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Aftermath of Helsinki summit: American ‘democracy’ in action

© Erin Scott / Global Look Press
By Finian Cunningham | RT | July 19, 2018

After his landmark summit with Russian leader Vladimir Putin in Helsinki, US President Donald Trump was apparently forced into an embarrassing u-turn over allegations of Russian interference in American elections.

On returning to the White House from his summit in Finland, Trump read out a statement, saying that he “accepted” US intelligence claims that Russia had meddled in the 2016 presidential election.

He offered the explanation that he had “mis-spoken” during his press conference with Putin in Helsinki the day before, when he appeared then to accept the Russian president’s “powerful denial” that his country had not interfered in the race for the White House.

What to make of it? Was Trump correcting a glitch in his speech, or is there something more sinister at play?

In any case, political and media critics in the US don’t believe the president’s “attempt at backtracking,” as the Washington Post put it.

Senior Democrats insisted Trump “could not squirm his way out” of the torrent of accusations that he had “capitulated to Putin” and dishonored US intelligence services by appearing to accept Moscow’s assurances it had not interfered in the elections.

The context of words spoken at the press conference in Helsinki does indeed suggest that Trump was countenancing Putin’s denial of Russian meddling. The US president went on to say that the various probes into the matter were a “disaster” for America’s international image and for bilateral relations with Russia. This is consistent with Trump’s long-held view that the Mueller inquiry is a “witch-hunt” based on “fake news”.

So, Trump’s belated about-turn on what he meant to say in Helsinki regarding alleged Russian interference does not seem to be a convincing, genuine correction on his part. It suggests rather that the president is being forced into making a retraction.

What could be viewed as more disturbing is the way the American president has been browbeaten and cowed to make an embarrassing denial of something he actually believes. In other words, Trump has been humiliated or intimidated into toeing a line.

The US media reaction following the summit with Putin was immediate and shockingly coordinated, like a full-on assault.

“Trump faces tidal wave of criticism over handling of summit with Putin,” reported US government-funded Radio Free Europe.

The president was assailed with a torrent of abuse, decrying him as a “disgrace” and “traitor” for having engaged in a cordial manner with the Russian leader. The uniform scorn poured on Trump by the political and media establishment was something to behold.

Rabid pundits in supposedly prestigious newspapers such as the New York Times were declaring that it’s “Trump and Putin vs. America,” claiming that “the president’s refusal to condemn Russian attacks was a betrayal of every single American citizen.”

The media backlash of vituperation against the president was nothing short of extraordinary. It was a concerted campaign of sedition against his authority which, at times, openly called for a palace coup to oust him.

Under the headline, “This sad, embarrassing wreck of a man,” one oped in the Washington Post posed the question: “Which Republicans will stand behind a president who puts Russia first?”

Ironically, Trump’s instincts about the whole Russiagate affair are correct. It is a load of unsubstantiated farrago promoted by Democrats and large sections of supportive news media who have never got over the ignominy of Hillary Clinton losing out to “deplorable Trump.” Clinton was also backed by high-ranking officials in the state intelligence apparatus, as well as the foreign policy establishment.

This constituency of the political class in Washington shared Clinton’s avowed hostility towards Putin. It is to their unforgivable chagrin that Donald Trump was elected. Moreover, Trump was elected partly on the promise of restoring normal relations between the US and Russia. His policy was given a democratic mandate upon his election to the White House.

After nearly two years of relentless Russophobia from the US political and media establishment, the case for alleged Russian interference in American politics remains embarrassingly vacuous. Not even the latest so-called indictments produced by special counsel Robert Mueller have any credibility to anyone who looks earnestly at the charges. What’s more, ordinary American citizens seem to agree that the whole Russiagate affair is a frivolity indulged in by the political and media elites confined to Washington’s Beltway Bubble.

In a poll out this week following the Helsinki summit, a small majority of Americans (55 percent) seem to think that Trump is “mishandling” relations with Russia. It is perhaps not surprising, given the wall-to-wall media pillorying of the president as a “traitor.” Nevertheless, the same poll found that only a minority of Americans view Russia as “an enemy” (38 percent) or an “imminent threat” (27 per cent).

These figures are cold comfort for the US political establishment, which has assiduously pushed the narrative of Russian malevolence.

What the astounding media backlash against Trump shows is not so much the fecklessness of his character. No, the really perplexing issue is how American democracy is warped and fashioned to meet the demands of powerful unelected forces. The imperative is brazen and brutal.

Trump may want to normalize relations with Russia. The people may have voted for this policy. But the powers-that-be are making sure that this policy is not implemented. They want hostility towards Russia to prevail, as it would have explicitly if Hillary Clinton had been elected.

In short, what we are seeing this week is “American democracy” in action. Meaning there is no actual democracy exercised by the power of the people. It is power exercised by elite interests.

In that way, Russian reaction to the Helsinki summit should be restrained.

Indeed, it was welcome to see Trump and Putin engage in cordial, mutual dialogue. Trump deserves credit for holding the summit and for his civilized manner towards the Russian leader, instead of adopting the vulgar offensiveness for which so much of the US establishment is baying.

The problem is that Trump has evidently very limited political authority to implement the obvious goodwill he desires between Washington and Moscow. He has limited authority to actually adopt one of the key policies for which he was elected by the people.

Trump’s cringe-making u-turn was not a correction over his misuse of “double negative speech.” It was a positively damning sign that the president and the citizens who voted for him have actually negligible power when it comes to overturning a fundamental objective of the unelected plutocrats of the deep state.

For Russia, and indeed the wider world, that is deeply troubling. Because the American powers-that-be are evidently hell-bent on pursuing a hostile agenda towards Russia. Their Russophobia is not just some passing phase. It’s a symptom of an incorrigible malaise and desire within the US establishment for conflict.

Finian Cunningham (born 1963) has written extensively on international affairs, with articles published in several languages. Originally from Belfast, Northern Ireland, he is a Master’s graduate in Agricultural Chemistry and worked as a scientific editor for the Royal Society of Chemistry, Cambridge, England, before pursuing a career in newspaper journalism. For over 20 years he worked as an editor and writer in major news media organizations, including The Mirror, Irish Times and Independent. Now a freelance journalist based in East Africa, his columns appear on RT, Sputnik, Strategic Culture Foundation and Press TV.

July 19, 2018 Posted by | Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Russophobia, Timeless or most popular | , , | Leave a comment

We want to hear from Scotland Yard, not media reports on Skripals’ case – Russian envoy to UK

RT | July 19, 2018

Moscow is waiting for any official statement on the Skripal attack suspects, Russian ambassador to the UK, Alexander Yakovenko, has said in the wake of media reports that police identified some “Russians” as the culprits.

On Thursday, the Press Association reported that British investigators believe they identified “the suspected perpetrators” of the March poisoning of ex-double agent Sergei Skripal and his daughter in Salisbury. After analyzing CCTV footage, they reportedly came to the conclusion that some “Russians” are involved in the attack.

Commenting on the media claims, the Russian envoy said that official London remains silent on the issue, stressing that media reports often fail to find any confirmation.

“These are media reports, unfortunately there are no official statements from the British side. I want to hear from Scotland Yard, from the Foreign Office. Many versions [published] in the newspapers are not confirmed on the official level,” Yakovenko told journalists in Moscow.

The envoy also warned that Moscow “will exert pressure” on London, including through official requests and dialogue, over the Skripal case, as it is “a political issue.” He also plans to discuss the issue during the meeting with the UK’s new foreign minister, Jeremy Hunt.

The Skripal case was not on the agenda during the recent Putin-Trump summit in Helsinki as London failed to provide evidence not only to Russia, but even to its allies, Yakovenko noted.

“If the British had managed to provide any official information regarding the ongoing investigation, it might have been a topic for [Trump-Putin] discussion,” the envoy said. “But because the British side still does not provide anything to the Russian side, and moreover, presented nothing to its allies, then what is there to actually discuss?”

Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia were poisoned by a nerve agent in Salisbury in March. In late June, a British couple, Charlie Rowley and Dawn Sturgess, were exposed to the same substance in the town of Amesbury, around 12km from Salisbury. After Sturgess died on June 8, the Russian embassy in the UK said that a leak at the Porton Down chemical laboratory, located some 8km from both Salisbury and Amesbury, might be to blame for the incidents.

The UK authorities have pointed a finger at Moscow for the Skripals’ poisoning since March, while still failing to present any evidence. Russia has repeatedly denied any involvement in the attack, asking to share the data on the incident, but still has received nothing but allegations so far.

July 19, 2018 Posted by | Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Russophobia | | Leave a comment

I’m the Reporter Mentioned in Mueller’s Indictment. Why Hasn’t He Spoken to Me?

