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Bernie Sanders Walks Straight Into the Russiagate Trap

By Daniel Lazare | Strategic Culture Foundation | January 20, 2020

The New York Times caused a mini-commotion last week with a front-page story suggesting that Russian intelligence had hacked a Ukrainian energy firm known as Burisma Holdings in order to get dirt on Joe Biden and help Donald Trump win re-election.

But the article was flimsy even by Russiagate standards, and so certain questions inevitably arise. What was it really about? Who’s behind it? Who’s the real target?

Here’s a quick answer. It was about boosting Joe Biden, and its real target was his chief rival, Bernie Sanders. And poor, inept Bernie walked straight into the trap.

The article was flimsy because rather than saying straight out that Russian intelligence hacked Burisma, the company notorious for hiring Biden’s son, Hunter, for $50,000 a month job, reporters Nicole Perlroth and Matthew Rosenberg had to rely on unnamed “security experts” to say it for them. While suggesting that the hackers were looking for dirt, they didn’t quite say that as well. Instead, they admitted that “it is not yet clear what the hackers found, or precisely what they were searching for.”

So we have no idea what they were up to, if anything at all. But the Times then quoted “experts” to the effect that “the timing and scale of the attacks suggest that the Russians could be searching for potentially embarrassing material on the Bidens – the same kind of information that Mr. Trump wanted from Ukraine when he pressed for an investigation of the Bidens and Burisma, setting off a chain of events that led to his impeachment.” Since Trump and the Russians are seeking the same information, they must be in cahoots, which is what Democrats have been saying from the moment Trump took office. Given the lack of evidence, this was meaningless as well.

But then came the kicker: two full paragraphs in which a Biden campaign spokesman was permitted to expound on the notion that the Russians hacked Burisma because Biden is the candidate that they and Trump fear the most.

“Donald Trump tried to coerce Ukraine into lying about Joe Biden and a major bipartisan, international anti-corruption victory because he recognized that he can’t beat the vice president,” the spokesman, Andrew Bates, said. “Now we know that Vladimir Putin also sees Joe Biden as a threat. Any American president who had not repeatedly encouraged foreign interventions of this kind would immediately condemn this attack on the sovereignty of our elections.”

If Biden is the number-one threat, then Sanders is not, presumably because the Times sees him as soft on Moscow. If so, it means that he could be in for the same neo-McCarthyism that antiwar candidate Tulsi Gabbard encountered last October when Hillary Clinton blasted her as “the favorite of the Russians.” Gabbard had the good sense to blast her right back.

“Thank you @Hillary Clinton. You, the queen of warmongers, embodiment of corruption, and personification of the rot that has sickened the Democratic Party for so long, have finally come out from behind the curtain. From the day I announced my candidacy, there has been a concerted campaign to destroy my reputation. We wondered who was behind it and why. Now we know – it was always you, through your proxies and powerful allies in the corporate media and war machine….”

If only Sanders did the same. But instead he put out a statement filled with the usual anti-Russian clichés:

“The 2020 election is likely to be the most consequential election in modern American history, and I am alarmed by new reports that Russia recently hacked into the Ukrainian gas company at the center of the impeachment trial, as well as Russia’s plans to once again meddle in our elections and in our democracy. After our intelligence agencies unanimously agreed that Russia interfered in the 2016 election, including with thousands of paid ads on Facebook, the New York Times now reports that Russia likely represents the biggest threat of election meddle in 2020, including through disinformation campaigns, promoting hatred, hacking into voting systems, and by exploiting the political divisions sewn [sic] by Donald Trump….”

And so on for another 250 words. Not only did the statement put him in bed with the intelligence agencies, but it makes him party to the big lie that the Kremlin was responsible for putting Trump over the top in 2016.

Let’s get one thing straight. Yes, Russian intelligence may have hacked the Democratic National Committee. But cybersecurity was so lax that others may have been rummaging about as well. (CrowdStrike, the company called in to investigate the hack, says it found not one but two cyber-intruders.) Notwithstanding the Mueller report, all the available evidence indicates that Russia did not then pass along thousands of DNC emails that Wikileaks published in July 2016. (Julian Assange’s statement six months later that “our source is not the Russian government and it is not a state party” remains uncontroverted.) Similarly, there’s no evidence that the Kremlin had anything to do with the $45,000 worth of Facebook ads purchased by a St. Petersburg company known as the Internet Research Agency – Robert Mueller’s 2018 indictment of the IRA was completely silent on the subject of a Kremlin connection – and no evidence that the ads, which were politically all over the map, had a remotely significant impact on the 2016 election.

All the rest is a classic CIA disinformation campaign aimed at drumming up anti-Russian hysteria and delegitimizing anyone who fails to go along. And now Bernie Sanders is trying to cover his derrière by hopping on board.

It won’t work. Sanders will find himself having to take one loyalty oath after another as the anti-Russia campaign flares anew. But it will never be enough, and he’ll only wind up looking tired and weak. Voters will opt for the supposedly more formidable Biden, who will end up as a bug splat on the windshield of Donald Trump’s speeding election campaign. With impeachment no longer an issue, he’ll be free to behave as dictatorially as he wishes as he settles into his second term.

After inveighing against billionaire’s wars, he’ll find himself ensnared by the same billionaire war machine. The trouble with Sanders is that he thinks he can win by playing by the rules. But he can’t because the rules are stacked against him. He’d know that if his outlook was more radical. His problem is not that he’s too much of a socialist. Rather, it’s that he’s not enough.

January 20, 2020 Posted by | Fake News, Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Russophobia | , , | 1 Comment

HBO hires ‘king of fake news’ Brian Stelter from CNN to produce documentary on… the dangers of fake news

By Zachary Leeman | RT | January 18, 2020

If you were making a documentary on fake news and wanted to get journalists involved behind the scenes, there are a few people you may want to avoid. One of those is CNN host Brian Stelter.

The HBO network is rightly being mocked for putting Stelter – the host of a CNN show ironically named ‘Reliable Sources’ – on the team for an upcoming documentary on fake news.

According to Stelter himself, the documentary will investigate “disinformation and the cost of fake news.” The film, for which Stelter was executive producer, will dive into “how post-truth culture has become an increasingly dangerous part of the global information environment,” according to WarnerMedia.

To say Stelter’s involvement in the documentary attracted mockery online would be an understatement.

“This is like Harvey Weinstein doing a documentary on sexual assault,” lawyer and journalist Rogan O’Handley wrote.

“HBO has hired Brian Stelter to do a documentary on Fake News. That’s like hiring Bernie Madoff to teach accounting. Like hiring Michael Moore to host a fashion show. Not to mention [Stelter] is the dullest human ever on television,” radio host Mark Simone added.

“You’re kidding, right? [Brian Stelter] is the king of disinformation and fake news,” wrote Twitter user Pattie Taz.

It would make more sense for a documentary about fake news to use Brian Stelter and his home patch CNN as subjects, rather than accomplices. The channel is hot on the heels of reaching a massive settlement with Kentucky teen Nick Sandmann over coverage of his January 2019 run-in with Native American activist Nathan Phillips at the Lincoln Memorial in Washington DC. Sandmann was portrayed by CNN as the aggressor in the situation, thanks to edited video of him and other teens smiling at Phillips as he protested. Expanded video footage later showed Phillips initiating contact with the teen.

CNN is also famous for devoting most of its time to President Donald Trump and just about every conspiracy linked to him, including that of ‘Russia collusion.’ CNN has even retracted a story about a supposed Russian investment fund that had ties to Trump officials. That 2017 report led to three journalists resigning their positions.

Stelter himself is something of a rabbit hole of odd and biased reporting.

He ran a report in 2018 about how First Lady Melania Trump had “disappeared” and become “invisible.”

That ‘nothing story’ could have been clarified by a CSNBC journalist having actually seen the first lady a few days before – something Stelter ignored – or by the fact that she was recovering from surgery; but Stelter had a doomsday clock running anyway.

He has also pushed the conspiracy theory that Fox News makes Trump’s decisions, which looks especially bad in light of the president’s recent Iran maneuvers, earning the CNN presenter more critics, like Fox News presenter Tucker Carlson.

On Jussie Smollett, the ‘Empire’ actor who falsely claimed to have been attacked by two Trump supporters who’d put him in a noose, Stelter refused to fully concede that the mounting evidence showed Smollett’s claim to be a hoax.

“We may never really know what happened on that night,” he said last year about the hoax attack on the African-American actor. He also insisted that CNN put in “really careful” reporting on the subject, despite hosts like Ana Navarro and Don Lemon being some of the first to buy into Smollett’s flaky story.

Stelter is such a lazy and biased ‘reporter’ that he once questioned why Trump was at a UFC event, without looking up the basic background, that the president was one of the earliest supporters of the sports organization and an associate of UFC President Dana White.

At best, you can say Stelter is a pundit with a very heavy bias, but this still brings into question why he would be an authority on fake news. His stories are put through such a hard-left filter that it’s difficult to view him as someone who can even recognize fake news.

And it’s not just Stelter’s left-wing bias that creates a problem. It would be just as ridiculous to produce a documentary that exposes fake news and then hire a conservative journalist who has pushed questionable stories in the name of an agenda to produce it.

A second documentary project coming from HBO includes the involvement of Ronan Farrow, an equally liberal individual but one who can at least stand on the back of solid reporting. It was Farrow who originally exposed the sexual misconduct allegations against disgraced producer Harvey Weinstein, and he hasn’t been shy about the pushback he got from some media outlets about his original story.

Farrow’s doc will investigate “threats, intimidation, and violence directed at journalists working to expose corruption and abuse by governments, corporations, and other powerful interests,” according to HBO.

That doc could end up being politically biased or weaponized, but at least it has the integrity and weight of a real journalist behind it. A Stelter doc on fake news sounds about as enticing and trustworthy as a documentary on humility from Donald Trump.

January 19, 2020 Posted by | Fake News, Mainstream Media, Warmongering | , , | 2 Comments

Iraq denies report it has restarted joint military operations with US

Press TV – January 16, 2020

The Iraqi government has denied claims that the country’s military is resuming joint operations with the US-led coalition after Washington’s assassination of top Iranian and Iraqi commanders.

“The joint operations have not resumed and we have not given our authorization,” Major General Abdul Karim Khalaf, the spokesman for the commander-in-chief of the Iraqi armed forces, said on Thursday.

He added that the coalition did not have a permission from Baghdad to carry out any joint missions.

The remarks came after the New York Times, citing two American military officials, reported Thursday that the US had resumed the operations.

Khalaf said the Iraqi government had ordered the coalition to halt its joint operations following the US assassination of top Iranian anti-terror commander, Lieutenant General Qassem Soleimani, and Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis, the second-in-command of Popular Mobilization Units (PMU).

Last month, another US airstrike killed 25 members of PMU in the Arab country’s west.

On January 3, a US drone strike outside Baghdad airport killed General Soleimani and al-Muhandis.

Washington began the pause on January 5, two days after the strike, but furious Iraqi lawmakers voted to expel more than 5,000 US troops based in their country.

The Pentagon said it had no information with regard the the alleged resumption of joint operations with Iraqi troops.

The US-led coalition’s spokesman in Baghdad also declined to comment.

January 16, 2020 Posted by | Deception, Fake News, Illegal Occupation, Mainstream Media, Warmongering | , | 1 Comment

U.S. Media Says Russia the True Winner in Hostilities Against Iran

By Paul Antonopoulos | January 13, 2020

While the final outcome of the U.S.-Iran conflict is not yet clear, US media outlets and think tanks are already claiming that Russian President Putin is the winner. The U.S.-Iran hostilities have undermined Washington’s confidence and reputation in the region, allowing Russian influence in the Middle East to increase as a force for peace and stability. While it is unclear exactly how Moscow can benefit from escalations between Washington and Tehran, U.S. media are convinced that any outcome will be consistent with the Kremlin’s plans to increase its political influence in the region and create a rift between Washington and its allies.

This simplistic explanation does not account the fact that Moscow has a clear foreign policy to achieve its geopolitical goals in the Middle East while Washington mostly depends on their own internal contradictions and events on the domestic political scene to guide their foreign policy. The assassination of Iranian General Soleimani, made on orders from Trump, questions whether this was to demonstrate his power and determination to protect U.S. national interests in the face of domestic criticisms, to serve Evangelical Christian interests on behalf of Israel, or part of a clear guided policy that the U.S. has for the Middle East.

The Democrats are trying to show the public that everything Trump does is contributing more to Russian interests rather than American. It appears that the Democratic Party will continue with the same rhetoric to try and win this year’s election.

Moscow maintains good relations with all countries in the Middle East region and there is no country with which Russia has an openly hostile relationship. Moscow successfully balances its relations between Saudi Arabia, Iran, Syria and Israel, while the U.S. attempts to divide the region into competing camps with no interest of defusing tensions, suggesting that even if Washington has a clearly defined Middle East policy, it is one based on division and destruction rather than one of balance and peace.

As a result of the assassination of General Soleimani, calls for U.S. troops to withdraw from Iraq under pressure from local authorities have been made. Without troops in Iraq, the Americans are incapable of retaining their positions in Syria, which increases Russia’s manoeuvring space, strengthens its positions, influence, and opens space for filling the political vacuum. The U.S. has become embroiled with so many Middle Eastern countries that it is now struggling to cope to withdraw. Washington has already tried to withdraw its troops from Iraq during the Obama era.

But it is one thing to militarily withdraw on your own will and based on your decision, and another to withdraw because you have been asked too. Although the U.S. criticizes Iranian influence across the region and claims the Islamic Republic is acting in an aggressive manner, the Trump administration has not even hid away from the fact its an occupying force by flatly refusing to withdraw from Iraq despite being told to by the country’s parliament.

However it was the assassination of Soleimani that the most ridiculous claims were being made about, with Bloomberg even suggesting that Putin needs a “Plan B” because the Iranian General’s death disrupted Russian plans for Syria, Iran and Turkey. This scenario implied that Trump’s aggressive actions would elicit an even more aggressive response from the Iranian side, eventually leading to an escalation of the conflict in which Tehran lacked adequate defense capabilities. This implies that Iran will lose the status of a regional power and Russia will have no choice but to betray Syria. This option quickly disappeared from the media space as reality completely denied this possibility.

As for Putin’s victory, many cite the fact that many European leaders are increasingly turning to Russia as a reliable partner in face of Trump’s unpredictability. It is fair to say that the U.S. strategy in the Middle East is a mystery even to U.S. allies. With Washington being unrelenting in attempting to maintain the unipolar world order, it has forced Europeans to cooperate with reliable Russia.

This is not the first time that Washington has made a problem for its allies, citing the example of the U.S. invasion of Iraq in 2003 when Germany and France, along with Russia, protested U.S. President George Bush and his actions. While Iraq was an example of typical aggression, the Americans did not lose allies because of this, nor did NATO disintegrate. However, domestic politics has always been a major focus for U.S. presidents, obviously, which in turn can influence foreign policy decisions for internal political use. In the case of killing an Iranian general and in the propaganda that Russia is the victor in the U.S.-Iran conflict, nothing new has happened.

Paul Antonopoulos is a Research Fellow at the Center for Syncretic Studies.

January 13, 2020 Posted by | Fake News, Illegal Occupation, Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Russophobia | , , | 1 Comment

Esper Contradicts Trump: “Didn’t See” Specific Evidence Of Iran Plot To Attack 4 Embassies

By Tyler Durden – Zero Hedge – 01/12/2020

When late last week President Trump first referenced a Soleimani-directed plot to “blow up” the US embassy in Baghdad, which during a Friday Fox interview became in the president’s words “I believe it would’ve been four embassies”  senators which had been given a classified briefing Wednesday balked, saying no such intelligence was referenced but should have been if there was evidence.

And now no less than Secretary of Defense Mark Esper appears to have publicly contradicted the White House’s rationale for taking out the “imminent” threat of Qasem Soleimani. Esper told CBS’ Face the Nation on Sunday that he “didn’t see” specific evidence for embassy attacks, while adding that he still believes such an attack was likely.

“The president didn’t cite a specific piece of evidence. What he said was he believed,” Esper said.

“What the president said was that there probably could be additional attacks against embassies. I shared that view,” Esper said. “The president didn’t cite a specific piece of evidence.”

When pressed on whether intelligence officers offered concrete evidence on that point he said: “I didn’t see one with regards to four embassies.” — Reuters

During a separate CNN interview on Sunday, the Pentagon chief continued to awkwardly dance around the question of whether specific intelligence showed such an attack was being planned. Esper described that Trump merely “believed” it to be the case, while refusing to confirm any particular intelligence.

But earlier statements of Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, who before reporters defended Trump’s assertion about the IRGC targeting the embassies, suggested there was specific intelligence.

When Pompeo was pressed on Friday by reporters over the nature of the “imminent threat” claims, he said“We had specific information on an imminent threat and that threat stream included attacks on U.S. embassies. Period. Full stop.” And asked about what made it imminent, Pompeo simply said: “It was going to happen.”

At first it was unclear whether President Trump was claiming to have seen specific intelligence outlining such a threat, or perhaps was just speaking generally and in his usual hyperbolic style (“blow up” the embassy) of the pro-Iranian mob’s actions besieging the US embassy in Baghdad days prior to the Soleimani assassination.

The demonstrators had been filmed setting the outer walls of the compound on fire during the chaotic events nearly two weeks ago which resulted in a contingent of Marines rapidly deploying from Kuwait to bolster embassy security.

So now Esper appears to be saying it was Trump’s personal belief, while Pompeo appeared to base it on “specific information” — in other words direct intelligence. But which is it?

It can’t be both ways.

Like the Bush administration’s famously evolving rationale for the war in Iraq, are we witnessing the narrative on Iran made up on the fly?

January 12, 2020 Posted by | Deception, Fake News, Mainstream Media, Warmongering | | Leave a comment

Rare FOOTAGE shows Ukrainian Boeing crash site in Tehran after ‘site bulldozed’ claims

RT | January 10, 2020

RT’s video agency Ruptly has obtained footage of the site where a Ukrainian Boeing 737-800 crashed after taking off in Iran. It shows what appear to be passengers’ belongings strewn about, but parts of the plane have been removed.

The still images were taken on Friday morning in Laleh Park, the site of the wreck. The site does not appear to be cordoned off any longer, and plane parts and bodies have been removed.

© RT / Ruptly

The footage appears to counter recent media reports that suggested the site had been “bulldozed” to remove physical evidence, a claim that seems designed to implicate Iran in the demise of the 176 passengers and crew who died when the plane went down early on Wednesday morning.

© RT / Ruptly

© RT / Ruptly

Iran has flatly denied claims emanating from the US and its allies that a surface-to-air missile “accidentally” took down the plane. Tehran has called for those making the claims to produce evidence.

RT

RT

An investigation into the cause of the crash is ongoing, and Iranian officials have already requested additional help from foreign experts to work with the “damaged” black boxes of the doomed Ukraine International Airlines Flight PS752.

RT

January 10, 2020 Posted by | Deception, Fake News, Mainstream Media, Warmongering | | 4 Comments

The Terrifying Rise of the Zombie State Narrative

By Craig Murray | January 2, 2020

The ruling Establishment has learnt a profound lesson from the debacle over Iraqi Weapons of Mass Destruction. The lesson they have learnt is not that it is wrong to attack and destroy an entire country on the basis of lies. They have not learnt that lesson despite the fact the western powers are now busily attacking the Iraqi Shia majority government they themselves installed, for the crime of being a Shia majority government.

No, the lesson they have learnt is never to admit they lied, never to admit they were wrong. They see the ghost-like waxen visage of Tony Blair wandering around, stinking rich but less popular than an Epstein birthday party, and realise that being widely recognised as a lying mass murderer is not a good career choice. They have learnt that the mistake is for the Establishment ever to admit the lies.

The Establishment had to do a certain amount of collective self-flagellation over the non-existent Iraqi weapons of mass destruction, over which they precipitated the death and maiming of millions of people. Only a very few outliers, like the strange Melanie Phillips, still claimed the WMD really did exist, and her motive was so obviously that she supported any excuse to kill Muslims that nobody paid any attention. Her permanent pass to appear on the BBC was upgraded. But by and large everyone accepted the Iraqi WMD had been a fiction. The mainstream media Blair/Bush acolytes like Cohen, Kamm and Aaronovitch switched to arguing that even if WMD did not exist, Iraq was in any case better off for having so many people killed and its infrastructure destroyed.

These situations are now avoided by the realisation of the security services that in future they just have to brazen it out. The simple truth of the matter – and it is a truth – is this. If the Iraq WMD situation occurred today, and the security services decided to brazen it out and claim that WMD had indeed been found, there is not a mainstream media outlet that would contradict them.

The security services outlet Bellingcat would publish some photos of big missiles planted in the sand. The Washington Post, Guardian, New York Times, BBC and CNN would republish and amplify these pictures and copy and paste the official statements from government spokesmen. Robert Fisk would get to the scene and interview a few eye witnesses who saw the missiles being planted, and he would be derided as a senile old has-been. Seymour Hersh and Peter Hitchens would interview whistleblowers and be shunned by their colleagues and left off the airwaves. Bloggers like myself would be derided as mad conspiracy theorists or paid Russian agents if we cast any doubt on the Bellingcat “evidence”. Wikipedia would ruthlessly expunge any alternative narrative as being from unreliable sources. The Integrity Initiative, 77th Brigade, GCHQ and their US equivalents would be pumping out the “Iraqi WMD found” narrative all over social media. Mad Ben Nimmo of the Atlantic Council would be banning dissenting accounts all over the place in his role as Facebook Witchfinder-General.

Does anybody seriously wish to dispute this is how the absence of Iraqi WMD would be handled today, 16 years on?

If you do wish to doubt this could happen, look at the obviously fake narrative of the Syrian government chemical weapons attacks on Douma. The pictures published on Bellingcat of improvised chlorine gas missiles were always obviously fake. Remember this missile was supposed to have smashed through ten inches of solid, steel rebar reinforced concrete.

As I reported back in May last year, that the expert engineers sent to investigate by the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) did not buy into this is hardly surprising.

That their findings were deliberately omitted from the OPCW report is very worrying indeed. What became still more worrying was the undeniable evidence that started to emerge from whistleblowers in the OPCW that the toxicology experts had unanimously agreed that those killed had not died from chlorine gas attack. The minutes of the OPCW toxicology meeting really do need to be read in full.

actual_toxicology_meeting_redacted

The highlights are:

“No nerve agents had been detected in environmental or bio samples”
“The experts were conclusive in their statements that there was no correlation between symptoms and chlorine exposure”

I really do urge you to click on the above link and read the entire minute. In particular, it is impossible to read that minute and not understand that the toxicology experts believed that the corpses had been brought and placed in position.

“The experts were also of the opinion that the victims were highly unlikely to have gathered in piles at the centre of the respective apartments, at such a short distance from an escape from any toxic chlorine gas to much cleaner air”.

So the toxicology experts plainly believed the corpse piles had been staged, and the engineering experts plainly believed the cylinder bombs had been staged. Yet, against the direct evidence of its own experts, the OPCW published a report managing to convey the opposite impression – or at least capable of being portrayed by the media of giving the opposite impression.

How then did the OPCW come to do this? Rather unusually for an international organisation, the OPCW Secretariat is firmly captured by the Western states, largely because it covers an area of activity which is not of enormous interest to the political elites of developing world states, and many positions require a high level of technical qualification. It was also undergoing a change of Director General at the time of the Douma investigation, with the firmly Francoist Spanish diplomat Fernando Arias taking over as Director General and the French diplomat Sebastian Braha effectively running the operation as the Director-General’s chef de cabinet, working in close conjunction with the US security services. Braha simply ordered the excision of the expert opinions on engineering and toxicology, and his high-handedness worked, at least until whistleblowers started to reveal the truth about Braha as a slimy, corrupt, lying war hawk.

FFM here stands for Fact Finding Mission and ODG for Office of the Director General. After a great deal of personal experience dealing with French diplomats, I would say that the obnoxious arrogance revealed in Braha’s instructions here is precisely what you would expect. French diplomats as a class are a remarkably horrible and entitled bunch. Braha has no compunction about simply throwing around the weight of the Office of the Director General and attempting to browbeat Henderson.

We see now how the OPCW managed to produce a report which was the opposite of the truth. Ian Henderson, the OPCW engineer who had visited the site and concluded that the “cylinder bombs” were fakes, had suddenly become excluded from the “fact finding mission” when it had been whittled down to a “core group” – excluding any engineers (and presumably toxicologists) who would seek to insert inconvenient facts into the report.

France of course participated, alongside the US and UK, in missile strikes against Syrian government positions in response to the non-existent chlorine gas attacks on Douma. I was amongst those who had argued from day one that the western Douma narrative was inherently improbable. The Douma enclave held by extreme jihadist, western and Saudi backed forces allied to ISIL, was about to fall anyway. The Syrian government had no possible military advantage to gain by attacking it with two small improvised chemical weapons, and a great deal to lose in terms of provoking international retaliation.

That the consequences of the fake Douma incident were much less far-reaching than they might have been, is entirely due (and I am sorry if you dislike this but it is true) to the good sense of Donald Trump. Trump is inclined to isolationism and the fake “Russiagate” narrative promoted by senior echelons of his security services had led him to be heavily sceptical of them. He therefore refused, against the united persuasion of the hawks, to respond to the Douma “attack” by more than quick and limited missile strikes. I have no doubt that the object of the intended false flag was to push the US into a full regime change operation, by falsifying a demonstration that a declared red line on chemical weapon use had been crossed.

There is no doubt that Douma was a false flag. The documentary and whistleblower evidence from the OPCW is overwhelming and irrefutable. In addition to the two whistleblowers reported extensively by Wikileaks and the Courage Foundation, the redoubtable Peter Hitchens has his own whistleblowers inside OPCW who may well be different persons. It is also great entertainment as well as enlightening to read Hitchens’ takedown of Bellingcat on the issue.

But there are much deeper questions about the Douma false flag. Did the jihadists themselves kill the “chlorine victims” for display or were these just bodies from the general fighting? The White Helmets were co-located with the jihadist headquarters in Douma, and involved in producing and spreading the fake evidence. How far were the UK and US governments, instrumental in preparing the false flag? That western governments, including through the White Helmets and their men at the OPCW, were plainly seeking to propagate this false flag, to massively publicise and to and make war capital out of it, is beyond dispute. But were they involved in the actual creation of the fake scene? Did MI6 or the CIA initiate this false flag through the White Helmets or the Saudi backed jihadists? That is unproven but seems to me very probable. It is also worth noting the coincidence in time of the revelation of the proof of the Douma false flag and the death of James Le Mesurier.

Now let me return to where I started. None of the New York Times, the Washington Post, the BBC, the Guardian nor CNN – all of which reported the Douma chemical attack very extensively as a real Syrian government atrocity, and used it to editorialise for western military intervention in Syria – none of them has admitted they were wrong. None has issued any substantive retraction or correction. None has reported in detail and without bias on the overwhelming evidence of foul play within the OPCW.

Those sources who do publish the truth – including the few outliers in mainstream media such as Peter Hitchens and Robert Fisk – continue to be further marginalised, attacked as at best eccentric and at worse Russian agents. Others like Wikileaks and myself are pariahs excluded from any mainstream exposure. The official UK, US, French and Spanish government line, and the line of the billionaire and state owned media, continues to be that Douma was a Syrian government chemical weapons attack on civilians. They intend, aided and abetted by their vast online propaganda operations, to brazen out the lie.

What we are seeing is the terrifying rise of the zombie state narrative in Western culture. It does not matter how definitively we can prove that something is a lie, the full spectrum dominance of the Establishment in media resources is such that the lie is impossible to kill off, and the state manages to implant that lie as the truth in the minds of a sufficient majority of the populace to ride roughshod over objective truth with great success. It follows in the state narrative that anybody who challenges the state’s version of truth is themselves dishonest or mad, and the state manages also to implant that notion into a sufficient majority of the populace.

These are truly chilling times.

In the next installment I shall consider how the Establishment is brazening out similar lies on the Russophobe agenda, and sticking to factually debunked narratives on the DNC and Podesta emails, on the Steele Dossier and on the Skripals.

January 2, 2020 Posted by | Deception, Fake News, Full Spectrum Dominance, Mainstream Media, Warmongering | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

The Caesar Syria Civilian Protection Act: Why Washington Is Both Corrupt and Ignorant

By Philip Giraldi | Strategic Culture Foundation | January 2, 2020

The creatures that lurk through the corridors of power in Washington DC have refined corruption to the point where almost anything goes and almost no one is ever held accountable. Traditionally, Congressmen reward their various constituencies by inserting riders into larger pieces of legislation that grant money, exemptions or favors to certain groups or individuals. It is sometimes referred to as “pork.” The recent bloated omnibus spending bills totaling $1.4 trillion, which passed through Congress and were signed off on by President Donald Trump, were for the shameless denizens of Capitol Hill a gold mine. The process was so corrupt that even some Senators like Ted Cruz joked that “Christmas came early in Washington. While you were with your family, while you were shopping for Christmas, the lobbyists were spending and spending. I present to you, the massive omnibus bill that Congress is voting on.”

And no one is more corrupt in Congress than some of those at the top of the food chain, where the Speaker and the Minority leader in the House and the Majority and Minority leaders in the Senate have the final say on what gets cut and what remains. The lugubrious Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky is one of the most adept at milking the system to buy his continued reelection in a state where he is actually not very popular, with an approval rating of only 37%. Within the current spending bill he has managed to include more than $1 billion worth of federal spending and tax breaks for some choice constituencies among the Kentucky voters. A tax break for the state’s whisky distillers alone came to a projected $426 million for 2020 and there were also breaks for the state’s thoroughbred horse industry as well as hundreds of millions of dollars more for new federal construction.

One can only wish that politicians would actually commit themselves to doing good for the American people, but the sad reality is that they spend so much time raising and distributing money that they only respond to constituents with the deepest pockets or those who make the most noise. Rarely does anyone actually read the bills that are being voted on. Part of the omnibus spending bills was the $738 billion dollar defense policy component, and, as in the case of the larger amounts intended to keep the federal government funded, the devil is frequently found in the details.

One part of the defense spending is called the “Caesar Syria Civilian Protection Act,” which is intended to punish Syria and its President Bashar al-Assad with sanctions for alleged crimes committed during the country’s eight year civil war. The Caesar Act is named after a Syrian military photographer who reportedly took and then smuggled tens of thousands of photographs out of the country that provided evidence for claims that war crimes had been carried out by the Syrian government. “Caesar” eventually wound up in Washington where he briefed sympathetic lawmakers on the regime’s alleged crimes.

The Caesar Act will impose new sanctions on Syrian leaders and also on companies, states and even individuals that support the Assad government militarily, financially or technically. It will include placing new sanctions on Russia and Iran. Enab Baladi, a website run by opponents of the al-Assad government praised the move, writing that “[The bill] imposes sanctions on military contractors and mercenaries who are fighting for the Syrian government, Russia, Iran, or any of the parties against which sanctions have been previously imposed.” It also observes that the act would be a “deterrent” for anyone seeking to work with or help the al-Assad regime. The US, for its part, has pledged to support international prosecution of criminals in the Syrian government.

The use of sanctions is reminiscent of recent US action directed against Iran, Russia and Venezuela. Both Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and the White House have been boasting of how Iran’s economy is being destroyed through economic warfare and it is clear that the intention is to do the same to Syria. The United States has been destabilizing Syria since the passage of the Syria Accountability Act in 2004. It imposed sanctions on the country even before the 2011 Arab Spring uprising, and they were regularly expanded by the Obama administration prior to the 2016 election.

Treasury Department sanctions have frozen assets of the Syrian government and also of hundreds of companies and individuals. They also ban most interactions with Syria by any US person, which means that anyone traveling to Syria and returning to report favorably on the al-Assad government can be plausibly prosecuted for providing a service to the regime.

To be sure no one is completely blameless amidst the turmoil that has engulfed Syria since 2011. Respectable organizations including Human Rights Watch have been able to identify some of the victims in the Caesar photos and have verified tales of torture and abuse, though it must be observed that fake photos and false testimony are easy to obtain.

But the Syrian regime response to the uprising against its authority is only part of the story, as the violence was fomented largely by Saudi Arabia, and Gulf States and the United States. And by far the worst atrocities against civilians have been committed by the groups actively or tacitly supported by the US, Turkey, the Gulf States and the Saudis, many of which have cooperated openly with the genuine terrorist groups that have been operating in Syria.

There also has to be some question raised about the general credibility of attacks directed against the al-Assad government. It has recently been revealed that both the United Nations Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) and the US media were pressured to cover-up the fact that Syria did not use chemical weapons against its own civilians in terrorist infested areas. A Newsweek reporter even resigned when he wrote a story seeking to expose the scandal. The magazine had refused to print the piece.

The US sponsored Syrian National Council has been most active in spreading reports about regime activity, much of which has been proven to be little more than propaganda. Caesar’s trip to Washington in 2015 to show his photos was, in fact, sponsored by the SNC and there is a whole series of fabrications spread by a number of groups supported by those who desire regime change in Damascus.

Consider for a moment the Oscar Award winning White Helmets, “the story of real-life heroes and impossible hope.” The group, which cooperates with the terrorist groups operating in its area, travels to bombing sites with its film crews trailing behind it. Once at the sites, with no independent observers, they are able to arrange or even stage what is filmed to conform to their selected narrative. Exploiting their access to the western media, the White Helmets thereby de facto became a major source of “eyewitness” news regarding what was then going on in those many parts of Syria where European and American journalists were quite rightly afraid to go, all part of a broader largely successful “rebel” effort to manufacture fake news that depicts the Damascus government as engaging in war crimes directed against civilians

The mainstream media is a major part of the problem as it generally only reports stories, like the White Helmets, that denigrate the Syrian government and its allies. Watching the recent BBC reporting of the Syrian Army’s push into Idlib province one learns that “Russian backed Syrian groups are attacking Idlib and creating a humanitarian crisis with 230,000 civilians fleeing the fighting.” The only problem with the coverage is that it does not really make clear that Idlib is terrorist occupied territory. Nor does it say where the civilians are fleeing to – nearly all have headed for the safety of Syrian government held areas.

And particularly for those strivers in Congress who are out hustling for money rather than finding out what is really going on in the world, it might be wise to recollect how gullible the Solons on the Potomac have been in the past. Going back to Ahmed Chalabi, who more than any single individual led the US government to believe that the invasion of Iraq would be a cakewalk, there has been a series of disastrous policy choices made after swallowing whole cloth lies and fabrications made by interested parties. Chalabi provided false intelligence on weapons of mass destruction and alleged ties of the Iraqi government to al-Qaeda. It turned out that he was working for several of the sides in the conflict that ensued, including the Iranian government.

And then there is the Magnitsky Act, sponsored by Russia-phobic Zionist Senator Ben Cardin and signed by President Barack Obama in 2012, which continues to be expanded and exploited by virtue of 2016’s Global Magnitsky Act to intervene in countries that are alleged to be human rights violators. In its original iteration, the Magnitsky Act, sanctioned individual Kremlin officials for their treatment of alleged whistleblower Sergei Magnitsky, arrested and imprisoned in Russia. Billionaire Bill Browder has sold a contrived narrative which basically says that he and his “lawyer” Sergei Magnitsky uncovered massive tax fraud and, when they attempted to report it, were punished by a corrupt police force and magistracy, which had actually stolen the money. Magnitsky was arrested and died in prison, allegedly murdered by the police to silence him.

Browder and his apologists portray him as an honest and honorable Western businessman attempting to operate in a corrupt Russian business world. Nevertheless, the loans-for-shares scheme that made him his initial fortune has been correctly characterized as the epitome of corruption by all parties involved, an arrangement whereby foreign investors worked with local oligarchs to strip the former Soviet economy of its assets paying pennies on each dollar of value. Along the way, Browder was reportedly involved in money laundering, making false representations on official documents and bribery.

Browder, who renounced his US citizenship in 1997 reportedly to avoid taxes, has been a frequent visitor to Capitol Hill where he tells congressional committees all about the corrupt and evil President Vladimir Putin. He is also a darling of the completely corrupted mainstream press because he is saying what they want to hear.

So, is the Caesar Syria Civilian Protection Act just another bit of nonsense, like Chalabi and Magnitsky? Probably, and all it will do is punish the Syrian people by trying to wreck the country’s economy while also limiting the ability of Americans to go independently to the region and see for themselves what is actually going on. It will prolong the pain being experienced by all involved while the legitimate government in Damascus seeks to restore its pre-war borders. It is, unfortunately, a prime example of the United States government in action.

January 2, 2020 Posted by | Corruption, Deception, Fake News, Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Science and Pseudo-Science, Timeless or most popular | , , , | Leave a comment

The OPCW Scandal is Now a Bona fide Cover-up

21st Century Wire | December 30, 2019

Last Friday night saw the fourth round of internally leaked documents found on WikiLeaks from the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW), showing once again how the organisation’s official report on an alleged 2018 ‘chemical attack’ attack in Douma, Syria – was in fact doctored by the chemical watchdog’s executives in order to justify a three-way attack by the US, UK and France against the Syrian government.

RT International’s Murad Gazdiev reviews the key takeaway points of this latest round of leaks:

December 31, 2019 Posted by | Deception, Fake News, False Flag Terrorism, Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Video | , | Leave a comment

Narrative Managers Claim White Helmets Founder Was Driven To Suicide By Syria Skeptics

By Caitlin Johnstone | American Herald Tribune | December 29, 2019

Imperialist spinmeisters are trial-ballooning a new Syria narrative that is so breathtakingly stupid it needs its own article solely for the purpose of mockery.

On Christmas Eve PBS aired a bizarre segment on the death of James Le Mesurier, the former military intelligence officer who founded the extremely shady propaganda construct known as the White Helmets. The segment makes relentless, ham-fisted appeals to emotion, even attempting to associate the White Helmets with Armistice Day using wistful camera pans over poppy flowers and misty war memorial art exhibits, but by far the most yogurt-brained part is its repeated suggestions that Le Mesurier killed himself because people had been accusing him of being a propagandist.

“And now a story of a humanitarian trying to help Syria: the suspicious death in Turkey last month of James Le Mesurier, the co-founder of the White Helmets rescue organization in Syria,” opens PBS News Hour‘s Judy Woodruff. “Friends and colleagues fear that he may have been murdered or driven to suicide by a campaign of character assassination.”

“Whatever the cause, Le Mesurier was a victim of a very modern war,” the special’s narrator solemnly intones. “There is no hiding place in cyberspace. Le Mesurier was at the epicenter of a propaganda war, and his friends are appalled at what they regard as a campaign of character assassination.”

“The amount of abuse, the amount of ill-placed propaganda, disinformation that’s on social media and the Internet coming out of Russian bots and Syria, Syrian regime, and others was unbearable,” Col. Hamish de Bretton-Gordon mourns.

This ridiculous narrative was picked up and run with by Syria narrative managers on Twitter.

“On lethal disinformation— a thread,” tweeted virulent Syria narrative manager Idrees Ahmad. “This is a disturbing report by Malcolm Brabant on the lethal consequences of conspiracism. It shows how slander and disinformation may have pushed James Le Mesurier, one of the finest humanitarians, to his death. The report highlights the pernicious lies issuing from the self-described ‘Working Group on Syria, Propaganda and Media’, which is a small group of academics, none specialising in Syria or the Middle East, in alliance with a group of pro-Kremlin trolls like Vanessa Beeley et al.”

It is true that both Beeley and the Working Group on Syria, Propaganda and Media have accused Le Mesurier of running a propaganda operation on behalf of western governments using western government funding. But if Ahmad truly believed that accusing people of conducting propaganda caused them to kill themselves, he should turn himself in for attempted murder, because he accuses people of being propagandists constantly.

Here’s a link to Ahmad calling journalist Max Blumenthal a “propagandist for Maduro”. Here’s a link to Ahmad calling Beeley a “pro-regime propagandist”. Here’s a link to Ahmad calling award-winning journalist Jonathan Steele “a fabricator and a propagandist”. Here’s a link to Ahmad calling CIA whistleblower John Kiriakou “a propagandist for Putin”.

Talk about “lethal disinformation”, Idrees.

But of course, no one really believes that accusations of conducting propaganda actually drive people to suicide. If they did, people like me would have thrown ourselves off a building years ago.

I am accused of being a propagandist nearly every day. At the height of Russiagate hysteria it happened many times a day in my blog post comments and social media notifications. Depending on what’s in the news and how I’ve responded to it I’ve been accused of writing paid propaganda for the Kremlin, Assad, the Iranian government, Palestinians, Pyongyang, Beijing, Maduro, the alt-right, George Soros, and WikiLeaks, just off the top of my head.

Every anti-imperialist, anti-interventionist, and antiwar activist with any kind of platform has had this experience. Ever since the new McCarthyism of establishment-driven Russia hysteria took off, accusing people who question imperialist narratives of conducting psyops for foreign governments has become the norm in political discourse. It’s created an extremely hostile and vitriolic environment in which productive conversations are vanishingly rare.

Where’s our PBS special? Does anyone care? Is there any compassion from these hand-wringing establishment loyalists for the fact that Vanessa Beeley and the members of the Working Group on Syria, Propaganda and Media are hounded day in and day out by establishment narrative managers and their brainwashed followers with accusations of spreading propaganda, supporting genocide, and embracing war crimes? I know I’ve never had a garment-rending Idrees Ahmad thread written about concerns for my psychological well being, and I’ve been targeted by multiple online harassment campaigns over the years.

The amount of hateful vitriol that gets leveled at people for simply opposing imperialism, for wanting peace, is truly astonishing. Just for saying “Hey here are some reasons we should maybe reconsider toppling yet another government in yet another Middle Eastern nation” will bring in complete strangers calling you all sorts of names, calling you disgusting, calling you evil, calling you a monster. For supporting peace.

There are all kinds of people in the world who are very deserving of harsh words. Powerful exploiters, oppressors and manipulators. People who destroy the environment for profit. People who get rich selling weapons of war while paying politicians and think tanks to advance the cause of war. War criminals who’ve never faced justice. With all those people in the world who we can all agree are terrible, you wouldn’t think peace activists should feature anywhere near the top of anyone’s list. But they do. Because war propaganda is just that influential.

And, of course, nobody cares. None of these narrative managers care about what psychological burden they might be placing on people by assuring their audiences that it’s perfectly sane and normal to hound and harass anyone who questions imperialist propaganda. Their concern is not and has never been about anyone’s psychological health. Their concern is in managing narratives in a way that favors the US-centralized empire that they serve.

I do not know what caused Le Mesurier’s death; to be in any way confident that a known spook committed suicide at all, or was murdered by Russians, is absurd. Maybe he killed himself because he failed to listen to the adage “Before you diagnose yourself with depression or low self-esteem, first make sure that you are not, in fact, just surrounded by assholes.”

What I absolutely do know, with absolute certainty, is that only idiots believe that skepticism about western regime change agendas in the Middle East kills people.

December 29, 2019 Posted by | Fake News, Mainstream Media, Warmongering | , | 1 Comment

Hoax Confirmed: Honking on Hanukkah (2019)

Semitic Controversies | December 27, 2019

According to the ‘Times of Israel’ there has been an ‘anti-Semitic hate crime’ at Yeshiva University in Manhattan, New York city.

To wit:

‘A man was arrested and accused of setting fire to a Yeshiva University dormitory on Friday using matches set out for Hanukkah, authorities in New York said.

Peter Weyand, 33, is suspected of setting three fires in the Schottenstein Residence Hall dormitory in Midtown Manhattan as students slept, New York’s Fire Commissioner Daniel Nigro said in a statement.

Firefighters responded within five minutes and there were no injuries in the fires, he said.
Surveillance video released by the fire department shows the suspect kicking in a glass door to break into the building at about 3:50 a.m. Friday. The department said Weyand used matches that had been set out for lighting Hanukkah candles.

FDNY



@FDNY

FDNY Fire Marshals have arrested Peter Weyand, age 33, for breaking into the Yeshiva University Schottenstein Residence and using matches intended for a Chanukah menorah to set three separate fires in the building.

 “Attacking any religious institution is a serious crime and we have zero tolerance for acts of arson in this city. Thanks to the thorough investigative work of our Fire Marshals, a dangerous individual has been quickly apprehended,” Nigro said.

Weyand is being charged with arson, burglary with criminal intent, reckless endangerment of property, criminal mischief, criminal trespass and aggravated harassment, the fire commissioner said.
Authorities did not indicate if there was any hate crime motive in the incident.’ (1)

Going by the video that has been helpfully provided; Weyand broke in to the lobby of the Schottenstein residence, couldn’t find or get access to anything to steal and promptly began trying to light the place on fire instead. This is clearly not an ‘anti-Semitic hate crime’ by Weyand if we go by the video footage and this is further supported by the lack of any ‘hate crime’-related charge being made by the authorities in New York, which has subsequently been confirmed to be the case by the NYPD. (2)

We have also been informed that Weyand is the grandson of famous jewish physicist and creator of the Hydrogen Bomb Edward Teller (born Ede Teller in Budapest) and is therefore jewish himself. (3)

Go figure.

Regardless of this however; it was quite the attempt prank… no?

References

(1) https://www.timesofisrael.com/man-arrested-for-setting-fire-to-yeshiva-u-dorm-with-hanukkah-matches/; alternatively see https://www.nytimes.com/2019/12/20/nyregion/yeshiva-university-ny-fires.html
(2) https://forward.com/fast-forward/437220/yeshiva-univeristy-arson-dorm-edward-teller/
(3) Ibid.

December 29, 2019 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Deception, Fake News, Mainstream Media, Warmongering | , , | 1 Comment

Guardian corrects article about Julian Assange embassy ‘escape plot’ to Russia… a year later

RT | December 24, 2019

The Guardian has corrected an article describing a “plot” to “smuggle” WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange out of London, more than a year after publication. Russia called the article “disinformation and fake news” from the outset.

Assange is currently languishing in London’s Belmarsh Prison, awaiting a hearing on his extradition to the US where he is facing espionage charges. However, in the run-up to Christmas 2017 he was still safe inside the city’s Ecuadorian embassy. At the time, Assange had become a thorn in the side of Ecuador’s new president, Lenin Moreno, and Moreno was reportedly mulling a plan to offer him a diplomatic post in Russia, shifting him out of the UK and away from the threat of extradition.

When The Guardian reported on the story in 2018, it turned up the drama. Citing anonymous sources, the newspaper described a “plot” to “smuggle” Assange out of London on Christmas Eve, speeding the fugitive publisher away in a diplomatic vehicle and onwards to refuge in Russia. Ultimately, the report claims, the plan was deemed “too risky” and called off.

Though the report painted a picture of a Kremlin-instigated cloak-and-dagger operation, Ecuador would have been well within its rights to grant Assange diplomatic status, had the UK Foreign Office signed off on it. However, plots and plans sell better than backroom diplomatic wrangling, and the paper went with the spy-movie version of events.

It even shoehorned in a paragraph on Assange’s “ties to the Kremlin,” and Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s ‘Russiagate’ investigation, for good measure.

The Russian embassy in London called the article a clear example of disinformation and fake news by British media.”

On Sunday,  the Guardian itself issued a correction. “Our report should have avoided the words ‘smuggle’ and ‘plot’ since they implied that diplomatic immunity in itself was illicit,” read a statement from the paper.

The correction was made after a complaint from Fidel Narvaez, who served as Ecuador’s London consul at the time of the alleged “plot.” The paper described Narvaez as a middleman between Assange and the Kremlin. Narvaez outright denied any discussions with Moscow.

Though The Guardian corrected its choice of words, the bulk of its story remains as is. The identity of the anonymous sources cited remain a mystery, as does the level of awareness the Russian government had about the plan at any stage in its formation.

As events transpired, Assange was bundled out of the embassy by Metropolitan Police in April, after Ecuador revoked his asylum. He has remained in prison since, with medics and UN observers sounding the alarm over his deteriorating physical and mental health, and comparing the conditions of his confinement to “torture.”

December 24, 2019 Posted by | Deception, Fake News, Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Russophobia | , | 1 Comment