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Rumors of War: Washington Is Looking for a Fight

By Philip M. GIRALDI | Strategic Culture Foundation | 18.04.2019

It is depressing to observe how the United States of America has become the evil empire. Having served in the United States Army during the Vietnam War and in the Central Intelligence Agency for the second half of the Cold War, I had an insider’s viewpoint of how an essentially pragmatic national security policy was being transformed bit by bit into a bipartisan doctrine that featured as a sine qua non global dominance for Washington. Unfortunately, when the Soviet Union collapsed the opportunity to end once and for all the bipolar nuclear confrontation that threatened global annihilation was squandered as President Bill Clinton chose instead to humiliate and use NATO to contain an already demoralized and effectively leaderless Russia.

American Exceptionalism became the battle cry for an increasingly clueless federal government as well as for a media-deluded public. When 9/11 arrived, the country was ready to lash out at the rest of the world. President George W. Bush growled that “There’s a new sheriff in town and you are either with us or against us.” Afghanistan followed, then Iraq, and, in a spirit of bipartisanship, the Democrats came up with Libya and the first serious engagement in Syria. In its current manifestation, one finds a United States that threatens Iran on a nearly weekly basis and tears up arms control agreements with Russia while also maintaining deployments of US forces in Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan, Somalia and places like Mali. Scattered across the globe are 800 American military bases while Washington’s principal enemies du jour Russia and China have, respectively, only one and none.

Never before in my lifetime has the United States been so belligerent, and that in spite of the fact that there is no single enemy or combination of enemies that actually threaten either the geographical United States or a vital interest. Venezuela is being threatened with invasion primarily because it is in the western hemisphere and therefore subject to Washington’s claimed proconsular authority. Last Wednesday Vice President Mike Pence told the United Nations Security Council that the White House will remove Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro from power, preferably using diplomacy and sanctions, but “all options are on the table.” Pence warned that Russia and other friends of Maduro need to leave now or face the consequences.

The development of the United States as a hostile and somewhat unpredictable force has not gone unnoticed. Russia has accepted that war is coming no matter what it does in dealing with Trump and is upgrading its forces. By some estimates, its army is better equipped and more combat ready than is that of the United States, which spends nearly ten times as much on “defense.”

Iran is also upgrading its defensive capabilities, which are formidable. Now that Washington has withdrawn from the nuclear agreement with Iran, has placed a series of increasingly punitive sanctions on the country, and, most recently, has declared a part of the Iranian military to be a “foreign terrorist organization” and therefore subject to attack by US forces at any time, it is clear that war will be the next step. In three weeks, the United States will seek to enforce a global ban on any purchases of Iranian oil. A number of countries, including US nominal ally Turkey, have said they will ignore the ban and it will be interesting to see what the US Navy intends to do to enforce it. Or what Iran will do to break the blockade.

But even given all of the horrific decisions being made in the White House, there is one organization that is far crazier and possibly even more dangerous. That is the United States Congress, which is, not surprisingly, a legislative body that is viewed positively by only 18 per cent of the American people.

A current bill originally entitled the “Defending American Security from Kremlin Aggression Act (DASKA) of 2019,” is numbered S-1189. It has been introduced in the Senate which will “… require the Secretary of State to determine whether the Russian Federation should be designated as a state sponsor of terrorism and whether Russian-sponsored armed entities in Ukraine should be designated as foreign terrorist organizations.” The bill is sponsored by Republican Senator Cory Gardner of Colorado and is co-sponsored by Democrat Robert Menendez of New Jersey.

The current version of the bill was introduced on April 11th and it is by no means clear what kind of support it might actually have, but the fact that it actually has surfaced at all should be disturbing to anyone who believes it is in the world’s best interest to avoid direct military confrontation between the United States and Russia.

In a a press release by Gardner, who has long been pushing to have Russia listed as a state sponsor of terrorism, a February version of the bill is described as “… comprehensive legislation [that] seeks to increase economic, political, and diplomatic pressure on the Russian Federation in response to Russia’s interference in democratic processes abroad, malign influence in Syria, and aggression against Ukraine, including in the Kerch Strait. The legislation establishes a comprehensive policy response to better position the US government to address Kremlin aggression by creating new policy offices on cyber defenses and sanctions coordination. The bill stands up for NATO and prevents the President from pulling the US out of the Alliance without a Senate vote. It also increases sanctions pressure on Moscow for its interference in democratic processes abroad and continued aggression against Ukraine.”

The February version of the bill included Menendez, Democrat Jeanne Shaheen of New Hampshire, Democrat Ben Cardin of Maryland and Republican Lindsey Graham of South Carolina as co-sponsors, suggesting that provoking war is truly bipartisan in today’s Washington.

Each Senator co-sponsor contributed a personal comment to the press release. Gardner observed that “Putin’s Russia is an outlaw regime that is hell-bent on undermining international law and destroying the US-led liberal global order.” Menendez noted that “President Trump’s willful paralysis in the face of Kremlin aggression has reached a boiling point in Congress” while Graham added that “Our goal is to change the status quo and impose meaningful sanctions and measures against Putin’s Russia. He should cease and desist meddling in the US electoral process, halt cyberattacks on American infrastructure, remove Russia from Ukraine, and stop efforts to create chaos in Syria.” Cardin contributed “Congress continues to take the lead in defending US national security against continuing Russian aggression against democratic institutions at home and abroad” and Shaheen observed that “This legislation builds on previous efforts in Congress to hold Russia accountable for its bellicose behavior against the United States and its determination to destabilize our global world order.”

The Senatorial commentary is, of course, greatly exaggerated and sometimes completely false regarding what is going on in the world, but it is revealing of how ignorant American legislators can be and often are. The Senators also ignore the fact that the designation of presumed Kremlin surrogate forces as “foreign terrorist organizations” is equivalent to a declaration of war against them by the US military, while hypocritically calling Russia a state sponsor of terrorism is bad enough, as it is demonstrably untrue. But the real damage comes from the existence of the bill itself. It will solidify support for hardliners on both sides, guaranteeing that there will be no rapprochement between Washington and Moscow for the foreseeable future, a development that is bad for everyone involved. Whether it can be characterized as an unintended consequence of unwise decision making or perhaps something more sinister involving a deeply corrupted congress and administration remains to be determined.

April 18, 2019 Posted by | Militarism, Russophobia | , , , | 3 Comments

FARA Registration for AIPAC and Congress Is Washington’s Interest

By Philip Giraldi | American Herald Tribune | March 12, 2018

The American Israel Public Affairs Committee, has just completed its annual conference in Washington. There were reportedly 18,000 attendees speakers including the Vice President, United Nations Ambassador, as well as numerous senators and congressmen. The organization is better known by its acronym AIPAC, and it has been fixture on Capitol Hill for more than sixty years. Its website proclaims  “The mission of AIPAC is to strengthen, protect and promote the U.S.-Israel relationship in ways that enhance the security of the United States and Israel” because “… it is in America’s best interest to help ensure that the Jewish state is safe, strong and secure.”

In reality, the security of the U.S. part is a bit of a sham as AIPAC in no way works to strengthen the United States or benefit the American people. Quite the contrary. The bilateral “special” relationship is a one-way street that has done considerable damage to the United States in terms of its international standing and national security. AIPAC is all about Israel and always has been. Its hundreds of staffers lobby Congress and the White House daily to support legislation and policies favorable to Israel and damaging to its enemies and critics. It works closely with the Israeli government to obtain maximum benefit from the U.S. Treasury and Pentagon, to the detriment of American citizens and genuine national interests.

So why isn’t AIPAC forced to register as a foreign agent under the Foreign Agents Registration Act (FARA) of 1938? There has been only one serious attempt to register AIPAC, undertaken by President John F. Kennedy in 1963, shortly before he was assassinated. Since that time growing Jewish political and financial power in the United States has meant that no chief executive has dared to make any demands on Israel and its Lobby. On the contrary, Israel has significantly benefited materially over that time period, commensurate with its ability to manipulate or coerce the media and Congress while also intimidating a series of presidents.

FARA registration of AIPAC, currently a tax exempt 501(c)4, would require the organization to open its books to make transparent its sources of revenue. It would also be unable to contribute to political campaigns, reducing its leverage over Congress. So it is Washington’s interest to have AIPAC register, if only to limit interference in government and elections by a foreign country.

FARA should rightly be understood as a tool to punish the activities of governments that Washington does not like. In 1938, it was originally directed against the German, Italian and Japanese governments, whose front organizations were forced to register. The British, who were in fact lobbying much more heavily, were ignored. In today’s environment, Russian news outlets RT America and Sputnik were forced to register while the actions of the Israel lobby have been basically protected by its powerful advocates within the government.

So yes, AIPAC should be registered under FARA. I would even suggest that FARA be further extended to include public figures like congressmen and journalists, who basically lobby for Israel. That extension of FARA might seem overreach, but there is really no difference, legally speaking, between organizations like AIPAC that promote Israeli interests and individuals who do the same.

The recent AIPAC conference included prominent Israel-firsters, who place Israel’s interests ahead of those of the United States. Let’s start with Christian Zionist Vice President Mike Pence, who said last year  that “Every freedom loving American stands with Israel because her cause is our cause, her values are our values and her fight is our fight.” Wrong Mike. Israel is a foreign theocracy that has embraced deliberate policies inclusive of war crimes and crimes against humanity. It is manifestly un-American.

And then there is UN Ambassador Nikki Haley, whose speech at AIPAC this year was, uh, memorable. It is no surprise that she is being touted by neocon commander-in-chief Bill Kristol as the future GOP candidate for president. Haley, who received twelve standing ovations from the audience plus two shout-outs of “We love you Nikki!” seemingly forgot that she represents the U.S. at the U.N. She said that “There are lots of other things that we do, big and small, week after week, to fight back against the U.N.’s Israel bullying.”

Senators Ben Cardin and Chuck Schumer also received standing ovations from the audience. Schumer, who has described himself as Israel’s “shomer” or defender in the Senate, was particularly bizarre, saying “”The fact of the matter is that too many Palestinians and too many Arabs do not want any Jewish state in the Middle East. Of course, we say it’s our land, the Torah says it, but they don’t believe in the Torah. So that’s the reason there is not peace… that is why we, in America, must stand strong with Israel through thick and thin.”

So they are all promoting Israeli policies and should be compelled to register under FARA. And if you want to know what an Israeli recruited agent of influence sounds like you need go no farther than House Democratic Whip Steny Hoyer, who addressed the AIPAC Political Leadership Conference on December 15, 2003 and said:

“I had the privilege of leading the largest congressional delegation in history to Israel in August. This was my sixth trip to Israel, and my fifth as a member of Congress… Let me say very clearly: as a member of the Democratic leadership and a long-time supporter of Israel, it is absolutely imperative that Members of Congress… recognize the moral and strategic significance of the U.S.-Israel partnership… Israel’s safety and security is not a Jewish/non-Jewish issue. It is an American national security issue.”

Steny is flat out wrong about Israel aiding U.S. national security. It is a liability and always has been, but don’t expect him to be convinced otherwise. Maybe it’s somehow related to the $304,000 in pro-Israel PAC money he has received. One thing that is undoubtedly true is that American politics will be measurably less corrupt if AIPAC, Hoyer and the rest of the congress critters are forced to register under FARA and become responsible for the damage they continue to do to the United States and the American people.

Philip M. Giraldi is a former CIA counter-terrorism specialist and military intelligence officer who served nineteen years overseas in Turkey, Italy, Germany, and Spain.

March 12, 2018 Posted by | Wars for Israel | , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

US Dem. Senators Calls on Trump to Impose New Anti-Russia Sanctions – Reports

Sputnik – February 13, 2108

Three senior Democratic senators have introduced a resolution that urges US President Donald Trump to exercise his right to impose new restrictions against Russia under a sanctions bill, which was approved by the Congress in July, the Politico news website reported Tuesday.

The resolution was drafted by senators Ben Cardin of Maryland, Sherrod Brown of Ohio and Robert Menendez of New Jersey.

The senators, who were reportedly deeply dissatisfied with Trump’s administration’s recent decision to delay the introduction of new restrictions against Russia, stressed that the July bill provided for the mandatory imposition of new sanctions.

“The lack of seriousness shown by the administration in the face of a clear national security threat and even clearer congressional intent is alarming and cannot continue,” Cardin was quoted as saying by the news outlet.

The official was referring to the January announcement made by Trump’s administration, saying that new anti-Russia restrictions, provided for by the sanctions bill that was passed in summer, were not necessary as the legislation served as a deterrent.

In July, US Congress approved the Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanction Act, which requires the White House to slap new sanctions on defense and intelligence firms buying Russian military equipment in connection to Russia’s alleged meddling in the US presidential election in 2016. Trump signed the act into law in August. Russian officials have repeatedly dismissed claims of Moscow’s meddling in the US election as groundless.

February 13, 2018 Posted by | Russophobia | , , , , | Leave a comment

Meet the Corrupt Billionaire Who Has Brought About a New Cold War

By Philip M. GIRALDI | Strategic Culture Foundation | 01.02.2018

One has to ask why there is a crisis in US-Russia relations since Washington and Moscow have much more in common than not, to include confronting international terrorism, stabilizing Syria and other parts of the world that are in turmoil, and preventing the proliferation of nuclear weapons. In spite of all that, the US and Russia are currently locked in a tit-for-tat unfriendly relationship somewhat reminiscent of the Cold War.

Apart from search for a scapegoat to explain the Hillary Clinton defeat, how did it happen? Israel Shamir, a keen observer of the American-Russian relationship, and celebrated American journalist Robert Parry both think that one man deserves much of the credit for the new Cold War and that man is William Browder, a hedge fund operator who made his fortune in the corrupt 1990s world of Russian commodities trading.

Browder is also symptomatic of why the United States government is so poorly informed about international developments as he is the source of much of the Congressional “expert testimony” contributing to the current impasse. He has somehow emerged as a trusted source in spite of the fact that he has self-interest in cultivating a certain outcome. Also ignored is his renunciation of American citizenship in 1998, reportedly to avoid taxes. He is now a British citizen.

Browder is notoriously the man behind the 2012 Magnitsky Act, which exploited Congressional willingness to demonize Russia and has done so much to poison relations between Washington and Moscow. The Act sanctioned individual Russian officials, which Moscow has rightly seen as unwarranted interference in the operation of its judicial system.

Browder, a media favorite who self-promotes as “Putin’s enemy #1,” portrays himself as a selfless human rights advocate, but is he? He has used his fortune to threaten lawsuits for anyone who challenges his version of events, effectively silencing many critics. He claims that his accountant Sergei Magnitsky was a crusading “lawyer” who discovered a $230 million tax-fraud scheme that involved the Browder business interest Hermitage Capital but was, in fact, engineered by corrupt Russian police officers who arrested Magnitsky and enabled his death in a Russian jail.

Many have been skeptical of the Browder narrative, suspecting that the fraud was in fact concocted by Browder and his accountant Magnitsky. A Russian court recently supported that alternative narrative, ruling in late December that Browder had deliberately bankrupted his company and engaged in tax evasion. He was sentenced to nine years prison in absentia.

William Browder is again in the news recently in connection with testimony related to Russiagate. On December 16th Senator Diane Feinstein of the Senate Judiciary Committee released the transcript of the testimony provided by Glenn Simpson, founder of Fusion GPS. According to James Carden, Browder was mentioned 50 times, but the repeated citations apparently did not merit inclusion in media coverage of the story by the New York Times, Washington Post and Politico.

Fusion GPS, which was involved in the research producing the Steele Dossier used to discredit Donald Trump, was also retained to provide investigative services relating to a lawsuit in New York City involving a Russian company called Prevezon. As information provided by Browder was the basis of the lawsuit, his company and business practices while in Russia became part of the investigation. Simmons maintained that Browder proved to be somewhat evasive and his accounts of his activities were inconsistent. He claimed never to visit the United States and not own property or do business there, all of which were untrue, to include his ownership through a shell company of a $10 million house in Aspen Colorado. He repeatedly ran away, literally, from attempts to subpoena him so he would have to testify under oath.

Per Simmons, in Russia, Browder used shell companies locally and also worldwide to avoid taxes and conceal ownership, suggesting that he was likely one of many corrupt businessmen operating in what was a wild west business environment. My question is, “Why was such a man granted credibility and allowed a free run to poison the vitally important US-Russia relationship?” The answer might be follow the money. Israel Shamir reports that Browder was a major contributor to Senator Ben Cardin of Maryland, who was the major force behind the Magnitsky Act.

February 1, 2018 Posted by | Russophobia, Timeless or most popular | , , , , | 1 Comment

A Blacklisted Film and the New Cold War

By Robert Parry | Consortium News | August 2, 2107

Why is the U.S. mainstream media so frightened of a documentary that debunks the beloved story of how “lawyer” Sergei Magnitsky uncovered massive Russian government corruption and died as a result? If the documentary is as flawed as its critics claim, why won’t they let it be shown to the American public, then lay out its supposed errors, and use it as a case study of how such fakery works?

Film director Andrei Nekrasov

Instead we – in the land of the free, home of the brave – are protected from seeing this documentary produced by filmmaker Andrei Nekrasov who was known as a fierce critic of Russian President Vladimir Putin but who in this instance found the West’s widely accepted Magnitsky storyline to be a fraud.

Instead, last week, Senate Judiciary Committee members sat in rapt attention as hedge-fund operator William Browder wowed them with a reprise of his Magnitsky tale and suggested that people who have challenged the narrative and those who dared air the documentary one time at Washington’s Newseum last year should be prosecuted for violating the Foreign Agent Registration Act (FARA).

It appears that Official Washington’s anti-Russia hysteria has reached such proportions that old-time notions about hearing both sides of a story or testing out truth in the marketplace of ideas must be cast aside. The new political/media paradigm is to shield the American people from information that contradicts the prevailing narratives, all the better to get them to line up behind Those Who Know Best.

Nekrasov’s powerful deconstruction of the Magnitsky myth – and the film’s subsequent blacklisting throughout the “free world” – recall other instances in which the West’s propaganda lines don’t stand up to scrutiny, so censorship and ad hominem attacks become the weapons of choice to defend “perception management” narratives in geopolitical hot spots such as Iraq (2002-03), Libya (2011), Syria (2011 to the present), and Ukraine (2013 to the present).

But the Magnitsky myth has a special place as the seminal fabrication of the dangerous New Cold War between the nuclear-armed West and nuclear-armed Russia.

In the United States, Russia-bashing in The New York Times and other “liberal media” also has merged with the visceral hatred of President Trump, causing all normal journalistic standards to be jettisoned.

A Call for Prosecutions

Browder, the American-born co-founder of Hermitage Capital Management who is now a British citizen, raised the stakes even more when he testified that the people involved in arranging a one-time showing of Nekrasov’s documentary, “The Magnitsky Act: Behind the Scenes,” at the Newseum should be held accountable under FARA, which has penalties ranging up to five years in prison.

Browder testified: “As part of [Russian lawyer Natalie] Veselnitskaya’s lobbying, a former Wall Street Journal reporter, Chris Cooper of the Potomac Group, was hired to organize the Washington, D.C.-based premiere of a fake documentary about Sergei Magnitsky and myself. This was one the best examples of Putin’s propaganda.

“They hired Howard Schweitzer of Cozzen O’Connor Public Strategies and former Congressman Ronald Dellums to lobby members of Congress on Capitol Hill to repeal the Magnitsky Act and to remove Sergei’s name from the Global Magnitsky bill. On June 13, 2016, they funded a major event at the Newseum to show their fake documentary, inviting representatives of Congress and the State Department to attend.

“While they were conducting these operations in Washington, D.C., at no time did they indicate that they were acting on behalf of Russian government interests, nor did they file disclosures under the Foreign Agent Registration Act. United States law is very explicit that those acting on behalf of foreign governments and their interests must register under FARA so that there is transparency about their interests and their motives.

“Since none of these people registered, my firm wrote to the Department of Justice in July 2016 and presented the facts. I hope that my story will help you understand the methods of Russian operatives in Washington and how they use U.S. enablers to achieve major foreign policy goals without disclosing those interests.”

Browder’s Version

While he loosely accused a number of Americans of felonies, Browder continued to claim that Magnitsky was a crusading “lawyer” who uncovered a $230 million tax-fraud scheme carried out ostensibly by Browder’s companies but, which, according to Browder’s account, was really engineered by corrupt Russian police officers who then arrested Magnitsky and later were responsible for his death in a Russian jail.

Sergei Magnitsky

Browder’s narrative has received a credulous hearing by Western politicians and media already inclined to think the worst of Putin’s Russia and willing to treat Browder’s claims as true without serious examination. However, beyond the self-serving nature of Browder’s tale, there are many holes in the story, including whether Magnitsky was really a principled lawyer or instead a complicit accountant.

According to Browder’s own biographical description of Magnitsky, he received his education at the Plekhanov Institute in Moscow, a reference to Plekhanov Russian University of Economics, a school for finance and business, not a law school.

Nevertheless, the West’s mainstream media – relying on the word of Browder – has accepted Magnitsky’s standing as a “lawyer,” which apparently fits better in the narrative of Magnitsky as a crusading corruption fighter rather than a potential co-conspirator with Browder in a complex fraud, as the Russian government has alleged.

Magnitsky’s mother also has described her son as an accountant, although telling Nekrasov in the documentary “he wasn’t just an accountant; he was interested in lots of things.” In the film, the “lawyer” claim is also disputed by a female co-worker who knew Magnitsky well. “He wasn’t a lawyer,” she said.

In other words, on this high-profile claim repeated by Browder again and again, it appears that presenting Magnitsky as a “lawyer” is a convenient falsehood that buttresses the Magnitsky myth, which Browder constructed after Magnitsky’s death from heart failure while in pre-trial detention.

But the Magnitsky myth took off in 2012 when Browder sold his tale to neocon Senators Ben Cardin, D-Maryland, and John McCain, R-Arizona, who threw their political weight behind a bipartisan drive in Congress leading to the passage of the Magnitsky sanctions act, the opening shot in the New Cold War.

A Planned Docudrama

Browder’s dramatic story also attracted the attention of Russian filmmaker Andrei Nekrasov, a well-known critic of Putin from previous films. Nekrasov set out to produce a docudrama that would share Browder’s good-vs.-evil narrative to a wider public.

Nekrasov devotes the first half hour of the film to allowing Browder to give his Magnitsky account illustrated by scenes from Nekrasov’s planned docudrama. In other words, the viewer gets to see a highly sympathetic portrayal of Browder and Magnitsky as supposedly corrupt Russian authorities bring charges of tax fraud against them.

However, Nekrasov’s documentary project takes an unexpected turn when his research turns up numerous contradictions to Browder’s storyline, which begins to look more and more like a corporate cover story. For instance, Magnitsky’s mother blames the negligence of prison doctors for her son’s death rather than a beating by prison guards as Browder had pitched to Western audiences.

Nekrasov also discovered that a woman who had worked in Browder’s company blew the whistle before Magnitsky talked to police and that Magnitsky’s original interview with authorities was as a suspect, not a whistleblower. Also contradicting Browder’s claims, Nekrasov notes that Magnitsky doesn’t even mention the names of the police officers in a key statement to authorities.

When one of the Browder-accused police officers, Pavel Karpov, filed a libel suit against Browder in London, the case was dismissed on technical grounds because Karpov had no reputation in Great Britain to slander. But the judge seemed sympathetic to the substance of Karpov’s complaint.

Browder claimed vindication before adding an ironic protest given his successful campaign to prevent Americans and Europeans from seeing Nekrasov’s documentary.

“These people tried to shut us up; they tried to stifle our freedom of expression,” Browder complained. “[Karpov] had the audacity to come here and sue us, paying high-priced libel lawyers to come and terrorize us in the U.K.”

The ‘Kremlin Stooge’ Slur

A pro-Browder account published at the Daily Beast on July 25 – attacking Nekrasov and his documentary – is entitled “How an Anti-Putin Filmmaker Became a Kremlin Stooge,” a common slur used in the West to discredit and silence anyone who dares question today’s Russia-hating groupthink.

The article by Katie Zavadski accuses Nekrasov of being in the tank for the Kremlin and declares that “The movie is so flattering to the Russian narrative that Pavel Karpov — one of the police officers accused of being responsible for Magnitsky’s death — plays himself.”

But that’s not true. In fact, there is a scene in the documentary in which Nekrasov invites the actor who plays Karpov in the docudrama segment to sit in on an interview with the real Karpov. There’s even a clumsy moment when the actor and police officer bump into a microphone as they shake hands, but Zavadski’s falsehood would not be apparent unless you had somehow gotten access to the documentary, which has been effectively banned in the West.

In the documentary, Karpov, the police officer, accuses Browder of lying about him and specifically contests the claim that he (Karpov) used his supposedly ill-gotten gains to buy an expensive apartment in Moscow. Karpov came to the interview with documents showing that the flat was pre-paid in 2004-05, well before the alleged hijacking of Browder’s firms.

Karpov added wistfully that he had to sell the apartment to pay for his failed legal challenge in London, which he said he undertook in an effort to clear his name. “Honor costs a lot sometimes,” the police officer said.

Karpov also explained that the investigations of Browder’s tax fraud started well before the Magnitsky controversy, with an examination of a Browder company in 2004.

“Once we opened the investigation, a campaign in defense of an investor started,” Karpov said. “Having made billions here, Browder forgot to tell how he did it. So it suits him to pose as a victim. … Browder and company are lying blatantly and constantly.”

However, since virtually no one in the West has seen this interview, you can’t make your own judgment as to whether Karpov is credible or not.

A Painful Recognition

Yet, in reviewing the case documents and noting Browder’s inaccurate claims about the chronology, Nekrasov finds his own doubts growing. He discovers that European officials simply accepted Browder’s translations of Russian documents, rather than checking them independently. A similar lack of skepticism prevailed in the United States.

In other words, a kind of trans-Atlantic groupthink took hold with clear political benefits for those who went along and almost no one willing to risk the accusation of being a “Kremlin stooge” by showing doubt.

As the documentary proceeds, Browder starts avoiding Nekrasov and his more pointed questions. Finally, Nekrasov hesitantly confronts the hedge-fund executive at a party for Browder’s book, Red Notice, about the Magnitsky case.

The easygoing Browder of the early part of the documentary — as he lays out his seamless narrative without challenge — is gone; instead, a defensive and angry Browder appears.

“It’s bullshit,” Browder says when told that his presentations of the documents are false.

But Nekrasov continues to find more contradictions and discrepancies. He discovers evidence that Browder’s web site eliminated an earlier chronology that showed that in April 2008, a 70-year-old woman named Rimma Starova, who had served as a figurehead executive for Browder’s companies, reported the theft of state funds.

Nekrasov then shows how Browder’s narrative was changed to introduce Magnitsky as the whistleblower months later, although he was then described as an “analyst,” not yet a “lawyer.”

As Browder’s story continues to unravel, the evidence suggests that Magnitsky was an accountant implicated in manipulating the books, not a crusading lawyer risking everything for the truth.

A Heated Confrontation

In the documentary, Nekrasov struggles with what to do next, given Browder’s financial and political clout. Finally securing another interview, Nekrasov confronts Browder with the core contradictions of his story. Incensed, the hedge-fund executive rises up and threatens the filmmaker.

William Browder (right) with Magnitsky’s widow and son,
along with European parliamentarians.

“I’d be very careful going out and trying to do a whole sort of thing about Sergei [Magnitsky] not being the whistleblower, it won’t do well for your credibility on this show,” Browder said. “This is sort of the subtle FSB version,” suggesting that Nekrasov was just fronting for the Russian intelligence service.

In the pro-Browder account published at the Daily Beast on July 25, Browder described how he put down Nekrasov by telling him, “it sounds like you’re part of the FSB. … Those are FSB questions.”

But that phrasing is not what he actually says in the documentary, raising further questions about whether the Daily Beast reporter actually watched the film or simply accepted Browder’s account of it. (I posed that question to the Daily Beast’s Katie Zavadski by email, but have not gotten a reply.)

The documentary also includes devastating scenes from depositions of a sullen and uncooperative Browder and a U.S. government investigator, who acknowledges relying on Browder’s narrative and documents in a related case against Russian businesses.

In an April 15, 2015 deposition of Browder, he, in turn, describes relying on reports from journalists to “connect the dots,” including the Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project (OCCRP), which is funded by the U.S. government and financial speculator George Soros. Browder said the reporters “worked with our team.”

While taking money from the U.S. Agency for International Development and Soros, the OCCRP also targeted Ukraine’s elected President Viktor Yanukovych with accusations of corruption prior to the Feb. 22, 2014 coup that ousted Yanukovych, an overthrow that was supported by the U.S. State Department and escalated the New Cold War with Russia.

OCCRP played a key role, too, in the so-called Panama Papers, purloined documents from a Panamanian law firm that were used to develop attack lines against Russian President Vladimir Putin although his name never appeared in the documents.

After examining the money-movement charts published by OCCRP about the Magnitsky case, Nekrasov notes that the figures don’t add up and wonders how journalists could “peddle these wooly maths.” He also observed that OCCRP’s Panama Papers linkage of Magnitsky’s $230 million fraud and payments to an ally of Putin made no sense because the dates of the Panama Papers transactions preceded the dates of the alleged Magnitsky fraud.

The Power of Myth

Nekrasov suggests that the power of Browder’s convoluted story rested, in part, on a Hollywood perception of Moscow as a place where evil Russians lurk around every corner and any allegation against “corrupt” officials is believed. The Magnitsky tale “was like a film script about Russia written for the Western audience,” Nekrasov says.

But the Browder’s narrative also served a strong geopolitical interest to demonize Russia at the dawn of the New Cold War.

In the documentary’s conclusion, Nekrasov sums up what he had discovered: “A murdered hero as an alibi for living suspects.” He then ponders the danger to democracy: “So do we allow graft and greed to hide behind a political sermon? Will democracy survive if human rights — its moral high ground — is used to protect selfish interests?”

But Americans and Europeans are being spared the discomfort of having to answer that question or to question their representatives about the failure to skeptically examine this case that has pushed the planet on a course toward a possible nuclear war.

Instead, the mainstream Western media has hurled insults at Nekrasov even as his documentary is blocked from any significant public viewing.

Despite Browder’s professed concern about the London libel case that he claimed was an attempt “to stifle our freedom of expression,” he has sicced his lawyers on anyone who might be thinking about showing Nekrasov’s documentary to the public.

The documentary was set for a premiere at the European Parliament in Brussels in April 2016, but at the last moment – faced with Browder’s legal threats – the parliamentarians pulled the plug. Nekrasov encountered similar resistance in the United States. There were hopes to show the documentary to members of Congress but the offer was rebuffed. Instead a room was rented at the Newseum near Capitol Hill.

Browder’s lawyers then tried to strong arm the Newseum, but its officials responded that they were only renting out a room and that they had allowed other controversial presentations in the past.

“We’re not going to allow them not to show the film,” said Scott Williams, the Newseum’s chief operating officer. “We often have people renting for events that other people would love not to have happen.”

In an article about the controversy in June 2016, The New York Times added that “A screening at the Newseum is especially controversial because it could attract lawmakers or their aides.”

One-Time Showing

So, Nekrasov’s documentary got a one-time showing with a follow-up discussion moderated by journalist Seymour Hersh. However, except for that audience, the public of the United States and Europe has been essentially shielded from the documentary’s discoveries, all the better for the Magnitsky myth to retain its power as a seminal propaganda moment of the New Cold War.

After the Newseum presentation, a Washington Post editorial branded Nekrasov’s documentary Russian “agit-prop” and sought to discredit Nekrasov without addressing his many documented examples of Browder’s misrepresenting both big and small facts in the case.

Instead, the Post accused Nekrasov of using “facts highly selectively” and insinuated that he was merely a pawn in the Kremlin’s “campaign to discredit Mr. Browder and the Magnitsky Act.”

Like the recent Daily Beast story, which falsely claimed that Nekrasov let the Russian police officer Karpov play himself, the Post misrepresented the structure of the film by noting that it mixed fictional scenes with real-life interviews and action, a point that was technically true but willfully misleading because the fictional scenes were from Nekrasov’s original idea for a docudrama that he shows as part of explaining his evolution from a believer in Browder’s self-exculpatory story to a skeptic.

But the Post’s deception – like the Daily Beast’s falsehood – is something that almost no American would realize because almost no one has gotten to see the film.

The Post’s editorial gloated: “The film won’t grab a wide audience, but it offers yet another example of the Kremlin’s increasingly sophisticated efforts to spread its illiberal values and mind-set abroad. In the European Parliament and on French and German television networks, showings were put off recently after questions were raised about the accuracy of the film, including by Magnitsky’s family.

“We don’t worry that Mr. Nekrasov’s film was screened here, in an open society. But it is important that such slick spin be fully exposed for its twisted story and sly deceptions.”

The Post’s arrogant editorial had the feel of something you might read in a totalitarian society where the public only hears about dissent when the Official Organs of the State denounce some almost unknown person for saying something that almost no one heard.

It is also unlikely that Americans and Europeans will get a chance to view this blacklisted documentary in the future. In an email exchange, the film’s Norwegian producer Torstein Grude told me that “We have been unsuccessful in releasing the film to TV so far. ZDF/Arte [a major European network] pulled it from transmission a few days before it was supposed to be aired and the other broadcasters seem scared as a result. Netflix has declined to take it. …

“The film has no other release at the moment. Distributors are scared by Browder’s legal threats. All involved financiers, distributors, producers received thick stacks of legal documents (300+ pages) threatening lawsuits should the film be released.” [Grude sent me a special password so I could view the documentary on Vimeo.]

The blackout continues even though the Magnitsky issue and Nekrasov’s documentary have become elements in the recent controversy over a meeting between a Russian lawyer and Donald Trump Jr. [See Consortiumnews.com’sHow Russia-gate Met the Magnitsky Myth.”]

So much for the West’s vaunted belief in freedom of expression and the democratic goal of encouraging freewheeling debates about issues of great public importance. And, so much for the Post’s empty rhetoric about our “open society.”

Investigative reporter Robert Parry broke many of the Iran-Contra stories for The Associated Press and Newsweek in the 1980s.

August 2, 2017 Posted by | Deception, Fake News, Film Review, Full Spectrum Dominance, Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Timeless or most popular | , , , | Leave a comment

Democrats Gone Mad: The Year of Living Stupidly

By Glen Ford | Black Agenda Report | July 12, 2017

For more than a year now, the collective U.S. ruling class, with Democratic Party and corporate media operatives in the vanguard, has frozen the national political discourse in a McCarthyite time warp. A random visit to a July 26, 2016, issue of the New York Times reveals the same obsession as that which consumes the newspaper today: “Following the Links from Russian Hackers to the U.S. Election,” “Spy Agency Consensus Grows That Russia Hacked D.N.C.” A year later, the allegations persist, piled ever higher with innuendo and outright nonsense. However, proof of the predicate act — that Russia, not Wikileaks, penetrated the DNC — remains totally absent.

What is the purpose of this torture-by-media? Clearly, the Trump White House has been crippled by the tsunami that never ebbs, but the Democrats have not been strengthened in the process, and the corporate media’s standing among the public erodes by the day. A poll conducted last month showed majorities of voters want Congress to ease up on Russia investigations and get to work on healthcare, terrorism, national security, the economy and jobs. Almost three out of four respondents to the Harvard-Harris poll said lawmakers aren’t paying attention to the issues that are important to them — including 68 percent of Democrats. Sixty-two percent of voters say there is no hard evidence of White House “collusion” with Russia, and 64 percent think the investigations are hurting the country.

The non-stop vilification of Russia and Trump has seriously backfired on the corporate media. Another poll by Harvard-Harris, conducted back in May, showed that two out of three Americans believe the so-called “mainstream” press is full of “fake news” — including a majority of Democrats. The Russiagate blitzkrieg, designed to delegitimize Trump and demonize Vladimir Putin, has exacerbated an already existing crisis of legitimacy for the entire U.S. political system. “Every major institution from the presidency to the courts is now seen as operating in a partisan fashion in one direction or the other,” said poll co-director Mark Penn.

The only unequivocal winner is the bipartisan War Party, which has used the manufactured crisis to drench the nation in anti-Russian hysteria – worse than back in the bad old days of the Red Scares. By March, Black Congresswoman Bonnie Watson Coleman (D-NJ) was using much the same language as Dick Cheney to describe the Kremlin. “I think this attack that we’ve experienced is a form of war, a form of war on our fundamental democratic principles,” said the hopelessly brainwashed representative of the Black Misleadership Class. “Liberal” Democratic Maryland Rep. Ben Cardin called the nonexistent “attack” a “political Pearl Harbor.”

If the U.S. Congress actually took seriously its Constitutional powers to declare war, the human race would already have been exterminated.

So insane have the Democrats become, that we are probably better off with war powers effectively in the hands of Donald Trump, than with California’s Barbara Lee, the only member of Congress that voted against the invasion of Afghanistan in 2001. She was in her “right mind” then, but no longer. Trump’s willingness to talk with the leader of Russia, in Hamburg, infuriated Rep. Lee, who tweeted: “Outraged by President Trump’s 2 hr meeting w/Putin, the man who orchestrated attacks on our democracy. Where do his loyalties lie?” A better question is: When and where did Lee join the War Party?

The dogs of war at U.S. intelligence agencies have led the charge against Trump since they encamped at Hillary Clinton’s campaign headquarters, last year. The spoiled oligarch was not trusted to maintain the momentum of the U.S. military offensive begun by Barack Obama in 2011, with the unprovoked war against Libya. The state of war must be preserved, whatever the cost to the empire’s domestic institutions. Skilled in the arts of regime change, the spooks joined with their longtime partners in corporate media propaganda, to foment a “color revolution” at home. Barbara Lee is a recent recruit.

Although the Democrats will ultimately harm themselves with the electorate by folding into the War Party, it suits the purposes of party leadership and the fat cats that finance them. The ruling class has nothing to offer the people except the total insecurity of gig-jobs and austerity. The Lords of Capital effectively shut the Democrats down decades ago. They can campaign as if there really is a clash of ideas about the organization of society, but they must propose nothing that fundamentally conflicts with the steady consolidation of wealth and power by the oligarchy (the American one, not the Russians). That goes for Bernie Sanders, too. Heard anything about single payer from him, lately?

The “all Russiagate, all the time” information regime — which also prepares the public for a wider war scenario – provides the illusion of motion that passes for “resistance” to the rule of the rich, as personified by Donald Trump. But there has been no Democratic program to reorder society for at least a generation. And now, under the New McCarthyism, the only politics that is allowed is war politics, consisting of denunciations of those who threaten “our fundamental democratic principles” – which need not be defined or even proven to exist.

That’s why it has been an empty year, albeit a very loud one. As Gil Scott-Heron sang in “Winter in America,” “Nobody’s fighting, ‘cause nobody knows what to save.”

Glen Ford can be contacted at Glen.Ford@BlackAgendaReport.com.

July 12, 2017 Posted by | Fake News, Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Militarism, Progressive Hypocrite, Russophobia, Timeless or most popular | , , , | Leave a comment

By Jingo, an “Act of War!”

More chickenhawks on parade for war with Russia

By Philip Giraldi • Unz Review • April 4, 2017

The latest Democratic Party shill to demonize Russia is, I am ashamed to say, my state of Virginia’s Senator Mark Warner, who, on Thursday said “Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered a deliberate campaign carefully constructed to undermine our election.” Last Thursday, Warner was the top Democrat on a Senate Intelligence Committee panel investigating Moscow’s alleged interference in last year’s presidential election. The panel inevitably included carefully selected expert witnesses who would agree with the proposition that Russia is and was guilty as charged. There was no one who provided an alternative view even though a little Googling would have surfaced some genuine experts who dispute the prevailing narrative.

Warner joined many of his esteemed colleagues in Congress who have completely accepted the allegations that Russia meddled in the election in spite of the failure of the Obama Administration to provide any indisputable evidence to that effect. Senator Ben Cardin of Maryland has called Moscow’s claimed interference an “attack” and labeled it a “political Pearl Harbor.” A number of other congressmen, to include Bonnie Watson Coleman of New Jersey and Eric Swalwell of California have called it an act of war. And then there are echo chambers Senators John McCain and Mark Rubio on the Republican side of the aisle while former Vice President Dick Cheney was speaking at a business conference in New Delhi saying the same thing. Yes, that Dick Cheney. Why anyone in India would pay to hear him speak on any subject escapes me.

Democrat Adam Schiff of California is leading the charge for his party as he is the ranking Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee. He outlined his case against Russia two weeks ago, providing a heap of minimally factual “information”, relying heavily instead on supposition and featuring mostly innuendo. And again, it was largely evidence-free. One assertion is almost comical: “In July 2016, Carter Page, one of Trump’s former national security advisers, traveled to Moscow after being approved to do so by the Trump campaign. While there, Page gave a speech in which he was critical of the U.S. and its efforts to fight corruption and promote democracy.”

Almost everyone I know who follows such matters is also critical of U.S. (hypocritical) efforts to promote democracy, a formulation wildly popular among Hillary Clinton style Democrats to enable attacking Muslim countries that have somehow offended either Israel or the Washington Establishment. But what is particularly disturbing about the constant denigration of Russia and Vladimir Putin in the media and among the political class is the regular invocation of war doctrine, that hacking a server by a foreign power, if it took place, is in the same category as the attack on Pearl Harbor. That World War 3 would be a nuclear holocaust does not seem to have occurred to politicians seeking a punchy line so they can get cited in The Washington Post. It leads one to the inevitable conclusion that war is far too serious a business to be left to politicians.

But what particularly offends me personally about those eager to go toe to toe with the Russians is their complete venality and fundamental cowardice. As a Vietnam era vet, I understand full well how it feels to have your life disrupted to go off and possibly die to fight a war that was totally meaningless. Our crowd of politicians is fond of talking about war as if it were some kind of diversion being featured on a monopoly board and that is precisely because they have no skin in the game. They somehow fancy that a shooting war will somehow not happen, that Russia will back down in a confrontation with force majeur, and they deep down feel completely immune to the consequences that might result from their ill-advised actions. And they are unfortunately in large part correct to feel so, as no one was ever held accountable for Iraq. Consequences that apply to the “little people” in the U.S. do not apply to them.

Under the rule of our bipartisan war-loving elites the United States has evolved from a bumbling giant into something far more threatening. The completely useless wars since 9/11 have killed nearly 10,000 American soldiers and contractors as well as hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of the inhabitants of the countries that we have attacked. I would hold Congress, the White House and the mainstream media as directly responsible for those deaths. As former Ambassador Chas Freeman puts it, “America has now chosen publicly to redefine itself internationally as the foreign relations equivalent of a sociopath – a country indifferent to the rules, the consequences for others of its ignoring them, and the reliability of its word. No nation can now comfortably entrust its prosperity or security to Washington, no matter how militarily powerful it perceives America to be.”

Which inevitably leads to the subject of Dick Cheney. When it comes to hypocrisy over war as a constant state for the American Republic with absolutely no consequences for those who lead, no one takes a back seat to good old Dick. Dick had five deferments during Vietnam and he has explained that he had had “other priorities.” He and his consigliere Scooter Libby, together with Paul Wolfowitz at the Pentagon, might have had more to do with America’s march to war in Iraq than any other individuals in the Bush Administration. And none of them paid any price except Libby who was convicted of having committed perjury connected to his apparent outing of CIA officer Valerie Plame as revenge for her husband’s refutation of claims about Iraq buying uranium from Niger. Libby was sentenced to 30 months in prison but had his jail time commuted by President George W. Bush.

One might even suggest that the architects of devastating policies were actually rewarded, most particularly Wolfowitz, who was named president of the World Bank before having to resign over a sex scandal that he initiated. Today Wolfowitz is a Visiting Scholar at the American Enterprise Institute and Libby is a Senior Vice President at the neocon Hudson Institute. Cheney is retired comfortably on the somewhere between $19 and $86 million he made, mostly while working for five years at defense contractor Halliburton. His truly frightening daughter Liz is in congress representing Wyoming, continuing the family legacy of bone headed knee jerk reactionaryism combined with egregious self-aggrandizement that Dick is best known for.

Note that neither Cheney, nor Wolfowitz nor Libby ever served in the U.S. military, exhibiting thereby their willingness to let other American die for the dreadful policies that they initiated. That pattern also holds true for the Democrats who seem to have found Russia as a useful scapegoat for their failure to elect Hillary Clinton president. If the Kremlin did it then the Democratic National Committee and Clinton campaign are off the hook, aren’t they? And even better if one can simultaneously discredit Donald Trump by implying that he or his associates might be subjected to blackmail by Moscow, making them little more than agents of Vladimir Putin and therefore traitors to the United States.

Senator Mark Warner, a lawyer by training, founded a venture capital firm called Columbia Capital before being elected Governor of Virginia and then Senator in 2008. He is reported to be the wealthiest U.S. Senator, worth $200 million. He has a 15 acre farm in Rappahannock County Virginia where he produces wine as a hobby.

Warner has three daughters who will never serve in the U.S. military, which is precisely the problem. The more our “ruling class” in Washington has little or nothing to do with the average American or, to be more precise, the class of Americans called upon to fight and die in the wars that are constantly being promoted, the more we will engage in senseless wars and sabre rattling. As Warner appears willing to use the threat of war to pillory Trump, he perhaps should step back, take a deep breath, and try to think of the consequences of the politically loaded claims that he is promoting.

Ben Cardin and Adam Schiff are a lot like Warner in that they are reliable partisan Democrats who are seeking to milk as much benefit out of beating on Russia as they can. Both are unimpeachable liberals who wrap their arguments in the good old American flag by claiming that Moscow is seeking to threaten our democracy while completely ignoring the fact that the U.S. intelligence agencies have been regularly overthrowing governments and corrupting elections since the Second World War. They both have children who will never serve in uniform or see the inside of a barracks. War for them is an abstraction which serves as a useful tool, in this case, for bringing down Donald Trump. And they are bringing down with Trump any hope of rapprochement with Russia, a readjustment in policy that is desperately needed.

I am reminded frequently of the ancient Greek way of war. Armor was expensive and only the wealthy and powerful could afford it. And those with the armor stood in the front line as they were most able to engage in the cutting and thrusting and still survive. Armor was also heavy and they could not run away, so wars were only fought when vital interests were at stake and they were fought to the death for most of those on the battlefield. I fancy a phalanx of hoplites with Warner, Cardin, Schiff, Wolfowitz, Cheney and Libby arrayed on the front line in their fine armor manufactured by Halliburton. That way they could have all the war they want and experience it first-hand. I doubt they would last very long as they are both moral and physical cowards, but given that reality, they just might think a bit harder about promoting the type of fearmongering that will only end by sending the children of other Americans off to war.

April 4, 2017 Posted by | Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Militarism, Timeless or most popular | , , , , | 2 Comments

US Democrats portraying Russia’s alleged interference as act of war

Press TV – March 27, 2017

Democratic lawmakers are stepping up the United States’ anti-Russia rhetoric over Moscow’s alleged interference in the 2016 presidential election, which yielded President Donald Trump.

In a declassified report released in January, the US intelligence community concluded that Russian President Vladimir Putin helped the New York billionaire win the White House, an allegation dismissed both by Moscow and Trump.

The lawmakers, whose candidate, Hillary Clinton, lost the battle in the November 8, 2016 vote, are boosting the narrative in the wake of a statement by FBI Director James Comey in regard to an ongoing investigation into Trump-Russia ties.

Comey’s appearance before the House Intelligence Committee for a hearing on Monday yielded the first public confirmation that a probe was underway to detect possible collusion between Trump and Russia.

“I think this attack that we’ve experienced is a form of war, a form of war on our fundamental democratic principles,” Democratic House Representative Bonnie Watson Coleman (pictured above) said during a hearing this week at the House Homeland Security Committee.

She further censured Trump for his “borderline dismissive attitude” in the wake of Russia’s alleged cyberattacks.

During Comey’s hearing, two other Democrats also contributed to the hawkish narrative.

California Democrat, Representative Jackie Speier, called Russia’s alleged interference an act of war, calling for action.

“I actually think that their engagement was an act of war, an act of hybrid warfare, and I think that’s why the American people should be concerned about it,” Speier said.

Democratic Representative Eric Swalwell (pictured above) also called for bipartisan opposition against what he described as “a foreign adversary.”

“This past election, our country was attacked. We were attacked by Russia,” Swalwell said. “I see this as an opportunity for everyone on this committee, Republicans and Democrats, to not look in the rear view window but to look forward and do everything we can to make sure that our country never again allows a foreign adversary to attack us.”

Senator Ben Cardin, a Democrat from Maryland, has also described Russia’s alleged electoral interference as the United States’ “political Pearl Harbor.”

According to a Sunday report by The Hill, the Democratic Party is attempting to portray President Trump as “weak on Russia” while exaggerating the “damage done by Moscow.”

March 27, 2017 Posted by | Deception, Fake News, Mainstream Media, Warmongering | , , , | Leave a comment

US senators introduce bill to tighten sanctions on Iran

Press TV – March 23, 2017

A bipartisan group of US senators in Congress have introduced a bill that would impose tighter sanctions against Iran over its ballistic missile tests and other non-nuclear activities.

The bill was introduced on Thursday by 14 Democratic and Republican senators, including senior members of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.

The legislation would set mandatory sanctions for anyone involved with Iran’s missile program and those who trade with them. It also would apply sanctions to the Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC).

Lawmakers were expected to roll out the new sanctions ahead of a conference by the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC), which is scheduled to start Sunday.

Senators Bob Corker, Robert Menendez, Marco Rubio, Ben Cardin and Tom Cotton are among the bill’s sponsors.

Menendez, a Democrat from New Jersey, claimed that the new bill had been written not to interfere with the international nuclear accord reached with Tehran.

Iran and the five permanent members of the United Nations Security Council — the United States, France, Britain, Russia and China — plus Germany started implementing the nuclear agreement, dubbed the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), on January 16, 2016.

In February, US President Donald Trump undermined the multilateral deal by introducing a new round of sanctions against Iran following the country’s successful test-launch of a ballistic missile, which Washington said was a breach of the JCPOA.

The US Treasury Department said Washington had imposed sanctions on 13 individuals and 12 entities as part of an effort to ratchet up pressure on Iran over its missile program.

The United States claims that Iran’s recent missile test violated Resolution 2231 that endorsed the Iran nuclear agreement.

Tehran insists its missile tests do not breach any UN resolution because they are solely for defense purposes and not designed to carry nuclear warheads.

March 24, 2017 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Wars for Israel | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

US senators seek additional sanctions against Iran

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US Republican Senator Bob Corker (left) and Democratic Senator Ben Cardin in the US Senate (file photo)
Press TV – February 3, 2017

A number of US senators have backed additional sanctions against Iran over the country’s missile program, arguing that Tehran “must feel sufficient pressure.”

Twenty-two senators, including Bob Corker (Republican from Tennessee) and Ben Cardin (senior Democrat from Maryland) pronounced their support in a letter they sent to US President Donald Trump on Thursday. Corker is the chairman of the US Senate Committee on Foreign Relations.

“Full enforcement of existing sanctions and the imposition of additional sanctions on Iran for its ballistic missile program are necessary,” the senators wrote.

They added that “we look forward to supporting your Administration’s efforts to hold Iran accountable.”

The Reuters news agency reported on Thursday that the Trump administration is expected to announce new sanctions against Iran on Friday to ratchet up pressure on the Islamic Republic.

This is while the US president said on Thursday that “nothing is off the table” in terms of a response to Iran’s latest ballistic missile test.

Hours earlier, Trump said the White House has formally put Tehran on notice over its recent ballistic missile test.

“Iran has been formally PUT ON NOTICE for firing a ballistic missile. Should have been thankful for the terrible deal the U.S. made with them!” Trump tweeted, echoing his national security adviser’s comments a day earlier.

‘Iran Non-Nuclear Sanctions Act of 2017’

Also on Thursday, a group of Republicans in the US House of Representatives introduced a bill for new sanctions on Iran as the Trump administration is mulling anti-Iran measures.

The measure, called the Iran Non-Nuclear Sanctions Act of 2017, seeks sanctions against Tehran for “supporting terrorism, abusing human rights, and testing ballistic missiles.”

It was presented by New York Representative Lee Zeldin, Illinois Representative Peter Roskam, New Jersey Representative Leonard Lance and Colorado Representative Doug Lamborn.

The proposed legislation comes after US House Speaker Paul Ryan said he would support imposing additional sanctions on Iran over its recent missile test.

“I would be in favor of additional sanctions on Iran,” Ryan told reporters on Thursday at a weekly press conference.

“We need to have a tough-on-Iran policy … We should stop appeasing Iran,” he said.

Washington has said Sunday’s ballistic missile test was in violation of the 2015 nuclear deal between Iran and the P5+1 group of countries.

Tehran insists its missile tests do not breach any UN resolution because they are solely for defense purposes and not designed to carry nuclear warheads.

Arms control experts have also said that Iran’s missile tests are not banned under the nuclear agreement and the Security Council resolution, because Iran’s missiles are not meant to deliver nuclear warheads.

Resolution 2231 calls on Iran “not to undertake any activity related to ballistic missiles designed to be capable of delivering nuclear weapons, including launches using such ballistic missile technology.”

February 3, 2017 Posted by | Militarism, Wars for Israel | , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Ben Cardin’s Gambit

A True Blue liberal except for Iran and Palestine

By Philip Giraldi • Unz Review • May 6, 2015

Democratic Senator Ben Cardin of Maryland is not very well known to the public, overshadowed as he is by his own party’s more newsworthy and photogenic congressional leadership and the gaggle of Republicans that is currently lining up in a bid to take the White House. Cardin is, by most accounts, a conventional liberal. He was active in the civil rights movement and embraced every progressive cause in his pre-senatorial days while his voting record both as a congressman and a senator has been reliably left-of-center.

Ben Cardin is the scion of a Baltimore family heavily involved in Maryland state politics. He, his father and uncle all served in the State Assembly and his father was later a judge. All three are lawyers and all were closely connected to Maryland’s politically powerful Jewish community, concentrated in Montgomery and Baltimore counties, which has been traditionally aligned with the Democratic Party.

