circles. In reality, there is an entire billionaire-supported industry of NGOs and influential global transformation institutions protecting the White Helmets’ image.

A network of global carpetbaggers enabling the criminal obfuscation of White Helmet crimes against Humanity and denial of justice to the Syrian people whose accusations against the pseudo humanitarian group are systematically silenced and marginalized by the White Helmet acolytes.

The White Helmets have received an unprecedented number of awards and peace prizes, including the Right Livelihood Award 2016 (RLA), the Atlantic Council Freedom Award 2016, Tipperary Peace Prize 2017, Hollywood Oscar 2017 (one win, one nomination in 2018) and they have been nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize for three years running.

According to the RLA website, they “honour and support courageous people and organisations that have found practical solutions to the root causes of global problems”. There is nothing honourable or courageous about the White Helmet crimes against the Syrian people.

The White Helmets have enabled and participated in organ trafficking, one of the deepest root causes of our global problems but the RLA has made no move to retract their award from this group of criminals, thieves and terrorists. They have ignored petitions and statements from groups of peace activists and academics. Instead, in 2018, they published a counter petition signed by 29 former RLA Laureates calling upon all parties to “stop targeting the White Helmets […] in Syria”.

While blaming Russia for the smear campaign against the White Helmets, the petition informs us that “(White Helmet) work is guided by the inherent dignity of human life.” The RLA claims that the evidence against the White Helmets is “unsubstantiated and does not stand up to scrutiny”. One cannot help but wonder; when did they scrutinize the evidence or listen to the huge number of Syrian civilian testimonies that detail the crimes committed by the White Helmets that are most definitely not guided by the inherent dignity of human life?

What all these US Coalition-aligned organizations fail to understand is that Russian media and UN missions do indeed give a voice to the Syrians who are ignored by media in the West. Russia is not the originator of the claims against the White Helmets.

While these organizations, claiming to support peace in Syria and an end to hostility, continue protecting the White Helmets who are responsible for so much of the misery endured by the Syrian people, they forfeit any credibility and become nothing more than a corrupt extension of US supremacism in the region.

Child exploitation, abuse, human trafficking and organ trafficking – which often goes hand in hand with the former – should never be tacitly condoned or covered up and must always be investigated or we have fallen into a moral vacuum from which there is no escape.

I invite all Western media outlets and “peace” promoting institutions to retract their White Helmet accolades and laurels, and to “scrutinize” the evidence before they too are implicated in one of the most heinous crimes ever committed against victims of war.

Vanessa Beeley is an independent investigative journalist and photographer. She is associate editor at 21st Century Wire.

Read more:

Organ theft, staged attacks: UN panel details White Helmets’ criminal activities, media yawns

January 22, 2019 Posted by | Corruption, Deception, Timeless or most popular, War Crimes | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment