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The End of Truth as We Know It – Or Knew It

By Jeremy Salt | American Herald Tribune | February 21, 2019

The claim (or admission) by the BBC journalist Riam Dalati that the alleged sarin attack on Douma in April 2018, was staged was received by the Russian embassy in London with glee. “Remarkable that the British MSM chose to ignore it’, whoever it was at the embassy wrote. ‘No breaking news, no articles, nothing.’

Remarkable? Not at all, given the endless track record of the media in ignoring news that does not suit its agenda. The real interest lies in the fact that an insider has owned up. His personal opinion only, according to the BBC, which along with the rest of the media, had taken the initial version of the alleged attack for granted, thus setting Syria up for the cruise missile strike by the US, Britain, and France which soon followed.

‘I can prove without a doubt that the Douma hospital scene was staged,’ Dalati wrote. Well, enough of the evidence has already been produced to prove that. As for the sarin, in July 2018, the OPCW (Organization for the Prevention of Chemical Weapons) put out an interim report indicating that whatever was used at Douma was not sarin, but most probably chlorine.

The next question is ‘used by whom?’ Again the evidence suggests that the yellow gas cylinders shown in the media propaganda blitz were not dropped from an aircraft but planted at the scene by the ‘activists’ who faked the whole episode.

The OPCW now seems to be reaching the point where it will release its full report. What it might contain opens the doors to endless speculation. It has already indicated that it found traces of chlorine and it may point an accusing finger at ‘the regime’ but without having the proof that it did it.

So expect something ultimately inconclusive, i.e. there is evidence of chlorine having been used, the Syrian regime might have used it but we really can’t say, leaving enough room for western governments to argue that they were right to bomb on the basis of the facts that were known at the time and for E. Higgins and company to argue that their version has not been disproved.

With Idlib, the last redoubt of the takfiris in Syria, now the focal point of political maneuvers and possibly military action, any credibility given by the OPCW to the accusations against the Syrian military might encourage the takfiris to try again, most likely in Idlib province, the location of the alleged chemical weapons attack in Khan Shaikhun in April, 2017. Without having the proof, the US launched a missile strike against a Syrian air base by way of retaliation.

Another faked attack would give the US and its law-breaking friends the pretext needed to disrupt or forestall any Syrian military campaign to drive the takfiris out of Idlib, which, far from having quietened down following the ‘de-escalation’ agreement reached by Turkey, Iran and Russia, is now an even hotter hothouse of takfiri activity.

The main group, Hayat Tahrir al Sham (HTS) basically still Jabhat al Nusra/Al Qaida in Syria despite the name change, and its allies have routed their ‘moderate’ enemies and taken control of between 70 to 90 per cent of the province, including Idlib city, which lives under a harsh form of sharia law.

The HTS collective has tens of thousands of armed fighters on call. So does the rival Turkish-supported National Liberation Front. The entire province is awash with arms and armed groups refusing to adhere to any agreements drawn up in Astana or Sochi and saying they will fight to the last.

Along with the fighting men are the civilians, the families of the takfiris and the normal civilian population of the province who are helpless in the face of the violence and intimidation all around them and the scheming of powerful actors far from the scene.

At present nothing is clear. The US is apparently planning to withdraw troops from northern Syria but has not withdrawn them. Erdogan and Putin have met to discuss what the US is up to, as well as the situation in Idlib and Turkey’s desire to set up a buffer zone running 460 kms and 32 kms deep along the Syrian border (on the Syrian side).  Russia and Iran have so far refused to support the idea.

The buffer zone would be set up against the Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG), aligned with Turkey’s Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) and ‘terrorists’ in the view of the Turkish government but not in the eyes of the US, which, of course, has been using the Kurds in pursuit of its own strategic interests

Turkey has recently been committing itself to the territorial and political integrity of Syria, raising an obvious question: if this is the case, why did you make such strenuous attempts to destroy both over the past eight years?

The US is on the brink of defeat in Syria. Not just defeat but defeat by Russia, which is why Trump’s plan to withdraw is facing furious criticism at home by neocons who want more war, somewhere, anywhere, and ‘liberals’ who hate Trump and will buy into almost anything that brings him down.  In their views on Syria, Iran, Hizbullah, Hamas and now Venezuela the two groups are indistinguishable, even if they also affect to hate each other.

Idlib will be liberated sooner or later. If the takfiris are insisting that they will fight to the last drop of their blood that is because they have nowhere else to go. The foreigners among them can’t go back to their own countries. Turkey does not want them on its side of the border although, as the Syrian Kurds claim, it might allow them to move into Afrin, occupied by the Turkish army in March 2018.  As fighters or police, they would have their uses. What happens to them when Afrin is finally returned to the hands of the Syrian state is an issue for the future.

But back to Douma. Was the district being bombed at the time a chemical weapons attack was alleged? Of course, it was. It had been taken over by one of the most murderous takfiri groups in Syria, Jaysh al Islam, and the army was shelling Douma to drive them out. What government and what army would not be constitutionally bound to do the same?

Douma was not under siege by the Syrian army, as the corporate media kept telling the world.  It was being held hostage by a murderous armed group, for which the presence of civilians, deterring the army from a full-on ground military assault, was a prized asset. Civilians died in the shelling but the most likely cause of the breathing difficulties suffered by those given genuine medical treatment was smoke and dust inhalation. Jaysh al Islam and the White Helmets converted their distress into a chemical weapons attack and then ran around a clinic spraying water over everyone to prove the point.

The arguments will continue over the provenance of the yellow cylinders that gave Eliot Higgins something else to do. These were normal industrial gas cylinders that had been filled with chlorine which could only be released if someone opened the valve with a monkey wrench or if the valve had opened on impact.  That a Syrian military helicopter would drop these cylinders in the hope that somehow the valve would open or break on landing is surely nonsensical.

The valves were intact so how the chlorine could have got out of the cylinders without someone manually opening them remains unexplained by those making the claim that the cylinders were dropped from a helicopter. There was no evidence of anyone in the house where the cylinders were found having been affected and as someone has observed, even the chickens running around nearby were unharmed. In short, the whole scenario screams one word: fake.

One thing not to be forgotten is that when the takfiris finally were pushed out of Douma, a makeshift chemical weapons factory, complete with how-to-make instructions and receipts for the machinery and chemical compounds received, was found underground in an elaborate network of tunnels.

Neither the factory nor the tunnels, nor the brutal nature of the takfiris holding Douma, or their previous crimes, including their previous alleged use of chemical weapons were items for show or discussion in the media.

Neither was the story one of armed fanatics taking over a district close to a national capital and holding its citizens hostage. Neither was the story one of foreign governments and the armed groups they were supporting besieging an entire country. The facts were reversed so that it was the Syrian government and army laying siege to its own people and killing them with chemical weapons.

Over the past eight years, the propaganda onslaught by these governments and the corporate media has been total. No authoritarian state or dictatorship could have done a better hatchet job on public opinion but these arch manipulators of public opinion are self-described liberals.

Therein lies their advantage. The citizens of an authoritarian state don’t believe their government or their media in the first place but western media consumers still cling to the illusion of a free press guarding their interests and are thus sucked in all the time. ‘Free for whom?’  and ‘Whose interests is the media really guarding?’ are questions that are rarely asked except by seekers after truth pushed to the margins of public debate.

The worst excesses of the takfiris – Islamic State beheadings, the throwing of people off the roofs of high buildings, the drowning of caged captives in a swimming pool and the burning of a Syrian soldier – had to be reported because they were indescribably inhuman and could not be ignored but the mundane terrorism of groups just a cut below the Islamic State in barbarity was either underplayed, ignored or blamed where possible on the Syrian military.

In the eyes of the media these groups were not terrorists but rather the ‘opposition’ or ‘rebels’ standing up to the ‘regime,’ its barrel bombs and its chemical weapons attacks, all of them, the best evidence suggests, launched by the takfiris with the intent of incriminating the Syrian government and bringing on a US-led air war.

Roughly about the same time as Riam Dalati was uttering his truth on his tweet, a Berlin-based outfit calling itself the ‘Global Public Policy Institute’ was putting out a report on chemical weapon use in Syria entitled ‘Nowhere to Hide: The Logic of Chemical Weapons Use in Syria.’

This ‘institute’ counted the number of such attacks in Syria, 336, of which number it attributed 98 percent to the ‘Assad regime’ and the rest to the Islamic State. The fact that it uses the word ‘regime’ to describe the legitimate government of Syria is the first tell-tale sign of where this report is going to lead.

The next is the sources of information, ‘our friends and partners,’ as the GPPI calls them: the Syrian Archive, the Syrian American Medical Society (SAMS) Mayday Rescue, the White Helmets, the Syrian Network of Human Rights, the VDC (Violations Documentation Centre) and Human Rights Watch, every single one of them fully engaged in propaganda attacks on the Syrian government if not actually embedded (like the White Helmets) with the takfiri groups.

The 47 pages of this report are beautifully laid out. The graphics and maps are meticulously done. As a school project, the GPPI would get 10 marks for presentation but nothing for content.  On the basis of ‘evidence’ coming from such tainted sources, what makes the authors think that any reasonably well-informed person could believe their claims, and how is it that well-established German charitable foundations can hand over money for the production of such garbage?

The Syrian crisis has spawned an industry of parasites, feeding off its agony. There is no shortage of money for anyone smart enough to harvest it by giving the media what it wants and setting themselves up as a conduit for government propaganda. There is a market for lies and deceit and the laws of supply and demand being what they are, the demand is being met.

There is a truth here about the media that needs to be said. It was never truly independent, never the watchdog of the people’s interests in all seasons but it was arguably a lot better than what it has become. The explanation for this state of affairs lies partly in the death of the independent proprietor and the monopoly corporatization of the media. The proprietor’s or the board’s interest is now immeasurably greater than those of the independent owner who used to wander around the editorial floor once a week to make sure everything was ok and the staff was happy.

The corporation is global, not local, with interests that the small independent owner would hardly be able to comprehend because the leading newspaper or the television station is usually just one small part, and mostly a lesser part, of an empire that spans communications in all its branches. Conflict of interest, affecting news presentation, is inbuilt.

If the newspaper has value, it lies in its use as a weapon against or for a government depending on what the government is willing to give in return. Rupert Murdoch is the past master in using the media this way.  Even if they lose money, he will keep his flagship papers going.

In the past 20 years, we have seen an abrogation of journalistic integrity for which it is hard to find a parallel in modern history. The Vietnam war was launched and maintained on the basis of lies but it did not take long for journalists to emerge who challenged the official narrative and exposed it for what it was. Compare this with Iraq and the way the media ran with the official narrative on ‘weapons of mass destruction’ from the beginning until the very one, when not one could be found.

Seymour Hersh was the leading example of journalistic integrity in Vietnam (which is not to minimize the reporting of others in the small group exposing the official lies) and, amazingly enough, is still the leading example half a century later.

For his audacity in challenging the accusation that the Syrian government was responsible for the apparent chemical weapons on the outskirts of Damascus in August 2013, and showing that it was the so-called rebels, supported by outside governments, who were most probably responsible for this atrocity, Hersh was pushed to the margins of mainstream journalism in his own country and eventually out of it altogether.

*(Seymour Hersh)

Syria is only part of a broad mosaic of ill intent, however.  It was attacked in the first place because it was a strategic ally of Iran. Russia’s twin successes, in deflecting US penetration of Ukraine and making the Americans look stupid in Syria, was followed by allegations of Russian interference in the 2016 US elections. There was no proof then and there is no proof now but the same empty accusations are being repeated by the same columnists, anchors and talk show hosts all the time.

We are now facing a multi-pronged assault on truth in which governments and the corporate media are partners. On both sides of the Atlantic, they have lined up against the renewed primary enemy, Russia, wherever it is and whatever it does.

Russia lost the Democrats the US elections. Russia stole Crimea from Ukraine.

Russia saved the Syrian dictator from defeat. Russia is supporting the dictator Maduro. Russia trades with Iran. Russia does not regard Hizbullah and Hamas as terrorists as we do. Russia does not give open-ended support to Israel but rather regards it as a primary fomenter of disorder in the Middle East.

Russia poisoned the Skripals, of course. Skripal senior was a former double agent, double-crossing Russia while working for British intelligence. There is no obvious reason why Russia would want a washed-out former spy dead but of course, it had to be Russia that daubed the door handle of his house with Novichok. There was no proof, but who else could it be but Russia, and if you say ‘British intelligence,’ setting up a new round of Russia-bashing, then wash your mouth out with soap.

Mysterious Russian figures turn up in Salisbury. The British government says they are agents, stopping off at the Skripals’ house to put a few drops of Novichok on the door handle before sauntering off down the main street to look into the window of a shop selling collectibles and rare stamps.

They seemed to be enjoying themselves. They seemed in no hurry at all to get away from the scene of the crime and take the first plane back to Moscow, but isn’t that exactly the way well-trained Russian agents would behave?

Somewhere along the way they dropped what was left of their Novichok into a rubbish bin, cunningly concealed in a hi-tech perfume bottle, Nina Ricci, ‘Premier Jour.’ Enough still left to kill 4000 people, said the newspapers, but failing to kill the Skripals and killing only poor Dawn Burgess, who pulled it out of the bin and apparently sprayed or dabbed herself with some.

We don’t really know who these Russians were and what they were doing in Salisbury but we need proof, not accusations and suppositions, and the British government does not have it.  We can reach conclusions on the basis of what we know or think we know but the lies told by the British government over the attack on Iraq in 2003, plus the death/murder of the UN weapons inspector David Kelly five months after the war was launched, are sufficient reasons not to believe or trust anything this government says.

This new cold war is drifting steadily towards the brink of a hot one. The US is confronting Russia through missile bases, economic sanctions and interference in the politics of states around Russia’s borders.

Trump has just announced the withdrawal of the US from the Intermediate-range Nuclear Forces (INF) treaty, accusing Russia of breaching it and saying ‘we will move forward with developing our own military response options.’

In fact, Russia had already accused the US of violating the treaty.  In May, 2018, the US/NATO opened a missile base in Romania where, Russia claimed, the US had simply transferred the launchpad for the Aegis integrated naval weapons system, which utilizes Tomahawk cruise and intermediate range missile banned by the INF treaty, from sea to land.

These missiles have a range of 300-3400 miles and their apparent positioning in Romania was naturally regarded as a direct threat by Russia.

The withdrawal of the US from the INF and Trump’s threat that the US will ‘move forward’ by developing its own options raises the apprehension in Russia that the US will station other cruise and intermediate range missiles in Europe once it finds willing partners.

In his state of the union address, Putin said that such missiles could reach Russia in 10 to 12 minutes and warned of a symmetrical response, if the US deployed them in Europe, directed not just at the US but at the states hosting its missiles.

To those contemplating such measures, he said: ‘Let them count the speed and range of our missiles. That is all I ask.’

It is not just Russia that the US is threatening, however, but China. If China held naval exercises off the US or British coasts the world would quickly be facing another 1962 Cuba crisis, only much more dangerous, but the US and Britain give themselves the right to hold such exercises off the Chinese coast in the South China Sea.

As for Venezuela, the US has reverted to the crude gunboat imperialism of the late 19th century (not that gunboat imperialism ever went away). ‘Do what we want or else’ is the message sent to Maduro and the Venezuelan people. What the US wants is the resurrection of the 1823 Monroe Doctrine, and the complete domination of Latin America, including open access to its resources.

In essence, the imperialism of the 21st century is the same as the imperialism of the 20th or the 19th centuries. In the 1940s and 1950s the people of Asia, the Middle East and Africa struggled to lift the yoke of occupation, economic domination and the plundering of their natural resources off their necks. In the third millennium, they are still struggling, especially in the Middle East and Latin America.

The members of the ‘western’ collective fight among themselves but always fall into line when the alpha dog barks at them. Considerations of right and wrong, law, ethics, morality and justice are irrelevant. The alpha dog has barked and the pack must obey. Riam Dalati’s exposure of media deceit is interesting but still a mere detail on a very large and dirty canvas as the ‘west’, its governments and its media, tries to maintain control of a world fast slipping from its hands.

Jeremy Salt has taught at the University of Melbourne, Bosporus University (Istanbul) and Bilkent University (Ankara), specialising in the modern history of the Middle East.  His most recent book is “The Unmaking of the Middle East. A History of Western Disorder in Arab Lands” (Berkeley: University of California Press, 2008.)

February 21, 2019 Posted by | Deception, Fake News, False Flag Terrorism, Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Militarism, Timeless or most popular | , , , , , | 1 Comment

Caving under MSM pressure? Tulsi Gabbard interview on The View has some supporters fuming

© Reuters / Brian Snyder
RT | February 21, 2019

US Presidential candidate Tulsi Gabbard is being accused of “flip-flopping” on her Syria stance and “caving” to mainstream media pressure after a combative interview on The View.

Questioned aggressively by panelist Meghan McCain, the daughter of the late Senator John McCain, Gabbard said there was “no disputing the fact” that Syrian President Bashar Assad is a “brutal dictator” who “used chemical weapons against his people.”

The comments stand in stark contrast to previous statements made by the Hawaii congresswoman, who in the past said she was “skeptical” about allegations that the Syrian government used chemical weapons on citizens and called US efforts to overthrow Assad an “illegal war.”

She faced a major backlash from both the media and her colleagues in congress for taking a trip to Syria and meeting Assad himself in 2017.

While Gabbard tried to offer a balanced view of the situation in Syria, it was the antagonistic questioning from McCain that immediately grabbed headlines, with many framing the interviewer in a heroic light for “confronting” Gabbard, the “Assad apologist.”

During the interview, Gabbard also said that US military interventions are often “begun and waged from a place of humanitarianism” despite having previously taken a tougher stance on “military adventurism” and the reasons behind it.

Gabbard did push back many times against the panel of hostile hosts, saying repeatedly that US interventions have historically made bad situations worse and increased suffering, some of her supporters accused her of folding in the face of “bullying” from McCain.

Others acknowledged that Gabbard might have been trying to appease the panelists to get her wider point about the human costs of US interventions across, but argued that she risked alienating the people who already supported her in the process — and said that if she starts making concessions now, she will be forced to make more.

When the conversation turned to Venezuela, Gabbard angered the panel again, saying that the US trying to choose the leader of that country was “not something that serves the interests of the Venezuelan people,” despite co-host Ana Navarro’s hailing Donald Trump for “leading the solidarity and support of freedom-loving Venezuelans.”

February 21, 2019 Posted by | Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Militarism | , | 4 Comments

What “community standards” did this comment breach? #18

OffGuardian | February 20, 2019

The following comment – posted to twitter by Craig Murray – was censored by The Guardian. Which of the well-publicised CiF “community standards” did they breach?

Removed comment, posted under this live news feed earlier today:

Screen shot of where it used to be:

For those of you unfamiliar with the video Craig linked to, or the story connected with it: In 2017 Joan Ryan MP was secretly recorded having conversations with employees of the Israeli embassy, in which she appeared to be accepting large amounts of money in order to influence other MPs.:

This recording was released as part of the Al Jazeera documentary The Lobby. In the same documentary is this clip where an Israeli embassy employee discusses a plan to “take down” Jeremy Corbyn.

Seven of the eight (so far) Labour defectors were members of the Labour Friends of Israel. Joan Ryan was the chair.

But back to Craig’s comment, and its removal: Which of the Guardian’s “community standards” did it break?

  • Does it “misrepresent the Guardian and its journalists”?
  • Is it “persistent trolling or mindless abuse”?
  • Is it “spam-like”? Or “obviously commercial”?
  • Is it “racism, sexism, homophobia or hate-speech”?
  • Is it “extremely offensive of threatening?”?
  • Is it “flame-wars based on ingrained partisanship or generalisations”?
  • Is it not “relevant”?

If none of the above – why was it taken down?

February 20, 2019 Posted by | Full Spectrum Dominance, Mainstream Media, Warmongering | , , | 4 Comments

Democracy and the Corrupt Seven

By Craig Murray | February 19, 2019

I have heard it argued again and again on television this last 48 hours that it is deeply undemocratic for the electorate to be offered a choice that is any more complicated than between Red Tories and Blue Tories. It is apparently unthinkable and deeply wrong that Corbyn’s standard German style social democracy – which is routinely labeled “hard left” and “communist” – should be proffered to voters for them to support, or not.

The overwhelmingly Blairite MPs have put this case again and again to Labour Party members in repeated leadership elections, and have been roundly and repeatedly defeated. But now, according to no less a person than Tom Watson, Deputy Leader of the party, the losers’ policies must be embraced by the Party and adopted by its leadership, as to do otherwise is an affront to democracy. I confess I find this argument impossible to follow.

Corbyn has compromised already to a huge extent, even accepting that a Labour government will retain massive WMDs, in deference both to the imperialist pretensions of the Blairites and the personal greed of the demented Strangeloves who comprise the membership of the GMB Union. Labour’s pro-Trident stance will persist, until such time as enough Blairites join this forced march, or rather chauffeur driven drive, across their personal caviar and champagne strewn desert to their promised land of media contracts, massively remunerated charity executive jobs, and non-executive directorships.

Democracy is a strange thing. This episode has revealed that it is apparently a democratic necessity that we have another referendum on Brexit, while being a democratic necessity not to have another referendum on Scottish Independence, while the notion that the MPs, who now have abandoned the party and manifesto on which they stood, might face their electorates again, is so disregarded that none of the fawning MSM journalists are asking about it. In rejecting this option, the Corrupt Seven are managing the incredible feat of being less honorable than Tory MPs defecting to UKIP, who did have the basic decency to resign and fight again on their new prospectus.

Dick Taverne is a more directly relevant precedent, particularly as he was deselected as sitting Labour MP precisely because of his support for the EU. Taverne resigned, and fought and won his seat in a by-election in 1973, before losing it in the second 1974 election. There are also precedents for crossing the floor and not resigning and fighting under your new banner, but then there are also precedents for mugging old ladies. It is deeply dishonorable.

Luciana Berger is a one trick pony and it is worth noting that her complaints about anti-Semitism in the Labour Party date back to at least 2005, while Tony Blair was still Prime Minister. Berger had already by April 2005 spotted anti-Semitism in the National Union of Students, in the Labour Party and in her student union newspaper, those being merely the examples cited in this single Daily Telegraph article. I am extremely sorry and somewhat shocked to hear of the swamp of anti-semitism in which we were all already mired in 2005, but I do find it rather difficult to understand why the fault is therefore that of Jeremy Corbyn. And given that Tony Blair was at that time Prime Minister for eight years, I cannot understand why it is all Corbyn’s fault and responsibility now, but it was not Blair’s fault then.

On the contrary, the Telegraph puff piece states that Berger had met Blair several times and was Euan Blair’s girlfriend. This was of course before the privately educated Londoner was foisted on the unfortunate people of Liverpool Wavetree, doubtless completely unfacilitated by her relationship with Euan Blair.