By Lee Stranahan | Sputnik | July 18, 2018

I was as surprised as anyone last Friday, when just days before US President Donald Trump’s historic meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin, special counsel Robert Mueller dropped an indictment against 12 Russian nationals claiming that they were Guccifer 2.0, the entity that took credit on June 15, 2016, for the hack of the DNC and DCCC.

I was even more surprised to find that I was discussed in Mueller’s indictment.

Section 43c of the indictment says, “On or about August 22, 2016, the Conspirators, posing as Guccifer 2.0, sent a reporter stolen documents pertaining to the Black Lives Matter Movement. The reporter responded by discussing when to release the documents and offering to write an article about their release.”

I am that reporter.

Part of the reason I was surprised is that I have never been contacted by anyone from Mueller’s investigative team. That’s one reason I personally know that this is a shoddy investigation, but I’ll come back to that in a moment.

When I saw that I was being discussed in the indictment, I immediately mentioned it on Twitter. I also made it clear to the media that I was available for interviews. No media outlet has contacted me.

I went public because I have nothing to hide and nothing to be ashamed of. In fact, the reason that Mueller’s team knew about my contacts with Guccifer 2.0 is because I posted the direct messages we exchanged over Twitter myself a year ago.

For the record, I didn’t know who Guccifer 2.0 was at the time and I still don’t, despite Mueller’s indictment. I have never believed that Guccifer 2.0 was a Russian state actor and have seen no evidence that persuades me otherwise.

At the time of this contact with Guccifer 2.0, I was the lead investigative reporter for Breitbart News ; today, I co-host the best morning news radio show in America, Fault Lines with Nixon and Stranahan, which airs Monday through Friday, 7 a.m. to 10 a.m. Eastern Time on Radio Sputnik. Fault Lines is broadcast on 105.5 FM and 1390 AM in Washington, DC, and around the world on the Sputnik News website.

Of course, just seeing both Russian-funded Sputnik and formerly Steve Bannon-led-Breitbart News on my resume is enough to give many in the media the flutters. Never mind that I also wrote for years at the Huffington Post or did independent journalism on issues like the Syrian war, which I traveled to Beirut in 2013 to cover. All of that and more gets left out of media narrative on Russian CollusionTM!

Thus, the New York Times only mentions my work at Breitbart and Sputnik in their scarily titled article, Tracing Guccifer 2.0’s Many Tentacles in the 2016 Election. And like Mueller’s team, the New York Times also never bothered to get in touch with me for their story.

A few hours after the Mueller indictment came out, I left for my planned trip to Helsinki to cover the Trump-Putin summit for Sputnik.

A couple of days later, CNN’s Jake Tapper retweeted my initial tweet about my cameo in the indictment and added the comment “Employee for Sputnik confirms that when he was at Breitbart he was in touch with who DOJ says was Russian military intelligence masquerading as hacker Guccifer 2.0.”

I’ve spoken to Jake privately a number of times in the past. He’s praised my work on other stories. I’m easy to reach. Yet despite highlighting my contact with Guccifer 2.0, Tapper has also not reached out to interview me.

It’s almost like the media and Muller have no interest in hearing what I have to say. No, wait — it’s exactly like that, because there’s plenty that the indictment and the media leave out.

For example, when Guccifer 2.0 contacted me on August 22, 2016, Steve Bannon was no longer leading Breitbart News. Whoever Guccifer 2.0 is, they expressed no interest at all in the fact that Bannon had left Breitbart to head the Trump campaign.

Furthermore, when the indictment says I was given material on the Black Lives Matter movement, it’s not exactly accurate, something Mueller would know if he’d ever talked to me.

In fact, I was sent a file with a few documents, including one that was a memo about the Black Lives Matter movement that was sent out by the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC). That document sparked my interest because I’d been covering Black Lives Matter for months and had been arrested a little over a month earlier while covering the protests over the death of Alton Sterling in Baton Rouge. I was one of four journalists arrested. (All charges were dropped and we reached a very small settlement with the city.)

If the Muller investigation was legitimately trying to get to the truth, I’d think they would have asked me for this set of files, since it might contain useful information for a forensic investigation. I’d think they would also want to see my direct messages with Guccifer 2.0 for themselves.

That might not be possible now. You see, after Mueller’s indictment was released, the public Twitter account for Guccifer 2.0 was removed from Twitter. I no longer have live access to my direct messages, nor can the public see the account for themselves live on Twitter. For anyone wanting to make up his or her own mind about this facet of the Russiagate narrative, including through viewing the original information for themselves, this is an interesting development.

Luckily, researcher Adam Carter has saved screen captures of the entire account as well as Guccifer 2.0’s WordPress site on his must-read site dedicated to Guccifer 2.0.

People disinclined to simply take Mueller at his word on his unproven accusations will also want to read this article by Carter showing the contradictions between the information in the Mueller indictment and what is available already in public record.

Anyone who looks at that record for themselves can see what the media isn’t telling you — that I was far from the first journalist to talk to or interview Guccifer 2.0. It also makes clear that I did not request info from Guccifer 2.0, but was offered it.

However, as I’ve said, I did nothing remotely wrong in talking to Guccifer 2.0, no matter who is ultimately shown to be behind the account. I was following a story and working a lead. I wanted to find out who Guccifer 2.0 really was and I still do.

Robert Mueller’s investigation has now muddied that trail, and hindered the efforts of truth seekers everywhere.

The author is Lee Stranahan, co-host of Fault Lines on Radio Sputnik. 

July 18, 2018 Posted by | Deception, Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Russophobia | , | 1 Comment

Israel’s nukes, not Syria: Man kicked out from Trump-Putin summit says AP misquoted him

Security removes Sam Husseini before the Putin-Trump press conference in Helsinki. © Lehtikuva/Antti Aimo-Koivisto / Reuters
RT | July 18, 2018

Political activist and writer Sam Husseini, who was ousted from a joint media conference by Vladimir Putin and Donald Trump, accuses the media of lying about his goal at the event. He had a question about Israel’s nuclear arsenal.

Husseini, a contributor to The Nation who also wrote for a number of major media outlets as well as the media watchdog Fairness and Accuracy In Reporting (FAIR), was evicted from a media conference held by the two presidents on Tuesday in Helsinki.

The news agency Associated Press (AP) quoted him as saying that he had a question “on Syria’s nuclear policy” and the nuclear arsenals of the United States and Russia.

Husseini says AP misquoted him and that he wanted to hear Putin’s and Trump’s opinion on Israel’s clandestine nuclear arsenal, the existence of which the Jewish state neither acknowledges nor denies.

In further tweets Husseini called the AP story by Jari Tanner a “piece of garbage” that has spread to other media outlets. He added his ousting from the event was falsely attributed by many to Russian officials, while in fact the decision was made by Finnish security. The statement even made it to his Wikipedia page.

July 18, 2018 Posted by | Fake News, Mainstream Media, Warmongering | , , | 1 Comment

Indictment of 12 Russians: Under the Shiny Wrapping, a Political Act

U.S. Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, released the indictment of 12 Russians days before President Trump was due to meet with Russian President Vladimir Putin.
By Scott Ritter | TruthDig | July 15, 2018

With great fanfare, Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein on Friday released a 29-page indictment, a byproduct of the ongoing investigation by special counsel Robert Mueller into Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential election. Ostensibly, this indictment cemented the government’s case against the Russians and punched a hole in the arguments of those, like President Trump, who have been labeling Mueller’s investigation a “witch hunt.” This, of course, is precisely what Rosenstein and Mueller hoped to achieve through their carefully timed, and even more carefully scripted, indictment.

The indictment was made public at a time when the FBI is under increasing scrutiny for the appearance of strong anti-Trump bias on the part of some of its senior agents. This purported bias in turn generated rational concerns on the part of the president’s supporters that it possibly influenced decisions related to investigations being conducted by the FBI into allegations of collusion between persons affiliated with the campaign of then-Republican candidate Trump and the Russian government. The goal of this alleged collusion was to interfere in the American electoral processes and confer Trump an advantage against his Democratic rival, Hillary Clinton.

It also comes on the heels of a concerted effort on the part of the president and his political supporters to denigrate the investigation of Mueller and, by extension, the judgment and character of Rosenstein, who, since the recusal of Attorney General Jeff Sessions from the Russian investigation, has been giving Mueller his marching orders. Indeed, several conservative members of the House of Representatives are mulling the impeachment of Rosenstein, claiming he is refusing to cooperate with Congress by denying them access to documents related to the investigation that certain members of Congress, at least, deem relevant to their constitutionally mandated oversight function.

