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John Brennan’s CIA Trump Task Force

Could it become Obamagate?

By Philip Giraldi • Unz Review • November 12, 2019

There is considerable evidence that the American system of government may have been victimized by an illegal covert operation organized and executed by the U.S. intelligence and national security community. Former Director of National Intelligence Jim Clapper, former CIA Director John Brennan and former FBI Director Jim Comey appear to have played critical leadership roles in carrying out this conspiracy and they may not have operated on their own. Almost certainly what they may have done would have been explicitly authorized by the former President of the United States, Barack Obama, and his national security team.

It must have seemed a simple operation for the experienced CIA covert action operatives. To prevent the unreliable and unpredictable political upstart Donald Trump from being nominated as the GOP presidential candidate or even elected it would be necessary to create suspicion that he was the tool of a resurgent Russia, acting under direct orders from Vladimir Putin to empower Trump and damage the campaign of Hillary Clinton. Even though none of the alleged Kremlin plotters would have expected Trump to actually beat Hillary, it was plausible to maintain that they would have hoped that a weakened Clinton would be less able to implement the anti-Russian agenda that she had been promoting. Many observers in both Russia and the U.S. believed that if she had been elected armed conflict with Moscow would have been inevitable, particularly if she moved to follow her husband’s example and push to have both Georgia and Ukraine join NATO, which Russia would have regarded as an existential threat.

Trump’s surprising victory forced a pivot, with Clapper, Brennan and Comey adjusting the narrative to make it appear that Trump the traitor may have captured the White House due to help from the Kremlin, making him a latter-day Manchurian Candidate. The lesser allegations of Russian meddling were quickly elevated to devastating assertions that the Republican had only won with Putin’s assistance.

No substantive evidence for the claim of serious Russian meddling has ever been produced in spite of years of investigation, but the real objective was to plant the story that would plausibly convince a majority of Americans that the election of Donald Trump was somehow illegitimate.

The national security team acted to protect their candidate Hillary Clinton, who represented America’s Deep State. In spite of considerable naysaying, the Deep State is real, not just a wild conspiracy theory. Many Americans nevertheless do not believe that the Deep State exists, that it is a politically driven media creation much like Russiagate itself was, but if one changes the wording a bit and describes the Deep State as the Establishment, with its political power focused in Washington and its financial center in New York City, the argument that there exists a cohesive group of power brokers who really run the country becomes much more plausible.

The danger posed by the Deep State, or, if you choose, the Establishment, is that it wields immense power but is unelected and unaccountable. It also operates through relationships that are not transparent and as the media is part of it, there is little chance that its activity will be exposed.

Nevertheless, some might even argue that having a Deep State is a healthy part of American democracy, that it serves as a check or corrective element on a political system that has largely been corrupted and which no longer serves national interests. But that assessment surely might have been made before it became clear that many of the leaders of the nation’s intelligence and security agencies are no longer the people’s honorable servants they pretend to be. They have been heavily politicized since at least the time of Ronald Reagan and have frequently succumbed to the lure of wealth and power while identifying with and promoting the interests of the Deep State.

Indeed, a number of former Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) Directors have implicitly or even directly admitted to the existence of a Deep State that has as one of its roles keeping presidents like Donald Trump in check. Most recently, John McLaughlin, responding to a question about Donald Trump’s concern over Deep State involvement in the ongoing impeachment process, said unambiguously “Well, you know, thank God for the ‘deep state’… With all of the people who knew what was going on here, it took an intelligence officer to step forward and say something about it, which was the trigger that then unleashed everything else. This is the institution within the U.S. government… is institutionally committed to objectivity and telling the truth. It is one of the few institutions in Washington that is not in a chain of command that makes or implements policy. Its whole job is to speak the truth — it’s engraved in marble in the lobby.”

Well, John’s dedication to truth is exemplary but how does he explain his own role in support of the lies being promoted by his boss George “slam dunk” Tenet that led to the war against Iraq, the greatest foreign policy disaster ever experienced by the United States? Or Tenet’s sitting in the U.N. directly behind Secretary of State Colin Powell in the debate over Iraq, providing cover and credibility for what everyone inside the system knew to be a bundle of lies? Or his close friend and colleague Michael Morell’s description of Trump as a Russian agent, a claim that was supported by zero evidence and which was given credibility only by Morell’s boast that “I ran the CIA.”

Beyond that, more details have been revealed demonstrating exactly how Deep State associates have attempted, with considerable success, to subvert the actual functioning of American democracy. Words are one thing, but acting to interfere in an electoral process or to undermine a serving president is a rather more serious matter.

It is now known that President Barack Obama’s CIA Director John Brennan created a Trump Task Force in early 2016. Rather than working against genuine foreign threats, this Task Force played a critical role in creating and feeding the meme that Donald Trump was a tool of the Russians and a puppet of President Vladimir Putin, a claim that still surfaces regularly to this day. Working with James Clapper, the Director of National Intelligence, Brennan fabricated the narrative that “Russia had interfered in the 2016 election.” Brennan and Clapper promoted that tale even though they knew very well that Russia and the United States have carried out a broad array of covert actions against each other, including information operations, for the past seventy years, but they pretended that what happened in 2016 was qualitatively and substantively different even though the “evidence” produced to support that claim was and still is weak to nonexistent.

The Russian “election interference” narrative went on steroids on January 6, 2017, shortly before Trump was inaugurated, when an “Intelligence Community Assessment” (ICA) orchestrated by Clapper and Brennan was published. The banner headline atop The New York Times, itself an integral part of the Deep State, on the following day set the tone for what was to follow: “Putin Led Scheme to Aid Trump, Report Says.”

With the help of the Establishment media, Clapper and Brennan were able to pretend that the ICA had been approved by “all 17 intelligence agencies” (as first claimed by Hillary Clinton). After several months, however Clapper revealed that the preparers of the ICA were “handpicked analysts” from only the FBI, CIA, and NSA. He explained rather unconvincingly during an interview on May 28, 2017, that “the historical practices of the Russians, who typically, are almost genetically driven to co-opt, penetrate, gain favor, whatever, which is a typical Russian technique,” adding later that “It’s in their DNA.”

Task Force Trump was kept secret within the Agency itself because the CIA is not supposed to spy on Americans. Its staff was pulled together by invitation-only. Specific case officers (i.e., men and women who recruit and handle spies overseas), analysts and administrative personnel were recruited, presumably based on their political reliability. Not everyone invited accepted the offer. But many did because it came with promises of promotion and other rewards.

And this was not a CIA-only operation. Personnel from the FBI also were assigned to the Task Force with the approval of then Director James Comey. Former MI-6 agent Christopher Steele’s FBI handler, Michael Gaeta, may have been one of those detailed to the Trump Task Force. Steele, of course, prepared the notorious dossier that was surfaced shortly before Donald Trump took office. It included considerable material intended to tie Trump to Russia, information that was in many cases fabricated or unsourced.

So, what kind of things would this Task Force do? The case officers would work with foreign intelligence services such as MI-6, the Italians, the Ukrainians and the Australians on identifying intelligence collection priorities that would implicate Trump and his associates in illegal activity. And there is evidence that John Brennan himself would contact his counterparts in allied intelligence services to obtain their discreet cooperation, something they would be inclined to do in collegial fashion, ignoring whatever reservations they might have about spying on a possible American presidential candidate.

Trump Task Force members could have also tasked the National Security Agency (NSA) to do targeted collection. They also would have the ability to engage in complicated covert actions that would further set up and entrap Trump and his staff in questionable activity, such as the targeting of associate George Papadopoulos. If he is ever properly interviewed, Maltese citizen Joseph Mifsud may be able to shed light on the CIA officers who met with him, briefed him on operational objectives regarding Papadopoulos and helped arrange monitored meetings. It is highly likely that Azra Turk, the woman who met with George Papadopoulos, was part of the CIA Trump Task Force.

The Task Force also could carry out other covert actions, sometimes using press or social media placements to disseminate fabrications about Trump and his associates. Information operations is a benign-sounding euphemism for propaganda fed through the Agency’s friends in the media, and computer network operations can be used to create false linkages and misdirect inquiries. There has been some informed speculation that Guccifer 2.0 may have been a creation of this Task Force.

In light of what has been learned about the alleged CIA whistleblower there should be a serious investigation to determine if he was a part of this Task Force or, at minimum, reporting to them secretly after he was seconded to the National Security Council. All the CIA and FBI officers involved in the Task Force had sworn an oath to uphold the Constitution of the United States, but nevertheless were involved in a conspiracy to first denigrate and then possibly bring down a legally elected president. That effort continues with repeated assertions regarding Moscow’s malevolent intentions for the 2020 national elections. Some might reasonably regard the whole Brennan affair, to include its spear carriers among the current and retired national security state leadership, as a case of institutionalized treason, and it inevitably leads to the question “What did Obama know?”

Philip M. Giraldi, Ph.D., is Executive Director of the Council for the National Interest, a 501(c)3 tax deductible educational foundation (Federal ID Number #52-1739023) that seeks a more interests-based U.S. foreign policy in the Middle East. Website is councilforthenationalinterest.org, address is P.O. Box 2157, Purcellville VA 20134 and its email is inform@cnionline.org.

November 12, 2019 Posted by | Deception, Fake News, Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Russophobia | , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Tulsi Gabbard Demands Clinton Retract ‘Defamatory’ Russia Smear

By Tyler Durden – Zero Hedge – 11/11/2019

Tulsi Gabbard (D-HI) on Monday demanded that Hillary Clinton retract ‘defamatory’ comments alleging that the 2020 presidential candidate is a favorite of the Russians, according to The Hill.

“Your statement is defamatory, and we demand that you retract it immediately,” wrote Gabbard’s attorneys in a letter, demanding that Clinton do so both verbally and via Twitter.

Last month Clinton peddled the conspiracy theory that Gabbard is being ‘groomed’ to split the Democratic party as a third party candidate, and that she’s the Kremlin’s top pick in 2020.

Speaking with former Obama 2008 campaign manager David Plouffe on his podcast, “Campaign HQ with David Plouffe,” Clinton said – without mentioning Gabbard by name: “I’m not making any predictions but I think they’ve got their eye on somebody who is currently in the Democratic primary and are grooming her to be the third-party candidate. She’s the favorite of the Russians.”

Of course, that’s “assuming Jill Stein will give it up – because she’s also a Russian asset,” Clinton continued.

“It appears you may now be claiming that this statement is about Republicans (not Russians) grooming Gabbard,” Gabbard’s lawyer wrote in the letter. “But this makes no sense in light of what you actually said. After you made the statement linking Congresswoman Gabbard to the Russians, you (through your spokesman) doubled down on it with the Russian nesting dolls remark,” referring to comments by Clinton spokesman Nick Merrill.

Gabbard has repeatedly denied that she will run in a third party bid for the White House.

November 11, 2019 Posted by | Deception, Russophobia | , | 1 Comment

CNN enlists help of fraudster Browder & Integrity Initiative ‘experts’ to fan Russia meddling claims in UK

RT | November 9, 2019

While the yet to be published report on alleged Russian meddling into Brexit is in the center of political drama in the UK, CNN got the scoop from pundits– usual suspects when it comes to Russiagate narrative.

The Russiagate in the US might have fizzled out, but CNN apparently has no intention to give up on the stale narrative – and is now peddling it across the ocean. The Saturday’s scoop delves into the testimonies submitted by “witnesses” during a UK parliamentary investigation into the alleged Russian meddling in the 2016 Brexit referendum and 2017 general election. While the report, prepared by the Intelligence and Security Committee (ISC) has not been released yet, and previous reports failed to turn up any damning proof of Russia’s influence, CNN’s bombshell conveniently revolves around the testimony of Bill Browder, financier wanted for tax fraud in Russia and one of the leading champions of anti-Russian sanctions.

CNN says that Browder’s was one of two written testimonies the channel got its hands on, in addition to having been “briefed” on oral testimonies provided by two other witnesses.

While one might argue that Browder, a self-proclaimed “No. 1 foreign enemy” of Russian President Vladimir Putin, is a person whose words should hardly be taken at face value, especially, in matters related to Russia, CNN does not offer any critical analysis, but rather serves as a mouthpiece for the disgraced entrepreneur.

In his testimony, Browder paints the Russian government as a nefarious entity whose tentacles are reaching further than one could imagine. “The Russian state effectively uses the Western persons… taking advantage of their identities, skills, expertise and contacts in the West to infiltrate Western societies,” Browder says in his statement, while accusing the Kremlin of organizing a money-laundering scheme by recruiting Dubai-based UK citizens and warning that the network of supposed Russia stooges should be acted upon immediately unless “will have serious detrimental effects on the UK democratic process, rule of law and integrity of the financial systems.”

In addition to Browder, CNN also turns to  Edward Lucas with Institute of Statecraft, the NGO behind Integrity Initiative, a state-funded covert project exposed last year as a Europe-wide anti-Russian psy-op.

Perhaps, it’s no surprise that, according to CNN, Lucas cared enough to give a two-hour and 45-minute long oral testimony alongside Chris Donnely, the head of Institute of Statecraft, while calling on the UK authorities to band together with other countries to fight Russian “subversion.”

Among other veterans of the Russiagate who generously shared their expertise with the ISC was Christopher Steele, a former British spy, who compiled a dossier on US President Donald Trump, that was later used by FBI to surveil his camping despite being completely unverified and loaded with salacious gossip.

The 50-page yet unreleased report has become the talk of the town in the UK after opposition accused Downing Street of stalling its publication as rumors swirl that it could reveal Moscow’s sinister role in swaying the Brexit vote.

The report was submitted to the government on October 17, and was due to be published on Monday. However the report likely won’t be made public until after December 12 general election as it was not approved by PM Boris Johnson’s cabinet before the legislature was dissolved on Tuesday.

November 9, 2019 Posted by | Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Russophobia | , , , , | 1 Comment

Inconvenient Truths

Alarming things we have learned under Trump, but not always about him.