The kind of abuse Berger has evidently been attracting since at least 2005 is of course a crime. Two people have quite rightly been convicted of it. Joshua Bonehill-Paine and John Nimmo sent a series of truly disgusting tweets and both were jailed. Both are committed long term neo-nazis. Yet I have repeatedly heard media references to the convictions squarely in the context of Labour Party anti-semitism. I have never heard on broadcast media it explained that neither had anything to do with the Labour Party. Like the left wing anti-semitism Berger has been reporting since at least 2005, this Nazi abuse too is all somehow Jeremy Corbyn’s fault.

It is further worth noting that in that 2005 article Berger claims a 47% increase in attacks on Jews, which is highly reminiscent of recent claims from community groups, such as the 44% increase claimed 2015 to 2017 or the 78% increase in violent crimes against Jews in the UK in 2017 alone claimed by the government of Israel.

One antisemitic attack is too many and all anti-semitism is to be deplored and rooted out. But if all these claims repeated again and again over decades of 30, 40, 50, 60 or 70% increases in attacks per year were true, then we would be now talking of at least 12,000 violent attacks on Jews per year, if we take Ms Berger’s 2005 claim as the baseline.

Yet we are not seeing that. The average number of convictions per year for violent, racially motivated attacks on Jewish people in the UK is less than one.

If we add in non-violent crimes, the number of people convicted per year for anti-semitic hate crime still remains under 20. And I am not aware of a single such conviction related in any way to the Labour Party.

Let me be perfectly plain. I want everybody convicted and imprisoned who is involved in anti-semitic hate crime. But the facts given above would cause any honest journalist to treat with more scepticism than they do, the repeated old chestnut claims of huge year on year increases in anti-semitic incidents.

There really are in logic only two choices; either anti-semitism is, contrary to all the hype, thankfully rare, or the entire British police, prosecutorial and judicial system must be systematically protecting the anti-semites. And I hardly see how they could blame Jeremy Corbyn for that.

None of this will stop the relentless promotion of the “Corbyn anti-semitism” theme, as the idea of a leader not completely behind the slow extirpation of the Palestinian people is unthinkable to the mainstream media class. The Corbyn anti-semitism meme is possibly the most remarkable example of evidence free journalism I have ever encountered.

Still more fascinating is the way the broadcasters are going to devote an astonishing amount of time to these political puppets. Of one thing I can assure you – these seven MPs will get more airtime than the 35 MPs of the SNP, with at least twice as many Question Time and Today programme appearances.

At some stage they will have to form a new party, in order to get airtime in elections. At what stage Blair declares for them is an interesting question. It is also a crucial test of just how horribly degraded the Lib Dems have now become. My old friend Charlie Kennedy will be spinning in his grave at an alliance with the Blairite warmonger faction, but the modern party appears bereft of any of the old Liberal values, cleared away by Clegg and his fellow orange Tories. If the party members do not revolt at association with Mike Gapes and Angela Smith, it really is time to wind the party up.

That the Corrupt Seven are some of the most unpleasant people in British politics is not entirely relevant, nor is the question of which interest groups are funding them. They are just an emission of puss, a symptom of the rottenness of the British body politic. They have nothing interesting to say and are feeble tools of the wealthy, thrown out as protection for a crumbling political system. The end of the UK is not pretty, and this is one of its uglier moments. It really is beyond time to crack on with Scottish Independence and the reunification of Ireland.

UPDATE

So now it is eight. If you want to understand that the UK truly is not a functioning democracy, consider this. Joan Ryan is all over the MSM this morning as being the eighth defector to the Independent Group. Yet astonishingly, while she is universally reported as citing anti-semitism as the reason she is leaving, it appears not one MSM journalist has asked her about her receipt of US$1 million from the Israeli Embassy for spreading Israeli influence. Not one. Nor has any mainstream media outlet cited the fact in its reporting today. Most, of course, never even mentioned it at the time.

February 19, 2019 Posted by | Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Militarism | , | 5 Comments

Canadian policy on Venezuela, Haiti reveals hypocrisy that media ignores

By Yves Engler · February 19, 2019

If the dominant media was serious about holding the Canadian government to account for its foreign policy decisions, there would be numerous stories pointing out the hypocrisy of Ottawa’s response to recent political developments in Haiti and Venezuela.

Instead silence, or worse, cheer-leading.

Venezuela is a deeply divided society. Maybe a quarter of Venezuelans want the president removed by (almost) any means. A similar proportion backs Nicolas Maduro. A larger share of the population oscillates between these two poles, though they generally prefer the president to opposition forces that support economic sanctions and a possible invasion.

There are many legitimate criticisms of Maduro, including questions about his electoral bonafides after a presidential recall referendum was scuttled and the Constituent Assembly usurped the power of the opposition dominated National Assembly (of course many opposition actors’ democratic credentials are far more tainted). But, the presidential election in May demonstrates that Maduro and his PSUV party maintain considerable support. Despite the opposition boycott, the turnout was over 40% and Maduro received a higher proportion of the overall vote than leaders in the US, Canada and elsewhere. Additionally, Venezuela has an efficient and transparent electoral system — “best in the world” according to Jimmy Carter in 2012 — and it was the government that requested more international electoral observers.

Unlike Venezuela, Haiti is not divided. Basically, everyone wants the current “president” to go. While the slums have made that clear for months, important segments of the establishment (Reginald Boulos, Youri Latortue, Chamber of Commerce, etc) have turned on Jovenel Moïse. Reliable polling is limited, but it’s possible 9 in 10 Haitians want President Moïse to leave immediately. Many of them are strongly committed to that view, which is why the country’s urban areas have been largely paralyzed since February 7.

In a bid to squelch the protests, government forces (and their allies) have killed dozens in recent months. If you include the terrible massacre reported here and here in the Port-au-Prince neighborhood of La Saline on November 11-13 that number rises far above 100.

Even prior to recent protests the president’s claim to legitimacy was paper-thin. Moïse assumed the job through voter suppression and electoral  fraud. Voter turnout was 18%. His predecessor and sponsor, Michel Martelly, only held elections after significant protests. For his part, Martelly took office with about 16 per cent of the vote, since the election was largely boycotted. After the first round, US and Canadian representatives pressured the electoral council to replace the second-place candidate, Jude Celestin, with Martelly in the runoff.

While you won’t have read about it in the mainstream media, recent protests in Haiti are connected to Venezuela. The protesters’ main demand is accountability for the billions of dollars pilfered from Petrocaribe, a discounted oil program set up by Venezuela in 2006. In the summer demonstrators forced out Moïse’s prime minister over an effort to eliminate fuel subsidies and calls for the president to go have swelled since then. Adding to popular disgust with Moïse, his government succumbed to US/Canadian pressure to vote against Venezuela at the OAS last month.

So what has been Ottawa’s response to the popular protests in Haiti? Has Global Affairs Canada released a statement supporting the will of the people? Has Canada built a regional coalition to remove the president? Has Canada’s PM called other international leaders to lobby them to join his effort to remove Haiti’s President? Have they made a major aid announcement designed to elicit regime change? Have they asked the International Criminal Court to investigate the Haitian government? Has Justin Trudeau called the Haitian President a “brutal dictator”?

In fact, it’s the exact opposite to the situation in Venezuela. The only reason the Haitian president is hanging on is because of support from the so-called “Core Group” of “Friends of Haiti”. Comprising the ambassadors of Canada, France, Brazil, Germany and the US, as well as representatives of Spain, EU and OAS, the “Core Group” released a statement  last week “acknowledging the professionalism shown by the Haitian National Police.” The statement condescendingly “reiterated the fact that in a democracy change must come through the ballot box, and not through violence.” The “Core Group’s” previous responses  to the protests expressed stronger support of the unpopular government. As I detailed  10 weeks ago in a story headlined “Canada backs Haitian government, even as police force kills demonstrators”, Ottawa has provided countless forms of support to Moïse’s unpopular government. Since then Justin Trudeau had a “very productive meeting” with Haitian Prime Minister Jean Henry Ceant, International development minister Marie-Claude Bibeau‏ declared a desire to “come to the aid” of the Haitian government and Global Affairs Canada released a statement declaring that “acts of political violence have no place in the democratic process.” Trudeau’s government has provided various forms of support to the repressive police that maintains Moïse’s rule. Since Paul Martin’s Liberals played an important role  in violently ousting Jean-Bertrand Aristide’s government in 2004 Canada has financed, trained and overseen the Haitian National Police. As took place  the night Aristide was forced out of the country by US Marines, Canadian troops  were recently photographed  patrolling the Port-au-Prince airport.

Taking their cue from Ottawa, the dominant media have downplayed the scope of the recent protests and repression in Haiti. There have been few (any?) stories about protesters putting their bodies on the line for freedom and the greater good. Instead the media has focused on the difficulties faced by a small number of Canadian tourists, missionaries and aid workers. While the long-impoverished country of 12 million people is going through a very important political moment, Canada’s racist/nationalist media is engrossed in the plight of Canucks stuck at an all-inclusive resort!

The incredible hypocrisy in Ottawa’s response to recent political developments in Haiti and Venezuela is shameful. Why has no major media dared contrast the two?

February 19, 2019 Posted by | Mainstream Media, Warmongering | , , | Leave a comment

As Mainstream Journalists acknowledge Douma Attacks were “Staged,” Syria Regime-Change Network tries to Save Sinking Ship

“Humanitarian” regime-change network increasingly desperate to protect its influence and the power of its narratives, not just in Syria but in future conflicts.

By Whitney Webb and Vanessa Beeley | MintPress News | February 18, 2019

LONDON — Over the past few days, notable journalists and other figures in mainstream media have acknowledged that the alleged chemical weapons attack that occurred last April in the Damascus suburb of Douma, Syria was likely “staged” by “activist” groups such as the White Helmets. Their comments and investigations have largely vindicated the many journalists and academics who cast aspersions on the precipitous Western media campaign to blame that alleged attack on the Syrian government. Many of the dissenting voices were derided as “conspiracy theorists” or ignored entirely by mainstream sources.

Yet, now that these revelations are being voiced by acceptable figures in mainstream media, those who have built their careers on promoting the White Helmets and regime change in Syria are working to discredit these new dissenting voices. Among those on the counter-attack are individuals connected to the oligarch-funded “humanitarian” regime-change network that was the subject of a recent MintPress exposé.

The alleged Douma attack — notably used as the justification for a military attack launched against Syria by the U.S., the U.K. and France — returned to the news cycle earlier this month following a report from James Harkin, a journalist who has written for The Guardian, Harper’s and the Financial Times, and is currently the director of the Center for Investigative Journalism. Harkin’s report, which was published in The Intercept, cast doubt on the prevailing mainstream narrative surrounding the events that occurred in Douma last April.

Harkin, in visiting Douma and the surrounding area, confirmed past reporting by other independent journalists that no sarin gas had been used — which was also confirmed by the OPCW (Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons) interim report — and claimed that the scenes filmed at the Medical Point in Douma, which were widely circulated by the mainstream media as evidence that a chemical weapons attack had occurred, had likely been staged. Harkin lamented the staging of the hospital scenes as a casualty of “Syria’s propaganda war.”

Elements of Harkin’s rather rambling report were rapidly corroborated by BBC producer Riam Dalati, who revealed on Twitter that he had proof, after a six-month investigation, that those same hospital scenes had been staged.

Dalati had previously been the cause of some consternation among the pro-regime-change pundits when he had tweeted, immediately after the alleged Douma chemical attack, that he was “sick and tired of activists and rebels using the corpses of dead children to stage emotive scenes for Western consumption.” Dalati was referring to the image of two children wrapped in a “last hug” that went viral on social media, eliciting sympathy for the “chemical attack” narrative.

Dalati pointed out that the two children had been photographed on separate floors in the building before being artfully arranged into the “last hug” position by the producers of this scene, which was picked up by the majority of corporate media and used to give the impression that the Syrian Arab Army had used chemical weapons against their own civilians as they were concluding final amnesty negotiations with Jaish Al Islam, the extremist group then occupying Douma.

Shortly after deleting the aforementioned tweet, Dalati protected his Twitter account before reiterating his observations in a less inflammatory tweet, while explaining that his first tweet had been “correctly deemed in breach of [BBC] editorial policy thru [sic] use of ‘sick/tired’ and by not providing context…”

Dalati had notably been a member of the production team of the notorious September 2013 BBC Panorama documentary “Saving Syria’s Children” — a report that was forensically investigated by independent researcher Robert Stuart, who concluded that “sequences filmed by BBC personnel and others at Atareb Hospital, Aleppo on 26 August 2013 purporting to show the aftermath of an incendiary bomb attack on a nearby school are largely, if not entirely, staged.”

So, Dalati, no stranger to controversy, appears to have once more broken with the ranks of mainstream media by admitting that the White Helmet “chemical attack” scenes in Douma Medical Point were “without a doubt” staged. One might ask why it took Dalati six months of investigation to arrive at the same conclusion as acclaimed journalist Robert Fisk and other on-the-ground journalists did just days after the attack occurred. At the time, those journalists had been labeled by Dalati and others as “conspiracy theorists.”

However, the recent statements made by Dalati and Harkin’s recent report have hardly created a consensus regarding the alleged chemical weapons attack in Douma within the mainstream media. Instead, much the opposite has happened, with journalists and “experts” who have linked their professional reputations to the credibility of groups like the US/UK incubated and financed White Helmets now going on the offensive in an effort to trivialize the recent revelations regarding the events of April 7, 2018.

Following the renewed interest in the Douma incident as a result of Harkin’s report and Dalati’s subsequent tweets, Tobias Schneider — a research fellow at the Global Public Policy Institute (GPPI) — accused people like Harkin and Dalati of “squabbling over the intricacies” of the alleged chemical weapons attack in Douma, later calling these independent investigations and statements “madness.”

We must presume that Schneider’s Twitter accusation would also be directed at genuinely independent journalists and academics who presented evidence to counter the dominant Douma narratives produced by the usual suspects in corporate media and groups like the White Helmets affiliated to Jaish Al Islam, the brutal armed group in control of Douma. Among those are journalists who actually visited Douma immediately after the attack — Vanessa Beeley, Eva Bartlett, Robert Fisk of the Independent, Uli Gack from ZDF, Germany  and Pearson Sharp of OAN (One America News Network). Also, potentially in Schneider’s crosshairs are the members of the Working Group on Syria, Propaganda Media (WGSPM) established by Professor Piers Robinson who produced an extensive briefing scrutinizing the media anomalies in the Douma attack.

Unwilling to stop there, Schneider also announced that the GPPI would be publishing the first analytical study “on the logic underpinning the Syrian regime’s systematic use of improvised chlorine bombs in particular” that would use “the broadest dataset compilable and break down tactical, operational, strategic patterns” in order to claim that, despite a lack of evidence for chemical weapons use in Douma last year, other separate incidents form a pattern that would incriminate the Syrian government in the events alleged to have taken place last April. The report has now been published and has been picked up by the usual purveyors and promoters of the “chemical attack” narratives that are designed to criminalize the Syrian government.

A look into Schneider’s background and the organization that employs him hardly paints a picture of an objective observer of the evidence surrounding this hot-button issue. Quite the contrary, Schneider and the GPPI are directly connected to the “humanitarian” regime-change network that was exposed in a recent MintPress series for its efforts to exploit the death of the late MP Jo Cox in order to manufacture consent for regime change in Syria and whitewash both the U.K.-government connections to the White Helmets and the White Helmets’ own troubling track record in facilitating and even directly committing war crimes.

Who is Tobias Schneider?

According to his bio at the GPPI website, Tobias Schneider is a research fellow at GPPI who focuses on “insurgency and counterinsurgency in the contemporary Middle East,” among other related issues. Prior to working with GPPI, Schneider worked as a consultant on Syria and Yemen for the World Bank, an influential financial institution that a WikiLeaks document recently confirmed; is used as a “financial weapon” by the United States military.

He has also worked at the Center for European Policy Analysis (CEPA), a pro-NATO think tank located in Washington. CEPA’s stated mission is “to promote an economically vibrant, strategically secure, and politically free Europe with close and enduring ties to the United States.” Its international advisory board includes former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, who once stated that the death of half a million Iraqi children from U.S. sanctions was “worth it;” and Brian Hook, current Director of Policy Planning at the U.S. State Department and Senior Policy Advisor to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo. Zbigniew Brzeziński — former National Security Adviser in the Carter administration who is best known for his role in arming and creating the terror group Al Qaeda — was also a board member up until his death in 2017.

Currently, however, Schneider — in addition to serving as a GPPI research fellow — is an expert for the Atlantic Council’s “Rebuilding Syria” initiative. The Atlantic Council is a Washington-based think tank with strong ties to the U.S. military and NATO, and receives significant amounts of funding from American arms manufacturers, U.S. intelligence agencies, and foreign governments. This think tank, and its “Rebuilding Syria” initiative in particular have been particularly zealous in promoting regime change in Syria and in marketing hybrid groups like the White Helmets. This is hardly surprising given that the U.S. and U.K. governments have given millions of dollars to both groups and were instrumental in the creation of the White Helmets as a refined “propaganda construct”, their description by journalist, John Pilger.

Schneider also has made appearances at events hosted by “Friends of Syria”APPG (All Party Parliamentary Groups) the U.K. group that includes several MPs — including Jo Cox prior to her death — and has extensively promoted U.K. military intervention in Syria, with a particular emphasis on emotional appeals largely based on White Helmet testimony and footage. Chair of Schneider’s panel was Andrew Mitchell, Conservative MP, former UK secretary of state for international development 2010-2012 and alongside Jo Cox, a fervent supporter of regime change in Syria and an unquestioning White Helmet acolyte.

Global Public Policy Institute’s place in regime-change network

Beyond Schneider’s conflicts of interests by virtue of his work history and current associations, the organization that employs him — the Global Public Policy Institute — is directly connected to an oligarch-directed and oligarch-funded regime-change network that specializes in manufacturing “humanitarian” justifications for Western military adventurism abroad. The main oligarchs who drive this network, as detailed in a recent articles series at MintPress, include Jeffrey Skoll, George Soros, Pierre Omidyar, and Ted Turner — philanthrocapitalists aligned with the neoliberal, globalist agendas of the U.S/U.K alliance.

In addition to its stated mission of “improving global governance,” in line with globalist designs, the GPPI is funded by the German and U.K. governments as well as the Open Society Foundations of controversial Hungarian-American billionaire George Soros, whose many organizations have been intimately involved in promoting the White Helmets and related narratives that push for increased Western military intervention in Syria. Soros’ influence in the GPPI is demonstrated by the position his son, Alexander Soros, holds on the GPPI’s advisory board.

Another notable member of the GPPI advisory board is Anne-Marie Slaughter, president and CEO of the New America Foundation, which is funded by the Omidyar Network, the Skoll Global Threats Fund, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, Open Society Foundations, and the U.S. State Department, among others.

However, the most damning connection between the GPPI and the “humanitarian” regime-change network used by Western governments and oligarchs is the GPPI’s director, Thorsten Benner. Benner.  According to Benner’s  GPPI bio, he previously worked with the German Council on Foreign Relations in Berlin, the UN Development Programme in New York, and the Global Public Policy Project in Washington, before co-founding GPPI.

Most notably, however, Benner is a director at More in Common, the international initiative founded, after the murder of Labour MP Jo Cox, by members of  the Jo Cox Four — exposed by the authors of this present article to be at the center of the aforementioned “humanitarian” regime-change network — to exploit Cox’s death to push for Western military intervention in Syria.

Other directors of More in Common include Sally Osberg, former president of the Skoll Foundation; Will Somerville, former member of the U.K. Prime Minister’s Strategy Unit under Tony Blair and current U.K. program director of Unbound Philanthropy. Somerville is also a Senior Fellow at the Migration Policy Institute, which is funded by the Open Society Foundations, Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, Ford Foundation, Rockefeller Foundation, the World Bank, Walmart, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security and the U.K. government.

In addition, two other directors of More In Common, who also co-founded the group, are Tim Dixon and Gemma Mortensen. Both Mortensen and Dixon have been directly connected to regime-change efforts in Syria and elsewhere. Interested readers can find much more information about Dixon, Mortensen, More in Common and the “humanitarian” regime-change network to which they are connected here, here and here.

Our narrative and we’re sticking with it

As the Syria conflict appears to be winding down with the regime-change effort having failed in its effort to overturn Syria’s current government, perhaps more critical attention by those in mainstream and independent media has come to focus on the manufactured narratives used by powerful interests and governments to make a case for military intervention to the public.

With these efforts having failed, we have perhaps begun to see several mainstream journalists break from the pack, perhaps as these individual journalists have little personal investment in backing the push for regime change in Syria. However, those journalists and “experts” who have staked their professional reputations on these narratives — such as the ubiquitous chemical weapon attacks blamed on the Syrian government — and who systematically protect the White Helmets as serial “do-gooders” — are scrambling to keep those narratives together lest they be revealed for the hollow manipulation of cherry-picked facts, images and videos that they are.

Schneider’s report is unlikely to impress the far more independent and qualified experts and journalists who have consistently questioned the Syria “chemical weapons” narrative — which has taken on the mantle of “weapons of mass destruction,” a previously debunked government and media canard that took us to war in Iraq. Schneider’s GPPI initiative, however, may just be a stitch in time to suture the leaks that are now emanating from the mainstream media and in particular from the BBC, a traditional bastion of protection for U.K. government foreign policy directives on Syria.

Dalati may genuinely be a rogue maverick, sickened by what he has seen. He may also be working at the behest of the BBC directors — to limit the damage to the BBC’s reputation were the OPCW to release its final report any time soon. Imagine that the OPCW final report errs toward a conclusion that no chemical attack took place in Douma: where would that leave the BBC and colonial media establishment? The trust gap would widen exponentially. Time will tell, but one thing is for sure, Schneider’s report is indicative of the distress signals being emitted by the “humanitarian” regime-change network floundering on the rocks of its own failed campaign to destabilize Syria and overthrow the majority-elected Syrian government.

When Professor Piers Robinson of the Working Group on Syria, Propaganda and Media (WGSPM) heard of Schneider’s intention to produce the report, he told MintPress News:

It is extraordinary that, on the one hand, careful analysis of evidence in the case of Douma is being trivialized as ‘madness,’ while on the other, Schneider is suggesting that his think tank is about to publish careful and rigorous analysis regarding alleged chemical weapon attacks. He seems to be saying, in effect, that careful and detailed analysis and discussion regarding individual attacks is irrelevant to knowledge and understanding. This reflects very poorly both on him as a researcher and on the think tank that he works for.”

In his tweets, Schneider did indeed appear to trivialize serious research into the alleged Douma chemical attacks. This is extraordinary when one considers that the rush to judgment of corporate media, NATO-aligned think tanks and France/UK/US (FUKUS) government spokespersons led to the unlawful bombing of Syria only one week after the staged hospital scenes had appeared. Russia was accused of producing an “obscene masquerade” by bringing actual Syrian civilians to the OPCW headquarters in the Hague — to testify that no chemical weapons attack had taken place. The “obscene masquerade” had already taken place in Douma and had been marketed as truth by the media outlets invested in their governments’ destructive Syria campaign.

