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Russia-gate’s Shaky Foundation

By Daniel Herman | Consortium News | September 29, 2107

Anyone who watches the news knows that Russian hackers gave Democratic National Committee documents to WikiLeaks and hacked voter databases in 21 states. Prominent Democrats call these shenanigans “a political Pearl Harbor.”

On the blog Daily Kos, one contributor cries “we were robbed!” (arguing that somehow Russian meddling gave Trump a victory in North Carolina, where his margin was 180,000, and where no evidence whatsoever indicates a successful hack of voter databases).

In a new video propamentary, er, docuganda, or something like that, Morgan Freeman declares “we have been attacked. We are at war. This is no movie script.”

Before we hop on the Morgan Freeman train, we might want to consider some history. In 1898, the American press — taking the word of naval investigators — reported that a Spanish mine had destroyed the battleship, U.S.S. Maine. Leading newspapers promptly called for war, and the U.S. government obliged.

Finally, the U.S. became an imperial power with the acquisition of Cuba and the Philippines and a few other odds and ends, at the bargain cost of 2,500 American soldiers dead, plus another 4,000 lost in the Filipino rebellion that followed, not to mention the lives of tens of thousands of Filipino opposition fighters. Only later did it come to light that the Maine was destroyed by a boiler explosion.

In 1915, leading newspapers again whipped up the American public by announcing that a German submarine had sunk the unarmed passenger ship, Lusitania. Two years later — and in part due to lingering outrage over the Lusitania — the U.S. went to war, this time costing 116,000 American lives and over 200,000 wounded, not to mention creating a patriotic frenzy at home that led to beatings, lynchings, and attacks on civil liberties. Decades later, divers proved that the Lusitania was carrying arms to Britain — contrary to government assurances — thus violating international law. German naval intelligence had proved correct.

In 1950, Senator Joseph McCarthy claimed he had a list of men in the State Department who were communists. A credulous press played up his accusations, despite the fact that the numbers on his supposed list kept shifting. McCarthy and his allies in Congress recklessly charged Americans in Hollywood and in government with being either communists or “fellow travelers,” often ruining their careers.

Congress meanwhile passed the McCarran Internal Security Act, which required suspected “subversives” to register with the government. It also permitted the government to round up and hold those same suspected “subversives” on the order of the President. McCarthy, of course, had no real list, and finally ruined his own reputation by accusing Army brass of communist sympathies. McCarthy’s many allies, however, paid no penalty for overreach.

Fake Intelligence

In 1964, President Lyndon Johnson announced that the North Vietnamese had attempted a second torpedo attack on an American destroyer in the Gulf of Tonkin, then used the incident to get Congress to give him the power to make war.

Thanks to the press endorsing the war effort and cheerleading on the nightly news (at least until the Tet Offensive four years later), the Vietnam War led to 58,000 American deaths and over a million war deaths altogether. Covert U.S. forces, meanwhile, kick-started a civil war in Cambodia that ended in genocide after the Khmer Rouge took power. Cambodia lost over half of its population of 7 million between 1970 and 1980.

It later became clear that there had been no second attack on the destroyer in the Gulf of Tonkin; its crew had misread radar signals.

In 2002, U.S. intelligence, via George W. Bush’s administration, told the American public that Iraq had a hand in planning the 9/11 attacks and, moreover, that Iraq secretly maintained an arsenal of weapons of mass destruction that might be shared with Al Qaeda. Both claims were utterly false, yet the American press — particularly the New York Times, the Washington Post, and CNN — led Americans to believe they were true. Far from questioning authority, the press became its servant. The result: 4,500 American war deaths; at least 110,000 Iraqi deaths (some estimates put the figure at over a million); and a destabilized Middle East, wherein both Iran and ISIS (who are bitter enemies) were empowered. In all likelihood, moreover, there would have been no Syrian war had there been no Iraq War.

When the American press and American political leaders loudly accuse another country of “an act of war,” in short, the American public needs to be on the alert. Rather than marginalizing and belittling skeptics, the press and public should give them a fair hearing. Far better to have a spirited debate now than to come to the realization in the future that groupthink created catastrophe.

Hack or Leak? It’s Worth Asking

With all that history in mind, we should be grateful that William Binney, the National Security Agency’s former technical director, is shouting with everything he can muster that the U.S. intelligence community has no solid evidence that Russians hacked the Democratic National Committee. The NSA, he says, would have a record of any overseas exfiltration and could release that data without danger to national security; yet the NSA hasn’t. Though Binney left the NSA 16 years ago, he should know: he created the powerful cyber-vacuum that the NSA still uses.

Binney’s organization, Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity (VIPS), has produced a report in which they argue that forensic evidence from documents produced by Guccifer 2.0 (G2) suggests — strongly — that G2 was a hoaxer. Skip Folden, a VIPS associate and a former elite tech executive with IBM, has issued his own report that buttresses the VIPS report. Adam Carter (a pseudonymous investigator) and Forensicator (another pseudonymous investigator) have also buttressed the VIPS Report, as have cybersecurity expert Jeffrey Carr and former U.N. weapons inspector Scott Ritter (Ritter disagrees with VIPS in part but not on the basic charge of insufficient evidence).

To the extent they mention the skeptics, American journalists dismiss them as fringe. Yet the skeptics deserve a hearing. Among the important points they make is that U.S. intelligence has only identified the Advanced Persistent Threat (APT) groups (APT 28 and 29 to be precise) associated with the hacking, and not the hackers themselves. An APT is a set of common parameters — tools, modes of operation, target patterns — used by hackers. But how certain are our intelligence agencies that Russians stand behind APT 28/29?

It happens that Dimitri Alperovitch of CrowdStrike — the cybersecurity entity that analyzed DNC servers — was asked that question in June 2016. His answer: “medium-level of confidence that FancyBear is [Russian intelligence agency] GRU… low-level of confidence that CozyBear is [Russian intelligence agency] FSB.”

Skip Folden suggests that Alperovitch’s estimates equal a 37-38 percent probability that Russian intelligence stands behind APT 28/29. It’s not clear how Folden came up with that figure. We should note here that Alperovitch subsequently raised his confidence levels to “high,” but then had to reduce them again in March 2017 after realizing that his new assessment was based on phony data published by a Russian blogger. Meanwhile, in January, Director of National of Intelligence James Clapper’s hand-picked team had used Alperovitch’s “high confidence” assessment of Russian hacking of the DNC, which every major network reported dutifully without so much as a blink.

It’s hard to say what additional evidence the NSA/CIA team might have had — or whether there was any — though there are rumors that a Kremlin mole working for Latvia confirmed that Putin ordered his cyber-warriors into action. The NSA, however, didn’t consider the source fully trustworthy (remember Curveball, the wonderful gift of German intelligence?), hence it committed itself to only “moderate confidence” even as the CIA stated “high confidence.” At any rate, the January report lacked both solid technical evidence and more traditional evidence confirming Russian hacking.

Not Making Sense

Several other oddities stand out: first, why would G2 announce himself two days after the DNC reported being hacked, brag he was the hacker, and add that he had given his material to WikiLeaks? WikiLeaks exists for one reason: to give whistleblowers deniability. Normally, people don’t give material to WikiLeaks and then brag about it publicly.

Least of all would Russian intelligence do such a thing, assuming — as some allege — that they routinely use WikiLeaks to disseminate hacked data. Why would Russia implicate its proxy? Why, indeed, would Russia not only cast aspersions on Julian Assange’s honesty, but also cast doubt on the authenticity of the DNC data, given that intelligence services are known to doctor hacked documents? Why, moreover, would G2 give information to WikiLeaks in the first place, given that he had the ability to curate it and disseminate it on his own, as he showed by distributing “choice” (but actually innocuous) data to journalists?

Then there’s the forensic evidence, which shows that (1) G2 put DNC documents into a Russian template; and (2) G2 made those changes on the computer in an East Coast U.S. time zone. Plus, linguistic evidence suggests that G2 showed none of the typical speech idiosyncrasies of a native Russian speaker.

Metadata can be fudged, so it’s possible that (1) and (2) don’t matter. If that is the case, however, one must explain why G2 would drop deliberate clues indicating that he’s Russian — including leaving the name of the founder of the Soviet secret police in one document, along with Cyrillic error messages in another — while also dropping deliberate clues indicating he’s an American leaker. Tricky indeed.

Then there’s another important piece of forensic evidence: the transfer speed, which corresponds to the speed of a download to a local thumb drive rather than to an overseas exfiltration. Critics — including a few VIPS dissenters — promptly insisted that the VIPS report was wrong to assume that such speeds could not be attained in an overseas exfiltration in 2016. Signers of the original VIPS report, however, subsequently conducted multiple experiments to prove or disprove that hypothesis; not once did they achieve a transfer speed anywhere close to that indicated in the DNC metadata.

Critics have also argued that the DNC documents transfer speed may refer to a download to a thumb drive after the initial hack, yet the download would nevertheless have had to have been done on the East Coast of the U.S., since transfer speed metadata correlate to time stamp data. Why would a hacker exfiltrate data to Romania or Russia, then return to the U.S. to download the material to a thumb drive?

Inconsistencies and Uncertainties

The above inconsistencies, I should add, apply to the DNC data, not the Podesta emails. No one, so far as I know, has cast doubt on the theory that the Podesta emails were phished via APT 28. Still, the same rules of caution apply. As Alperovitch himself testified in June 2016, APT 28 does not necessarily prove Russia involvement, and even if it did, no one has proven that Russians gave the Podesta emails to WikiLeaks. There are many other possibilities.

The Wall Street Journal, for instance, reported that Republican operatives were desperately reaching out to the hacking community to locate Hillary Clinton’s 30,000 missing emails. They made contact with several hacking groups including some that claimed to have the emails and even sent samples. The Republicans told the hackers to turn over the emails to WikiLeaks, but — supposedly — offered no payment. It’s not inconceivable, however, that the same Republican dirt-diggers — or others — indeed did pay hackers to turn over materials to WikiLeaks. Even if that occurred, however, the hackers might well have been non-state actors who occasionally work with Russian intelligence, but who otherwise work independently (more on that later), and who were not under orders from Putin. Or, they may have been hackers who have no connection to Russia whatsoever.

Regarding Roger Stone’s infamous remark that “it will soon be Podesta’s time in the barrel,” which has been cited as proof that Stone had foreknowledge of WikiLeaks’ publication of Podesta’s emails, Stone explained on Tuesday that he was referring to his own research on Podesta’s consulting work for foreign governments in the context of similar complaints being lodged against Stone’s friend and Trump’s erstwhile campaign manager Paul Manafort.

Questioning the Investigation

There are worrisome implications here. First, if we are “at war with Russia”; if the hacking was “the crime of the century”; if it’s “bigger than Watergate”; why didn’t the FBI examine the DNC server, given that James Comey admitted that was “best practice”? Why did he rely on CrowdStrike’s analysis, especially given CrowdStrike’s strong ties to the Atlantic Council (created solely to support NATO and heavily funded by foreign entities) and CrowdStrike’s grossly mistaken charges of Russian hacking in other contexts?

Second, why has there been no comprehensive or coordinated Intelligence Community Assessment or a full-scale National Intelligence Estimate — weighing evidence of Russian culpability against contrary theories — by the U.S. intelligence community, given that it has known about alleged Russian election hacking of both the DNC and state voter databases for well over a year?

What we got in January was a hurried intelligence assessment put together by a “hand-picked” team from three agencies, not a consensus of “17 agencies,” as the U.S. press wrongly blared for months. If Russia had committed an “act of war,” then surely President Obama would have ordered the fullest assessment of intelligence that the U.S. is capable of producing; yet he didn’t.

Third, why would Putin order an enormous campaign against Hillary Clinton, knowing that she would very likely win anyway (and did win the popular vote). Would Putin risk the likelihood of President Hillary Clinton finding out about his shenanigans? What implications would that have for the repeal of the Magnitsky Act, for additional sanctions, for Syria, for Ukraine, for NATO funding, for the possibility of renewed Cold War? Perhaps — as James Comey contends — Putin hated Clinton so much that he was willing to play “Russian roulette.” Yet one wonders.

Has the Press Fed Hysteria?

Why, moreover, has the U.S. press barely mentioned the fact that U.S. intelligence services — and the press itself — wrongly accused Russia of the Macron hack? France’s head of cyber intelligence, after finding no evidence of Russian hacking, said this: “Why did [NSA Director Michael] Rogers say that, like that, at that time? It really surprised me. It really surprised my European allies. And to be totally frank, when I spoke about it to my NSA counterparts and asked why did he say that, they didn’t really know how to reply either.”

Think about those words for a moment; they were not meant to be diplomatic. They were unabashedly chastening.

Why, too, has the U.S. press barely mentioned the fact that German intelligence, after a months-long investigation, found no Russian meddling in its recent election (and moreover, found that the supposed Russian hack of the Bundestag in 2015 was likely a leak after all), despite U.S. intelligence agencies’ insistence that Germany was Russia’s next target?

Why do we not hear that Britain found no evidence of Russian efforts to influence Brexit, despite allegations to that effect? Why has the U.S. press wrongly reported a Russian hack of a Vermont utility; a Russian hack of an Illinois water pump; a Russian hack of north Texas voter rolls; a Russian hack of Qatari news media? Add to those examples the latest round of debunkings: there was no Russian attempt to hack Wisconsin voter rolls, nor any Russian attempt to hack California’s. Despite all the debunked stories, the U.S. press eagerly reports new Russia-done-it stories every time some anonymous source breathes a leak.

Here’s a test you can do at home:  Type “Germany Russia hacking” into your search engine and see what comes up. Then type “Brexit Russia hacking.” Then try “France Russia hacking.” You’ll get an absolute barrage of stories — hundreds of links — that melodramatically attest to Russian hacking and/or meddling in all three situations, but you’ll struggle mightily to find stories refuting those charges.

One can readily see why some curious soul sitting at home who takes it upon himself to do a little internet research would come away utterly convinced of Russian perfidy. Google here becomes an instrument not of truth-finding, but of algorithmic fake news.

Why, too, did former Assistant Secretary of Department of Homeland Security for Cybersecurity, Andy Ozment, insist in September 2016 that hacking attempts on voter rolls were not of Russian origin, but rather were criminal attempts to steal identification data for sale on the dark net? Why did DHS say as late as October that they lacked evidence to blame Russians? Were they simply protecting the nation against mass hysteria that could cast doubt on the presidential vote?

And yet the basic evidence pattern for attributing the attempted hacks to Russia (or anyone else) hasn’t changed; it’s not as if some new damning piece of evidence emerged after September. Even Reality Winner’s leaked NSA document from June 2017 notes uncertainty about the identity of the hackers. If one looks at the leaked chart showing details of the flow of hacked information, one notes that the final arrow on the left pointing to Russian intelligence (GRU) is marked “probably.” Click here and scroll down to see the blown-up chart.

Incidentally, if you think the case of Reality Winner is a bit suspect — i.e., a cleverish ruse to undermine The Intercept (publisher of the “Winner leak”) and puff up the Russia hysteria — you might want to check out this story. I withhold judgment, personally.

What I Am Arguing

Am I implicating Obama in a conspiracy? No way. Am I suggesting that G2 was a DNC actor seeking to blame Russia for a damaging insider leak to Assange? Not necessarily, but not “not necessarily,” either. There is reason for suspicion at least.

Am I suggesting that U.S. intelligence agencies are lying in order to protect massive U.S. funding for NATO and to force Russia to loosen its ties to Iran and Syria, not to mention lay off Ukraine? No, I am not suggesting any deliberate lie, though yes, wishes can father thoughts. Certainly Trump’s campaign talk of defunding NATO, friendship with Russia, and leaving Syria to Assad ruffled feathers in the intelligence community.

I am far from being a cyber-security expert, let alone knowledgeable about IT, so I write all this in modesty. And yet I find myself agreeing with experts who say that APT associations are not grounds for “high confidence” intelligence assessments, and that the American public deserves to see strong evidence not just of hacking — but of actual Russian hacking — given the magnitude of the issue.

I also find myself agreeing with cyber-security experts who tell us that U.S. intelligence agencies — as well as private cyber-security firms like CrowdStrike — tend to build the evidence around hypotheses, rather than letting the evidence lead to its own conclusions.

I don’t think there’s a conspiracy; I think there’s bias, groupthink, and boss-pleasing — in both the press and the intelligence agencies — just as there was in the Iraq WMD fiasco.

As Folden points out, there are numerous international crime organizations (an $800 billion industry last year) that might well stand behind APT 28/29. Given the sloppiness of the DNC and Podesta hacks (assuming they were hacks), what’s probable is that Russia isn’t doing the work directly, but might be paying a third party that sells its wares to bidders. Or, perhaps Russia isn’t involved.

As Folden notes, numerous states and international crime organizations have strong economic and/or strategic interests in both internal U.S. campaign information and in U.S. elections outcomes. The same observation goes for allegations of hacked voter databases. Any number of entities have both the wherewithal to employ APT 28/29 and an economic interest in harvesting voter identification data.

We should pause to note here that almost all the state database attacks were just that — attacks — not breaches. Unsuccessful attacks cannot be traced to APT groups, only to IP addresses, which are highly unreliable evidence. What few confirmed breaches there were (e.g., Illinois), moreover, did not change election results, and — as with the alleged DNC hack — can only be traced to APTs, not to actual hackers.

Here’s an aside just for fun: why would Russian hackers imagine for a second they could turn Illinois into a Trump state? Clinton won that state by a million votes. Sure, one can understand why Russians might want to meddle with voter roles in a swing state, but Illinois? More likely the hackers were criminals seeking voter identification info, which is precisely why they downloaded 90,000 registration records. The FBI absurdly claimed that Russians needed all those records to figure out precisely how Illinois voter registration works, thus to improve their dirty work. Really? They needed 90,000 records for that?

Pressuring Facebook

Of course, if the voter database attacks turn out to be no-big-deal, the press still will find some new way to exploit the Russia hysteria. The Washington Post and the New York Times — along with the House and Senate Intelligence Committees — are now investigating Russian attempts to use Facebook ads and posts to help Trump win the election. Facebook — thanks to subpoenas from Special Prosecutor Robert Mueller and pressure from congressional Democrats — has turned up $100,000 of suspicious ad buys from phony accounts.

Think of that for a moment: Russians (supposedly) mustered fully $100,000 for ads in a presidential campaign that cost $2.4 billion. Talk about bang for your buck! The current allegation is that over the past three years, a few hundred Russian trolls armed with $100,000 and 470 Facebook accounts (compared to Facebook’s $27 billion in annual revenue and 2 billion monthly users) deployed issues ads (not primarily attack ads against specific candidates) to out-brigade millions of ordinary Americans who posted campaign pieces on Facebook every day, not to mention Clinton’s public relations army.

Poor David Brock paid a million dollars for his own pro-Clinton troll brigade, but they were children compared to these nefarious Russians. It’s a feat right up there with Xenophon’s Anabasis … a tiny force of foreigners, slashing their way through the Persian hordes! Someone get an epic poet!

Of course Sen. Mark Warner, a hawkish vice-chair of the Senate Intelligence Committee, informs us that the $100,000 is just the “tip of the iceberg.” Who knows, maybe the Russians spent $200,000.

Even if these propaganda charges turn out to be 100 percent true — and even if the Russians were clever enough to target voters in the Upper Midwest — it is highly unlikely that they had more influence on the election than a host of other factors, ranging from Clinton’s bad campaign decisions to emailgate to anti-establishment fervor to Trump’s 4-Chan volunteers (did he really need several hundred Russians? Surely he had plenty of home-grown trolls).

Silencing Dissent

So, maybe the Russians did play some small role on Facebook — though I suspect this suspicion, too, will be challenged — but should we therefore conclude that we’re at war, as Morgan Freeman declares? Should we demand that Facebook and Google continue to rework algorithms to shut down posts or ads deemed pro-Russian? Doesn’t that remind anyone of the anti-German hysteria — and censorship — during World War I?

Should we demand, moreover, that the tiny Russian-owned media outlet RT register as a foreign agent — as the Atlantic Council has insisted, and as the Justice Department is now demanding — but not require the same of the BBC and CBC, which are financed by the British and Canadian governments respectively?

What about the Atlantic Council itself, which, receives much of its funding from foreign nations that seek to strengthen NATO? Should the Atlantic Council be required to register as a foreign agent? Does anyone seriously think the Atlantic Council doesn’t propagandize for NATO and for hawkish policies more generally? Or what about the hawkish Brookings Institution, or a host of other think tanks that welcome money from foreign powers?

The unspoken assumption here is that only Russia propagandizes; no other nation is so shifty. Surely Saudi Arabia wouldn’t do such a thing, nor Israel, nor Ukraine, nor countless other nations that seek to influence American policy. After all, they have their paid lobbyists and press buddies working for them every day; they don’t need several hundred trolls.

Let’s be honest, we live in a world in which foreign powers seek to influence American public opinion, just as we seek to influence public opinion in other nations. Which brings to mind a bill that President Obama signed in December, at the outset of the Russia hysteria: “The Countering Disinformation and Propaganda Act,” which created the State Department’s “Global Engagement Center,” which seeks to “recognize, understand, expose, and counter foreign state and non-state propaganda and disinformation efforts aimed at undermining United Sates national security interests.”

The act also offers grants to organizations (think news agencies and research groups) that promise to “counter efforts by foreign entities to use disinformation, misinformation, and propaganda to influence the policies and social and political stability” of the U.S. and allied nations. (Shout out to Rob Reiner; did you apply for one of those grants? Might be a good opportunity for you.)

Does no one see a problem with this?  What exactly is foreign propaganda? Is it RT’s occasional charges that the U.S. press treats Trump unfairly? Is it RT’s penchant for left-wing, anti-establishment commentary, e.g., Chris Hedges, Thom Hartmann, and Lee Camp? Our intelligence elites certainly think so, judging from the seven pages they dedicated to RT’s supposed rascally programming in the January intelligence assessment.

And what exactly will it mean to “counter … foreign … disinformation, misinformation, and propaganda”? Will it mean countering any news or commentary deemed anti-NATO or pro-Russian? Any news or commentary deemed pro-Iranian? How exactly will our government define “foreign propaganda”? How, moreover, will it define “national security”? What lengths will it take to deny the American public — not to mention foreigners — access to legitimate opinions?

Alien and Sedition Acts

Perhaps the real analogue here isn’t World War I after all, but the Alien and Sedition Acts of 1798. Of course it wasn’t Russians that President John Adams worried about; it was hot-blooded Irish radicals and French émigrés with their revolutionary idealism, which was ostensibly corrupting the nation. Ordinary Americans were suddenly refusing to vote for their Federalist political betters, and those betters determined to make them pay. Far better to jail Jeffersonian editors and drive out foreigners than to let them endanger America’s “national security.”

We are forsooth reliving the age of Hamilton, I fear, when political elites dance to Wall Street theatricals about anti-democrats while feeling virtuous about opposing “deplorables.” Just don’t expect them to care about free speech. Thanks to our government’s push against so-called fake news, both Google and Facebook have already altered algorithms to such an extent that they have pushed down readership for one old progressive venue, AlterNet, by fully 40 percent (other progressive venues have seen similar declines), thus starving them for ad revenue. Meanwhile neoconservative researchers are trumpeting inch-deep investigations into supposed Russian propagandizing that — thanks to vast funding — may get churned out for years to come.

Let’s not kid ourselves; this project isn’t about shutting down “fake news.” From the moment the Washington Post ran its infamous PropOrNot story in November 2016, the message has been clear: the real threat isn’t Russians, it’s any media outlet that fuels anti-establishment politics.

The Universality of Hacking 

All that said, it is still very possible that CrowdStrike and the intelligence community are correct to attribute at least some DNC exfiltration of data to Russians or to loose-leashed teams working as subcontractors, or, alternatively, criminal organizations that sometimes answer to Russia. The one thing that the skeptics (of whom I am obviously one) have not answered is why the CrowdStrike investigation found uniquely modified X-TUNNEL source code in DNC servers, which would seem to have been created for this particular hack.

Since I don’t have years to become a cyber-security expert, I’ll leave the technical experts to further argue that question. However, I am left to wonder whether X-TUNNEL indeed betrays a Russian hack of at least some DNC emails, but that another party altogether — a leaker — was nevertheless responsible for handing the full complement of DNC documents to Wikileaks.

None of the skeptics are claiming that the Russians for certain didn’t hack the DNC (which wouldn’t be that surprising, really; we probably hack their political entities, too). The skeptics are only claiming that G2 was an insider who downloaded documents onto a thumb drive. Both claims can be true.

I’ll add — just to be clear — that I am quite certain that the U.S. intelligence community is correct that the Russian government is engaged in broad hacking attempts aimed at targets all over the world, many of them associated with APT 28/29. But that doesn’t mean they carried out the particular hacks at issue here (or, at least, it doesn’t mean that Russian state actors were behind the WikiLeaks releases, or the attacks on state databases).

And it certainly doesn’t mean — contrary to what over-wrought bloggers claim — that Russians changed 2016 vote tallies. The answer isn’t to shout “war” and create hysteria; the answer is to secure U.S. infrastructure.

I’ll also add that even “high confidence” that Russia hacked the DNC, Podesta, and/or state databases is insufficient grounds for aggressive policy — e.g., harsh sanctions and diplomatic ejections, not to mention military action — let alone grounds for announcing “we are at war.” Suppose for the sake of argument that “high confidence” is 75 percent probability. Would we convict an accused murderer on 75 percent probability?

If we did that — and if the accused were then put to death — we would be knowingly killing 25 innocents out of every 100 we adjudge. The same logic should apply to foreign policy. We should not be taking punitive measures unless we can assess culpability with greater certitude, else we risk harming millions of people who had no role in the original crime.

Where We Stand

It seems to me that we are in uncharted waters. Not everyone can be a cyber-security expert; we must trust those who are. And yet in doing so, we put enormous powers into the hands of unelected technocrats with their own biases and agendas. As others have noted, moreover, the cyber-war community is at odds with the cyber-security community.

On the one hand, intelligence operatives are constantly developing new tools to exploit cyber vulnerabilities of other nations and criminal actors. On the other hand, cyber-security people (e.g., DHS) seek to patch those same vulnerabilities to protect U.S. infrastructure. The problem is that the people who know how to exploit the vulnerabilities don’t want to report those vulnerabilities because it means years of work down the drain. Why make your tools obsolete?

We need to resolve these contradictions in favor of security, not cyberwar.

I cannot say this loudly enough. This whole episode isn’t just about Hillary Clinton losing the election, or Russian hacking of the DNC, or Deep State bias and boss-pleasing. The upshot is that we are entering a cyber-arms race that is going to become ever more byzantine, hidden, and dangerous to democracy, not just because elections can be stolen, but because in guarding against that, we are handing over power to unelected technocrats and shutting down dissenting speech. We are entering a new era; this won’t be the last time that hacking enters political discourse.

We might already be in the midst of a cyber Cold War, though the American public has no idea — flat zero — what sort of offensive gamesmanship our own cyber-warriors are engaging in. (One interesting theory: The Russians deliberately implicated themselves in the DNC hack in order to send a warning to U.S. cyber-warriors: we can play dirty, too).

Presumably not even our cyber-security experts at the DHS and FBI know what the CIA and NSA’s cyber-warriors are up to. Thus Russian hacking becomes “Pearl Harbor” rather than an unsurprising reciprocal response. Both the State Department and the CIA, after all, have been in the foreign propaganda business for decades; the American public, however, has not the vaguest idea of what they do.

We might also be on the brink of something else nightmarish: an international cyber-war with multiple parties participating — attacking one another while no-one-knows-who-did-what.

The intelligence community’s whispered “trust us, we’re the experts” simply isn’t good enough. If we don’t demand hard evidence, then we’re following the same path we took in 1898, 1915, 1950, 1964, and 2003. Let’s not go there.

Daniel Herman is Professor of History at Central Washington University. He specializes in American cultural history and the American West.

September 29, 2017 Posted by | Deception, Fake News, Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Russophobia, Timeless or most popular | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Tehran Was Always America’s and Thus the Islamic State’s Final Destination

By Tony Cartalucci – New Eastern Outlook – 10.06.2017

Several were left dead and many more injured after coordinated terror attacks on Iran’s capital of Tehran. Shootings and bombings targeted Iran’s parliament and the tomb of Ayatollah Khomeini.

According to Reuters, the so-called “Islamic State” claimed responsibility for the attack, which unfolded just days after another terror attack unfolded in London. The Islamic State also reportedly took responsibility for the violence in London, despite evidence emerging that the three suspects involved were long-known to British security and intelligence agencies and were simply allowed to plot and carry out their attacks.

It is much less likely that Tehran’s government coddled terrorists -as it has been engaged for years in fighting terrorism both on its borders and in Syria amid a vicious six-year war fueled by US, European, and Persian Gulf weapons, cash, and fighters.

Armed Violence Targeting Tehran Was the Stated Goal of US Policymakers

The recent terrorist attacks in Tehran are the literal manifestation of US foreign policy. The creation of a proxy force with which to fight Iran and establishing a safe haven for it beyond Iran’s borders have been long-stated US policy. The current chaos consuming Syria and Iraq – and to a lesser extent in southeast Turkey – is a direct result of the US attempting to secure a base of operations to launch a proxy war directly against Iran.

In the 2009 Brookings Institution document titled, “Which Path to Persia? Options for a New American Strategy toward Iran,” the use of then US State Department-listed foreign terrorist organization Mujahedin-e Khalq Organization (MEK) as a proxy for instigating a full-fledged armed insurgency not unlike that which is currently unfolding in Syria was discussed in detail.

The report explicitly stated:

The United states could also attempt to promote external Iranian opposition groups, providing them with the support to turn themselves into full-fledged insurgencies and even helping them militarily defeat the forces of the clerical regime. The United states could work with groups like the Iraq-based National council of resistance of Iran (NCRI) and its military wing, the Mujahedin-e Khalq (MeK), helping the thousands of its members who, under Saddam Husayn’s regime, were armed and had conducted guerrilla and terrorist operations against the clerical regime. although the NCRI is supposedly disarmed today, that could quickly be changed.

Brookings policymakers admitted throughout the report that MEK was responsible for killing both American and Iranian military personnel, politicians, and civilians in what was clear-cut terrorism. Despite this, and admissions that MEK remained indisputably a terrorist organization, recommendations were made to de-list it from the US State Department’s Foreign Terrorist Organization registry so that more overt support could be provided to the group for armed regime change.

Based on such recommendations and intensive lobbying, the US State Department would eventually de-list MEK in 2012 and the group would receive significant backing from the US openly. This included support from many members of current US President Donald Trump’s campaign team – including Rudy Giuliani, Newt Gingrich, and John Bolton.

However, despite these efforts, MEK was not capable then or now of accomplishing the lofty goal of instigating full-fledged insurrection against Tehran, necessitating the use of other armed groups. The 2009 Brookings paper made mention of other candidates under a section titled, “Potential Ethnic Proxies,” identifying Arab and Kurdish groups as well as possible candidates for a US proxy war against Tehran.

Under a section titled, “Finding a Conduit and Safe Haven,” Brookings notes:

Of equal importance (and potential difficulty) will be finding a neighboring country willing to serve as the conduit for U.S. aid to the insurgent group, as well as to provide a safe haven where the group can train, plan, organize, heal, and resupply.

For the US proxy war on Syria, Turkey and Jordan fulfill this role. For Iran, it is clear that US efforts would have to focus on establishing conduits and safe havens from Pakistan’s southwest Balochistan province and from Kurdish-dominated regions in northern Iraq, eastern Syria, and southeastern Turkey – precisely where current upheaval is being fueled by US intervention both overtly and covertly.

Brookings noted in 2009 that:

It would be difficult to find or build an insurgency with a high likelihood of success. The existing candidates are weak and divided, and the Iranian regime is very strong relative to the potential internal and external challengers.

A group not mentioned by Brookings in 2009, but that exists in the very region the US seeks to create a conduit and safe haven for a proxy war with Iran, is the Islamic State. Despite claims that it is an independent terrorist organization propelled by black market oil sales, ransoms, and local taxes, its fighting capacity, logistical networks, and operational reach demonstrates vast state sponsorship.

The Ultimate Proxy, the Perfect Conduit and Safe Haven

The Islamic State reaching into Iran, southern Russia, and even as far as western China was not only possible, it was inevitable and the logical progression of US policy as stated by Brookings in 2009 and verifiably executed since then.

The Islamic State represents the perfect “proxy,” occupying the ideal conduit and safe haven for executing America’s proxy war against Iran and beyond. Surrounding the Islamic State’s holdings are US military bases, including those illegally constructed in eastern Syria. Were the US to wage war against Iran in the near future, it is likely these assets would all “coincidentally” coordinate against Tehran just as they are now being “coincidentally” coordinated against Damascus.

The use of terrorism, extremists, and proxies in executing US foreign policy, and the use of extremists observing the Islamic State and Al Qaeda’s brand of indoctrination was demonstrated definitively during the 1980’s when the US with the assistance of Saudi Arabia and Pakistan – used Al Qaeda to expel Soviet forces from Afghanistan. This example is in fact mentioned explicitly by Brookings policymakers as a template for creating a new proxy war – this time against Iran.

For the US, there is no better stand-in for Al Qaeda than its successor the Islamic State. US policymakers have demonstrated a desire to use known terrorist organizations to wage proxy war against targeted nation-states, has previously done so in Afghanistan, and has clearly organized the geopolitical game board on all sides of Iran to facilitate its agenda laid out in 2009. With terrorists now killing people in Tehran, it is simply verification that this agenda is advancing onward.

Iran’s involvement in the Syrian conflict illustrates that Tehran is well aware of this conspiracy and is actively defending against it both within and beyond its borders. Russia is likewise an ultimate target of the proxy war in Syria and is likewise involved in resolving it in favor of stopping it there before it goes further.

China’s small but expanding role in the conflict is linked directly to the inevitability of this instability spreading to its western Xianjiang province.

While terrorism in Europe, including the recent London attack, is held up as proof that the West is “also” being targeted by the Islamic State, evidence suggests otherwise. The attacks are more likely an exercise in producing plausible deniability.

In reality, the Islamic State – like Al Qaeda before it – depends on vast, multinational state sponsorship – state sponsorship the US, Europe, and its regional allies in the Persian Gulf are providing. It is also sponsorship they can – at anytime of their choosing – expose and end. They simply choose not to in pursuit of regional and global hegemony.

The 2009 Brookings paper is a signed and dated confession of the West’s proclivity toward using terrorism as a geopolitical tool. While Western headlines insist that nations like Iran, Russia, and China jeopardize global stability, it is clear that they themselves do so in pursuit of global hegemony.

June 10, 2017 Posted by | Deception, False Flag Terrorism, Timeless or most popular, War Crimes | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

US Policymakers Propose Working Closer with ISIS’ Sponsors

By Tony Cartalucci – New Eastern Outlook – 07.12.2016

US-based corporate-financier funded policy think tank, the Brookings Institution, published a particularly incoherent piece titled, “Should we work with the devil we know against the Islamic State?” The piece’s author, a senior fellow in the Center for Middle East Policy at Brookings, Daniel Byman, claims (emphasis added):

Saudi Arabia has proven a major source of terrorist recruits and financing, while the Syria-Turkey border was a major crossing point for Islamic State recruits. Both countries [Saudi Arabia and Turkey] still have much to do, but that’s the point—if the Trump administration alienates them, the Islamic State problem will get much worse. With the United States on the other side in Syria, Turkey and Saudi Arabia might send anti-aircraft weapons to Syrian rebels and otherwise escalate the fighting in ways dangerous for international terrorism—actions that, so far, the United States has helped reduce.

In essence, Byman is admitting what the rest of the world already long ago concluded – the vast fighting capacity the so-called “Islamic State” (ISIS) possesses is not only a result of immense state sponsorship, it is sponsored by two of America’s closest allies in the region – Saudi Arabia and NATO-member Turkey.

It was Turkey’s own foreign minister who inadvertently admitted while trying to make a case for the Turkish invasion and occupation of northern Syria that Turkey itself served as the primary staging point for ISIS and supplied the summation of its weapons and reinforcements required in Syria and beyond.

A May 2016 Washington Times article titled, “Turkey offers joint ops with U.S. forces in Syria, wants Kurds cut out,” would quote the Turkish Foreign Minister admitting (emphasis added):

Joint operations between Washington and Ankara in Manbji, a well-known waypoint for Islamic State fighters, weapons and equipment coming from Turkey bound for Raqqa, would effectively open “a second front” in the ongoing fight to drive the Islamic State, also known as ISIS or ISIL, from Syria’s borders, [Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu] said.

Byman confirms this with his appeal for the United States to remain aligned and committed to Turkey and Saudi Arabia.

Retroactively Blaming Syria for a War the US Engineered 

Byman continues by claiming:

Assad facilitated the flow of fighters to Iraq to kill American soldiers there after the 2003 U.S. invasion. He has supported terrorism against Israel and otherwise opposed U.S. interests. And an Assad victory would be widely, and correctly, seen as a triumph for its biggest friend—the clerical regime in Iran.

However, according to the US Army’s West Point Combating Terrorism Center (CTC) in a 2008 report titled, “Bombers, Bank Accounts and Bleedout: al-Qa’ida’s Road In and Out of Iraq,” it is admitted that not only did Syria play a significant role in fighting Al Qaeda and its affiliates since their inception, but that underground networks were involved in trafficking terrorists into Iraq during the US occupation, not the Syrian government itself.

It would state:

Syria can almost certainly do more to disrupt the traffic across the border. However, it is unrealistic to expect the regime to expend more energy, given the economic and internal political importance of the underground cross border trade to Syrian social and political leaders, and the inherent limits of the regime’s ability to enforce a crackdown indefinitely.

Byman’s other ‘moral metrics’ for opposing Syria include “supporting terrorism against Israel” and being otherwise opposed to “U.S. interests,” but neither accusation is qualified. In reality, Byman is admitting that the US is aligned with two of the largest regional sponsors of terrorism, including sponsors aiding and abetting ISIS itself, and seeks to depose the Syrian government because it otherwise opposes US interests.

Byman then claims:

Assad’s regime is the primary culprit in a war that has killed roughly half a million Syrians and driven millions more into long-term exile.

Byman also laments that an Assad victory would create more refugees still – apparently oblivious to the “successful” regime change the US carried out in Libya in 2011, leaving the nation a failed state and the epicenter of the current and still ongoing regional refugee crisis.

In his eagerness to blame the Syrian government for the ongoing war, Byman strategically omits his own direct role and those of other US policymakers who, for years before the war began, advocated and plotted for its fruition.

From the Beginning, an Alliance with Terrorism, An Alliance of Convenience

As early as 2007, US journalists like Pulitzer Prize-winner Seymour Hersh warned of US policymakers plotting with Saudi Arabia to use militants aligned with Al Qaeda to overthrow the governments of both Syria and Iran. In his article, “The Redirection: Is the Administration’s new policy benefitting our enemies in the war on terrorism?,” Hersh prophetically reported (emphasis added):

To undermine Iran, which is predominantly Shiite, the Bush Administration has decided, in effect, to reconfigure its priorities in the Middle East. In Lebanon, the Administration has coöperated with Saudi Arabia’s government, which is Sunni, in clandestine operations that are intended to weaken Hezbollah, the Shiite organization that is backed by Iran. The U.S. has also taken part in clandestine operations aimed at Iran and its ally Syria. A by-product of these activities has been the bolstering of Sunni extremist groups that espouse a militant vision of Islam and are hostile to America and sympathetic to Al Qaeda.

Byman himself, in 2009, would sign his name to a Brookings policy paper titled, “Which Path to Persia?: Options for a New American Strategy Toward Iran” (PDF), in which he and other US policymakers would advocate the use of terrorism, color revolutions, staged provocations, sanctions and a vast array of other methods to provoke war with and overthrow the government of Iran. As a prerequisite for war with Iran, the paper noted that Syria would need to be dealt with.

In 2011, it became clear that many of the methods described in minute detail in the Brookings policy paper were put into practice, targeting the government in Damascus, not Tehran.

In essence, the Brookings Institution and their gallery of desk-bound warmongers have not only advocated a destructive war they themselves calculate has cost nearly half a million lives, but have advocated both before and during the war, the state sponsorship of terrorist organizations to fuel this war.

Byman’s latest piece promoted by Brookings all but admits the US maintains an alliance of convenience with the state sponsors of ISIS – not to defend any sort of value, principle, or moral imperative, but instead to achieve a self-serving geopolitical objective at the cost of such values, principles, and moral imperatives.

Byman concludes by claiming the Syrian government is too weak to consolidate control over Syria, omitting that there exists no alternative more unified or capable than the Syrian government. He then claims that the US should continue backing the “Syrian opposition,” either oblivious of or indifferent to the fact that no such thing exists aside from ISIS and other foreign sponsored terrorist organizations. Aside from Raqqa and Idlib run by ISIS and Al Qaeda’s Syrian franchise – Al Nusra respectively, the Syrian government has already indeed consolidated control over the country’s main urban centers, including Aleppo.

For Byman and other policymakers like him, they find themselves moving imaginary armies across the battlefield that simply do not exist. In the end, the US will have to either abandon its enterprise in Syria, or pledge increasingly open support for ISIS and Al Nusra.

December 7, 2016 Posted by | Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Timeless or most popular | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

America’s Ironic “Two-Faced” War on Terror

By Joseph Thomas – New Eastern Outlook – 23.10.2016

Rarely ever does hypocrisy align so succinctly as it does within the pages of American policy and media coverage. US policy think tank, the Brookings Institution, recently provided an extreme example of this in a paper titled, “A convenient terrorism threat,” penned by Daniel Byman.

The paper starts by claiming:

Not all countries that suffer from terrorism are innocent victims doing their best to fight back. Many governments, including several important U.S. allies, simultaneously fight and encourage the terrorist groups on their soil. President George W. Bush famously asked governments world-wide after 9/11 whether they were with us or with the terrorists; these rulers answer, “Yes.”

Some governments—including at times Russia, Egypt, Turkey, and Pakistan among others—hope to have it both ways. They use the presence of terrorists to win sympathy abroad and discredit peaceful foes at home, even while fighting back vigorously enough to look plausible but not forcefully enough to solve the problem. This two-faced approach holds considerable appeal for some governments, but it hugely complicates U.S. counterterrorism efforts—and the U.S. shouldn’t just live with it.

Byman then begins labelling various nations; Somalia as a “basket-case,” Iran as a “straightforward state sponsors of terrorism” and attempts to frame Russia’s struggle against terrorism in Chechnya as somehow disingenuous or politically motivated.

Byman also attempts to claim Syrian President Bashar Al Assad intentionally released terrorists from prison to help escalate violence around the country and justify a violent crackdown, this despite reports from Western journalists as early as 2007 revealing US intentions to use these very terrorists to overthrow the governments of Syria and Iran specifically, the New Yorker would reveal.

The US is as Much a Sponsor of Terrorism in Reality as Byman Claims Others are in Fiction

But worse than Byman’s intentional mischaracterisations and lies of omission regarding US allies like Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Israel’s overt, global-spanning sponsorship of terrorism, is the fact that not only is the US itself engaged in sponsoring terrorism as it poses as fighting against it globally, the Brookings Institution and Byman have specifically and publicly called for the funding, training and arming of designated foreign terrorist groups in pursuit of self-serving geopolitical objectives.

Indeed, Daniel Byman is one of several signatories of the 2009 Brookings Institution report, “Which Path to Persia? Options for a New American Strategy toward Iran.”

The report not only reveals the blueprints of using supposedly “peaceful” and “democratic” protests as cover for violent, US sponsored subversion (as was precisely done in Syria beginning in 2011), it specifically lists a US State Department-designated foreign terrorist organisation as a potential US proxy in violently rising up against, and eventually overthrowing the government in Tehran.

The report would explicitly state (our emphasis):

Perhaps the most prominent (and certainly the most controversial) opposition group that has attracted attention as a potential U.S. proxy is the NCRI (National Council of Resistance of Iran), the political movement established by the MEK (Mujahedin-e Khalq). Critics believe the group to be undemocratic and unpopular, and indeed anti-American.

In contrast, the group’s champions contend that the movement’s long-standing opposition to the Iranian regime and record of successful attacks on and intelligence-gathering operations against the regime make it worthy of U.S. support. They also argue that the group is no longer anti-American and question the merit of earlier accusations. Raymond Tanter, one of the group’s supporters in the United States, contends that the MEK and the NCRI are allies for regime change in Tehran and also act as a useful proxy for gathering intelligence. The MEK’s greatest intelligence coup was the provision of intelligence in 2002 that led to the discovery of a secret site in Iran for enriching uranium.

The report then admits MEK’s status as a designated foreign terrorist organisation and that it has targeted and killed both American officers and civilians in the past (our emphasis):

Despite its defenders’ claims, the MEK remains on the U.S. government list of foreign terrorist organizations. In the 1970s, the group killed three U.S. officers and three civilian contractors in Iran. During the 1979-1980 hostage crisis, the group praised the decision to take America hostages and Elaine Sciolino reported that while group leaders publicly condemned the 9/11 attacks, within the group celebrations were widespread.

The Brookings Institution also admits in its report that undoubtedly MEK continues to carry out undeniable terrorist activity against political and civilian targets within Iran, and notes that if MEK is to be successfully used as a US proxy against Iran, it would need to be delisted as a foreign terrorist organisation (our emphasis):

Undeniably, the group has conducted terrorist attacks—often excused by the MEK’s advocates because they are directed against the Iranian government. For example, in 1981, the group bombed the headquarters of the Islamic Republic Party, which was then the clerical leadership’s main political organization, killing an estimated 70 senior officials. More recently, the group has claimed credit for over a dozen mortar attacks, assassinations, and other assaults on Iranian civilian and military targets between 1998 and 2001. At the very least, to work more closely with the group (at least in an overt manner), Washington would need to remove it from the list of foreign terrorist organizations.

And eventually, that is precisely what was done. MEK would be delisted by the US State Department in 2012, announced in a US State Department statement titled, “Delisting of the Mujahedin-e Khalq,” which noted:

With today’s actions, the Department does not overlook or forget the MEK’s past acts of terrorism, including its involvement in the killing of U.S. citizens in Iran in the 1970s and an attack on U.S. soil in 1992.

The Department also has serious concerns about the MEK as an organization, particularly with regard to allegations of abuse committed against its own members. The Secretary’s decision today took into account the MEK’s public renunciation of violence, the absence of confirmed acts of terrorism by the MEK for more than a decade, and their cooperation in the peaceful closure of Camp Ashraf, their historic paramilitary base.

MEK’s inability to conduct violence in the decade preceding the US State Department’s decision was not because of an ideological commitment to nonviolence, but a matter of strategic limitations placed on the terrorist organisation by Iraqi and Iranian security forces who were determined to liquidate it and who forcibly disarmed the group.

And even if the 2012 US State Department decision was based on an alleged decade of nonviolence, the policymakers at the Brookings Institution who signed their names to “Which Path to Persia?” including Daniel Byman, certainly did not apply the same criteria in suggesting its use as an armed proxy.

In all likelihood, had Iraq and Iran not successfully cornered and disarmed the group, it would be fighting America’s proxy war against Tehran on both sides of the Iran-Iraq border. MEK fighters would be carrying out US-backed armed violence against Iran and Iraq side-by-side other US-backed terrorist groups operating across the region as part of America’s current proxy war against Syria, Russia and Iran.

Daniel Byman of the Brookings Institution’s latest paper even at face value is disingenuous, full of intentional mischaracterisations meant to direct attention away from the US and its closest allies’ own sponsorship of terrorism amid a very much feigned “War on Terror.” Understanding that Byman quite literally signed his name to a policy paper promoting the arming and backing of a US State Department designated foreign terrorist organisation makes his recent paper all the more outrageous.

What is also as troubling as it is ironic, is that Byman not only signed his name to calls for arming a listed terrorist organisation, he was also a staff member of the 9/11 Commission, according to his Georgetown University biography. A man involved in sorting out a terrorist attack who is also advocating closer cooperation with listed terrorist organisations is truly disturbing.

The political and ethical bankruptcy of American foreign policy can be traced back to its policy establishment, populated by unprincipled hypocrites like Byman and co-signatories of Brookings’ “Which Path to Persia?” The US certainly cannot convince other nations to abandon an alleged “two-faced” policy of promoting and fighting terrorism simultaneously when it stands as a global leader in this very practise.

October 23, 2016 Posted by | Deception, False Flag Terrorism, Timeless or most popular | , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Nuland’s Mastery of Ukraine Propaganda

By Robert Parry | Consortium News | March 11, 2015

An early skill learned by Official Washington’s neoconservatives, when they were cutting their teeth inside the U.S. government in the 1980s, was how to frame their arguments in the most propagandistic way, so anyone who dared to disagree with any aspect of the presentation seemed unpatriotic or crazy.

During my years at The Associated Press and Newsweek, I dealt with a number of now prominent neocons who were just starting out and mastering these techniques at the knee of top CIA psychological warfare specialist Walter Raymond Jr., who had been transferred to President Ronald Reagan’s National Security Council staff where Raymond oversaw inter-agency task forces that pushed Reagan’s hard-line agenda in Central America and elsewhere. [See Consortiumnews.com’sThe Victory of ‘Perception Management.’”]

One of those quick learners was Robert Kagan, who was then a protégé of Assistant Secretary of State Elliott Abrams. Kagan got his first big chance when he became director of the State Department’s public diplomacy office for Latin America, a key outlet for Raymond’s propaganda schemes.

Though always personable in his dealings with me, Kagan grew frustrated when I wouldn’t swallow the propaganda that I was being fed. At one point, Kagan warned me that I might have to be “controversialized,” i.e. targeted for public attack by Reagan’s right-wing media allies and anti-journalism attack groups, like Accuracy in Media, a process that did indeed occur.

Years later, Kagan emerged as one of America’s top neocons, a co-founder of the Project for the New American Century, which opened in 1998 to advocate for the U.S. invasion of Iraq, ultimately gaining the backing of a large swath of the U.S. national security establishment in support of that bloody endeavor.

Despite the Iraq disaster, Kagan continued to rise in influence, now a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution, a columnist at the Washington Post, and someone whose published criticism so alarmed President Barack Obama last year that he invited Kagan to a White House lunch. [See Consortiumnews.com’sObama’s True Foreign Policy Weakness.”]

Kagan’s Wife’s Coup

But Kagan is perhaps best known these days as the husband of neocon Assistant Secretary of State for European Affairs Victoria Nuland, one of Vice President Dick Cheney’s former advisers and a key architect of last year’s coup in Ukraine, a “regime change” that toppled an elected president and touched off a civil war, which now has become a proxy fight involving nuclear-armed United States and Russia.

In an interview last year with the New York Times, Nuland indicated that she shared her husband’s criticism of President Obama for his hesitancy to use American power more assertively. Referring to Kagan’s public attacks on Obama’s more restrained “realist” foreign policy, Nuland said, “suffice to say … that nothing goes out of the house that I don’t think is worthy of his talents. Let’s put it that way.”

But Nuland also seems to have mastered her husband’s skill with propaganda, presenting an extreme version of the situation in Ukraine, such that no one would dare quibble with the details. In prepared testimony to the House Foreign Affairs Committee last week, Nuland even slipped in an accusation blaming Russia for the July 17 shoot-down of Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 though the U.S. government has not presented any proof.

Nuland testified, “In eastern Ukraine, Russia and its separatist puppets unleashed unspeakable violence and pillage; MH-17 was shot down.”

Now, it’s true that if one parses Nuland’s testimony, she’s not exactly saying the Russians or the ethnic Russian rebels in eastern Ukraine shot down the plane. There is a semi-colon between the “unspeakable violence and pillage” and the passive verb structure “MH-17 was shot down.” But anyone seeing her testimony would have understood that the Russians and their “puppets” shot down the plane, killing all 298 people onboard.

When I submitted a formal query to the State Department asking if Nuland’s testimony meant that the U.S. government had developed new evidence that the rebels shot down the plane and that the Russians shared complicity, I received no answer.

Perhaps significantly or perhaps not, Nuland presented similarly phrased testimony to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on Tuesday but made no reference to MH-17. So, I submitted a new inquiry asking whether the omission reflected second thoughts by Nuland about making the claim before the House. Again, I have not received a reply.

However, both of Nuland’s appearances place all the blame for the chaos in Ukraine on Russia, including the 6,000 or more deaths. Nuland offered not a single word of self-criticism about how she contributed to these violent events by encouraging last year’s coup, nor did she express the slightest concern about the actions of the coup regime in Kiev, including its dispatch of neo-Nazi militias to carry out “anti-terrorist” and “death squad” operations against ethnic Russians in eastern Ukraine. [See Consortiumnews.com’sNuclear War and Clashing Ukraine Narratives.”]

Russia’s Fault

Everything was Russia’s fault – or as Nuland phrased it: “This manufactured conflict — controlled by the Kremlin; fueled by Russian tanks and heavy weapons; financed at Russian taxpayers’ expense — has cost the lives of more than 6,000 Ukrainians, but also of hundreds of young Russians sent to fight and die there by the Kremlin, in a war their government denies.”

Nuland was doing her husband proud. As every good propagandist knows, you don’t present events with any gray areas; your side is always perfect and the other side is the epitome of evil. And, today, Nuland faces almost no risk that some mainstream journalist will dare contradict this black-and-white storyline; they simply parrot it.

Besides heaping all the blame on the Russians, Nuland cited – in her Senate testimony – some of the new “reforms” that the Kiev authorities have just implemented as they build a “free-market state.” She said, “They made tough choices to reduce and cap pension benefits, increase work requirements and phase in a higher retirement age; … they passed laws cutting wasteful gas subsidies.”

In other words, many of the “free-market reforms” are aimed at making the hard lives of average Ukrainians even harder – by cutting pensions, removing work protections, forcing people to work into their old age and making them pay more for heat during the winter.

Nuland also hailed some of the regime’s stated commitments to fighting corruption. But Kiev seems to have simply installed a new cast of bureaucrats looking to enrich themselves. For instance, Ukraine’s Finance Minister Natalie Jaresko is an expatriate American who – before becoming an instant Ukrainian citizen last December – ran a U.S. taxpayer-financed investment fund for Ukraine that was drained of money as she engaged in lucrative insider deals, which she has fought to keep secret. [See Consortiumnews.com’sUkraine’s Finance Minister’s American ‘Values.’”]

Yet, none of these concerns were mentioned in Nuland’s propagandistic testimony to the House and Senate – not that any of the committee members or the mainstream press corps seemed to care that they were being spun and even misled. The hearings were mostly opportunities for members of Congress to engage in chest-beating as they demanded that President Obama send U.S. arms to Ukraine for a hot war with Russia.

Regarding the MH-17 disaster, one reason that I was inquisitive about Nuland’s insinuation in her House testimony that the Russians and the ethnic Russian rebels were responsible was that some U.S. intelligence analysts have reached a contrary conclusion, according to a source briefed on their findings. According to that information, the analysts found no proof that the Russians had delivered a BUK anti-aircraft system to the rebels and concluded that the attack was apparently carried out by a rogue element of the Ukrainian military.

After I published that account last summer, the Obama administration went silent about the MH-17 shoot-down, letting stand some initial speculation that had blamed the Russians and the rebels. In the nearly eight months since the tragedy, the U.S. government has failed to make public any intelligence information on the crash. [See Consortiumnews.com’sThe Danger of an MH-17 ‘Cold Case.’”]

So, Nuland may have been a bit duplicitous when she phrased her testimony so that anyone hearing it would jump to the conclusion that the Russians and the rebels were to blame. It’s true she didn’t exactly say so but she surely knew what impression she was leaving.

In that, Nuland appears to have taken a page from the playbook of her husband’s old mentor, Elliott Abrams, who provided misleading testimony to Congress on the Iran-Contra Affair in the 1980s – and even though he was convicted of that offense, Abrams was pardoned by President George H.W. Bush and thus was able to return to government last decade to oversee the selling of the Iraq War.

~

Investigative reporter Robert Parry broke many of the Iran-Contra stories for The Associated Press and Newsweek in the 1980s. You can buy his latest book, America’s Stolen Narrative, either in print here or as an e-book (from Amazon and barnesandnoble.com).

March 12, 2015 Posted by | Deception, Mainstream Media, Warmongering | , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Brookings Institution Calls on Obama to Support a Hypothetical Coup Against Venezuela’s Maduro

By Dan Beeton | CEPR Americas Blog | January 25, 2014

On Thursday, the Brookings Institution issued a memo to President Obama titled “Venezuela Breaks Down in Violence.” As might be expected from the title, the memo (and an accompanying video) depicts an alarming situation where

Venezuela is experiencing declining export revenues, accelerating inflation and widespread shortages of basic consumer goods. At the same time, the Maduro administration has foreclosed peaceful options for Venezuelans to bring about a change in its current policies.

But, contrary to the alarmist title, the violence is only a possibility in the future: “Economic mismanagement in Venezuela has reached such a level that it risks inciting a violent popular reaction,” and further on the reader learns that actually “[t]he risk of a violent outcome may still be low…”

The possibility of such chaos is troubling to the author, Harold Trinkunas since “it is in the U.S. interest that Venezuela remain a reliable source of oil,” while “[p]opular unrest in a country with multiple armed actors, including the military, the militia, organized crime and pro-government gangs, is a recipe for unwelcome chaos and risks an interruption of oil production.”

Trinkunas, who “previously served as an associate professor and chair of the Department of National Security Affairs at the Naval Postgraduate School in Monterey, California” urges the Obama administration to take action. At the top of his recommendations is for the U.S. to enlist Brazil – “whose interests are also at risk” – in an attempt “to convince the Maduro administration to shift course.”

Trinkunas makes clear what course he wants the U.S. government to take should a crisis result in Maduro being removed from power. While one might think that such a hypothetical scenario would indeed be one when the Inter-American Democratic Charter should be invoked (Trinkunas suggests that it be used against Maduro now), that would be naïve. Instead:

…we should also begin quiet conversations with others in the hemisphere on what steps to take should Venezuela experience a violent breakdown of political order. Such an event could potentially fracture the regional consensus on democracy on a scale much greater than that of the Honduran coup in 2009. Maduro’s allies in the region would most likely push for his immediate restoration, but in the absence of functioning democratic institutions, this would only compound Venezuela’s internal crisis. The United States would need to work with key states in the region—Brazil, Mexico, Chile, Peru and Colombia—on a regional consensus in favor of rebuilding democracy in Venezuela.

In other words, should a coup occur, Trinkunas wants the U.S. to “work with” the Latin American countries it is closer to politically – and also Brazil – to help it succeed. This is in fact what the Bush administration attempted to do during the short-lived 2002 coup against Hugo Chávez, and the Obama administration worked to ensure that the 2009 coup against the democratically-elected government of Honduras would succeed.

Of course Trinkunas seems to be unaware – despite a passing reference to “distance from the United States over NSA surveillance issues” – that in recent years Brazil’s government has not shied from challenging U.S. foreign policy on a variety of hot-button issues, including over Iran’s nuclear program, the FTAA, and a planned U.S.-Colombia military bases agreement. Brazil led the South American opposition to the Honduran coup and refused to recognize the new government of Pepe Lobo following the November 2009 elections in Honduras. Former president Lula da Silva – who has hinted at another presidential run in 2018 – was always vocal about his support for the Venezuelan government of Hugo Chávez and released a video in support of Maduro ahead of the April elections last year.

