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Bringing Down a President

By Philip M. GIRALDI | Strategic Culture Foundation | 13.09.2018

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Beyond Orwellian: Myth of UK’s ‘non-intervention’ in Syria

By NeilClark | RT | September 12, 2018

A new House of Commons Foreign Affairs Committee Report calls on the UK government to launch an inquiry into its ‘non-intervention’ in Syria. This is gaslighting on a massive scale, because there’s been intervention aplenty.

What do you understand by the term ‘non-intervention‘? Not intervening in something, I presume? It’s clear that the Foreign Affairs committee has another definition which is the complete opposite. In their ‘Through the Looking Glass’ world, ‘non-intervention’ actually means ‘intervention’. Bombing the country in question, funding, supplying and training ‘rebel’ groups to attack government forces, imposing sanctions and doing everything possible to keep the conflict going, are all examples of ‘inaction’, it seems.

“The decision not to intervene in Syria has had very real consequences for Syrians, their neighbors, the UK and our allies,” the report declares. Actually it was the decision to intervene which did that. Syria would be in a far better state if the UK and its regional allies had genuinely not meddled, illegally, in the internal affairs of a sovereign nation.

Let’s recap Britain’s role in the conflict. The former French Foreign Minister Roland Dumas claimed in an interview on French television that two years before the war began, UK officials had told him they were “preparing something” in Syria. “This was in Britain not in America. Britain was organizing an invasion of rebels into Syria,” Dumas said.

If the idea of Britain conspiring to overthrow the Syrian government sounds far-fetched, then consider this. We already know that in 1956/7 there was a joint UK/US plan to do just that. It involved agent provocateurs being deployed to stage a number of incidents, which would then be used as a pretext for invasion and ‘regime change’.

“Once a political decision is reached to proceed with internal disturbances in Syria, CIA is prepared, and SIS [MI6] will attempt, to mount minor sabotage and coup de main incidents within Syria, working through contacts with individuals.”

“The two services should consult, as appropriate, to avoid overlapping or interfering with each other’s activities,” the plan said.

If Dumas is correct, something very similar was in the offing in 2009/2010 too. Perhaps the government just dusted down the old 1950s blueprint.

It didn’t take Britain too long, when the violence started in Syria in 2011, to call for President Assad to step down. In fact ‘Assad must go’ became an obsession for the UK’s political elite, a goal they seemed determined to pursue at any cost and irregardless of the fact that among the forces opposed to Assad were al-Qaeda affiliates and other extreme sectarian groups. In June 2012, an Israeli website suggested that British Special Forces were already operating inside Syria.

Two months later, Foreign Secretary William Hague announced that Britain was to give an ‘extra’ £5m (on top of £1.4m) to Syrian opposition groups, including radio and satellite equipment. Again, how can this be classed as ‘non-intervention’?

Also that August, it was reported that the Syrian ‘rebels’ were receiving ‘aid’ from British intelligence. The Sunday Times quoted an opposition official who said that the British authorities “know about and approve 100%” intelligence from their Cyprus military bases, being passed through Turkey to the rebel troops of the Free Syrian Army (FSA).”

Writing in the Independent one year later, Kim Sengupta revealed that Britain had handed over equipment worth £8m to Syrian ‘rebels’, including “five 4×4 vehicles with ballistic protection; 20 sets of body armour; four trucks (three 25 tonne, one 20 tonne); six 4×4 SUVs; five non-armoured pick-ups; one recovery vehicle; four fork-lifts; three advanced “resilience kits” for region hubs, and VSATs (small satellite systems for data communications.”

Throughout 2013, the UK was doing all it could to escalate the conflict by pushing other EU countries to agree to arming the Syrian ‘rebels’. “It is difficult to imagine a more hopeless or stupid policy from our head of diplomacy”, wrote Neil Hamilton, (that’s the former Conservative MP and not the actor who played Commissioner Gordon in the 1960s Batman TV series), in a Sunday Express article entitled ‘Hague on path to Syrian hell’.

Things came to a head in August 2013, as Prime Minister David Cameron asked for Parliamentary support to bomb Syria. It was clear by then, that air strikes, at the very least, were needed if Assad was to be ousted. The war lobby were confident of a ‘Yes’ vote but Labour, led by Ed Miliband, voted against. Miliband correctly said that the House of Commons (for once) had spoken “for the people of Britain.”

It was this decision which is always cited as a ‘great mistake’ by the Syria hawks but they ignore what went off before, and after it. The UK government had been thwarted but they continued to push for ‘regime change’. Cameron finally got Parliamentary approval to bomb Syria in December 2015, (this time on the basis of fighting Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS/ISIL) which had gained ground in Syria largely because of the policies of the US/UK and their allies), but the BBC reported in July 2015 that air strikes on the country carried out by British pilots had already taken place. News of this only emerged after a Freedom of Information Request.

Between December 2015 and June 2016 there were a total of 51 British air strikes in Syria. This year, there has been further bombing, including the targeting of military bases near Damascus and Homs in April.

“We believe that the consequences of inaction can be every bit as serious as intervening,” the Foreign Affairs committee report states.

How can we explain this extraordinary attempt to portray Britain’s extensive and well-documented operations in Syria as ‘not intervening’? After all so much is on the public record, including, on the Ministry of Defence website, details of RAF air strikes.

A look at the membership of the Foreign Affairs Committee is illuminating. Its chair, Tom Tugendhat, Tory MP for Tonbridge and Malling, is a hardcore neocon and a former member of the Intelligence Corps. Peter Oborne, the highly respected political commentator, wrote about the ‘neocon coup’ that took place on the committee last year and warned us of its consequences. But how many were paying attention?

Other members of Tugendhat’s committee include Ian Austin, the Labour MP who likened Russia’s holding of the World Cup to Nazi Germany’s hosting of the 1936 Olympic Games, and who told Jeremy Corbyn to “sit down and shut up” when he was criticizing the Iraq war.

Then we have Chris Bryant, a signatory to the statement of principles of the uber neocon Henry Jackson Society and Priti Patel, who stepped down from the Cabinet in 2017 when it was revealed she had undisclosed, unofficial meetings with Israeli ministers. In fact, if we look at the composition of the committee and compare it to the far more balanced one under the chairmanship of Crispin Blunt, (which produced a critical report on the UK government’s intervention in Libya in 2016) it’s no surprise we’ve got the document we have.

Neocons know that after the disasters of Iraq and Libya, ‘interventionist’ foreign policies have been utterly discredited. So, the only way out is to portray Syria, however ludicrously, as an example of UK ‘non-intervention’, in the hope that some people might fall for it and support ‘rectifying’ the ‘inaction’ at some point in the near future. Perhaps in response to a non-independently verified chemical weapons attack in Idlib, later this month? The Foreign Affairs Committee report, which makes George Orwell’s 1984 look quite understated, is perfectly timed for that.

Read more:

‘Straight out of the RT propaganda machine’: MP attacked for urging UK military restraint in Syria

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

Bolton wants to sanction ICC judges who probe US war crimes

Press TV – September 10, 2018

White House National Security Adviser John Bolton wants to sanction International Criminal Court (ICC) judges who probe alleged war crimes committed by Americans in Afghanistan, according to reports.

Bolton on Monday will declare the ICC in The Hague “illegitimate” in an attempt to pressure the court which is planning to investigate the alleged US war crimes, according to a draft of his speech obtained by Reuters.

“The United States will use any means necessary to protect our citizens and those of our allies from unjust prosecution by this illegitimate court,” Bolton will say.

Bolton will threaten to punish ICC judges if they proceed with the proposal, the news agency said.

“We will not cooperate with the ICC,” he will say. “We will provide no assistance to the ICC. We will not join the ICC. We will let the ICC die on its own. After all, for all intents and purposes, the ICC is already dead to us.”

The chief prosecutor of the ICC has called for a formal investigation into war crimes in Afghanistan following the US-led invasion of the country in 2001.

“Following a meticulous preliminary examination of the situation, I have come to the conclusion that all legal criteria required to commence an investigation have been met”, said Fatou Bensouda in a statement last year.

“There is a reasonable basis to believe that war crimes and crimes against humanity have been committed,” Bensouda added.

She said US forces and CIA agents might have committed war crimes by torturing detainees in Afghanistan under a system of approved torture techniques, which included simulated drowning.

Human Rights Watch has welcomed the possibility of holding perpetrators to account for what it called horrendous human rights abuses against Afghans.

The United States — under Republican George W. Bush’s presidency — and its allies invaded Afghanistan on October 7, 2001 as part of Washington’s so-called war on terror. The offensive removed the Taliban regime from power, but after more than one and a half decades, the foreign troops are still deployed to the country.

After becoming president in January 2009, President Barack Obama, a Democrat, vowed to end the Afghan war — one of the longest conflicts in US history – but he failed to keep his promise.

Trump, who has spoken against the Afghan war, has dubbed the 2001 invasion and following occupation of Afghanistan as “Obama’s war.”

But Trump has also announced to deploy thousands of more troops to the war-torn country. Trump has said that his views have changed since entering the White House and that he would continue the military intervention “as long as we see determination and progress” in Afghanistan.

September 10, 2018 Posted by | Aletho News | , , , | 2 Comments

The Pentagon and the CIA Are in Charge

By Jacob G. Hornberger | FFF | September 7, 2018

Yesterday, President Trump, yielding to the overwhelming power of the Pentagon, CIA, and NSA, announced that he has decided to keep U.S. troops in Syria indefinitely, thereby abandoning his intention announced last March to instead bring U.S. troops in Syria home. Of course, keeping the troops in Syria has been the position that the U.S. national security establishment has been demanding of Trump since the beginning of his presidency, especially since that increases the risk of confrontation with Russia, the decades-old enemy and rival of the U.S. national-security establishment.

What business does the U.S. government have in Syria? None. Just as it has no business in countries like Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya, Vietnam, Korea, Nicaragua, Grenada, Panama, and countless others. But that is what life is like under a governmental structure in which the military-intelligence establishment is in control. It calls the shots. Everyone else — the president, the Congress, the judiciary, and the American people — are expected to yield to its overwhelming power within the federal governmental structure and within American society.

It’s worth recalling that the American people in the late 1700s were ardently opposed to large, permanent military establishments. That’s why the Constitution instead called into existence a type of government known as a limited-government republic, one whose powers are few and limited.

That all came to a screeching halt after World War II, when Americans began living under a totally different type of governmental structure, one that is known as a national-security state. It is characterized by a massive, permanent, ever-growing military establishment, CIA, NSA, and a national police force known as the FBI, all of whose powers together are vast and unlimited, including the power of the government to assassinate its own people.

Why didn’t our American ancestors favor a national-security state instead of a limited-government republic? Because they knew that the military-intelligence component of the government would inevitably end up controlling and running the government and that the other parts of the government would inevitably yield to its overwhelming power. More important, they knew that that a government founded on a massive military-intelligence foundation would inevitably end up destroying their freedom, privacy, and well-being.

A book I highly recommend is National Security and Double Government by Michael J. Glennon, professor of law at Tufts University. Glennon gets it, and he sets it forth perfectly in his book. The national-security establishment — or what many today are calling the deep state — is in charge of the federal government. As long as the other three branches understand that it’s calling the shots, it permits the other three branches to maintain the appearance of being in control. But as Glennon shows so well, it’s all just a façade. It’s the Pentagon, the CIA, and the NSA who are ultimately calling the shots, like with respect to Syria.

In fact, the South Korean people are also discovering this phenomenon in their country. In their attempt to arrive at a peaceful and satisfactory resolution of the civil war that has besieged Korea since 1950, South Korea’s President Moon Jae-in and North Korea’s president Kim Jong-un have been negotiating. In the process, they have agreed to work together to run a train between the two countries. The tracks were laid long ago and train stations along the way were built long ago. Now, it’s just a logistical problem of getting the train running between the two nations.

But it’s not going to happen. Why not? For the same reason that Trump isn’t going to pull U.S. troops out of Syria. Because the Pentagon said no to South Korea, just as it said no to Trump. Here is how yesterday’s New York Times reported the matter: “Last month, American military commanders in Seoul stopped South Korea’s plan to send a train across the inter-Korean border and run it on a North Korean railway, to test the rails’ condition.”

What? Who’s in charge of the country — the South Korean government or the U.S. military? The answer is obvious: The U.S. military is in charge, just as it is here in the United States. Like President Trump, South Korean President Kim yielded to the orders and commands of his superiors in the U.S. national-security establishment. That’s why that train between South and North Korea isn’t running.

Look at the extent to which the U.S. national-security establishment has extended its tentacles throughout the federal bureaucracy. A general, not a civilian, is Secretary of Defense. A CIA Director is made Secretary of State. A general is White House chief of staff. An FBI director is appointed Special Counsel to target Trump with removal for befriending Russia. CIA assets in Congress, the mainstream press, and who knows where else. A large number of military and CIA veterans running for Congress. A vast number of cities and states fearfully dependent on military bases and projects.

President Eisenhower warned the American people of the danger of converting the federal government to a national-security state, which he called the military-industrial complex. He said that this new, radically different governmental structure posed a grave threat to the freedoms and democratic processes of the American people. But he did nothing about it except issue a warning.

The only president to ever take on the national-security establishment has been John F. Kennedy. He took them on directly, firmly, and unequivocally. Kennedy threw the gauntlet down on their militarist, imperialist, anti-communist, anti-Russia vision for the future of America. The result was an all-out war between Kennedy and the Pentagon and the CIA, a war that did not end up well for either Kennedy or the American people. (See FFF’s book JFK’s War with the National Security Establishment: Why Kennedy Was Assassinated by Douglas Horne and also my current video-podcast series on the JFK assassination.)

While there are some who thought that Trump was going to walk in the footsteps of President Kennedy and stand up to the national-security establishment, including bringing the troops home from the forever wars in which the Pentagon and the CIA have embroiled our nation, alas, it is not to be, as reflected by Trump’s buckling under to the national-security establishment with respect to Syria and even moving in an anti-Russia direction with his imposition of economic sanctions on Russia.

Responding to the Pentagon’s decision to prevent South Korea from running its train into North Korea, North Korea’s main state-run newspaper summed it up best. Pointing out that the United States was obstructing better relations between North and South Korea, the paper correctly described it a “dim and twisted” attitude. The paper continued: “The U.S. must realize that the more the inter-Korean relations improve, the better it will be for the U.S.” The problem, however, is that it would not be better for the U.S. national-security establishment, which necessarily depends on perpetual crises to sustain its ever-growing, taxpayer-funded largess, including those crises that it itself incites.

September 7, 2018 Posted by | Militarism | , , , , | 3 Comments

Deep State Refines Hit Job on Trump

By Finian CUNNINGHAM | Strategic Culture Foundation | 07.09.2018

If this week’s media broadside on Trump were a Deep State hit job, then this is how it would proceed. First, an award-winning journalist of Bob Woodward’s august reputation publishes a searing book seemingly substantiating long-held accusations of “dysfunction” in the White House.

Then the next day to consolidate the book’s lurid claims, the New York Times, America’s so-called “paper of record” publishes an oped allegedly by an administration insider essentially “confirming” Woodward’s tell-all account.

What’s more, the sense of paranoia within the Trump administration will now be ratcheted up to levels which make normal staff working and communications almost paralyzed. It’s a perfect psy-ops to explode chaos and mistrust among Trump’s inner circle.

But who really is Bob Woodward? He is famed as one of the Washington Post reporters who exposed the Watergate affair in 1974 which forced then President Richard Nixon to quit office in ignominy. The exposé of Nixon’s wiretapping on Democrat rivals is commonly seen as the high-point of American journalism, and thus Woodward as a paragon of journalistic integrity.

But as Russ Baker contends in his groundbreaking book, Family of Secrets: The Bush Dynasty, the Watergate and Nixon affair is not all that it seems. And neither is Woodward. There is credible evidence that the American Deep State of the military-intelligence apparatus used the Watergate scandal as a way to get rid of Nixon whose febrile mental state was becoming a concern to them. Woodward, who had a background in Navy intelligence was suspiciously a prodigy journalist who rapidly rose to cover what became the scandal that ended Nixon’s presidency.

Woodward’s newly published book on the Trump White House makes a damning case of a president who is allegedly despised and feared by his inner circle. It claims that staff have engineered an “administrative coup” against Trump, preventing him from taking key decisions, and generally portraying him as a farcical figure. The book seeds the concept among the public of a necessary coup against Trump.

This is where Woodward’s prestigious Watergate reputation comes into play. His role in that affair as a supposed champion of truth and of holding power to account is then invoked to give the seal of accuracy to his book on Trump. If Woodward says the president is a basket case, then it must be so, so goes the anticipated general public reaction.

In order to drive the message home, the New York Times follows up with an oped claiming to be written by an anonymous official within the Trump administration who “confirms” what Woodward’s book is claiming.

When the Woodward book came out, there were staunch rebuttals of its claims from senior White House officials. In particular the Defense Secretary James Mattis, who was supposedly one of Woodward’s main sources, saying that Trump was an idiot who wanted to assassinate Syrian President Bashar al Assad. Mattis dismissed the book and its author as having a “rich imagination”. There were also similar putdowns from Trump’s Chief of Staff John Kelly and his ambassador the United Nations Nikki Haley.

Trump himself scorned Woodward’s book, ‘Fear’, as a shoddy “work of fiction”. Thanks to the publicity, the title has become a “best-seller” within days of being published.

The pushback from the Trump White House was of course to be expected, given the claims from such an imminent journalist. That’s why the New York Times oped is a crucial capping on the claims, especially since the oped is supposedly written by a senior administration official.

The New York Times says it knows the name of the official who wrote the piece. But it is not disclosing his or her identity, as the supposed author requests.

The public therefore can’t know the authenticity of the oped. Was it really written by a Trump administration senior official? Or some low-level staff? Or maybe not even an actual member of staff? The author of the oped claims: “I work for the president but like-minded colleagues and I have vowed to thwart parts of his agenda and his worst inclinations.”

But the main purpose is the sowing of grave doubt in the public mind and among Trump’s senior staff at the White House. The oped appears to confirm the claims made by Woodward about a dysfunctional president who is being handled by staff working in “resistance” to his “impetuousness” for the “safety of America”. It also goes further by saying that the dysfunction ultimately stems from Trump’s “immorality”.

Ultimately, it is virtually impossible to prove the veracity of Woodward’s book and the subsequent “confirmatory” article in the New York Times. Woodward’s book has been denied by supposedly “key sources”. The authenticity of the author of the New York Times oped is a matter of trust in that newspaper’s editors. The so-called paper of record has lately been a massive purveyor of baseless scare stories slandering Russia. For many critics it is not a reliable nor ethical source, as is claimed.

But the point is that a gravely damaging impact has been inflicted on the Trump presidency. His ability to rebuff critics with his customary braggadocio of slamming “fake news” appears this time to be mortally wounded.

This is not meant to be a defense of the Trump administration nor of this president. Trump’s White House certainly appears to be an unorthodox place, as indicated by the high turnover of senior staff over the past two years since his election.

Trump’s personality certainly comes across as impetuous and petty. His personal also life seems tainted with deceit and lewd scandals.

Nevertheless he is the president that Americans voted for. And so far, he has not done anything out of the ordinary for American presidents. He is the usual run-of-the-mill guardian of big business and the oligarch system of enriching the super wealthy. Trump, like most [?] of his predecessors, should also be prosecuted for war crimes over his bombing of Syria and Yemen. But all those misdemeanors and crimes are par for the course for US presidents.

The one thing that Trump has done out of the ordinary, as far as the Deep State opponents are concerned, is his refusal so far to ramp up aggression with Russia. That has always been the unacceptable problem with Trump as president for the unelected imperial planners of the Deep State.

The so-called “Russiagate” charade has failed to oust Trump due to its embarrassing dearth of evidence on alleged collusion with Russian leader Vladimir Putin. The wider American public have simply not bought into that drama which has been concocted by political and media elites to nix Trump.

Given the futility of those efforts, the Deep State may have now found at last the effective instrument with which to eliminate Trump from the White House. You enlist a “star journalist” with yesteryear’s Deep State operative experience, get the supposed paper of record to quickly “confirm” the salacious details, and then wait for the desired “administrative coup” to become a popularly demanded reality.

September 7, 2018 Posted by | Book Review, Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Timeless or most popular | , , | 2 Comments

The New York Times as Iago

Undermining Peace Efforts by Sowing Suspicion

By Diana Johnstone • Unz Review • September 7, 2018

The New York Times continues to outdo itself in the production of fake news. There is no more reliable source of fake news than the intelligence services, which regularly provide their pet outlets (NYT and WaPo ) with sensational stories that are as unverifiable as their sources are anonymous. A prize example was the August 24 report that US intelligence agencies don’t know anything about Russia’s plans to mess up our November elections because “informants close to … Putin and in the Kremlin” aren’t saying anything. Not knowing anything about something for which there is no evidence is a rare scoop.

A story like that is not designed to “inform the public” since there is no information in it. It has other purposes: to keep the “Russia is undermining our democracy” story on front pages, with the extra twist in this case of trying to make Putin distrustful of his entourage. The Russian president is supposed to wonder, who are those informants in my entourage?

But that was nothing compared to the whopper produced by the “newpaper of record” on September 5. (By the way, the “record” is stuck in the same groove: Trump bad, Putin bad – bad bad bad.) This was the sensational oped headlined “I am Part of the Resistance Inside the Trump Administration”, signed by nobody.

The letter by Mister or Ms Anonymous is very well written. By someone like, say, Thomas Friedman. That is, someone on the NYT staff. It is very cleverly composed to achieve quite obvious calculated aims. It is a masterpiece of treacherous deception.

The fictional author presents itself as a right-wing conservative shocked by Trump’s “amorality” – a category that outside the Washington swamp might include betraying the trust of one’s superior.

This anonymous enemy of amorality claims to approve of all the most extreme right-wing measures of the Trump administration as “bright spots”: deregulation, tax reform, a more robust military, “and more” – cleverly omitting mention of Trump’s immigration policy which could unduly shock the New York Times’ liberal readers. The late Senator John McCain, the model of bipartisan bellicosity, is cited as the example to follow.

The “resistance” proclaimed is solely against the facets of Trump’s foreign policy which White House insiders are said to be working diligently to undermine: peaceful relations with Russian and North Korea. Trump’s desire to avoid war is transformed into “a preference for autocrats and dictators”. (Trump gets no credit for his warlike rhetoric against Iran and close relations with Netanyahu, even though they must please Anonymous.)

The purpose of this is stunningly obvious. The New York Times has already done yeoman service in rounding up liberal Democrats and left-leaning independents in the anti-Trump lynch mob. But now the ploy is to rally conservative Republicans to the same cause of overthrowing the elected President. The letter amounts to an endorsement of future President Pence. Just get rid of Trump and you’ll have a nice, neat, ultra-right-wing Republican as President.

The Democrats may not like Pence, but they are so demented by hatred of Trump that they are visibly ready to accept the Devil himself to get rid of the sinister clown who dared defeat Hillary Clinton. Down with democracy; the votes of deplorables shouldn’t count.

That is treacherous enough, but even more despicable is the insidious design to destabilize the presidency by sowing distrust. Speaking of Trump, Mr and/or Ms Anonymous declare: “The dilemma – which he does not fully grasp – is that many of the senior officials in his own administration are working diligently from within to frustrate parts of his agenda and his worst inclinations” (meaning peace with Russia).

This is the Iago ploy. Shakespeare’s villain destroyed Othello by causing him to distrust those closest to him, his wife and closest associates. Like Trump in Washington, Othello, the “Moor” of Venice, was an outsider, that much easier to deceive and betray.

The New York Times is playing Iago, whispering that Putin in the Kremlin is surrounded by secret “informants”, and that Trump in the White House is surrounded by people systematically undermining his presidency. Putin is not likely to be impressed, but the trick might work with Trump, who is truly the target of open and covert enemies and whose position is much more insecure. There is certainly some undermining going on.

Was the New York Times oped written by the paper’s own writers or by the CIA? It hardly matters since they are so closely entwined.

No trick is too low for those who consider Trump an intolerable intruder on THEIR power territory. The New York Times “news” that Trump is surrounded by traitors is taken up by other media who indirectly confirm the story by speculating on “who is it?” The Boston Globe (among others) eagerly rushed in, asking:

“So who’s the author of the op-ed? It’s a question that has many people poking through the text, looking for clues. Meanwhile, the denials have come thick and fast. Here’s a brief look at some of the highest-level officials in the administration who might have a motive to write the letter.”

Isn’t it obvious that all this is designed to make Trump distrust everyone around him? Isn’t that a way to drive him toward that “crazy” where they say he already is, and which is fallback grounds for impeachment when the Mueller investigation fails to come up with anything more serious than the fact that Russian intelligent agents are intelligent agents?

The White House insider (or insiders, or whatever) use terms like “erratic behavior” and “instability” to contribute to the “Trump is insane” narrative. Insanity is the alternative pretext to the Mueller wild goose chase for divesting Trump of the powers of the presidency. If Trump responds by accusing the traitors of being traitors, that will be final proof of his mental instability. The oped claims to provide evidence that Trump is being betrayed, but if he says so, that will be taken as a sign of mental derangement. To save our exemplary democracy from itself, the elected president must be thrown out.

The military-industrial-congressional-deep state-media complex is holding its breath to breathe that great sigh of relief. The intruder is gone. Hurrah! Now we can go right on teaching the public to hate and fear the Russian enemy, so that arms contracts continue to blossom and NATO builds up its aggressive forces around Russia in hopes that this may frighten the Russians into dumping Putin in favor of a new Boris Yeltsin, ready to let the United States pursue the Clintonian plan of breaking up the Russian Federation into pieces, like the former Yugoslavia, in order to take them over one by one, with all their great natural resources.

And when this fails, as it has been failing, and will continue to fail, the United States has all those brand new first strike nuclear weapons being stationed in European NATO countries, aimed at the Kremlin. And the Russian military are not just sitting there with their own nuclear weapons, waiting to be wiped out. When nobody, not even the President of the United States, has the right to meet and talk with Russian leaders, there is only one remaining form of exchange. When dialogue is impossible, all that is left is force and violence. That is what is being promoted by the most influential media in the United States.

September 7, 2018 Posted by | Fake News, Mainstream Media, Warmongering | , , , | 4 Comments

The Fear of Being Labeled a Conspiracy Theorist

By Jacob G. Hornberger | FFF | August 31, 2018

One of the CIA’s most successful propaganda campaigns in its 70-year history has been its use of the term “conspiracy theorist” or “conspiracy theory” to disparage anyone who dares to question the official narrative of the Kennedy assassination. The campaign has worked brilliantly. Today American society is filled with people who have a deeply seated fear of being labeled a conspiracy theorist. The fear is almost as big as the fear that people had of being labeled a communist during the Cold War.

I was once talking to two friends and the Kennedy assassination came up in the conversation. I mentioned that I had written a book called The Kennedy Autopsy, which had become a best-seller on Amazon. One of my friends suddenly asked me, “Are you a conspiracy theorist?” I responded, “Well, yes, I guess I am.”

That was the end of that particular subject. Immediately, the conversation was shifted to another topic, never to return to the Kennedy assassination. My friend wasn’t about to engage in a conversation that could down the road to becoming a dreaded conspiracy theorist.

One of the most amusing aspects of this propaganda campaign was an op-ed about the Robert Kennedy assassination that appeared a few months ago in a mainstream newspaper. Of course, most mainstream newspapers have long been extremely afraid of being labeled as conspiracy theorists. The author began his piece by making it clear to everyone that he was not a conspiracy theorist. He then proceeded to explain why he felt that the Robert Kennedy assassination, which officials long ago concluded was the act of a lone gunman, should be reopened to determine whether the assassination was actually the result of a conspiracy.

The deep fear of being labeled a conspiracy theorist has caused many people to effectively conclude that there really has been only one conspiracy in our lifetimes. That would be Watergate. In their minds, every other suggestion of conspiracy, including the assassination of President Kennedy, is immediately put into the same category as the fake moon landing conspiracy, including the following conspiracies in the 10-year periods before and after the Kennedy assassination, i.e., from 1953-1973:

Conspiracy to oust Iranian Prime Minister Mohammad Mossadegh from office.
Conspiracy to oust Guatemalan President Jacobo Arbenz from office.
Conspiracy to secretly develop a written manual on assassination and cover-up.
Conspiracy to assassinate Arbenz and other Guatemalan officials.
Conspiracy to assassinate Congo President Patrice Lumumba.
Conspiracy to subject Americans to drug experiments without their knowledge and consent.
Conspiracy to murder U.S. official Frank Olson.
Conspiracy to destroy all MKULTRA records.
Conspiracy to invade Cuba.
Conspiracy to oust Cuban President Fidel Castro from power.
Conspiracy to impose an economic embargo on Cuba.
Conspiracy to assassinate Castro.
Conspiracy to partner with the Mafia to assassinate Castro.
Conspiracy to commit sabotage in Cuba.
Conspiracy to commit terrorism in Cuba.
Conspiracy to initiate a coup in Vietnam.
Conspiracy to assassinate Kennedy to remove him from office and elevate Lyndon Johnson to the presidency.
Conspiracy to conduct a fraudulent military autopsy on the body of President Kennedy.
Conspiracy to initiate a military coup in Brazil.
Conspiracy to concoct a fake North Vietnamese attack on U.S. warships in the Gulf of Tonkin.
Conspiracy to prevent physician Salvador Allende from becoming the democratically elected president of Chile.
Conspiracy to bribe Chilean congressmen into voting against Allende.
Conspiracy to kidnap and assassinate the commanding general of Chile’s armed forces, General Rene Schneider.
Conspiracy to cover up involvement in the assassination of Schneider.
Conspiracy to create economic chaos in Chile.
Conspiracy to initiate a military coup in Chile to remove Allende from office.
Conspiracy to execute American citizens Charles Horman and Frank Teruggi during the Chilean coup.
Conspiracy to support brutal Chilean military dictator General Augusto Pinochet.

August 31, 2018 Posted by | Corruption, Deception, Timeless or most popular | , | 1 Comment

‘Vital’ US moles in the Kremlin go missing!

By Stephen F. Cohen | The Nation | August 30, 2018

According to New York Times intel leakers, “informants close to” Putin have “gone silent.” What can it all mean?

For nearly two years, mostly vacuous (though malignant) Russiagate allegations have drowned out truly significant news directly affecting America’s place in the world. In recent days, for example, French President Emmanuel Macron declared  “Europe can no longer rely on the United States to provide its security,” calling for instead a broader kind of security “and particularly doing it in cooperation with Russia.” About the same time, German Chancellor Angela Merkel and Russian President Vladimir Putin met to expand and solidify an essential energy partnership by agreeing to complete the Nord Stream 2 pipeline from Russia, despite US attempts to abort it. Earlier, on August 22, the Afghan Taliban announced it would attend its first ever major peace conference – in Moscow, without US participation.

Thus does the world turn, and not to the wishes of Washington. Such news would, one might think, elicit extensive reporting and analysis in the American mainstream media. But amid all this, on August 25, the ever-eager New York Times published yet another front-page Russiagate story – one that, if true, would be sensational, though hardly anyone seemed to notice. According to the Times’ regular Intel leakers, US intelligence agencies, presumably the CIA, has had multiple “informants close to… Putin and in the Kremlin who provided crucial details” about Russiagate for two years. Now, however, “the vital Kremlin informants have largely gone silent.” The Times laces the story with misdeeds questionably attributed to Putin and equally untrustworthy commentators, as well as a mistranslated Putin statement that incorrectly has him saying all “traitors” should be killed. Standard US media fare these days when fact-checkers seem not to be required for Russia coverage. But the sensation of the article is that the US had moles in Putin’s office.

Skeptical or credulous readers will react to the Times story as they might. Actually, an initial, lesser version of it first appeared in the Washington Post, an equally hospitable intel platform, on December 15, 2017. I found it implausible for much the same reasons I had previously found Christopher Steele’s “Dossier,” also purportedly based on “Kremlin sources,” implausible. But the Times’ new, expanded version of the mole story raises more and larger questions.

If US intelligence really had such a priceless asset in Putin’s office – the Post report implied only one, the Times writes of more than one – imagine what they could reveal about Enemy No. 1 Putin’s intentions abroad and at home, perhaps daily – why would any American intel official disclose this information to any media at the risk of being charged with a treasonous capital offense? And now more than once? Or, since “the Kremlin” closely monitors US media, at the risk of having the no less treasonous Russian informants identified and severely punished? Presumably this is why the Times’ leakers insist that the “silent” moles are still alive, though how they know we are not told. All of this is even more implausible. Certainly, the Times article asks no critical questions.

But why leak the mole story again, and now? Stripped of extraneous financial improprieties, failures to register as foreign lobbyists, tacky lifestyles, and sex having nothing to do with Russia, the gravamen of the Russiagate narrative remains what it has always been: Putin ordered Russian operatives to “meddle” in the US 2016 presidential election in order to put Donald Trump in the White House, and Putin is now plotting to “attack” the November congressional elections in order to get a Congress he wants. The more Robert Mueller and his supporting media investigates, the less evidence actually turns up, and when it seemingly does, it has to be considerably massaged or misrepresented.

Nor are “meddling” and “interfering” in the other’s domestic policy new in Russian-American relations. Tsar Alexander II intervened militarily on the side of the Union in the American Civil War. President Woodrow Wilson sent troops to fight the Reds in the Russian Civil War. The Communist International, founded in Moscow in 1919, and its successor organizations financed American activists, electoral candidates, ideological schools, and pro-Soviet bookstores for decades in the United States. With the support of the Clinton administration, American electoral advisers encamped in Moscow to help rig Russian President Boris Yeltsin’s re-election in 1996. And that’s the bigger “meddling” apart from the decades-long “propaganda and disinformation” churned out by both sides, often via forbidden short-wave radio. Unless some conclusive evidence appears, Russian social media and other meddling in the 2016 presidential election was little more than old habits in modern-day forms. (Not incidentally, the Times story suggests that US Intel had been hacking the Kremlin, or trying to, for many years. This too should not shock us.)

The real novelty of Russiagate is the allegation that a Kremlin leader, Putin, personally gave orders to affect the outcome of an American presidential election. In this regard, Russiagaters have produced even less evidence, only suppositions without facts or much logic. With the Russiagate narrative being frayed by time and fruitless investigations, the “mole in the Kremlin” may have seemed a ploy needed to keep the conspiracy theory moving forward, presumably toward Trump’s removal from office by whatever means. And hence the temptation to play the mole card again, now, as yet more investigations generate smoke but no smoking gun.

The pretext of the Times story is that Putin is preparing an attack on the upcoming November elections, but the once-“vital,” now-silent moles are not providing the “crucial details.” Even if the story is entirely bogus, consider the damage it is doing. Russiagate allegations have already de-legitimized a presidential election, and a presidency, in the minds of many Americans. The Times’ updated, expanded version may do the same to congressional elections and the next Congress. If so, there is an “attack on American democracy” – not by Putin or Trump but by whoever godfathered and repeatedly inflated Russiagate.

As I have argued previously, such evidence that exists points to John Brennan and James Clapper, President Obama’s head of the CIA and director of national intelligence respectively, even though attention has been focused on the FBI. Indeed, the Times story reminds us of how central “intelligence” actors have been in this saga. Arguably, Russiagate has brought us to the worst American political crisis since the Civil War and the most dangerous relations with Russia in history. Until Brennan, Clapper, and their closest collaborators are required to testify under oath about the real origins of Russiagate, these crises will grow.

Stephen F. Cohen, professor emeritus of Russian studies and politics at NYU and Princeton, and John Batchelor continue their (usually) weekly discussions of the new US-Russian Cold War. (Previous installments, now in their fifth year, are at TheNation.com.)

READ MORE:

Russiagate’s ‘core narrative’ has always lacked actual evidence – Stephen Cohen

August 30, 2018 Posted by | Deception, Fake News, Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Russophobia | , , | Leave a comment

VIPS Tells Media Support for Brennan is Not Unanimous

Consortium News | August 29, 2018

TO: The Media

FROM: Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity

SUBJECT: Support for Brennan Far From “Unanimous”

As former members of the intelligence community, we feel compelled to add our voice to the public debate surrounding President Trump’s revocation of former CIA Director John Brennan’s security clearance. This action is being falsely portrayed as an assault on Mr. Brennan’s right to free speech.

We note that some of our former colleagues, a number of whom have held prominent intelligence posts, joined the protest against the President’s actions — a phenomenon that provides stark reminder that the United States intelligence community is not a monolith but rather a collection of diverse individuals with a range of opinions on many issues, including what is right and wrong, We the undersigned veteran intelligence professionals agree with President Trump’s decision to strip Mr. Brennan of his clearance.

We also note with irony that several of the former officials protesting the President’s action have themselves been associated with significant misconduct. David Petraeus, who was convicted of sharing highly classified material with his mistress/biographer, is a case in point. As experienced intelligence officers, we believe security clearances should be granted as a sacred trust and not simply a permanent entitlement that comes with a high level job.

Anyone who has read VIPS memos knows we have often expressed opposition to this President’s actions — as we have to those of previous Presidents — on important substantive issues when the intelligence was faulty.

The issue for us is broader than the clearances of Mr. Brennan. We are appalled by the willful misreading by pundits and much of the media of the nature of security clearances. They are certainly not a constitutionally protected right, but a highly conditional privilege. Its granting comes with personal acceptance of restrictions on speech and association: among other things obligating one-time holders to a lifetime pre-publication review of writings that rely on information acquired in performing their official duties.

All of us signed secrecy agreements and accepted the burden of holding a clearance. We surrendered a part of our assumed right to free speech in service of our country’s welfare and safety. Those of us under cover kept secrets from family and friends. We no longer associated freely with foreign nationals; an active clearance carries the requirement to report contacts with them.

Moreover, security classification is provided by Executive Branch authority and is expressed with orders that are subject to change at the will of the current president (the exception to this being the so-called “Q” clearance established by law to protect nuclear weapons secrets, though this is also subject to presidential authority in granting or withdrawing clearance). Federal judges do not have automatic security clearances. Nor do members of Congress. They have access to secret information by virtue of their constitutional office and a presumed “need to know” in order to do their job.