Schneider is very probably just another in a long line of willing instruments of the billionaire industrial complex, deployed to extinguish the failing “chemical weapons” narrative fire that threatens to consume their credibility for years to come. Douma and the exposure of all those who built and financed the edifice of lies surrounding this event may just be what brings the entire war machine grinding to a halt in Syria and beyond.

As much as Schneider and his backers continue to protect the propaganda producers — the White Helmets — the evidence building against this multi-million funded construct is overwhelming. The White Helmet concept will surely go down in history as one of the most elaborate propaganda heists that failed, thanks to the concerted efforts of very few to expose the true agenda of the group — an agenda which is driven by the same government agencies and predatory capitalists that have sponsored Schneider’s report.

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

Vanessa Beeley is an independent journalist, peace activist, photographer and associate editor at 21st Century Wire. Vanessa was a finalist for one of the most prestigious journalism awards – the 2017 Martha Gellhorn Prize for Journalism – whose winners have included the likes of Robert Parry in 2017, Patrick Cockburn, Robert Fisk, Nick Davies and the Bureau for Investigative Journalism team. You can support Vanessa’s journalism through her Patreon Page.

February 18, 2019 Posted by | Deception, Fake News, False Flag Terrorism, Mainstream Media, Warmongering | , , , , | 3 Comments

Iranian Spying? or Neocon 9/11 Coverup?

Questioning the USG/NYT official story on Marzieh Hashemi, Monica Witt, New Horizon…and yours truly

Monica E. Witt, a former United States Air Force intelligence officer, is accused of espionage on behalf of Iran. Credit: FBI/EPA, via Shutterstock/New York Times
By Kevin Barrett • Unz Review • February 18, 2019

It wasn’t the first time I’ve been prominently libeled in The New York Times. Nor was it the worst.

Compared to Stanley Fish’s grotesquely mendacious 2006 op-ed trashing me for something I never did—advocating 9/11 truth in the classroom[1]—Alan Blinder, Julie Turkewitz and Adam Goldman treated me fairly well on Sunday’s NYT front page by calling me a “controversial scholar of Islam” while accurately reporting what I said about Monica Witt, the ex-Air Force officer accused of spying for Iran.

The arguably libelous part came in the previous paragraph. I was introduced as part of “a crowd filled with fringe academics, Holocaust deniers and the lover of the terrorist known as Carlos the Jackal” where “Ms. Witt at last found herself among people as critical of her country as she was.” This is an absurdly libelous description of attendees at the February 2013 Hollywoodism Conference, a rubric of the Tehran Film Festival that was not a New Horizon[2] conference. Leaving aside the question of how a whole conference could be “filled by… the lover of the terrorist known as Carlos the Jackal” (Carlos liked really big women?) the bit about America-hating “fringe academics” and “Holocaust deniers” is seriously misleading.

Most of the US attendees might better be described as sincere American patriots. Former Senator Mike Gravel (D-Alaska), whom I personally recruited for the conference, is widely acknowledged as an all-American hero for his principled stance against the Vietnam war, his role in exposing the Pentagon Papers, and his courageous advocacy of 9/11 truth. Merlin Miller, a family values oriented filmmaker who once ran for president, is another all-American hero who attended the Hollywoodism Conference. Merlin Miller’s pro-American, anti-Zionist-Hollywood perspective is as patriotic as it gets. And then there was Culture Wars editor E. Michael Jones, another conservative American patriot who wants to take his country back. While all three all-American heroes are in varying degrees critical of Israel and its occupation of American politics and media, none could possibly be viewed as America haters.

The bit about “Holocaust denial” is also misleading. The Holocaust was not on the agenda, in any way, shape, or form, at the Hollywoodism conference, nor at any New Horizon Conference.[3] The New York Times apparently chose to lob this gratuitous insult because a tiny handful of the hundreds of attendees at New Horizon conferences have published on this issue—an issue that in any event merits fearless discussion and debate, as readers of Ron Unz’s “Holocaust Denial” will discover.

The New York Times, echoing the US government’s indictment of Monica Witt and the Treasury Department’s sanctioning of New Horizon, offers a narrative almost entirely unsupported by any evidence. According to the official narrative, New Horizon and Press TV anchor Marzieh Hashemi are somehow responsible for Monica Witt’s decision to move to Iran and allegedly share secrets she learned in the Air Force. Leaving aside the questions of whether Monica Witt actually did move to Iran, and if so whether she shared any secrets, and if so whether those secrets were genuinely important, the cases against New Horizon and Marzieh Hashemi are obviously bogus.

First consider the case against Ms. Hashemi, a leading international news anchor, who was kidnapped by the FBI without charges and held for ten days under circumstances bordering on torture. The rationale for kidnapping Ms. Hashemi was the claim that she was a “material witness” to Monica Witt’s alleged spying. But Ms. Hashemi was never charged with a crime. After several interrogations, she was released without charges. Yet the indictment of Monica Witt states that “Individual A” who can only be Ms. Hashemi “engaged in acts consistent with serving as a spotter and assessor on behalf of the Iranian intelligence services.” Obviously if there were any actual evidence that Marzieh Hashemi was so employed, she never would have been released without charges. So we may assume that “acts consistent with” really means: “Marzieh Hashemi is a journalist who reports critically and fearlessly on American issues, and in so doing interviews sources who might be characterized as whistleblowers or dissidents.” In other words, Hashemi regularly commits a crime called “journalism.” And just as journalist Glen Greenwald, in the course of his journalistic duties, interviewed a whistleblower who wound up living in Russia (Edward Snowden) it seems that Marzieh Hashemi may have interviewed a whistleblower who wound up living in Iran (Monica Witt). But, contra USG, neither Greenwald nor Hashemi are spies. Both are journalists who, unlike certain mainstream media hacks, actually do their jobs.

The case against the New Horizon NGO is as bogus as the one against Marzieh Hashemi. The only “evidence” against New Horizon is that Monica Witt spoke at the February 2013 Hollywoodism Conference in Tehran. But that was not even a New Horizon conference! It was actually part of the Tehran Film Festival. So if the Treasury Department thinks the Hollywoodism Conference was guilty of something, it should sanction the Tehran Film Festival, not the New Horizon NGO, which only had a peripheral role in that event.

But why blame the conference at all? The official narrative seems to be that Witt had such a wonderful time there that she later decided to move to Iran (and supposedly spill some secrets). If that were true—and I can testify that just about everybody who attends Iran-based conferences has a wonderful time—the conference organizers would be guilty of the crime of putting on a wonderful conference. Last I checked, that wasn’t grounds for Treasury Department sanctions.

Is there any evidence that New Horizon conferences are really about recruiting spies, not exchanging ideas? The notion is preposterous. Just look at the participants lists! Virtually none of the conferees are people who could be expected to hold any secrets. On the contrary, the many New Horizon conferences I have attended have been—up until May 2018—remarkably bereft of US military and intelligence veterans.

I know the New Horizon organizers fairly well, and even helped them on more than one occasion by suggesting prospective guests. When I repeatedly suggested that they invite such illustrious ex-military/intel types as Veterans Today Senior Editor Gordon Duff, former CIA officer Philip Giraldi, ex-State Department issuer of Visas for al-Qaeda Mike Springmann, former US Army counterterrorism and psy ops expert Scott Bennett, and others from USG backgrounds, I was told that while the New Horizon NGO would love to do so, the Iranian government makes it hard for such people to get visas. Finally, in May 2018, in an attempt to foster goodwill and trust, the Iranian government relented. Giraldi, Springmann, Bennett, and Michael Maloof were invited and attended. On the final day of that Conference, Bennett and others spearheaded an attempt to convince the Iranian government to bring 9/11 truth into an American federal courtroom.

I believe the real reason for the witch hunt against New Horizon and Marzieh Hashemi is New Horizon’s and Press TV’s success at fostering dialogues that include voices that are suppressed and censored in the US and the rest of the West. The 9/11 truth movement, in particular, obviously terrifies the Establishment. When the May 2018 New Horizon conference in Mashhad nearly persuaded the Iranian government to throw its full support behind a major 9/11 truth initiative—one that could have led to discovery proceedings forcing suspected 9/11 perpetrators like Dick Cheney, Paul Wolfowitz, Richard Perle, and others to testify under oath— the neoconservative element of the Establishment must have panicked. The current witch-hunt is their way of lashing out.

Think about it: If this is really about Monica Witt supposedly spilling secrets, why did they wait so long? According to the feds, Witt, supposedly possessing vital national security secrets, has been living in Iran as a Shia Muslim convert since summer 2013. Since Witt was on US authorities’ radar screen as a dissident and potential whistleblower long before that, it seems obvious that damage limitation measures would have been taken by mid-2013 at the latest. Any operations Witt could have compromised would have been shut down or revamped at that time, if not earlier. So the narrative that Witt has gravely damaged US national security, and we are only hearing about it now, seems implausible. Instead, the timing of the indictment, and the simultaneous persecution of Marzieh Hashemi and sanctioning of New Horizon, suggests that the neocon Deep State is panicking over Press TV’s and New Horizon’s success at fostering dialogue on suppressed issues like 9/11 truth—dialogue inclusive of loyal and patriotic US military and intelligence insiders. Presumably the neocon Deep State has invented a fake or exaggerated tale of Monica Witt’s alleged spying as an excuse to try to persecute and silence truth-loving journalists and intellectuals.

But let’s consider all the possibilities. In the unlikely event that Monica Witt really has spilled important national security secrets to Iranian intelligence—this according to the neocon Deep State tale that the entire mainstream media has swallowed uncritically—who would really deserve the blame? Journalists who covered her whistleblowing? Conference organizers who offered her a completely transparent platform? That’s the propaganda line. But it’s preposterous.

Anyone who has spoken extensively with Monica Witt, as I did at the Hollywoodism conference in 2013, knows that she is a highly intelligent, deeply sincere person who was horrified and traumatized by the war crimes in which she was forced to participate. Today’s New York Times article cites her classmate Cory Ellis:

“‘She would talk about how she couldn’t sleep at night, the stuff she saw and was a part of,’ said Mr. Ellis. Ms. Witt, he remembered, would mention drone strikes, extrajudicial killings and atrocities against children, all of which she claimed her colleagues in the military would brag about.”

As a whistleblower, she testified about some of these atrocities to journalists, including Marzieh Hashemi, and apparently also approached Wikileaks. And of course she participated in the Hollywoodism Conference in Tehran.

So who is really at fault here? The journalists? The conference? (Kill the messengers!) Or the war criminals who rape and dismember children, massacre women and children in drone strikes, and engage in sexual assault against their fellow service members with impunity?

If the US government wants to prosecute the people responsible for Monica Witt’s decision to move to Iran, they should begin by investigating the US military personnel who committed the atrocities she witnessed—the atrocities that traumatized her and forced her to follow her conscience, wherever it may have led her.

Notes

[1] I was witch-hunted in 2006 by State Rep. Steve Nass for “teaching 9/11 conspiracy theories” at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. But in fact I had never done so, nor had I any plans to do so. While teaching African Studies, Folklore, and Religious Studies at the University of Wisconsin-Madison between 2001 and 2006, I had never once revealed to students my personal views of 9/11, nor did I ever discuss the research that gave rise to those views. None of my students up to that point even knew what my views of 9/11 were, unless they had stumbled upon one of my occasional teach-ins, or read my published work on the issue, which I did not bring into the classroom. Yet Stanley Fish lied brazenly about me in his NYT op-ed, libelously claiming: “Mr. Barrett, who has a one-semester contract to teach a course titled ‘Islam: Religion and Culture’ acknowledged on a radio talk show that he has shared with students his strong conviction that the destruction of the World Trade Center was an inside job perpetrated by the American government.” In fact I neither acknowledged nor did any such thing. I immediately wrote to The New York Times urging them to correct their libelous error. They refused to do so. Instead, they published several other letters all taking for granted Fish’s outrageous and utterly baseless lie.