Perhaps Trinkunas can be forgiven if he isn’t aware of these things; they aren’t talked about much in Washington foreign policy circles, where Brazil is still often referred to as part of the “good left” – unlike Venezuela, Bolivia, Ecuador, Argentina and other bad apples.

Why is Trinkunas so concerned that Venezuela could soon collapse into violence? He cites a number of economic factors, some vague, some not. He frets, for example, about “declining” output by state oil company PDVSA, and that Venezuela had “the highest inflation rate in the world in 2013.” But as CEPR Co-Director Mark Weisbrot recently pointed out in a contribution to the Inter-American Dialogue’s Latin America Advisor:

inflation appears to have stabilized. Inflation data for November and December show a monthly rate of 4.8 percent and 2.2 percent, putting the three-month annualized rate at 60.6 percent; the annual rate for 2013 was 56.1 percent.

Further, citing an analysis by Bank of America, Weisbrot states:

BOA sees Venezuela’s current debt as sustainable. A devaluation would not likely have much effect on the economy, as previous devaluations did not. Nor is social unrest a likely prospect, as there are no elections for two years, and most opposition protests in Venezuela tend to focus on elections…

Trinkunas attempts to cast doubt on Venezuela’s electoral process (the same one that former president Jimmy Carter called “the best in the world” ahead of the October 2012 elections). He writes, “A now unified national opposition continues to emphasize elections as the solution, but the playing field is hardly level, and elections are not scheduled to take place again until 2015.” Venezuela observers know that the opposition has been relatively unified for some time now, coming together to support the presidential candidacy of Henrique Capriles in both October 2012 and April 2013. Capriles lost both times, and last month the opposition was dealt a blow by a poorer showing in municipal elections than it had hoped. Analysts and some members and supporters of the opposition now question Capriles’ status as an opposition leader, so if anything the opposition is probably now less unified than it was prior to these recent elections.

Ironically – perhaps unaware that Brookings’ website is available to the public, as is YouTube – Trinkunas writes, “Overt U.S. criticism of the Maduro administration or efforts to exert our limited economic leverage would be grist for the mill of the Venezuelan propaganda machine; we should avoid that.” Certainly if one of the most prominent Venezuelan think-tanks called for supporting the overthrow of the U.S. government, that would simply be ignored by the U.S. “propaganda machine,” right?

January 26, 2014 Posted by | Deception, Progressive Hypocrite | , , , , | Leave a comment

Kerry says US will continue to consult with Israel over Iran

Press TV – December 8, 2013

US Secretary of State John Kerry says Washington will continue to consult with Tel Aviv about the final nuclear agreement with Iran.

“While we may sometimes favor different tactical choices, the United States and Israel have always shared the same fundamental goal,” Kerry said during a speech at the Brookings Institution’s 10th anniversary Saban Forum on Saturday.

“As we move forward in this negotiation, we will continue to consult very closely with Israel, as with our other friends and allies in the region and around the world whose input is critical to us in the process,” he added.

The top US diplomat once again tried to reassure Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu that the interim nuclear deal that reached between Iran and the six world powers in Geneva last month was beneficial to Israel.

“Let me repeat that. Israel will be safer the day this begins to be implemented than it was the day before,” Kerry said.

“And I say that because with implementation, we will then sit down with our P5+1 united colleagues and partners, and sit down with Iran, for the comprehensive discussion that Prime Minister Netanyahu has always said he favors,” he said.

“We will do so, with all due respect, with one important advantage: we will have ensured that Iran’s program will not advance while we negotiate,” Kerry said.

He also pointed out that Netanyahu’s National Security Advisor Yossi Cohen will travel to the US for “direct conversations with our Iran experts that will help coordinate our positions going forward.”

Earlier at the forum, President Barack Obama reiterated that he was prepared to increase sanctions and even order a military strike if Tehran did not adhere to the terms of the Geneva accord.

“I will say that if we cannot get the kind of comprehensive end state that satisfies us and the world community and the P5+1, then the pressure that we’ve been applying on them and the options that I’ve made clear I can avail myself of, including a military option, is one that we would consider and prepare for,” the US president said.

December 8, 2013 Posted by | Timeless or most popular, Wars for Israel | , , , , , | 1 Comment

Humanitarian Buffer Zones in Syria — How misinformation obscures the Israel lobby’s influence on U.S. foreign policy

By Maidhc Ó Cathail | The Passionate Attachment | October 15, 2012

A recent Russia Today report offers an insight into how misinformation on the internet helps to obscure the influence of the Israel lobby on U.S. foreign policy. In an October 11 report on the widening Syria conflict, the Russian television channel’s website cited an interview with an independent journalist regarding news of the establishment of so-called humanitarian buffer zones on Syrian territory. According to the RT report, citing Nile Bowie, the idea originated with “US hawks”:

“The US think-tank – the Brookings Institute – in March 2012 published a report entitled ‘Assessing Regime Change Options in Syria,’ where they specifically cite the creation of a buffer zone or a humanitarian corridor as a means to base certain rebel groups in the region [and] to project force towards the Syrian government in an attempt to topple it. So that appears to be what is playing out at the moment.”

The facts above are basically correct. There is, however, a crucial omission. The report in question — actually entitled “Saving Syria: Assessing Options for Regime Change” — was the work of the Saban Center for Middle East Policy. The Saban Center was established in 2002 when Israeli-American media mogul Haim Saban pledged nearly $13 million to the Brookings Institution. As Saban told an Israeli conference in 2010, establishing think tanks — along with making donations to political parties and controlling media outlets — is one of “three ways to be influential in American politics.” The billionaire’s sole motivation for wanting to influence policy in Washington is no secret. “I’m a one-issue guy,” Saban famously told the New York Times, “and my issue is Israel.”

It’s also worth noting that at least one of the co-authors of “Saving Syria” appears to share Haim Saban’s overriding concern for Israel. In 2006, Kenneth Pollack, currently director of the Saban Center, was mentioned in the indictment against Steven J. Rosen and Keith Weissman as one of the government officials who provided classified information on Iran to the then AIPAC employees charged with espionage.

Nile Bowie’s omission of the Israeli source of the regime change proposals for Syria appears to have been unintentional though. As recently as September 24, the Kuala Lumpur-based American journalist wrote about the pro-Israel connections of U.S. groups supporting the Malaysian opposition. So how did he miss the equally blatant Israeli connection behind the Saban Center’s blueprint for regime change in Damascus?

Bowie most likely learned of the Brookings report from “an alternative news blog based in Bangkok, Thailand covering geopolitics.” Run by a former U.S. marine by the name of Tony Cartalucci, the Land Destroyer blog (the second of ten sites linked to by Bowie’s blog) has written about “Assessing Options for Regime Change” perhaps more often than any other source. One of those pieces posted on October 3 entitled “Turkey Attempts to Trigger War Vs. Syria” even features an image of the Saban Center’s “Saving Syria.” The caption underneath the image, however, reads:

The Brookings Institution, Middle East Memo #21 “Assessing Options for Regime Change (.pdf),” makes no secret that the humanitarian “responsibility to protect” is but a pretext for long-planned regime change.

Apart from the Saban Center logo in the image, there is no mention of the pro-Israel think tank in the piece. While a site search for “Brookings” yields eight pages of results, there appears to be only one post that refers to the “Saban Center.” A search for “Haim Saban” yields no results.

In short, as long as people continue to trust dubious “alternative” sources of news such as Land Destroyer Report, the key role of the Israel lobby in pushing regime change from Damascus to Kuala Lumpur will remain obscure.

Maidhc Ó Cathail is an investigative journalist and Middle East analyst. He is also the creator and editor of The Passionate Attachment blog, which focuses primarily on the U.S.-Israeli relationship.

October 14, 2012 Posted by | Deception, Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Wars for Israel | , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Pro-Israel Saban Center Proposes New Framework for Persian Gulf Security

By Maidhc Ó Cathail | The Passionate Attachment | July 3, 2012

In the Saban Center for Middle East Policy’s newest Middle East Memo, “Security in the Persian Gulf: New Frameworks for the Twenty-First Century,” Kenneth Pollack proposes “a new security architecture for the region.” According to a summary on the center’s site:

Pollack analyzes security arrangements in other parts of the world and focuses on two options: expanding the GCC and turning it into a formal military alliance and creating an arrangement modeled on the Commission on Security and Cooperation in Europe. In weighing each option, Pollack finds that the latter can better furnish a path toward peace and security.

Any consideration of how likely Pollack’s CSCE model would contribute to “peace and security” in the Persian Gulf requires an understanding of whose interests the author and his employer represent.

The Saban Center was established in 2002 with a pledge of nearly $13 million from the Israeli-American media mogul Haim Saban to the Brookings Institution. Having once admitted to the New York Times, “I’m a one-issue guy and my issue is Israel,” Saban told an Israeli conference in 2010 that establishing think tanks was one of his “three ways to be influential in American politics” — along with making donations to political parties and controlling media outlets — so that he could “protect Israel, by strengthening the United States-Israel relationship.”

Before becoming a senior fellow at the Saban Center, Kenneth Pollack was a member of the U.S. National Security Council. While advising on American security, Pollack was mentioned in relation to the 2005 criminal indictment against Steve Rosen and Keith Weissman as one of the government officials who provided classified information to the two former AIPAC employees about Washington’s Iran policy. Presumably, all three were motivated, like Saban, by their overriding concern for the security of the Jewish state.

In light of Saban and Pollack’s profound concern for Israel’s security, “Security in the Persian Gulf” should be seen as yet another attempt to advance Israeli interests in the region by influencing American politics.

July 3, 2012 Posted by | Militarism, Timeless or most popular, Wars for Israel | , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Media Propagates Myth of Israel’s Non-Involvement in Syria

By Maidhc Ó Cathail | The Passionate Attachment | May 17, 2012

If you believe some Israeli analysts, Tel Aviv is fretting on the sideline of the ongoing multinational effort to bring down the Syrian government of Bashar al-Assad that is taking a little longer than expected. In a May 11 “analysis” for Reuters apparently based solely on interviews with Israeli experts, Douglas Hamilton claims:

With the Syrian uprising now into its 14th month and Assad still firmly in power, Israel has few options other than to sit the crisis out, unable to influence the outcome of an upheaval that is sure to affect it.