Once a person separates from the intelligence community they can continue to hold a clearance provided they are employed as a contractor working on specific classified programs. There is simply no basis in law entitling anyone to permanent clearance. This includes John Brennan. It goes without saying that individuals who are granted continued clearance out of courtesy to their former high position remain accountable in their conduct, and that the Executive can revoke such clearances at will.

Mr. Brennan’s own record is clearly tarnished. When he was Chief of Station in Saudi Arabia prior to and after the bombing of Khobar Towers in June of 1996, rather than uphold the integrity of existing intelligence he went along with the decision to avoid creating problems with the Saudis. After the attack (which was carried out by Saudi elements linked to Bin Laden and Al Qaeda), Brennan helped push the meme that the culprits were Iran and Hezbollah.

As head of the Terrorist Threat Integration Center in 2003, Mr. Brennan failed to give the State Department complete statistics for terrorist attacks. The initial publication of “Patterns of Global Terrorism” in April 2004 touted a decline in terrorist attacks in 2003 as vindication of Bush Administration policies. The publication later had to be recalled and revised when it was discovered that the CIA had left out a month and a half of data. John Brennan was in charge of that process. Instead of receiving a reprimand, however, he ended up being promoted.

Mr. Brennan has assumed the role of passive spectator in building the fraudulent case to justify the 2003 invasion of Iraq. He has claimed only vague awareness of the CIA’s so-called “enhanced interrogation” program. Physical records tell a different story. Brennan was “cc-ed” on “a minimum of 50 memos” dealing with waterboarding and other torture techniques. Senator Saxbe Chambliss noted that Brennan’s boss, A. B. “Buzzy” Krongard, told the Wall Street Journal that Mr. Brennan had a role in setting the parameters of the program and “helping to seek Justice Department approval for the techniques.”

Mr. Brennan also attempted to cover up the truth about the CIA torture. Senator Mark Udall denounced his actions in a floor speech on December 10, 2014, the day after the Senate Intelligence Committee published the Executive Summary of the conclusions of its four-year investigation of CIA torture based on original CIA documents.  The investigation not only revealed almost unbelievably heinous practices, but also demonstrated that senior CIA officials were untruthful in claiming that “enhanced” techniques produced actionable intelligence that could not have been obtained by traditional interrogation practices.  With strong support from President Obama, Brennan, who was the CIA Director, aggressively fought publication of the Senate report.  Here’s Senator Udall:

“The CIA has lied to its overseers and the public, destroyed and tried to hold back evidence, spied on the Senate, made false charges against our staff, and lied about torture and the results of torture. And no one has been held to account. … There are right now people serving at high-level positions at the agency who approved, directed, or committed acts related to the CIA’s detention and interrogation program.”

Mr. Brennan is now publicly insisting that Russia meddled in the 2016 election. What, however, was CIA Director Brennan saying when the alleged Russian meddling was taking place? Did he warn President Obama? Did he warn the leaders of the Congress? According to press reports Mr. Brennan did brief Democrat Senator Harry Reid on ties between the Trump campaign and the Russian government and Reid then wrote FBI Director James Comey demanding an investigation. However, the chair of the House Intelligence Committee has said he was not given the same briefing as Senator Reid. Introducing the weight of national intelligence into partisan politics, as Mr. Brennan appears to have done in his official capacity, is forbidden activity.

We have all held clearances and deeply believe in the importance of intelligence officers conducting themselves with professional integrity, particularly with regard to remaining unentangled in party politics. VIPS is comprised of men and women of highly diverse political views, from Republican to Democrat to Independent. We agree on one thing: when a professional intelligence officer obtains classified information they accept an obligation to appropriately report facts without regard to political leanings. This is not about being a Democrat or a Republican. It is about doing the job of unbiased intelligence analysis. That is why VIPS has, over the years, written memos challenging the intelligence basis for policies and decisions of George W. Bush and Barack Obama as well as Donald Trump.

For the Steering Group, Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity:  

William Binney, Technical Director, NSA; co-founder, SIGINT Automation Research Center (ret.)

Richard H. Black, Senator of Virginia, 13th District; Colonel US Army (ret.); Former Chief, Criminal Law Division, Office of the Judge Advocate General, the Pentagon (associate VIPS)

Philip Giraldi, CIA, Operations Officer (ret.)

Larry C. Johnson, former CIA and State Department Counter Terrorism officer

John Kiriakou, Former CIA Counterterrorism Officer and former senior investigator, Senate Foreign Relations Committee

Clement J. Laniewski, LTC, USA (ret) (associate VIPS)

Edward Loomis, NSA, Cryptologic Computer Scientist (ret.)

Ray McGovern, former US Army infantry/intelligence officer & CIA analyst (ret.)

Elizabeth Murray, Deputy National Intelligence Officer for Near East, CIA and National Intelligence Council (ret.)

Todd E. Pierce, MAJ, US Army Judge Advocate (ret.)

Coleen Rowley, FBI Special Agent and former Minneapolis Division Legal Counsel (ret.)

Sarah G. Wilton, Intelligence Officer, DIA (ret.); Commander, US Naval Reserve (ret.)

Robert Wing, former Foreign Service Officer (associate VIPS)

Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity (VIPS) is made up of former intelligence officers, diplomats, military officers and congressional staffers. The organization, founded in 2002, was among the first critics of Washington’s justifications for launching a war against Iraq. VIPS advocates a US foreign and national security policy based on genuine national interests rather than contrived threats promoted for largely political reasons. An archive of VIPS memoranda is available at Consortiumnews.com.

August 30, 2018 Posted by | Deception, Fake News, Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Subjugation - Torture, War Crimes | , , , | Leave a comment

US Intel, Media Spread Fake Reports on Alleged Russian Election Meddling

Sputnik – 29.08.2018

WASHINGTON – US intelligence officials and the American mainstream media have been propagating false Russia meddling claims to undermine pro-Trump congressional candidates ahead of the midterm elections, analysts told Sputnik.

In particular, The New York Times reported on Friday, citing unnamed intelligence officials, that US sources in the Kremlin who had warned about Russian intervention in the US 2016 presidential election “had gone silent” and now the CIA is in the dark about Moscow’s plans vis-a-vis the upcoming congressional midterm elections.

In November, US voters go to the polls to elect lawmakers who will represent their respective states at the federal level. The midterm elections will determine whether Republicans maintain control of Congress and will be seen by many as a referendum on the sitting president’s performance.

US intelligence leaders, including Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats, without any evidence have been warning that Russia will likely interfere in the midterm elections. Coats and others have also claimed that Russia is waging an influence campaign via social media.

Former US Defense Department adviser Karen Kwiatkowski told Sputnik that she had doubts about the reliability of the New York Times report and intelligence community claims.

“Reading between the lines of this article, it seems as if politicized members of the US intelligence establishment — including people like Dan Coats — are hedging their bets,” she said.

Coats and his colleagues were getting on record their ‘concern’ about Russia interference in these upcoming elections in the event of an unexpected wave of support for President Donald Trump, Kwiatkowski explained.

The New York Times report, claiming that the United States had human sources inside the Kremlin appeared to be based on false assumptions and to be part of a wider strategy to try and convince US public opinion about a non-existent Russian plot to influence the elections, Kwiatkowski cautioned.

“In terms of this article, I suspect it is wrong in its assumptions, and is part of a larger domestic propaganda effort,” Kwiatkowski said.

Kwiatkowski pointed out the remarkable lack of evidence to support US allegations of Russia’s meddling in the 2018 midterm elections.

“The American intelligence apparatus is ‘concerned’ that the Russians are trying to pick and choose candidates in midterm elections — 435 Congressional elections and 33 plus Senate elections — but they don’t have any information about this activity that they ‘know’ is happening,” the former Pentagon aide said. “This isn’t how intelligence is done. It is however how agendas are pushed, and propaganda rejuvenated.”

