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The New York Times as Judge and Jury

By Joe Lauria • Consortium News • September 21, 2018

We’ve seen it before: a newspaper and individual reporters get a story horribly wrong but instead of correcting it they double down to protect their reputations and credibility—which is all journalists have to go on—and the public suffers.

Sometimes this maneuver can contribute to a massive loss of life. The most egregious example was the reporting in the lead-up to the invasion of Iraq. Like nearly all Establishment media, The New York Times got the story of Iraq’s weapons of mass destruction—the major casus belli for the invasion—dead wrong. But the Times, like the others, continued publishing stories without challenging their sources in authority, mostly unnamed, who were pushing for war.

The result was a disastrous intervention that led to hundreds of thousands of civilian deaths and continued instability in Iraq, including the formation of the Islamic State.

In a massive Timesarticle published on Thursday, entitled, “‘A Plot to Subvert an Election: Unravelling the Russia Story So Far,” it seems that reporters Scott Shane and Mark Mazzetti have succumbed to the same thinking that doubled down on Iraq.

They claim to have a “mountain of evidence” but what they offer would be invisible on the Great Plains.

With the mid-terms looming and Special Counsel Robert Mueller unable to so far come up with any proof of collusion between Russia and the Trump campaign to steal the 2016 election—the central Russia-gate charge—the Times does it for him, regurgitating a Russia-gate Round-Up of every unsubstantiated allegation that has been made—deceptively presented as though it’s all been proven.

This is a reaffirmation of the faith, a recitation of what the Russia-gate faithful want to believe is true. But mere repetition will not make it so.

The Times’ unsteady conviction is summed up in this paragraph, which the paper itself then undermines only a few paragraphs later:

“What we now know with certainty: The Russians carried out a landmark intervention that will be examined for decades to come. Acting on the personal animus of Mr. Putin, public and private instruments of Russian power moved with daring and skill to harness the currents of American politics. Well-connected Russians worked aggressively to recruit or influence people inside the Trump campaign.”

But this schizoid approach leads to the admission that “no public evidence has emerged showing that [Trump’s] campaign conspired with Russia.”

The Times also adds: “There is a plausible case that Mr. Putin succeeded in delivering the presidency to his admirer, Mr. Trump, though it cannot be proved or disproved.”

This is an extraordinary statement. If it cannot be “proved or disproved” what is the point of this entire exercise: of the Mueller probe, the House and Senate investigations and even of this very New York Times article?

Probing to prove this constructed story without proof is the very point of this piece.

A Banner Day

The 10,000-word article opens with a story of a pro-Russian banner that was hung from the Manhattan Bridge on Putin’s birthday, and an anti-Obama banner hung a month later from the Memorial Bridge in Washington just after the 2016 election.

On public property these are constitutionally-protected acts of free speech. But for the Times, “The Kremlin, it appeared, had reached onto United States soil in New York and Washington. The banners may well have been intended as visual victory laps for the most effective foreign interference in an American election in history.”

Why? Because the Times tells us that the “earliest promoters” of images of the banners were from social media accounts linked to a St. Petersburg-based click-bait farm, a company called the Internet Research Agency. The company is not legally connected to the Kremlin and any political coordination is pure speculation. IRA has been explained convincingly as a commercial and not political operation. Its aim is get and sell “eyeballs.”

For instance the company conducted pro and anti-Trump rallies and social media messages, as well as pro and anti-Clinton. But the Times, in classic omission mode, only reports on “the anti-Clinton, pro-Trump messages shared with millions of voters by Russia.” Sharing with “millions” of people on social media does not mean that millions of people have actually seen those messages. And if they had there is little way to determine whether it affected how they voted, especially as the messages attacked and praised both candidates.

The Times reporters take much at face value, which they then themselves undermine. Most prominently, they willfully mistake a an indictment for a conviction, as if they do not know the difference.

This is in the category of Journalism 101. An indictment need not include evidence and under U.S. law an indictment is not evidence. Juries are instructed that an indictment is merely an accusation. That the Times commits this cardinal sin of journalism to purposely confuse allegations with a conviction is not only inexcusable but strikes a fatal blow to credibility of the entire article.

It actually reports that “Today there is no doubt who hacked the D.N.C. and the Clinton campaign. A detailed indictment of 12 officers of Russia’s military intelligence agency, filed in July by Mr. Mueller, documents their every move, including their break-in techniques, their tricks to hide inside the Democrats’ networks and even their Google searches.”

Who needs courts when suspects can be tried and convicted in the press?

What the Times is not taking into account is that Mueller knows his indictment will never be tested in court because the GRU agents will never be arrested, there is no extradition treaty between the U.S. and Russia and even if it were miraculously to see the inside of a courtroom Mueller can invoke states secrets privilege to show the “evidence” to a judge with clearance in his chambers who can then emerge to pronounce “Guilty!” without a jury having seen that evidence.

This is what makes Mueller’s indictment more a political than a legal document, giving him wide leeway to put whatever he wants into it. He knew it would never be tested and that once it was released, a supine press would do the rest to cement it in the public consciousness as a conviction, just as this Times piece tries to do.

Errors of Commission and Omission

There are a series of erroneous assertions and omissions in the Times piece:

–Not mentioning that the FBI was never given access to the DNC server but instead gullibly believing the assertion of the anti-Russian private company CrowdStrike, paid for by the DNC, that the name of the first Soviet intelligence chief found in metadata proves Russia was behind the hack. Only someone wanting to be caught would leave such a clue.

–Incredibly believing that Trump would have launched a covert intelligence operation on live national television by asking Russia to get 30,000 missing emails.

–Ignoring the possible role of the MI6, the CIA and the FBI setting up Trump campaign members George Papadopoulos and Carter Page as “colluders” with Russia.

–Repeating misleading statements about the infamous Trump Tower meeting, in which Trump’s son did not seek dirt on Clinton but was offered it by a music promoter, not the Russian government. None was apparently produced. It’s never been established that a campaign receiving opposition research from foreigners is illegal (though the Times has decided that it is) and only the Clinton campaign was known to have obtained any.

–Making no mention at all of the now discredited opposition research dossier paid for by the Clinton campaign and the DNC from foreign sources and used by the FBI to get a warrant to spy on Carter Page and potentially other campaign members.

–Dismissing the importance of politicized text messages between FBI agents Peter Strzok and Lisa Page because the pair were “skewered regularly on Mr. (Sean) Hannity’s show as the ‘Trump-hating F.B.I. lovebirds.’”

–Putting down to “hyped news stories” the legitimate fear of a new McCarthyism against anyone who questions the “official” story being peddled here by the Times.

–Seeking to get inside Putin’s head to portray him as a petulant child seeking personal revenge against Hillary Clinton, a tale long peddled by Clinton and accepted without reservation by the Times.

–Pretending to get into Julian Assange’s head as well, saying he “shared Mr. Putin’s hatred of Mrs. Clinton and had a soft spot for Russia.” And that Assange “also obscured the Russian role by fueling a right-wing conspiracy theory he knew to be false.”

–Ignoring findings backed by the Veteran’s Intelligence Professionals for Sanity that the DNC emails were leaked and not hacked.

–Erroneously linking the timing of WikiLeaks’ Podesta emails to deflect attention from the “Access Hollywood” tape, as debunked in Consortium News by Italian journalist Stefania Maurizi, who worked with WikiLeaks on those emails.

Distorts Geo-Politics

The piece swallows whole the Establishment’s geo-strategic Russia narrative, as all corporate media do. It buys without hesitation the story that the U.S. seeks to spread democracy around the world, and not pursue its economic and geo-strategic interests as do all imperial powers.

The Times reports that, “The United States had backed democratic, anti-Russian forces in the so-called color revolutions on Russia’s borders, in Georgia in 2003 and Ukraine in 2004.” The Times has also spread the erroneous story of a democratic revolution in Ukraine in 2014, omitting crucial evidence of a U.S.-backed coup.

The Times disapprovingly dismisses Trump having said on the campaign trail that “Russia was not an existential threat, but a potential ally in beating back terrorist groups,” when an objective view of the world would come to this very conclusion.

The story also dismisses American voters’ real concerns that led to Trump’s election. For the Times, economic grievances and rejection of perpetual war played no role in the election of Trump. Instead it was Russian influence that led Americans to vote for him, an absurd proposition defied by a Gallup poll in July that showed Americans’ greatest concerns being economic. Their concerns about Russia were statistically insignificant at less than one percent.

Dismissing Americans’ real concerns exposes the class interests of Times staffers and editors who are evidently above Americans’ economic and social suffering.

Establishment reporters insulate themselves from criticism by retreating into the exclusive Establishment club they think they inhabit. It is from there that they vicariously draw their strength from powerful people they cover, which they should instead be scrutinizing. Validated by being close to power, Establishment reporters don’t take seriously anyone outside of the club, such as a website like Consortium News.

But on rare occasions they are forced to take note of what outsiders are saying. Because of the role The New York Times played in the catastrophe of Iraq its editors took the highly unusual move of apologizing to its readers. Will we one day read a similar apology about the paper’s coverage of Russia-gate?


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 .

September 21, 2018 Posted by | Deception, Fake News, Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Russophobia | , | Leave a comment

Down with the Working Classes!

By CJ Hopkins | Consent Factory | September 21, 2018

If the Left is ever going to come together to save the world from Donald Trump and his legions of fascistic Putin-Nazis, we’re going to need to confront our primary enemy … the international working classes. Yes, my comrades, I’m afraid it’s time to face the facts, depressing as they are. The working classes are not our friends. Just look at how they’ve been betraying us … and after all we’ve done for them all these years! This cannot be allowed to continue, not if we are going to rescue democracy from Trump, Putin, Assad, the Iranians, and Palestinian kids with terrorist kites, and eventually stem the blood-dimmed tide of neo-fascist anti-Globalism!

Now, OK, I know you’re probably asking, “how can the international working classes possibly be the enemy of the Left?” and “wouldn’t that render the whole concept of the Left completely absurd and essentially meaningless?” and other pertinent questions like that. And that’s totally fine, you’re allowed to ask that. Questioning aspects of the official narrative the ruling classes are forcing everyone to conform to like members of a worldwide cult doesn’t make you a Nazi or anything. It’s perfectly OK to ask such questions, as long as you don’t continue to ask them, over and over, and over again, after the facts have been explained to you. Here are those facts, one more time.

The international working classes are racists. They are misogynists. Xenophobic transphobes. They do not think the way we want them to. Some of them actually still believe in God. They are white supremacists. Anti-Semites. Gun-toting, Confederate-flag-flying rednecks. Most of them have never even heard of terms like “intersectionality,” “TERF,” and so on. They do not respect the corporate media. They think that news sources like the Washington Post, The New York Times, The Guardian, CNN, MSNBC, BBC, and so on, are basically propaganda outlets for the global corporations and oligarchs who own them, and thus are essentially no different from FOX, whose pundits they believe every word of. Their minds are so twisted by racism and xenophobia that they can’t understand how global capitalism, the graduated phase-out of national sovereignty, the privatization of virtually everything, the debt-enslavement of nearly everyone, and the replacement of their so-called “cultures” with an ubiquitous, smiley-faced, gender-neutral, non-oppressive, corporate-friendly, Disney simulation of culture are actually wonderfully progressive steps forward on the road to a more peaceful, less offensive world.

Now this has been proved in numerous studies with all kinds of charts and graphs and so on. And not only by the corporate statisticians, and the corporate media, and liberal think tanks. Why, just this week, Mehdi Hasan, in an exasperated jeremiad in the pages of The Intercept, that bastion of fearless, adversarial journalism owned by billionaire Pierre Omidyar, proved, once again, that Donald Trump was elected because PEOPLE ARE GODDAMN RACISTS!

Apparently, Hasan has just about had it with these Putin-loving Trump-apologists proposing that general dissatisfaction with global capitalism, neoliberalism, and identity politics could have had anything to do with Americans electing a bombastic ass clown with absolutely no political experience to the highest office in the land. Hasan cites a number of expert studies, among them one by the Democracy Fund, which just happens to be another Omidyar outfit. But let’s not get all paranoid or anything. There are literally hundreds of such studies at this point, each and every one of which has been cited by the mainstream media, the alternative media, the far-alternative media, and virtually every Trump-obsessed loon with a blog or a Facebook or Twitter account.

Look, I realize the truth is painful, but the science of statistics leaves no room for doubt. As much as some of us may want to deny it, the fact is, the country that elected Barack Obama (who is Black) president, twice, has been transformed by Putin’s brainwashing agents into a cesspool of xenophobia and racism, and it is up to us lefties to set things right!

Now, to do this, we need to unite the Left, and get everyone marching in lockstep, and so on. Which means that we need to identify and weed out all the fake leftists among us. Then, and only then (i.e., after we’ve tracked down, sanctimoniously denounced, and exiled any and all neo-Stasserist “alt-Right” infiltrators, Sputnik leftists, and Assad-apologists), can we turn our attention to meeting face-to-face with the international working classes and sanctimoniously denouncing them as a bunch of filthy racists.

OK, that sounds a little harsh, and possibly totally idiotic, but what other choice do we really have? If we’re going to defeat these Putin-Nazis, a few eggs are going to have to get broken. This is not the time to abandon our commitment to imposing our identity-based ideology on every last person on the planet Earth, or to indulge in that ugly kind of old-fashioned leftism that is based on what the working classes want. Who gives a damn what the working classes want? What’s important is what we want them to want. This isn’t the 1990s, after all. All that nonsense about globalization, and supranational entities like the WTO, and the World Bank, not to mention “American jobs” … only fascists talk like that these days!

But, seriously … if you’ve made it this far in my essay, and you consider yourself a leftist of some sort, you’re probably extremely frustrated with what passes for the Left these days, and with how the working classes are flocking to the Right, both in the United States and all over the world. If I’ve got that right, you might want to read this essay by Diana Johnstone (which we lefties are technically not allowed to read, because it’s posted in The Unz Review, where a lot of “alt-Right” pieces are also posted … and you don’t want to get any of that stuff on you!)

What she is writing about is the ongoing “populist” insurgency against globalized capitalism, which is what I’ve also been writing about for the better part of the last two years. This is the historical moment we are experiencing, a clumsy, sloppy, partly fascistic, partly non-fascistic democratic uprising against the continuing spread of global capitalism, the erosion of what is left of national sovereignty, and … yes, people’s cultures and values.

The international working classes understand this. The neo-nationalist Right understands this. The majority of the Left does not understand this, and is refusing to admit that it’s happening, and so is standing around on the sidelines calling everybody “racists” and “fascists” while the global capitalist ruling classes and the neo-nationalists sort things out.

Which is exactly what the ruling classes want, and what the official Putin-Nazi narrative was designed to achieve from the very beginning. The “Overton Window” (i.e., the range of ideas tolerated in public discourse) works best when divided into two clean halves. During the so-called “War on Terror,” it was Democracy versus the Islamic Terrorists. Now, it’s Democracy versus the Putin-Nazis. Both of which narratives are fairy tales, of course, the reality, as ever, being rather more messy.

If what is left of the Left expects to play any meaningful part in our historical moment (other than sanctimoniously cheerleading for the global capitalist ruling classes), it is going need to get its hand a littler dirtier, mingle a bit more with all those working class “populists,” talk to them, and, I don’t know, maybe even listen to them.

Or maybe I’m completely out of my mind … I mean, actually listening to the working classes? Some of them are sure to say racist things, and anti-Semitic and transphobic things, which we cannot ignore for even one second, or rationally discuss and disagree with, because that would mean giving their racism a platform. Yeah, screw it, I don’t know what I was thinking … forget all that stuff I just made you read. Down with the fascist working classes!

September 21, 2018 Posted by | Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Progressive Hypocrite, Russophobia, Timeless or most popular | , , | Leave a comment

UK to Create 2,000-Strong Cyberforce to Counter ‘Russia Threat’ – Reports

Sputnik – 21.09.2018

The United Kingdom will set up a cybersecurity force, comprising up to 2,000 members, to tackle the “threat from Russia” and other actors, local media reported on Friday.

The authorities planned to invest some 250 million pounds (over $330 million) in creating the cyberforce, the Sky News broadcaster reported, citing sources.

The force would be tasked with carrying out offensive cyberoperations and would be composed of the officials of the Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ), military personnel and contractors, the outlet added.

The plan to create the unit was reportedly drafted by the Ministry of Defence and the GCHQ amid London’s claims about the alleged growing cyberthreat from Moscow and the United Kingdom’s recent successful use of cyberweapons against the Islamic State terror group.

Over the recent years, Russia has repeatedly been accused of carrying out cyberattacks against other countries, including the United States, France, the United Kingdom and Germany, and attempting, in particular, to influence the results of elections. Moscow refuted all such claims, calling them unfounded.

September 20, 2018 Posted by | Full Spectrum Dominance, Russophobia | , | Leave a comment

The Skripal Affair – Another False Flag in NATO Litany to Criminalize Russia

By Finian CUNNINGHAM | Strategic Culture Foundation | 20.09.2018

If we start from a premise which understands that Britain and its NATO allies are capable of mounting false flag events in Syria with chemical weapons, then it is entirely possible that British secret services carried out a similar propaganda stunt in England with regard to former Russian double agent Sergei Skripal.

We also need to bear in mind that British state intelligence agencies are plausibly running a covert assassination program targeting Russian exiles living in Britain – for the purpose of incriminating Moscow.

Over the past two decades, more than a dozen Russian dissidents have met untimely deaths while residing in England, including Alexander Litvinenko and Boris Berezovsky. Their deaths provide propaganda fodder for the British to accuse Moscow of carrying out “revenge killings”.

However, the suspicious circumstances surrounding each death could more conceivably point to the British liquidating the Russian exiles as propaganda assets.

In the case of Sergei Skripal, the disgraced former Russian military intelligence officer was convicted in Russia of being a spy working for Britain’s MI6. He was exiled to England more than a decade ago as part of an espionage swap deal.

When Skripal was apparently poisoned in his resident town of Salisbury in southwest England on March 4, along with his adult daughter, Yulia, the British authorities immediately pointed the finger of blame at Russian President Vladimir Putin for allegedly ordering an assassination. The Kremlin was accused of dispatching agents who supposedly poisoned the Skripals with a deadly nerve agent.

The publication last week by Scotland Yard police of CCTV images showing two Russian men, Alexander Petrov and Ruslan Boshirov, walking the streets of Salisbury on the weekend of the alleged attack was reported in the British media as “proof” of the supposed Kremlin assassination plot. The Skripal affair is conveniently portrayed as “one more” example of Putin’s “Kremlin killing machine”.

But let’s look at the whole affair from a different perspective. The following scenario draws on observations and evidence cited by sources such as former British ambassador Craig Murray, the informed analytical website Moon of Alabama, and US-based political analyst Randy Martin (in personal correspondence).

Let’s ask the following question: was Sergei Skripal’s propaganda usefulness to the British as an exiled spy at some later point seen by the British as being better served as a victim of an apparent poison-assassination. That is, as a victim of a false flag attack that was actually carried out covertly by the British state agents in order to give the Western-led anti-Russia media campaign a significant boost?

Recall the Salisbury incident occurred at the time when Putin won re-election as Russian president, and it was during the build-up to the 2018 World Cup tournament hosted by Russia.

There is evidence that Sergei Skripal may have been a drug addict. His movements on the Sunday of March 4 when he was found incapacitated on a public park bench in Salisbury along with daughter Yulia suggest he may have been fixing a drug habit. That day he and his daughter both reportedly switched off their cell phones as they visited parks in Salisbury and nearby Amesbury. The latter venue was also a haunt for the two heroin junkies Charlie Rowley and Dawn Sturgess who later became embroiled in the affair when both apparently were also poisoned with the same nerve agent. Sturgess died days later from her ailment in early July.

Was Skripal visiting venues on March 4 known for scoring drugs? The switching off of phones would indicate some kind of illicit behavior. Recall, too, that earlier on that day, Skripal was reportedly acting in a hurry and very agitated while lunching in a restaurant with his daughter, both of them leaving abruptly. Did he have a monkey on his back, pushing him to get his drug fix?

We can be sure that Skripal was being kept under surveillance by Britain’s MI5 and MI6 all during his decade-long exile in Britain. The postulated drug habit would have been known to his “handlers”.

Moving to cash in their espionage asset for propaganda value, it is possible that British state agents surreptitiously spiked Skripal’s drug fix with some incapacitating substance, such as fentanyl. Indeed, the distressed symptoms of the father and daughter later found in a park on the afternoon of March 4 by members of the public were initially reported as signs of drug overdose.

From that point on, it is contended here, the British secret services intervened as they had anticipated to take control of the “Skripal affair”.

While Sergei and Yulia were comatose in a secured hospital wing, it could have been possible for their blood samples to be doctored with a chemical weapon, the notorious Novichok, which was subsequently and hastily attributed to Russia. That attribution in the British media is wildly overplayed. The British chemical weapons facility at Porton Down is only a few miles away from Salisbury where the Skripals were hospitalized. Without doubt, Porton Down would have its own supply of organophosphate nerve agents, if not samples of Novichok. It is not a uniquely Russian chemical, as British politicians and media falsely imply.

There are gaping anomalies in the official British narrative of a Kremlin-directed “hit job” on Skripal with a deadly nerve agent, a claim which Moscow has vehemently denied.

For a start, Sergei and his daughter have, according to the British government, recovered from their ordeal. Yet, the British authorities were claiming that the alleged nerve poison, Novichok, was a super lethal toxin, multiple times more deadly than related organophosphate chemical weapons Sarin or Tabun. A single drop of Novichok on the skin would be enough to kill almost instantly, so it is claimed.

The official British narrative claims that the killer chemical was applied to the front door handle at the Skripal home. The two Russian men caught on CCTV and accused last week by the British of being Kremlin assassins were not in Salisbury until just before midday on March 4, according to the published CCTV time data. By that time, the Skripals had left the home and were not seen returning. That means the pair were stricken while away from the home, perhaps, as speculated here, while they were in the public park scoring a drug deal.

Plausibly, they were not assaulted with a chemical weapon, but with a spiked drug sample, which British state agents had arranged for the purpose of incapacitating them. In an incapacitated state, the Skripals could then be used as guinea pigs, whose bodily fluids could be contaminated to frame up Russia with a story of “assassination by Novichok”.

Here are some challenging questions: why have the Skripals seemingly gone into hiding since the alleged poison incident over six months ago?

Why did Yulia make only one public statement to the Reuters news agency – three months after the poison incident and apparently having recovered from her “lethal ordeal” – in which she expressed a desire to return to her native Russia? Yet since that one-off public statement nearly three months ago, Yulia or her father have not been seen since. Would she really express such a wish to go back to Russia if she believed the British claim that Russian state agents had just tried to assassinate her and her father?

Why have all official Russian requests for consular contact with Yulia been repeatedly denied by the British side, in flagrant violation of international law and diplomatic norms?

The implication is that the Skripals are being detained under duress by the British authorities who realize that the official version of a Kremlin assassination plot with Novichok might be fatally contradicted by the Skripals’ version of events. Hence the pair are being denied access to public communication.

What about the junkies Charlie Rowley and the late Dawn Sturgess? It is plausible that they were also set up in a covert poison attack by British intelligence using spiked drugs in order to “refresh” the anti-Russia propaganda stunt. Then the story about a perfume bottle containing Novichok was thrown in to the mix to conjure up a murder weapon discarded by alleged Kremlin assassins.

What about the two Russian men caught on CCTV in Salisbury on the weekend that the Skripals were apparently poisoned? Petrov and Boshirov upset the official British narrative by coming forward last week to give a media interview. They said they were ordinary civilians traveling under their own names, not aliases, as the British claimed. They said they are not Russian military intelligence, that they had no perfume bottle with Novichok nor any other substance on their possession in England, and that they were in Salisbury as weekend tourists.

Salisbury and its world-famous 13th century cathedral – reputed to be the most ornate in England – as well as nearby neolithic-age Stonehenge, attract millions of tourists from around the world each year, including many Russian nationals. It is not a stretch that British authorities scanned through reams of CCTV footage on the weekend of March 4, and got a lucky break to find Petrov and Boshirov walking the streets of Salisbury. The two men say they are caught up in a “fantastical coincidence”. More to the point, it seems, they are caught up in a British false flag to incriminate, demonize and delegitimize Russia.

The Skripal false flag is only one in a whole series of propaganda campaigns conducted by Western governments, their state intelligence and their ever-obliging news media in recent years. The alleged “annexation of Crimea”, the “covert invasion of Ukraine”, shooting down a Malaysian airliner, illicit doping of Olympic athletes, meddling in US and European elections, launching cyberattacks on Western power-grids, supporting “brutal dictator Assad” in Syria, among other malicious memes.

The litany of false flags to demonize Russia as a “pariah state” is itself indicative of relentless media orchestration by NATO governments.

The Skripal affair fits into this phenomenal propaganda effort.

September 20, 2018 Posted by | Deception, False Flag Terrorism, Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Russophobia | | Leave a comment

Operation Nina – A Conspirator’s View

There’s never a shortage of commentators reporting on how Russia planned the attack on the Skripals, or how Syria planned its chemical weapons massacres. So let’s just turn the tables on these prejudiced and blinkered proponents of the Western narrative…

By David Macilwain | American Herald Tribune | September 17, 2018

The current impasse between the UK and Russia, initiated by the Skripal poisoning on March 4th and crystallized by the identification of two Russian “suspects” this week, calls for new thinking. Despite what appears to most Russians as the complete exposure of the UK’s dirty game, where its “smoking gun” evidence has been trashed by the appearance of the two “guns” on Russian TV, the UK’s leaders and their dutiful media remain unrepentant.

Worse than that, the “spycatchers” are re-invigorated with passionate Russophobia, full of indignation over the “brazen appearance” of their assassins on the BBC’s nemesis, RT.  After they spent so many months combing through 11,000 hours of CCTV footage to put together a picture of the men, whose recorded movements almost coincided with the location and movements of the Skripals, it would be vexing to see that work squandered in less than a week.

Or so it might seem.

But before we feel too sorry for those unnamed individuals who finally found the proverbial needles in the haystack of Russians visiting Salisbury, albeit, at rather a quiet time, we might consider this inconvenient detail: “Novichok” was found on swabs taken at the City Stay Hotel on MAY 4th.

This, of course, was only two months after the attack on the Skripals, when the nerve agent might have been considered “fresh” and possibly dangerous; more recent re-testing found no trace of Novichok, though it was suggested this was because all of the substance had been removed on the swabs in May. Yes.

Given that no-one at the hotel reported being affected by Novichok, one must conclude that police had already identified Alexander Petrov and Ruslan Boshirov by the end of April, as Russians who had flown into London on that snowy weekend in March, and who had visited Salisbury while staying at City Stay Hotel.

But before we waste time speculating how and why it took them another four months to release the mug-shots of the suspected “GRU agents”, we should consider how much earlier the two Russians may have been under suspicion as the possible culprits and purveyors of the Nina Ricci perfume “Nouveau Truc”.

If authorities assumed the assassins had come from Russia, with the extensive monitoring and searching capabilities now available to them, might Petrov and Boshirov (their real names) not have been identified within days?

But now here’s the rub.

Accepting that the “Novichok” poisoning of Sergei and Yulia Skripal did NOT take place, neither as claimed by the UK from contact with a Novichok-smeared doorknob, nor in fact from any contact at all, we should now logically consider if these two Russian guys were identified before they came to London.

This is not some “conspiracy theory” – because it’s clear that there was a conspiracy. And with every new piece of “evidence”, and every repetition of the original false and fabricated claims against Russia this conspiracy becomes deeper and more malignant.

It is often useful when accusations are made against countries of – for instance – military expansionism, to reverse the protagonists; would the US be happy to see Chinese warships “maintaining freedom of navigation” between Cuba and Florida? While building military bases in neighboring countries and installing anti-missile defense systems in them?

So in considering the attack on the Skripals, and the apparent connection with false-flag chemical weapons attacks in Syria, it is useful to take what we may call a “conspirator’s eye view”.

Despite the credulity of Western media and its audience in the fabricated stories of chemical weapons use both in Syria and in Salisbury, there is now no alternative but to count these Western populations amongst the victims of a massive conspiracy by the UK and its allies; one that threatens to even exceed the criminality and deception involved in that “Mother of all Conspiracies” that launched the Imperial Wars of Terror seventeen years ago.

Considering this conspiracy, or operation – as it may appear to those who planned and executed the whole deception – from their perspective, opens up a whole new line of inquiry, and interest in past events that may have otherwise been overlooked. It may also take us into a realm of human psychology that is highly discomfiting, and for which it may be better to pretend that this is simply an academic inquiry.

A “what if the Skripal poisoning was staged by GCHQ to frame the Russians and provide a pretext for sanctions, because of their support for the Syrian government?” inquiry. But just remember this is a pretense.

First, we must assume that this operation was well-planned, and at least some months in advance. While considerations of the coming Russian Presidential election and the World Cup Football may have figured, along with Russia’s resistance in Ukraine and on its borders, the key driver behind “Operation Nina” (as we may choose to call it after the UK’s choice of “perfume”) must surely have been the situation in Syria.

This became quite clear when Theresa May delivered the “first use of a chemical weapon in Europe since WW2” accusation against Russia, timed as it was so cleverly only weeks before the staging of the Douma gas attack. Rather than simple guilt by association – supporting the “murderous Assad regime” – Russia could now be framed as a collaborator and user of chemical weapons.

One need only look at the rise in toxic Russophobia, and support for extreme measures against Russia which are entirely unjustifiable, to realize just who benefits from this framing of the West’s chief bugbear, and thus who might consider such an operation.

Russia’s enormous commitment to restoring peace and justice in Syria for the last seven years, and dedication to diplomacy and negotiation, with military action as the last resort, has been completely obscured by the NATO campaign of disinformation and subversive action, and to an extraordinary degree.

Clearly from the conspirators’ point of view, “Operation Nina” and the concomitant “White Helmets” and “Doctors Under Fire” operations in Syria have been a resounding success – even though the presumed goal of regime change still eludes them, whether in Damascus or Moscow. Certainly in terms of intent, and what the opposing parties stood to gain from assassinating Sergei Skripal there can be no argument – Russia only stood to lose, a little or a lot, while the UK and its allies stood to prevail both militarily and politically in their own interests, however morally repugnant and legally unjustified these were.

So we have the motive, and know the details of the bizarre method; what of the planning?

Is it possible that the unwitting Russian “agents”, whose visit to Salisbury has now become the clincher of the UK’s Novichok case, were actually lured to the vicinity of Sergei Skripal’s home, with the conveniently placed chemical weapons labs at nearby Porton Down? Without doubting the innocence of Petrov and Boshirov over any involvement in the BZ attack on the Skripals, might we consider if they were on a different mission, and victims of a “honey trap” not involving women?

This possibility – including their comment that “a friend suggested we visit Salisbury” could explain their slightly evasive and unconvincing answers on why they returned to the city for a second time. While we know that they weren’t caught on CCTV walking along Wilton Road “near the Skripal house” because that was their destination, it’s fair to ask why they chose to walk that way rather than the road north to Old Sarum, which they professed a desire to see.

Old Sarum is about two miles from the city center, so Petrov and Boshirov could have easily visited the site. But perhaps their friend had a different recommendation, and one they understandably would be reluctant to reveal – a venue which appears to be about the same distance from the center, along Wilton Road.

If this explanation for some anomalies in the Russians’ story is true, then it has an ironic twist; at the same time as they were striding off down Wilton Road, the final moves of the conspiracy to poison Sergei Skripal and his daughter were taking place back in the city center.

The exact circumstances and timing of the attack – presumably on the park bench on which they were discovered incapacitated – may only be known to those who set it up, but we may be sure nothing was left to chance. This is in contrast to the apparently haphazard behavior and conflicting reports afterward, despite some serious preparations just beforehand.

To anyone familiar with Salisbury, its proximity to the largest Chemical and Biological Weapons research facility in Europe ranks alongside its ancient cathedral and prehistoric sites as a subject of interest, if not as a destination. For some in the past, it proved a final destination, as revealed at an inquest in 2003, fifty years after the death of a MoD guinea pig, RAF volunteer Ronald Maddison, from Sarin poisoning.

The UK government and its agencies will, of course, assure the public that “nowadays” Porton Down is merely involved in research into protection and defense against other states’ chemical, biological and nuclear agents. It gave similar assurances to the 3000 odd volunteers in the ‘50s, telling them they were helping to develop a cure for the common cold, as drops of Sarin were put on their skin.

It seems that nothing much has changed, except that in those days – like Soviet propaganda – no-one really believed Whitehall’s bland reassurances or imagined that Porton Down was full of harmless boffins working for the common good.

What has changed is that the “elite” at the helm of today’s conspiracies has become supremely confident in its ability to deceive the public into believing whatever story best suits their special interests. As is illustrated by the whole crazy “Novichok” story – which has appeared as barely believable even to those who would readily blame Russia for it – the public can now be made to believe in anything, and with conviction.

And so it seems that as in Mossad’s motto – “By way of deception though shalt wage war”; this has become the modus operandi for the UK and its allies in their war on Russia and Syria, and anyone else standing in the way of their hegemonic and demonic ambitions.

September 17, 2018 Posted by | Deception, False Flag Terrorism, Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Russophobia, Timeless or most popular | , , , | 1 Comment

Narrative Collapse: Mueller Probe Reveals Manafort Was Lobbying Against Russia

By Chris Menahan – InformationLiberation – September 15, 2018

Paul Manafort was lobbying against Russian interests in Ukraine — not for them as Rachel Maddow and others have been claiming for months — according to new documents released from special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation.

According to records produced by Mueller himself, the nature of the work Manafort did in Ukraine (lobbying *against* Russia’s interests) is the polar opposite of how it’s been portrayed in US media. The level of narrative manipulation here is a astounding https://t.co/fxbqQSCvhy

— Michael Tracey (@mtracey) September 14, 2018

The Real News’ Aaron Maté broke it all down Friday on Twitter:

 

 


Maté wrote Friday in The Nation :

It is often speculated that Manafort’s Ukraine stint is relevant to a Trump-Russia conspiracy plot because, the theory goes, he served Kremlin interests during his time there. The opposite is the case, as Manafort’s former partner-turned-prosecution-witness, Rick Gates, reaffirmed during trial. Gates testified that Manafort pushed his client, then–Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych, to align with the European Union and away from Russia. According to Gates, Manafort was paid lucratively to craft a policy known as “Engage Ukraine,” which “became the strategy for helping Ukraine enter the European Union.” Given that the tug-of-war between Russia and the EU (with US backing) over Ukraine sparked a full-blown international crisis and a new Cold War, Manafort’s strategy would be an odd one for a supposed Kremlin stooge.

Putting aside Manafort’s record in Ukraine, there have been attempts to tie him to a potential Russia conspiracy via his financial debts to Russian tycoon Oleg Deripaska. During the campaign, Manafort wrote to an associate about leveraging his position in the Trump camp in order to “get whole” with Deripaska, even suggesting that he offer “private briefings.” Could this have been, pundits suggest, where a collusion plot was hatched?

Deripaska denies ever having been offered private briefings by Manafort. Another impediment to tying Deripaska to a Trump-Russia collusion plot is that Deripaska has connections to the figure arguably most responsible for the allegations of collusion. Christopher Steele, the former British intelligence agent whose DNC-funded “dossier” alleged a longstanding Trump-Kremlin conspiracy, has served as an intermediary for contacts between Deripaska and US officials. Deripaska even has a link to Mueller and the federal agency he once headed. In 2009, when Mueller was in charge of the FBI, Deripaska ponied up millions of dollars for a secret effort to rescue a captured CIA operative, Robert Levinson, in Iran. In return, the FBI–with the encouragement of Steele–helped secure a visa for Deripaska, who had been banned from the United States for alleged ties to Russian organized crime. In short, Deripaska’s various contacts make plain that Manafort’s financial ties to him, illicit or not, do not necessarily lead to a Kremlin conspiracy.

Most critically, Mueller has yet to allege one. Prosecutors openly acknowledged before Manafort’s first trial that the case had nothing to do with “evidence or argument concerning collusion with the Russian government,” while the judge in Manafort’s upcoming second trial notes that the collusion investigation is “wholly irrelevant to the charges in this case.”

The same could be said for all of the other charges in the Mueller investigation to date.

No doubt Rachel Maddow, Chris Hayes and the rest of the fake news media will be issuing formal retractions any day now!

 


… Any day now, I’m sure!

September 15, 2018 Posted by | Fake News, Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Russophobia | | 1 Comment

Petrov, Boshirov and the Burden of Proof

By Rob Slane | The Blog Mire | September 14, 2018

For some time now, I have been concerned that our generation has been busy burying some of the most cherished legal concepts that many of our forebears seemed to instinctively understand, and which were enshrined into English Common Law. Concepts such as innocent until proven guilty, and that the burden of proof rests with the prosecution to prove its case against the accused, rather than on the accused to prove his or her defense against the accusations.

My biggest initial gripe in the Salisbury case was that the British Government completely discarded these concepts and simply presented unsubstantiated accusations as if they were fact. Not only did this prejudice the investigation from the outset, but it went a long way towards poisoning the wells of justice. So much for their much vaunted “British Values”.

More recently, the same has been done again. The Metropolitan Police, The Crown Prosecution Service and Her Majesty’s Government (TMP/CPS/HMG) named two suspects in the case, stating that they had enough evidence to prosecute the men. They then presented at least some of that evidence, before — at least in the case of the Government and the media — then going on to treat the suspects as if it had been proven that they had brought something called “Novichok” into the country and had carried out an assassination attempt on 4th March at the home of Sergei Skripal at 47 Christie Miller Road, Salisbury.

But it has not been proven. Very far from it. Accusations are not convictions. Suspects are not culprits. And if we are going to pretend that the extraordinarily flimsy evidence against the two men — at least that presented in public — is enough to claim “case closed; culprits caught”, then we have basically torn up 1,000 years or so of legal history, and are pretty well lost as a nation.

All of which is a prelude to saying that whatever the two men said in their interview with Margarita Simonyan, the onus is absolutely not on them to make their case, nor to sound convincing, nor to defend themselves. No, the onus is absolutely on their accusers — TMP/CPS/HMG — to present the evidence they claim they have for their assertion that these men attempted to kill Sergei Skripal, Yulia Skripal and Detective Sergeant Nick Bailey.

And so if Petrov and Boshirov had stated in their interview that they went to Salisbury to see St. John’s Church in Lower Bemerton, where the great 17th century poet, George Herbert was minister, the Salisbury branches of Waitrose and Marks and Spencer’s, and Dauwalders coin and stamp shop, yes it would have been jolly strange, but it would also have been neither here nor there as far as the claims against them are concerned. Whether we find their claims plausible, totally implausible, or somewhere in between, I repeat: they are not the ones who need to convince us why they came to Salisbury and what they did there; it is TMP/CPS/HMG who need to convince us why they came to Salisbury and what they did whilst they were there, since they are the ones accusing.

I am aware that some will say this is not a courtroom, and that the claims so far have been made in the media and are therefore not subject to the same thresholds of evidence. However, the problem is that TMP/CPS/HMG:

A) Has presented its evidence (or at least part of it) in public, and
B) Has sent no further evidence to the Russian Attorney General, calling for the extradition of the men.

Which means that the accused — Alexander Petrov and Ruslan Boshirov — have presumably seen as much of the evidence against them as you and I have.

This is disturbing, and the reason given — that the Russian constitution does not allow for the extradition of suspects — is as pathetic as it is disingenuous. It is not TMP/CPS/HMG’s issue if the Russian Government refuses to extradite the suspects. The British side should simply present its evidence through the proper channels, but has instead chosen to do it through a press conference and the media, naming two men who under the law of the land are innocent until proven guilty. Having taken this course, they now have a duty to present the evidence they have against the men to the public.

As far as the interview itself goes, it was at least helpful in that it narrows things down to the following three possibilities:

1. The men are GU Intelligence Officers who came to Salisbury to assassinate Sergei Skripal by placing nerve agent on the handle of his front door. If this is the case, they were therefore lying through their teeth.

2. The men really did come to Salisbury on Saturday 3rd and Sunday 4th March as tourists. In which case not only are they telling the truth, but the claims against them are utterly false and contrived.

3. The men came to Salisbury, not as assassins, but to do something else which they cannot reveal, but they did so posing as tourists. In which case, there is an element of truth behind the tourist claims — they really did see the sights — but there is also an element of deception as they have not told the full story, even though it is not the one their accusers claim.

Much of the commentary in the British Press seems to assume that the onus is on Petrov and Boshirov to prove that 2 is true, and that 1 and 3 are false.

Not so. The onus is on TMP/CPS/HMG to back up their claims with evidence, which basically means proving that number 1 is true, and that numbers 2 and 3 are false.

And so when a Downing Street spokesperson dismissed the men’s story, saying it was an insult to people’s intelligence, this is a mealy mouthed smokescreen, and an insult to our intelligence, designed to obscure the basic fact that it is for TMP/CPS/HMG to back up their accusations, not for the two men they have accused to back up their defence

So although the question of what to make of Petrov’s and Boshirov’s claims is interesting, it is not the real one we should be asking. The real question is simply this: Have TMP/CPS/HMG presented credible evidence to back up their claims against the two? Let’s see.

The basic evidence they have advanced against them is as follows:

1. That they flew into London from Moscow on 2nd March, and flew back on 4th March.

2. That they visited Salisbury on 3rd and 4th March.

3. That they are GU Intelligence Officers.

4. That they visited the home of Sergei Skripal on 4th March, and there applied “Novichok” on the front door handle.

5. That traces of “Novichok” were found in the London hotel they were staying in.

Regarding points 1 and 2, both men have admitted that they are true. They did indeed fly into London from Moscow on 2nd March, and then back on 4th March. They did indeed visit Salisbury on 3rd and 4th March. So far then, the men agree with the assessment of TMP/CPS/HMG and the claims are therefore not incriminating.

Regarding point 3, although Theresa May claimed in her speech to the House of Commons that these men were GU officers (well, she said GRU), in his press conference of that same day, Neil Basu did not do the same. So far no evidence has been presented to back up Mrs May’s claim that the two men are intelligence officers; on the contrary, the fact that they turned out to have travelled under their real names, rather than using aliases, as alleged by the Metropolitan Police, if anything undermines the claim. As things stand, the assertion that they are GU officers is just that: an assertion backed up by nothing.

Regarding point 4, the Metropolitan Police showed a CCTV still of the two men walking near the Shell garage on Wilton Road at 11:48am on 4th March. Is this evidence that the two men went to Christie Miller Road to apply nerve agent to a door handle? No, it isn’t. It is evidence that they were on the Wilton Road at 11:48am and nothing more. Real evidence would be footage showing the two men at 47 Christie Miller Road just after noon on that day. If the Metropolitan Police want us to believe that the two men were there, they are going to have to do better than showing an image of them on a different street altogether. Perhaps even an image from the CCTV camera that Mr Skripal’s niece, Victoria, claims Mr Skripal had on his house.

And regarding point 5, if “Novichok” (or “Novichok or related agent” as Porton Down have referred to it) was found in the hotel room on 4th May:

Firstly, how on earth would the two men have left traces of it there and not in other places they visited?

Secondly, how did they themselves manage to avoid contamination?

Thirdly, why wasn’t the hotel immediately cordoned off when the discovery was made?

Fourthly, why were the guests who stayed in the hotel between the 4th March and 4th May not contacted and checked over?

Fifthly, why was the OPCW not informed?

And sixthly, why was the hotel owner not informed about nerve agent being found in his hotel until 6th September, when TV crews turned up outside his hotel?

In other words, unless a reasonable explanation for this clear negligence and failure to act responsibly can be given, we have every right to dismiss the claim that “Novichok” was found in the hotel room. I’m certainly not prepared to just accept the word of people who have acted in such a shoddy way as to not even inform the hotel owner of what was apparently found on his property, and nor should you.

To conclude, I don’t entirely know what to make of Petrov’s and Boshirov’s claims. The images of them in Salisbury City Centre, after the Metropolitan Police claim they had put “Novichok” on the door handle, do not remotely fit the bill of assassins having carried out their deed, but do possibly fit the bill of tourists looking around a city. On the other hand, their wandering up the Wilton Road certainly looks odd.

But as I say, they are under no obligation to prove their defence. The obligation is entirely on the shoulders of TMP/CPS/HMG to prove their case against the two men. And so far they have spectacularly failed to do so.

September 15, 2018 Posted by | Deception, False Flag Terrorism, Russophobia | | 2 Comments

Lynch Mob Mentality

By Craig Murray | September 14, 2018

I was caught in a twitterstorm of hatred yesterday, much of it led by mainstream media journalists like David Aaronovitch and Dan Hodges, for daring to suggest that the basic elements of Boshirov and Petrov’s story do in fact stack up. What became very plain quite quickly was that none of these people had any grasp of the detail of the suspects’ full twenty minute interview, but had just seen the short clips or quotes as presented by British corporate and state media.

As I explained in my last post, what first gave me some sympathy for the Russians’ story and drew me to look at it closer, was the raft of social media claims that there was no snow in Salisbury that weekend and Stonehenge had not been closed. In fact, Stonehenge was indeed closed on 3 March by heavy snow, as confirmed by English Heritage. So the story that they came to Salisbury on 3 March but could not go to Stonehenge because of heavy snow did stand up, contrary to almost the entire twittersphere.

Once there was some pushback of truth about this on social media, people started triumphantly posting the CCTV images from 4 March to prove that there was no snow lying in Central Salisbury on 4 March. But nobody ever said there was snow on 4 March – in fact Borisov and Petrov specifically stated that they learnt there was a thaw so they went back. However when they got there, they encountered heavy sleet and got drenched through. That accords precisely with the photographic evidence in which they are plainly drenched through.

Another extraordinary meme that causes hilarity on twitter is that Russians might be deterred by snow or cold weather.

Well, Russians are human beings just like us. They cope with cold weather at home because they have the right clothes. Boshirov and Petrov refer continually in the interview to cold, wet feet and again this is borne out by the photographic evidence – they were wearing sneakers unsuitable to the freak weather conditions that were prevalent in Salisbury on 3 and 4 March. They are indeed soaked through in the pictures, just as they said in the interview.

Russians are no more immune to cold and wet than you are.

Twitter is replete with claims that they were strange tourists, to be visiting a housing estate. No evidence has been produced anywhere that shows them on any housing estate. They were seen on CCTV camera walking up the A36 by the Shell station, some 400 yards from the Skripals’ house, which would require three turnings to get to that – turnings nobody saw them take (and they were on the wrong side of the road for the first turning, even though it would be very close). No evidence has been mentioned which puts them at the Skripals’ House.

Finally, it is everywhere asserted that it is very strange that Russians would take a weekend break holiday, and that if they did they could not possibly be interested in architecture or history. This is a simple expression of anti-Russian racism. Plainly before their interview – about which they were understandably nervous – they prepared what they were going to say, including checking up on what it was they expected to see in Salisbury because they realised they would very obviously be asked why they went. Because their answer was prepared does not make it untrue.

That literally people thousands of people have taken to twitter to mock that it is hilariously improbable that tourists might want to visit Salisbury Cathedral and Stonehenge, is a plain example of the irrationality that can overtake people when gripped by mob hatred.

I am astonished by the hatred that has been unleashed. The story of Gerry Conlon might, you would hope, give us pause as to presuming the guilt of somebody who just happened to be of the “enemy” nationality, in the wrong place at the wrong time.

Despite the mocking mob, there is nothing inherently improbable in the tale told by the two men. What matters is whether they can be connected to the novichok, and here the safety of the identification of the microscopic traces of novichok allegedly found in their hotel bedroom is key. I am no scientist, but I have been told by someone who is, that if the particle(s) were as the police state so small as to be harmless to humans, they would be too small for mass spectrometry analysis and almost certainly could not be firmly identified other than as an organophosphate. Perhaps someone qualified might care to comment.

The hotel room novichok is the key question in this case.

Were I Vladimir Putin, I would persuade Boshirov and Petrov voluntarily to come to the UK and stand trial, on condition that it was a genuinely fair trial before a jury in which the entire proceedings, and all of the evidence, was open and public, and the Skripals and Pablo Miller might be called as witnesses and cross-examined. I have no doubt that the British government’s desire for justice would suddenly move into rapid retreat if their bluff was called in this way.

As for me, when I see a howling mob rushing to judgement and making at least some claims which are utterly unfounded, and when I see that mob fueled and egged on by information from the security services propagated by exactly the same mainstream media journalists who propagandised the lies about Iraqi WMD, I see it as my job to stand in the way of the mob and to ask cool questions. If that makes them hate me, then I must be having some impact.

So I ask this question again – and nobody so far has attempted to give me an answer. At what time did the Skripals touch their doorknob? Boshirov and Petrov arrived in Salisbury at 11.48 and could not have painted the doorknob before noon. The Skripals had left their house at 09.15, with their mobile phones switched off so they could not be geo-located. Their car was caught on CCTV on three cameras heading out of Salisbury to the North East. At 13.15 it was again caught on camera heading back in to the town centre from the North West.

How had the Skripals managed to get back to their home, and touch the door handle, in the hour between noon and 1pm, without being caught on any of the CCTV cameras that caught them going out and caught the Russian visitors so extensively? After this remarkably invisible journey, what time did they touch the door handle?

I am not going to begin to accept the guilt of Boshirov and Petrov until somebody answers that question. Dan Hodges? David Aaronovitch? Theresa May? Anybody?

September 14, 2018 Posted by | False Flag Terrorism, Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Russophobia | | 1 Comment

Bringing Down a President

By Philip M. GIRALDI | Strategic Culture Foundation | 13.09.2018

If anyone doubted that the top level of the intelligence agencies in Washington have dedicated themselves to ousting President Donald Trump, the past two weeks should have demonstrated precisely how such a plan of action is being executed. First came the leaked accounts of chaos in the Trump Administration derived from the Bob Woodward book Fear: Trump in the White House.

Then a New York Times op-ed entitled “I am part of the resistance inside the Trump administration” written by one Anonymous who claimed to be a senior official in the White House, exploded on the scene, describing how top officials were deliberately sabotaging Trump’s policies to protect the country.

Finally, another another op-ed “Why so many former intelligence officers are speaking out” by former CIA Acting Director John McLaughlin appeared, providing a rationale for intelligence officers to speak up against the White House.

There has been considerable chatter in the media regarding the Woodward book and the Anonymous op-ed, but relatively little concerning McLaughlin, who arguably has made the most serious case for pushback against Donald Trump from within the intelligence community. To sum up the op-ed, McLaughlin wrote that many former intelligence officers are beginning to speak out against the foreign policy of the Trump Administration because America’s institutions are being seriously damaged by an “extraordinarily unprecedented context” of threats emerging from both inside and outside the country due to a “president’s dangerous behavior.”

McLaughlin claims that “failure to warn is the ultimate sin in the intelligence world” and that is precisely why he and his colleagues now speak out. In particular, and perhaps inevitably, he cites the “refus[al] to combat a well-documented covert foreign attack on U.S. elections — in the process weakening efforts by others to do so and encouraging Russia to keep it up.”

McLaughlin also addresses the issue of the credibility of the intelligence community after Trump, i.e. will the public and many policymakers henceforth believe that the national security team is in fact politically biased, tainting the judgments that it makes when delivering its intelligence product. He argues somewhat evasively and not altogether clearly that “… we have to hope most people will understand why we reject silence: It’s because this is a threat that we cannot combat silently, as we have been able to do with foreign threats — overseas and out of the public’s eye.”

McLaughlin is praising himself and friends as constituting some kind of loyal opposition consisting of the good guys driven to protect “American values” and “American institutions” from Trump and his “deplorables.” His argument is carefully framed but ultimately self-serving. Witness his own career as Deputy Director of CIA under George Tenet, who famously sat in the United Nations sagaciously nodding to validate the argument that Saddam Hussein threatened the world with weapons of mass destruction and terrorist support. It was all a lie, leading to America’s greatest foreign policy disaster and McLaughlin was complicit. Did he ever apologize for what he did? No. He was also around when the CIA was “renditioning” people by snatching them off the streets and sending them to foreign lands to be tortured. Did he ever consider how that damaged America’s rule of law? And then there were the torture prisons. Again, silence from the suddenly-found-Jesus John McLaughlin.

And since that time, where was McLaughlin’s conscience when Barack Obama was sitting down with his intelligence advisor John Brennan and making up lists of American citizens to be killed by drone? Or planning the destruction of Libya? Apparently, the only threats that matter are those presumably generated by Donald Trump, who is particularly reviled because he has spoken of bettering relations with Russia. And when McLaughlin inevitably cites the threat from Moscow, he ignores the fact that the United States has been arming Ukraine while at the same time conducting military exercises right on Russia’s border. It has also been sanctioning Russians and Persona Non Grata’ing its diplomats regularly to punish it under Trump, making the bilateral relationship the worst it has been since the end of the Cold War. So where is the coddling of Moscow?

And McLaughlin is also wrong about the timing and substance of the intelligence officers’ speaking out. John Brennan, Michael Morell, Michael Hayden, James Woolsey and James Clapper all have been actively trying to discredit Trump since before he was nominated. Several of them have claimed absurdly that the president is a Russian spy, also suggested in some comments made by McLaughlin himself in July, including that Trump is an “intelligence recruiter’s dream.” So, it all would appear to be less a response to policies than it is a personal vendetta by a number of politicized senior officers who were lined up behind Hillary Clinton with hopes of being personally rewarded after her election.

Finally, though McLaughlin is claiming to support former intelligence officers who bravely speak out when the United States is threatened, he completely ignores a whole lot of them who have been doing just that for many years. They are sometimes labeled whistleblowers or dissidents, but McLaughlin probably considers them to be the lowest of the low. The whistleblowers and their allies have been calling for an end to the warfare surveillance state, which McLaughlin helped create and which he is still sustaining through his fearmongering, Russophobia being the wedge issue that drives both him and his “patriotic” friends. Introspection is apparently not McLaughlin’s strong suit, but he perhaps should pause and think for a second whether he and they are doing the American people any favors by their setting the stage for yet another war in their zeal to bring down Donald Trump.

September 13, 2018 Posted by | Deception, Russophobia, Timeless or most popular | , , | 2 Comments

No Russian trace in Manafort case, but Moscow portrayed as villain – Lavrov

RT | September 12, 2018

Nothing in the charges against former US President Donald Trump’s campaign manager Paul Manafort suggests any ties to Russia, but US media are scapegoating Moscow anyway, the Russian foreign minister said.

Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov was addressing young diplomats at a session of the Eastern Economic Forum (EEF) in Vladivostok on Wednesday, when he touched on the case of Manafort, originally investigated by Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s office as part of the wide-ranging Russia collusion probe.

Manafort has faced two separate trials, in Washington, DC and Virginia, after being charged with a list of offenses ranging from tax and bank fraud to witness tampering and unreported lobbying on behalf of Ukrainian government under the ousted President Viktor Yanukovich.

Last month, Manfort was found guilty of five counts of tax fraud, one count of hiding foreign bank accounts and two counts of bank fraud by a jury in Virginia. He faces seven separate charges in an upcoming trial in Washington. However, none of the allegations have anything to do with the initial purpose of the prosecution’s looking into his shady dealings – that is to find a proof of the Trump campaign’s collusion with the Kremlin.

The total lack of evidence did not stop the mainstream media from brazenly peddling the Russia narrative when the investigation was in its early stages, Lavrov noted.

“They began hyping up the case of Manafort, who was accused of being almost the main executioner of Kremlin’s sinister plot to stop Hillary Clinton from winning” the presidential elections, he said. “In the end, after months-long investigation, hearings, he was charged only with being an agent of the Ukrainian government and working in the interest of the Ukrainian government.”

However, the damage has already been done as ordinary Americans were made to believe that Russia is “a villain that runs everything in the US.”

The top Russian diplomat also took aim at America’s two-party system, arguing that “regrettably” it seemed that the decades-old system “glitched” during the 2016 elections, with the Democratic party that emerged on the losing end still trying to find those responsible for its stunning debacle outside the US.

September 12, 2018 Posted by | Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Russophobia | , | Leave a comment

Butina prosecutors wrote their own James Bond novel with sex allegations – and the media loved it

Jailed Russian “spy” Maria Butina / Facebook
RT | September 10, 2018

US prosecutors who wrongly accused Russian ‘foreign agent’ and gun activist Maria Butina of trading sex for influence peddled their own cheap James Bond fan fiction. No matter how incorrect, the media lapped it up.

Butina’s request to be released until the time of her trial was declined by US District Judge Tanya Chutkan on Monday. Chutkan ruled that the Russian activist is to remain in jail until she’s tried on the charges of acting as an unregistered agent for a foreign government. Butina has pleaded not guilty.

The judge has also slapped both the prosecution and the defense with a media gag order, after berating the defense attorney for giving interviews on his client’s innocence and slamming the prosecution for opening the case with a “salacious” and “notorious” claim that proved to be completely false. Days after Butina was arrested in July, Assistant US Attorney Erik M. Kenerson claimed she was offering an individual “sex in exchange for a position within a special interest organization.”

In a filing on Friday, prosecutors in the US attorney’s office in Washington, including Kenerson, backtracked on the July allegation, and stressed that it “was based both on a series of text messages between the defendant and another individual.” They admitted that the “government’s understanding of this particular text conversation was mistaken.”

Accusing Butina of trading sex for work was never about building a solid case against her, however. Instead, it was about portraying her as a Russian femme fatale; a pawn of Putin seducing her way through American political circles to sow division and discord in American politics.

“I think it was done to get headlines,” human rights lawyer Dan Kovalik told RT. “I think it was done to injure her reputation… All along, the US officials and even the press have tried to present her as some kind of spy, when in fact there is not even an allegation in that regard.”

Using the term “spy” to describe Butina, even to the untrained eye, is a bit of a reach. Before falling victim to Washington’s anti-Russian crusade, Butina moved to the US on a student visa in 2016. She graduated from American University in Washington DC with a master’s degree in international relations earlier this year. Butina is also the founder of Right to Bear Arms, a pro-gun organization that lobbies to change Russia’s strict gun laws. Right to Bear Arms has developed ties with the National RIfle Association (NRA) in the US. In her time in America, Butina met and socialized with several conservative political figures.

The sex allegations, Kovalik argues, were tacked on to bolster the US government’s already weak case against Butina. The 28-year-old gun activist was arrested for failing to register as a foreign lobbyist under the Foreign Agents Registration Act (FARA), an offense that doesn’t immediately scream “spy.”

“Clearly, this is a political case,” Kovalik said. “It is unclear to me what this young woman has done wrong, except maybe not registered under the FARA act. I believe no one has been arrested ever for violating that act which is rarely invoked.”

The smear worked, and the salacious headlines did the rounds in US media. “A simple Google search using the phrase ‘Maria Butina and sex’ yields over 300,000 hits,” her defense lawyer Robert Driscoll said in an interview, after the government backtracked on the allegation.

With their imaginations left to run riot, American journalists pumped out cold-war style spy fiction with impunity. “Sex and schmoozing are common Russian spy tactics. Publicity makes Maria Butina different,” read a headline from USA Today on August 29.

The USA Today writer scratches his head as to why Butina operated so publicly; giving interviews and speeches, publishing articles explaining her political views, and even posing for photos in magazines. After speaking to four anonymous ‘intelligence officials,’ he can only conclude that Butina’s transparency is “evidence the Russians have grown bolder in their spy efforts.”

Throughout much of the mainstream media, journalists parroted the prosecutors’ claims. Butina’s activism, the New York Times wrote in July “appears to be another arm of the Russian government’s attempts to influence or gain information about the American political process.” Butina, Time Magazine wrote at the same time, “lived a double life by using sex and a love of guns to infiltrate American political organizations… in order to advance Moscow’s agenda.”

What ‘Moscow’s agenda’ is here is unclear. Butina’s however, is clear as day. “She was meeting with people to talk about gun rights that she wants loosen in her own country back home in Russia,” Kovalik told RT. After all, if you want to talk gun rights in the USA, who better to talk to than the NRA, the world’s best-known gun rights organization, with more than six million members and a yearly revenue of almost $500 million.

Why then did she find herself the unwilling star of a third-rate spy novel, serialized and dramatized in US newspapers?

“I think this was a political gambit to deal with bigger geopolitical issues to try to ruin the outcome of the summit between Trump and Putin,” Kovalik said. “She is being used as a political pawn by the US.”

As long as the case against Butina is ongoing, the US government has human proof that the specter of ‘Russian meddling’ in US politics is alive and well.Unfortunately for Butina, that means she sits in jail until her case is eventually resolved. The Russian Embassy in Washington DC has accused American authorities of subjecting her to ‘borderline torture’ conditions, including unnecessary strip searches after every visit, sleep deprivation, and denying the 28-year-old medical treatment for a swelling on her leg.

“There are attempts to break her will,” the embassy said.

According to Kovalik, Butina’s outlook is grim. “I am going to bet that this case will drag on and this poor woman will rot in jail, apparently subjected to all sorts of indignities, including a body cavity search she is after every meeting,” the veteran human rights lawyer said. “And ultimately the charges will be dropped for the lack of evidence. But in the meantime her reputation and life will be destroyed. That is how I see this case going, to be perfectly frank.”

While the sex allegations against Butina have been dropped, prosecutors have still clung to the claims that she is, in fact, a spy. They say that her having received multiple visits from Russian officials while in jail is somehow proof of her importance to the Russian government, as is the fact that Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov complained about her detention to his US counterpart Mike Pompeo.

However, a visit from a Russian bureaucrat doesn’t sell newspapers like a juicy, sex-filled headline does. Therefore, this information was relegated to the final paragraphs of the retraction articles on Friday – an ignominious end to a damp squib of a modern spy thriller.

See also:

Accused ‘Russian agent’ Butina didn’t offer sex for job, prosecutors admit

September 10, 2018 Posted by | Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Fake News, Russophobia | , , , | Leave a comment

Skripal and Syria… The Imperative of Criminalizing Russia

By Finian CUNNINGHAM | Strategic Culture Foundation | 10.09.2018

There is a direct link between Britain’s sensational allegations against Russia in the Skripal affair and NATO’s losing covert war in Syria.

That’s not just the opinion of critical observers. Britain’s ambassador to the United Nations made the explicit link when she called an “emergency meeting” of the Security Council earlier this week.

The Security Council meeting was convened only hours after British counter-terrorism police released video images claiming to identify two Russian men, whom it said were responsible for the alleged poison assassination attempt on former Russian double agent Sergei Skripal in England earlier this year.

The council meeting also followed swiftly on the heels of British Prime Minister Theresa May telling her parliament that the culprits were Russian military intelligence officers acting on orders from the Kremlin. May did not give supporting evidence. It was bald assertion.

In this short clip, Britain’s envoy to the UN Karen Pierce tells reporters the rationale of the British government in convening the emergency session at the Security Council. The envoy reveals more than she intended.

She says that the United Kingdom and its allies would “continue to contest the Russian view of the world in which their state operatives can carry out these sorts of attacks [in England] and can encourage and support the Syrian authorities in their attacks on civilians.”

Pierce added: “So this is actually a continuum, if you like, of contesting that view of the world where you can act outside the norms of international rules and civilized behavior.”

Evidently, the British government is trying to criminalize both Russia and Syria at the same time, over the same alleged crime – unlawful use of chemical weapons.

That would account for why the British authorities have been unduly hasty in accusing the Russian state of culpability in the Skripal affair. By undermining and smearing Russia as a “pariah state”, it is then possible to stifle Russia’s crucial military support for Syria. This is especially urgent given the juncture in the Syria war where NATO-backed militants are staring at final defeat.

The US, Britain and France have all recently threatened to use military power against the Syrian government forces “if” the latter launch chemical weapons attacks. That of course is a cynical pretext for the NATO states to find a legal cover for aggression against Syria.

The allegations of “imminent” chemical weapon use by the Syrian government are also baseless since Damascus no longer possesses any such munitions, or indeed has any military need for such weapons.

What the Skripal affair is therefore trying to do is inculcate in the public mind that Russia has no scruples about using chemical weapons to kill people, which in turn reinforces the notion that Moscow’s Syrian ally also has no scruples about killing people with toxic materials.

The NATO claims of Syrian national forces using chemical weapons have been shown to be false. In recent days, Russian envoy to the UN Vasily Nebenzia demanded that the US present details of a Pentagon target list of chemical weapons sites in Syria. The US balked.

By contrast, there is a healthy skepticism among the Western public about official allegations against the Syrian government. Pink Floyd’s legendary singer-songwriter Roger Waters speaks for many when he recently called out the NATO-backed so-called rescue group, the White Helmets, as being implicated in orchestrating chemical attacks for propaganda purposes.

In order to overcome the propaganda problem of demonizing the Syrian government and giving itself a pretext for launching military strikes on Syria, the NATO powers therefore have to boost their flagging “false flag” narrative of chemical weapons responsibility.

By criminalizing Russia for allegedly using chemical weapons “on the streets of Britain”, it is a ploy to augment the dubious narrative criminalizing Syria.

Here is British envoy Pierce speaking again: “The reason the Security Council has not been able to act on CW [chemical weapon] use in Syria is because of Russia. There is a circularity here. Russia is the key to upholding the universal ban on CW use. And the world would be better if Russia would join us in making that ban absolutely watertight.”

Britain’s use of the word “circularity” is certainly apt – albeit for a completely different reason. The actual circular logic is to criminalize both Russia and Syria over chemical weapons. Russia, it is calculated, will then not have the authority to use its veto power at the Security Council in order to prevent the three NATO powers on the council from launching their much-desired military attack on Syria to salvage their losing covert war.

The reckless haste by which the British authorities are accusing Russia over the Skripal affair – a haste which makes a mockery of legal due process and diplomatic norms – can plausibly be explained by the urgency of the NATO powers to free up their military plans on Syria.

How can the release of video images allegedly of two Russian nationals in Britain be possibly attributed to the Kremlin? Two Russian men – if indeed that is genuine information – are supposed to be “compelling evidence” that Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered an assassination. It is a preposterous leap of imagination and a travesty of legal process, but it is revealing of an execrable British prejudice of Russophobia.

One possible theory in the Skripal affair is that the two alleged Russian men were members of organized crime. Reports emerged this week that former Russian intelligence agent Sergei Skripal was working with Spanish state security services to crackdown on Russian underworld gangs. It is possible that the gangs uncovered Skripal’s meddling in their illicit business model, and simply sent a couple of heavies over to Britain to deal with him. But how such a hypothetical account can be twisted by the British authorities to be “proof” of Kremlin involvement is a telling question.

It is significant that the British authorities have flatly refused requests from the Russian side for information to identify the alleged Skripal hitmen. For example, British regulations require fingerprints to be submitted by all visitors to the country. Why have the British refused to give fingerprints to Russian authorities which could then lead to an identification and perhaps explanation of the two alleged suspects?

The British don’t want to know the truth, because their official narrative of criminalizing the Russian state is the imperative one. And that is because of the urgency for NATO to find a legal, political cover for its military aggression against Syria.

September 10, 2018 Posted by | False Flag Terrorism, Russophobia, Timeless or most popular | , , , , | Leave a comment