[2] New Horizon is an Iranian NGO dedicated to fostering intellectual exchange among genuinely independent thinkers and activists from all over the world. It has sponsored on average one conference each year, mostly in Tehran, since around 2012.

[3] The New Horizon NGO had nothing to do with the December 2006 Holocaust Conference in Tehran—a conference whose primary purpose was to defend human rights by challenging the West’s annihilation of free speech and free thought on this important topic.

February 18, 2019 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Deception, Full Spectrum Dominance, Mainstream Media, Warmongering | , , | 1 Comment

Counterpunch Shadowboxes and Loses

By Edward Curtin | February 17, 2019

In a fair boxing match, opponents enter the ring with similarly padded gloves and battle under the bright lights for the world to see. There are, of course, cases where one fighter cheats, as in the infamous case in 1983 when Luis Resto wore weakly padded gloves and hand wraps hardened with plaster to make them rock solid. His opponent, Billy Collins, an up-and-coming boxer from Tennessee with a 14-0 record, was permanently and very seriously injured in the fight at Madison Square Garden. His eyes were battered shut and his vision damaged. He never fought again and died depressed the following year at age twenty-two.

In the fight for truth in the public arena, similar subterfuges occur.

To battle honestly in the open forum, to argue to and fro squarely, is often prevented in advance by eliminating an opponent’s voice from the debate. This is the typical method used by the corporate mass media that stack the deck with sycophants and refuse dissidents a place to voice their ideas.

Then there is the masquerade of fighting an opponent who is really a collaborator and benefactor, whose punches one counters in a game of shadow boxing meant to convince the audience that the fight is real and you are on their side. Some alternative media use this technique because they are gatekeepers for the power elite.

Sometimes this ruse is so blatant that the fix becomes transparent because the smart-asses who play this game screw up, yet they still expect their real opponents to shut up and walk away because their fixer’s mantra  is “Never apologize, never explain.” It has always been the code of the rich and powerful.

Some are brawlers, however, and fight back against this bullshit.

The well-known leftist website Counterpunch is an example of the “never apologize, never explain” school. A number of writers and journalists who have published many pieces at Counterpunch have been banned from this site in recent years without an explanation, Andre Vltchek and C.J. Hopkins being two who crossed an invisible boundary the Shadow had drawn and were never again published by Counterpunch. Others, smelling an odd odor, have walked away. The numbers are growing.

I’ve recently seen Counterpunch shadowbox and the Shadow won.

On January 29, 2019, I published an article highly critical of the CIA at Global Research, where I am a Research Associate. After this piece appeared, I received an email from the editor of Counterpunch, Jeffrey St Clair, telling me that he too was going to publish this article on Friday, February 1, for Counterpunch’s weekend edition. I had written a few dozen pieces that Counterpunch had published and had a very cordial relationship with St Clair. In fact, when I was in Rome in 2018, he had asked me to place a stone for him on Keats’ and Shelley’s graves when I visited the cemetery where they were buried. I did that, and my wife took photos that I sent to him. All was copacetic. Buddies. High fives!

On February 1, 2019, shortly after midnight Eastern time (12:02 AM), Counterpunch published my piece for their weekend edition where articles remain for three days. When I awoke at 4 A.M., I saw it. Then at 8 A. M., when I arrived at the college where I teach, I again saw it. At 11 A.M., when I had finished teaching a few classes, I looked again and it had disappeared. Transitive verb: Counterpunch had disappeared it. Eliminated it. Scratched it. Excised it.

All the other numerous articles remained. Only mine was gone. At first I thought it was a mistake. But as the day wore on I wondered. So I emailed St Clair and asked my buddie what had happened. As compatriots don’t do, he did not reply. But I assumed he was busy, as I am, and gets many emails. So I waited. When I emailed him again, there was no reply. A third very cordial email three days later went unanswered.

Unlike Vladimir and Estragon in Waiting for Godot, I am no longer waiting. No reply is coming, and St Clair isn’t Godot, or on second thought he may be, a chimerical leftist gatekeeper enticing Counterpunch’s followers to wait forever for a revelation that isn’t coming. Like his mentor and the founder of Counterpunch, Alexander Cockburn, who was so fond of excoriating as “idiots” and “conspiracy nuts” anyone questioning the JFK assassination or the attacks of September 11, 2001 – two fundamental issues that only believers in official government conspiracy theories such as Cockburn could dismiss – St Clair seems similarly dismissive of explaining why a writer’s critique of the CIA would deserve to be eliminated after being published. As if only an idiot would want to know.

However, any reasonable person would ask: Why would he not respond?  St Clair, the editor-in-chief, published the piece and then disappeared it after 10-11 hours? This is highly unusual, to put it mildly. Unprecedented for the so-called left-wing alternative media. It is the kind of thing when done by the mainstream corporate media would be denounced and exposed as censorship. Not publishing an article is a publication’s prerogative, of course, but what could cause one to eliminate an article highly critical of the CIA after people had ten or so hours to read it, and since the author and editor had a very cordial relationship up to that point and the editor had days to read it carefully?

One doesn’t have to be Sherlock Holmes to realize that someone objected to the piece. But who could that be? If it were St Clair’s managing editor, Joshua Frank, twenty years his junior (the two run the operation), then St Clair could have explained to me why, since we were on good terms. I wouldn’t have liked it and argued my points, but at least we could have cordially agreed to disagree. But the Frank possibility makes no sense, for a managing editor would be intimately involved in the publishing process that was completed the previous day in time for the very early Friday A.M. postings. And in any case, St Clair is in charge.

Clearly an outside reader objected. The question is: Who is that reader that could exert such control over a publication that promotes itself as one that “Tells the Facts, Names the Names.” A publication that is considered radically leftist and in opposition to the ruling elites.

Okay, Counterpunch, would you name the name of the shadowy one who won this fight?

February 17, 2019 Posted by | Deception, Mainstream Media, Warmongering | , | 2 Comments

Laughter for All (Financial) Times

By James Petras | Unz Review | February 13, 2019

In these times, when the United States pursues an unprecedented military build-up, promotes coups and trade wars, breaks weapons agreements, organizes the illegal seizure of overseas financial accounts, building barriers and walls along the southern border, Washington can count on the mass media to provide a variety of propaganda messages, ranging from the predictable ‘yellow ’ to the sophisticated ‘serious press’ .

While the political class dismisses the sensational press, they are avid readers of the ‘prize winning’ propaganda newspapers and their columnists.

Among the perceptive readers who follow the serious press one can hear periodical outburst of laughter or observe cynical smiles.

The ‘serious’ newspapers which draw the greatest attention include the Financial Times, the New York Times, the Washington Post and the Wall Street Journal. Though they vary in the style and quality of their writers, they all follow the same political line, especially on issues pertaining to US imperial power.

For our purposes – and because I have been a long-time subscriber of the Financial Times (FT) –, this essay will concentrate on its journalists and their articles.

Armchair Militarists and “Western Values”

Gideon Rachman is a senior columnist for the FT who travels around the world and has a unique ability to preach ‘western values’ … selectively. Commentating on contemporary US and EU politics, Rachman attributes to them ‘western values’– representative democracy, individual freedom and the rule of law, overlooking two decades of imperial invasions, several hundred US bases around the world and countless violations of international law.

According to Rachman’s notion of ‘western values’ there is a historical legacy, a long tradition of constitutional government, – overlooking the conquest of five continents.

Moreover, while Rachman has consistently condemned Syria for human rights violations, he systematically avoids Israel’s weekly murder and wounding of hundreds of unarmed Palestinian protestors. Most knowledgeable writers wink and grin as they read his selective labeling of western values.

John Paul ‘Ratface’ Rathbone is one of FT leading contributors on Latin America who specializes in celebrating murderous regimes and promoting US policies which overthrow freely elected democracies. During the first decade of the 21st century, “Ratface” (as some of his loyal readers refer to him), wrote eulogies about Colombia’s murderous President Alvaro Uribe (2002-2010) as he slaughtered hundreds of thousands of insurgents and activists.

While Uribe’s death squads rain amok driving millions of peasants from their villages, Ratface frolicked in downtown night clubs and high-end bordellos enjoyed by oligarchs and tourists.

Consistent with the Ratface’s version of Colombia’s death squad democracy he condemned ‘the populist’ popularly elected democracies of Brazil and Venezuela.

Having distant ties to Cuba, Rathbone reminisces about the good times in pre-revolutionary Havana, its stately mansions and the fun city, as he ignores the common police practice of pulling fingernails of political dissidents.

Rathbone evokes occasional cynical smiles from columnists who are embarrassed by his toadying to Washington’s intelligence operatives.

Columnist Philip Stephens is the perennial bleeding-heart liberal who sheds tears for all of his pro-western martyrs, except those Downing Street designates as pro-Russian terrorists. Stephens wears his ‘liberal democratic’ credentials on his backside – from which he emits his defense of UK imperialist wars in Syria, Libya and Iraq.

Stephen’s uncovers ‘undemocratic values’ in Putin’s poisonous operations even in provincial English villages.

Russian journalists are not excited by Philip’s journalistic ejaculations. He is the occasional butt of after work banter and laughter.

The Dean of the Times economic reportage is Martin “Marty” Wolf, who is well-known throughout the craft as the thoughtful advocate of welfare plutocracy. Martin advocates equality, justice — free markets for everybody but only the rich can meet his criteria. Marty finds and condemns populists of every hue. He engages in serious debate with leftists and rightists. But Marty like Gideon has yet to condemn Israel’s settler ‘populists’ who practice ethnic cleansing.

Despite his statistical tables, Marty never links his facts with the western imperial pillage of Africa, Asia and Latin America. His concerns and moral indignation are very selective and flourish when he finds colonized people who call into question his western values.

Marty’s hostility to China is more than a broken financial love affair (that never was). It is part of the FT propaganda war to downgrade Beijing’s economic advances in the world economy. In the January 14, 2019 issue the entire editorial board went on a rampage, ranting about China’s technological theft, its ‘slow down’ and pending crises … always reaching gloomy conclusions.

The FT expert observers note ‘big facts’ — that China is declining, all of one tenth of one percent over the previous year. Most China observers chuckle over the FT’s China ‘crises’ and wonder how the EU is ‘robust’ when it touches two percent and the US a shade higher?

China’s so-called economic crisis is, in the eyes of the FT, a product of its bloated state sector even as it promotes science and high-tech growth — but they are part of a total war.

Jamil Anderlini tags China as a ‘colonial power’ with its single base in Djibouti and for financing hundreds of billions in infrastructure, while the colonialism label is not applied to the US with several hundred military bases in five continents. China’s crackdown on US funded Uighur terrorists, who have murdered hundreds of Chinese citizens, is described as genocide, a term more apt for the US intervention in Libya, Iraq, Somalia and Syria.

The FT has a stable of journalist hacks who specialize in ignoring US economic warfare against China, Russia, Iran, Venezuela etc.

All the economic ‘slowdowns’ among US adversaries are attributed to internal mismanagement never US intervention.

The one-sided propaganda pieces written by the FT leading hackers — Hornby, Feng, Politi, Kynge, Mallet, Anderlini, Bozorgmehr etc — are notoriously repetitive: China’s economy is on the verge of crisis — which prediction never occurs and smart investors ignore while smirking all the way to their bank accounts.

