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Coronavirus: the Reactionaries from USA

By Viktor Mikhin – New Eastern Outlook – 29.03.2020

Coronavirus is spreading to more and more countries and leaving an increasing number of deaths in its wake. It is about time experts and the common men asked legitimate questions: “Where did this deadly virus come from, in what laboratories was it created, and who is behind the pandemic?”. We will try to answer them as objectively as possible.

The first country where the novel coronavirus was detected and that actively began to stop its spread was China. When residents of the city of Wuhan began to get infected and die, the Chinese authorities warned the global community about the danger and started its full-on battle against the virus.

Many nations in the world immediately offered to help China and quickly began working on the cure for COVID-19.

But what did the current U.S. administration do in the wake of the outbreak? Some U.S. media outlets started accusing China of unleashing the virus. A number of articles followed pointing to China as the origin of the virus. The author was left with the impression that either these journalists had witnessed its creation or they had been carefully instructed as to what to write. A seafood market in Wuhan was also mentioned as the source of the virus. There were also stories suggesting that the unexpected appearance of the novel coronavirus hinted at it being man-made, and that people could have used the theory the virus had come from animals to hide the true nature of its origins.

People who think they are intelligent and astute know for sure that only thieves and fraudsters make the biggest noise as they flee from those who they have stolen from or deceived. And this is exactly what some U.S. conspiracy theorists did, out of sheer stupidity, as they do not care about being objective and, instead, only strive for publicity and wider reach. Then, in the author’s opinion, more serious analytical articles were published insinuating that the new virus was created by biologists from the military and originated in U.S. laboratories.

In short, they said that as a result of experiments, the coronavirus genome appeared to contain “HIV virus-like insertions”. According to the biologists responsible for the research, the virus was not a product of evolution or mutation even theoretically speaking. Hence, they concluded it could have been man-made. Dr. Eric Feigl-Ding also addressed this issue by posting: “I am absolutely not saying it’s bioengineering nor am I supporting any conspiracy theories with no evidence. I’m simply saying scientists need to do more research + get more data. And finding the origin of the virus is an important research priority”. A professor of Molecular Biology in New Delhi’s Jawaharlal Nehru University, Anand Ranganathan, and his colleagues published a preprint (which has not been peer-reviewed as yet) about their research on the novel coronavirus (2019-nCoV). They discovered a possible link between it and other similar known coronaviruses circulating in animals (such as bats and snakes), and found HIV virus-like insertions in 2019-nCoV. No other well-studied coronaviruses have such a structure. Hence, their research hints at the possibility that the virus was designed and could be used to wage biological warfare.

In light of these recent developments, it seems apt to remind our readers that a fierce, take-no-prisoners type of trade war is currently ongoing between the United States and China. And in the midst of this confrontation, as if by a wave of a magic wand, the coronavirus outbreak started in the PRC, which has already caused enormous damage to the Chinese economy and considerably weakened Beijing’s bargaining position at the negotiating table.

Even before the coronavirus pandemic, many experts reported that, recently, Washington, in contravention of international law, was actively developing biological weapons in its numerous laboratories located in the United States as well as abroad. Apparently, there are more than 200 U.S. biological laboratories worldwide: in Azerbaijan, Armenia, Georgia, Kazakhstan, Moldova, Uzbekistan and Ukraine.

Incidentally, the author has come across articles published by Ukrainian media outlets claiming that local authorities have no oversight of such facilities. It seems that the situation in a number of other countries where U.S. biolabs are located is similar.

DTRA (the Defense Threat Reduction Agency), which collaborates with the Richard Lugar Center for Public Health Research in Georgia, is suspected of involvement in an incident that occurred in Chechnya in spring 2017. Locals reported seeing a drone that appeared to be spreading a white powder near Russia’s border with Georgia.

Ethnic bioweapons (biogenetic weapons), “is a type of theoretical bioweapon that aims to harm only or primarily people of specific ethnicities or genotypes”. Although there have never been any reports confirming that research on such weapons exists, documents that the author has come across show that the United States is gathering information about certain ethnic groups, first and foremost Russians and the Chinese. After all, Washington has labelled Russia and China as its main rivals recently. The author believes that the U.S. Air Force has been collecting Russian RNA (ribonucleic acid) and sinus tissue samples from a federal initiative. Apparently, information about this can be found in the Federal Procurement Data System. According to Article 8 of the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court biological experiments are deemed as war crimes. However, the United States is not a member of the Court and has a tendency to evade responsibility for war crimes.

From the author’s perspective, there is a hidden motive behind the coronavirus pandemic. And as some have already guessed, it is not the Great Plague of the XXI century but a highly contagious disease that appeared at just the right time. In other words, the pandemic is part of a far-reaching disinformation campaign aimed at creating panic and chaos. According to Chinese conspiracy theories, the virus appeared in Wuhan during the Military World Games, which U.S. and British servicemen took part in. The author believes that there were many agents from the CIA and MI6 who could have released the coronavirus at the time thus putting everyone’s lives at risk. Incidentally, the British could have played an important role in this mission as they have already gained similar experience by spreading biological agents from the Porton Down science park near the city of Salisbury. The poisoning of Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia lends further credence to the author’s theory as they managed to survive the ordeal.

There are over 400,000 confirmed COVID-19 cases globally, and millions more are worried about the pandemic. What is curious to the author is that not only are the common men in a panic but so are authorities and officials who are preparing to take unprecedented quarantine measures in Russia, China, Iran and other nations that are known to choose their own path. The information war has served as a catalyst to the crisis that could have been smaller in scale but thanks to manipulation of mass consciousness, this is no longer the case.

The author thinks that the current disinformation campaign accompanying the coronavirus pandemic is the beginning of the “heist of the century”. As a result of this con, assets and savings of many nations, companies and individuals will end up in the hands of the current oligarchy, more specifically hundreds of the richest and most powerful families. The substantial portion of global wealth they already own will only increase as the rich always want more. From the author’s point of view, the United States is accustomed to robbing other countries and people of their wealth, and their allies are no exception, take Italy for example.

March 29, 2020 Posted by | Corruption, Deception, Economics, War Crimes | , , | Leave a comment

Why France is hiding a cheap and tested virus cure

The French government is arguably helping Big Pharma profit from the Covid-19 pandemic

By Pepe Escobar | Asia Times | March 28, 2020

What’s going on in the fifth largest economy in the world arguably points to a major collusion scandal in which the French government is helping Big Pharma to profit from the expansion of Covid-19. Informed French citizens are absolutely furious about it.

My initial question to a serious, unimpeachable Paris source, jurist Valerie Bugault, was about the liaisons dangereuses between Macronism and Big Pharma and especially about the mysterious “disappearance” – more likely outright theft – of all the stocks of chloroquine in possession of the French government.

Respected Professor Christian Perronne talked about the theft live in one of France’s 24/7 info channels: “The central pharmacy for the hospitals announced today that they were facing a total rupture of stocks, that they were pillaged.”

With input from another, anonymous source, it’s now possible to establish a timeline that puts in much-needed perspective the recent actions of the French government.

Let’s start with Yves Levy, who was the head of INSERM – the French National Institute of Health and Medical Research – from 2014 to 2018, when he was appointed as extraordinary state councilor for the Macron administration. Only 12 people in France have reached this status.

Levy is married to Agnes Buzy, who until recently was minister of health under Macron. Buzy was essentially presented with an “offer you can’t refuse” by Macron’s party to leave the ministry – in the middle of the coronavirus crisis – and run for Mayor of Paris, where she was mercilessly trounced in the first round on March 16.

Levy has a vicious running feud with Professor Didier Raoult – prolific and often-cited Marseille-based specialist in communicable diseases. Levy withheld the INSERM label from the world-renowned IHU (Hospital-University Institute) research center directed by Raoult.

In practice, in October 2019, Levy revoked the status of “foundation” of the different IHUs so he could take over their research.

French professor Didier Raoult, biologist and professor of microbiology, specializes in infectious diseases and director of IHU Mediterranee Infection Institute. Photo: AFP/Gerard Julien

Raoult was part of a clinical trial that in which hydroxychloroquine and azithromycin healed 90% of Covid-19 cases if they were tested very early. (Early, massive testing is at the heart of the successful South Korean strategy.)

Raoult is opposed to the total lockdown of sane individuals and possible carriers – which he considers “medieval,” in an anachronistic sense. He’s in favor of massive testing (which, besides South Korea, was successful in Singapore, Taiwan and Vietnam) and a fast treatment with hydroxychloroquine. Only contaminated individuals should be confined.

Chloroquine costs one euro for ten pills. And there’s the rub: Big Pharma – which, crucially, finances INSERM, and includes “national champion” Sanofi – would rather go for a way more profitable solution. Sanofi for the moment says it is “actively preparing” to produce chloroquine, but that may take “weeks,” and there’s no mention about pricing.

A minister fleeing a tsunami

Here’s the timeline:

On January 13, Agnes Buzyn, still France’s Health Minister, classifies chloroquine as a “poisonous substance,” from now on only available by prescription. An astonishing move, considering that it has been sold off the shelf in France for half a century.

On March 16, the Macron government orders a partial lockdown. There’s not a peep about chloroquine. Police initially are not required to wear masks; most have been stolen anyway, and there are not enough masks even for health workers. In 2011 France had nearly 1.5 billion masks: 800 million surgical masks and 600 million masks for health professionals generally.

But then, over the years, the strategic stocks were not renewed, to please the EU and to apply the Maastricht criteria, which limited membership in the Growth and Stability Pact to countries whose budget deficits did not exceed 3% of GDP. One of those in charge at the time was Jerome Salomon, now a scientific counselor to the Macron government.

On March 17, Agnes Buzyn says she has learned the spread of Covid-19 will be a major tsunami, for which the French health system has no solution. She also says it had been her understanding that the Paris mayoral election “would not take place” and that it was, ultimately, “a masquerade.”

What she does not say is that she didn’t go public at the time she was running because the whole political focus by the Macron political machine was on winning the “masquerade.” The first round of the election meant nothing, as Covid-19 was advancing. The second round was postponed indefinitely. She had to know about the impending healthcare disaster. But as a candidate of the Macron machine she did not go public in timely fashion.

In quick succession:

The Macron government refuses to apply mass testing, as practiced with success in South Korea and Germany.

Le Monde and the French state health agency characterize Raoult’s research as fake news, before issuing a retraction.

Professor Perrone reveals on the 24/7 LCI news channel that the stock of chloroquine at the French central pharmacy has been stolen.

Thanks to a tweet by Elon Musk, President Trump says chloroquine should be available to all Americans. Sufferers of lupus and rheumatoid arthritis, who already have supply problems with the only drug that offers them relief, set social media afire with their panic.

US doctors and other medical professionals take to hoarding the medicine for the use of themselves and those close to them, faking prescriptions to indicate they are for patients with lupus or rheumatoid arthritis.

Morocco buys the stock of chloroquine from Sanofi in Casablanca.

Pakistan decides to increase its production of chloroquine to be sent to China.

Switzerland discards the total lockdown of its population; goes for mass testing and fast treatment; and accuses France of practicing  “spectacle politics.”

Christian Estrosi, the mayor of Nice, having had himself treated with chloroquine, without any government input, directly calls Sanofi so they may deliver chloroquine to Nice hospitals.

Because of Raoult’s research, a large-scale chloroquine test finally starts in France, under the – predictable – direction of INSERM, which wants to “remake the experiments in other independent medical centers.” This will take at least an extra six weeks – as the Elysee Palace’s scientific council now mulls the extension of France’s total lockdown to … six weeks.

If joint use of hydroxychloroquine and azithromycin proves definitely effective among the most gravely ill, quarantines may be reduced in select clusters.

The only French company that still manufactures chloroquine is under judicial intervention. That puts the chloroquine hoarding and theft into full perspective. It will take time for these stocks to be replenished, thus allowing Big Pharma the leeway to have what it wants: a costly solution.

It appears the perpetrators of the chloroquine theft were very well informed.

Bagged nurses

This chain of events, astonishing for a highly developed G-7 nation proud of its health service, is part of a long, painful process embedded in neoliberal dogma. EU-driven austerity mixed with the profit motive resulted in a very lax attitude towards the health system.

As Bugault told me, “test kits – very few in number – were always available but mostly for a small group connected to the French government [ former officials of the Ministry of Finance, CEOs of large corporations, oligarchs, media and entertainment moguls].  Same for chloroquine, which this government did everything to make inaccessible for the population.

They did not make life easy for Professor Raoult – he received death threats and was intimidated by ‘journalists.’

And they did not protect vital stocks. Still under the Hollande government, there was a conscious liquidation of the stock of masks – which had existed in large quantities in all hospitals. Not to mention that the suppression of hospital beds and hospital means accelerated under Sarkozy.”

This ties in with anguished reports by French citizens of nurses now having to use trash bags due to the lack of proper medical gear.

At the same time, in another astonishing development, the French state refuses to requisition private hospitals and clinics – which are practically empty at this stage – even as the president of their own association, Lamine Garbi, has pleaded for such a public service initiative: “I solemnly demand that we are requisitioned to help public hospitals. Our facilities are prepared. The wave that surprised the east of France must teach us a lesson.”

Bugault reconfirms the health situation in France “is very serious and will become even worse due to these political decisions – absence of masks, political refusal to massively test people, refusal of free access to chloroquine – in a context of supreme distress at the hospitals. This will last and destitution will be the norm.”

Professor vs president

In an explosive development on Tuesday, Raoult said he’s not participating in Macron’s scientific council anymore, even though he’s not quitting it altogether. Raoult once again insists on massive testing on a national scale to detect suspected cases, and then isolate and treat patients who tested positive. In a nutshell: the South Korean model.

That’s exactly what is expected from the IHU in Marseille, where hundreds of residents continue to queue up for testing. And that ties in with the conclusions by a top Chinese expert on Covid-19, Zhang Nanshan, who says that treatment with chloroquine phospate had a “positive impact,” with patients testing negative after around four days.

The key point has been stressed by Raoult: Use chloroquine in very special circumstances, for people tested very early, when the disease is not advanced yet, and only in these cases. He’s not advocating chloroquine for everyone. It’s exactly what the Chinese did, along with their use of Interferon.

For years, Raoult has been pleading for a drastic revision of health economic models, so the treatments, cure and therapies created mostly during the 20th century, are considered a patrimony in the service of all humanity.“That’s not the case”, he says, “because we abandon medicine that is not profitable, even if it’s effective. That’s why almost no antibiotics are manufactured in the West.”

On Tuesday, the French Health Ministry officially prohibited the utilization of treatment based on chloroquine recommended by Raoult.  In fact the treatment is only allowed for terminal Covid-19 patients, with no other possibility of healing. This cannot but expose the Macron government to more accusations of at least inefficiency – added to the absence of masks, tests, contact tracing and ventilators.

On Wednesday, commenting on the new government guidelines, Raoult said, “When damage to the lungs is too important, and patients arrive for reanimation, they practically do not harbor viruses in their bodies any more. It’s too late to treat them with chloroquine. Are these the only cases – the very serious cases – that will be treated with chloroquine under the new directive by [French Health Minister] Veran?” If so, he added ironically, “then they will be able to say with scientific certainty that chloroquine does not work.”

Raoult was unavailable for comment on Western news media articles citing Chinese test results that would suggest he is wrong about the efficacy of chloroquine in dealing with mild cases of Covid-19.

Staffers pointed instead to his comments in the IHU bulletin. There Raoult says it’s “insulting” to ask if we can trust the Chinese on the use of chloroquine. “If this was an American disease, and the president of the United States said, ‘We need to treat patients with that,’ nobody would discuss it.”

In China, he adds, there were “enough elements so the Chinese government and all Chinese experts who know coronaviruses took an official position that ‘we must treat with chloroquine.’ Between the moment when we have the first results and an accepted international publication, there is no credible alternative among people who are the most knowledgeable in the world. They took this measure in the interest of public health.”

Crucially: if he had coronavirus, Raoult says he would take chloroquine. Since Raoult is rated by his peers as the number one world expert  in communicable diseases, way above Dr. Anthony Fauci in the US, I would say the new reports represent Big Pharma talking.

Raoult has been mercilessly savaged and demonized by French corporate media that are controlled by a few oligarchs closely linked to Macronism. Not by accident the demonization has reached gilets jaunes (yellow vest) levels, especially because of the extremely popular hashtag  #IlsSavaient (“They knew”), with which the yellow vests stress that French elites have “managed” the Covid-19 crisis by protecting themselves while leaving the population defenseless against the virus.

That ties in with the controversial analysis by crack philosopher Giorgio Agamben in a column published a month ago, where he was already arguing that Covid-19 clearly shows that the state of exception – similar to a state of emergency but with differences important to philosophers – has become fully normalized in the West.

Agamben was speaking not as a doctor or a virologist but as a master thinker, following in the steps of Foucault, Walter Benjamin and Hannah Arendt. Noting how a latent state of fear has metastasized into a state of collective panic, for which Covid-19 “offers once again the ideal pretext,” he described how, “in a perverse vicious circle, the limitation of freedom imposed by governments is accepted in the name of a desire for security that was induced by the same governments that now intervene to satisfy it.”

There was no state of collective panic in South Korea, Singapore, Taiwan and Vietnam – to mention four Asian examples outside of China. A dogged combination of mass testing and contact tracing was applied with immense professionalism. It worked. In the Chinese case, with the help of chloroquine. And in all Asian cases, without a murky profit motive to the benefit of Big Pharma.

There hasn’t yet appeared the smoking gun that proves the Macron system not only is incompetent to deal with Covid-19 but also is dragging the process so Big Pharma can come up with a miracle vaccine, fast. But the pattern to discourage chloroquine is more than laid out above – in parallel to the demonization of Raoult.

March 28, 2020 Posted by | Corruption, Deception | , , | Leave a comment

Recognizing and Resisting the Hasbara Pandemic

(AP Photo/Levinson Family)
By Soraya Sepahpour-Ulrich | American Herald Tribune | March 27, 2020

Steady media reports on the rising number of the novel Coronavirus infections and its human toll have contributed to a global psychology of fear where entire populations are succumbing their free will to those in positions of authority, elected and otherwise. But while we try to keep ourselves safe during this pandemic, a deadlier and more destructive virus creeping in the shadows for years is also reaching its peak. The virus is called hasbara or better understood as propaganda.

Lest you think it is not contagious or deadly, think Iraq. The Iraq war alone cost the American taxpayers trillions of Dollars but the Iraqi population bore the brunt of the pain and suffering from America’s sanctioned terror attack and invasion with over one million souls lost and counting. Just like COVID-19 which may be dismissed as a cold, the hasbara virus may be taken for the truth – and therein lies the threat. As we surrender our will to the officials so that we can survive this pandemic, the spinners have upped their hasbara in order to coax us into embracing their terrorism, their wars, and their genocide.

Abandon your will, if you must, but not your common sense. As someone who has studied propaganda for fifteen years, I have never seen it so prevalent and so dangerous at a time when we are distracted by a viral disease. Having allowed the hasbara virus to spread and go undetected for such a long time, we’ve lost all ability to recognize it. The spinners know this and are taking full advantage of it. Let me give you two examples from the last 24 hours alone.

First one is a heartwarming ‘news item’ – even benign.

How can the picture of this cute dog not touch you heart? More so when you read on that his owner is in quarantine in Mexico with the coronavirus. His chips cravings prompt him to tie a note to the dog, send him to the store with a $20 bill and instructions to the shopkeeper to give the dog a bag of “Cheetos”. Now didn’t that give you the warm fuzzies? The story is shared over and over and the ‘news reporter’ gets a kudos from his boss for writing this sweet story which would no doubt increase circulation. I loved it.

But then I had to ask myself why a man in Mexico would tie a 20 Dollar bill to his dog and not Pesos. That is a lot of Mexican Pesos, and no change was returned. I mean where would the poor dog keep the change, a lot of change, in Mexican Pesos.

I shared the story with many friends, some of whom included university professors. None noted the oddness of the Dollar bill. Even when I asked if they noted something strange about the story, they did not point to it until I told them. The story was heartwarming and the incident was something they all wanted to accept – a feel good story. Nothing else was noted. We want to believe a story that appeals to our sense of reality, our values, no matter how unrealistic.

On the opposite side is the news story about a former FBI agent Robert Levinson. Levinson disappeared in 2007 and the United States had accused Iran of holding him hostage. Iran has no information about him. Yesterday, out of nowhere, various hasbara outlets cited Levinson’s family releasing an statement citing that they recently received information from US officials that led them to conclude that “our wonderful husband and father died while in Iranian custody.”

Iran denied having held him in custody and the news of his death was news to them. Why was this unbelievable? After all, I have no way of knowing who is lying, the US or Iran. Though one certainly may question the timing of this report.

But it was not just the timing that was odd. It was the orange prison uniform. Orange prison uniform is easy to process for Americans, and the West. Images of prisoners wearing orange jumpsuit in Guantanamo is embedded in our minds. More disturbing still are the images of prisoners captured by ISIS and wearing orange jump suits as they are being executed. I always wondered where did ISIS get all the orange jump suits their prisoner wore. But that is beside the point. In Iran, prisoners do not wear orange. The uniforms are different shades of blue depending on their status. Ordinary prisoners wear the striped while political prisoners the plain blue uniforms.

Photos courtesy of Iran-based journalist

Aside from the wrong color uniform, I was struck by Levinson’s appearance as portrayed in Western media. It was hard to process the tanned face which contrasted so sharply with his pale hands. It didn’t make sense. It is not clear to me as to why America would choose this moment to stage this death. I can only imagine that it is to present an image of a ruthless Iran in order to justify its terrorism by way of sanctions at a time when Iran, like the rest of the world, is fighting this pandemic. But even the lies will not hide the shameless stain of America’s cruel madness. Hence, we must resist and fight the propaganda.

For decades, we have been victims of propaganda to the point that we are no longer aware of it. In spite of it, we have not managed to build an immunity to the lies. Quite the opposite — we have become more vulnerable as our resistance erodes with every shot of hasbara. But we are not broken – not yet. It can only affect us if left undetected. Like COVID-19, the hasbara virus goes undetected until it’s tested for and discovered. We must therefore learn to test for, detect, and reject it. We can do this by refusing to abandon our critical thinking. Pleasant or not, we cannot allow our underlying bias guide us and use commonsense. Don’t let the hasbara virus infect you — it is deadlier than you can imagine.

March 27, 2020 Posted by | Deception | | 2 Comments

The Deep State’s Demolition of Democracy

By James Bovard | FFF | March 26, 2020

“Thank God for the Deep State,” declared former acting CIA chief John McLaughlin while appearing on a panel at the National Press Club last October. In 2018, the New York Times asserted that Trump’s use of the term “Deep State” and similar rhetoric “fanned fears that he is eroding public trust in institutions, undermining the idea of objective truth and sowing widespread suspicions about the government and news media.”

