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Aftermath of Helsinki summit: American ‘democracy’ in action

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

RT | July 19, 2018

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

You’ll never guess where the next James Bond villain is from…

RT | July 19, 2018

James Bond’s nemesis in the upcoming 007 film will be (now whisper it)… Russian. In what could be a sign of the times, it’s the first time in 20 years the fictional English spy will be battling it out with a Moscow baddie.

1999’s ‘The World Is Not Enough’ was the last Bond film to star a significant Russian villain – Victor ‘Renard’ Zokas, an ex-KGB agent turned-high tech terrorist, played with a questionable accent by Scottish actor Robert Carlyle.

The movie, once again starring Daniel Craig as Bond, has the working title ‘Bond 25’. It will be directed by Danny Boyle. Filming is scheduled to commence in December, with a proposed release date of October 2019, the Mirror reports.

The makers of the 007 film franchise are said to be seeking a 30 to 60-year-old leading male, from Russia or the Balkans. Producers say he must be “charismatic, powerful, innovative, cold and vindictive.”

As if one leading role being Russian wasn’t a scary enough proposition for James Bond fans, producers have revealed they intend to also cast a female in a leading role as a Russian. They must be “very striking” with “strong physical combat skills.”

Her character is described as “intelligent, brave, fierce and charming, she’s witty and skilful, a survivor.” The two Russian principal characters are rumored to have a Maori henchman who must possess “combat skills” and be “ruthless and loyal.”

Bond has a history of trading shots with evil characters from behind the old Iron Curtain in movies such as ‘From Russia With Love’. The prospective Russian villains will be following in the footsteps of Rosa Klebb and General Orlov.

Dua Lipa, the London-born singer-songwriter, is rumored to have been chosen to perform the theme song.

July 19, 2018 Posted by | Film Review, Russophobia | | Leave a comment

Trump’s Russian Meddling Reversal Suggests US Becoming ‘Authoritarian’

Sputnik – July 19, 2018

Both media and political backlash being thrown against US President Donald Trump for his flip-flopping antics on whether or not Russia interfered in the 2016 presidential election suggests that the Land of the Free is heading toward an authoritarian route, historian and investigative journalist Gareth Porter told Sputnik.

POTUS spent a second day Wednesday attempting to reassure critics that he’d misspoken at the Helsinki summit on Monday, telling reporters that “there’s been no president ever as tough as I have been on Russia.”

“All you have to do is look at the numbers, look at what we’ve done, look at sanctions, look at ambassadors not there, look unfortunately at what happened in Syria recently,” Trump told journalists. “I think President Putin knows that better than anybody — certainly a lot better than the media — he understands it, and he’s not happy about it. And he shouldn’t be happy about it, because there’s never been a president as tough on Russia as I have been.”

​Porter told Sputnik Radio’s Loud & Clear on Wednesday that 45’s decision to walk back his statements suggests that the US is going to be heading down a road where political heads won’t be able to speak freely.

“To me, this is really the primary case study of how this political system is moving at a very rapid pace toward a rather authoritarian — very authoritarian — political caste, in which it’s going to become much more difficult to take positions that are at odds with the extremely hardline new Cold War position of the combined political media and national security elites,” the historian told hosts Brian Becker and John Kiriakou.

When asked what might be driving the media’s persistent critiques of Trump, Porter indicated that it might have to do both with corporate media simply not liking the president and wanting to appease national security officials.

“There’s no doubt that 95 percent of the corporate media is partisan against Trump and in fact feels personally that he’s a menace to the United States,” he told Kiriakou. “At the same time, I think that 100 percent of the corporate media believe that it is vital to the interest of those people who they are close to in the military, the intelligence agencies and the political elites, that the United States start a new Cold War with Russia and that it be pursued to the hilt both militarily and especially in terms of intelligence and counterintelligence activities on the part of the US government.”

But would the media have reacted the same way if it was former US President Barack Obama who’d acted as Trump has? Yes, with maybe just some slight differences, according to Porter.

“If Obama had taken anything like in substance the position that Trump was taking… I think that the answer is pretty much yes,” he said. “It would be very similar; it would be different, of course, but it would be strikingly similar.”

Noting that Obama wasn’t attacked or vilified for his meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin in 2009, Porter indicated that the US’ stance on Russia took a pivotal turn in 2014 when Crimeans made a decision and voted to reunify with the Russian Federation.

“The single most important watershed, if you will, was Ukraine and the fact that Russia took that kind of action… despite the fact that the US government was taking a strong position in the ‘Ukraine crisis,'” Porter explained. “This was both an insult to the US power on one hand and an opportunity on the other, and I would argue in a sense that it’s the opportunity that’s more important here.”

“My guess is that that was seen as an opportunity to retake advantage of the situation to push for a major plus up in the [US] military budget for Russia and to play up the threat from Russia in a way that they could not do before that.”

“You have sort of a continued growth in this idea that Russia is the enemy, that it’s the new threat and a major challenge to the United States,” the historian said.

July 19, 2018 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Full Spectrum Dominance, Russophobia | | Leave a comment

US arrest of Russian attempt to undermine Trump-Putin summit

Press TV – July 18, 2018

Russia’s Foreign Ministry says the arrest this week of a Russian national in the United States was a deliberate attempt to undermine a summit between President Vladimir Putin and his US counterpart Donald Trump in Helsinki, Finland.

Spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said Wednesday the detention of Maria Butina, which took place on Sunday, a day before the summit, had no grounds and was meant to affect the positive outcome of the summit.

Putin and Trump met in a freighted atmosphere amid criticism that Trump was approaching Russia at the expense of Washington’s allies in Europe. Trump is also accused of trying to cover up his alleged links to the Russians in the run-up to his presidency two years ago.

US authorities said Monday that they had charged Butina, 29, with conspiracy to act as an agent of the Russian government through establishing relationships and infiltrating organizations that have influence in US politics.

“Butina worked at the direction of a high-level official in the Russian government who was previously a member of the legislature of the Russian Federation and later became a top official at the Russian Central Bank,” said the US Department of Justice in a press release, adding, “This Russian official was sanctioned by the US Department of the Treasury, Office of Foreign Assets Control in April 2018.”

Zakharova dismissed the charges and said the arrest happened “with the obvious task of minimizing the positive effect” of the summit between Putin and Trump.

Both leaders have described their meeting as positive, saying it would help Moscow and Washington improve their strained relations.

The US and Russia have clashed on several issues over the past years, including Russia’s alleged interference in Ukraine, which Moscow denies, its military presence in Syria and allegations that the Kremlin meddled in the 2016 presidential election, which led to Trump’s victory.

July 19, 2018 Posted by | Deception, Russophobia | , | Leave a comment

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

By Lee Stranahan | Sputnik | July 18, 2018

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

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

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

I am that reporter.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

And as we know, perception is its own reality.

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

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

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

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

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

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

And therein lies the rub.

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

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

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

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

(Photo credit Internet Education Foundation / CC BY 2.0)

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

Conspiracy Humor and Irony in the Trump-Russia Brouhaha

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

*****

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

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

COUNT TEN: Conspiracy to Launder Money.

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

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

Horror in Helsinki: Trumputin Strikes Again

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

While His Opponents Cry Treason Trump Sues for Peace

By Tom LUONGO | Strategic Culture Foundation | 18.07.2018

For the second time in as many months President Trump went against the grain of US foreign policy.

I will not mince words. I was hoping for more from the Trump-Putin Summit in Helsinki; something concrete. Even a small agreement about a quid pro quo in Syria would have been welcome.

But, given the level of histrionics on display in the US media and on the left I guess I should have tempered my expectations. Cries of Trump being guilty of ‘treason’ and ‘high crimes and misdemeanors’ are rampant.

And they aren’t going to stop.

Crying treason for opening up diplomatic contact with a foreign leader whom we are not at war with is beyond hyperbole. It is the height of insanity. And I don’t use that term lightly.

Trump’s opponents both from members of the Deep State and media as well as those citizens supporting ‘The Resistance’ are so unhinged they have become indistinguishable from Colonel Jack T. Ripper from Dr. Strangelove.

I swear I saw a tweet from Obama Administration CIA Director John Brennan discussing bodily fluids, but I may have misread it.

They have nurtured their own angst and denial at having lost an election they have erected a bogeyman in Vladimir Putin as the only way in which the disgusting Trump could possibly have won.

And the Deep State of permanent government has cultivated this psychological poison perfectly. Now there are truly millions of otherwise normal people frothing at the mouth about everything Trump does is proof that he is the puppet of Putin, his evil master.

This has placed them firmly in the camp of wanting perpetual, undeclared war with everyone Trump wants peace with.

All because they don’t have the emotional maturity to accept reality.

And Trump, never one to miss an opportunity to twist the knife, in a moment of near sublime statesmanship during the post-summit press conference declared, “I would rather take a political risk in pursuit of peace than to risk peace in pursuit of politics. I will not make decisions on foreign policy in a futile effort to appease partisan critics, the media, or Democrats who want to resist and obstruct.”

That statement won his candidates the mid-term elections and likely won him re-election in 2020. It’s a statement that he can campaign on and give not only his base a boost but convince even more of the political center to reject the insanity of the left and side with him.

After all, he just put something above politics and that something is the very thing that got him elected in the first place, peace.

And that is eternally to his credit.

It is also in stark contrast to his ill-conceived bombing of the Al-Shairat airbase while hosting Chinese Premier Xi Jinping in April of 2017. This was an act of pure political optics, designed to appease his virulent critics.

But, as he learned from that act and many others since then, nothing will appease these people than his removal from the office. The Resistance needs it to vindicate their descent into madness. The Deep State needs it to ensure the gravy train keeps flowing.

There are too many cozy relationships at risk, too many think tank jobs on the block, and too many weapons contracts at stake and too many more taxpayer-funded junkets to attend for Trump and Putin to remake the post-WWII political order.

Putin, for his part, was obviously firm in his dealings with Trump. There were many rumors of offers being made which were rejected. As myself and many others have pointed out, Trump didn’t have much to offer Putin in concrete terms on many of the outstanding issues of the day.

I believe the only thing they can agree on is that Syria is nearly settled in Assad’s favor and all that needs to be done now is convince the Israelis and Iran to behave themselves. In all of the furor over Trump’s meeting with Putin this tweet from uber-hawk and MIC-mouthpiece, Senator Lindsay Graham is the most telling.

“It is beyond absurd to believe that Russia will ‘police Iran’ or drive them out of Syria. Iran is Assad’s biggest ally – even more so than Russia. Russia policing Iran makes about as much sense as trusting Russia to police the removal/destruction of chemical weapons in Syria.” — Lindsay Graham, July 16th

No one that I know of other than myself and a very small handful of equally obscure political commentators have broached the subject of Russia policing Syria after the US picks up and leaves as any Grand Bargain for Middle East Peace.

Remember, Graham was just in Syria trying to drum up further support for Kurdish independence in a clear attempt to undermine what he just told everyone Trump’s plan was.

So, to me, this signals strongly that peace in Syria is what Trump and Putin discussed at length in their meeting and why the Deep State has so thoroughly gone off the deep end. Graham just told everyone what the plan is, folks.

And the plan is peace in the Middle East.

Trump and Putin both referenced working with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to craft a post-Civil War plan of action in Syria. Putin mentioned restoring Syria to the 1974 border of the Golan Heights while Trump made it clear he no longer wants our people there.

Moreover, Trump sent an envoy from the US to sit down and talk peace with the Taliban in Afghanistan, putting paid Secretary of State Mike Pompeo’s assertion that the US is ready to talk. Lindsay must be shaking in his thigh-highs over the prospect of this as well.

Remember, the US only negotiates when it knows it is losing. Empires dictate terms, they don’t sue for peace.

And that is exactly what Trump is beginning to do with Russia on a number of fronts across Central Asia. And for this he is being vilified by his opponents for being a traitor. A traitor to what?

Chaos.

July 18, 2018 Posted by | Militarism, Russophobia, Wars for Israel | , , , , | Leave a comment

US Senate Democrats Demand Probe of Putin-Trump Summit

Sputnik – July 18, 2018

Democratic leaders are demanding an open hearing in which Trump administration officials, including the American translator, would explain what transpired in Monday’s meeting between President Donald Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin.

“This is too important not to get the full story out before the Senate and the American people,” Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer said at a press conference on Tuesday while flanked by senior Democratic lawmakers.

In addition, Schumer demanded that the administration turn over to Congress all contemporaneous notes from the summit.

Trump’s first official summit with Putin featured a two hour long one-on-one meeting, followed up by an expanded bilateral meeting in Helsinki, Finland.

The two leaders positively assessed the results of the summit, where they discussed the most pressing international issues as well as Russia’s alleged meddling in the 2016 US election. Trump said after the meeting Washington was to blame for the poor state of bilateral relations, and cast doubt on the US intelligence community’s conclusion on the interference in the US vote.

Schumer and other Senators said the investigation should feature testimony from Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats, US Ambassador to Russia Jon Huntsman and the American translator in the one-on-one meeting between Trump and Putin.

Senator Bob Menendez called Monday a “day of infamy” for the United States, borrowing a phrase used by President Franklin Roosevelt to describe the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor.

“He violated his oath of office to protect and defend the constitution of the United States,” Menendez added.

Senator Ben Cardin called for immediate action to protect the United States from alleged Russian aggression.

“We need to use the independence of Congress to protect the national security of America, particularly in light of what President Trump has done with Mr. Putin,” Cardin said.

Senator Jeanne Shaheen called on the Foreign Relations Committee to hold a hearing with the American translator who was present during the private, two-hour meeting between Trump and Putin to determine what was discussed and what Trump agreed to on behalf of the United States.

July 18, 2018 Posted by | Russophobia | , , , | Leave a comment

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

RT | July 18, 2018

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

READ MORE:

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

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