While the impeachment of Rosenstein is highly unlikely and the likelihood of the FBI being found guilty of its investigations being corrupted by individual bias is equally slim, in the world of politics, perception creates its own reality and the Mueller investigation had been taking a public beating for some time. By releasing an indictment predicated upon the operating assertion that 12 named Russian military intelligence officers orchestrated a series of cyberattacks that resulted in information being stolen from computer servers belonging to the Democratic Party, and then facilitated the release of this information in a manner designed to do damage to the candidacy of Clinton, Rosenstein sought to silence once and for all the voices that have attacked him, along with the Department of Justice, the FBI and the Mueller investigation, as a participant in a partisan plot against the president.

There is one major problem with the indictment, however: It doesn’t prove that which it asserts. True, it provides a compelling narrative that reads like a spy novel, and there is no doubt in my mind that many of the technical details related to the timing and functioning of the malware described within are accurate. But the leap of logic that takes the reader from the inner workings of the servers of the Democratic Party to the offices of Russian intelligence officers in Moscow is not backed up by anything that demonstrates how these connections were made.

That’s the point of an indictment, however—it doesn’t exist to provide evidence beyond a reasonable doubt, but rather to provide only enough information to demonstrate probable cause. No one would, or could, be convicted at trial from the information contained in the indictment alone. For that to happen, the government would have to produce the specific evidence linking the hacks to the named Russians, and provide details on how this evidence was collected, and by whom. In short, the government would have to be willing to reveal some of the most sensitive sources and methods of intelligence collection by the U.S. intelligence community and expose, and therefore ruin, the careers of those who collected this information. This is something the government has never been willing to do, and there is much doubt that if, for some odd reason, the Russians agreed to send one or more of these named intelligence officers to the United States to answer the indictment, this indictment would ever go to trial. It simply couldn’t survive the discovery to which any competent defense would subject the government’s assertions.

Robert Mueller knew this when he drafted the indictment, and Rob Rosenstein knew this when he presented it to the public. The assertions set forth in the indictment, while cloaked in the trappings of American justice, have nothing to do with actual justice or the rule of law; they cannot, and will never, be proved in a court of law. However, by releasing them in a manner that suggests that the government is willing to proceed to trial, a perception is created that implies that they can withstand the scrutiny necessary to prevail at trial.

And as we know, perception is its own reality.

Despite Rosenstein’s assertions to the contrary, the decision to release the indictment of the 12 named Russian military intelligence officers was an act of partisan warfare designed to tip the scale of public opinion against the supporters of President Trump, and in favor of those who oppose him politically, Democrat and Republican alike. Based upon the media coverage since Rosenstein’s press conference, it appears that in this he has been wildly successful.

But is the indictment factually correct? The biggest clue that Mueller and Rosenstein have crafted a criminal espionage narrative from whole cloth comes from none other than the very intelligence agency whose work would preclude Rosenstein’s indictment from ever going to trial: the National Security Agency. In June 2017 the online investigative journal The Intercept referenced a highly classified document from the NSA titled “Spear-Phishing Campaign TTPs Used Against U.S. And Foreign Government Political Entities.” It’s a highly technical document, derived from collection sources and methods the NSA has classified at the Top Secret/SI (i.e., Special Intelligence) level. This document was meant for internal consumption, not public release. As such, the drafters could be honest about what they knew and what they didn’t know—unlike those in the Mueller investigation who drafted the aforementioned indictment.

A cursory comparison of the leaked NSA document and the indictment presented by Rosenstein suggests that the events described in Count 11 of the indictment pertaining to an effort to penetrate state and county election offices responsible for administering the 2016 U.S. presidential election are precisely the events captured in the NSA document. While the indictment links the identity of a named Russian intelligence officer, Anatoliy Sergeyevich Kovalev, to specific actions detailed therein, the NSA document is much more circumspect. In a diagram supporting the text report, the NSA document specifically states that the organizational ties between the unnamed operators involved in the actions described and an organizational entity, Unit 74455, affiliated with Russian military intelligence is a product of the judgment of an analyst and not fact.

If we take this piece of information to its logical conclusion, then the Mueller indictment has taken detailed data related to hacking operations directed against various American political entities and shoehorned it into what amounts to little more than the organizational chart of a military intelligence unit assessed—but not known—to have overseen the operations described. This is a far cry from the kind of incontrovertible proof that Mueller’s team suggests exists to support its indictment of the 12 named Russian intelligence officers.

If this is indeed the case, then the indictment, as presented, is a politically motivated fraud. Mueller doesn’t know the identities of those involved in the hacking operations he describes—because the intelligence analysts who put the case together don’t know those names. If this case were to go to trial, the indictment would be dismissed in the preliminary hearing phase for insufficient evidence, even if the government were willing to lay out the totality of its case—which, because of classification reasons, it would never do.

But the purpose of the indictment wasn’t to bring to justice the perpetrators of a crime against the American people; it was to manipulate public opinion.

And therein lies the rub.

The timing of the release of the Mueller indictment unleashed a storm of political backlash directed at President Trump, and specifically at his scheduled July 16 summit with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Helsinki. This summit was never popular with the president’s political opponents, given the current state of affairs between Russia and the U.S., dominated as they are by events in Syria and Ukraine, perceived Russian threats against the northern flank of NATO, allegations of election meddling in the U.S. and Europe, and Russia’s nuclear arsenal. On that last point, critics claim Russia’s arsenal is irresponsibly expanding, operated in violation of existing arms control agreements, and is being used to underpin foreign policy objectives through the use of nuclear blackmail.

President Trump has publicly stated that it is his fervent desire that relations with Russia can be improved and that he views the Helsinki summit as an appropriate venue for initiating a process that could facilitate such an outcome. It is the president’s sole prerogative to formulate and implement foreign and national security policy on behalf of the American people. While his political critics are free to criticize this policy, they cannot undermine it without running afoul of sedition laws.

Rosenstein, by the timing and content of the indictment he publicly released Friday, committed an act that undermined the president of the United States’ ability to conduct critical affairs of state—in this case, a summit with a foreign leader the outcome of which could impact global nuclear nonproliferation policy. The hue and cry among the president’s political foes for him to cancel the summit with Putin—or, failing that, to use the summit to confront the Russian leader with the indictment—is a direct result of Rosenstein’s decision to release the Mueller indictment when he did and how he did. Through its content, the indictment was designed to shape public opinion against Russia.

This indictment, by any other name, is a political act, and should be treated as such by the American people and the media.

(Photo credit Internet Education Foundation / CC BY 2.0)

July 18, 2018 Posted by | Deception, Fake News, Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Russophobia | , , , | 5 Comments

Conspiracy Humor and Irony in the Trump-Russia Brouhaha

By Jacob G. Hornberger | FFF | July 18, 2018

New York Times : Mr. Trump raised a series of largely irrelevant conspiracy theories — none of which were directly related to the evidence of Russian hacking activity.

Washington Post : And with that, yet another President Trump conspiracy theory is thoroughly repudiated by the Russia investigation.

Chicago Tribune : On Monday, Trump also resurrected several debunked conspiracy theories about his opponent Hillary Clinton and the Democratic Party.

Time: President Donald Trump gave a not-so subtle nod to an online conspiracy theory about the 2016 hacking of the Democratic National Committee.

NBC: President Donald Trump on Monday promoted two conspiracy theories and raised questions about his former Democratic rival Hillary Clinton’s email server.

CNN: Trump has made a lot of the conservative conspiracy theory that there’s an entrenched “deep state” out to get him even though he leads the government.

*****

Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s Indictment Against 12 Russians (which many in the mainstream media have accepted as gospel)

COUNT ONE: Conspiracy to Commit an Offense Against the United States).

COUNT TEN: Conspiracy to Launder Money.

COUNT ELEVEN: Conspiracy to Commit an Offense Against the United States).

July 18, 2018 Posted by | Fake News, Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Russophobia | , | 4 Comments

Horror in Helsinki: Trumputin Strikes Again

By Michael Howard | American Herald Tribune | July 18, 2018

Something very extraordinary has just taken place—something unprecedented in American history. A sitting president, one Donald J. Trump, has committed treason against the United States. Don’t take my word for it. This is being documented by our nation’s most important political thinkers. New York Times headline from regular columnist Charles Blow: “Trump, Treasonous Traitor.” Quote from a column by regular New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman: “There is overwhelming evidence that our president … is deliberately or through gross negligence or because of his own twisted personality engaged in treasonous behavior.” Tweet from former CIA Director John Brennan: “[Trump’s meeting with Putin] was nothing short of treasonous.”