But barely a year later, the Deep State had gone from a figment of paranoid right-wingers’ imagination to the great hope for the salvation of American democracy. Much of the media is now conferring the same exulted status on the Deep State that was previously bestowed on Special Counsel Robert Mueller. Almost immediately after its existence was no longer denied, the Deep State became the incarnation of virtue in Washington.

The Deep State commonly refers to officials who secretly wield power permanently in Washington, often in federal agencies with vast sway and little accountability. A New York Times article in October gushed that “over the last three weeks, the deep state has emerged from the shadows in the form of real live government officials, past and present … and provided evidence that largely backs up the still-anonymous whistle-blower” on Donald Trump’s phone call to the president of Ukraine. New York Times columnist James Stewart declared, “There is a Deep State, there is a bureaucracy in our country who has pledged to respect the Constitution, respect the rule of law…. They work for the American people.” New York Times editorial writer Michelle Cottle proclaimed, “The deep state is alive and well” and hailed it as “a collection of patriotic public servants.” They were echoing earlier declarations by Washington Post columnist Eugene Roberts and former top Justice Department official Preet Bharar: “God bless the ‘Deep State.’”

Former CIA Director John Brennan, appearing on the same panel as McLaughlin in October, declared, “The reason why Mr. Trump has this very contentious relationship with CIA and FBI and the deep state people is because they tell the truth.” Much of the media coverage of the Trump impeachment is following that dubious storyline.

“We lied, we cheated, we stole.”

Five years ago, John Brennan’s CIA ignited what should have been a constitutional crisis when it was caught illegally spying on the Senate Intelligence Committee, which was compiling a massive report on the CIA torture program. After 9/11, the CIA constructed an interrogation regime by “consulting Egyptian and Saudi intelligence officials and copying Soviet interrogation methods,” the New York Times reported in 2007. Secret Bush administration torture memos “set the C.I.A. loose to slam suspects’ heads into walls up to 30 times in a row, to deprive suspects of sleep for more than a week straight, to confine them to small dark boxes for hours at a time … and to suffocate them with water to induce the perception that they are drowning,” Georgetown University law professor David Cole noted. But the only official who went to prison was John Kirakou, a former CIA analyst who publicly admitted that the CIA was waterboarding.

Is the Deep State more trustworthy when it is killing than when it is torturing? Brennan declared in 2016 that “the president requires near-certainty of no collateral damage” before approving a drone strike. Confidential CIA documents revealed that the CIA had little or no idea whom it was killing most of the time with its drone attacks in Pakistan, Somalia, Afghanistan, Yemen, and other nations. Salon.com summarized an NBC News report: “Even while admitting that the identities of many killed by drones were not known, the CIA documents asserted that all those dead were enemy combatants. The logic is twisted: If we kill you, then you were an enemy combatant.” Lying about drone killings quickly became institutionalized throughout the Deep State. The New York Times reported in 2015, “Every independent investigation of the [drone] strikes has found far more civilian casualties than administration officials admit.”

The Deep State is practically designed to destroy privacy while enabling government officials to deny sweeping abuses. Former National Security Agency analyst Edward Snowden declared in 2014, “There’s definitely a deep state. Trust me, I’ve been there.” The NSA’s credibility was obliterated in 2013 when Snowden revealed the NSA can tap almost any cell phone in the world, access anyone’s email and web-browsing history, and crack the vast majority of computer encryption. But the NSA’s definition of “terrorist suspect” was ludicrously broad, including “someone searching the web for suspicious stuff.” Snowden also revealed that each day phone companies turned over tens of millions of phone records of average Americans to the feds. A few months before Snowden’s revelations, National Intelligence director James Clapper lied to Congress when he denied that the NSA collects “any type of data at all on millions, or hundreds of millions of Americans.” The fact that Clapper was not charged with perjury did nothing to burnish the credibility of the Justice Department.

Impeachment proceedings have been spurred in large part by disputes over Donald Trump’s phone call to the president of Ukraine. The House Intelligence Committee heard testimony from Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman, the Ukrainian-born officer who listened in to the call while serving on the National Security Council. Vindman was “deeply troubled by what he interpreted as an attempt by the president to subvert U.S. foreign policy,” the Washington Post reported. Which provision of the Constitution gives junior military officers sway over foreign policy? Because Vindman objected to Trump’s efforts to decrease tension with Russia, the Washington establishment quickly hailed him and thus encouraged other military officers and government officials to pull strings to subvert policies of which the media disapprove.

It is naive to expect the Deep State to provide an antidote to the sordidness of American politics. The Friends of the Deep State talk of certain federal agencies as if they exist far above the sordid details of political life — or even of human nature. Former CIA boss McLaughlin declared, “This is the institution within the U.S. government that … is institutionally committed to objectivity and to telling the truth. It’s whole job is to speak the truth — it is engraved in marble in the lobby.” But historically, atrium engravings have proven a weak surety for bureaucratic candor. In reality, the CIA and other Deep State agencies are notorious for suppressing convicting truths about themselves. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo recently described the CIA’s modus operandi when he was director: “We lied, we cheated, we stole. It’s like we had entire training courses.”

Power and truth

Promises that the chiefs of the CIA and other intelligence agencies will “speak truth to power” have become a Washington ritual in the years since the 9/11 attacks. No matter how brazenly political appointees lie, members of Congress assure the media and constituents that the next nominee will be as honest as George Washington. The “speak truth to power” bromide was recited after Trump nominated Gina Haspel as CIA chief. At her confirmation hearings, the public heard plenty about Haspel’s meeting with Mother Teresa but almost nothing about her key role in the CIA torture scandal — including the illegal destruction of recordings of torture sessions.

Another reason to distrust the Deep State is that its arch practitioners are honored regardless of their iniquities. Former CIA bosses McLaughlin and Brennan were speaking on a panel sponsored by the Michael V. Hayden Center for Intelligence, Policy, and International Security, named after the former chief of the National Security Agency and the CIA. As Trevor Timm noted in the Columbia Journalism Review in 2017, “Hayden has a long history of making misleading and outright false statements, and by the estimation of many lawyers, likely committed countless felonies during the Bush administration.” Hayden set up the illegal, unconstitutional wiretapping program after 9/11 that the New York Times exposed in late 2005. When the Senate Intelligence Committee released its report on CIA torture in 2014, it included a 36-page appendix filled with Hayden’s “testimony to Congress, next to the actual facts showing statement after statement he made was inaccurate, misleading, false, or outright lies,” Timm noted. Naming that Center after Hayden simply reflects the prevailing Deep State aggrandizement in the Greater Washington Metropolitan area.

The Deep State has an appalling record of abusing the whistleblowers who are now being acclaimed. A draft Intelligence Community Inspector General report last year found that intelligence agencies refused to recognize retaliation against whistleblowers in 99 percent of cases. A 2017 report by Foreign Policy magazine concluded that “the intelligence community’s central watchdog is in danger of crumbling thanks to mismanagement, bureaucratic battles, clashes among big personalities, and sidelining of whistleblower outreach and training efforts.” After CIA Inspector General John Helgerson compiled a condemnatory report on the CIA’s post–9/11 interrogation program, CIA chief Michael Hayden launched a major investigation of Helgerson in 2007, provoking outrage on Capitol Hill. (The CIA managed to delay the release of Helgerson’s report for five years, thereby keeping both Congress and the American people in the dark regarding shocking abuses.)

The Trump–Deep State clash is a showdown between a presidency that is far too powerful versus federal agencies that have become fiefdoms that enjoy immunity for almost any and all abuses. Most of the partisans of the Deep State are not championing “government under the law.” Instead, this is a dispute over who will be permitted to break the law and dictate the policies to America and the world. Former CIA and NSA boss Hayden proudly proclaimed, “Espionage is not just compatible with American democracy, espionage is essential to American democracy.” And how can we know if the Deep State’s espionage is actually pro-democracy or subversive of democracy? If they told you, they would have to kill you. The Founding Fathers never intended for covert agencies to trumpet a right to correct voters’ verdicts.

Neither the White House nor the CIA, NSA, nor other Deep State agencies should enjoy immunity from the law or deserve blind trust from average Americans or the establishment media. A wayward president (especially a first-term president) can eventually be checked at the ballot box. But who or what can check the Deep State?

This article was originally published in the February 2020 edition of Future of Freedom.

March 27, 2020 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Deception | , , | 8 Comments

Who’s behind the COVID-19 global pandemic

By Kevin Barrett | Press TV | March 27, 2020

The question of whether the chickens are coming home to roost was famously posed by Malcolm X. And that was shortly after the JFK assassination. Malcolm X was suggesting that the same forces that the US had deployed to attempt to assassinate Fidel Castro, among others, may have bounced back in a case of blowback and killed President Kennedy.

And of course, we know that there’s a certain amount of truth to that. Today we know that the same CIA assassination squads that were unsuccessfully attempting to kill Castro were in fact involved in killing President Kennedy. So Malcolm X’s words were quite precient. Now does that apply to today’s coronavirus situation in which the United States is now about to become the global epicenter of the COVID-19 pandemic according to the World Health Organization?

I think it does, because there is considerable circumstantial evidence that this COVID-19 pandemic was a biological weapon that was deployed against China and Iran and has bounced back against its creators. The experts in biological warfare all say that traditionally, strategists have been skeptical about biological warfare precisely because it has that tendency to bounce back and to create blowback.

Viruses mutate, even if you create an ethnic specific kind of virus, which may have been the case here. The United States has been caught red-handed nefariously collecting genetic material from the Chinese, from Russians and from Iranians. But the problem is that genetic specific weapons mutate. The virus is constantly seeking to find a better way to infect a broader group of people.

So it will typically go after people that may not have been the original targets, and that may be what happened here. The Chinese government is saying this. The Chinese government has all but officially accused the United States of deploying a biological weapon.

The Russian media accepts this as its standard mainstream narrative. This is what happened, according to Russian mainstream media. And in Iran, top leaders including the civil defense chief, and indeed the Supreme Leader himself, have broadly hinted at the same thing. We don’t know the details for sure, we’re not even sure that this hypothesis is correct, but we need to find out.

And at this point, we just don’t have enough information about the coronavirus and about the biological weapons programs. We know that the US has a terrible track record of using biological weapons against populations.

The US dropped more than 100,000 germ bombs on Pyongyang in North Korea during the Korean War, as explained in Dave Chaddock’s book — This Must Be the Place[: How the U.S. Waged Germ Warfare in the Korean War and Denied It Ever Since]. It used the Japanese germ warfare program that had done horrible things to China and Korea during World War Two, and it hired the very experts who had done that, and they became the basis for the US germ warfare program.

The US has also repeatedly attacked Cuba with biological weapons. It actually had a plan to incapacitate the entire Cuban population and kill at least 20% of the Cuban population as a prelude to a US invasion with the US soldiers, of course, protected by vaccines and masks as they went into Cuba. And that might very well have been actually approved; it would have been done if the President Kennedy hadn’t stopped it.

So we have bad historical precedents. We have all kinds of circumstantial evidence about the possibility of this being biological warfare, that blew back and got out of hand and is now affecting the very country that most likely was behind it. But we need to find out if that’s true.

We need a full scale international investigation. If we had had that kind of investigation after September 11, 2001 we will be living in a much better world today. Unfortunately, the same neoconservatives who were behind 9/11 very likely are also behind the coronavirus outbreak. It’s time to investigate, find out the truth, and prosecute the guilty.