As an elected official, Cardin regards himself as personally responsible for delivering benefits to his Jewish constituents. He sponsors the Senator Ben Cardin Jewish Scholars Program and also has been active in steering Department of Homeland Security (DHS) grants to what he calls “high risk” Jewish organizations in Baltimore. Due to the assiduous efforts of Congressmen like Cardin fully 97% of all DHS grants go to Jewish groups.

Support for Israel is inevitably a sine qua non in Cardin’s circle and candidates for higher office in Maryland are routinely screened for the views on the Middle East. Donna Edwards, an African-American congresswoman who is currently running to fill the seat that will be vacated by incumbent Senator Barbara Mikulski in 2016, has, for example, fallen afoul of the Jewish community thought police on the Israel issue. Though repeatedly asserting her love and support for Israel she is being castigated because “she has regularly ducked resolutions and letters backed by the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC), Washington’s dominant Israel lobby, which takes a harder line in support of the country’s self-defense.” She also voted “present” rather than “yes” when the House of Representatives passed its malicious 2009 resolution endorsing Israel’s right to use overwhelming firepower to defend itself against bottle rockets from Gaza. More recently she boycotted the speech by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu because she believed it to be an affront to the President of the United States. Even though Edwards has never in any sense voted against Israel in any substantive way she is clearly regarded as not subservient enough by those who matter.

Cardin, who received donations of $218,000 from the Israel Lobby for his 2012 Senate race alone, is the ranking Democrat on the Senate Foreign Affairs Committee, a position he acquired when disgraced New Jersey Senator Robert Menendez was forced to step down. He has been in the news lately for taking on a seemingly uncharacteristic task in the Senate, having co-sponsored with Republican Bob Corker a bill that will require the Senate to vote on any agreement that President Obama makes with Iran. The bill, which passed out of the Foreign Relations Committee by a unanimous 19-0 vote, has been described as a watered down version of a more rigorous bill crafted by the Republican majority, enabling a number of Democrats to add their support.

Recognizing that it might be a less bad option, a reluctant President Barack Obama, perhaps unwisely, has even pledged not to veto the revised bill. The stated intention of Corker-Cardin is to permit the congress to have some voice regarding what is undeniably a major foreign policy issue. Supporters want the country’s legislature to be able to indicate their lack of support for a bad bill, if that should turn out to be the case.

Though the bill is being described as a compromise it does not really change very much. While the president can on his own authority suspend sanctions on Iran, the passage of the bill would delay his ability to do so until after Congress has between 30 and 82 days (depending on details) to review the deal and vote for or against it. And while the president can indefinitely suspend their implementation, only Congress can actually cancel the sanctions because they are mandated through legislative authority.

Thus Congress can hold up a final agreement but the bill does not actually require congressional approval for an agreement to be implemented. And though Congress could theoretically block any lifting of its own legislative sanctions on Iran, it would require a two-thirds vote of both the Senate and House to override the expected Obama veto. Nevertheless, Obama’s agreement to allow a vote does concede that Congress has a potential oversight role in foreign policy, something that the president would have chosen to avoid.

The assumption that Cardin, a loyal Democrat, was interested in producing a compromise to help the president attain a negotiated agreement to eliminate Iran’s nonexistent nuclear weapons program is intriguing but not completely convincing given the Senator’s demonstrated inclination to see U.S. foreign policy from the point of view of Israel. And interestingly enough, AIPAC also supports the Corker-Cardin bill as-is and has resisted attempts by Republicans to make it stronger.

Why would that be the case as AIPAC consistently calls for forceful action against Iran? It might be because, appearances aside, Cardin is not acting in good faith and is actually likely to be working hand-in-hand with AIPAC to accomplish two things. First, he almost certainly wants to reestablish complete congressional bipartisanship on any and all issues relating to Israel, countering the troubling Republican Party’s alignment of its own foreign policy interests with those of Benjamin Netanyahu. As an AIPAC official has expressed it, “Our fundamental view is that this bill is the first step of a number of different steps on the Iran deal. The first and foremost priority is to make sure the bill gets passed to make sure congress is guaranteed a chance to pass judgment on the deal.”

This means that both AIPAC and Cardin want the modified Corker bill to pass but they want that to happen in expectation that the Obama White House agreement with Iran will eventually fail in a bipartisan fashion with more than two-thirds of congressmen in opposition. By some estimates, AIPAC believes that it already has the votes in hand in the Senate at least to do just that and expects that a number of Democratic Senators to include Charles Schumer of New York, who regards himself as “Israel’s guardian” in the upper chamber, will join Republicans in voting against the president.

The AIPAC comment that the bill is a “first step” is critical to understanding what is going on while Senator Ben Cardin’s regard for Israel and its presumed interests should be taken as a given. In March Cardin spoke at AIPAC’s annual gathering where he promised to introduce legislation to block European attempts to boycott or sanction Israeli exports produced in the occupied territories. Cardin’s mixed-up view of a progressive world order combined with deference to what he regards as Israeli interests were notably on display one week after his agreement with Corker when he delivered on his promise.

On April 21 st Cardin and his House colleague Peter Roskam attached at the last minute AIPAC drafted amendments to an omnibus trade bill that committed the United States government to use its leverage in trade agreements to block European Union efforts to boycott or sanction products being produced in Israel’s illegal West Bank settlements. The issue is of some consequence as the EU is Israel’s largest export market. The Cardin-AIPAC amendment includes language making it a primary U.S. objective to protect both products from Israel and from what is referred to by the euphemism “Israeli-controlled territories,” a curious position for a U.S. Senator to be taking as United States policy has long been opposed to the settlements and has frequently declared them to be illegal.

Cardin hypocritically justified his amendment by stating “I think it’s critically important that the provisions that are included… for good governance and respect for international human rights need to be a principle trade objective.” Concerning Cardin’s stated respect for international human rights, it should be noted that he enthusiastically supported boycotting apartheid South Africa even though he is opposed to the Palestinians using the same legal and non-violent expedient to obtain their freedom from a brutal Israeli occupation. To that end Cardin characteristically is willing to put U.S. interests on a back burner so he can use American trade policy to protect Israel while perversely cloaking his turpitude in faux sentiments about doing the right thing.

Finally, it is the ultimate irony that the sanctimonious junior Senator from Maryland serves as the ranking member of the U.S.-Helsinki Commission on Human Rights. He recently traveled with his wife by way of military Gulfstream to Copenhagen for official meetings arranged by that organization, stopping for a couple of days in Paris where he stayed in a five star hotel and met with Jewish leaders. The issue of Palestine apparently did not come up.

May 8, 2015 Posted by | Corruption, Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Wars for Israel | , , , , , | 1 Comment

US Senate Unanimously Passes Resolution Supporting Israeli Assault on Gaza

By Chris Carlson | International Middle East Media Center | July 18, 2014

341142_GrahamFollowing a similar resolution passed last week by the U.S. House, the U.S. Senate voted Thursday night to support Israel’s ongoing invasion of the Gaza Strip.

No dissenting vote was cast, and no mention was made of the hundreds of Palestinian civilians, most of whom are women and children, that have been killed by Israel in the past ten days.

Senate Resolution 498 was authored by Bob Menendez (D-NJ) and Lindsey Graham (R-SC), with additional support by Ben Cardin (D-MD) and Rand Paul (R-KY).

Paul is urging the Senate to pass his own bill, S. 2265, which would end all U.S. foreign aid to the Palestinian Authority until Hamas is barred from the new Palestinian unity government, among other stipulations.

The resolution was passed on the very same night Israel launched its current ground offensive into the Gaza Strip.

The United States and Israel, this past week, signed an agreement under which $429 million of American taxpayers’ money “will be transferred immediately to Israel” to further fund the Iron Dome missile system, which has recently come under scrutiny by prize winning Israeli defense and aerospace engineering expert Dr. Moti Shefer.

July 18, 2014 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Militarism, Wars for Israel | , , , | 4 Comments