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The Pro-War Media Deserve Criticism, Not Sainthood

By James Bovard | Future of Freedom | June 20, 2018

The media nowadays are busy congratulating themselves for their vigorous criticism of Donald Trump. To exploit that surge of sanctimony, Hollywood producer Steven Spielberg rushed out The Post, a movie depicting an epic press battle with the Nixon administration. Critics raved over the film, which the New York Post enthusiastically labeled “journalism porn of the highest order.” Boston Public Radio station WBUR called it the “most fun you’ll ever have at a civics lesson.”

Spielberg, touting his movie, claimed that “the free press is a crusader for truth,” But the media hoopla around The Post is akin to geezers boasting of having shown moments of courage when they were almost 50 years younger.

The Post is built around the Pentagon Papers, a secret study begun in 1967 analyzing where the Vietnam War had gone awry. The 7000-page tome showed that presidents and military leaders had been profoundly deceiving the American people ever since the Truman administration and that the same mistakes were being endlessly repeated. Like many policy autopsies, the report was classified as secret and completely ignored by the White House and federal agencies, which most needed to heed its lessons. New York Times editor Tom Wicker commented in 1971 that “the people who read these documents in the Times were the first to study them.”

Daniel Ellsberg, a former Pentagon official, heroically risked life in prison to smuggle the report to the media after members of Congress were too cowardly to touch it. The New York Times shattered the political sound barrier when it began courageously publishing the report despite a profusion of threats from the Nixon administration Justice Department. After a federal court slapped the Times with an injunction, the Washington Post and other newspapers published additional classified excerpts from the report.

The Post ignores the fact that U.S. government policy on Vietnam did not become more honest after the Pentagon Papers disclosure. In such cases, the government’s notion of “repenting” is merely to substitute new and often more-ludicrous falsehoods. Besides, as retired State Department whistleblower Peter van Buren noted, “The Post has no real interest in the Pentagon Papers except as a plot device, almost an excuse needed to make this movie.”

Because the Washington Post had a female publisher, Spielberg made it, rather than the Times, the star of the show. Van Buren suggested, “Spielberg might as well have costumed Meryl Streep (who played Post publisher Katherine Graham) in a pink pussy hat for the boardroom scenes.” The movie fails to mention Graham’s cozy relationship with President Lyndon Johnson. A few weeks after John F. Kennedy was assassinated, a secret tape made by the Johnson White House captured Johnson and Graham (whom he called “sweetheart”) flirting up a storm during a phone call. She later flew to his Texas ranch for a personal visit.

Spielberg’s movie portrays Post editor Ben Bradlee denouncing dishonest government officials to Graham: “The way they lied — those days have to be over.” Defense Secretary Robert McNamara, who deluged the media with falsehoods about battlefront progress, did more than anyone else (except perhaps Lyndon Johnson) to vastly increase the bloodbath for Americans and Vietnamese. McNamara’s disastrous deceits did not deter the Washington Post from appointing him to its board of directors. As Norman Solomon, author of War Made Easy: How Presidents and Pundits Keep Spinning Us to Death, recently observed, “The Washington Post was instrumental in avidly promoting the lies that made the Vietnam War possible in the first place.”

The Pentagon Papers proved that politicians and their tools will brazenly con the American public to drag the nation into unnecessary wars. But that lesson vanished into the D.C. Memory Hole — conveniently for bootlicking journalists such as Post superstar Bob Woodward. The late Robert Parry, a Washington correspondent for Newsweek in the late 1980s, declared that he saw “self-censorship because of the coziness between Post-Newsweek executives and senior national security figures.”

Post-Vietnam coziness

Perhaps the memory of winning the Pentagon Papers showdown with the feds helped make the media overconfident about their ability to resist the temptation to become political tools. New York Times columnist Flora Lewis, writing three weeks before the 9/11 attacks, commented in a review of a book on U.S. government lies on the Vietnam war, “There will probably never be a return to the discretion, really collusion, with which the media used to treat presidents, and it is just as well.” Within months of her comment, the media had broken almost all prior kowtowing records. CNN chief Walter Isaacson explained, “Especially right after 9/11 … there was a real sense that you don’t get that critical of a government that’s leading us in wartime.”

On March 17, 2003, George W. Bush justified invading Iraq by invoking UN resolutions purporting to authorize the United States “to use force in ridding Iraq of weapons of mass destruction.” A year later, he performed a skit at the Radio and Television Correspondents’ annual dinner featuring slides showing him crawling around the Oval Office peaking behind curtains as he quipped to the poohbah attendees, “Those weapons of mass destruction have got to be somewhere…. Nope, no weapons over there…. Maybe under here?” The crowd loved it and the Post headlined its report on the evening, “George Bush, Entertainer in Chief.” Greg Mitchell, the editor of Editor and Publisher, labeled the press’s reaction that night as “one of the most shameful episodes in the recent history of the American media and presidency.”

Most of the media had embedded themselves for the Iraq war long before that dinner. The Post blocked or buried pre-war articles exposing the Bush team’s shams on Iraq; their award-winning Pentagon correspondent Thomas Ricks complained, “There was an attitude among editors: ‘Look, we’re going to war; why do we even worry about all this contrary stuff?’” Instead, before the war started, the Post ran 27 editorials in favor of invasion and 140 front-page articles supporting the Bush administration’s case for attacking Saddam. The New York Times printed a barrage of false claims on WMDs while axing articles by Pulitzer Prize–winning reporter James Risen demolishing “the administration’s claims of a link between Iraq and al-Qaeda.” The New York Times also refused to publish classified documents showing pervasive illegal National Security Agency spying on Americans prior to the 2004 election, even though it had received the proof of vast wrongdoing. If the Times had not flinched, George W. Bush might have been denied a second term.

Broadcast media were even quicker to grovel for the war effort. PBS NewsHour host Jim Lehrer explained, “It would have been difficult to have had debates [about invading Iraq]…. You’d have had to have gone against the grain.” Lehrer neglected to say exactly how kowtowing became patriotic. News anchor Katie Couric revealed in 2008 that there was pressure from “the corporations who own where we work and from the government itself to really squash any kind of dissent or any kind of questioning of” the Iraq war.

And now, Syria

Despite the role of media gullibility (or worse) in helping the Bush administration sell the Iraq war, the press showed scant skepticism about subsequent U.S. attacks abroad. The media behave at times as if government lies are dangerous only when the president is a certified bad guy — like Richard Nixon or Donald Trump. Barack Obama’s semi-sainthood minimized media criticism of his Syrian debacle — a civil war in which the United States initially armed one side (Syrian rebels who largely turned out to be terrorists) and then switched sides, a flip-flop that resulted in far more dead Syrians. But Americans have received few insights into that bellicose schizophrenia from the media. Historian Stephen Kinzer wrote in the Boston Globe, “Coverage of the Syrian war will be remembered as one of the most shameful episodes in the history of the American press.” Even in the Trump era — when the press is openly clashing with a president — bombing still provides push-button presidential redemption. Trump’s finest hour, according to much of the media, occurred in April 2017 when he attacked the Assad regime with 59 cruise missiles, raising hopes that the U.S. military would topple the Syrian government.

When Trump announced he was sending more U.S. troops to Afghanistan, the Washington Post editorial page hailed his “principled realism” — regardless of the futility of perpetuating that quagmire. At a time when Trump is saber-rattling against Iran and North Korea, the media should be vigorously challenging official claims before U.S. bombs begin falling. Instead, much of the coverage of rising tensions with foreign regimes could have been written by Pentagon flacks.

Richard Nixon’s henchman H.R. Haldeman warned Nixon that the Pentagon Papers might make people believe “you can’t trust the government; you can’t believe what they say; and you can’t rely on their judgment. And the implicit infallibility of presidents, which has been an accepted thing in America, is badly hurt by this.” Unfortunately, much of the media continue to presume that presidents are infallible — as long as they are killing enough foreigners.

One of the starkest lessons of the Pentagon Papers was that politicians and their henchmen will tell unlimited lies — and ignore stark warnings — to plunge the nation into unnecessary foreign wars. And forgotten falsehoods almost guarantee new political treachery. Politicians don’t need to provide strong evidence as long as the media continue treating them as if they were Delphic oracles. Truth delayed is truth defused because there is no way to rescind bombs that have already detonated.

Media tub-thumpers were crestfallen when The Post struck out on Academy Awards night (it was nominated for Best Picture and other categories). But that worked out well for history, since it leaves the path more open for subsequent documentaries or movies that provide more honest exposure of how wars get started and perpetuated. Future movies might even venture into the forbidden ground of media docility regarding systemic violations of human rights.

Supreme Court Justice Hugo Black, in his 1971 opinion on the New York Times’ right to publish the Pentagon Papers, declared, “Only a free and unrestrained press can effectively expose deception in government.” Unfortunately, the media often choose to trumpet official lies instead of fighting them. Permitting glorious tales from eight presidencies ago to absolve subsequent media kowtowing would be as foolish as forgetting the lessons of the original Pentagon Papers. Worshipping the media is as foolish as worshiping politicians.

 

June 22, 2018 Posted by | Fake News, Film Review, Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Timeless or most popular, War Crimes | , , | Leave a comment

Trump riding high and set to roll the dice for a summit with Putin

By M.K. Bhadrakumar | Asia Times | June 22, 2018

If the Trump White House had let it be known a couple of months ago that it was working with the Kremlin to schedule a summit meeting between the two presidents, all hell would have broken loose in the Washington Beltway. But that isn’t happening. There is an eerie calm in Washington, as if Trump’s detractors have run out of ammunition.

What explains it? First, the fizz seems to have gone out of the Russia collusion theory. Robert Mueller could keep uncovering crimes in American public life (of which there is no dearth) forever but he has not been able to say he has actually substantiated the Russia collusion theory. The latest Pew Research Center analysis on June 20 reveals that only 28% Americans remain any longer “very confident” of the fairness of Mueller’s investigation, while four-in-10 say they are not too sure (19%) or are at all confident (21%) in his ability to do this.

Pew admits: “Republicans and Democrats offer starkly different assessments of Mueller’s conduct of the investigation and Trump’s ability to deal with it, and these partisan differences extend to views of the importance of the investigation itself.”

This partly explains why the cascade of criticism that could have been expected over Trump’s plan for a meeting with President Vladimir Putin hasn’t materialized – although a lavish, televised lovefest is sure to make a mockery of the Mueller inquest.

Fundamentally, Trump has had remarkable success in boosting his political standing among members of his own party. As Susan Glasser wrote in the New Yorker recently: “Increasingly, few Republicans are willing to stand in Trump’s way, even when the President’s policies clash with their own deeply held views.”

The recent lamentation by John Boehner, the former Republican speaker of the US House of Representatives – “There is no Republican Party. There is a Trump Party” – may be an exaggeration that he made while sipping a Bloody Mary on stage at a recent conference in Michigan. Nonetheless, as Glasser writes: “The political reality is simply this: President Trump is now too popular with the Republican base to challenge, even when he appears to be upending policies the party of Reagan has embraced for decades.”

Thus, when Trump presses ahead with a meeting with Putin (which he wanted all along), there is now an air of resignation about it. To be sure, Trump’s dramatic, showy one-one-one meeting with the North Korean leader Kim Jong-un recently has rewritten America’s contemporary diplomatic history. And he rewrote it all by himself while no one back home was even sure whether he should do it.

Trump-Putin summit: perfect next act?

Russia, of course, is different. But the analogy of the Art of the Deal is still relevant and why should Trump give up on his campaign vision of closer ties with the Russian president without ever testing it? The Russophobes are hard-pressed to find an answer. Thus, it is a fait accompli that as a US president who embraces personal diplomacy with America’s adversaries as his trademark in foreign policy, Trump’s forthcoming summit with Putin becomes a perfect next act.

Did Trump work towards this? The point is, he’s an inscrutable politician. It wasn’t mere coincidence that just before leaving for the recent G-7 summit in Canada, he would think up the unthinkable – Russia’s return to the grouping. The seemingly stray thought actually gets bracketed with his move to abandon the Trans-Pacific Partnership, the vital underpinning of President Barack Obama’s ‘pivot-to-Asia’ strategy (without which a containment strategy against China lacks gravitas).

The common thread is that Trump’s Art of the Deal means putting the focus on America’s interests rather than on the negating of adversaries’ legitimate interests or concerns – be it North Korea or Russia. Of course, if there is an uncomfortable overlap, a deal becomes necessary and Trump believes in his ability to negotiate it.

So, Trump essentially took a pot shot at the West’s containment strategy against Russia by raising the G7 petard. Meanwhile, on a parallel track, the spadework began for a successful summit between Trump and Putin. Of course, there are so many fault lines in the overall relationship and anything can go wrong between now and the summit. The Kremlin can ensure that there is no “sabotage” from the Russian side, but that cannot be said for the Trump White House.

An announcement on the Trump-Putin summit in the second week of July is due any moment. From available indications, the meet will come after Trump’s participation in the NATO summit in Brussels on July 11-12. Trump is also facing resistance from the US’ European allies who fear “exclusion” from a potential US-Russia rapprochement. And the resistance to detente in the US and in Europe coalesces. Yet, Trump’s strategic asset is that with a high popularity rating of 45% he is at his strongest position today politically and could do things pretty much as he always wanted.

The best sign so far is that a three-member group of Republican senators comprising Richard Shelby (Alabama), John Neely Kennedy (Louisiana) and John Hoeven (North Dakota) is visiting Russia in early July on a “reconnaissance mission.” Historically, Moscow preferred to talk with America’s “hawks”. And the good part is that the Trump administration is sponsoring the lawmakers’ visit.

June 22, 2018 Posted by | Russophobia, Timeless or most popular | | Leave a comment

Aleppo – Earthquake

OffGuardian | June 20, 2018

This documentary covers the destruction and chaos of besieged and occupied Aleppo, from the time conflict first came to the city in 2012, all the way through to final liberation in 2016. Showing the full picture of the violence, destroyed lives and carnage visited upon one of the oldest seats of civilisation in the world.

June 21, 2018 Posted by | Timeless or most popular, Video | , | 2 Comments

An Elite Coalition Emerges Against a Trump-Kim Agreement

By Gareth Porter | Consortium News | June 21, 2018

An implicit coalition of corporate media, Democratic partisans and others loyal to the national security state are actively hostile to any agreement that would endanger the continuation of the 70-year-old Cold War between the United States and North Korea.

The hostility toward Donald Trump on the part of both corporate media (except for Fox News) and the Democratic Party establishment is obviously a factor in the negative response to the summit. Trump’s dysfunctional persona, extremist domestic strategy and attacks on the press had already created a hyper-adversarial political atmosphere that surrounds everything Trump says or does.

But media coverage of the Singapore summit shows that something much bigger and more sinister is now in play: a consensus among foreign policy and national security elites and their media allies that Trump’s pursuit of an agreement with Kim on denuclearization threatens to undo seventy years of U.S. military dominance in Northeast Asia.

Those elites are determined to resist the political-diplomatic thrust of the Trump administration in negotiating with Kim and have already begun to sound the alarm about the danger Trump poses to the U.S. power position. Not surprisingly Democrats in Congress are already aligning themselves with the national security elite on the issue.

The real concern of the opposition to Trump’s diplomacy, therefore, is no longer that he cannot succeed in getting an agreement with Kim on denuclearization but that he will succeed.

The elite media-security framing of the Trump-Kim summit in the initial week was to cast it as having failed to obtain anything concrete from Kim Jong-un, while giving up immensely valuable concessions to Kim. Almost without exception the line from journalists, pundits and national security elite alike compared the joint statement to the texts of previous agreements with North Korea and found that it was completely lacking in detail.

Ignoring Kim’s Concessions

Thus The Washington Post quoted a tweet by Richard Haas, chairman of the über-establishment Council on Foreign Relations, that the summit “changed nothing” but “makes it harder to keep sanctions in place, further reducing pressure on North Korea to reduce (much less give up) its nuclear weapons and missiles.”

The New York Times cited the criticism of former CIA official Bruce Klingner, now at the Heritage Foundation, that the joint statement failed to commit North Korea to do as much as promised in agreements negotiated in 1994 and 2005. And CNN reported that the Joint Declaration “did not appear to make any significant progress” in committing the North Koreans to complete denuclearization, citing the use of the word “reaffirmed” in the document, which it opined “highlighted the lack of fresh commitments.”

Those criticisms of the joint statement conveniently ignored the fact that Kim had already made the most significant concession he could have made in advance of detailed negotiations between the two states when he committed North Korea to ending the testing of both nuclear weapons and long-range missiles in April following meetings with then CIA Director Mike Pompeo earlier in the month. That commitment by Kim meant that North Korea was entering negotiations with the United States before it had achieved a credible threat to hit the United States with an ICBM armed with a nuclear weapon.

The fact that no mention of Kim’s centrally important concession can be found in any of the reports or commentaries on the summit underlines the scarcely hidden agenda at play. Mentioning that fact would have pointed to understandings that Pompeo had already reached with Kim and his envoy to Washington before the summit and were not reflected in the brief text. Pompeo actually confirmed this in remarks made in Detroit on June 18, which only Bloomberg news reported.

Furthermore, the trashing of the summit also employed the politically motivated trick of deliberately ignoring the vast difference between a joint statement of the first ever meeting between the two heads of state and past agreements on denuclearization reached after weeks or months of intensive negotiations.

What really alarmed and even outraged the media and their elite national security allies, however, was that Trump not only announced that he would suspend U.S.-South Korean joint exercises or “war games” as long as the North Koreans were negotiating in good faith on denuclearization, but even called the exercises “very provocative.”

One journalist and commentator after another, including CNN and the Times’ Nicholas Kristof, denounced that description as “adopting” his adversary’s “rhetoric” about the exercises. In a podcast with former National Security Council spokesperson Tommy Vietor, former NSC official Kelley Magsamen, now at the Democratic Party’s Center for American Progress, rather than acknowledging that a vital principle of diplomacy is to put oneself in the position of one’s opponent, charged that Trump had “internalized the language of our adversaries.”

The media and critics deploring Trump’s willingness to suspend the joint U.S.-South Korean war games have portrayed it as a betrayal of the security alliance with South Korea. But that claim merely dismisses the desires of South Korean President Moon and betrays ignorance of the history of U.S.-South Korean war games.

Been Called ‘Provocative’ Before

When Trump called the drills “provocative,” he was merely expressing the same view that some U.S. officials adopted as long ago as the mid-1980s. These officials also called the exercises “provocative,” according to a State Department official interviewed by historian Leon Sigal for his authoritative account of U.S. nuclear diplomacy with North Korea.

Donald Gregg, the U.S. Ambassador to South Korea from 1989 to 1993, observed in an interview with Sigal that the North Koreans mobilized their forces at great expense every time the drills, called “Team Spirit,” were held in the 1980s and early 1990s.

Former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper, who was an Army general and chief of U.S. military intelligence in Korea in the early 1990s, later confirmed to Sigal that the North Koreans would “go nuts” during the annual Team Spirit exercises. Part of the reason for that extreme North Korean anxiety about the drills was that the United States routinely flew nuclear capable B-52s over South Korea as part of the exercises – a practice resumed in recent years after a long hiatus and no doubt reviving the trauma of the U.S. devastation of North Korea from 1950-53.

Ambassador Gregg had supported the idea of suspending the annual Team Spirit exercise in 1992 as part of a proposed effort to get North Korea to change its mind about wanting nuclear weapons. Furthermore the South Korean government itself formally announced in January 1992 that the Team Spirit exercises were being suspended in light of “progress” on North-South nuclear issues. Furthermore, the Clinton administration cancelled Team Spirit drills each year from 1994 to 1996 in an effort to demonstrate the U.S. seriousness in pursuing an agreement with North Korea for an end to its production of plutonium for nuclear weapons.

The provocative character of the joint U.S.-South Korean military drills became even more pronounced after North Korea began testing nuclear weapons and then intercontinental ballistic missiles. In 2015, the U.S. and South Korea adopted a new war plan codenamed OPLAN 5015, which calls for surgical strikes on North Korea’s nuclear and missiles sites and command-and-control facilities, as well as “decapitation” raids targeting senior North Korean leaders, according to the South Korean Yonhap News Agency.

Although the U.S. Command in South Korea has always insisted that all joint exercises are defensive in nature, press reports said that the war plan, which could only be based on a first strike strategy, would be the basis of the publicly announced Ulchi Freedom Guardian war games scheduled for August 2017.

What the national security elite and their media allies are really upset about is the real possibility that Trump will succeed in negotiating a denuclearization deal with North Korea that includes a formal end to the Korean War. That could complicate the Pentagon’s continuing strengthening of the U.S. military posture vis a vis China.

Fareed Zakaria, CNN’s establishment foreign policy pundit, recalled the Pentagon’s aim during the Clinton administration to maintain at least 100,000 U.S. troops in Northeast Asia, and worried that, if the U.S. military alliance with South Korea is deemphasized, the U.S. would “fall below that threshold.”

Ian Bremmer, the CBS News national security pundit, explained that Trump’s willingness to suspend military exercises means that “the United States is probably going to be a much more marginal player at the end of the day in this region.”

Magsamen suggested a similar concern about Trump weakening the alliance with South Korea in an interview with Vietor, commenting that “a lot of us… see the North Korean challenge in a broader context vis a vis our adversaries, like China and Russia.”

These are early indications of a showdown between Trump and the elite alliance arrayed against him. Senate Democrats can be expected to push back against any agreement that portends possible withdrawal from South Korea, as indicated by the bill proposed by Senators Chris Murphy and Tammy Duckworth to forbid troops withdrawal without Pentagon approval.

If his opponents are dissatisfied with the agreement Trump negotiates, the Senate probably wouldn’t ratify a treaty to end the Korean War that Pyongyang would certainly demand. The most promising diplomatic development in East Asia in seven decades could thus be nullified by the shared interests of the loose coalition in preserving a status quo of tension and possible war.


Gareth Porter is the author of the newly published Manufactured Crisis: The Untold Story of the Iran Nuclear Scare.

June 21, 2018 Posted by | Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Militarism, Timeless or most popular | , | Leave a comment

Cambridge University students protest ‘war criminal’ Ehud Olmert

MEMO | June 21, 2018

Students at the University of Cambridge protested a talk given by former Israeli prime minister Ehud Olmert at the Judge Business School on Wednesday night, denouncing the former leader as a “war criminal”.

According to Varsity, “a poster campaign condemning his [Olmert’s] actions and declaring that he is ‘not welcome in Cambridge’” was launched ahead of the event.

Olmert, who was convicted of and jailed for accepting bribes and of obstruction of justice, gave a talk entitled ‘Israel as a start up nation’.

An email from the Cambridge Judge Business School inviting staff to attend the event, said: “We would like to keep this event low profile and we are not promoting it across the University”.

In a statement published Wednesday, Cambridge University Palestine Society said the invitation to Olmert was “deeply shameful”.

“As Prime Minister of Israel from 2006-9, he directly ordered and oversaw the bombardment and massacre of thousands of civillians in Lebanon and Gaza, decried as war crimes by Amnesty International and UNHRC inquiries”, the group said.

“Olmert is a war criminal who belongs in the dock of the International Criminal Court at the Hague, not at a canapé-laden reception and discussion in Cambridge”, the statement added.

“The title of Olmert’s appearance, ‘Israel as a start up nation’, adds insult to injury, revealing utter contempt on the part of JBS for the millions of Palestinian refugees dispossessed by Israel and denied the right to return to their homes, some of whom study and work at this University”.

Unidentified students subsequently plastered the walls of the entrance to the school with posters denouncing Olmert as a war criminal, along with slogans such as ‘Free Palestine’.

June 21, 2018 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Solidarity and Activism, Timeless or most popular, War Crimes | , , , , , | 1 Comment

The Persistent Myth of U.S. Precision Bombing

By Nicolas J S Davies | Consortium News | June 20, 2018

Opinion polls in the United States and the United Kingdom have found that a majority of the public in both countries has a remarkably consistent belief that only about 10,000 Iraqis were killed as a result of the U.S.-British invasion of Iraq in 2003.

Estimates of civilian deaths in Iraq actually range from 150,000 to 1.2 million. Part of the reason for the seriously misguided public perception may come from a serious belief in guided weapons, according to what the government tells people about “precision” bombing.  But one must ask how so many people can be killed if these weapons are so “precise,” for instance in one of “the most precise air campaigns in military history,” as a Pentagon spokesman characterized the total destruction last year of Raqqa in Syria.

The dreadful paradox of “precision weapons” is that the more the media and the public are wrongly persuaded of the near-magical qualities of these weapons, the easier it is for U.S. military and civilian leaders to justify using them to destroy entire villages, towns and cities in country after country: Fallujah, Ramadi and Mosul in Iraq; Sangin and Musa Qala in Afghanistan; Sirte in Libya; Kobane and Raqqa in Syria.

An Imprecise History

The skillful use of disinformation about “precision” bombing has been essential to the development of aerial bombardment as a strategic weapon. In a World War II propaganda pamphlet titled the “Ultimate Weapon of Victory”, the U.S. government hailed the B-17 bomber as “… the mightiest bomber ever built… equipped with the incredibly accurate Norden bomb sight, which hits a 25-foot circle from 20,000 feet.“

However, according to the website WW2Weapons, “With less than 50 per-cent cloud coverage an average B-17 Fortress Group could be expected to place 32.4% of its bombs within 1000 feet of the aiming point when aiming visually.” That could rise to 60 percent if flying at the dangerously low altitude of 11,000 feet in daylight.

The U.K.’s 1941 Butt Report found that only five percent of British bombers were dropping their bombs within five miles of their targets, and that 49 percent of their bombs were falling in “open country.”

In the “Dehousing Paper,” the U.K. government’s chief scientific adviser argued that mass aerial bombardment of German cities to “dehouse” and break the morale of the civilian population would be more effective than “precision” bombing aimed at military targets. British leaders agreed, and adopted this new approach: “area” or “carpet” bombing, with the explicit strategic purpose of “dehousing” Germany’s civilian population.

The U.S. soon adopted the same strategy against both Germany and Japan, and a U.S. airman quoted in the post-war U.S. Strategic Bombing Survey lampooned efforts at “precision” bombing as a “major assault on German agriculture.”

The destruction of North Korea by U.S.-led bombing and shelling in the Korean War was so total that U.S. military leaders estimated that they’d killed 20 percent of its population.

In the American bombing of Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia, the U.S. dropped more bombs than all sides combined in the Second World War, with full scale use of horrific napalm and cluster bombs.  The whole world recoiled from this mass slaughter, and even the U.S. was chastened into scaling back its military ambitions for at least a decade.

The American War in Vietnam saw the introduction of the “laser-guided smart bomb,” but the Vietnamese soon learned that the smoke from a small fire or a burning tire was enough to confuse its guidance system.  “They’d go up, down, sideways, all over the place,” a GI told Douglas Valentine, the author of The Phoenix Program. “And people would smile and say, ‘There goes another smart bomb!’  So smart a gook with a match and an old tire can fuck it up.”

Kicking the Vietnam Syndrome

President Bush Senior hailed the First Gulf War as the moment that America “kicked the Vietnam syndrome once and for all.” Deceptive information about “precision” bombing played a critical role in revitalizing U.S. militarism after defeat in Vietnam.

The U.S. and its allies ruthlessly carpet-bombed Iraq, reducing it from what a UN report later called “a rather highly urbanized and mechanized society” to “a pre-industrial age nation.” But the Western media enthusiastically swallowed Pentagon briefings and broadcast round-the-clock bomb-sight footage of a handful of successful “precision” strikes as if they were representative of the entire campaign. Later reports revealed that only seven percent of the 88,500 tons of bombs and missiles devastating Iraq were “precision” weapons.

The U.S. turned the bombing of Iraq into a marketing exercise for the U.S. war industry, dispatching pilots and planes straight from Kuwait to the Paris Air Show. The next three years saw record U.S. weapons exports, offsetting small reductions in U.S. arms procurement after the end of the Cold War.

The myth of “precision” bombing that helped Bush and the Pentagon “kick the Vietnam syndrome” was so successful that it has become a template for the Pentagon’s management of news in subsequent U.S. bombing campaigns since. It also gave us the disturbing euphemism “collateral damage” to indicate civilians killed by errant bombs.

‘Shock and Awe’

As the U.S. and U.K. launched their “Shock and Awe” attack on Iraq in 2003, Rob Hewson, the editor of Jane’s Air-Launched Weaponsestimated that about 20-25 percent of the U.S. and U.K.’s “precision” weapons were missing their targets in Iraq, noting that this was a significant improvement over the 1999 bombing of Yugoslavia, when 30-40 percent were off-target. “There’s a significant gap between 100 percent and reality,” Hewson said. “And the more you drop, the greater your chances of a catastrophic failure.”

Since World War II, the U.S. Air Force has loosened its definition of “accuracy” from 25 feet to 10 meters, but that is still less than the blast radius of even its smallest 500 lb. bombs. So the impression that these weapons can be used to surgically “zap” a single house or small building in an urban area without inflicting casualties and deaths throughout the surrounding area is certainly contrived.

“Precision” weapons comprised about two thirds of the 29,200 weapons aimed at the armed forces, people and infrastructure of Iraq in 2003. But the combination of 10,000 “dumb” bombs and 4,000 to 5,000 “smart” bombs and missiles missing their targets meant that about half of “Shock and Awe’s” weapons were as indiscriminate as the carpet bombing of previous wars. Saudi Arabia and Turkey asked the U.S. to stop firing cruise missiles through their territory after some went so far off-target that they struck their territory. Three also hit Iran.

“In a war that’s being fought for the benefit of the Iraqi people, you can’t afford to kill any of them,” a puzzled Hewson said. “But you can’t drop bombs and not kill people. There’s a real dichotomy in all of this.”

‘Precision’ Bombing Today

Since Barack Obama started the bombing of Iraq and Syria in 2014 more than 107,000 bombs and missiles have been launched. U.S. officials claim only a few hundred civilians have been killed. The British government persists in the utterly fantastic claim that none of its 3,700 bombs have killed any civilians at all.

Former Iraqi Foreign Minister Hoshyar Zebari, a Kurd from Mosul, told Patrick Cockburn of the Britain’s Independent newspaper that he’d seen Kurdish military intelligence reports that U.S. airstrikes and U.S., French and Iraqi artillery had killed at least 40,000 civilians in his hometown, with many more bodies still buried in the rubble. Almost a year later, this remains the only remotely realistic official estimate of the civilian death toll in Mosul. But no other mainstream Western media have followed up on it.

The consequences of U.S. air wars are hidden in plain sight, in endless photos and videos. The Pentagon and the corporate media may suppress the evidence, but the mass death and destruction of American aerial bombardment are only too real to the millions of people who have lived through it.


Nicolas J.S. Davies is the author of Blood On Our Hands: the American Invasion and Destruction of Iraq.

June 20, 2018 Posted by | Deception, Militarism, Timeless or most popular, War Crimes | , | Leave a comment

Trump withdrawal from UN Human Rights Council is business as usual for US

By John Laughland | RT | June 20, 2018

Unlike other decisions taken by Donald Trump the announcement that the US is leaving the UN Human Rights Council has a lot of background in the policies adopted by previous administrations, many of which also despised the body.

Trump has gone a little further than his predecessors but his attitude is not fundamentally different from theirs.

Not only has the US had a long-running dispute with the UN in general, over its budget contribution and the body’s alleged hostility towards Israel, it has also sought to undermine the role of the Human Rights Council in particular, long before Trump was elected.  A former US representative to the UN founded the NGO UN Watch in 1993 to campaign against the UN’s perceived anti-Israeli bias.

In 2004, even before the Human Rights Council was created in 2006, the USA sponsored the creation of a “democracy caucus” within the UN whose goal was to increase the influence of the US and its allies in the organization, on the basis that countries deemed democratic should have greater rights.

The potential for abuse of this principle was both enormous and obvious. Yet it reflected the decision taken by the Clinton administration in 1999 to arrogate to the US and its allies, especially NATO, the right to adjudicate and enforce human rights around the world. As the British Prime Minister Tony Blair explained at the time, the 78-day NATO attack against Yugoslavia was designed to establish this as a new principle of international relations. In its new strategic concept promulgated at the height of the bombing of a small Balkan country by the most powerful military alliance in the history of the world, NATO announced that “the abuse of human rights” was a security threat to which it had the right to react.

This in turn was a continuation of the assumptions underlying the creation of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) in November 1990, which provided a structure for covert operatives from Western states to manipulate elections across post-Communist Europe in the name of human rights and democracy promotion. The OSCE itself was initially created as the CSCE (Conference on Security and Co-operation in Europe) at Helsinki in 1975 when the goal was also to undermine the USSR on the same pretext.

So, when Nikki Haley, the US ambassador to the UN, says that the US will continue to “lead” on human rights from outside the Human Rights Council, she is not saying much that is new. The novelty lies only in that the US feels that it can no longer control that body. In 2011, things were the other way around: the US encouraged a gross abuse of the Human Rights Council’s own procedures when it helped secure the expulsion of Libya from it on 25 February 2011, without the Universal Periodic Review, which the HRC had published for Libya the previous month, being even considered.

The expulsion occurred on the basis of allegations made by bogus NGOs (front organizations for the then Libyan opposition) which, not surprisingly, turned out later to have been utterly baseless. But the momentum was such that a Security Council resolution was obtained on 17 March 2011 and NATO launched its attack two days later.

A war launched ostensibly to protect civilians was then used to effect regime change (as the then-Foreign Minister of France confirmed at the time), and no attempt was made to protect civilians deemed loyal to Gaddafi. NATO’s allies justified their massacre at Sirte in September 2011 by saying that the town’s residents had “chosen to die”. The fact that these decisions were taken “multilaterally”, as Emmanuel Macron likes to say, is irrelevant when it comes to judging their fundamental injustice.

The allegation of US double standards on human rights is probably familiar to many readers. But what the continuity of US policy shows (a continuity only slightly masked by this latest institutional change of tack) is the inevitable damage caused when political conflict is translated into the language of rights. Such a translation only aggravates the all too human tendency to identify one’s own cause with the highest moral principles.

Because this danger is so obvious, the UN was created to evacuate such issues from international discourse. Its charter and practices until the 1980s were based on the principles of state sovereignty and non-interference in the internal affairs of states, not on human rights. Resolutions by the General Assembly, in 1965 and in 1981 on the inadmissibility of intervention in the internal affairs of states, and in 1970 on friendly relations between states, when non-interference was reiterated, were all totally unambiguous. In 1981, for instance, the General Assembly recalled “the duty of a State to refrain from the exploitation and the distortion of human rights issues as a means of interference in the internal affairs of States”.

These resolutions were bolstered by rulings by the International Court of Justice, the supreme judicial body of the UN system, for instance in a famous 1986 case opposing the USA and Nicaragua where the former was supporting the Contra rebels. The ICJ ruled that “the Court cannot contemplate the creation of a new rule opening up a right of intervention by one State against another on the ground that the latter has opted for some particular ideology or political system” and that “in any event, while the United States might form its own appraisal of the situation as to respect for human rights in Nicaragua, the use of force could not be the appropriate method to monitor or ensure such respect.”

These principles came under sustained assault in the post-Cold War period and they are now considered to have been buried under the Western doctrines of humanitarian intervention and “the right to protect”. Their burial reflects a far deeper problem, which constitutes the biggest threat to the international order today: the almost psychotic inability of the US leadership to engage with other international actors on the basis of that complexity which is inherent in states having a different point of view, a different culture and a different value system.

Instead, the US remains in hock to what was originally known as the “Open Door” school of US diplomacy of William Appleman Williams (1921-1990), which holds that America will be safe in the world only when the world becomes like America and is dominated by it.

Stated forcefully by George W. Bush and by Donald Trump’s administration in the 2018 National Defense Strategy, this doctrine was also endorsed by Clinton and Obama.

Many years after Clinton’s Kosovo war, Obama’s Vice-President, Joe Biden, proudly told his Albanian taxi driver outside the US military base in Kosovo, where the soldiers were of different ethnic backgrounds: “There’s America. Until you figure out how to live together like we do, you will never, never, never make it.”

Between Trump and his nemesis Biden, therefore, there is no essential difference – and that is a major problem for the rest of us.

John Laughland is a historian and specialist in international affairs.

June 20, 2018 Posted by | Progressive Hypocrite, Timeless or most popular, War Crimes | , , | 1 Comment

Ex-British soldier to face manslaughter charge over Troubles checkpoint killing

RT | June 19, 2018

A former British soldier has been informed that he will stand trial over the death of a Catholic man in Northern Ireland in 1988.

Victim, Aidan McAnespie, 23, was shot dead after being hit by one of three bullets fired from a machine gun in Aughnacloy, County Tyrone, while he was on his way to a local Gaelic football match.

Named as David Jonathan Holden, 48, in a letter by the solicitors representing the deceased’s family, the former Grenadier Guardsman is believed to be currently living in England. His first court appearance is expected to take place within the next three months.

Holden had been initially charged with manslaughter immediately after the killing, however, charges were dropped in 1990. He was subsequently fined for negligent discharge of his weapon and medically discharged from the Army, saying that having wet hands during the incident had caused his weapon to accidentally misfire.

The family of the deceased, however, have maintained that prior to his killing, McAnaspie was subject to a campaign of sustained harassment by the Army.

According to the Belfast Telegraph, Mr McAnespie’s death was the subject of an Historical Enquiries Team (HET) review which reported in 2008. The British government expressed “deep regret” about the killing in 2009.

Calls by the family for a fresh investigation into the killing were taken up by the Northern Ireland Attorney General John Larkin, who in turn asked the Public Prosecution Service (PPS) for a re-examination of the killing.

In 2016, the PPS adhered to the request, saying the dropped charges would again be investigated using all available evidence, including a new ballistic report.

Upon deciding to go forward with the prosecution, a statement from the PPS said that the decision was made after “careful consideration of all the evidence currently available in this case.”

“That evidence includes further expert evidence in relation to the circumstances in which the general purpose machine gun was discharged, thereby resulting in the ricochet shot which killed Mr McAnespie.

“The decision to prosecute was reached after the Test for Prosecution was applied to the available evidence in this case in accordance with the Code for Prosecutors.”

Speaking through one of their solicitors, the McAnespie family said that “a crime is a crime,” adding that “everyone deserves justice”.

Vincent McAnespie, Aidan’s brother said: “It’s truth and justice we want to get. He was just an ordinary local lad from the community that just wanted to go about his ordinary everyday life.”

News of the new investigation was met with blowback from a politician supporting the introduction of a Statute of Limitations for British soldiers. Tory MP Leo Docherty, in a series of tweets, called the legal pursuit of soldiers and veterans “a national disgrace,” and stressed the need for legislation to be introduced to protect them “from this madness.”

June 19, 2018 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Timeless or most popular, War Crimes | , , | 1 Comment

The Liberal’s Lament over Israel

By James J. Zogby | LobeLog | June 18, 2018

I find it exceptionally irritating when I hear liberals worry about whether Israel will be able to remain a “Jewish and Democratic State” if it retains control of occupied Palestinian lands. It’s irritating because Israel is not now a democratic state nor has it ever tried to be one.

A state that prioritizes rights for one group of citizens (in this case Jews, who comprise 80% of the population) over the rights of another group (Arabs, who are 20% of Israel’s citizenry) cannot be democratic. Israel discriminates against its Arab citizens in law, social services, funding for education, and in everyday life. So although the concerns of liberals in the West are about the future of Israeli democracy, what they ignore is the reality of Israel, in practice. 

As I document in my book, Palestinians: the Invisible Victims, from its inception in 1948, Israel has guaranteed rights and opportunities for Jews at the expense of the indigenous Palestinians who remained after the Nakba. Instead of experiencing democracy, these Arabs were subjected to harsh military law, as a result of which they were denied fundamental human and civil rights. Their lands and businesses were confiscated. And they were even denied the opportunity to join the labor movement, or form independent political parties.

During the past 70 years, these Palestinian Arab citizens of Israel have made significant advances as they organized and fought to expand their rights. But as two stories that have appeared recently in the Israeli media make clear, the contradiction inherent in being a democracy and a Jewish state continues to plague Israel.

In the first story, the leadership of the Knesset disqualified a proposed piece of legislation offered by a group of Arab legislators. The bill “Basic Law: Israel, a State of All Its Citizens” sought to guarantee equal rights for all Israelis—Jews and Arabs alike.

Apparently the Knesset leaders were so threatened by this bill that they were unwilling to even allow it to be introduced and debated. At the same time, however, Jewish members of the body are advancing another piece of legislation that defines Israel as the “national state of the Jewish People,” making it clear that Arabs are at best, second-class citizens.

In another story, Jewish residents of Afula, a town in Northern Israel, demonstrated against the proposed sale of a home in their community to an Arab family. The flyer, mobilizing Afula residents to come to the demonstration, criticized “the sale of homes to those who are undesirable in the neighborhood.” The former mayor of the community is quoted in the story saying “the residents of Afula don’t want a mixed city, but rather a Jewish city, and it’s their right.”

This is the impact of the apartheid system that Israel established to govern the lives of its Arab citizens. Since 1948, Israel not only confiscated lands surrounding Arab towns and villages to make way for Jewish agriculture and development, it denied Arabs the right to purchase land and homes in Jewish communities. Reflecting how this history has led to the demonstration in Afula, the leader of the Arab bloc in the Knesset said, “It is not a surprise that in a country that has founded 700 towns for Jews and not even one for Arabs, the idea that Arabs should be pushed aside does not shock citizens… our hope of living together is crumbling due to hatred and racism fueled by the government.”

Meanwhile, in the West Bank, Israel appears to be preparing a similar fate for the Palestinians living under occupation. Continuing the practice the Israelis instituted in the Galilee region, they have been slowly and steadily concentrating captive West Bank Palestinians into enclaves, denying them access to their land and in some cases, evicting them from their communities. One recent case reported in the Israeli press involves a Supreme Court decision allowing the state to demolish the West Bank community of Khan al Ahmar and to forcibly relocate “its citizens to a site near a dumpster in Abu Dis”—a Palestinian community near occupied East Jerusalem. At risk are Khan al Ahmar’s 173 residents and the community’s school that serves 150 youngsters from there, and neighboring villages. This is one of four recent forced evictions to clear areas of Palestinians in order to consolidate Israeli control.

These three stories combined have two things in common. On the one hand, they establish that it is a contradiction in terms to consider that Israel can be both Jewish and democratic at the same time. Liberals therefore can stop fretting about the danger facing Israeli democracy in the future. It already is, in practice, an apartheid state.

Next to consider is the fact that none of these stories made it into the U.S. press and so I suppose I can almost understand the Western liberal’s lament. Since they just don’t know how Israel behaves, they have no idea that the future they fear, is already here.

James J. Zogby is the president of the Arab American Institute.

June 19, 2018 Posted by | Book Review, Civil Liberties, Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Timeless or most popular | , | Leave a comment

IDF Videos Aimed Squarely at Spurring Arab-on-Arab Hate and Sectarianism

By Whitney Webb | Mint Press News | June 11, 2018

GAZA – A new video released by an Israeli Defense Force (IDF) spokesman has unnerved many in the global Muslim community for its use of sectarian rhetoric and slurs targeting Shia Muslims that are often used by leaders of extremist Wahhabi terror groups.

The video, released on social media on Thursday and already with more than 20,000 views, shows IDF Major Avichay Adraee asserting that Palestinian resistance group Hamas is “imitating Iran’s mullahs” — thereby making the group “officially Shiites,” even though Hamas is nominally Sunni.

Adraee — fluent in Arabic, given his family’s Syrian roots — then expounded on the “dangers” of Shia Islam, the followers of which he referred to as “rafidha” — a derogatory slur frequently used by Wahhabi terror groups like Al Qaeda and Jaish al-Islam for any Muslim who does not follow their radical interpretation of the religion.

Indeed, Adraee directly quotes Muhammad ibn abd al-Wahhab, the founder of the political movement of Wahhabism, stating that Shiites are “more harmful to Islam than Jews and Christians,” as he seeks to convince his viewers that supporting “these corrupt ones” who “claim” to be Muslim – i.e. the region’s “resistance axis,” composed of secular and Shiite governments – is a rejection of Islam.

Adraee singled out Shiites in the video as a means of targeting Iran, a Shia-majority nation whose government is the archenemy of the Israeli state, largely due to its obstruction of Israeli expansionism and continued support for Palestine. Adraee makes this clear in the video by asserting that “Shia Iran’s” recognition of the Palestinian Nakba, known as “Al-Quds Day,” is a “bid’ah” or heresy invented by Iran’s government. This, again, is an appeal to Wahhabism, as Wahhabist doctrine holds that any attempts to “innovate” within Islam must be rejected completely.

While an IDF soldier quoting extremists like al-Wahhab may seem unusual, Adraee – head of the IDF’s Arabic-language media division – has been making videos of a similar nature for over a decade, many of which similarly accuse Hamas of “profaning” Islam. Though his videos are often the butt of jokes in Gaza and elsewhere in Palestine, they seem to be aimed more at the global Sunni Muslim community. Indeed, Adraee boasts over 1.5 million followers on Facebook and Twitter and has found sympathetic ears in some Arab countries — such as Saudi Arabia, where Wahhabi Islam is the official religion.

As Adraee himself has hinted, his videos are aimed at robbing Palestinians of Arab support by seeking to foment sectarian hatred for Shiites. Adraee recently told Bloomberg:

The idea was that if there was a person who you could curse at or request something from, or who you knew, it would be much easier to connect through some kind of feeling, not necessarily love, it could also be hatred.”

By preaching anti-Shia sermons on social media, it is clear which feeling Adraee is seeking to promote through his videos.

A long history of colonial and post-colonial dividing and destabilizing

Adraee’s videos and their recent success is part of a long-standing effort, backed by Israel and select Western powers, to chip away at support for a Palestinian state among Sunni Arabs in the region. Such efforts have been more successful of late, with Saudi Arabian leadership recently chiding Palestinians for resisting Israel’s colonial ambitions amid warming ties between the Gulf kingdom and Israel.

Yet this strategy aimed at reducing regional support for Palestinians is based upon much older efforts seeking to divide and thereby weaken the entire Middle East. Indeed, Wahhabism itself was created by al-Wahhab at the behest of the British Empire, which sought to erode the Muslim community as a means of weakening the Ottoman Empire by breeding sectarianism and religious in-fighting.

That same century-old strategy is still used today with great effect. Indeed, the manipulation of sectarianism has been used by the United States to destabilize Iraq and, subsequently, to destabilize Syria. Israel has similarly sought to use sectarianism to its advantage by leveraging such divisions to push for the partition of surrounding Arab countries, in order to allow Israel to emerge as a regional superpower while Sunni and Shiite governments are constantly at each other’s throats.

Adraee’s latest video is not only part of that larger project, however. It also lays bare the roots of both Wahhabism and Zionism – intolerance and hate.

June 19, 2018 Posted by | Deception, Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Timeless or most popular | , , , | 1 Comment

 The Deep State “Informants” Used Against the Trump Campaign Were Agent Provacateurs

The Entrapment of Papodopouplos 

By Mark F. McCarty | Medium | June 3, 2018

As you will recall, Trump campaign aide George Papadopoulos (P) informed the FBI that, in a London conversation with a Maltese professor, Joseph Mifsud, he was told that the Russian government had “dirt” on Hillary. The precise language in P’s indictment is: “They [the Russians] have dirt on her”; “the Russians had emails of Clinton”; “they have thousands of emails.” (When later questioned by the FBI, Mifsud denied having told P about Russian dirt on Hillary. Then he mysteriously vanished, and hasn’t been spotted since.)

On May 10th, 2016, former Australian ambassador to the UK Alexander Downer met in a London bar with P, who told him about what Mifsud had told him about Russian “dirt” on Hillary. Downer subsequently passed this info along to the US State Dept, which in turn passed it to the FBI (as recently reported by Kimberley Strassel). However, he has denied that P referred to “emails”, but rather had referred to “dirt” on Hillary that “could be damaging.”

In subsequent communications with the Trump campaign, P did not mention any “dirt on Hillary”, but rather proposed that Mifsud — who had represented himself as having close Kremlin ties — could help set up contacts between Trump people and top Kremlin officials. Nothing came of these suggestions, as the Trump higher-ups felt that such contacts would be rash and perhaps inappropriate while the campaign was being contested. (Which of course is evidence that the Trump campaign had no intent to “collude” with Russia.)

The MSM have strongly implied that “emails” that P referred to were those subsequently released by Wikileaks, obtained from the DNC and John Podesta, that occasioned such consternation during the 2016 campaign. This interpretation would indeed suggest that Mifsud had close ties to the Kremlin, and had learned about a nefarious plot by the Russians to interfere on behalf of Trump by hacking those emails and enabling their release by Wikileaks.

The problem with this interpretation is that it is demonstrably wrong. First, in his statement to the FBI, P referred to “emails of Clinton” — Wikileaks released DNC and Podesta emails, very few of which had been written by Hillary. And, at the time of P meeting with Mifsud (April 26th, 2016), a number of pundits were opining in the MSM that almost surely Russia and other foreign powers had hacked the private server that Hillary used as Secretary of State. These emails were of particular interest because 30 K of them had been (seemingly irreversibly) destroyed while under judicial subpoena; people were reasonably suspicious that Hillary did not want these emails to see the light of day, either because of their classification status, or because they would tend to confirm allegations that as SOS she was engaged in pay-for-play through the Clinton Foundation. Moreover, Wikileaks did not begin to release their trove of DNC emails until late July of that year. So if Mifsud had indeed referred to “emails of Clinton” that could be “damaging”, the most reasonable interpretation is that he was referring to emails that had been deleted from Hillary’s SOS server.

But here’s a more compelling point that I haven’t seen made before. Downer’s meeting with P was on May 10th. The DNC emails subsequently released by Wikileaks were written as late as May 25th.

Steve McIntyre has depicted the dates of origin of the DNC emails released by Wikileaks.

Email Dates in the Wikileaks DNC Archive

So, unless Mifsud or his Russian contacts were psychic, they weren’t referring to the DNC emails. Which puts the nail in the coffin of the claim that P had been tipped off to a genuine Russian election interference plot.

And P’s wife has just come forward to verify that P was indeed referring to Hillary’s emails, not those of the DNC.

The other key implication of McIntyre’s observation is that it is extremely hard to square with the Deep States’ claim that the DNC emails released by Wikileaks were hacked. The DNC-commissioned cybersecurity firm Crowdstrike allegedly learned about hacking attempts on the DNC server on May 6th, and very quickly had installed their state-of-the-art anti-hacking tool Falcon on the server. Yet, as McIntyre notes, the majority of the DNC emails released by Wikileaks were written after the installation of Falcon. And even if Falcon had failed to prevent data exfiltrations by hackers, it was supposed to pinpoint the hackers’ exact location — yet no such info has been forthcoming. The clear resolution of this paradox is that the DNC emails released by Wikileaks were not hacked — they were leaked. Which won’t surprise anyone who has followed the statements of Julian Assange and of his close associate Craig Murray, who claims to have met with an affiliate of the leakers in Washington D.C. two months prior to the election — or who knows about the claims of Sy Hersh’s source within the FBI.

Of course, this revelation eviscerates the “Russia interfered” mantra that was the necessary predicate to the “Trump colluded” narrative pushed by the Deep State; it’s hard to collude with non-interference. This mantra, which you must have heard a thousand times if you’ve been watching the MSM, is the creative contribution of Crowdstrike — whose founding CEO Shawn Henry was a top deputy of Robert Mueller at the FBI — to the Deep State plot against Trump.

The motivation of Mifsud remains mysterious, as does his location. While Mifsud has been presented in the press as an associate of Kremlin figures, Elizabeth Vos has reported that in fact he has close ties to British intelligence.

All Russiagate Roads Lead To London As Evidence Emerges Of Joseph Mifsud’s Links To UK Intelligence

In light of this, and of the central role that British intelligence played in fomenting the “Trump colluded with Russian interference” narrative, it is reasonable to suspect that Mifsud was acting at the behest of British intelligence to entrap P. This seems all the more likely in light of P’s claim that Mifsud introduced him to a lady claimed to be Putin’s niece — the lady was no such thing, and Mifsud was evidently engaged in bamboozling the naïve, unsuspecting P. And why has Mifsud gone into hiding for over 6 months — unreachable by even his fiance?

A recent, highly insightful essay by “Publius Tacitus” explains how the plot may have been designed to work:

Here is what you need to understand. When Papadopoulos communicated to persons in the Trump campaign the results of his meetings with Mifsud and Mifsud’s Russian contacts, that information was relayed from the UK to America via telephone and email. Those conversations, without one doubt, were intercepted and put into a Top Secret intel reports (known in intel circles as SIGINT) by GCHQ.

It would be damning if Papadopoulos had initiated the contact with Russian sources and was lighting up the web with requests for info about Russians willing to work with or help Trump. But that did not happen. The impetus to talk about Russia originated with Mifsud, who, based on circumstantial evidence, was a British intelligence asset and was directed to target and bait Papadopoulos. It was Mifsud who raised the specter of the Russians targeting Hillary Clinton.

Mifsud provided the Russian information. Not Papadopoulos. Mifsud’s mission of feeding Papadopoulos “Russian intelligence,” which the later then reported back to the Trump campaign produced the casus belli (of sorts) to justify opening an FBI counter intelligence investigation. The FBI also was ensnared, most likely. It does not appear the FBI was briefed immediately on these matters. Instead, John Brennan and Jim Clapper built up a pretty sizable intel file, filled with SIGINT reports from the UK’s GCHQ, which contained American names and reports of efforts to broker a meeting with Vladimir Putin. Of course they (Clapper and Brennan) conveniently failed to mention to the FBI that the information originated with a UK plant. But it did provide legal cover for unmasking the identities of Trump campaign personnel.

Framing the Trump Campaign as Lackeys of Russia by Publius Tacitus

Once Downer’s report on his conversation with P got back to the FBI, two agents were sent to London to interview Downer. As I noted previously:

In other words, two FBI agents flew to London, after preparing the way with significant negotiations, to meet with someone who had fourth degree hearsay claiming that the Russians had done something [hacked Hillary] that half the pundits on TV thought they had done. Nor was there any evidence that P had played any role in the alleged hacking. That this was the key basis for initiating a counterintelligence investigation against a rival political campaign, must be considered both paranoid and politically corrupt.

The New York Times “Crossfire Hurricane” Story — Let Me Count the Lies

P’s subsequent indictment by Mueller had nothing whatever to do with any “collusion with Russia”, but rather the allegation that P had misrepresented whether he had been formally hired by the Trump campaign by the time he first met with Mifsud (May 14th). In fact, P had been alerted that he was to be hired prior to that time, but the formal announcement of his hiring was not made public until May 21st, so this discrepancy might have reflected some confusion on P’s part as to when his employment had formally begun. In any case, particularly in light of the fact that P had done nothing illegal prior to his FBI interview, this is a very trivial point, and it seems unlikely that an indictment would have been forthcoming if Mueller hadn’t felt under pressure to justify his bogus investigation by putting some pelts on the wall. Andy McCarthy has discussed this recently.

The Papadopoulos Case Needs a Closer Look

We now know that CIA asset Stefan Halper — who previously had leaked classified info from the Carter administration to aid Reagan’s election campaign — tried to further entrap P by bringing up the “Russian dirt on Hillary issue”; how would he have known about this claim unless he were working hand-in-glove with British/American intelligence? (Alas, P disappointed him by disclaiming any knowledge on the issue.) And Halper made a point of making the acquaintance of two other Trump aides, Carter Page and Sam Clovis. The latter provided him with access to P.

As to the Trump Tower meeting, the deceptive emails that Rob Goldstone sent to Trump Jr. seem to show foreknowledge of unsubstantiated claims regarding the Russian government’s desire to help Trump that subsequently appeared in the Steele dossier — perhaps not surprising, as he is described as an associate of Fusion GPS, which commissioned the dossier — and quite possibly were drafted with the help of GCHQ. (Like Mifsud, Goldstone also has gone into hiding.) This affair seems likely to have been another attempt by the Deep State to entrap Trump officials — particularly in light of the fact that Russian lawyer Veselnitskaya was given a special rare visa by the Obama DOJ just prior to the meeting, enabling her attendance. A story that appeared last year in True Pundit claimed that , according to “inside sources”, the intent of arranging the meeting was to give British intelligence a legal excuse to surveil the Trump associates who attended the meeting.

Six U.S Agencies Conspired to Illegally Wiretap Trump; British Intel Used as NSA Front to Spy on Campaign

Claims that the Deep State employed “spies” against the Trump campaign seem to be off-base — they were employing agent provocateurs, whose intent was to provoke Trump associates into behavior that, if it couldn’t be construed as illegal, could be used to obtain warrants on them to justify further surveillance and to excuse the surveillance already conducted illegally.

June 19, 2018 Posted by | Deception, Timeless or most popular, Russophobia | , , | Leave a comment

American Pravda: The JFK Assassination, Part I – What Happened?

By Ron Unz • Unz Review • June 18, 2018

About a decade ago, I got a Netflix subscription and was amazed that the Internet now provided immediate access to so many thousands of movies on my own computer screen. But after a week or two of heavy use and the creation of a long watch-list of prospective films I’d always wanted to see, my workload gained the upper hand, and I mostly abandoned the system.

Back then, nearly all Netflix content was licensed from the major studios and depending upon contract negotiations might annually disappear, so when I happened to browse my account again in December, I noticed that a couple of films on my selection list included warning notices saying they would no longer be available on January 1st. One of these was Oliver Stone’s famous 1991 film JFK, which had provoked quite a stir at the time, so thinking now or never, I clicked the Play button, and spent three hours that evening watching the Oscar winner.

Most of the plot seemed bizarre and outlandish to me, with the president’s killing in Dallas supposedly having been organized by a cabal of militantly anti-Communist homosexuals, somehow connected with both the CIA and the mafia, but based in New Orleans. Kevin Costner starred as a crusading District Attorney named Jim Garrison—presumably fictional—whose investigation broke the assassination conspiracy wide open before the subtle tentacles of the Deep State finally managed to squelch his prosecution; or at least that’s what I vaguely remember from my single viewing. With so many implausible elements, the film confirmed my belief in the wild imagination of Hollywood scriptwriters and also demonstrated why no one with any common sense had ever taken seriously those ridiculous “JFK conspiracy theories.”

Despite its dramatic turns, the true circumstances of President John F. Kennedy’s death seemed an island of sanity by comparison. Lee Harvey Oswald, a disgruntled young marine had defected to the USSR in 1959 and finding life behind the Iron Curtain equally unsatisfactory, returned to America a couple of years later. Still having confused Marxist sympathies, he’d joined public protests supporting Fidel Castro’s Cuba, and gradually turning toward violence, purchased a mail-order rifle. During the presidential visit, he had fired three shots from the Dallas School Book Depository, killing JFK, and was quickly apprehended by the local police. Soon, he too was dead, shot by an outraged Kennedy supporter named Jack Ruby. All these sad facts were later confirmed by the Warren Commission in DC, presided over by the U.S. Chief Justice together with some of America’s most respected public figures, and their voluminous report ran nearly 900 pages.

Yet although the film seemed to have affixed an enormous mass of incoherent fictional lunacy on top of that basic history—why would a murder plot in Dallas have been organized in New Orleans, five hundred miles distant?—one single detail troubled me. Garrison is shown denouncing the “lone gunman theory” for claiming that a single bullet was responsible for seven separate wounds in President Kennedy and Texas Gov. John Connolly, seated beside him in the limousine. Now inventing gay CIA assassins seems pretty standard Hollywood fare, but I found it unlikely that anyone would ever insert a fictional detail so wildly implausible as that bullet’s trajectory. A week or so later, the memory popped into my head, and I googled around a bit, discovering to my total astonishment that the seven-wounds-from-one-bullet claim was totally factual, and indeed constituted an absolutely essential element of the orthodox “single gunman” framework given that Oswald had fired at most three shots. So that was the so-called “Magic Bullet” I’d occasionally seen conspiracy-nuts ranting and raving about. For the first time in my entire life, I started to wonder whether maybe, just maybe there actually had been some sort of conspiracy behind the most famous assassination in modern world history.

Any conspirators had surely died of old age many years or even decades earlier and I was completely preoccupied with my own work, so investigating the strange circumstances of JFK’s death was hardly a high personal priority. But the suspicions remained in the back of my mind as I diligently read my New York Times and Wall Street Journal every morning while periodically browsing less reputable websites during the afternoon and evening. And as a result, I now began noticing little items buried here and there that I would have previously ignored or immediately dismissed, and these strengthened my newly emerging curiosity.

Among other things, occasional references reminded me that I’d previously seen my newspapers discuss a couple of newly released JFK books in rather respectful terms, which had surprised me a bit at the time. One of them, still generating discussion, was JFK and the Unspeakable published in 2008 by James W. Douglass, whose name meant nothing to me. And the other, which I hadn’t originally realized trafficked in any assassination conspiracies, was David Talbot’s 2007 Brothers: The Hidden History of the Kennedy Years, focused on the relationship between John F. Kennedy and his younger brother Robert. Talbot’s name was also somewhat familiar to me as the founder of Salon.com and a well-regarded if liberal-leaning journalist.

None of us have expertise in all areas, so sensible people must regularly delegate their judgment to credible third-parties, relying upon others to distinguish sense from nonsense. Since my knowledge of the JFK assassination was nil, I decided that two recent books attracting newspaper coverage might be a good place to start. So perhaps a couple of years after watching that Oliver Stone film, I cleared some time in my schedule, and spent a few days carefully reading the combined thousand pages of text.

I was stunned at what I immediately discovered. Not only was the evidence of a “conspiracy” absolutely overwhelming, but whereas I’d always assumed that only kooks doubted the official story, I instead discovered that a long list of the most powerful people near the top of the American government and in the best position to know had been privately convinced of such a “conspiracy,” in many cases from almost the very beginning.

The Talbot book especially impressed me, being based on over 150 personal interviews and released by The Free Press, a highly reputable publisher. Although he applied a considerable hagiographic gloss to the Kennedys, his narrative was compellingly written, with numerous gripping scenes. But while such packaging surely helped to explain some of the favorable treatment from reviewers and how he had managed to produce a national bestseller in a seemingly long-depleted field, for me the packaging was much less important than the product itself.

To the extent that notions of a JFK conspiracy had ever crossed my mind, I’d considered the argument from silence absolutely conclusive. Surely if there had been the slightest doubt of the “lone gunman” conclusion endorsed by the Warren Commission, Attorney-General Robert Kennedy would have launched a full investigation to avenge his slain brother.

But as Talbot so effectively demonstrates, the reality of the political situation was entirely different. Robert Kennedy may have begun that fatal morning widely regarded as the second most powerful man in the country, but the moment his brother was dead and his bitter personal enemy Lyndon Johnson sworn in as the new president, his governmental authority almost immediately ebbed away. Longtime FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover, who had been his hostile subordinate, probably scheduled for removal in JFK’s second term, immediately became contemptuous and unresponsive to his requests. Having lost all his control over the levels of power, Robert Kennedy lacked any ability to conduct a serious investigation.

According to numerous personal interviews, he had almost immediately concluded that his brother had been struck down at the hands of an organized group, very likely including elements from within the U.S. government itself, but he could do nothing about the situation. As he regularly confided to close associates, his hope at the age of 38 was to reach the White House himself at some future date, and with his hands once again upon the levels of power then uncover his brother’s killers and bring them to justice. But until that day, he could do nothing, and any unsubstantiated accusations he made would be totally disastrous both for national unity and for his own personal credibility. So for years, he was forced to nod his head and publicly acquiesce to the official story of his brother’s inexplicable assassination at the hands of a lone nut, a fairy tale publicly endorsed by nearly the entire political establishment, and this situation deeply gnawed at him. Moreover, his own seeming acceptance of that story was often interpreted by others, not least in the media, as his wholehearted endorsement.

Although discovering Robert Kennedy’s true beliefs was a crucial revelation in the Talbot book, there were many others. At most three shots had allegedly come from Oswald’s rifle, but Roy Kellerman, the Secret Service agent in the passenger seat of JFK’s limousine, was sure there had been more than that, and to the end of his life always believed there had been additional shooters. Gov. Connolly, seated next to JFK and severely wounded in the attack, had exactly the same opinion. CIA Director John McCone was equally convinced that there had been multiple shooters. Across the pages of Talbot’s book, I learned that dozens of prominent, well-connected individuals privately expressed extreme skepticism towards the official “lone gunman theory” of the Warren Commission, although such doubts were very rarely made in public or on the record.

For a variety of complex reasons, the leading national media organs—the commanding heights of “Our American Pravda”—almost immediately endorsed the “lone gunman theory” and with some exceptions generally maintained that stance throughout the next half-century. With few prominent critics willing to publicly dispute that idea and a strong media tendency to ignore or minimize those exceptions, casual observers such as myself had generally received a severely distorted view of the situation.

If the first two dozen pages of the Talbot book completely overturned my understanding of the JFK assassination, I found the closing section almost equally shocking. With the Vietnam War as a political millstone about his neck, President Johnson decided not to seek reelection in 1968, opening the door to a last minute entry into the Democratic race by Robert Kennedy, who overcame considerable odds to win some important primaries. Then on June 4, 1968, he carried gigantic winner-take-all California, placing him on an easy path to the nomination and the presidency itself, at which point he would finally be in a position to fully investigate his brother’s assassination. But minutes after his victory speech, he was shot and fatally wounded, allegedly by another lone gunman, this time a disoriented Palestinian immigrant named Sirhan Sirhan, supposedly outraged over Kennedy’s pro-Israel public positions although these were no different than those expressed by most other political candidates in America.

All this was well known to me. However, I had not known that powder burns later proved that the fatal bullet had been fired directly behind Kennedy’s head from a distance of three inches or less although Sirhan was standing several feet in front of him. Furthermore, eyewitness testimony and acoustic evidence indicated that at least twelve bullets were fired although Sirhan’s revolver could hold only eight, and a combination of these factors led longtime LA Coroner Dr. Thomas Naguchi, who conducted the autopsy, to claim in his 1983 memoir that there was likely a second gunman. Meanwhile, eyewitnesses also reported seeing a security guard with his gun drawn standing right behind Kennedy during the attack, and that individual happened to have a deep political hatred of the Kennedys. The police investigators seemed uninterested in these highly suspicious elements, none of which came to light during the trial. With two Kennedy brothers now dead, neither any surviving member of the family nor most of their allies and retainers had any desire to investigate the details of this latest assassination, and in a number of cases they soon moved overseas, abandoning the country entirely. JFK’s widow Jackie confided in friends that she was terrified for the lives of her children, and quickly married Aristotle Onassis, a Greek billionaire, whom she felt would be able to protect them.

Talbot also devotes a chapter to the late 1960s prosecution efforts of New Orleans DA Jim Garrison, which had been the central plot of the JFK film, and I was stunned to discover that the script was almost entirely based on real life events rather than Hollywood fantasy. This even extended to its bizarre cast of assassination conspiracy suspects, mostly fanatically anti-Communist Kennedy-haters with CIA and organized crime ties, some of whom were indeed prominent members of the New Orleans gay demimonde. Sometimes real life is far stranger than fiction.

Taken as a whole, I found Talbot’s narrative quite convincing, at least with respect to demonstrating the existence of a substantial conspiracy behind the fatal event.

Others certainly had the same reaction, with the august pages of The New York Times Sunday Book Review carrying the strongly favorable reaction of presidential historian Alan Brinkley. As the Allan Nevins Professor of History and Provost of Columbia University, Brinkley is as mainstream and respectable an academic scholar as might be imagined and he characterized Talbot as

the latest of many intelligent critics who have set out to demolish the tottering credibility of the Warren Commission and draw attention to evidence of a broad and terrible conspiracy that lay behind the assassination of John Kennedy — and perhaps the murder of Robert Kennedy as well.

The other book by Douglass, released a year later, covered much the same ground and came to roughly similar conclusions, with substantial overlap but also including major additional elements drawn from the enormous volume of extremely suspicious material unearthed over the decades by diligent JFK researchers. Once again, the often bitter Cold War era conflict between JFK and various much harder-line elements of his government over Cuba, Russia, and Vietnam is sketched out as the likely explanation for his death.

Summarizing a half-century of conspiracy research, the Talbot and Douglass books together provide a wealth of persuasive evidence that elements of organized crime, individuals with CIA connections, and anti-Castro Cubans were probably participants in the assassination plot. Oswald seems to have been working with various anti-Communist groups and also had significant connections to U.S. intelligence, while his purported Marxism was merely a very thin disguise. With regard to the assassination itself, he was exactly the “patsy” he publicly claimed to be, and very likely never fired a single shot. Meanwhile, Jack Ruby had a long history of ties to organized crime, and surely killed Oswald to shut his mouth.

Many others may have suffered a similar fate. Conspirators daring enough to strike at the president of the United States would hardly balk at using lethal means to protect themselves from the consequences of their action, and over the years a considerable number of individuals associated with the case in one way or another came to untimely ends.

Less than a year after the assassination, JFK mistress Mary Meyer, the ex-wife of high-ranking CIA official Cord Meyer, was found shot to death in a Washington DC street-killing with no indications of attempted robbery or rape, and the case was never solved. Immediately afterwards, CIA counterintelligence chief James Jesus Angelton was caught breaking into her home in search of her personal diary, which he later claimed to have destroyed.

Dorothy Kilgallen was a nationally-syndicated newspaper columnist and television personality, and she managed to wrangle an exclusive interview with Jack Ruby, later boasting to her friends that she would break the JFK assassination case wide open in her new book, producing the biggest scoop of her career. Instead, she was found dead in her Upper East Side townhouse, having apparently succumbed to an overdose of alcohol and sleeping pills, with both the draft text and the notes to her Jack Ruby chapter missing.

Shortly before Jim Garrison filed his assassination charges, his top suspect David Ferrie was found dead at age 48, possibly of natural causes, though the DA suspected foul play.

During the mid-1970s, the House Select Committee on Assassinations held a series of high-profile hearings to reopen and investigate the case, and two of the witnesses called were high-ranking mafia figures Sam Giancana and Johnny Rosselli, widely suspected of having been connected with the assassination. The former was shot to death in the basement of his home one week before he was scheduled to testify, and the body of the latter was found in an oil-drum floating in the waters off Miami after he had been subpoenaed for an additional appearance.

These were merely a few of the highest-profile individuals with a connection to the Dallas assassination whose lives were cut short in the years that followed, and although the deaths may have been purely coincidental, the full list is rather a long one.

Having read a couple of books that completely upended my settled beliefs about a central event of twentieth century America, I simply didn’t know what to think. Over the years, my own writings had put me on friendly terms with a well-connected individual whom I considered a member of the elite establishment, and whose intelligence and judgment had always seemed extremely solid. So I decided to very gingerly raise the subject with him, and see whether he had ever doubted the “lone gunman” orthodoxy. To my total astonishment, he explained that as far back as the early 1990s, he’d become absolutely convinced in the reality of a “JFK conspiracy” and over the years had quietly devoured a huge number of the books in that field, but had never breathed a word in public lest his credibility be ruined and his political effectiveness destroyed.

A second friend, a veteran journalist known for his remarkably courageous stands on certain controversial topics, provided almost exactly the same response to my inquiry. For decades, he’d been almost 100% sure that JFK had died in a conspiracy, but once again had never written a word on the topic for fear that his influence would immediately collapse.

If these two individuals were even remotely representative, I began to wonder whether a considerable fraction, perhaps even a majority, of the respectable establishment had long harbored private beliefs about the JFK assassination that were absolutely contrary to the seemingly uniform verdict presented in the media. But with every such respectable voice keeping so silent, I had never once suspected a thing.

Few other revelations in recent years have so totally overturned my understanding of the framework of reality. Even a year or two later, I still found it very difficult to wrap my head around the concept, as I described in another note to that well-connected friend of mine:

BTW, I hate to keep harping on it, but every time I consider the implications of the JFK matter I’m just more and more astonished.

The president of the US. The heir to one of the wealthiest and most powerful families in America. His brother the top law enforcement officer in the country. Ben Bradlee, one of his closest friends, the fearless crusading editor of one of the nation’s most influential media outlets. As America’s first Catholic president, the sacred icon of many millions of Irish, Italian, and Hispanic families. Greatly beloved by top Hollywood people and many leading intellectuals.

His assassination ranks as one of the most shocking and dramatic events of the 20th century, inspiring hundreds of books and tens of thousands of news stories and articles, examining every conceivable detail. The argument from MSM silence always seemed absolutely conclusive to me.

From childhood, it’s always been obvious to me that the MSM is completely dishonest about certain things and over the last dozen years I’ve become extremely suspicious about a whole range of other issues. But if you’d asked me a couple of years ago whether JFK was killed by a conspiracy, I would have said “well, anything’s possible, but I’m 99% sure there’s absolutely no substantial evidence pointing in that direction since the MSM would surely have headlined it a million times over.”

Was there really a First World War? Well, I’ve always assumed there was, but who really knows?….

Our reality is shaped by the media, but what the media presents is often determined by complex forces rather than by the factual evidence in front of their eyes. And the lessons of the JFK assassination may provide some important insights into this situation.

A president was dead and soon afterward his supposed lone assassin suffered the same fate, producing a tidy story with a convenient endpoint. Raising doubts or focusing on contrary evidence might open doors better kept shut, perhaps endangering national unity or even risking nuclear war if the trail seemed to lead overseas. The highest law enforcement officer in the country was the slain president’s own brother, and since he seemed to fully accept that simple framework, what responsible journalist or editor would be willing to go against it? What American center of power or influence had any strong interest in opposing that official narrative?

Certainly there was immediate and total skepticism overseas, with few foreign leaders ever believing the story, and figures such as Nikita Khrushchev, Charles DeGaulle, and Fidel Castro all immediately concluded that a political plot had been responsible for Kennedy’s elimination. Mainstream media outlets in France and the rest of Western Europe were equally skeptical of the “lone gunman theory,” and some of the most important early criticism of U.S. government claims was produced by Thomas Burnett, an expatriate American writing for one of the largest French newsweeklies. But in pre-Internet days, only the tiniest sliver of the American public had regular access to such foreign publications, and their impact upon domestic opinion would have been nil.

Perhaps instead of asking ourselves why the “lone gunman” story was accepted, we should instead be asking why it was ever vigorously challenged, during an era when media control was extremely centralized in establishmentarian hands.

Oddly enough, the answer may lie in the determination of a single individual named Mark Lane, a left-liberal New York City attorney and Democratic Party activist. Although JFK assassination books eventually numbered in the thousands and the resulting conspiracy theories roiled American public life throughout the 1960s and 1970s, without his initial involvement matters might have followed a drastically different trajectory.

From the very first, Lane had been skeptical of the official story, and less than a month after the killing, The National Guardian, a small left-wing national newspaper, published his 10,000 word critique, highlighting major flaws in the “lone gunman theory.” Although his piece had been rejected by every other national periodical, the public interest was enormous, and once the entire edition sold out, thousands of extra copies were printed in pamphlet form. Lane even rented a theater in New York City, and for several months gave public lectures to packed audiences.

After the Warren Commission issued its completely contrary official verdict, he began working on a manuscript, and although he faced enormous obstacles in finding an American publisher, once Rush to Judgment appeared, it spent a remarkable two years on the national bestseller lists, easily reaching the #1 spot. Such tremendous economic success naturally persuaded a host of other authors to follow suit, and an entire genre was soon established. Lane later published A Citizens Dissent recounting his early struggles to break the total American “media blackout” against anyone contradicting the official conclusion. Against all odds, he had succeeded in sparking a massive popular uprising sharply challenging the narrative of the establishment.

According to Talbot, “By late 1966, it was becoming impossible for the establishment media to stick with the official story” and the November 25, 1966 edition of Life Magazine, then at the absolute height of its national influence, carried the remarkable cover story “Did Oswald Act Alone?” with the conclusion that he probably did not. The next month , The New York Times announced it was forming a special task force to investigate the assassination. These elements were to merge with the media furor soon surrounding the Garrison investigation that began the following year, an investigation that enlisted Lane as an active participant. However, behind the scenes a powerful media counterattack was also being launched at this same time.

In 2013 Prof. Lance deHaven-Smith, past president of the Florida Political Science Association, published Conspiracy Theory in America, a fascinating exploration of the history of the concept and the likely origins of the term itself. He noted that during 1966 the CIA had become alarmed at the growing national skepticism of the Warren Commission findings, especially once the public began turning its suspicious eyes toward the intelligence agency itself. Therefore, in January 1967 top CIA officials distributed a memo to all their local stations, directing them to employ their media assets and elite contacts to refute such criticism by various arguments, notably including an emphasis on Robert Kennedy’s supposed endorsement of the “lone gunman” conclusion.

This memo, obtained by a later FOIA request, repeatedly used the term “conspiracy” in a highly negative sense, suggesting that “conspiracy theories” and “conspiracy theorists” be portrayed as irresponsible and irrational. And as I wrote in 2016,

Soon afterward, there suddenly appeared statements in the media making those exact points, with some of the wording, arguments, and patterns of usage closely matching those CIA guidelines. The result was a huge spike in the pejorative use of the phrase, which spread throughout the American media, with the residual impact continuing right down to the present day.

This possible cause-and-effect relationship is supported by other evidence. Shortly after leaving The Washington Post in 1977, famed Watergate journalist Carl Bernstein published a 25,000 word Rolling Stone cover story entitled “The CIA and the Media” revealing that during the previous quarter century over 400 American journalists had secretly carried out assignments for the CIA according to documents on file at the headquarters of that organization. This influence project, known as “Operation Mockingbird,” had allegedly been launched near the end of the 1940s by high-ranking CIA official Frank Wisner, and included editors and publishers situated at the very top of the mainstream media hierarchy.

For whatever reason, by the time I came of age and began following the national media in the late 1970s, the JFK story had become very old news, and all the newspapers and magazines I read provided the very strong impression that the “conspiracy theories” surrounding the assassination were total nonsense, long since debunked, and only of interest to kooks on the ideological fringe. I was certainly aware of the enormous profusion of popular conspiracy books, but I never had the slightest interest in looking at any of them. America’s political establishment and its close media allies had outlasted the popular rebellion, and the name “Mark Lane” meant almost nothing to me, except vaguely as some sort of fringe-nut, who very occasionally rated a mention in my mainstream newspapers, receiving the sort of treatment accorded to Scientologists or UFO activists.

Oddly enough, Talbot’s treatment of Lane was also rather dismissive, recognizing his crucial early role in preventing the official narrative from quickly hardening into concrete, but also emphasizing his abrasive personality, and almost entirely ignoring his important later work on the issue, perhaps because so much of it had been conducted on the political fringe. Robert Kennedy and his close allies had similarly boycotted Lane’s work from the very first, regarding him as a meddlesome gadfly, but perhaps also ashamed that he was asking the questions and doing the work that they themselves were so unwilling to undertake at the time. Douglass’s 500 page book scarcely even mentions Lane.

Reading a couple of Lane’s books, I was quite impressed by the enormous role he had seemingly played in the JFK assassination story, but I also wondered how much of my impression may have been due to the exaggerations of a possible self-promoter. Then, on May 13, 2016 I opened my New York Times and found nearly a full page obituary devoted to Lane’s death at age 89, the sort of treatment these days reserved for only the highest-ranking U.S. Senators or major rap stars. And the 1,500 words were absolutely glowing, portraying Lane as a solitary, heroic figure struggling for decades to reveal the truth of the JFK assassination conspiracy against an entire political and media establishment seeking to suppress it.

I read this as a deep apology by America’s national newspaper of record. President John F. Kennedy was indeed killed by a conspiracy, and we are sorry we spent more than a half century suppressing that truth and ridiculing those who uncovered it.

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June 18, 2018 Posted by | Book Review, Deception, Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Timeless or most popular | , , , | 1 Comment