March 27, 2020 Posted by | Deception, Timeless or most popular, War Crimes | , , | 2 Comments

Lockerbie’s only convict may be exonerated posthumously

By Dr Mustafa Fetouri | MEMO | March 26, 2020

The only man to be convicted of the infamous Lockerbie bombing, Abdelbaset Al-Megrahi, died in 2012 and protested his innocence until his final breath. His fellow Libyan and co-defendant, Lamin Khalifa Fhimah, was acquitted and is still living in Libya. The bombing of Pan Am Flight 103 in December 1988 killed all 259 passengers and crew on board as well as 11 people on the ground in the small Scottish town of Lockerbie.

Al-Megrahi was not alone in believing that he and his country were innocent of the crime. His family members are determined to clear his name if not prove his complete innocence. His son Ali is leading the family mission and told the BBC that his father was “innocent and had cared more about the victims than himself.”

The family has just won a huge victory with the Scottish Criminal Case Review Commission (SCCRC) decision on 11 March that an appeal can be made to the High Court of Justiciary, Scotland’s highest criminal court. The SCCRC had to decide if there are grounds for a posthumous appeal on the basis of a possible miscarriage of justice, among other possibilities. The commission found sufficient grounds to question the 2001 trial that convicted Al-Megrahi. Six grounds for review were considered before it was concluded that a miscarriage of justice may have occurred by reason of “unreasonable verdict” and “non-disclosure”.

This specifically raised serious doubts about the process by which Al-Megrahi was identified and linked to clothes found in the suitcase said to have contained the bomb. According to the SCCRC, “No reasonable trial court could have accepted that Mr. Megrahi was identified as the purchaser.”

The only witness to link Al-Megrahi to the clothes was a Maltese shop keeper named Toni Gauci, who died in 2016. He was a co-owner of a clothes shop in Malta and he testified that he sold the clothes to Al-Megrahi, who denied vehemently that he had ever been to the shop let alone bought anything from the witness. During the trial, this testimony was central to Al-Megrahi’s conviction, although the crown prosecutor, Lord Advocate Peter Frasier, later completely dismissed Gauci as “an apple short of a picnic” and “not quite the full shilling”. Why he accepted his testimony at the special court at Camp Zeist in the Netherlands in the first place is still a mystery. Could it have been a conspiracy against Muammar Gaddafi and Libya, as the late Libyan leader always claimed? He is not alone in thinking so.

Law Professor Robert Black, who came up with the idea of holding Al-Megrahi’s trial in a Scottish court sitting in the Netherlands — the first such occasion in history – now talks of a wider conspiracy to frame Libya. “I think the Scottish prosecution was from the start excessively influenced by the US Department of Justice, FBI and CIA,” Black told me this week when I asked about this possibility. In the late eighties, the US hated Gaddafi for his unrelenting opposition to America’s policies in the Arab world and beyond. He was accused of so many terrorist acts around the world that adding Lockerbie to the list would have been neither difficult to do nor easy to dispute; western media and politicians already projected Gaddafi as a monster capable of any and every evil.

Abdelbaset Al-Megrahi was convicted of the Lockerbie bombing, 23 April 2017 [Twitter]

It later emerged that Toni Gauci received $2 million in return for his testimony against Al-Megrahi before he disappeared from Malta altogether. Many experts think that he was coached on his story to be as convincing as possible. Under Scottish law, it is illegal to reward or coach witnesses in any legal proceedings.

According to Professor Black, the High Court of Judiciary could return its verdict before the 32nd anniversaries of the atrocity on 21 December this year. Meticulous as ever, the now retired professor thinks the court is likely to quash the original verdict and thus exonerate the late Abdelbaset Al-Megrahi posthumously. If that happens, he believes that Al-Megrahi’s family would be “entitled to claim compensation for wrongful imprisonment.” The convicted man spent eight years in prison after his conviction on 31 January 2001 before being released in 2009 on compassionate grounds as he was terminally ill with prostate cancer. However, warned Black, any such claim is likely to be resisted strongly.

At this stage we might feel entitled to ask what should happen to Libya if the verdict goes the way that Al-Megrahi’s family hope. The North African country had to endure crippling economic sanctions imposed by a series of UN Security Council resolutions starting with Resolution 731 passed on 21 March 1992. If Al-Megrahi is vindicated, might Libya also be vindicated and possibly claim compensation for the damage caused by the sanctions? Can it ask for the reimbursement of $2.7 billion paid to victims’ families? Even though the country accepted responsibility for the actions of its “officials” — Al-Megrahi and Fhimah, who was station manager for Libyan Arab Airlines in Malta at the time of the bombing — the money was paid as part of the requirements of the UN Resolutions.

Whatever the Scottish High Court of Justiciary decides later this year, many think that Al-Megrahi and Libya are already exonerated by the fact that the SCCRC has raised serious doubts about the trial and its verdict. Given the obvious US links to the case, it is interesting to note that current US Attorney General William Barr was the acting Attorney General who indicted the two Libyans in 1991. What will he have to say when the Court in Scotland returns its verdict?

March 26, 2020 Posted by | Deception, False Flag Terrorism | , | 1 Comment

COVID-19: Two Major ‘Waves’ of Global Infection, Towards Global Contamination?

By Larry Romanoff | Global Research | March 26, 2020

The US State Department and media are heavily promoting as theology that COVID-19 is “a Chinese virus and China spread it around the world”, demanding apologies and more. One American law firm in Florida filed a class action lawsuit against the Chinese government, seeking compensation for ‘damages’. (1) I have reviewed and analysed the details available of all first and subsequent confirmed infections in all countries, including infection source, virus strain, and timeline, which data provide ample evidence that this American theology is not supported by the facts. There appears to have been two major ‘waves’ of global infection, the first around the end of January, the second a month later. (2) (3) (4)

It is true that – in the very early stages, the first wave – 22 countries had their first confirmed infections in travelers from China but, soon after this, in the second wave, 34 countries obtained their first confirmed infection in travelers from Italy, and another 16 from Iran. However, so-called “first infection” in these countries, from Chinese citizens or other travelers, proved in all but perhaps two cases to be irrelevant because these first external infections proved to have no links to the subsequent local outbreaks, and because the virus strain in many of those explosive local eruptions did not exist in China but only in the US.

What this means is that while Italy discovered its first two infections in Chinese tourists, these two were unrelated to the subsequent virus outbreak because the strain infecting Italy is different from that in China and in those two Chinese tourists. Italy, like almost all other countries, did not obtain its infection from China and indeed could not have done. The only country with Italy’s variety of the virus is the US, and thus the infection must have originated in America, not in China. Similarly, the locations near China – South Korea, Japan, Vietnam, even Taiwan Province, share an entirely different common strain. China had only a tiny pocket of that strain, and very far from Wuhan. These were not infected by China, either. I have dealt with this in an earlier article. (5)

Much was made in the American media of the “first American virus infection” being a Chinese traveler from Wuhan, but that was also irrelevant because the massive underlying epidemic waiting to break free (as it soon did) was unrelated to that Chinese citizen, the thousands of infections in Washington, California and New York clearly stemming from unidentified (and unsought) local sources.

Given the high volume of Chinese passenger traffic around the world, it isn’t surprising that some infections would have been discovered in Chinese nationals in other countries and, since the first outbreak occurred in China, it was natural to test travelers from China. Because of that focus, few countries thought to check travelers from the United States. Australia did check, the country’s Prime Minister recently stating that 80% or more of all infections in his country occurred in the US, then traveled home. (6) Similarly, Iceland confirmed that some of their coronavirus infections have been traced to Denver. (7) (8) I have a strong suspicion that if all countries review the travel history of their early infections, they will discover more US traffic in the mix, perhaps predominantly so.

If you can get people focused on asking the wrong question, you don’t care about the answers. The wrong question is whether the original virus came from a bat or a pangolin or a banana, but that’s irrelevant. It wasn’t a bat or a banana that infected the people in Wuhan, but a live person – or a person carrying a live virus in a pail. The right questions to ask relate to the identity of that person and the source of the contents of that pail, and those answers seem to lead us to the USA. Certainly, they are not to be found in China.

Let’s take a quick look at those two waves of infections that circled the globe.

The First Wave simultaneously infected 25 nations or provinces within a few days  centered around January 25. The infected areas: Macau, Hong Kong, Taiwan, Singapore, Vietnam, South Korea, Sri Lanka, the Philippines, Cambodia, Nepal, Malaysia, Australia, Thailand, Canada, the US, Germany, Italy, the UK, France, Bavaria, Spain, Belgium, Russia, Finland, and the UAE.

One month later. The Second Wave simultaneously infected 85 nations within a few days centered around February 25. The infected countries: Austria, the Netherlands, Switzerland, Portugal, Luxembourg, Monaco, San Marino, the Vatican, Liechtenstein, Malta, New Zealand, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Indonesia, Bangladesh, the Maldives, Bhutan, Andorra, Bulgaria, Belarus, Lithuania, Poland, Hungary, the Ukraine, the Czech Republic, Slovenia, Latvia, Croatia, Estonia, North Macedonia, Georgia, Romania, Bosnia & Herzegovina, Slovakia, Serbia, Moldova, Albania, Egypt, Iraq, Oman, Bahrain, Kuwait, Lebanon, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Palestine, Iceland, Ecuador, Armenia, Norway, Denmark, Costa Rica, Peru, Colombia, Mexico, the Dominican Republic, Paraguay, Chile, Brazil, Argentina, Nigeria, Togo, Cameroon, Senegal, Algeria, South Africa, Morocco, and Tunisia. Kosovo, Namibia, Uruguay, the Sudan, Ethiopia, Lesotho, Bolivia, Panama, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Mongolia, Burkina Faso, Brunei and Cyprus were simultaneous around one week later.

Source: Geology.com

I make no claim to being a virologist, but this is beginning to look damned peculiar. A natural virus hasn’t the ability to simultaneously infect 85 different countries on all continents of the world, with outbreaks in multiple locations in each country – and to do it without the vehicle of a seafood market full of bats and bananas.

More peculiar is that these countries were by no means all infected with the same variety of the virus, which means the simultaneous infections in these 85 countries were not from the same source. Even more peculiar is that most countries, at least the major ones, reported simultaneous outbreaks in multiple locations, and to date while some nations have been able to identify one or more of their ‘patients zero’, I am aware of no country that was able to definitively identify all their several ‘patients zero’. Considering the above information in light of the known basic facts of virus transmission, intuition suggests at least the possibility of there having been many people carrying a pail of live viruses.

It is interesting to note that high fatality rates are entirely within Italy, Iran, and China. For approximate figures, China’s fatality rate is between 3% and 4%, that of Iran at about 7% and Italy the highest at around 9%. Even more interesting is that if these countries did pass their strain of the virus to other nations, those strains abandoned their lethality when they left home. Of the 34 countries supposedly infected by Italy, for example, all exhibit very low mortality, the same being true of Chinese or Iranian infections. The natural conclusion is that these viruses prefer their ‘home populations’ and pose at best a minor threat to others.