And for those whose tastes are a bit more lowbrow (not that the brows of the NYT and the CIA are especially high), here’s a front page headline from the venerable New York Daily News : “Open Treason: Trump Backs Enemy Putin Over U.S. Intel.” Not only treason, then, but open treason. The worst kind.

I know it’s trendy nowadays to play fast and loose with the Constitution, but—call me pedantic—it might be instructive to consult the much-cited document on this particular subject. Article III Section 3 states the following: “Treason against the United States, shall consist only in levying War against them, or in adhering to their Enemies, giving them Aid and Comfort.” Note the use of the word “only”—the Founders had very specific ideas in mind about what constituted treason, namely waging war against the U.S. and/or aiding and abetting its enemies. “Enemy” meaning a state with which we are at war, and the U.S. is, despite routinely bombing seven countries (probably the number is higher now; it’s hard to keep track), not officially at war with anyone, least of all Russia. Therefore, charges of treason in the context of Trump’s Helsinki gambit are rather untenable, and more than a little hysterical. But don’t tell that to Charles Blow’s Twitter followers.

There’s no point singling out one of the hundred manic articles about the Trump-Putin summit to pick apart: they’re all exactly the same. In a nutshell: Trump refuses to acknowledge the U.S. intelligence community’s conclusion that Russia “attacked” our country by hacking into the DNC’s emails; Trump refuses to say anything negative about Vladimir Putin; Trump is helping Moscow to splinter NATO; Trump refuses to condemn Russian aggression; Trump is a Kremlin puppet doing Moscow’s bidding; and so on and so forth.

Needless to say these are all specious arguments. Asked recently about America’s collective panic over Russia’s alleged interference in our presidential election, Noam Chomsky responded: “That has most of the world cracking up in laughter.” It doesn’t take a scholar to understand why. The United States is the world champion when it comes to meddling in the domestic affairs of foreign countries. But we don’t just meddle: we engineer military coups and install mass-murdering dictators or, when that’s not feasible, simply overthrow undesirable governments using unilateral military force. Examples abound. In 1953 the CIA, in tandem with MI6, orchestrated a coup against Iran’s first democratically elected Prime Minister, Mohammad Mossadegh, who had intolerable plans to nationalize his country’s oil industry. The coup was a success, restoring the despotic shah to his erstwhile throne where he remained until 1979, when he was chased into exile by the Islamic Revolution. The following year, Guatemala’s leftist president Jacobo Arbenz was deposed by another CIA-authored coup, Operation PBSUCCESS, paving the way for a series of ultraviolent dictatorships.

A mere three months into his presidency, and acting in accordance with the imperialist Monroe Doctrine, Jack Kennedy went after Fidel Castro’s revolutionary government in Cuba using CIA-sponsored militants. The Bay of Pigs failed miserably, but Uncle Sam was not to be deterred: “Operation Mongoose” was soon set in motion, and countless attempts on Castro’s life were made, all unsuccessful.

Sensing that CIA black ops might not be sufficient to neuter the movement for independence in Vietnam—and, more importantly, to discourage other countries in the region from adopting similar dangerous ideas—the U.S. government opted for full-scale military invasion, killing over three million people and decimating most of the country.

Skipping ahead a couple decades, the CIA armed, trained and financed the Contras, a terrorist gang in Nicaragua whose duty it was to take down the leftist Sandinista government. This particular affair is notable for the fact that, in 1986, the U.S. government was found by the International Court of Justice to be, inter alia, “in breach of its obligation under customary international law not to intervene in the affairs of another State” and “in breach of its obligation under customary international law not to use force against another State.” It was thus ordered by the court to pay an “interim award” of $370.2 million to the Republic of Nicaragua, with the total sum of reparations to be determined at a later date. The U.S. simply ignored the court’s ruling and continued supporting the terrorists.

Nicaragua to this day isn’t free from U.S. harassment. The country’s current political crisis, characterized by violent neoliberal opposition to President Daniel Ortega’s popular leftist government (Ortega won the 2016 election with over seventy-two percent of the vote), is supported by U.S. policy, with the National Endowment for Democracy—funded by the U.S. Congress—channeling millions of dollars to Ortega’s political opposition over the last five years. The reason for this is simple. As Kevin Zeese and Nils McCune wrote in Counterpunch:

Nicaragua has set [an example] for a successful social and economic model outside the US sphere of domination. Generating over 75% of its energy from renewable sources, Nicaragua was the only country with the moral authority to oppose the Paris Climate Agreement as being too weak…. The FMLN government of El Salvador, while less politically dominant than the Sandinista Front, has taken the example of good governance from Nicaragua, recently prohibiting mining and the privatization of water.

If the oligarchs in Nicaragua manage to pull off a coup, you can bet your bottom dollar Trump and co. will offer their full-throated support, as Obama and co. did following the 2009 military coup in Honduras, now one of the most dangerous and repressive countries in the world, and a leading source of those pesky migrants flooding the southern U.S. border.

Simply put, Washington is incapable of minding its own business. Cambodia, Laos, El Salvador, the Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Chile, Bolivia, Venezuela, Indonesia, Libya, Iraq, Afghanistan, Syria, Iran … they all know it all too well. If you step out of line, you get whacked. Iraq, Libya and Syria have been taught the ultimate lesson—they’ve all been pulverized. Iran may yet receive the sledgehammer treatment as well, given that various non-military means of destabilization and subversion have failed to bear fruit, and especially given that the hawkish theocrats governing Israel, along with their mouthpieces in Washington, would like nothing more than to see the mullahs blown to bits.

So yes, it’s easy to see why, in Chomsky’s words, “Russia-gate”—even if we grant that its core allegations are factual—“has most of the world cracking up in laughter.”

Nearly as laughable is the claim, made over and over again, that Trump is a “Russian asset.” Anyone leveling this charge is either a fool or a demagogue. Those amenable to it should put on their thinking caps for a moment. Would a Russian asset impose a series of damaging sanctions on Russian companies and individuals, including those accused of human rights abuses, as Trump has done? Would a Russian asset expel dozens of Russian diplomats from the U.S. in retaliation for a nerve agent attack on a former double agent in Britain that may or may not have been ordered by Moscow, as Trump did? Would a Russian asset twice order the (illegal) use of military force against the Syrian government, Russia’s ally, risking direct military confrontation with Russia, in retaliation for dubious chemical weapons attacks, as Trump did? Would a Russian asset void the Iranian nuclear accord of which Russia is strongly in favor, as Trump did? Would a Russian asset approve the sale of missiles to Ukraine’s stridently anti-Russian government, knowing those weapons will likely be used against pro-Russian counterrevolutionary fighters in the east, as Trump did? Would a Russian asset demand that NATO member states, most if not all of them adversarial toward Russia, increase their defense spending, as Trump did?

Ah, yes, but Trump has never said anything mean about Putin! True enough, but then has he ever criticized el-Sisi, whose security forces massacred over eight-hundred political protestors in the streets of Cairo in 2013? How about Mohammed bin Salman, whose air force daily bombs hospitals, weddings, funerals, mosques and schools in Yemen? Rodrigo Duterte, whose drug war includes widespread summary executions? George W. Bush, Dick Cheney, et al, who invaded two countries and instituted torture centers around the world? Trump has never had an unkind word for any of the forgoing thugs. Most strikingly, he’s offered only fulsome praise for “Bibi” Netanyahu, whose crimes are too numerous to record here. If Trump’s an “asset,” he’s plainly Israel’s.

All in all, the media delirium over Trump’s humdrum meeting with Putin pushes us ever further into the political Twilight Zone. Soon a fanatical opposition to all things Russian will serve as a litmus test for Democratic presidential candidates. Just as the GOP uses gays and guns to energize an otherwise disaffected base, so the Democrats will use this new and more dangerous form of McCarthyism. All this is by design: they understand they can’t rely on their actual policies, created for and by our corporate masters, to secure votes. Hence the diversionary tactics, all of which are beginning to merge into a rabid Russophobia—one that, if allowed to inform policy-making at the highest levels of government, may well get us all vaporized. In the words of Allen Ginsberg: America this is quite serious.

July 18, 2018 Posted by | Fake News, Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Militarism, Russophobia, Wars for Israel | , , , | 1 Comment

What did Trump promise Putin? Bring his interpreter to Congress & find out, Democrats insist

RT | July 18, 2018

Did Donald Trump secretly surrender America to Vladimir Putin in Helsinki? Suspicious Democrats want to know the truth by bringing the State Department interpreter to testify before Congress.

The first direct Trump-Putin talks on Monday were savaged by the critics. The US president was branded a “traitor” and “Putin’s poodle,” with political opponents and some members of his own party accusing him of “siding with the enemy.”

Trump predictably took a lot of flak for the statements he made during the press conference after the talks ended. But what did he and Putin actually discuss at their two-hour meeting? Some Democrats are keen to find out, and suggest his interpreter should clear things up.

The idea was initially voiced by Congressman Joe Kennedy III. “Trump’s translator should come before Congress and testify as to what was said privately immediately,” he tweeted shortly after the president parted ways with Putin in Helsinki.

The call to subpoena the interpreter was picked up by Senator Jeanne Shaheen, who said the State Department official will “uncover” what Putin and Trump discussed privately and help determine what the US president “shared with or promised Putin on our behalf.”

Congressman Bill Pascrell penned a letter to the leadership of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, urging it to hold a public hearing with the US interpreter present at the Helsinki talks. This will reveal what was agreed “behind closed doors,” he wrote.

The State Department interpreter in question is Marina Gross who has been accompanying US delegations overseas since the days of the George W. Bush administration. If subpoenaed to appear before Congress, she would be required to testify under oath. It means Gross can be tried for perjury if she lies or otherwise willingly misleads the public.

The disclosure of private conversations by interpreters usually goes against codes of conduct adopted by professional organizations.

“In general, any information that’s confidential has to remain confidential even if you’re an interpreter. For example, attorney-client confidentiality extends to the interpreter,” American Translators Association spokeswoman Judy Jenner told The Hill. “But as a diplomatic interpreter, you are probably aware of how precarious things could possibly be.”

The notion that Trump might be having shady talks with Putin behind everybody’s back was floated by several prominent Democrats, such as House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi and the head of the CIA under Barack Obama, John Brennan. “Why did Trump meet 1 on 1 with Putin? What might he be hiding from Bolton, Pompeo, Kelly, & the American public?” Brennan tweeted as the Helsinki talks were commencing.

READ MORE:

Lost in translation: CNN claims Putin admitted to election-meddling. He did not.

July 18, 2018 Posted by | Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Progressive Hypocrite, Russophobia | | Leave a comment

Nicaragua Defeats The Not-So-Soft Coup

teleSUR | July 17, 2018

On July 19, hundreds of thousands of people from across Nicaragua will converge on the capital Managua to celebrate the 39th anniversary of their historic 1979 defeat of the Somoza dictatorship. The event takes place as the authorities continue to liberate communities blockaded by roadblocks operated by armed opposition activists whose not-so-soft coup attempt against the Sandinista government, begun on April 18, has failed. Ever since April 21, when President Daniel Ortega called for a process of National Dialogue to peacefully resolve opposition demands, Nicaragua’s political opposition and their allies have worked to sabotage talks for a negotiated solution. They have regularly staged extremely violent provocations falsely seeking to portray the government as being wholly responsible for the crisis and demanding President Ortega’s resignation.

Early in July, the opposition reneged on an agreement to dismantle the roadblocks their armed supporters have used since late April to try to destroy the country’s economy and intimidate the general population. On July 9, the government declared it would no longer permit the opposition to abuse the population’s basic rights to peace and security, stating: “Faced with the daily suffering imposed on Nicaragua’s families, who since April 18 have suffered violence from terrorists who have murdered, tortured and kidnapped hundreds of citizens, the same terrorists that have burned and destroyed hundreds of families’ homes, public buildings, small- and medium-sized businesses, such that the state is bound to act in accordance with the law to guarantee the right of its citizens to live in peace, with security and respect for the human rights enshrined in our political constitution, in the charters of international organizations and in human rights conventions.”

Opposition Violence

Subsequently, Nicaragua’s national police have worked with local communities around the country to clear the opposition roadblocks. In Jinotepe, they set free hundreds of trucks and their drivers held hostage by opposition gangs for over a month. In many places, it has been possible to negotiate agreements to remove the roadblocks peacefully. Elsewhere, the process has involved violence and casualties provoked by very well-armed activists and associated paid criminals resisting the authorities’ efforts to restore freedom of movement. On July 13 in Managua, two opposition activists were killed during the clearance of blockades in and around the National Autonomous University.

Elsewhere, on July 12, opposition activists from roadblocks operated by Francisca Ramirez and Medardo Mairena’s anti-Canal movement infiltrated an opposition peace march in the town of Morrito, on the eastern shore of Lake Nicaragua, on the highway to the Rio San Juan. They attacked a police post and the local municipal office, murdering four police officers and a primary school teacher, wounding four municipal workers and kidnapping nine police officers. Subsequently, that evening the police officers were set free, six of them with injuries.

Tortured & Murdered

In Masaya, opposition activists tortured, murdered and burned police officer Gabriel Vado Ruiz and would have done the same to another police officer, Rodrigo Barrios Flores, had he not escaped from his captors after enduring two days of torture and abuse. Although the extreme violence of the armed opposition activists has been responsible directly and indirectly for almost all the loss of life and injuries during the crisis, international news media and human rights organizations continue to falsely blame the government for virtually all the deaths and people injured. Amnesty International and fellow coup apologists such as Bianca Jagger and SOS Nicaragua, along with their allies in corporate media such as the Guardian, Telegraph, Washington Post, New York Times, Al Jazeera, CNN,  BBC, all cover up very serious human rights violations by the opposition activists during the failed attempted coup against Nicaragua’s legitimate government.

However, abundant audiovisual and photographic material exists providing irrefutable evidence of systematic human rights violations practiced by Nicaragua’s political opposition. From the the start, on April 18, the armed opposition offensive has manipulated legitimate peaceful protest so as to give cover to a very deliberate campaign of violence and deceit, promoting a climate of fear and casting blame on the government so as to create a psychosis of hatred, polarizing Nicaraguan society. The campaign’s objective is to make impossible a negotiated solution to the crisis provoked by the political opposition. Over the weekend of July 13-15, events in Nicaragua showed how refined the techniques of psychological warfare have become.

Misrepresenting & Exaggerating

The political opposition have used social media to misrepresent and exaggerate events, create incidents that never happened and obliterate their own criminal terrorist attacks. For example, the crisis in Nicaragua began with a fake ‘student massacre’ that never took place. Now Nicaragua’s opposition have faked attacks on a church in Managua, exaggerated casualties during the clearance of opposition thugs from the national university and covered up their own deliberate murders of police in Morrito and Masaya, as well as their gratuitous attacks on peaceful Sandinista demonstrators. In the national university, the opposition gangs also set fire to a classroom module and destroyed a preschool facility on the university campus.

Right from the start of the crisis, the opposition have expertly staged phony scenes of students taking cover from gunfire and used those images to justify their own savage attacks, like those in which they burned down pro-government Nuevo Radio Ya and CARUNA, the rural cooperatives’ savings and loan institution. Photographs show opposition journalists and photographers filming opposition activists pretending to be attacked, but despite the obvious fakery, those false stories get published uncritically in international corporate and alternative media. Nicaragua provides a textbook case study bearing out the work of analysts such as Cuba’s Randy Falcon, who has emphasized how new technologies exponentially multiply the digital reproduction of longstanding conventional propaganda motifs.

Propaganda Ploys

In Nicaragua, the government has in several cases negotiated agreements to clear armed opposition roadblocks, only to find that the opposition refuse to honor the agreements. The extremist political opposition are desperate to keep up their violence so as to sabotage efforts at National Dialogue and project the false image of a repressive government without popular support. Large demonstrations across the country supporting the government’s efforts for peace show exactly the reverse is true. Majority national opinion in Nicaragua is well aware of the opposition’s propaganda ploys and false claims.

Within Nicaragua, the opposition hardly bother to conceal their invention and artifice because their false political theater is staged almost entirely to impress overseas opinion. Their sinister cynical theater aims to set the scene for the Organization of American States to change its previously moderate position on Nicaragua and give the U.S. government an institutional pretext on which to intensify sanctions against Nicaragua’s government and its people. Even so, despite probable opposition attempts to sabotage it, July 19 will be a massive celebration of the coup’s defeat and a categorical vindication of President Daniel Ortega’s Sandinista government’s efforts for peace in Nicaragua.

July 18, 2018 Posted by | Deception, Fake News, Mainstream Media, Warmongering | , | Leave a comment

Psychoanalysing NATO: Gaslighting

By Patrick ARMSTRONG | Strategic Culture Foundation | 17.07.2018

NOTE: Because “NATO” these days is little more than a box of spare parts out of which Washington assembles “coalitions of the willing”, it’s easier for me to write “NATO” than “Washington plus/minus these or those minions”.

Home Secretary Sajid Javid has called on Russia to explain “exactly what has gone on” after two people were exposed to the Novichok nerve agent in Wiltshire. (BBC)

The Russian state could put this wrong right. They could tell us what happened. What they did. And fill in some of the significant gaps that we are trying to pursue. We have said they can come and tell us what happened. I’m waiting for the phone call from the Russian state. The offer is there. They are the ones who could fill in all the clues to keep people safe. (UK security minister Ben Wallace)

Leaving aside their egregious flouting of the elemental principle of English justice, note that they’re uttering this logical idiocy: Russia must have done it because it hasn’t proved it didn’t. Note also, in Javid’s speech, the amusing suggestion that Russia keeps changing its story; but to fit into the official British story “novichok” must be an instantly lethal slow acting poison which dissipates quickly but lasts for months.

This is an attempt to manipulate our perception of reality. In a previous essay I discussed NATO’s projection of its own actions onto Russia. In this piece I want to discuss another psychological manipulation – gaslighting.

The expression comes from the movie Gaslight in which the villain manipulates her reality to convince his wife that she is insane. Doubt the official Skripal story and it is you – you “Russian troll” – who is imagining things. Only Russian trolls would question Litvinenko’s deathbed accusation written in perfect English handed to us by a Berezovskiy flunky; or the shootdown of MH17; or the invasion of Ukraine; or the cyber attack on Estonia. Only a Russian troll would observe that the fabulously expensive NATO intelligence agencies apparently get their information from Bellingcat. Argumentum ad trollem is everywhere: count the troll accusations here or admire the clever anticipatory use of the technique there.

This is classic gaslighting – I’m telling the truth, you’re the crazy one.

We may illustrate the eleven signs of “gaslighting” given in Psychiatry Today by Stephanie A. Sarkis with recent events.

They tell blatant lies.

The Skripals were poisoned by an incredibly deadly nerve agent that left them with no visible symptoms for hours but not so deadly that it killed them; at least not at Easter; nor the policeman; a nerve agent that could only have been made in Russia although its recipe was published in the open media; that poison having been administered on a doorknob that each had to have touched at the exact same minute that no one else touched; a nerve agent so deadly that they only bothered to clean up the sites 51 days later. And so on: a different story every day. But your mind must be controlled by Putin if you smell a falsehood at any point. And, now we have it all over again: apparently the fiendishly clever Russian assassins smeared the doorknob and then, rather than getting out of town ASAP, sauntered over into a park to toss the container. (Remember the fiendishly clever Russian assassins who spread polonium everywhere?)

And, speaking of proven, long term, repeating liars: remember when accusing the British government of complicity in torture renditions was a conspiracy theory? Well, it turns out the conspiracy was by the other side. “Conspiracy Theorist” is the perfect gaslighting accusation, by the way: you’re the crazy one.

They deny they ever said something, even though you have proof.

The Skripal case gives a perfect illustration: here’s the UK Foreign Secretary saying Porton Down told him it was Russian (“absolutely categorical”) And here’s the UK Foreign Office disappearing the statement: We never said Porton Down confirmed the origin. It’s rare to get such a quick exposure of a lie, so it’s useful to have this example. Here is an obvious fake from BellingcatAlready the Douma story is being re-polished now that the OPCW has said no organophosphates.

Most of the time it takes years to reveal the lie: gaslighters know the details will be forgotten while the impression remains. 64 years later we learn the “conspiracy theorists” were right about the CIA/UK involvement in the Iran coup. It’s rather amazing how many people still believe the proven liars this time around.

They use what is near and dear to you as ammunition.

Russians cheat at the sports you follow, scatter nerve agents and radioactive material in places you could be in, sneak into the voting booth with you, blow up airplanes you might be on and tear up the “very fabric of our democracy.” Your favourite actor tells you “we are at war with Russia“.

And the children! The boy on the beachThe boy in the ambulanceBana from AleppoMiraculous recoveries.  Dramatic rescues with camera! Dead children speaking. And finally, the little girl, Trump and the Time cover.

If it’s a child, they’re gaslighting you.

They wear you down over time.

Skripal story fading? How about a CW attack in Syria? No? Back to MH17: same story with one new obviously suspicious detail. Pussy Riot is forgotten and Pavlenskiy an embarrassment, but “Russian bear in Moscow World Cup parade video sparks PETA outrage“! This is what is known as a Gish Gallop: the gaslighter makes 47 assertions, while you’re thinking about the first, he makes 20 more: in former times it was recognised by the the folk saying that “a fool can ask more questions than ten wise men can answer”. But the fools quickly come up with more: dead dogs in Russia: without tuk-tukswith tuk-tuks; your choice.

You are worn down by ten new fake outrages every month: all expressed in simplistic terms. How much context is stuffed into this imbecilic headline? The Plot Against Europe: Putin, Hungary and Russia’s New Iron Curtain. How many thousand words, how many hours to discuss it intelligently? Too late! Time for “Trump and Putin’s Too-Friendly Summit” (NYT 28 June). Forget that! “Sexism at Russia World Cup the worst in history as female fans and broadcasters are harassed“. (Telegraph 30 June). Gone! “We already gave Syria to Putin, so what’s left for Trump to say?” (WaPo 5 July) Stop wondering! “Amesbury poisoning: Here’s what we know about the novichok victims” (Sky News 6 July). No! Trumputin again! “Will Trump Be Meeting With His Counterpart — Or His Handler?” (NY Mag 8 July). Gish Gallop. The sheer volume of easily-made accusations forces two conclusions: they’re right and you’re wrong (smoke: fire) or, more simply, eventually you – you crazy one! – give up.

Their actions do not match their words.

They bomb hospitals on purposewe bomb them by accident. Discussed further here but the essence of the point is that

it would be physically impossible for Russia to be more destructive than NATO is.

If you want a single word to summarize American war-making in this last decade and a half, I would suggest rubble.

They throw in positive reinforcement to confuse you.

There are direct rewards of course: cue Udo Ulfkotte; many benefits to swimming with the stream; swimming the other way, not so many. It’s only after they retire that British generals question the story, the cynic observes. German generals too. Maybe even US generals.

But for the rest of us, NATO bathes us in gush: “NATO’s Enduring Mission – Defending Values, Together“. Together, our values: we – you and I – have the good values. NATO loves to praise itself “the Alliance also contributes to peace and stability through crisis management operations and partnerships.” Remember Libya? “A model intervention” said the NATO GenSek of the time. Here is the view on the ground. Most of the “migrants” tearing Europe apart are fleeing the destruction of NATO’s wars. NATO backs (plus/minus minions) the intervention in Mali, a country destabilised by its destruction of Libya. Cue the positive reinforcement: “Projecting Stability: an agenda for action“. In NATOland the gaslight burns bright: “Nato chief: Vladimir Putin ‘weaponising’ refugee crisis to ‘break’ Europe“. NATO keeps pouring butterscotch sauce on the rubble: “NATO is based on some core values – democracy, the rule of law, individual liberty” (25 June).

All I can say, over and over again, is Libya. NATO destroyed Libya, weird as it was, killed Qaddafi, weird as he was, and smugly congratulated itself: “NATO’s Victory in Libya: The Right Way to Run an Intervention“. Ubi solitudinum faciunt pacem appelant. But should that thought occur to you, you’re part of “Russia’s secret plan to destroy EU and NATO“.

They know confusion weakens people.

Remember PropOrNot? Sites that do not agree with the Establishment are Russian bots! Authenticated experts! 100% reliable! The WaPo published the list; when under attack even from proponents of the Putindunnit hysteria, it feebly backtracked: it “does not itself vouch for the validity”. Vermont power grid hack? WaPo fell for that one too. Confusion from the endless Gish Gallop about Putin: in December 2015 I compiled a number: Aspergers, pychopath, slouching and on and on and on.

You may be confused but the gaslighter isn’t: Russia’s to blame for whatever-it-was!

They project.

NATO projects all the time and this headline from the NYT is classic: “Russia’s Military Drills Near NATO Border Raise Fears of Aggression“. I discuss NATO’s projection here.

They try to align people against you.

NATO exerts a continual pressure for unanimity. Again, the Skripal story is a good example: London accused Russia and, “in solidarity“, Russian diplomats were expelled all over the world. Allies took its word for it. Now the doubts: in Germany especially. Sanctions must be imposed on Russia because we must be in solidarity with Kiev. “Solidarity” on migrants. “Solidarity” is perhaps the greatest virtue in NATOland. We will hear more pleas for solidarity as NATO dies: when mere “solidarity” is the only reason left; there’s no reason left.

They tell you or others that you are crazy.

It also must be said that when elected officials — including members of Congress — and media platforms amplify propaganda disseminated by Russian trolls, they are aiding the Russians in their efforts.

The goal is to undermine democracy. So you want America to look unstable and Americans not to trust each other.

How Russian Trolls Won American Hearts andMinds

An “existential threat posed by digitally accelerated disinformation“. So no forgiveness to you, crazy Putin trolls. And don’t dare doubt that American democracy is so feeble that it can be directed by a few Facebook ads. Never forget that NATO’s opponents are crazy: Putin is a “madman“; Qaddafi was “crazy“; Saddam Hussein “insane“; Milosevic “rabid“. Only crazy people would defend crazy people.

They tell you everyone else is a liar.

Honest people don’t have to tell you they’re trustworthy, and neither, once upon a time, did the BBC. The Atlantic Council smoothly moves from “Why Is the Kremlin So Fixated on Phantom Fascists?” in May 2017 to “Ukraine’s Got a Real Problem with Far-Right Violence (And No, RT Didn’t Write This Headline)” in June 2018. But it still calls Russia the liar: “Why the Kremlin’s Lies Stick” (May 2018). The Atlantic Council hopes you’re dumb enough not to notice that Russia hasn’t changed its line but the gaslighters have. (Remember O’Brien and two plus two?)

Russian Federation is not the USSR.

I said it the last time: the USSR did lots of things in its time – influencing, fiddling elections, fake news, gaslighting and so on. But, in those days the Communist Party was the “leading and guiding force” but today it’s the opposition. Things have changed in Moscow, but NATO rolls on.

Some hope, though.

While many people are still taken in by the gaslighters, there are hopeful signs. Once upon a time Internet versions of the mass media allowed comments. Gradually, one by one, they shut down their comments sections because of “trolls”, “fake news” and offended “standards” but really because of disagreement. Perhaps the most famous case is that of the Guardianan entire website, has been created by people whose comments were rejected because they violated “community standards”. I always read the comments in the Daily Mail, especially the best rated, and on the Skripal stories, the comments are very sceptical indeed of the official story. For example.

This is rather encouraging: for gaslighting really to work, the gaslighter either has to be in such a position of power that he can completely control the victim’s surroundings or in such a position of authority that the victim cannot imagine doubting what he says. Those days are gone.

July 17, 2018 Posted by | Deception, Fake News, Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Timeless or most popular | , , | Leave a comment

Detente Bad, Cold War Good

By Craig Murray | July 17, 2018

The entire “liberal” media and political establishment of the Western world reveals its militarist, authoritarian soul today with the screaming and hysterical attacks on the very prospect of detente with Russia. Peace apparently is a terrible thing; a renewed arms race, with quite literally trillions of dollars pumped into the military industrial complex and hundreds of thousands dying in proxy wars, is apparently the “liberal” stance.

Political memories are short, but just 15 years after Iraq was destroyed and the chain reaction sent most of the Arab world back to the dark ages, it is now “treason” to question the word of the Western intelligence agencies, which deliberately and knowingly produced a fabric of lies on Iraqi WMD to justify that destruction.

It would be more rational for it to be treason for leaders to blindly accept the word of the intelligence services.

This is especially true on “Russia hacking the election” when, after three years of crazed accusations and millions of man hours by lawyers and CIA and FBI investigators, they are yet to produce any substantive evidence of accusations which are plainly nuts in the first place. This ridiculous circus has found a few facebook ads and indicted one Russian for every 100,000 man hours worked, for unspecified or minor actions which had no possible bearing on the election result.

There are in fact genuine acts of election rigging to investigate. In particular, the multiple actions of the DNC and Democratic Party establishment to rig the Primary against Bernie Sanders do have some very real documentary evidence to substantiate them, and that evidence is even public. Yet those real acts of election rigging are ignored and instead the huge investigation is focused on catching those who revealed Hillary’s election rigging. This gets even more absurd – the investigation then quite deliberately does not focus on catching whoever leaked Hillary’s election rigging, but instead seeks to prove that the Russians hacked Hillary’s election-rigging, which I can assure you they did not. Meanwhile, those of us who might help them with the truth if they were actually interested, are not questioned at all.

The Russophobic witch hunt has its first real life victim in 29 year old Maria Butina, whose life is to be destroyed for chatting up members of the NRA in order to increase Russian influence. With over 20 years of diplomatic experience, I can tell you that every country, including the UK and US, has bit part players of its own nationals who self-start in a country to make their way, and if they gain any traction are tapped by their national security service as potential “agents of influence”. I could name quite literally scores of such people, but have no desire to get anyone in trouble. The elevation of Butina into a huge threat and part of a gigantic plot, is to ignore the way the United States and the United Kingdom and indeed all major governments’ Embassies behave around the globe.

The war-hawks who were devastated by the loss of champion killer Hillary now see the prospect of their very worst fear coming true. Their very worst fear is the outbreak of peace and international treaties of arms control. Hence the media and political establishment today has reached peaks of hysteria never before seen. Pursuing peace is “treason” and the faux left now stand starkly exposed.

July 17, 2018 Posted by | Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Russophobia | , , , | Leave a comment

US Media is Losing Its Mind Over Trump-Putin Press Conference

By Joe Lauria | Consortium News | July 16, 2018

The reaction of the U.S. establishment media and several political leaders to President Donald Trump’s press conference after his summit meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin on Monday has been stunning.

Writing in The Atlantic, James Fallows said:

“There are exactly two possible explanations for the shameful performance the world witnessed on Monday, from a serving American president.

Either Donald Trump is flat-out an agent of Russian interests—maybe witting, maybe unwitting, from fear of blackmail, in hope of future deals, out of manly respect for Vladimir Putin, out of gratitude for Russia’s help during the election, out of pathetic inability to see beyond his 306 electoral votes. Whatever the exact mixture of motives might be, it doesn’t really matter.

Or he is so profoundly ignorant, insecure, and narcissistic that he did not  realize that, at every step, he was advancing the line that Putin hoped he would advance, and the line that the American intelligence, defense, and law-enforcement agencies most dreaded.

Conscious tool. Useful idiot. Those are the choices, though both are possibly true, so that the main question is the proportions … never before have I seen an American president consistently, repeatedly, publicly, and shockingly advance the interests of another country over those of his own government and people.”

As soon as the press conference ended CNN cut to its panel with these words from TV personality Anderson Cooper: “You have been watching perhaps one of the most disgraceful performances by an American president at a summit in front of a Russian leader, surely, that I’ve ever seen.”

David Gergen, who for years has gotten away with portraying himself on TV as an impartial political sage, then told CNN viewers:

“I’ve never heard an American President talk that way but I think it is especially true that when he’s with someone like Putin, who is a thug, a world-class thug, that he sides with him again and again against his own country’s interests of his own institutions that he runs, that he’s in charge of the federal government, he’s in charge of these intelligence agencies, and he basically dismisses them and retreats into this, we’ve heard it before, but on the international stage to talk about Hillary Clinton’s computer server …”

“It’s embarrassing,” interjected Cooper.

“It’s embarrassing,” agreed Gergen.

White House correspondent Jim Acosta, ostensibly an objective reporter, then gave his opinion: “I think that sums it up nicely. This is the president of the United States essentially taking the word of the Russian president… over his own intelligence community. It was astonishing, just astonishing to be in the room with the U.S. president and the Russian president on this critical question of election interference, and to retreat back to these talking points about DNC servers and Hillary Clinton’s emails when he had a chance right there in front of the world to tell Vladimir Putin to stay the HELL out of American democracy, and he didn’t do it.”

In other words Trump should just shut up and not question a questionable indictment, which Acosta, like nearly all the media, treat as a conviction.

The Media’s Handlers

The media’s handlers were even worse than their assets. Former CIA director John Brennan tweeted: “Donald Trump’s press conference performance in Helsinki rises to & exceeds the threshold of ‘high crimes & misdemeanors,.’ It was nothing short of treasonous. Not only were Trump’s comments imbecilic, he is wholly in the pocket of Putin. Republican Patriots: Where are you???”

Here’s where the Republican Patriots are, Brennan: “That’s how a press conference sounds when an Asset stands next to his Handler,” former RNC Chairman Michael Steele tweeted.

Representative Liz Cheney, the daughter of the former vice president, said on Twitter: “As a member of the House Armed Services Committee, I am deeply troubled by President Trump’s defense of Putin against the intelligence agencies of the U.S. & his suggestion of moral equivalence between the U.S. and Russia. Russia poses a grave threat to our national security.”

All these were reactions to Trump expressing skepticism about the U.S. indictment on Friday of 12 Russian intelligence agents for allegedly interfering in the 2016 U.S. presidential election while he was standing next to Russian President Vladimir Putin at the press conference following their summit meeting in Helsinki.

“I will say this: I don’t see any reason why it would be” Russia, Trump said. “I have great confidence in my intelligence people, but I will tell you that President Putin was extremely strong and powerful in his denial today.”

The indictments, which are only unproven accusations, formally accused 12 members of the GRU, Russian military intelligence, of stealing Democratic Party emails in a hacking operation and giving the materials to WikiLeaks to publish in order to damage the candidacy of Trump’s opponent, Hillary Clinton. The indictments were announced on Friday, three days before the summit, with the clear intention of getting Trump to cancel it. He ignored cries from the media and Congress to do so.

Over the weekend Michael Smerconish on CNN actually said the indictments proved that Russia had committed a “terrorist attack” against the United States. This is in line with many pundits who are comparing this indictment, that will most likely never produce any evidence, to 9/11 and Pearl Harbor. The danger inherent in that thinking is clear.

Putin said the allegations are “utter nonsense, just like [Trump] recently mentioned.” He added: “The final conclusion in this kind of dispute can only be delivered by a trial, by the court. Not by the executive, by the law enforcement.” He could have added not by the media.

Trump reasonably questioned why the FBI never examined the computer servers of the Democratic National Committee to see whether there was a hack and who may have done it. Instead a private company, CrowdStrike, hired by the Democratic Party studied the server and within a day blamed Russia on very dubious grounds.

“Why haven’t they taken the server?” Trump asked. “Why was the FBI told to leave the office of the Democratic National Committee? I’ve been wondering that. I’ve been asking that for months and months and I’ve been tweeting it out and calling it out on social media. Where is the server? I want to know, where is the server and what is the server saying?”

But being a poor communicator, Trump then mentioned Clinton’s missing emails, allowing the media to conflate the two different servers, and be easily dismissed as Gergen did.

At the press conference, Putin offered to allow American investigators from the team of special counsel Robert Mueller, who put the indictment together, to travel to Russia and take part in interviews with the 12 accused Russian agents. He also offered to set up a joint cyber-security group to examine the evidence and asked that in return Russia be allowed to question persons of interest to Moscow in the United States.

“Let’s discuss the specific issues and not use the Russia and U.S. relationship as a loose change for this internal political struggle,” Putin said.

On CNN, Christiane Amanpour called Putin’s clear offer “obfuscation.”

Even if Trump agreed to this reasonable proposal it seems highly unlikely that his Justice Department will go along with it. Examination of whatever evidence they have to back up the indictment is not what the DOJ is after. As I wrote about the indictments in detail on Friday:

“The extremely remote possibility of convictions were not what Mueller was apparently after, but rather the public perception of Russia’s guilt resulting from fevered media coverage of what are after all only accusations, presented as though it is established fact. Once that impression is settled into the public consciousness, Mueller’s mission would appear to be accomplished.”

Still No ‘Collusion’

The indictments did not include any members of Trump’s campaign team for “colluding” with the alleged Russian hacking effort, which has been a core allegation throughout the two years of the so-called Russia-gate scandal. Those allegations are routinely reported in U.S. media as established fact, though there is still no evidence of collusion.

Trump emphasised that point in the press conference. “There was no collusion at all,” he said forcefully. “Everybody knows it.”

On this point corporate media has been more deluded than normal as they clutch for straws to prove the collusion theory. As one example of many across the media with the same theme, a New York Times story on Friday, headlined, “Trump Invited the Russians to Hack Clinton. Were They Listening?,” said Russia may have absurdly responded to Trump’s call at 10:30 a.m. on July 27, 2016 to hack Clinton’s private email server because it was “on or about” that day that Russia allegedly first made an attempt to hack Clinton’s personal emails, according to the indictment, which makes no connection between the two events.

If Russia is indeed guilty of remotely hacking the emails it would have had no evident need of assistance from anyone on the Trump team, let alone a public call from Trump on national TV to commence the operation.

More importantly, as Twitter handle “Representative Press” pointed out: “Trump’s July 27, 2016 call to find the missing 30,000 emails could not be a ‘call to hack Clinton’s server’ because at that point it was no longer online. Long before Trump’s statement, Clinton had already turned over her email server to the U.S. Department of Justice.” Either the indictment was talking about different servers or it is being intentionally misleading when it says “on or about July 27, 2016, the Conspirators attempted after hours to spearphish for the first time email accounts at a domain hosted by a third party provider and used by Clinton’s personal office.”

This crucial fact alone, that Clinton had turned over the server in 2015 so that no hack was possible, makes it impossible that Trump’s TV call could be seen as collusion. Only a desperate person would see it otherwise.

But there is a simple explanation why establishment journalists are in unison in their dominant Russian narrative: it is career suicide to question it.

As Samuel Johnson said as far back as 1745: “The greatest part of mankind have no other reason for their opinions than that they are in fashion …since vanity and credulity cooperate in its favour.”

Importance of US-Russia Relations

Trump said the unproven allegation of collusion “has had a negative impact upon the relationship of the two largest nuclear powers in the world. We have 90 percent of nuclear power between the two countries. It’s ridiculous. It’s ridiculous what’s going on with the probe.”

The American president said the U.S. has been “foolish” not to attempt dialogue with Russia before, to cooperate on a range of issues.

“As president, I cannot make decisions on foreign policy in a futile effort to appease partisan critics or the media or Democrats who want to do nothing but resist and obstruct,” Trump said. “Constructive dialogue between the United States and Russia forwards the opportunity to open new pathways toward peace and stability in our world. I would rather take a political risk in pursuit of peace than to risk peace in pursuit of politics.”

This main reason for summits between Russian and American leaders was also ignored: to use diplomacy to reduce dangerous tensions. “I really think the world wants to see us get along,” Trump said. “We are the two great nuclear powers. We have 90 percent of the nuclear. And that’s not a good thing, it’s a bad thing.”

Preventing good relations between the two countries appears to be the heart of the matter for U.S. intelligence and their media assets. So Trump was vilified for even trying.

Ignoring the Rest of the Story

Obsessed as they are with the “interference” story, the media virtually ignored the other crucial issues that came up at the summit, such as the Middle East.

Trump sort of thanked Russia for its efforts to defeat ISIS. “When you look at all of the progress that’s been made in certain sections with the eradication of ISIS, about 98 percent, 99 percent there, and other things that have taken place that we have done and that, frankly, Russia has helped us with in certain respects,” he said.

Trump here is falsely taking credit, as he has before, for defeating ISIS with only some “help” from Russia. In Iraq the U.S. led the way against ISIS coordinating the Iraqi and Kurdish security forces. But in the separate war against ISIS in Syria, Russia, the Syrian Arab Army, Kurdish forces, Iranian troops and Hizbullah militias were almost entirely responsible for ISIS’ defeat.

Also on Syria, Trump appeared to endorse what is being reported as a deal between Russia and Israel in which Israel would accept Bashar al-Assad remaining as Syrian president, while Russia would work on Iran to get it to remove its forces away from the northern Golan Heights, which Israel illegally considers its border with Syria.

After a meeting in Moscow last week with Putin, Israel Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said he accepted Assad remaining in power.

“President Putin also is helping Israel,” Trump said at the press conference. “We both spoke with Bibi Netanyahu. They would like to do certain things with respect to Syria, having to do with the safety of Israel. In that respect, we absolutely would like to work in order to help Israel. Israel will be working with us. So both countries would work jointly.”

Trump also said that the U.S. and Russian militaries were coordinating in Syria, but he did not go as far as saying that they had agreed to fight together there, which has been a longstanding proposal of Putin’s dating back to September 2015, just before Moscow intervened militarily in the country.

“Our militaries have gotten along probably better than our political leaders for years,” Trump said. “Our militaries do get along very well. They do coordinate in Syria and other places.”

Trump said Russia and the U.S. should cooperate in humanitarian assistance in Syria.

“If we can do something to help the people of Syria get back into some form of shelter and on a humanitarian basis… that’s what the word was, a humanitarian basis,” he said. “I think both of us would be very interested in doing that.”

Putin said he had agreed on Sunday with French President Emmanuel Macron on a joint effort with Europe to deliver humanitarian aid. “On our behalf, we will provide military cargo aircraft to deliver humanitarian cargo. Today, I brought up this issue with President Trump. I think there’s plenty of things to look into,” Putin said.


Joe Lauria is editor-in-chief of Consortium News and a former correspondent for The Wall Street Journal, Boston GlobeSunday Times of London and numerous other newspapers. He can be reached at joelauria@consortiumnews.com and followed on Twitter @unjoe .

July 17, 2018 Posted by | Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Militarism, Russophobia | , , | Leave a comment