Former CIA Director John Brennan, who was referred to in the New York Times article, lacked any credibility based on his documented record, Kwiatkowski noted.

“Brennan is an unreliable source, extremely biased, a known liar and he’s currently angrier than usual. With his clearance suspended, he may be receiving less information from his friends in the government, and maybe that’s what he is complaining about,” Kwiatkowski said.

Former Canadian diplomat Patrick Armstrong, who once served as a political official at Ottawa’s embassy in Moscow, told Sputnik that The New York Times report was written to try and sustain flagging interest and support the diminishing credibility of the fiction that Russia intervened in the 2016 US elections.

“The writers are trying to keep the conspiracy going in the hope that the Democrats will control the House and shut down all examination of what really happened,” Armstrong said.

Fake News

However, the fantasy that Russian involvement had cost the Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton the 2016 election was supported by no evidence whatsoever, Armstrong emphasized.

“This is nonsense on stilts and only can be twisted into a question if you believe — as New York Times consumers do as a matter of faith — that Russia ‘interfered’ in the first place,” Armstrong said.

No evidence has been produced other than the “fantasies” in the unsubstantiated dossier produced by former UK spy Christopher Steele.

The only plausible content in the New York Times story was the assertion that Moscow had expelled many of Washington’s intelligence assets in Russia, Armstrong observed.

Kwiatkowski pointed out that the real manipulation of US elections was done by countries that had a historically shared culture with the United States.

The UK’s MI6 and Israel’s Mossad, Kwiatkowski said, are far more active in US elections, at many levels, than the Russians could ever hope to be.

“It’s nice for The New York Times to be able not to talk about these risks — in part because Trump is not the candidate these two countries would prefer,” Kwiatkowski concluded.

In January 2017, a US intelligence community report that contained zero evidence claimed that Moscow tried to meddle in the US election process. Moscow has repeatedly denied interfering in US elections as such actions would run counter to the principles and practices of Russian foreign policy.

August 29, 2018 Posted by | Deception, Fake News, Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Russophobia | , , | 2 Comments

What the Brennan Affair Really Reveals

By Stephen F. Cohen | The Nation | August 22, 2018

Valorizing an ex-CIA director and bashing Trump obscures what is truly ominous.

Ever since Dwight Eisenhower in the 1950s, every American president has held one or more summit meetings with the Kremlin leader, first and foremost in order to prevent miscalculations that could result in war between the two nuclear superpowers. Generally, they received bipartisan support for doing so. In July, President Trump continued that tradition by meeting with Russian President Putin in Helsinki, for which, unlike previous presidents, he was scathingly criticized by much of the US political media establishment.

John Brennan, CIA director under President Obama, however, went much further, characterizing Trump’s press conference with Putin as “nothing short of treasonous.” Presumably in reaction, Trump revoked Brennan’s security clearance, the continuing access to classified information usually accorded to former security officials. In the political media furor that followed, Brennan was mostly heroized as an avatar of civil liberties and free speech, and Trump traduced as their enemy.

Leaving aside the missed occasion to discuss the “revolving door” involving former US security officials using their permanent clearances to enhance their lucrative positions outside government, Stephen Cohen thinks the subsequent political media furor obscures what is truly important and perhaps ominous:

Brennan’s allegation was unprecedented. No such high-level intelligence official had ever before accused a sitting president of treason, still more in collusion with the Kremlin. (Impeachment discussions of Presidents Nixon and Clinton, to take recent examples, did not include allegations involving Russia.) Brennan clarified his charge: “Treasonous, which is to betray one’s trust and to aid and abet the enemy.” Coming from Brennan, a man presumed to be in possession of related dark secrets, as he strongly hinted, the charge was fraught with alarming implications. Brennan made clear he hoped for Trump’s impeachment, but in another time, and in many other countries, his charge would suggest that Trump should be removed from the presidency urgently by any means, even a coup. No one, it seems, has even noted this extraordinary implication with its tacit threat to American democracy. (Perhaps because the disloyalty allegation against Trump has been customary ever since mid-2016, even before he became president, when an array of influential publications and writers – among them a former acting CIA director -began branding him Putin’s “puppet,” “agent,” “client,” and “Manchurian candidate.” The Los Angeles Times even saw fit to print an article suggesting that the military might have to remove Trump if he were to be elected, thereby having the very dubious distinction of predating Brennan.)

Why did Brennan, a calculating man, risk leveling such a charge, which might reasonably be characterized as sedition? The most plausible explanation is that he sought to deflect growing attention to his role as the “Godfather” of the entire Russiagate narrative, as Cohen argued back in February. If so, we need to know Brennan’s unvarnished views on Russia.

They are set out with astonishing (perhaps unknowing) candor in a New York Times op-ed of August 17. They are those of Joseph McCarthy and J. Edgar Hoover in their prime. Western “politicians, political parties, media outlets, think tanks and influencers are readily manipulated, wittingly and unwittingly, or even bought outright, by Russian operatives . . . not only to collect sensitive information but also to distribute propaganda and disinformation. . . . I was well aware of Russia’s ability to work surreptitiously within the United States, cultivating relationships with individuals who wield actual or potential power. . . . These Russian agents are well trained in the art of deception. They troll political, business and cultural waters in search of gullible or unprincipled individuals who become pliant in the hands of their Russian puppet masters. Too often, those puppets are found.”

All this, Brennan assures readers, is based on his “deep insight.” All the rest of us, it seems, are constantly susceptible to “Russian puppet masters” under our beds, at work, on our computers. Clearly, there must be no “cooperation” with the Kremlin’s grand “Puppet Master,” as Trump said he wanted early on. (People who wonder what and when Obama knew about the unfolding Russiagate saga need to ask why he would keep such a person so close for so long.)

And yet, scores of former intelligence and military officials rallied around this unvarnished John Brennan, even though, they said, they did not entirely share his opinions. This too is revealing. They did so, it seems clear enough, out of their professional corporate identity, which Brennan represented and Trump was degrading by challenging the intelligences agencies’ (implicitly including his own) Russiagate allegations against him. It’s a misnomer to term these people representatives of a hidden “deep state.” In recent years, they have been amply visible on television and newspaper op-ed pages. Instead, they see and present themselves as members of a fully empowered and essential fourth branch of government. This too has gone largely undiscussed while nightingales of the Fourth Branch – such as David Ignatius and Joe Scarborough in the pages of the Washington Post – have been in full voice.

The result is, of course – and no less ominous – to criminalize any advocacy of “cooperating with Russia,” or détente, as Trump sought to do in Helsinki with Putin. Still more, a full-fledged Russophobic hysteria is sweeping through the American political-media establishment, from Brennan and – pending actual evidence against her – those who engineered the arrest of Maria Butina (imagine how this endangers young Americans networking in Russia) to the senators now preparing new “crippling sanctions” against Moscow and the editors and producers at the Times, Post, CNN, and MSNBC. (However powerful, how representative are these elites when surveys indicate that a majority of the American people still prefer good relations with Moscow?) As the dangers grow of actual war with Russia – again, from Ukraine and the Baltic region to Syria – the capacity of US policymakers, above all the president, are increasingly diminished. To be fair, Brennan may only be a symptom of this profound American crisis, some say the worst since the Civil War.