*

Larry Romanoff is a retired management consultant and businessman. He has held senior executive positions in international consulting firms, and owned an international import-export business. He has been a visiting professor at Shanghai’s Fudan University, presenting case studies in international affairs to senior EMBA classes. Mr. Romanoff lives in Shanghai and is currently writing a series of ten books generally related to China and the West. He is a Research Associate of the Centre for Research on Globalization (CRG). He can be contacted at: 2186604556@qq.com

Notes

(1) https://www.prweb.com/releases/the_berman_law_group_files_class_action_complaint_against_the_chinese_government_for_their_alleged_failures_to_contain_the_coronavirus/prweb16981743.htm

(2) https://www.clinicaltrialsarena.com/features/coronavirus-outbreak-the-countries-affected/

(3) https://www.clinicaltrialsarena.com/features/coronavirus-countries-with-suspected-cases/

(4) https://www.clinicaltrialsarena.com/features/

(5) https://www.globalresearch.ca/covid-usa-targeting-italy-and-south-korea/5707042

(6) https://news.cgtn.com/news/2020-03-22/PM-Morrison-80-percent-Australia-cases-are-imported-mostly-from-U-S–P41uG3CfWU/index.html

(7) https://www.denverpost.com/2020/03/13/iceland-coronavirus-traced-denver/

(8) https://icelandmonitor.mbl.is/news/news/2020/03/13/three_covid_19_cases_in_iceland_traced_to_denver/

March 26, 2020 Posted by | Deception, False Flag Terrorism, Timeless or most popular | | Leave a comment

China censures US for ‘clumsy trick’ to smear others with rumors amid COVID-19 pandemic

Press TV – March 23, 2020

China censures the United States for playing a ‘clumsy trick’ on other countries by smearing them with rumors aimed at accusing those countries with having a hand in the global spread of the deadly coronavirus.

China’s Foreign Ministry spokesman Geng Shuang said on Monday that Washington “on the one hand required federal organizations to speak with one voice to smear China; and on the other hand criticized China, Russia and Iran for spreading false information.”

“I just want to ask, who on earth is spreading false information, misleading the public and calling white black? Such trick of smearing others with rumors and with the play of a thief crying ‘stop the thief’ are just too clumsy.”

China, he added, has always been “open, transparent and responsible.”

“In the past two months and more, the Chinese people have united as one to fight the epidemic and earned precious time for the rest of the world to take necessary precautionary measures. We have made great contribution. WHO has recently pointed out that countries like Singapore and South Korea made good use of the precious time earned by China and took measures. Their moves have curbed the epidemic spread. What has the US done during this period?”

The Chinese official also stated that since January 3 the government in Beijing had been providing “regular briefings” to the World Health Organization (WHO) and other countries, including the United States.

On January 23, he added, “China announced to shut down roads exiting Wuhan City. The US government on February 2 announced to ban entry of all foreigners who had been to China in 14 days before. By then the US just announced a dozen of confirmed COVID-19 cases.”

“Now 50 days have passed, the confirmed cases in the US have surged from less than 20 to more than 30,000. What kind of strong measures has the US taken in the 50 days? It had totally squandered the time China earned for the world.”

The Chinese official further noted that Washington is seeking to “defame” others and “find a scapegoat” instead of admitting its own mistake, “which is totally immoral and irresponsible, and will do nothing good to the US epidemic control work and to the international cooperation in fighting the epidemic.”

“All it should do is concentrating on its own business and play a constructive role in working with all countries to fight the epidemic and protecting global public health security,” the Chinese official said of the US government.

The COVID-19 disease, caused by the new coronavirus, emerged in Wuhan, the capital of China’s Hubei province, in December. It has been reportedly contained in China, but is spreading rapidly around the globe.

UN to set up global coronavirus fund: Norway

Meanwhile, Norway said on Monday that the United Nations will set up a fund to prevent the spread of coronavirus and support the treatment of patients worldwide.

The purpose of the fund, proposed by the Norwegian government, is to assist developing countries with weak health systems in coping with the pandemic as well as to tackle the long-term consequences.

The initiative is similar to a 2014 United Nations Ebola Response Fund.

“We want to make sure that the efforts are as unified as possible and as early as possible so that we can answer up to the demands that countries will have, especially the poorest countries,” Norwegian Foreign Minister Ine Eriksen Soereide told Reuters.

In Africa, Angola, Eritrea and Uganda have confirmed their first cases, while Mauritius recorded its first death as the virus spreads across the continent despite efforts by governments to hold it back.

Elsewhere in the Gaza Strip, the first two cases were confirmed on Sunday.

Coronavirus aid to Italy not a ploy to get EU sanctions lifted: Russia

The Kremlin said Monday that medical assistance Russia is providing to Italy is not part of an attempt to get Rome help lift EU sanctions on Moscow.

The Russian army on Sunday began flying medical help to Italy after receiving an order from President Vladimir Putin, a goodwill gesture that Moscow labeled “From Russia with Love.”

Italy is the European country hardest hit by the viral crisis.

When asked if Russia expected Italy to return the favor by trying to get EU sanctions imposed on Russia over Ukraine lifted, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov described the notion as absurd.

“We’re not talking about any conditions or calculations or hopes here,” Peskov said.

“Italy is really in need of much more wide scale help and what Russia does is manageable.”

Russia to use mobile phones to track people at risk

Prime Minister Mikhail Mishustin has given the authorities five days to develop a system to track people who have come into contact with anyone with coronavirus by using mobile phone geolocation data.

Under the new system, people would be sent information if they came into contact with someone who was infected and the same information would be passed on to special regional headquarters set up to fight the respiratory disease pandemic.

The Kremlin said the measure was legal and part of a raft of measures Russia is taking to try to halt the spread.

Postponement of Olympics should be considered: Japan

The head of the Japan Olympic Committee (JOC) said he had to consider postponing the Games among his options amid increasing calls from committees around the world to delay the Olympics due to the coronavirus outbreak.

“From the athletes’ point of view of safety and security, we have to come to a stage where we cannot help but consider things including postponement,” JOC President Yasuhiro Yamashita told reporters on Monday.

However, he said too long a delay would be a burden to athletes given the possibility of having to qualify again, for example.

Spain death toll tops 2,000 after 462 deaths in 24 hours

The coronavirus death toll in Spain has surged to 2,182 after 462 people died within 24 hours, the health ministry says.

The death rate showed a 27-percent increase on the figures released a day earlier, with the number of confirmed cases of COVID-19 rising to 33,089 in Spain, one of the worst-hit countries in the world after China and Italy.

Despite an unprecedented national lockdown which was put in place on March 14, the number of deaths and infections have spiraled in Spain, with the figures growing as the country steps up its capacity for testing.

And the lockdown, which was initially put in place for two weeks, will be extended until April 11 to try to curb the spread, Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez said — in a measure which will be put to parliament on Tuesday.

The rise in infections in this country of 46 million people has brought Spain’s healthcare system to the brink of collapse, particularly in Madrid, the worst-hit area, which has registered 10,575 cases, and where 1,263 people have died — accounting for 58 percent of the national death toll.

Some 3,910 healthcare workers have tested positive for the virus, or around 12 percent of those infected, the health ministry’s emergencies coordinator Fernando Simon said.

Officials have repeatedly warned that the number of deaths and infections would continue to rise this week and that the worst was yet to come.

Greece bans flights from UK, Turkey as coronavirus cases rise

Greece has suspended flights from Britain and Turkey to curb the spread of coronavirus, as a lockdown took effect in the country.

The ban came into effect at 0400 GMT — 6:00 a.m. in Athens — on March 23 and ends at 1300 GMT on April 15.

It was a temporary and preemptive measure, a ministerial decree said, as part of further efforts to combat the coronavirus pandemic.

Greece saw its largest single-day jump in confirmed coronavirus cases on Sunday, a rise of 94 infections which brought the total to 624, with fatalities increasing to 15.

The prime minister announced a curfew with few exceptions restricting the movement of people, the latest in a series of measures to fight the virus. Greece has already sealed its borders to non-EU citizens, and those from Italy and Spain.

Police officers were deployed on the streets of Athens on Monday to enforce the lockdown, which allows people out only with special permits. The lockdown order came into effect at 0400 GMT.

Two more doctors die from coronavirus in France

Two more doctors have died after contracting the coronavirus in France, officials said on Monday, a day after the country reported the first death of a doctor treating COVID-19 patients.

One of the doctors, a 66-year-old gynaecologist in Mulhouse near the border with Switzerland and Germany, was infected by a patient during a consultation, according to his clinic.

The other was a 60-year-old general practitioner at a hospital in Saint-Avold near Metz, further north along the German frontier, according to the town’s mayor.

Both died on Sunday when officials announced the death of a 67-year-old doctor who was among the first to treat coronavirus cases in the northern Oise department, which has been badly hit by the outbreak.

Health experts warn that many French hospitals are already overflowing with coronavirus cases even as the government races to set up military field hospitals to help cope with a shortage of beds.

Mulhouse has imposed its own nighttime curfew in addition to nationwide home-confinement rules seeking to curtail the virus, which has spread rapidly in France’s eastern regions.

France is also experiencing a shortfall of ventilators to care for seriously ill patients and face masks and other protective equipment for health workers.

France’s National Health Service reported Sunday that 674 people had died in the country so far — an increase of 112 in 24 hours.

March 23, 2020 Posted by | Deception | , | 2 Comments

Two Years After the Skripals Were Poisoned the Mainstream Media and Governments Are Still Lying

By James ONeill – New Eastern Outlook – 23.03.2020

A little over two years ago, on 3 March 2018, two persons were found in a distressed state on a park bench in the English provincial city of Salisbury. The two were identified as Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia Skripal. Both were taken to hospital where they eventually recovered and were discharged.

Sergei telephoned his mother, and elderly lady living in Moscow, on 26 June 2019, 15 months after his hospitalisation. Apart from that sole telephone call, he has not been publicly seen or heard from since. Yulia was interviewed at an undisclosed venue on 18 July 2018. She has not been heard from since either.

Sergei was a resident of Salisbury where he moved in 2010 as part of a prisoner swap with Russia where he had been serving a prison term for betraying his country by spying on behalf of the British. The British government has never even tried to offer an explanation as to why the Russian government would do nothing to Sergei for eight years and then suddenly decide he needed to be eliminated. Yulia was a resident of Moscow, engaged to be married, and visiting her father. She had a return flight to Moscow booked.

What followed the finding of the Skripals in a distressed and unconscious state was an extraordinary series of statements by then British prime minister Theresa May. She accused Russia of attempting to murder Sergei and made a series of other allegations. The kindest thing that could be said about her allegations and those of others speaking on behalf of the British government, is that they were made before any proper inquiry has been completed; when the two Skripals were incapacitated in hospital; and any resemblance to facts or truth was at best coincidental.

The British government was joined by a number of other western governments in expressing the outrage at what the United Kingdom government had said happened, and expelling Russian diplomats as a gesture of their strong condemnation of what the United Kingdom government had described as the “facts”.

The Australian government, although entirely unaffected by what was alleged to have occurred, joined the frenzy and expelled two Russian diplomats from the embassy in Canberra.

In a joint press conference on 27 March 2018 with then foreign minister Julie Bishop, the then Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull was in full rhetorical flow. Turnbull, who as a former lawyer ought to have known better, denounced what he called, inter alia, “recklessness”, “aggressive”, “brazen” and “criminal” conduct by Russia.

Turnbull went on to say that the attacks on the Skripals “reflects a pattern of recklessness and aggression by the Russian government, including the annexation of Crimea, invasion of eastern Ukraine, downing of MH 17, cyber-attacks and efforts to manipulate western nation’s elections.”

It is a measure of the appalling standards of political discourse, among other failings, that the above quotation from Turnbull contains not a single statement of truth. He, and anybody else, was unable then and are unable today to point to a single piece of evidence to support those allegations.