The FT would offer its subscribers plenty to laugh about over late afternoon beers, if it were not for the war crimes it endorses. Their apologies of bloody western imperial invasions in the Middle East are not laughing matters.

The FT joins the Anglo-American chorus accusing Russia of political assassinations on British soil, without evidence or witnesses.

The FT has yet to chastise their US and British paymasters for their prolonged economic war against the elected governments in Venezuela.

The upwardly mobile FT scribes, scrambling for senior posts, ignore the laughter at their pious claims of ‘democratic values’ because their columns reek of lies and denials of China’s advances, Russia’s economic recovery from the catastrophic decline which the Times celebrated alongside the oligarchs’ plunder during the lost decade of the nineties.

Conclusion

The difference between the articles in the FT and the handouts from the war ministry is a matter of source not substance.

As the US engages in a total war on China’s cutting-edge industries, particularly, the world’s most advanced telecom company Huawei, the FT parrots US threats and warnings without the least effort to sort out facts from propaganda.

The fact is, the Times is part and parcel of the imperial revival which attempts to block China from establishing its pre-eminence in the world. The FT echoes President Trump’s lies about economic theft as the basis for China’s Huawei’s global leadership in telecom technology.

The FT gloss over its overt political role, evokes smirks among knowledgeable insiders as they scoff their beer.

Anti-Trump rhetoric fails to obscure the fact that the FT fronts for most of his policies – from financial deregulations, pro-Israel apologetics and Middle East wars.

There is one caveat; the FT is more warlike than the President! The FT is for remaining in Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan, Somalia and any other independent country! While the FT publishes upscale articles on wine tasting, the arts, literature, travel and jewel collecting, its ‘serious’ news promotes bloody imperial wars. There is nary a western war that the Times fails to support.

In truth, the FT are the print-police and gatekeepers overseeing the defense of ‘democratic values’ by any means necessary (including wars of untold destruction)!

The larger issue confronting the US public concern the link between the ‘serious press’, the educated reading public and Washington’s perpetual war strategy.

The ‘serious press’ like the FT is no stranger to propagandizing in favor of imperial wars, since its founding. Its lack of objectivity is a fact of life and is predictable. What is new and dangerous is that journalist-critics are few and far between, particularly as the US empire is challenged at home and abroad.

The turn to militarism and the decline in imperial economic dominance puts a premium on media propaganda; its job is convincing and activating the young, politically educated class, which does not have a commitment to the serious press.

Financial elites continue to subscribe but many laugh at the one-sided advocacy of US denigration of China – since most investors have made money on China’s robust growth.

Most investors are bored by the Times fables about ending wars in Afghanistan and elsewhere. It may come to pass someday that ridicule, loud and repeated laughter, will bankrupt the serious press, that its readers will be confined to Wall Street and the Pentagon.

Even today, readers are disgusted by the FT grotesque front page features. Madeleine Albright appears on the House and Home section which mentions her ‘hospitality’ omitting to include her murderous bombing of hundreds of thousands of Iraqi homes and her claim that the murder of a half-million Iraqi children was ‘worth it’ to win the war!

February 17, 2019 Posted by | Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Timeless or most popular | | 1 Comment

US Top General Takes to CNN to Dispute Syria Withdrawal

Sputnik – 15.02.2019

US General Joseph L. Votel, who has presided over stagnant results in America’s wars since being named commander of US Central Command last year, recently publicly disagreed with US President Donald Trump’s decision to pull US troops from Syria.

“It would not have been my military advice at that particular time,” Votel told CNN of the plan to withdraw troops. Of course, the advice of US generals has brought the country 18 years of war with nothing to show for it except the Pentagon’s expanded budget. The United States now spends about 40 percent more on the military per year than it did during the height of the Iraq War in 2005.

“I would not have made that suggestion, frankly,” said Votel, referring to the decision to bring the troops back home to the US — a process that’s evidently ongoing and also a source of mystery. Exits are notoriously dangerous military maneuvers, so the US has kept quiet on the precise number of forces it has maintained across Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan.

Some analysts have suggested that the military’s consistent refusal over the years to be transparent about troop numbers in the above-mentioned countries has backfired, leaving them with little evidence for their assertions that Trump is killing a critical mission.

The US Constitution, of course, leaves final military decisions up to the president and not the generals, who are subordinate to the office.

Trump has advocated withdrawing US personnel from costly foreign military engagements that lack clear objectives, but his administration has waffled on putting those desires into motion for about two years, variously saying Daesh has been defeated, calling out the need to prevent a Daesh resurgence and combat Iran and plainly admitting that there is nothing in Syria for the US military except “sand and death.”

On Friday, Votel was back on the Pentagon’s message that Daesh is not actually defeated, even though the terrorists’ land holdings have been reduced from the size of Britain to less than a square mile. Daesh “still has leaders, still has fighters, it still has facilitators, it still has resources, so our continued military pressure is necessary to continue to go after that network,” said Votel to CNN, as reported by The Hill.

In any event, achieving the top post in US Central Command (CENTCOM) is often seen as a boon for the careers of military officers. Former CENTCOM chiefs include retired generals David Petraeus and James Mattis, who would go on to become the head of the Central Intelligence Agency and US Secretary of Defense, respectively, after their stints as CENTCOM commanders.

Former UK Ambassador to Syria Peter Ford tells Sputnik not to read too much into Votel’s comments but instead to observe the “continuing efforts of the media and political establishment to undermine Trump,” who has expressed far more anti-interventionist sentiments than his predecessor both during his campaign and while in office.

February 16, 2019 Posted by | Illegal Occupation, Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Militarism | , , , , | 2 Comments

Real ‘obscene masquerade’: How BBC depicted staged hospital scenes as proof of Douma chemical attack

By Vanessa Beeley | RT | February 16, 2019

In an extraordinary turn of events, corporate media appears to have been exposed again as an extension of state foreign policy, by a member of the establishment media cabal, manufacturing consent for regime change in Syria.

Riam Dalati is on the BBC production team based in Beirut and describes himself, on his Twitter page, as an “esteemed colleague” of Quentin Sommerville, the BBC’s Middle East correspondent. Dalati broke ranks with his UK Government-aligned media, on Twitter, to announce that “after almost 6 months of investigation, I can prove, without a doubt, that the Douma hospital scene was staged.”

The scenes in question are those manufactured by the White Helmet pseudo-humanitarian group and activists affiliated to Jaish al-Islam, the extremist armed group in charge of Douma at the time of the alleged chemical weapon attack on April 7, 2018. The scenes of children being hosed down, following a “chemical attack” were immediately accepted as credible and appeared alongside sensationalist headlines in most Western media outlets, including the BBC, CNN and Channel 4. Simon Tisdall of the Guardian wrote an opinion piece, with the headline ‘After Douma the West’s response to Syria regime must be military’ – only two days after Douma, effectively calling for all out war.

While Dalati’s tweets have clearly distressed some notables in the establishment camp, Dalati is no stranger to such controversy. Almost immediately after the alleged incident in Douma, he tweeted out his frustration that “activists and rebels” had used “corpses of dead children to stage emotive scenes for Western consumption.” The emotive wording of Dalati’s tweet, he was “sick and tired” of such manipulation of events, suggested that this was not the first time children had been used as props in a macabre war theatre designed to elicit public sympathy for escalated military intervention in Syria disguised as a necessary “humanitarian” crack down on “Assad’s gassing of his own people.”

Dalati had been referring to the arranging of two children’s corpses into a “last hug” still life composition, a photo that went viral, rocketed into the social media sphere by activists who had collaborated with the brutal Jaish al-Islam regime while it tortured and abused the Syrian civilians under its control.

Perhaps Dalati’s apparent outburst could be explained by his participation in the production of the controversial September 2013 BBC Panorama documentary, ‘Saving Syria’s Children’. An independent researcher, Robert Stuart, has made it his life’s work to present a compelling argument that “sequences filmed by BBC personnel and others at Atareb Hospital, Aleppo on August 26, 2013 purporting to show the aftermath of an incendiary bomb attack on a nearby school are largely, if not entirely, staged.” Perhaps Dalati had witnessed one too many stagings of events that would precipitate the potential for war in Syria between the US and Russia.

Whatever the reason for Dalati’s exasperation, the tweet was deleted before a watered down version appeared. Dalati claimed that a “breach of editorial policy” and lack of context was behind this alteration. Apparently BBC employees are not allowed to be “sick and tired” of the exploitation of children to promote a war that will inevitably kill more children. Simultaneously, Dalati’s account was protected, making tweets visible only to approved followers.

On two significant occasions to date, Dalati appears to deviate from the BBC narrative road map in Syria. However, Dalati had participated in the corporate media lynching of journalists and academics who had dared to question the dominant “chemical attack” narrative, at the time of the alleged incident in Douma, dismissing them as conspiracy theorists. These “conspiracy theorists” included acclaimed journalist, Robert Fisk and Uli Gack, an experienced war correspondent with ZDF, a German public media outlet. Independent journalist, Eva Bartlett, and Pearson Sharpe of One American News Network also reported evidence of staging and mainstream media distortion of events in Douma.

I visited Douma shortly after the alleged attack. I interviewed medical staff and civilians who were adamant that a chemical attack had not taken place. Doctors and nurses, some of whom were on duty on the night in question, told me that adults and children were suffering the effects of smoke inhalation. They described the panic generated by the activists and White Helmet operatives who arrived crying “chemical attack” before they hosed down the traumatised patients.

20-year-old Suleiman Saour told me: “At 7pm we had been receiving wounded people all day long. At 7pm someone came in carrying a little boy, he laid him on a bed and said he had been hit with chemical weapons. Basically I checked the boy […] he was suffering from smoke inhalation […] we washed his face, used a spray and Ventolin. Later on we found out the child had asthma and it got worse because of the smoke.”

Academics, Professors Piers Robinson and Tim Hayward, came under concerted attack as did other members of the Working Group on Syria, Propaganda and Media when they analysed the events and questioned the veracity of it being a chemical attack. In the UK, the Times published no less than four articles labeling myself and the “rogue” academics as “Assad’s useful idiots,” timed to perfection on the day that the UK, US and France launched their unlawful bombing campaign against Syria. A bombing campaign that was fully enabled by the ignominious rush to judgement by corporate media in the West.

It has taken Dalati six months to arrive at the same conclusion as those he condemned as compromised “conspiracy theorists,” therefore we must question his motives for suddenly releasing these conclusions. Peter Ford, former UK Ambassador to Syria, gave me his opinion on Dalati’s revelations.

“The UK joined Trump and Macron in illegally bombing Syria largely on the basis of a video clip shown ad nauseam on the BBC, which a BBC Syria producer has now said he has evidence was staged. The BBC in their statement are not denying the claim. The implications are shattering: firstly that the state broadcaster effectively connived at a manipulation of public opinion, and secondly that the British government launched its attack on Syria on a false and fabricated premise. This demands a public enquiry.”

Ford’s statement highlights the seriousness of Dalati’s statement which must surely raise questions about the possibility of previous “chemical attack” narratives also being manipulated, staged or fabricated. Swedish Doctors for Human Rights investigated the alleged chlorine gas attack in Sarmin, March 2015 and found the medical procedures conducted by doctors at the scene to be extremely questionable.

Dr Leif Elinder, a Swedish medical doctor and paediatric specialist, found that “after examination of the video material, I found that the measures inflicted upon those children, some of them lifeless, are bizarre, non-medical, non-lifesaving, and even counterproductive in terms of life-saving purposes of children.” This video, produced and presented by the White Helmets and their colleagues at the Syrian American Medical Society (SAMS), was shown during a UN Security Council “closed door” session to promote a no-fly zone which translates to protection for the US coalition-backed terrorist forces on the ground in Syria.