The reality, however, is that the self-described Jewish state has plenty of options available to it to influence the outcome of the “upheaval” destabilizing its northern neighbour. Its most effective option is, of course, the influence it is able to exert over U.S. policy. As Haim Saban, a prominent “influencer,” once told an Israeli conference, there are “three ways to be influential in American politics” — make donations to political parties, establish think tanks, and control media outlets.

And as I wrote last year:

The think tank part of Saban’s tripartite Israel-protection formula was initiated in 2002 with a pledge of nearly $13 million to the Brookings Institution to establish the Saban Center for Middle East Policy. In 2007, the Saban Center expanded operations with the launch of the Brookings Doha Center. Its Qatar-based project was inaugurated in February 2008 by the founding director of the Saban Center, Martin Indyk. A former research director at the American-Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC), Indyk had previously founded the AIPAC-created Washington Institute for Near East Policy (WINEP).

Keeping in mind the origins of the Brookings Doha Center, take a look at this recent “analysis” of the deteriorating situation in Syria:

The latest bombings primarily benefit the Syrian regime, analysts say, which, from the start of the 14-month revolt, has described the uprising as a Western-backed Al-Qaeda plot and its opponents as “terrorists” to justify its crackdown.

“Bashar al-Assad has said: ‘If anybody dares to challenge my rule, there will be chaos.’ What he said is becoming a self-fulfilling prophecy,” said Salman Shaikh, director of the Brookings Doha Center.

Shaikh noted there was no clear link between the regime and the bomb attacks, as the opposition has charged, “but at the end of the day, the responsibility lies with the regime because it has pursued only a security approach.”

“It is the regime who created this environment and the international community has allowed the situation to drift,” he added.

Shaikh added that a small group like Al-Nusra Front would not be able to pull off such “sophisticated” attacks without the help of “much more professional forces.”

Indeed. But instead of looking for those “much more professional forces” among the special ops forces of the so-called Friends of Syria, trust an analyst working for an Israel lobby-created think tank to point the finger at the Syrian regime itself.

May 17, 2012 Posted by | Deception, Wars for Israel | , , , , , , , | Comments Off on Media Propagates Myth of Israel’s Non-Involvement in Syria

Israel Lobby representative Joe Lieberman in Saudi Arabia advocating “substantive military aid” for terrorists

Al-Manar | May 1, 2012

US Senator Joe Lieberman discussed the Syria crisis with Saudi King Abdullah and other senior officials during a visit to the Kingdom.

Lieberman also met with Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Saud al-Faisal, Defense Minister Prince Salman bin Abdul Aziz — who recently held talks at the Pentagon with Defense Secretary Leon Panetta to discuss the Syria crisis — and General Intelligence chief Prince Muqrin bin Abdul Aziz.

“The senator is traveling in the Middle East this week, focused on the continuing crisis in Syria and other issues related to US national security in the region,” Lieberman aide Whitney Phillips told AFP.

It is the second trip to the region in three weeks for Lieberman, who chairs the Senate Homeland Security Committee and also sits on the Armed Services Committee.

The Senator has advocated further US intervention in Syria, including the arming of Syrian opposition groups against the regime of President Bashar al-Assad. And while he stressed he wanted “no (US) boots on the ground” in Syria, he was “adamant” about the need to provide more “substantive military aid”.

“At some point we simply have to say, ‘we’re going to help them, we’re going to give them weapons to defend themselves,’ and that will make them strong and more organized”, Lieberman said last week at the Brookings Institution, a Washington think tank.

On Sunday he was in Qatar, where he met with the Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Khaled al-Attiyah, Phillips said.

May 1, 2012 Posted by | Militarism, War Crimes | , , , , , | 1 Comment

NPR: the Voices and Views of One Side

By HELEN REDMOND | March 5, 2012

NPR

National Public Radio.

National Pay or Play Radio.

Spring Pledge Drive, 2012.

Hosts beg and cajole on air hour after hour, day after day for money.

They creatively and with cool music in the background alternately shame and praise listeners to pony up part of the paycheck.

And promise membership cards, mugs, and messenger bags in return.

NPR is your radio station.

Send money; get “unbiased” reporting.

Send money; hear the views “of all sides.”

According to Gabriel Spitzer.

And Melba Lara.

And Scott Simon. Host of Weekend Edition. Saturday.

Simon supported the war in Afghanistan.

Simon: “It seems to me that in confronting the forces that attacked the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, American pacifists have no sane alternative now but to support the war. I don’t consider this reprisal or revenge, but self-defense: protecting the world from further attacks by destroying those who would launch them.”

Simon says. Sir, yes, sir.

Simon’s salary: $300,648.

Biased.

Steve Inskeep. “My job is to bring an unvarnished view of what’s happening around the world every day…”

The tone of Inskeep’s voice changes when he interviews Palestinians, Pakistanis, and Iranians vs. Israelis, Saudi’s, CEOs, and US government officials.

Hostile, disbelieving, aggressive for the former.

Cordial, obsequious, passive for the latter.

Inskeep’s salary: $331,241.

Biased.

I admit I listen and I don’t pay.

Because NPR doesn’t air the views of all sides.

All things are not considered.

The so-called “experts” NPR interviews are pro-government, pro-war, and promote the ideas of right-wing think tanks. A faction of former national security advisors, defense department officials, ambassadors, ex-pentagon generals, and military commanders.

Inside the DC beltway.

The government to K-street, to think tank, to NPR pipeline.

Those are the opinions and views heard in the vast majority of stories.

I know because after stories air, I google the website the expert represents.

The websites use words like: nonpartisan, principled, independent, strong, pragmatic, quality, benchmarking, innovative, strategic, impact.

Distinguished, deep thinkers thinking about good governance, rule of law, nuclear proliferation, counterterrorism, cybersecurity, 21st century defense, metrics, kinetics, energy security, failed states, nation building, geoeconomics, transparency, emerging markets, saving behavior, managing global order.

Like the Brookings Institution.

An NPR story titled: Technological Innovations Help Dictators See All.

Weekend Edition host Rachel Martin. Sunday. She interviewed an expert.

John Villasenor. Senior Fellow.

Brookings Institution.

Martin asks: “Give us some real-world examples. How could this play out in a country like Syria?”

Villasenor: “Well, in countries like Syria, there’s no reason to expect that governments won’t take advantage of every possible technological tool at their disposal to monitor their citizenry. Smartphones, and the apps that run on smartphones, very often track location in an authoritarian country.”

C’mon Rachel! Syria?

How many Syrians do you think own Smartphones?

How many Americans do you think own Smartphones?

The American surveillance state intercepts and stores 1.7 billion e-mails, phone calls and other types of communications every day!

Why not talk about that?

They didn’t talk about that.

An NPR story titled: As Drones Evolve, More Countries Want Their Own.

Talk of the Nation host Neal Conan interviewed an expert.

John Villasenor.

The Brookings Institution Senior Fellow:

“And so, you know, unfortunately we have a long history of machines essentially engaging in killing, and so I think when people are designing – figuring out how to use drones, we have to keep in mind that, you know, there’s already been a precedent of these things and try to improve upon that.”

You lost me. Precedent? Improve on what?

Villasenor didn’t mention that American drones have killed hundreds of civilians in Pakistan and Afghanistan.

Conan doesn’t ask.

For experts like Villasenor, civilian deaths are unfortunate but inevitable collateral damage in the war on terror.

I think they’re crimes against humanity.

Drone attacks are remote control terrorism.

That is my opinion.

But I’m no expert.

And NPR doesn’t want to hear my side.

Council on Foreign Relations.

An NPR story titled: Obama sends 30,000 More Troops to Afghanistan.

All Things Considered host Michele Norris interviewed an expert.

Max Boot is the “Jeane  J. Kirkpatrick” Senior Fellow for

National Security Studies at the Council on Foreign Relations.

Norris: “…based on what you heard tonight, do you think the president went far enough?”

Boot: “I mean, the parts that I really liked and I thought were terrific were when he talked about that we have a vital national interest in Afghanistan. We have to be there to prevent a cancer from, once again, spreading throughout that country.”

The US military counterinsurgency won’t let cancer metastasize in Afghanistan.

But the troops can’t save everyone. Millions of Afghans are at the end stage.

There is no morphine to kill the pain.

An article by Max Boot on the recent clashes in Afghanistan over the burning of Qurans.

Title: Afghans Don’t Hate Americans.

The Jeane J. Kirkpatrick Senior Fellow:

“Many Americans seem to be saying that if the Afghan people don’t want us there, why should we stay? That’s dubious logic because we are not in Afghanistan as a favor to the Afghan people. We are there to protect our own self-interest in not having their territory once again become a haven for al-Qaida.”

I think the American people are right.

The US military shouldn’t stay in Afghanistan.

That’s not dubious logic.

It’s smart logic.

I think Afghans hate the troops for occupying their country and killing their people.

I can understand that. I would, too.

I don’t believe Afghans hate all Americans.

Just some.

Like Max Boot and other Senior Fellows at right-wing think tanks.

Who want to continue the war, occupation, targeted assassinations, sanctions, night raids, kill-capture operations, and drone strikes.

But I’m no expert. Nor are the American people.

And NPR doesn’t want to hear our views.

We didn’t write two books about war like Boot did:

War Made New: Technology, Warfare, and the Course of History, 1500 to Today. 

The Savage Wars of Peace: Small Wars and the Rise of American Power.

Check out the search engine for stories at NPR’s website.

Search for the following: American Enterprise Institute, Brookings Institution, Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, Center for a New American Security, Center for Strategic and International Studies, Council on Foreign Relations, Royal United Services Institute.

A ton of hits.

A ton of expert opinion and analysis of the world.

You’ll be amazed.

Or maybe you won’t.

NPR.

The voices and views of one side.

Biased.

I listen, but I won’t pay.

Helen Redmond is an independent journalist. She writes about health care and the international war on drugs. She can be reached at redmondmadrid@yahoo.com

Source

March 5, 2012 Posted by | Deception, Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Timeless or most popular | , , , , , | 4 Comments