One expects hyperbole and rhetoric from politicians and for the most part it has few lasting consequences. In this case however, the basic allegation that Russia was responsible for what happened to the Skripals has had a lasting effect. It has, in a very real sense, lowered the standard of public debate. Perhaps even worse, it had the effect of eliminating any remaining elements of criticism that might have survived in the western media.

In this since, the failure to critically examine the manifestly flawed government allegations of what happened to the Skripals is reflected in multiple other areas of public significance. In this century alone, the western powers, including the United States, United Kingdom and Australia, have invaded Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya and Syria on manifestly false grounds. Years, and in some cases decades later, those invading forces are still there, the lies supporting the invasions exposed yet with zero accountability for the perpetrators of these huge crimes.

The lies of governments in the case of the Skripals are part of the same pattern. The western mainstream media appears to have lost interest in pursuing the issue of the Skripals. This is despite the fact that what happened to them and continues to the present day, is a violation of basic principles of law the government of the United Kingdom and Australia so readily proclaim their adherence to, and equally readily ignore when it is in their geopolitical interests to do so.

Fortunately, there are at least two individuals who have not let the matter rest and continue to ask questions and point out anomalies in the official version that the mainstream media seem only too ready to ignore.

One such individual is the Australian writer John Helmer, a long-time resident of Moscow. Helmer has published a number of articles over the past two years pointing out the inconsistencies, illogicality’s and plain absurdities in the official story. He has just published a book, Skripal in Prison (2020) that brings together the fruits of his tireless investigations. It is highly recommended.

The other major writer in English on the topic is Salisbury resident and I understand a minister of religion, Rob Slane who is also highly recommended. Slane has recently published an article on his website entitled The Salisbury Poisoning Two Years On.

Slane lists 40 points where the official story that he describes as “absurd, implausible and sometimes downright impossible”. All of his 40 points are taken from the various versions of the official story that have been offered to the public over the past two years.

It is a measure of how low the mainstream media have sunk that none of them are prepared to either publish the valid criticisms and questions posed by Helmer and Slane, let alone make their own inquiries and ask the obvious questions.

As noted above, this is not an isolated example. Rather, it represents a general deterioration in the standards of mainstream media, in all its forms.

Turnbull’s list of alleged Russian misdeeds quoted above serves as a perfect metaphor of what has happened. It is not by chance that the work of the two investigators quoted above never appear in the mainstream media. They enrich us by their tireless efforts to establish what really happened.

We do not know the full truth as to what really happened. We do know that the official version tirelessly promoted by the government, notwithstanding its inherent contradictions and absurdities, and their mainstream media lapdogs is manifestly false. We are all the poorer and the more endangered by allowing this sorry state of affairs to continue.

James O’Neill is an Australian-based Barrister at Law.

March 23, 2020 Posted by | Deception, Russophobia, Timeless or most popular | | Leave a comment

Russiagate: The Sequel

Impervious to facts, the false historical narrative is back for more

By Jason Hirthler | American Herald Tribune | March 23 ,2020

Famous muckraker journalist and author of The Jungle, Upton Sinclair, once declared that, “It is difficult to get a man to understand something when his salary depends on his not understanding it.” He was talking about mainstream journalism. Few mainstream outlets better exemplify his maxim than The New York Times. It should then come as no surprise that the Times, the bible of the bourgeoisie, is at it again. The editorial board recently published a new article bringing the coronavirus and this year’s election under the sweeping banner of Russiagate, a tattered and discredited narrative that is being anxiously rehabilitated by the Washington establishment. But of course. The estimable “editorial board” tells us “conditions are ripe,” sending a shiver down the spine of every Biden liberal on either coast. But ripe for what? I think we all know the answer to that question by heart: “to sow discord”. Indeed that infamous epithet is sewn into the headline of the story, as though it had never left.

The first paragraph begins with the assumption that Russian disinformation in our election has been conclusively demonstrated, such that the question need not even be broached. To be clear: Russian disinformation at the express direction of the Kremlin. This whopping assumption taken as a foregone conclusion, we jump ahead to the next question: How will the Russians interfere this time around? Having established an unproven history as fact, the board then moves on to reupholster the sagging narrative from 2016. This time it won’t be the “bumbling” G.R.U., but rather the “more competent, stealthier” S.V.R. Now, with the SVR presumably involved (thought unconfirmed), we may expect “pernicious operational innovation and escalation” with the Russians descending to new lows to weaponize the coronavirus.

Look what’s already been accomplished. A false historical narrative has been posited as the context in which the latest news is shared. Then they introduced a tantalizing new security agency to the plot. Finally, they elevate the idea that “active measures” campaigns, resurrecting an old Soviet term, were not intended to elect Donald Trump, this having been effectively challenged, but rather to, one shudders to think, “weaken the United States.” This sweeping new storyline has been adumbrated in paragraph without providing a single piece of verifiable evidence.

And so, what to expect during this year’s “quadrennial extravaganza”, as Noam Chomsky drily described our electoral farce? Not having any solid evidence of any SVR plans, better to consult Soviet history for clues. The article then accuses the Soviets of a “racial engineering” campaign of anti-semitism in West Germany in 1959, in New York and the U.S. in 1960, and Africa shortly thereafter. Again, no evidence is provided. This is particularly strange that the German Democratic Republic (GDR) in East Germany would have launched an anti-semitic campaign in the West, given that it alone conducted a thoroughgoing purge of Nazis from its society, while the Federal Republic of Germany (FRG) in the West happily integrated the surviving Nazi braintrust into its power structures, and sent not a few off to the States to lend their dastardly talents to our ‘democracy promotion’ agendas.  

It is then said, with resigned recognition, that one of the central problems with combatting devious active measures of this kind was that “the K.G.B. largely stuck to the facts.” Which continues to be an insidious feature of modern Russian ‘active measures’, like the channel RT, for example, which regularly hosts angry populist Americans who rattle off chains of facts one can’t find in the mainstream press. It often seems the establishment media is more irritated at the inconvenience of alternative narratives than their veracity. Another ‘throwback’ story is tossed into the pot, perhaps to conjure dormant nostalgia for the Cold War: cigar boxes packed with explosives are sent to a ritzy dinner party to kill a diplomat. Surely the cigars in question were Cohibas, perhaps autographed by Fidel himself?

Just as one is beginning to get excited about all these ‘active measures’, the authors draw us hastily back to sobering reality. We are now given an elementary lesson in amateur psychology: active measures are intended, it seems, to elicit “emotional” reactions and “corrode” the target. Evidently, the best way to do this is to drive a wedge between deeply democratic, multicultural societies in any of the major western utopias. Hence the racial engineering. It is also important to blame the U.S. for afflicting brown people abroad: such as spreading dengue fever in Cuba and malaria in Pakistan. The authors fail to unravel these charges since each is absurd on its face. Or such is the editorial board’s consensus, if not the reader’s. One imagines the board members chucking at the charges: As if the United States of America would ever attempt such a thing! But then again, since World War Two, the U.S. has tried to overthrow some 50 foreign governments, assassinate some 50 foreign leaders, either invade directly or by proxy or simply bomb 30+ countries, not to mention interfering in some 30 foreign elections, all this with the aim of destabilizing and disbanding populist movements around the world. Nobody embodies counterrevolutionary imperialism better than Washington and its vassals. But these facts are, as Sinclair would remind us, what the board and its authors are paid to forget. 

But back to the true evildoers, Russia. According to anonymous sources with no evidence to share, the Russians will harness the coronavirus to divide Americans from each other. The authors reference a discord-sowing campaign being run out of Ghana by a group called ELBA, uncovered by Facebook and CNN. A modest single-story yellow house with stone-fronting is shown in the linked CNN article, the worldwide headquarters of the ghastly ELBA “Russian trolls” who, stunningly, were not even aware they were Russian trolls. Most were Ghanaians. But such is the surreptitious and artful Kremlin craft. Ghanaian security forces raided the small house and then darkly implied our worst fears when they attributed ELBA’s funding to a “European country.” CNN traced the Ghanaian man who ran the company back to Russia, where he worked as a translator. That manager, Seth Wiredu, was confused that Ghanaian security had raided his business. “I fight for black people,” he said. Indeed, the posts on Facebook were focused on repression of African-Americans, quite sensibly. Facebook quickly took down 71 associated accounts. Of course, our white authors at the Times, say the Russians have influenced African-Americans since 2016. CNN attempted to tie Wiredu to the Internet Research Agency (IRA) of 2016 fame, though he flatly denied the association. 

And so, regarding the Russians supposed gameplan for 2020, we are left with little substantiated intelligence and much speculative fodder. The story itself is based merely on what “officials said.” Unnamed officials. Anonymous officials. Government agents. “They gave few details,” of course, but this, as you know, is all done in the name of national security. One can just imagine the Times deep throat hemming and hawing and biting his lip in some oil-stained underground parking deck, finally whispering, “I really can’t show you the evidence. It would compromise national security.” And then a conspiratorial and patriotic nod from the Times stenographer. “I understand completely,” he replies. “The safety of the American people is paramount.” 

Manufacturing Consent, Consensus, and Fear  

One of the filters that Noam Chomsky and Edward Hermann laid out in their classic Manufacturing Consent is to do with sources. Namely, “the reliance of the media on information provided by government, business, and ‘experts’ funded and approved by these primary sources and agents of power.” Voices of the establishment, in other words. This is precisely how the MSM has managed the deliberate expansion of Russiagate. Times journalists reflexively accept the pronouncements of their government sources. It has gotten to the point where sources must no longer provide evidence for their claims. They must merely claim that providing evidence would compromise national security. Any serious journalist would insist on evidence. But journalists do not do this because they recognize that if they did, the source would likely quit being their source and begin to break stories with competitor news outlets. The muckraker again: their salary depends on blind faith. There is no reasonable excuse for this journalistic stenography. Parroting government sources is exactly that. 

Anonymous Sources Lack Credibility 

Aside from the self-evident willingness of the press to print unsubstantiated and inflammatory claims, there are three other reasons to view such stories with skepticism. First, how many times must we be told that the military-intelligence community is not trustworthy? An infinite number, it seems. From the Church Commission to the National Endowment for Democracy (NED) and the invention of ‘perception management’ to a former CIA director’s naked admission that the organization lied, cheated, and stole as a business model. The government has lied to us about Iraq, the greatest war crime of this century. Before then it lied to us about Cuba, Nicaragua, Vietnam, among many other nations. Since then it has spread disinformation about Libya, Syria, Venezuela, Iran, North Korea, and Russia. Evidence was manufactured to support a foregone conclusion. The CIA has bought and paid for journalists at least since the Church Commission. 

Second, aside from the perfidious track record of government sources, the mainstream media itself has been shown to be untrustworthy. The notion of journalistic impartiality is more mythic than substantiated. Not least because of its history of conspiracy and connivance with the government. The press hasn’t helped its cause by installing a surfeit of military and intelligence retirees as lead analysts. 