As BBC producer has stated publicly that the hospital scenes during the Douma “attack” are staged, the BBC has distanced itself by stating that these are the personal claims of an employee which do not mean an attack did not take place. The July 2018 OPCW interim report has already discredited the early sensationalism of western media reporting. “No organophosphorus nerve agents or their degradation products were detected, either in the environmental samples or in plasma samples from the alleged casualties,” it stated. No Sarin.

The OPCW Fact Finding Mission (FFM) has not yet reached a conclusion that a chemical attack of any kind took place in Douma. The environmental samples were reported to contain chlorinated organic molecules such as trichloroacetic acid and chloral hydrate, which could be attributed to something as basic as chlorinated drinking water. Despite this ambiguity, the BBC initially ran with the headline that ‘Chlorine was used’ in the Douma attack before altering to ‘Possible Chlorine at Douma Attack Site’. Another mistake? Or another deliberate attempt to mislead and shore up the UK FCO regime change storyline in Syria?

Dalati’s revelations must also be viewed in context. They follow similar conclusions arrived at by corporate media colleague and journalist, James Harkin, a Guardian contributor who published a long-winded Douma investigation in the Intercept. Harkin also conceded that the Douma hospital scenes were likely staged and that the Sarin canard was a non-starter.

It is very unlikely, despite the BBC protestation, that Dalati would risk publishing his claims without approval from BBC hierarchy. Timing is always crucial when examining events that have the potential to expose colonial media, particularly the BBC, as the refined state PR agencies they are in reality.

Based on an informed and intelligent interpretation of events with historical context, we could speculate that the OPCW is about to release its final findings on the Douma attack. A report which has the potential to lay bare the full extent of the BBC’s deception and falsification of facts in Douma. A report which could raise unpleasant questions about corporate media reporting, particularly on alleged chemical weapon use by the Syrian government, throughout the 8 year conflict in Syria. Was Dalati’s shock information release nothing more than a damage limitation tactic by the BBC or is Dalati genuinely a rogue truth-teller? Only time will tell.

What Dalati has done is highlight the hypocrisy and bias of Western media and government officials. The BBC report on the Russian “production” of Douma-chemical-attack-denying witnesses at the HQ of the OPCW in the Hague emphasises the dismissal of the event as a “despicable stunt” by the UK, US and France who boycotted the proceedings. French ambassador to the Netherlands described the Syrian civilian testimonies as an “obscene masquerade.” The Guardian ran with this statement as its headline, reducing Russia’s attempt to bring some clarity to the Douma attack to the unveiling of “supposed witnesses” in order to discredit such attempts to derail their preferred narrative.

Now, it appears that the real obscene masquerade took place in the Medical Point in Douma, was constructed by the UK FCO-financed White Helmets, and was adopted by the BBC and other state stenographers as gospel in order to further criminalise the Syrian Arab Army just as the final liberation of Douma from Jaish al-Islam brutal rule was fast approaching. This obscene masquerade resulted in the unlawful bombing of Syria by the US, France and the UK. As Peter Ford stated, “this demands a public enquiry.”

February 16, 2019 Posted by | Deception, Fake News, False Flag Terrorism, Mainstream Media, Warmongering | , , , , | Leave a comment

NPR misleads public in report on AIPAC vs Ilhan Omar

NPR misleads public in report on AIPAC vs Ilhan Omar

Washington D.C. headquarters of NPR, National Public Radio

NPR’s ‘All Things Considered’ segment underreports AIPAC’s finances, uses only Israel partisans as commentators, minimizes power of AIPAC, ignores Palestinians, and fails to inform listeners of the full scope of the Israel lobby

By Alison Weir | If Americans Knew | February 15, 2019

A recent NPR report, “Unpacking What The American Israel Public Affairs Committee Does,” misleads listeners on several points.

The report is in response to freshman Democratic Congress member Ilhan Omar’s tweet that AIPAC is the cause of U.S. politicians’ support for Israel over U.S. needs and principles. Omar has come under numerous attacks ever since.

NPR’s report, broadcast Wednesday, substantially downplays the power of AIPAC. In doing so, it suggests that Omar’s comments were “antisemitic,” while failing to interview anyone with different views.

The report was on NPR’s All Things Considered, which says it is “the most listened-to, afternoon drive-time, news radio program in the country.”

NPR’s only commentators are Israel partisans

The report largely features comments from two members of the Israel lobby: Josh Block, former AIPAC spokesman and current CEO of the Israel Project, and Ben Shnider, National Political Director for JStreetPAC, which calls itself “the largest pro-Israel PAC in the country.”

No one else is interviewed.

The show does not mention that Block was the center of a scandal several years go when it came out that he had been encouraging neoconservative journalists and pundits on a private email list to smear staffers at two progressive think tanks as supposedly “antisemitic.”

Block’s business partner publicly repudiated Block’s actions, and a Democratic-aligned organization expelled Block for using ‘mischaracterization or character attacks’.”

Wednesday’s NPR report was introduced by host Mary Louise Kelly announcing that Ilhan Omar had “repeated what are viewed as anti-Semitic characterizations” of AIPAC.

Kelly failed to mention that many people consider the accusation unjustified and Omar’s statement valid. Israel partisans regularly try to claim that proponents of Palestinian rights are “antisemitic.” An Israeli Knesset member has said that this is a frequently used “trick.”

Block and Shnider are then brought on as alleged experts on the issue. None of the groups and individuals who support Omar are quoted.

Underreports AIPAC’S budget

In the report, NPR gives AIPAC’s lobbying budget as $3.3 million, but leaves out the fact that AIPAC’s total 2017 income was over $229 million.

Commentator Josh Block emphasizes that AIPAC itself doesn’t directly donate to candidates, but doesn’t mention that AIPAC uses numerous other ways to deploy its millions of dollars to influence politicians.

NPR reporter Peter Overby briefly mentions one non-donation AIPAC activity and glancingly refers to what he terms “a small constellation of political action committees around [AIPAC],” but fails to give the full picture of AIPAC’s influence.

A fuller view of AIPAC’s power

Prominent international relations scholars John Mearsheimer and Stephen Walt provide a much fuller description of AIPAC’s importance in their 2008 book on the Israel lobby, and in a London Review of Books article on the subject.

Mearshimer and Walt state: “AIPAC itself… forms the core of the Lobby’s influence in Congress. Its success is due to its ability to reward legislators and congressional candidates who support its agenda, and to punish those who challenge it.”

They quote a former AIPAC staff member, who states: “It is common for members of Congress and their staffs to turn to AIPAC first when they need information, before calling the Library of Congress, the Congressional Research Service, committee staff or administration experts.” He says that AIPAC is “often called on to draft speeches, work on legislation, advise on tactics, perform research, collect co-sponsors and marshal votes.”

AIPAC helped defeat Senator Charles Percy from Illinois, a potential presidential candidate.

The authors, senior professors at the University of Chicago and Harvard, state:

“Money is critical to US elections…. AIPAC makes sure that its friends get strong financial support from the many pro-Israel political action committees. Anyone who is seen as hostile to Israel can be sure that AIPAC will direct campaign contributions to his or her political opponents. AIPAC also organises letter-writing campaigns and encourages newspaper editors to endorse pro-Israel candidates.

“There is no doubt about the efficacy of these tactics. Here is one example: in the 1984 elections, AIPAC helped defeat Senator Charles Percy from Illinois, who, according to a prominent Lobby figure, had ‘displayed insensitivity and even hostility to our concerns’. Thomas Dine, the head of AIPAC at the time, explained what happened: ‘All the Jews in America, from coast to coast, gathered to oust Percy. And the American politicians – those who hold public positions now, and those who aspire – got the message.’”

AIPAC, de facto agent for a foreign government

Mearsheimer and Walt state: “The bottom line is that AIPAC, a de facto agent for a foreign government, has a stranglehold on Congress, with the result that US policy towards Israel is not debated there, even though that policy has important consequences for the entire world……..  as Ariel Sharon once told an American audience, ‘when people ask me how they can help Israel, I tell them: ‘Help AIPAC. ”

Israeli Prime Minister General Ariel Sharon, known for his brutal military operations.

While today some other pro-Israel organizations are vying with AIPAC for power, American politicians still consider AIPAC so powerful that every top 2016 presidential candidate spoke at its annual convention.

Israel as ally?

During the NPR report, Block refers to the alleged “value” of the “U.S.-Israel alliance,” and Overby fails to challenge Block’s claim.

In reality, the value is on one side only.

Israel receives over $10 million per day from hard pressed American taxpayers (likely to soon to go even higher), and is shielded by the U.S. from international actions to end Israel’s numerous violations of international law and human rights. It also receives numerous trade perks and other benefits, including U.S. legislation that requires NASA to work with Israel’s space agency, despite allegations of Israeli theft of classified U.S. research.

On the U.S. side, the alleged “value” is negative. U.S. support for Israel damages the U.S. in numerous ways: it drains money from the U.S. economy, subsidizes Israeli companies that compete with American companies, creates dangerous hostility to the U.S., pushes the U.S. into tragic and costly wars on behalf of Israel, and funds a foreign nation built on ethnic/religious discrimination that repeatedly spies on the U.S. and steals American technology.

As if that weren’t enough, Israel tried to sink a U.S. Navy ship, killing 34 Americans and injuring over 170, and then “compensated” the U.S. with a sum that was a small fraction of the destroyed ship’s worth.

What Palestinians?

Gaza following Israeli attacks, 2014.

Information about Palestinians and why anyone would oppose AIPAC’S support for Israel is missing from the NPR report. There is no mention of Palestinians’ forced expulsion to make way for a Jewish state, the ongoing Israeli violence against them, or the systemic discrimination inherent in Israel.

In fact, the word “Palestinian” is mentioned only once, when Shnider says that most Jewish Americans support “a Palestinian state alongside a secure Israel.” There is no mention about security for Palestinians, or that the “Palestinian state” being proposed consists of a tiny portion of Palestinians’ ancestral land.

AIPAC: tip of the iceberg

During the broadcast, Overby mentions pro-Israel billionaire Sheldon Adelson and a few other pro-Israel groups, implying these are largely the extent of the Israel lobby.

Overby and his guests fail to inform listeners of the full range and power of the Israel lobby in the United States: hundreds of organizations embedded in every state in the union and almost every campus, with a combined revenue of well over $6 billion.

Added to this are pro-Israel billionaire donors who regularly deploy their wealth on behalf of Israel, including Adelson and his Israeli wife Miriam, Israeli-American Haim Saban, Paul Singer, Norman Braman, and Larry Ellison, who have a combined net worth of close to $115 billion.

Wednesday’s report is not an isolated instance.

Analyses have shown that NPR has a long pattern of giving listeners Israel-centric reports that fail to give listeners the full, accurate picture of this profoundly important issue.


Alison Weir is executive director of If Americans Knew, president of the Council for the National Interest, and author of “Against Our Better Judgment: The Hidden History of How the U.S. Was Used to Create Israel.”  Her articles have been published by MintPress News, The Link, Project Censored, Dissident Voice, Antiwar.com, CounterPunch, Z Magazine, the Washington Report on Middle East Affairs, and others, including several anthologies.

H/T to the Dissident Veteran for Peace blog, which alerted us to the NPR program and the Mearsheimer-Walt excerpts quoted above.

February 15, 2019 Posted by | Deception, Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Mainstream Media, Warmongering | , , , | 2 Comments