Finally, there was a time when many Democrats, certainly liberal Democrats, could be counted on to resist this kind of hysteria and, yes, spreading neo-McCarthyism. (Brennan’s defenders accuse Trump of McCarthyism, but Brennan’s charge of treason without presenting any actual evidence was quintessential McCarthy.) After all, civil liberties, including freedom of speech, are directly involved – and not only Brennan’s and Trump’s. But Democratic members of Congress and pro-Democratic media outlets are in the forefront of the new anti-Russian hysteria, with only a few exceptions. Thus a generally liberal historian tells CNN viewers that “Brennan is an American hero. His tenure at the CIA was impeccable. We owe him so much.” Elsewhere the same historian assures readers, “There has always been a bipartisan spirit of support since the CIA was created in the Cold War.” In the same vein, two Post reporters write of the FBI’s “once venerated reputation.”

Is this liberal historical amnesia? Is it professional incompetence? A quick Google search would reveal Brennan’s less than “impeccable” record, FBI misdeeds under and after Hoover, as well as the Senate’s 1975 Church Committee’s investigation of the CIA and other intelligence agencies’ very serious abuses of their power. Or have liberals’ hatred of Trump nullified their own principles? The critical-minded Russian adage would say, “All three explanations are worst.”

Stephen F. Cohen, professor emeritus of Russian studies and politics at NYU and Princeton, and John Batchelor continue their (usually) weekly discussions of the new US-Russian Cold War. (Previous installments, now in their fifth year, are at TheNation.com.)

Stephen F. Cohen is a professor emeritus of Russian studies and politics at New York University and Princeton University and a contributing editor of The Nation.

August 23, 2018 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Fake News, Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Progressive Hypocrite, Russophobia, Timeless or most popular | , | Leave a comment

CIA-Backed Firm Tipped Off Facebook to ‘Inauthentic’ Accounts

Sputnik – August 22, 2018

Facebook removed 652 pages, groups and accounts on Tuesday for “coordinated inauthentic behavior” after it was tipped off to the accounts by FireEye, a cybersecurity firm bankrolled by the Central Intelligence Agency.

The company has attributed the operators of the newly removed accounts to the usual scapegoats: Russia and Iran.

“These were distinct campaigns, and we have not identified any links or coordination between them,” the company said.

​Twitter quickly followed suit. “Working with our industry peers today, we have suspended 284 accounts from Twitter for engaging in coordinated manipulation,” Twitter said in a Tuesday statement. “Based on our existing analysis, it appears many of these accounts originated from Iran.”

“The thing that strikes me the most is that it’s so convenient, that all of these pages that Facebook has been taking down and that Twitter has been limiting, are all somehow related — or they say they’re related — to governments or movements or news sources that aren’t very friendly to the United States or that the United States government wants to overthrow,” web developer and technologist Chris Garaffa told Radio Sputnik’s By Any Means Necessary.

Russia. Iran. TeleSur. Venezuela Analysis. There was a Haitian liberation page that was taken down last week on Facebook as well.”

“You don’t see any German pages, you don’t see any British pages coming down, even if they are doing some sort of sketchy activity,” Garaffa added.

According to Facebook’s head of Cybersecurity Policy, Nathaniel Gleicher, the social media giant got a tip from FireEye, a cybersecurity firm that has received venture capital funding by the CIA since 2009. In a statement, the CIA’s investment arm said it will maintain a “strategic partnership” with FireEye, calling it a “critical addition to our strategic investment portfolio for security technologies.”

The CIA’s venture capital arm is known as In-Q-Tel, which describes itself as a “not-for-profit strategic investor” on its website.

The company was one of the few cyber firms to forensically analyze the alleged hack of the Democratic National Committee. A spokesman for the firm told Defense One that the hackers “wanted experts and policymakers to know that Russia is behind it.”

In March 2017, FireEye CEO Kevin Mandia, a former Air Force cyber crimes investigator, told the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence that the company was able to attribute the blame to Russia based off of “deduction” and “process of elimination.”

One part of the network FireEye identified to Facebook was a page called Quest 4 Truth. According to Gleicher, it “claims to be an independent Iranian media organization, but is in fact linked to Press TV, an English-language news network affiliated with Iranian state media.”

Facebook removed the page of TeleSur English, an English language media outlet primarily funded by Venezuela, August 13, the second time this year it has done so.

“We’re still investigating, and we have shared what we know with the US and UK governments,” Gleicher wrote. “Since there are US sanctions involving Iran, we’ve also briefed the US Treasury and State Departments.”

“The social media companies are by and large American companies, and they want to be in favor with the US government,” Garaffa told By Any Means Necessary hosts Eugene Puryear and Sean Blackmon. “They will do the bidding of the US government when it comes to data collection [and] when it comes to taking down pages that are not acceptable.”

“It’s a huge PR weapon that the American government has that almost no one else does,” he added.

The investigation came in three parts, according to Facebook. The first netted 74 Facebook pages, 70 accounts, three groups and 76 accounts on Instagram, which is owned by Facebook. Some $6,000 was spent on ads on the platforms, and three events were created.

The second stage included 12 Facebook pages, 66 Facebook accounts and nine Instagram accounts. No money was spent on advertising, and none of the pages had associated events.

The third part of the investigation found 168 Facebook pages, 140 Facebook accounts and 31 Instagram accounts; 25 events were created, and more than $6,000 was spent on ads.

According to Facebook, many of the pages masqueraded as news organizations. Some real news organizations have reported that the accounts were seeking to influence the US midterm elections, but in reality, Facebook just said one of the account groups was discovered as the company stepped up investigation efforts ahead of the midterms.

“Finally, we’ve removed pages, groups and accounts that can be linked to sources the US government has previously identified as Russian military intelligence services,” the company said. “This more recent activity focused on politics in Syria and Ukraine. For example, they are associated with Inside Syria Media Center, which the Atlantic Council and other organizations have identified for covertly spreading pro-Russian and pro-Assad content.”

Facebook has partnered with the Digital Forensics Research Lab to combat so-called fake news. It’s worth noting DFL is an arm of the neoconservative Atlantic Council think tank, which is primarily funded by NATO, Gulf monarchies and the US defense industry.

“The shuttering of progressive media amidst the ‘fake news’ and Russiagate hysteria is what activists been warning all along — tech companies, working in concert with think tanks stacked with CIA officials and defense contractors, shouldn’t have the power to curate our reality to make those already rendered invisible even more obsolete,” Abby Martin, host of “The Empire Files” on TeleSur English, told Sputnik News after Facebook temporarily unpublished the TeleSur English page. “The Empire Files” announced on Wednesday that they were forced to shut down because of US sanctions.

“The Atlantic Council is like a who’s who of the extremely wealthy and NATO countries and allies,” Garaffa said. Since the “content moderation” partnership, there’s been a “massive uptick in removing of any content that goes against the mass media, US propaganda line.”

“So they have this unprecedented control over the narrative and the information that we can see, and these are private companies, but ultimately because of their relationship with the state, they are serving the interests of the state, and the state is actually serving to protect these companies’ interests as well.”

Facebook’s last round of bans came on July 31. That time, the company made no attempt to publicly identify who was behind the “bad actors” on their platform, but said that activity displayed by them was consistent with previously identified activity from the allegedly Kremlin-run troll farm the Internet Research Agency.

That ban included 32 pages and accounts and the main counter-protest to the Unite the Right 2.0 rally held in Washington, DC on August 12 — the one-year anniversary to the deadly Charlottesville, Virginia, protest. One of the six administrators on the account supposedly displayed inauthentic activity. The other five were totally legitimate, the company admitted.

The bans on Tuesday follow a long line of similar ones issued by the company since the 2016 election. The company banned 470 supposedly fake Russian accounts in September 2017; then, on April 3, Facebook banned 70 Facebook accounts, 65 Instagram accounts and 138 Facebook pages allegedly controlled by the Internet Research Agency.

Garaffa underscored the power social media giants wield, as they’re relied on “much more now than most people did on television or newspaper news, because the stream is always on. You’re not picking up the morning edition of the paper, you’re looking at what happened in the last five minutes.”

August 22, 2018 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Deception, Full Spectrum Dominance | , , , , , , , | 2 Comments