Third, and critically for this particular topic, we now know that much of the supposed evidence for Russiagate has been debunked: 

  • The idea the GRU was definitively behind the supposed hacking of the DNC is errant on two counts: the evidence suggests it was a leak, not a hack; and the CIA is known to have technology that allows it to fake any source it chooses. 
  • The Mueller Report was an unmitigated disaster for conspiracy-pushing Democrats. 
  • We know that the infamous dossier author Christopher Steele was a DNC contractor, like CrowdStrike, which refused to turn over its servers to the FBI for investigation after claiming it was hacked, and that the Clinton campaign paid for part of Steele’s investigative work. The Russians were central to Clinton’s explanation of why she lost. 
  • We know that there has been no definitive proof that the Kremlin was behind any of the social media posts that were said to corrupt the election. 
  • Supposed spy Maria Butina was essentially entrapped, jailed, had her reputation destroyed, and was then banished back to Russia. 
  • That Donald Trump’s entire presidency has been largely hostile to Russia, an odd stance for a supposed puppet of the Kremlin.
  • The Times itself launched and promoted the dissimulating sham known as the Intelligence Community Assessment of Russian interference. The newspaper repeatedly claimed the ICA was signed off on by all 17 intelligence agencies, a claim it later quietly retracted when it was shown that only four handpicked agencies had actually supported the assessment. Likely handpicked by John Brennan to legitimate suspicions invented by… John Brennan. 
  • The supposed Russian backing of Roy Moore’s Alabama Congressional campaign was a false flag run by a company that wrote the Senate report on Russian interference.
  • We do know the Internet Research Agency was a for-profit clickbait agency that spent a comparative pittance ($100,000) compared to the hundreds of millions spent by the 2016 candidates. Neither have the IRA’s posts aligned with either candidate nor the election itself, with most posts occurring after the election. 
  • We know the MSM’s hysterical claims in reporting the supposed reach of 126 million people via social media posts have collapsed on examination. They actually represented four ten thousandths of the total number of posts on Facebook during the time period, a “miniscule” amount according to Facebook. They mostly occurred after the election, were not predominantly political in nature, and were based on the theoretical possibility that 29 million people may have gotten at least one post in their feed and shared the posts at the average sharing rate. All this setting aside that only 10 percent of Facebook posts in a feed are ever seen at all. 
  • A host of other ill-conceived stories, from Paul Manafort’s supposed clandestine meetings with Julian Assange, to Putin’s hacking of electricity grids, to sonic microwave attacks of U.S. diplomats, have all been exposed and treated with the contempt they deserved.
  • The indictments against the 13 members of IRA are in the process of being dropped. The reason? You guessed it: national security. 

Why Anti-Russian Disinformation? 

Given the breadth of Russiagate’s failure, we now know that the MSM is happy to disseminate largely counterfactual content. Why? Cui bono? After it was launched in 2016, Russiagate quickly became a perfect storm in which the interests of three powerful Washington entities converged. The Clinton campaign used the story to rationalize its embarrassing defeat to a casino mogul. The Democratic Party used the tale to attempt to excuse its discredited centrist politics to re-energize its disillusioned base in the faux resistance of a supposed traitor in the White House. And, most importantly, the intelligence community leveraged the claims to constrain Trump’s foreign policy, steering him away from befriending Russia or thoroughly dismantling costly wars abroad. All three were happy to then harness the alternative media that was undermining their chosen narratives. The Democrats and the military intelligence community likely see benefits in extending this threadbare fiction through the 2020 electoral season, not to mention the pandemic. After all, Bernie Sanders populist campaign has given the establishment a real fright, as Trump’s campaign did four years ago. Much of this has to do with deteriorating conditions among the working class. But also it has to do with access to alternative sources of information. It is the internet that has destabilized the establishment’s control of the national discourse over the last 20 years. It reached a crescendo in 2016. 

Since then, Russiagate has been leveraged to suppress alternative voices on the internet and insurgent contrarians in the mainstream. The censorship of left voices across the social media spectrum has been well noted, from Google algorithm changes to Facebook account deletion to demonetization on YouTube. Likewise, progressive voices in the mainstream, like Tulsi Gabbard, were smeared by MSM for their anti-war positions and marginalized in the national discourse. Gabbard correctly clarified in a Washington Post article that it was the intelligence community that was interfering in our elections by continually leaking Russiaphobic claims without evidence. This is precisely what the Times editorial board have long peddled. They are showing little sign of quitting their perfidy. 

This is standard issue rollback by federal forces. The history of anti-communism, expertly unpacked by Alex Carey among many others, demonstrates that anti-communism has been used to suppress socialist thought in America. Chomsky and Herman said anti-communism was the fifth filter by which elites managed the flow of information to the public. They called it a “national religion.” Historically, nothing has encouraged self-censorship better than the fear of being called a communist. In the post-Soviet era, that nimble and dexterous label has now been simply repurposed into the charge that one is a ‘Putin stooge,’ or a ‘Russian bot’ if you challenge Washington claims about Moscow. Easily done since Russia was the home of the Bolshevik Revolution. But it isn’t actually communism or Russia that is the underlying target of establishment repression: it is independence. Independent media, independent nations, independent politicians. 

Max Blumenthal, a stalwart of the anti-imperialist left, perhaps said it best when he summarized Russiagate as follows, “those responsible for this fake neocon intrigue got a new Cold War, record defense budgets, and a McCarthyite political atmosphere to denigrate opponents of permanent war. A waste of energy and a setback for peace.” Well put. We should thus remember, in a time of remarkable insecurity about our healthcare system and its ability to combat the pandemic, there has long been a media virus that has infected the nation’s understanding of foreign policy, ironically by sanitizing news of critical context, fact, and motive. Buyer beware.

March 23, 2020 Posted by | Deception, Fake News, Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Russophobia | , , | Leave a comment

The New York Times’ Insidious Ongoing Disinformation Campaign on Russia & Elections

By Gareth Porter | Consortium News | March 17, 2020

For the past three years the new narrative of Russian interference in U.S. elections has bound corporate news media more tightly than ever to the interests of the national security state. And no outlet has pushed that narrative more aggressively – and with more violence to the relevant facts — than The New York Times.

Times reporters have produced a series of stories that loudly proclaim the Russian election meddling narrative but offer no real facts in the body of the story supporting its most sensational claims.

The Times service to the narrative was introduced by its February 2017 story  headlined, “Trump Campaign Aides Had Repeated Contacts with Russian Intelligence.” We now know from Justice Department Inspector General Michael Horowitz’s report on the FBI investigation of the Trump campaign that the only campaign aide who had contacts with Russian intelligence officials was Carter Page, and those had taken place years before in the context of Page’s reporting them to the CIA. The Horowitz report revealed that FBI officials had hidden that fact from the FISA Court to justify its request for surveillance of Page.

But the Times coverage of the Horowitz report in December 2019 failed to acknowledge that the calumny about Page’s Russian intelligence contacts, which it had published without question in 2017, had been an FBI deception.

Two more Times Russiagate stories in 2018 and 2019 featured spectacular claims that proved on closer examination to be grotesque distortions of fact. In September 2018 a 10,000-word story by Scott Shane and Mark Mazzetti sought to convince readers that the Russian Internet Research Agency (IRA) had successfully swayed U.S. opinion during the 2016 election with 80,000 Facebook posts that they said had reached 126 million Americans.

But that turned to be an outrageously deceptive claim, because Shane and Mazzetti failed to mention the fact that those 80,000 IRA posts (from early 2015 through 2017), had been engulfed in a vast ocean of more than 33 trillion Facebook posts in people’s news feeds – 413 million times more than the IRA posts.

In December 2019, senior national security correspondent David Sanger wrote a story headlined, “Russia Targeted Election Systems in All 50 States, Report Finds,” and Sanger’s lede said the Senate Intelligence Committee had “concluded” that all 50 states had been targeted. But the Committee report actually reaches no such conclusion. It quoted President Barack Obama’s cyber-security adviser Michael Daniel as recalling that he had “personally” reached that conclusion, but shows the only basis for his conclusion was remarkably lame: the “randomness of the attempts” and his conviction that Russian intelligence was “thorough.”

The Committee reported that some intelligence “developed” in 2018 had “bolstered” the subjective judgment by Daniel. But all but one of the eight paragraphs in the report describing that intelligence were redacted, and the one unredacted paragraph suggests that the redacted paragraphs provided no conclusive evidence that Russian intelligence had scanned any state election websites, much less those of all 50 states. The paragraph said, “However, IP addresses associated with the August 16, 2016 FLASH provided some indicators the activity might be attributable to the Russian government…. [emphasis added].”

The Committee report also contained summary statements from six states that the Department of Homeland Security has continued to include among the 21 states it insists were hacked by the Russians in 2016, denying any cyber threat to their systems. Another 13 states reported only that there was “scanning and probing” by inconclusive IP addresses the FBI and DHS had sent them.  Sanger did not report any of those troublesome details.

In January 2020 the Times began its coverage of the theme of Russian interference in the 2020 election with a story headlined, “Chaos is the Point: Russian Hackers and Trolls Grow Stealthier in 2020.”  The story, written by Sanger, Matthew Rosenberg and Nicole Perlroth, sought to heighten the existing U.S. climate of paranoia about a Russian attack in regard to the 2020 elections. Once again, however, nothing in the story supports the sinister tone of the headline.

It reported Department of Homeland Security officials’ anxiety about the ransom-ware attacks on 100 American towns, cities and federal offices during 2019, which are clearly criminal operations aimed at large-scale payoffs by cities. The story informed readers that DHS was investigating “whether Russian intelligence was involved in any of the attacks,” on the apparent theory that the criminals were being used by the Russians.

Since those ransom-ware attacks had been going on for years, the obvious question would have been why DHS would have waited until 2020 to reveal that it was investigating Russian involvement.  Thus, the only fact underlying the story was the DHS desire to find evidence to support its accusations of Russian election hacking.

Still at it in 2020

The Times continued its advocacy journalism in a Feb. 26 report that U.S. intelligence officials had “warned” in a briefing for the House Intelligence Committee on Feb. 13 that “Russia was interfering in the 2020 campaign to get President Trump elected,” citing five people “familiar with the matter.”

The Times’ team of four writers proceeded to declare, “The Russians have been preparing – and experimenting – for the 2020 election… aware that they needed a new playbook of as-yet undetectable methods, United States officials said.” But instead of reporting actual evidence of any Russian action or decision for action, the Times writers again cited what their sources suspected could be done.

“Some officials,” they wrote, “believe that foreign powers, possibly including Russia, could use ransom-ware attacks…to damage or interfere with voting systems or registration databases.” The Times’ sources thus had no actual intelligence on the question and were merely speculating on what any foreign government might do to disrupt the election.

Three days after that report, moreover, the Times backed away from its previous lede after intelligence sources disputed its claim that Russia was intervening to reelect Trump, suggesting that the briefing officer, Shelby Pierson, had overstated the assessment. Sanger sought to limit the damage with a story labeling the problem one of “dueling narratives” in the intelligence community.

Then Sanger admitted, “It is probably too early for the Russians to begin any significant moves to bolster a specific candidate,” which obviously invalidated the Times’ previous speculation on the subject. But after The Washington Post published a story that the FBI had informed Senator Bernie Sanders that Russia had sought to help his campaign, Sanger quickly returned to the same narrative of Russian interference to advance its favorite candidates.

On the Times’ podcast “The Daily,” Sanger opined that the Russians were now supporting both Trump and Sanders – because Sanders, “like Donald Trump,” has “got a real aversion to interventions around the world.”

The most recent entry in the Times’ campaign to create anxiety about Russian interference in the election focused on race relations. On March 10, the Times headlined its story, “Russia Trying to Stoke U.S. Racial Tension before Elections, Officials Say.” In their lede Julian Barnes and Adam Goldman announced, “The Russian government has stepped up efforts to influence racial tensions in the United States as part of its bid to influence November’s presidential election, including trying to incite violence by white supremacist groups and stoke anger among Afro-Americans, according to seven American officials briefed on recent intelligence.”