By Stephen F. Cohen | The Nation | November 6, 2019

Almost daily for three years, Democrats and their media have told us very bad things about Donald Trump’s life, character, and presidency. Some of them are true. But in the process, we have also learned some lamentable, even alarming, things about the Democratic Party establishment, including self-professed liberals. Consider the following:

§ The Democratic establishment is deeply and widely imbued with rancid Russophobic attitudes. Most telling was (and remains) a core “Russiagate” allegation that “Russia attacked American democracy during the 2016 presidential election” on Trump’s behalf—an “attack” so nefarious it has often been equated with Pearl Harbor. But there was no “attack” in 2016, only, as I have previously explained, ritualistic “meddling” of the kind that both Russia and America have undertaken in the other’s elections for decades. Little can be more phobic than the allegation or belief that one has been “attacked by a hostile” entity. And yet this myth and its false narrative persist in the Democratic Party’s discourse, campaigning, and fund-raising.

§ We have also learned that the heads of America’s intelligence agencies under President Obama, especially John Brennan of the CIA and James Clapper, director of National Intelligence, felt themselves entitled to try to undermine an American presidential candidacy and subsequent presidency, that of Donald Trump. Early on, I termed this operation “Intelgate,” and it has since been well documented by other writers, including Lee Smith in his new book. Intel officials did so in tacit alliance with certain leading, and equally Russophobic, members of the Democratic Party, which had once opposed such transgressions. This may be the most alarming revelation of the Trump years: Trump will leave power, but these self-aggrandizing intelligence agencies will remain.

§ We also learned that, contrary to Democratic dogma, the mainstream “free press” cannot be fully trusted to readily expose such abuses of power. Indeed, what the mainstream media—leading national newspapers and two cable news networks, in particular—chose to cover and report, and chose not to cover and report, made the abuses and consequences of Russiagate allegations possible. Even now, exceedingly influential publications such as The New York Times seem eager to delegitimize the investigation by Attorney General William Barr and his appointed special investigator John Durham into the origins of Russiagate. Barr’s critics accuse him of fabricating a “conspiracy theory” on behalf of Trump. But the real, or grandest, conspiracy theory was the Russiagate allegation of “collusion” between Trump and the Kremlin, an accusation that was—or should have been—discredited by the Robert Mueller report.

§ And we have learned, or should have learned, that for all the talk by Democrats about Trump as a danger to US national security, it is their Russiagate allegations that truly endanger it. Consider two examples. Russia’s new “hyper-sonic” missiles, which can elude US missile-defense systems, make new nuclear arms negotiations with Moscow imperative and urgent. If only for the sake of his legacy, Trump is likely to want to do so. But even if he is able to, will Trump be entrusted enough to conduct negotiations as successfully as did his predecessors in the White House, given the “Putin puppet” and “Kremlin stooge” accusations still being directed at him? … continue

November 8, 2019 Posted by | Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Russophobia | | 1 Comment

‘Russiagate’ may be over in the US, but in the UK it’s just beginning

Former Special Counsel Robert Mueller testifies before the House Judiciary Committee during a much-anticipated hearing about Russian interference into the 2016 election – EPA/JONATHAN ERNST / POOL
By Johanna Ross | November 8, 2019

‘It’s only a matter of time’ it occurred to me as I cast a glance over Dominic Cummings’ profile on Wikipedia a couple of months’ back. The mere mention that Cummings, Boris Johnson’s trusted advisor had spent several years in Russia, spoke Russian and enjoyed a bit of Dostoevsky was surely more than enough ammunition for the UK opposition, given the way ‘Russia’ has become almost a dirty word in itself over the last few years in the British and US political discourse. There was a half-hearted attempt to link Boris Johnson to Russian money in the Tory leadership race, but it didn’t gain much traction. But now with the Brexit election campaign kicking off, the gloves are off and we can only expect that every possible method of undermining each other will be used by the Conservatives and Labour parties alike.

We have perhaps not seen quite the hysteria over supposed Russian interference in elections here in the UK, as was in the US, but there were rumours of it after the vote to Leave the EU in the 2016 referendum. The general rule of thumb seems to be that if the result is not what the establishment wants or expects, then surely Russia must be to blame. After all, what could the alternative explanation be? That politicians are out of touch with the electorate? Surely not. This time, no sooner has the general election campaign begun, than the ‘Russia’ word has been used already to smear the Conservatives. The party has been accused by former attorney general Dominic Grieve of suppressing a parliamentary report into Russian interference in UK politics which it is said is being held up only by the PM’s office. Apparently the report normally takes 10 days to be cleared, but Johnson’s team has said it won’t be revealed until after the December election. Speculation is rife therefore about the contents of the report and how damaging they are to the Tory party. It has already been reported that the report details substantial donations made to the party by ‘Russians’.

This is where things get a bit ridiculous. For now the approach seems to be rather 2 + 2 = 5. Russians = Russian state sponsored interference. Anything remotely linked to Russia is automatically, thanks to the mainstream media and strategies used by UK foreign office initiatives such as the ‘Integrity Initiative’, branded as subversive and not to be trusted. Anti-Semitism is not to be tolerated at any cost within political parties but anti-Russian sentiments are, it seems, wholly acceptable.

There is an important aspect of Russian donations to the Conservative party which seems to escape most people. Most of the Russians in the UK, unlike other immigrants like the Polish community, are wealthy individuals who, like most affluent people, want to ensure that they retain their riches. The Conservative party is the very political party that represents their values and unlike Labour, does not threaten to raise taxes on their businesses. Any decision therefore by Russian businessmen to support the Tories ought to be taken at face value and not judged in the way that donations by other nationalities are also not judged. And yet, for political reasons, it seems that any possibility of linking politicians to ‘the Russian enemy’ will be utilised in what has become a very dirty game in recent years.

For once, you may say, it’s not Jeremy Corbyn who is being branded a ‘Soviet sleeper’ or ‘Putin propagandist’. Instead of Corbyn’s face being plastered over backgrounds of Red Square in a Russian-style hat in the media, it’s now Boris Johnson. While Labour has faced the brunt of such smear campaigns since Corbyn came to power, now it’s the Tories’ turn – they deserve it, you could say. But the reality is that, as the Russiagate saga proved in the US, with desperate attempts by the Democrats to link Donald Trump to Russia, it is a fruitless exercise in terms of influencing public opinion but on the other hand, greatly harms our relationship with Russia.

Coming back to Dominic Cummings, and already UK Shadow Foreign Secretary Emily Thornberry has written to the government asking questions about the time Cummings spent in Russia from 1994 to 1997 after he graduated, and whether he has been through appropriate ‘security checks’. It’s as if now, any individual spending time in Russia has automatically been up to mischief, regardless of how long ago it was. Thornberry was apparently approached by an ‘official-level whistleblower’ who raised ‘serious concerns’ about just what Cummings was up to back then. Well anyone who knows anything about Russia knows that in the 90s it was a dynamic and rather anarchic place, but a great place for business opportunities. A quick scan of Wikipedia suggests business ventures was exactly what Cummings was engaged in there, and I’m sure he had a fun time of it. But it was a very different place to Russia today, and to imply that just because he lived in Russia over twenty years ago he shouldn’t be trusted is quite frankly ridiculous.

But this is where we’re at now in politics. It’s been a while since UK politics was sensible. Now in the Brexit era, anything goes and Russia remains an easy scapegoat. And nothing one sees or hears suggests this is likely to change in the near future…

November 8, 2019 Posted by | Russophobia | | Leave a comment

The Media’s Obsession With Personalities

By Joe Lauria  | Consortium News | November 5, 2019

Jury selection began Tuesday in Washington in the trial of political operative Roger Stone on charges of obstructing justice and lying to Congress. But instead of focusing on those narrow charges, the corporate media is trying to make this about Stone’s personality while attempting to revive the discredited allegation of collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia.

The media has a long history of putting personality above facts. Judgement should be reserved to what people say and what they do. Instead we’ve seen character assassination of many people, including imprisoned WikiLeaks publisher Julian Assange, rather than a truthful examination of his actions and the dangerous charges against him for practicing journalism. There is the same obsession with the personalities of Donald Trump and Vladimir Putin, for instance, rather than objectively examining their actions, particularly on foreign policy. In the same way, Barack Obama’s personality was elevated to cover up for his foreign policy disasters in Syria, Libya, Ukraine, and Yemen and in building tensions with Russia.

Now Stone, by all appearances a sleazy operative in a town full of sleazy operatives for both parties, is portrayed by The New York Times as a “swashbuckling and abrasive political trickster for decades” and “eccentric and flamboyant.” Stone is still innocent until proven otherwise. It’s becoming harder to find, but serious reporting about a person on trial would ditch the adjectives.

The reporting on Stone has little to do with the actual charges against him, but rather serves the purpose of reviving a narrative the media falsely pushed for two years: that the Trump campaign colluded with Russia to turn the 2016 election.

Newsweek reported Tuesday:

“Stone, 67, is at the center of the question of whether the Trump campaign conspired or cooperated with WikiLeaks or Russia to leak stolen emails from the Democratic National Committee and Hillary Clinton’s campaign during the 2016 election.”

At least The New York Times admitted,

“Mr. Mueller’s investigation found insufficient evidence to charge anyone tied to the Trump campaign with criminally conspiring with WikiLeaks or the Russians to damage the campaign of Hillary Clinton. But as documents released last week by the Justice Department underscore, Trump campaign aides were elated when WikiLeaks began publishing emails that the Russians stole from Democrats.”

Of course they were elated as any campaign would be if such damaging, and true, information came out about its opponent. Is elation now a crime?

The Democrats’ and the media’s allegation against Stone, though it is not in his indictment, is that he somehow knew about coming WikiLeaks releases and told Trump about them. Even if he did, is it a crime if he had nothing to do with obtaining the emails? Stone knew about the coming WikiLeaks releases because Assange had already announced they were coming. The Times reported: “Mr. Stone later insisted that he never had any inside information from WikiLeaks, and his claims were simply ‘posture, bluff and hype.’”

The Only Russiagate Crime

Aside from the technical charges against Stone on lying and obstructing justice regarding his alleged efforts to learn what WikiLeaks was preparing to release, the only crime in this whole story is the stealing of the DNC and Podesta emails. It has never been proven in court who did it, and probably never will, despite the Times and other corporate media saying flatly that Russia did it.

Earlier in Stone’s legal process his lawyers filed a motion to try to prove that Russia did not hack the DNC and Podesta emails. The motion revealed that CrowdStrike, the cybersecurity firm hired by the DNC and Clinton campaign, never completed its report, and only gave a redacted draft to the FBI blaming Russia. The FBI was never allowed to examine the DNC server itself.

In the end, though, it doesn’t matter if it were a hack or a leak by an insider. That’s because the emails WikiLeaks released were accurate. When documents check out it is irrelevant who the source is. That’s why WikiLeaks set up an anonymous drop box, copied by big media like The Wall Street Journal and others. Had the emails been counterfeit and disinformation was inserted into a U.S. election by a foreign power that would be sabotage. But that is not what happened.

The attempt to stir up the thoroughly discredited charge of collusion appears to be part of the defense strategy of those whose reputations were thoroughly discredited by maniacally pushing that false charge for more than two years. This includes legions of journalists. But principal among them are intelligence agency officials who laundered this “collusion” disinformation campaign through the mainstream media.

Faced now with a criminal investigation into how the Russiagate conspiracy theory originated intelligence officers and their accomplices in the media and in the Democratic Party are mounting a defense by launching an offensive in the form of impeachment proceedings against Trump that is based on an allegation of conducting routine, corrupt U.S. foreign policy.

Stone may be just a footnote to this historic partisan battle that may scar the nation for a generation. But he has the personality to be the poster boy for the Democrats’ lost cause.


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 .

November 6, 2019 Posted by | Fake News, Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Russophobia | , | Leave a comment

Russiagate is a cult, complete with unquestionable doctrine, dissent-shaming, and us-vs-them cosmology

By Helen Buyniski | RT | November 6, 2019

Americans still clinging to the idea that their candidate lost the 2016 election because of meddling by the Russian state have much in common with victims of brainwashing cults. For them, doctrine has eclipsed reality.

Russiagate true believers are already screaming about foreign interference in the 2020 election and it hasn’t even happened yet. Months after the long-awaited special counsel’s report failed to serve up the promised evidence of “Russian collusion,” they have held fast to their conviction that President Donald Trump is a Russian asset placed in office by Vladimir Putin, and the intelligence agencies that serve as their oracles have predicted further “meddling” will occur to keep him in office. Indeed, their beliefs only grow stronger the more contrary evidence is presented, to the point where they have more in common with a cult than any other political group.

Russiagaters are back in the headlines after the Justice Department, the Pentagon, and a cluster of intelligence agencies released a joint statement on “ensuring security” for the 2020 elections on Tuesday. But to be fair, they never really left. Just last month, they were pearl-clutching about Russians on Facebook targeting Democratic presidential frontrunner Joe Biden, and before that, it was a non-story about Trump supposedly telling Russian officials he wasn’t concerned about the (still-unproven, but who’s counting) Russian interference in the 2016 election.

There’s no such thing as a negative Russiagate story, and even if Trump is ousted from office and replaced with a safely Russophobic warmonger like Biden, the election will be presented as a narrow victory over the forces of Russian meddling. If Trump wins in the absence of Russian interference, Russiagaters will claim there was a coverup. If intelligence agencies claim there was, but fail to show proof, as they did in 2016, it will be because the proof has to stay classified. If they declare there was meddling, and show reality-based proof – which hasn’t happened yet for any of the elections deemed to involve Russian meddling – then, and only then, can the story be trusted. This is not how reality works.

Such unshakeable faith is typically the domain of religion, not politics. But three years after the initial claims of Russian meddling in the US election, with the sanguine early predictions Trump would be running home to Putin within months having thoroughly collapsed, Russiagate resembles nothing so much as a fringe religious cult. The devotees of high priests Rachel Maddow and Bill Maher may not have a deity, but they have their saints – former FBI director James Comey, former special counsel Robert Mueller, and failed presidential candidate Hillary Clinton, who continues to play the part of the martyr in interviews. On the side of evil is, of course, Vladimir Putin, portrayed as omnipotent – “Russia” is behind all domestic discord and will shut off your heat in the middle of the winter on a lark – and irresistible, with a few Facebook groups and clumsy memes somehow enough to induce black voters to elect a Russian asset.

Led by Maddow and Maher, certain mainstream media figures have set themselves up as a “priest class,” urging viewers to allow them to interpret primary sources such as the Democratic National Committee emails released by WikiLeaks in lieu of reading them themselves. CNN’s Chris Cuomo led the establishment of this caste, warning viewers the month before the election that they were not allowed to read WikiLeaks publications – that was for journalists to do. The media can thus smooth over any logical inconsistencies with the collusion doctrine and memory-hole the really inconvenient primary sources. Believers’ faith is thus protected, dissenting reports rejected (after all, if it was legitimate, it would be printed or discussed in the mainstream media), and doubters frozen out in a phenomenon cult expert Robert J Lifton calls “mystical manipulation.” In fact, most of the characteristics Lifton includes in his checklist for brainwashing cults are fulfilled by Russiagaters.

Cultists are kept from straying too far into “wrongthink” through thought-stopping techniques they are taught by other members early on. For Russiagate, this manifests in buzzwords like “fake news” and the smearing of all non-mainstream sources as unreliable. True cultists will cut entire websites out of their news diet, lest they be exposed to “Russian disinformation” carefully disguised as, say, American conservatism (Breitbart, Infowars) or peace activism (antiwar.com, the Ron Paul Institute). Even aggregators like Drudge Report have been smeared by the PropOrNot list later used, more disturbingly, by more authoritative voices like the Poynter Institute in an attempt to smear entire sections of the web as disinformation and “fake news.” Such “milieu control” keeps cultists safe in their echo-chambers.

By controlling a person’s information environment, it becomes much easier to control their thoughts. Brainwashing cults demand purity from their members, and both impure thoughts – perusing “fake news” or having civilized online chats with dissenters – and impure people must be jettisoned. If you can’t convert your friends (or family, or spouse!) to see things your way politically, ditch them, a surprising number of articles recommended around the 2016 election. This is no different than a cult demanding followers cut off family members who frown on its activities. Cults know that without a strong support system, it can be difficult to leave.

“Sacred science” is another hallmark of brainwashing cults, referring to unquestionable doctrine and the discouragement of questioning. Many elements of the Russiagate conspiracy theory – CrowdStrike’s assessment that the DNC fell victim to “Russian hacking,” delivered to the FBI without the actual server; the claim that the Internet Research Agency somehow changed voters’ minds with a few hundred thousand dollars’ worth of goofy memes, many of which were posted after the election – require a complete suspension of one’s critical faculties. The Hamilton68 “Russian bot” dashboard, cited by dozens of publications to support the claim that the Kremlin is steering political conversation on social media, has seen one creator largely disavow it (“I’m not convinced on this bot thing,” Clint Watts told Buzzfeed last year) and the other exposed as the leader of his own election-swaying faux-Russian bot armies. Yet the “Russian bots persuading people on social media” narrative persists, even when its targets reveal themselves to be humans.

The most disturbing element of a true brainwashing cult is “dispensing of existence,” the cult leader’s ability to determine who lives or dies (sometimes metaphorically, by being excommunicated, but sometimes literally). Russiagaters are quick to label their enemies traitors – former CIA director John Brennan infamously accused the president of treason last year, a crime that has a very specific meaning for an intelligence official who delivered “kill lists” weekly to the desk of former president Barack Obama. Brennan is not the leader of the Russiagate cult per se, but the investigation currently being conducted into the operation’s roots seems to point to the intelligence community, and recently turned into a criminal investigation.

Less powerful Russiagaters are fond of denouncing their enemies as Russians (and by extension less than human – recall former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper’s conviction that Russians are “genetically driven to co-opt, penetrate and gain favor,” unlike the rest of humans who are presumably trustworthy types who never lie under oath). Hawaii Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard, Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell, and Kentucky Senator Rand Paul have all been tarred with the Russiagaters’ brush recently, given cringe-inducing nicknames like “Moscow Mitch” and “Red Paul” for disagreeing with doctrine. In medieval times, heretics were burned at the stake; now they are “burned” on social media.

Perhaps sensing the cult’s days are numbered, Brennan recently backpedaled in his conviction that Russians stole the 2016 election. Russian meddling “changed the mind of at least one voter,” he hedged at the National Press Club last week, not long after an enthusiastic colleague caused him to cringe by cheering “Thank God for the Deep State!” Russiagate may not be over – the warning from the intelligence agencies suggests they are preparing yet another excuse in case they lose the election – but when it does end, it will be with the saddest of whimpers.

November 6, 2019 Posted by | Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Russophobia | , | Leave a comment

Nasty Russians harassed a sick American diplomat? That’s ‘fake news’ says Foreign Ministry

RT | November 3, 2019

The New York Times has spun a tale of Russian treachery based on its usual anonymous sources. Though the Russian Foreign Ministry stepped in to correct the record, the paper didn’t let facts get in the way of a good story.

According to the Times, the debacle kicked off in August, when Russian officials delayed a sick American envoy from leaving Moscow for treatment, part of a Cold War-style “harassment campaign” against US diplomats.

The man in question, a military attache at the American embassy in Moscow, fell ill and needed evacuation to Germany for hospital treatment. According to the NYT, his plane was delayed “for hours for no apparent reason,” despite protests from embassy officials and the State Department in Washington.

The story ticks all the ‘Russiagate’ boxes. Neither the State Department or the Pentagon would give details of the incident, so anonymous “officials” were quoted instead. The paper also fitted the story into a wider anti-Russia conspiracy, calling it “the latest episode of a long-running campaign of harassment against American diplomats in Russia.”

Even the newspaper’s subhead proclaimed that “Russian intimidation of American officials has reached levels unseen since the Cold War.” Evidently, delayed flights are comparable to the world’s biggest superpowers threatening each other with nuclear war.

A bold statement, were it true. In a response to the Times, sent before publication but selectively clipped, the Russian Foreign Ministry explained that five and a half hours before the attache’s flight, the airline announced a one hour delay. Upon arrival at the airport, the sick man’s entourage were fast-tracked through security, and were then found to have the wrong papers, due to an error with their earlier charter flight.

The paper mix up – which had the entourage identified as crew instead of passengers – was resolved in 20 minutes, and the flight took off five minutes before its scheduled departure time.

Little of this official explanation was included in the story, and Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova again decried the article on Sunday, calling it “fake news,” and “a scandal; a forgery in its purest form.”

And of course, a good Russia yarn wouldn’t be complete without some conspiracy-peddling from former US ambassador to Russia Michael McFaul.

“When I was ambassador, we felt like we were under siege all the time,” McFaul told the Times. He said that delaying a medical flight would be “the kind of classic harassment that for many years now, our people have been putting up with. It’s inexcusable, it’s horrible.”

This is the same Michael McFaul who once compared Russians purchasing Facebook ads in the runup to the 2016 election to the 9/11 attacks, warned American tourists to steer clear of Russia, in case they be jailed for spying, and penned a research paper in 2005 advocating American-led regime change in Moscow. Anti-Russia protestations are also big money for McFaul, who wrote a book lambasting Donald Trump and Vladimir Putin last year, while ‘Russiagate’ hysteria was at its height.

In her response, Zakharova reminded the NYT about the time a Russian diplomat in Washington was tasked with bringing cancer medicine to Moscow for former Prime Minister Yevgeny Primakov some time before 2015. The diplomat was detained by American intelligence and had his belongings seized. The medicine was only delivered to Moscow when the then-Secretary of State John Kerry intervened.

“Relations between Washington and Moscow remain generally hostile,” the NYT’s article claims. That may be true, but the paper’s writers clearly didn’t pause to think that presenting Cold War spy fiction as news might just have something to do with it.

November 3, 2019 Posted by | Fake News, Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Russophobia | | 3 Comments

Labour Party MP panned for hinting Tory adviser could be ‘Russian Spy’

RT | November 3, 2019

The Labour Party has pressed Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab over security clearances granted to adviser Dominic Cummings, citing “serious concerns” over his time spent in Russia. Where have we heard this before?

According to the UK media, citing a letter sent to Raab by Shadow Foreign Secretary Emily Thornberry, the Labour Party has been approached with “serious concerns by an official-level whistleblower” about the three years Cummings – Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s senior adviser – spent in Russia after graduation in 1994.

In the letter, Thornberry asks Raab to comment on Cummings’ security clearance, and for more information about the purpose of his visit to post-Soviet Russia and the “relationships” he may have built there, as well as his relationships with the Conservative Friends of Russia group.

The “serious concerns” mentioned in the letter are unknown, and even Thornberry herself wrote “we make no claim to know the veracity of the claims.”

Copies of the letter have also been sent to Mark Sedwill, head of the civil service, as well as the heads of MI5 and MI6 and the chair of the intelligence and security committee (ISC), Dominic Grieve, UK media writes.

Accusations of “Russian asset” are lobbed around Washington like confetti, and an unknown whistleblower with “serious concern” triggered impeachment calls against President Donald Trump. However, such accusations have remained a mostly American phenomenon.

Until now, that is. “Is Dominic Cummings a Russian Spy? Hidden in plain sight,” Labour MP David Lammy tweeted on Sunday.

Commenters were unimpressed. “Is this the best you’ve got? The country is in crisis and you are peddling this comedy,” one wrote. “You went to Brussels, does that make you an EU Spy?” another jibed.

Cummings’ work in Russia was less cloak and dagger than Thornberry’s letter makes out. Upon graduation from Oxford – where he studied Russian history – Cummings worked to set up an airline connecting the Russian city of Samsara with Vienna in Austria. The airline itself made only one flight and went bust in 1998, when Russia’s rouble collapsed. Sounds like impressive work for a supposed Russian spy. Further incriminating ‘evidence’ against Cummings is found in his reported fondness for Russian literature, and in the fact that he speaks (broken) Russian.

The Cabinet Office has responded that it does “not comment on individuals’ security clearance,” as has Downing Street.

But it remains to be seen whether that will stop some hotheads from calling for a show trial.  Better burn your copy of ‘Anna Karenina’ now and cancel your flights to Moscow, lest you too be labeled a “Russian Spy.”

November 3, 2019 Posted by | Russophobia | | Leave a comment

Growing Indicators of Brennan’s CIA Trump Task Force

By Larry C Johnson | Sic Semper Tyrannus | November 2, 2019

The average American has no idea how alarming is the news that former CIA Director John Brennan reportedly created and staffed a CIA Task Force in early 2016 that was named, Trump Task Force, and given the mission of spying on and carrying out covert actions against the campaign of candidate Donald Trump.

This was not a simple gathering of a small number of disgruntled Democrats working at the CIA who got together like a book club to grouse and complain about the brash real estate guy from New York. It was a specially designed covert action to try to destroy Donald Trump.

A “Task Force” is a special bureaucratic creation that provides a vehicle for bringing case officers and analysts together, along with admin support, for a limited term project. But it also can be expanded to include personnel from other agencies, such as the FBI, DIA and NSA. Task Forces have been used since the inception of the CIA in 1947. Here’s a recently declassified memo outlining the considerations in the creation of a task force in 1958. The author, L.K. White, talks about the need for a coordinating Headquarters element and an Operational unit “in the field”, i.e. deployed around the world.

A Task Force operates independent of the CIA “Mission Centers” (that’s the jargon for the current CIA organization chart).

So what did John Brennan do? I am told by a knowledgeable source that Brennan created a Trump Task Force in early 2016. It was an invitation only Task Force. Specific case officers (i.e., men and women who recruit and handle spies overseas), analysts and admin personnel were recruited. Not everyone invited accepted the offer. But many did.

This was not a CIA only operation. Personnel from the FBI also were assigned to the Task Force. We have some clues that Christopher Steele’s FBI handler, Michael Gaeta, may have been detailed to the Trump Task Force (see here).

So what kind of things would this Task Force do? The case officers would work with foreign intelligence services such as MI-6, the Italians, the Ukrainians and the Australians on identifying intelligence collection priorities. Task Force members could task NSA to do targeted collection. They also would have the ability to engage in covert action, such as targeting George Papadopoulos. Joseph Mifsud may be able to shed light on the CIA officers who met with him, briefed on operational objectives regarding Papadopoulos and helped arrange monitored meetings. I think it is highly likely that the honey pot that met with George Papadopoulos, a woman named Azra Turk, was part of the CIA Trump Task Force.

The Task Force also could carry out other covert actions, such as information operations. A nice sounding euphemism for propaganda, and computer network operations. There has been some informed speculation that Guccifer 2.0 was a creation of this Task Force.

In light of what we have learned about the alleged CIA whistleblower, Eric Ciaramella, there should be a serious investigation to determine if he was a part of this Task Force or, at minimum, reporting to them.

When I described this to one friend, a retired CIA Chief of Station, his first response was, “My God, that’s illegal.” We then reminisced about another illegal operation carried out under the auspices of the CIA Central American Task Force back in the 1980s. That became known to Americans as the Iran Contra scandal.

I sure hope that John Durham and his team are looking at this angle. If true it marks a new and damning indictment of the corruption of the CIA. Rather than spying on genuine foreign threats, this Task Force played a critical role in creating and feeding the meme that Donald Trump was a tool of the Russians and a puppet of Putin.

November 3, 2019 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Deception, Russophobia | , , , , , | 3 Comments

Russia Isn’t Getting the Recognition It Deserves on Syria

By Scott Ritter | TruthDig | October 30, 2019

At a time when the credibility of the United States as either an unbiased actor or reliable ally lies in tatters, Russia has emerged as the one major power whose loyalty to its allies is unquestioned, and whose ability to serve as an honest broker between seemingly intractable opponents is unmatched.

If there is to be peace in Syria, it will be largely due to the patient efforts of Moscow employing deft negotiation, backed up as needed by military force, to shape conditions conducive for a political solution to a violent problem. If ever there was a primer for the art of diplomacy, the experience of Russia in Syria from 2011 to the present is it.

Like the rest of the world, Russia was caught off guard by the so-called Arab Spring that swept through the Middle East and North Africa in 2010-2011, forced to watch from the sidelines as the old order in Tunisia and Egypt was swept aside by popular discontent. While publicly supporting the peaceful transition of power in Tunis and Cairo, in private the Russian government watched the events unfolding in Egypt and the Maghreb with trepidation, concerned that the social and political transformations underway were a continuation of the kind of Western-backed “color revolutions” that had occurred previously in Serbia (2000), Georgia (2003) and Ukraine (2004).

When, in early 2011, the Arab Spring expanded into Libya, threatening the rule of longtime Russian client Moammar Gadhafi, Russia initially supported the creation of a U.N.-backed no-fly zone for humanitarian purposes, only to watch in frustration as the U.S. and NATO used it as a vehicle to launch a concerted air campaign in a successful bid to drive Gadhafi from power.

By the time Syria found itself confronting popular demonstrations against the rule of President Bashar Assad, Russia—still struggling to understand the root cause of the unrest—had become wary of the playbook being employed by the U.S. and NATO in response. While Russia was critical of the violence used by the Assad government in responding to the anti-government demonstrations in the spring of 2011, it blocked efforts by the U.S. and Europe to impose economic sanctions against the Syrian government, viewing them as little more than the initial salvo of a broader effort to achieve regime change in Damascus using the Libyan model.

Moscow’s refusal to help facilitate that Western-sponsored regime change, however, did not translate into unequivocal support for the continued rule of Assad. Russia supported the appointment of former U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan to head up a process for bringing a peaceful resolution to the Syrian crisis, and endorsed Annan’s six-point peace plan, put forward in March 2012, which included the possibility of a peaceful transition of power away from Assad.

At the same time Russia was promoting a diplomatic resolution to the Syrian crisis, the U.S. was spearheading a covert program to provide weapons and equipment to anti-Assad forces, funneling shipments from Libya through Turkey and into rebel-controlled areas of Syria. This CIA-run effort, which eventually morphed into a formal operation known as Timber Sycamore, helped fuel an increase in the level of violence inside Syria that made it impossible for the Assad government to fully implement the Annan plan. The inevitable collapse of the Annan initiative was used by the U.S. and its European allies to call for U.N. sanctions against Syria, which were again rejected by Russia.

While Russia continued to call for a political solution to the Syrian crisis that allowed for the potential of Assad being replaced, it insisted that this decision would be made by a process that included the Syrian government, as opposed to the U.S. demand that Assad must first step down.

The Military Solution

The failed Annan initiative was replaced by a renewed U.N.-sponsored process, known as Geneva II, headed by Lakhdar Brahimi, a veteran Algerian diplomat with extensive U.N. experience. The Geneva process stalled as Brahimi sought to bridge the gap between the U.S.-backed Syrian opposition—which insisted upon Assad’s resignation as a precondition to any talks about the future of Syria—and Russia, which continued to insist that the Assad government have a voice in determining Syria’s future.

Complicating these talks was the escalation of violence inside Syria, where anti-Assad forces, building upon the massive amount of military aid received from the U.S., Saudi Arabia and the Arab Gulf states, aggressively pushed for a military victory that would moot the Geneva II process.

By June 2013 the situation had devolved to the point that the U.S., citing allegations that the Syrian government was using a nerve agent against rebel forces, was considering the establishment of no-fly zones in northern Syria and along the Jordanian border. While sold as a humanitarian move designed to create safe zones for Syrian civilians fleeing the fighting, the real purpose of these zones was to carve out large sections of Syrian territory where the opposition could organize and prepare for war under the umbrella of U.S. air power without fear of Syrian government retaliation.

The concept of Syria’s chemical weapons being used by the U.S. to justify military action against the Syrian government was not hypothetical. In 2012, President Barack Obama had declared that any use of chemical weapons by the Syrian government would be considered a “red line,” forcing the U.S. to act. When, in August 2013, a major chemical weapons incident occurred in Ghouta (conclusive attribution for the attack does not exist; the U.S. and NATO contend that the Syrian government was behind the attacks, which the Russians and the Syrian government claim were carried out by anti-Assad opposition for the purpose of compelling U.S. intervention), it looked like the U.S. would step in.

Committing to a larger war in Syria was not a politically popular move in the U.S., given the recent experience in Iraq, and when Obama met with Russian President Vladimir Putin during the G-20 summit in St. Petersburg, Russia, in September 2013, the Russians suggested a solution—the disarmament of Syrian chemical weapons under the supervision of the Organization for the Prevention of Chemical Weapons (OPCW). When Secretary of State John Kerry opened the door to that possibility, Russia and Syria jumped on the opportunity, paving the way for one of the great disarmament achievements of modern times, an action that won the OPCW the Nobel Peace Prize for 2013.

The disarmament of Syria’s chemical weapons was a huge success, for which Russia received little recognition, despite the major role it played in conceiving and overseeing its implementation. Russia had hoped that the disarmament process could lead to the establishment of international confidence in the Assad government that would translate into a diplomatic breakthrough in Geneva. This was not to be; a major peace conference planned for 2014 collapsed, and efforts to revive the failed talks were sidelined by the escalation of violence in Syria, as the armed opposition, sensing victory, pressed its attacks on the Syrian government.

The situation in Syria was further complicated when, in 2013, the organization formerly known as al-Qaida in Iraq renamed itself the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria, and started carving out a so-called caliphate from the ungovernable expanses of eastern Syria and western Iraq. Having established its capital in the Syrian city of Raqqa, Islamic State launched a dramatic offensive in early 2014, capturing large swaths of territory in both Syria and Iraq, including the Iraqi city of Mosul. By 2015, the Syrian government, under pressure from anti-Assad rebels and the forces of Islamic State, was on the brink of collapse.

The consequences of the loss of Syria to forces dominated by radical Islamic ideology do not seem to have been fully considered by those in the West, such as the U.S. and its European allies, which were funneling military aid to the rebel forces. For Russia, however, which had its own experiences with Muslim separatist movements in the Caucasus region, such a result was deemed an existential threat, with thousands of Russian citizens fighting on the side of Islamic State and the anti-Assad opposition who would logically seek to return to Russia to continue the struggle once victory had been achieved in Syria. In September 2015, Putin urged the Russian Parliament to approve the intervention of the Russian military on the side of the Syrian government. The Parliament passed the resolution, thus beginning one of the most successful military interventions in modern times.

The impact of the Russian intervention was as dramatic as it was decisive. Almost immediately, the Russian air force helped turn the tide on the field of battle, allowing the Syrian army to launch attacks against both the anti-Assad opposition and Islamic State after years of losing ground. The Russian intervention helped pave the way for the commitment by Hezbollah and Iran of tens of thousands of ground troops who helped tip the scale in favor of the Syrian government. The presence of Russian forces nipped in the bud all talk of Western military intervention and created the conditions for the Syrian government to eventually recapture much of the territory it had lost to Islamic State and the anti-Assad rebels.

Unheralded Peacemaker

The connection between military action and diplomacy is a delicate one. For some nations, like the United States, diplomacy is but a front for facilitating military action—the efforts to secure a U.N. Security Council resolution on the eve of the 2003 invasion of Iraq stand as a prime example. For Russia, however, the decision to intervene militarily in Syria was not seen as an end unto itself, but rather as the means by which Russia could shape the political landscape in such a manner as to make a political solution realistic. From the Russian perspective, the Geneva II process was an empty shell, having been hijacked by Saudi Arabia and its anti-Assad proxies.

In January 2017, Russia took the diplomatic offensive, initiating its own peace process through a series of summits held in the Kazakh capital of Astana. This process, which brought together Turkey, the Syrian government and Iran, together with Russia, quickly supplanted the Geneva II talks as the most viable vehicle for achieving a peaceful resolution to the Syrian conflict. By directly linking diplomatic talks with the fighting on the ground, the Astana process had a relevance that Geneva II lacked. For its part, Russia was able to woo Turkey away from insisting that Assad must leave, to a stance that recognized the territorial integrity of the Syrian nation, and a recognition that Assad was the legitimate leader of Syria, at least for the time being. The Astana process was lengthy and experienced its share of ups and downs. But today it serves as the foundation of a peace process that, unlike any of its predecessors, has a real chance of success.

Bridging the gap between the finesse of diplomacy and the brutal violence of military action is one of the most difficult tasks imaginable. For its part, the United Nations has undertaken so-called peacekeeping operations with mixed effect. In recognition of the importance and difficulty of this kind of work, the Nobel Committee awarded the 1988 Nobel Peace Prize to the U.N. Peacekeepers. When the diplomatic solutions reached in Astana needed to be implemented in Syria, Russia turned to the most unlikely source for turning objectives into reality: the Russian military police. A relatively new entity in the Russian military establishment, formed only in 2012, the military police were tasked with a wide range of missions, including convoy protection, area security, restoring law and order and resettlement operations.

In late 2016, as the Syrian army was positioned to recapture the city of Aleppo from rebel forces, Russia deployed a battalion of military police to Syria. The mission of these troops was not to engage in frontline fighting, but rather to restore law and order and win the trust and confidence of a civilian population wary of the potential for retaliation at the hands of the victorious Syrian army.

By all accounts, the Russian military police performed admirably, and soon the Russian ministry of defense dispatched more battalions of these new peacekeepers, who quickly established a reputation of being fair arbiters of the many cease-fire agreements brokered through the Astana process. The Russian military police were ubiquitous, whether policing the no-man’s land separating warring parties, escorting convoys of rebel fighters and their families to safe zones or providing security for OPCW inspectors.

The final phases of the Syrian conflict are playing out in northern Syria today. The last vestiges of the anti-Assad opposition, having been taken over by al-Qaida, are dug in in their final bastion in Idlib Province, their ultimate defeat at the hands of the combined Russian-Syrian armed forces all but assured. The American intervention in northeastern Syria, begun in 2015 as a means of confronting and defeating Islamic State but continued and expanded in 2017 as a vehicle for destabilizing the Assad government, has imploded in the face of a geopolitical reality in transition, facilitated in large part by the combined forces of Russian diplomacy in Astana and Russian-led military action on the ground in Syria.

By successfully wooing Turkey away from the U.S., Russia has dictated the reality on the ground in Syria, green-lighting a Turkish incursion that put the American forces deployed there in an impossible situation, prompting their evacuation. While the U.S. continues to maintain a military presence in Syria, occupying a border crossing point at Tanf and a series of military positions along the eastern bank of the Euphrates River in order to secure nearby Syrian oil fields, the ability of the U.S. to logistically sustain this force is doubtful, making its eventual withdrawal from Syria inevitable.

Moreover, by compelling an American withdrawal from northeastern Syria, Russia broke the back of the U.S.-supported Kurdish autonomous entity known as Rojava, and in doing so prevented a larger war between Turkey, the Kurds and the U.S.

In green-lighting the Turkish incursion into northern Syria, the Russians invoked the 1998 Adana Treaty, which guarantees the sovereign inviolability of Syria’s borders. The processes involved in stabilizing the Turkish-Syrian border, defeating the anti-Assad forces in Idlib, evicting the Americans from Syrian soil, and integrating the Kurds into a future Syrian government are lengthy, complex and not necessarily assured of a positive outcome. One thing is certain, however: The prospects for peace in Syria are greater today than at any time since 2011. And the fact that Russia has deployed even more battalions of its military police to Syria to oversee implementation of the current cease-fire bodes well for the prospects of success.

Despite literally salvaging victory from the jaws of defeat, the scope of the Russian accomplishment in Syria is muted in the United States, thanks to rampant Russophobia that has insinuated itself into every aspect of the domestic political discourse. Under normal circumstances, the Russian accomplishment in Syria would have been deserving of a Nobel Peace Prize, if not for the Russian diplomats and leaders who oversaw the effort to forge peace from the furnace of war, then at least for the Russian military police whose actions in Syria embody the very definition of humanitarian peacekeeping.

Over time, international historians will come to appreciate what Russia accomplished in Syria, potentially ending a sectarian conflict that could easily have served as the foundation for a decades-long conflagration with regional and global consequences.

Whether American historians will ever be capable of doing the same is unknown. But this much is true: In the years to come, children will be born of parents whose lives were not terminated or otherwise destroyed by a larger Syrian conflict that almost assuredly would have transpired if not for the honest broker services provided by Russia. Intentionally or not, Russian diplomacy prevented the United States from embarking on a foreign policy disaster of its own making. While it is highly doubtful that Americans will ever muster the moral fortitude to say so publicly, those who know the truth should find the time to whisper, “Thanks, Putin,” between the barrage of anti-Russian propaganda that floods the American mainstream media today.

Like it or not, in Syria, the Russians saved us from ourselves.

November 2, 2019 Posted by | Russophobia | , , , | 2 Comments

State Department Accuses ‘Russian Trolls’ of Meddling in Chile Protests

Sputnik – November 1, 2019

The US State Department claims it has seen evidence of Russian attempts to “influence” the recent unrest in Chile.

The South American country has been rocked by massive anti-government protests for over three weeks now, with demonstrations and violence leading to a temporary curfew, soldiers in the streets and the cancellation of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) summit, expected to have taken place in Santiago in mid-November.

Speaking to reporters in Washington on Thursday, a senior State Department official told reporters that Russia was trying to ‘take advantage’ of the unrest in the country “and skewing it through the use and abuse of social media trolling and seeking –rather than allowing the citizens of Chile to have their own debate about how their country and the courses their country should take… to exacerbate divisions, foment conflict, and all around act as a spoiler to responsible democratic debate.”

The official pointed to alleged “Russian activity supporting this negative course of the debate,” but did not elaborate on what this entailed.

Pressed on the claims, and whether the alleged Chile meddling also included efforts by Venezuela or Cuba, the official said they were “not a digital analytical wizard,” but that they “saw organisations such as [Latin American news agency] Telesur exacerbating those debates.”

The official did not expand on his claims of Russia’s alleged meddling, noting only that “in recent years we’ve seen an increase of Russian engagement in the Americas, in South America in particular – very little of it positive.”

Commenting on the claims on Friday, Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov dismissed the State Department’s allegations outright.

“The US administration is using the difficult internal situation in Chile to continue its efforts to blacken our country’s foreign policy. This isn’t news,” Ryabkov said in a statement.

The official added that Russia “has never meddled, does not meddle and will not meddle in any electoral or other internal political processes in any country.”

Chilean officials did not comment on the State Department’s claims.

Arguably the best-known case of confirmed meddling in Chile’s internal affairs took place on September 11, 1973, when the CIA-backed Chilean armed forces led by General Augusto Pinochet overthrew the democratically elected government of Salvador Allende in a coup.

Violent protests erupted in Chile last month over authorities’ decision to increase subway fares. The protests have spread to violent clashes between protesters, police and the military, with over 2,400 people reported injured and 21 people killed, and over 5,400 others detained. Last week, over a million people marched in the streets, demanding the resignation of President Sebastian Pinera.

November 1, 2019 Posted by | Deception, Russophobia | , | 1 Comment