But true to the modus operandi used routinely to push the Russian election threat narrative, the writers did not offer a single fact supporting such a story line. They even admitted that the officials who were making the claims provided “few details” about white supremacists and “did not detail how” blacks were being encouraged to use violence.

It turns out, in fact, that U.S. officials have found nothing indicating Russian support for violent white supremacists in America. The only fact that they could cite — based on a single source — was that the FBI is “scrutinizing any ties” between Russian intelligence and Rinaldo Nazzaro, the American founder of a “neo-Nazi group,” who lives with his Russian wife in St. Petersburg, Russia, but owns property in the United States. So, the Times’ single source had nothing but a suspicion for which the FBI was trying to find evidence.

The final touch in the piece was the accusation that RT had “fanned divisions” on race by running a story about a video of New York policemen attacking and detaining a young black man that Barnes and Goldman write “sparked outrage” and had also “posted tweets aimed at stirring white animosity.” But the RT article on the video merely reported accurately that the video depicted unprovoked police brutality and that it had already gone viral. The Times itself had published a much more detailed Associated Press story on the same incident that went into a discussion of the history of police brutality in New York City. By the Times’ own criterion, the AP was doing far more to stoke racial animosity than RT.

The opinion pieces that RT published attacking The New York Times for its coverage of a video at the University of Wisconsin that offended non-whites and for a Times opinion piece critical of the Apu character on “The Simpsons” echoed views on race and culture that most Americans find offensive. The idea that they were part of a Russian plot to generate racial animosity, however, is a very long stretch.

The descent of The New York Times into this unprecedented level of propagandizing for the narrative of Russia’s threat to U.S. democracy is dramatic evidence of a broader problem of abuses by corporate media of their socio-political power. Greater awareness of the dishonesty at the heart of the Times‘ coverage of that issue is a key to leveraging media reform and political change.

Gareth Porter is an independent investigative journalist and historian and winner of the 2012 Gellhorn Prize for Journalism. His latest book, with John Kiriakou, is “The CIA Insider’s Guide to the Iran Crisis: From CIA Coup to the Brink of War.”

March 22, 2020 Posted by | Deception, Fake News, Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Russophobia | , | Leave a comment

Pompeo and Netanyahu paved a path to war with Iran, and they’re pushing Trump again

By Gareth Porter | The Grayzone | March 20, 2020

Though it narrowly averted war with Iran this January, the Trump administration is still pushing for all-out military conflict. The architects of the drive to war, Mike Pompeo and Benjamin Netanyahu, have relied on a series of cynical provocations to force Trump’s hand.

The US may escape the most recent conflict with Iran without war, however, a dangerous escalation is just over the horizon.  And as before, the key factors driving the belligerence are not outraged Iraqi militia leaders or their allies in Iran, but Trump’s secretary of state, Mike Pompeo, and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who has long sought to draw the US into a military confrontation with Iran.

Throughout the fall of 2019, Netanyahu ordered a series of Israeli strikes against Iranian allies in Iraq and against Lebanese Hezbollah units. He and Pompeo hoped the attacks would provoke a reaction from their targets that could provide a tripwire to outright war with Iran. As could have been expected, corporate US media missed the story, perhaps because it failed to reinforce the universally accepted narrative of a hyper-aggressive Iran emboldened by Trump’s failure to “deter” it following Iran’s shoot-down of a U.S. drone in June, and an alleged Iranian attack on Saudi oil facility in September.

Pompeo and John Bolton set the stage for the tripwire strategy in May 2019 with a statement by national security adviser John Bolton citing “troubling and escalatory indications and warnings,” implying an Iranian threat without providing concrete details. That vague language echoed a previous vow by Bolton that “any attack” by Iran or “proxy” forces “on United States interests or on those of our allies will be met with unrelenting force.”

Then came a campaign of leaks to major news outlet suggesting that Iran was planning attacks on U.S. military personnel. The day after Bolton’s statement, the Wall Street Journal reported that unnamed U.S. officials cited “U.S. intelligence” showing that Iran “drew up plans to target U.S. forces in Iraq and possibly Syria, to orchestrate attacks in the Bab el-Mandeb strait near Yemen through proxies and in the Persian Gulf with its own armed drones…”

The immediate aim of this campaign was to gain Trump’s approval for contingency plans for a possible war with Iran that included the option of sending as many as 120,000 U.S. troops into region.  Trump balked at such war-planning, however, complaining privately that Bolton and Pompeo were pushing him into a war with Iran. Following Iran’s shoot-down of the U.S. drone over the Strait of Hormuz on June 20, Pompeo and Bolton suggested the option of killing Maj. Gen. Qassem Soleimani in retaliation. But Trump refused to sign off on the assassination of Iran’s top general unless Iran killed an American first, according to current and former officials.

From that point on, the provocation strategy was focused on trying to trigger an Iranian reaction that would involve a U.S. casualty.  That’s when Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu interjected himself and his military as a central player in the drama. From July 19 through August 20, the Israeli army carried out five strikes against Iraqi militias allied with Iran, blowing up four weapons depots and killing as many Shiite militiamen and Iranian offcers, according to press accounts.

The Israeli bombing escalated on August 25, when two strikes on the brigade headquarters of a pro-Iranian militia and on a militia convoy killed the brigade commander and six other militiamen, and a drone strike on Hezbollah’s headquarters in south Beirut blew the windows out of one of Hezbollah’s media offices.

Netanyahu and Pompeo sabotage Trump and Macron’s attempt at diplomacy

Behind those strikes was Netanyahu’s sense of alarm over Trump toying with the idea of seeking negotiations with Iran. Netanyahu had likely learned about Trump’s moves toward detente from Pompeo, who had long been his primary contact in the administration. On August 26, French President Emanuel Macron revealed that he was working to broker a Trump-Rouhani meeting. Netanyahu grumbled about the prospect of U.S.-Iranian talks “several times” with his security cabinet the day before launching the strikes.

Two retired senior Israeli generals, Gen. Amos Yadlin and Gen. Assaf Oron, criticized those strikes for increasing the likelihood of harsh retaliation by Iran or one of its regional partners. The generals complained that Netanyahu’s attacks were “designed to prod [Iran] into a hasty response” and thus end Trump’s flirtation with talking to Iran. That much was obviously true, but Pompeo and Netanyahu also knew that provoking an attack by Iran or one of its allies might cause one or more of the American casualties they sought. And once American blood was spilled, Trump would have no means to resist authorizing a major escalation.

Kataib Hezbollah and other pro-Iran Iraqi militias blamed the United States for the wave of lethal Israeli attacks on their fighters. These militias responded in September by launching a series of rocket attacks on Iraqi government bases where U.S. troops were present. They also struck targets in the vicinity of the U.S. Embassy.

The problem for Netanyahu and Pompeo, however, was that none of those strikes killed an American. What’s more, U.S. intelligence officials knew from NSA monitoring of communications between the IRGC and the militias that Iran had explicitly forbidden direct attacks on US personnel.

Netanyahu was growing impatient. For several days in late October and early November, he met with his national security cabinet to discuss a new Israeli attack to precipitate a possible war with Iran, according to reports by former Israeli Ambassador Michael Oren. Oren hinted at how a war with Iran might start. ‘[P]erhaps Israel miscalculates,” he suggested, “hitting a particularly sensitive target,” which, in his view, could spark “a big war between Israel and Iran.”

But on December 27, before Netanyahu could put such a strategy into action, the situation changed dramatically. A barrage of rockets slammed into an Iraqi base near Kirkuk where U.S. military personnel were stationed, killing a U.S military contractor. Suddenly, Pompeo had the opening he needed. At a meeting the following day, Pompeo led Trump to believe that Iranian “proxies” had attacked the base, and pressed him to “reestablish deterrence” with Iran by carrying out a military response.

In fact, U.S. and Iraqi officials on the spot had reached no such conclusion, and the investigation led by the head of intelligence for the Iraqi federal police at the base was just beginning that same day. But Pompeo and his allies, Defense Secretary Mark Esper and Chairman of Joint Chiefs Gen. Mark A Milley, were not interested in waiting for its conclusion.

A deception brings the US and Iran to the brink of war

The results of a subsequent Iraqi investigation revealed that the rocket barrage had been launched from a Sunni area of Kirkuk with a strong Islamic State presence, and that IS fighters had carried out three attacks not far from the base on Iraqi forces stationed there in the previous ten days. US signals intercepts found no evidence that Iraqi militias had shifted from their policy of avoiding American casualties at all cost.

Kept in the dark by Pompeo about these crucial facts, Trump agreed to launch five airstrikes against Kataib Hezbollah and another pro-Iran militia at five locations in Iraq and Syria that killed 25 militiamen and wounded 51. He may have also agreed in principle to the killing of Soleimani when the opportunity presented itself.

Iran responded to the attacks on its Iraqi militia allies by approving a violent protest at the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad January 31. The demonstrators did not penetrate the embassy building itself and were abruptly halted the same day. But Pompeo managed to persuade Trump to authorize the assassination of Qassem Soleimani, Iran’s second most powerful figure, presumably by hammering on the theme of “reestablishing deterrence” with Iran.

Soleimani was not only the second most powerful man in Iran and the main figure in its foreign policy; he was idolized by millions of the most strongly nationalist citizens of the country. Killing him in a drone strike was an open invitation to the military confrontation Netanyahu and Pompeo so desperately sought.

During the crucial week from December 28 through January 4, while Pompeo was pressing Trump to retaliate against Iran not just once but twice, it was clear that he was coordinating closely with Netanyahu.  During that single week, he spoke by phone with Netanyahu on three separate occasions.

What Pompeo and Netanyahu could not have anticipated was that Iran’s missile attack on the U.S. sector of Iraq’s sprawling al-Asad airbase in retaliation would be so precise that it scored direct hits on six U.S. targets without killing a single American. (The US service members were saved in part because the rockets were fired after the Iraqi government had passed on a warning from Iran to prepare for it). Because no American was killed in the strike, Trump again decided against further retaliation.

Towards another provocation

Although Pompeo and Netanyahu failed to ignite a military conflict with Iran, there is good reason to believe that they will try again before both are forced to leave their positions or power.

In an article for the Atlantic last November, former Israeli Ambassador Michael Oren, channeled Netanyahu when he declared it would be “better for conflict [with Iran] to occur during the current [Trump] administration, which can be counted on to provide Israel with the three sources of American assistance it traditionally receives in wartime,” than to “wait until later.”

Oren was not the only Israeli official to suggest that Israeli is likely to go even further in strikes against Iranian and Iranian allies targets in 2020. After listening to Israeli army Chief of Staff Aviv Kochavi speak in late December, Haaretz military correspondent Amos Harel reported that the Israeli army chief conveyed the clear impression that a “more serious confrontation with Iran in the coming year as an almost unquestionable necessity.” His interviews with Israeli military and political figures further indicated that Israel would “intensity its efforts to hit Iran in the northern area.”

Shockingly, Pompeo has exploited the Coronavirus pandemic to impose even harsher sanctions on Iran while intimidating foreign businesses to prevent urgently needed medical supplies from entering the country. The approaching presidential election gives both Pompeo and Netanyahu a powerful reason to plot another strike, or a series of strikes aimed at drawing the US into a potential Israeli confrontation with Iran.

Activists and members of Congress concerned about keeping the US out of war with Iran must be acutely aware of the danger and ready to respond decisively when the provocation occurs.

March 20, 2020 Posted by | Deception, Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Wars for Israel | , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments