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It’s a Lie, We Never Knew of Interference and Would Never Allow It – Ex-Ecuadorian President Correa

© AFP 2019 / JOHN THYS
Sputnik – July 17, 2019

Earlier, CNN published a report based on what it termed “exclusive documents”, accusing Julian Assange of meddling in the 2016 US elections. In an interview with Sputnik, Correa shared his perspective on Assange, CNN’s ‘prejudice’, EU-US relations and more.

Sputnik: What do you think about a CNN story claiming that Assange has meddled in the US 2016 election from Ecuadorian embassy?

Rafael Correa: It is already known. This is the same story when the US intended to invade Iraq and media, starting with CNN, created the whole campaign, claiming that there were weapons of mass destruction. So that even good people could applaud the invasion of the country and the war, which claimed more than a hundred thousand lives among civilians, not counting military personnel.

The same was made with Assange. This is all lynching in the media, this is all a show, so that when he is extradited to the US, he could be sentenced to a life term in prison, a disproportionate penalty that even good people may welcome.

It is already a commonly known strategy, an installation, concocted by certain media. We were not aware of Assange’s intelligence activities. They have not proved it in this story. It is merely a show. That there is some video footage where he walks with a bag and now they claim – they know what was inside of this bag…no, this story tells Mueller’s report. That means that CNN in its investigation uses side sources and cannot be responsible for that?

There are two things. First we were shown this. Secondly, we would not have allowed it if we knew of it. Did not prove that it really happened. The same staging that they want to prove, are the claims about spying activity from the embassy, which Assange – together with Russians – made a centre of special operation and that we allegedly knew this and protected him.

First, they have not proved it. I cannot be deceived with this show. Second, it is a lie. If there was any meddling/spying, we would know about it and would never allow it.

Sputnik: Good. So, when you told the government to cut Assange’s Internet access, it was not because you knew that he spied or meddled in US elections?

Rafael Correa: This happened because [Assange] published information that harmed the [US presidential] candidates. I don’t know how he got it. Maybe, he copied it from somewhere – how am I supposed to know? There is a difference between spying on the US Democratic Party, [working with] a Russian hacker from the Ecuadorean embassy in London, or [getting information] from the Internet. What is clear is that he sent messages that harmed Hillary Clinton. And this is wrong. We don’t like when [other countries] interfere in [our] internal affairs. I wouldn’t have liked if a foreign nation meddled in the presidential elections in Ecuador. Just like any other nation, we would not allow it, we respect other nations’ sovereignty.

Assange had been warned several times. He failed to comply with [asylum agreement] terms and continued to publish information that only harmed one side; this was not balanced information about [both] Clinton and Trump. It was only a negative information on Hillary Clinton. We could not accept it. This is why I personally ordered Assange’s internet connection to be cut on 17 October 2016, ahead of 8 November 2016 elections in the US.

Sputnik: What’s your opinion, why is Russia always blamed for everything related to Assange? For example, CNN mentions Russian nationals who visited Assange in the embassy.

Rafael Correa: It’s a geopolitical matter. Yesterday, I had an interview with CNN’s Patricia Ramos, in which she demonstrated the falseness of her prejudice. She considers it a proven fact that the Russian embassy engaged in the operation, but it’s a lie that the Russians were there, it’s a lie.

So, you know, she asked: why didn’t [embassy personal] search those hackers that visited [the embassy], those German hackers?

If you don’t like someone, it does not mean he’s a hacker. Presumption of innocence is a human right. Just because CNN does not like someone, we won’t deny them entry to the embassy and humiliate them with searches. They don’t understand that, they believe themselves the masters of the world. But, obviously, mentioning Russia is geopolitical. In other cases, they would mention China. They are US’s world rivals.

Imagine a different situation; as if an Australian programmer or hacker hid in the UK embassy in [Ecuadorian capital city of] Quito, because he got his hands on confidential information on Russia and China and discovered war crimes committed by these countries.

Imagine him staying [in the embassy] for seven years – they would have already invaded [Ecuador], am I right? And if that man left the embassy, they would have put him a memorial in Washington or next to Big Ben in London. But, since it’s Assange, who got his hands on information about the US, he must be crushed, he must be denied asylum, he must be next to be crucified. This an international double morality.

Sputnik:  Recently, the UK Foreign Secretary said that he would not extradite Assange to any country where his life would be threatened. What is your opinion on this statement?

Rafael Correa: They often play with words. […] Yes, [Assange] won’t receive a death penalty, but, if he gets sentenced to life in prison, or a 30-year term, it’s absolutely [too strict a] measure for what he’s done.

We do not necessarily agree with his actions. We have not granted him asylum because we agreed with his actions. I believe that every country must have confidential information for security’s sake, but it also should not commit war crimes like the US did. Assange was granted asylum because there were no guarantees – and there are still no guarantees – of proper prosecution. In reality, there’s a media lynching going on, there were threats made by US hawks to judge [Assange] in accordance to laws that imply a death sentence.

There is no guarantee of a proper judgement. The British are playing with words a little bit.

Sputnik: Do you think Europe acts as an ally to the US?

Rafael Correa: I think the European Union has a bit more independence now. The world in the 21st century undergoes a sway towards the right-wing, towards liberal capitalism, towards the so-called liberal democracy – if only it was real. A democracy is based on a rule of law, and the law works in someone’s favor.

I will provide the same example I provided earlier: if Assange stole Russia’s and China’s secret documents and hid in the UK embassy in Quito, they would have invaded [our] country if we failed to let him leave to a safe country; they would have also put up a memorial to him as a freedom of speech hero. As long as this international double morality exists, as long as justice works in favor of the strongest, we still have a long way to go towards a real world society, towards real civilizational breakthrough, towards humanism.

Unfortunately, in the 21st century, there is a sway towards double morality, towards principles that are convenient for some. In this sense, Europe has made a step backwards.

It used to be an enlightened continent, an example for Latin America to follow. And now they are often worse than the US, a nation which I respect and admire. The US began its independent existence approximately at the same time as – only 30 years earlier than – the Latin American republics. Why did they develop and we did not? What did they do right and we did not? Obviously, as a hegemon country, its foreign policy – particularly towards Latin American nations that don’t submit – leaves a lot to be desired. Unfortunately, in this sense [the US], matches the EU. That’s very unfortunate, because I adore Europe.

Sputnik: Would you like to add anything that we have not previously addressed?

Rafael Correa: There are a lot of things in [CNN’s] article which – and I insist – depict things as actual and checked, although this is not the case. It appears as if they’ve proven that Assange engaged in espionage – with Russian spies, I think. Do they believe repetition is proof? What proof? Is the Mueller report a big proof? What report? *laughs* It’s like the report which said Iraq had WMDs or those videos where things are shown and God knows what happens to them.

Another part of this montage is to create an impression that we knew [about Assange’s activities]. We didn’t know anything. It does not mean it took place. If it took place, we did not know, because if we knew, we wouldn’t have allowed it. I don’t know how clear it is. Why do they do that?

We remember it well. It’s just the same as what [Lenin Moreno’s] Ecuadorian government did on a national level, all this campaign of hounding Assange, when he was expelled from the embassy in violation of international law, in violation of the Vienna convention, in violation of the Constitution of Ecuador – specifically article 41, which obliges the nation not to give away asylum seekers. Ecuador was humiliated, not only on an international level, but in perspective, for ages to come. The way Ecuador humiliated an asylum seeker will be remembered for ages.

However, before they did that, they engaged in an entire campaign of smearing and conspiring with the media who claimed that Assange is ill-tempered, that he smears feces on the walls, that his cat is spying, etc. It’s nonsense, insanity.

CNN does something similar, but on a slightly higher level: they construct a fake reality so that, when Assange gets extradited and sentenced to disproportionately severe punishment, even the kind-hearted people applauded this giant disgust. It’s a trap and you should be careful not to fall in it. We do remember Iraq’s “WMDs,” which they used to justify an invasion, and the whole world applauded them. And then we discovered it was all a lie.

July 17, 2019 Posted by | Deception, Fake News, Mainstream Media, Warmongering | , | 1 Comment

How Assange & RT meddled in 2016, according to CNN’s ‘possibilities’, innuendo & lies

RT | July 16, 2019

CNN has released a new ‘exclusive’ report, accusing Julian Assange of conspiring with ‘the Russians’ (including RT) to meddle in the 2016 US election – again.

Citing a report compiled by a private Spanish security company – but not providing any of it – the network basically re-hashed the entirety of the Russiagate conspiracy on Monday, painting a sinister portrait of WikiLeaks publisher Julian Assange, RT and “Russians and world-class hackers” that supposedly made the revelations of Democratic National Committee (DNC) and Podesta emails happen during the 2016 election. It includes speculation, insinuation, selective quoting of special counsel Robert Mueller’s report, and even an easily and repeatedly disproven lie about RT.

Let’s dispense with the last point first. Per CNN: “On at least two occasions, RT even published articles detailing the new batches of emails before WikiLeaks officially released them, suggesting that they were coordinating behind the scenes, which they deny.”

In reality, RT journalists simply noticed a pattern to the WikiLeaks’ releases and kept a close eye on its website in expectation of every new batch. As RT’s Dublin bureau editor-on-duty at the time Ivor Crotty put it, “We merely watched a trend and performed journalism.” It was Clinton’s aides that suggested“coordinating behind the scenes,” which CNN here uncritically endorses.

The rest of CNN’s sensationally-titled “scoop” openly admits the Spanish papers merely “build on the possibility” raised by Mueller’s report about how WikiLeaks received the emails. Safe words for “unprovable speculation” begin a few lines below the headline, and keep multiplying from there on.

CNN quotes the Mueller report as having named German hacker Andrew Müller-Maguhn as someone who “may have assisted” WikiLeaks in obtaining the files – something page 55 of the report “cannot rule out” happened, based on “public reporting”, not actual evidence.

Throughout the story, the CNN authors seem almost incredulous that Ecuador allowed Assange, a political refugee, to have basic facilities like high-speed Internet or the absence of 24/7 snooping – all of which he is portrayed as having exploited to undermine American democracy.

Assange also had visitors – including a “Russian national named Yana Maximova” (who the authors never tracked down, but appear to assume her an insidious figure by the sole merit of her being Russian) and with “senior staffers from RT” such as London bureau chief Nikolay Bogachikhin, who even “gave him a USB drive on one occasion.”

Bogachikhin, one of the very few people who actually responded to CNN’s requests for comment, was open about RT’s cooperation with Assange. RT’s editor-in-chief Margarita Simonyan joined in by tweeting about her own visits to Assange and listing quite a few more things RT staff brought to him: “Cassettes, floppy disks, flash drives, pieces of paper, technical equipment, candy…”

That’s because RT hosted a show with Assange, and widely advertised it both on air and online. “It’s hard to host a show without equipment, you know. It was an awesome show. Can you google it up yourself?” Simonyan tweeted.

CNN, meanwhile, repeats the literal smear – not substantiated by a single photo or video clip since Assange’s arrest in April – that the journalist “smeared feces” on the embassy walls.

Wrapping up the piece, CNN finds it sinister that the Russian government denounced the arrest as a violation of Assange’s human rights and dignity – the ultimate proof Assange “still has allies in Russia.”

Also on rt.com:

Another nail in Russiagate coffin? Federal judge destroys key Mueller report claim

July 16, 2019 Posted by | Deception, Fake News, Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Russophobia | | 1 Comment

Iran ‘Violates’ Nuclear Deal, After US ‘Withdraws’

NYTimes a9c86

By Joshua Cho | Fair | June 21, 2019

Quick question: Does the US ever break, breach or violate its international agreements?

Apparently not, according to US coverage of Iran’s recent announcement that it intended to go beyond the limits of the 2015 Iran nuclear deal in enriching uranium for its civilian nuclear program (frequently mischaracterized as a nuclear weapons program in media coverage). Reading corporate media’s inversion of reality, it’s hard to escape the impression that while Iran betrays its international agreements, the US just leaves them behind.

An Associated Press report carried by USA Today (6/17/19) was headlined: “Iran Says It Will Break Uranium Stockpile Limit in 10 Days,” and reported that Iran’s announcement indicated its “determination to break from the landmark 2015 accord,” while noting that “tensions have spiked between Iran and the United States,” partly because the US “unilaterally withdrew” from the landmark agreement. Note that the US rejection of its obligations under the deal is referred to in neutral terms—Washington “withdrew”—while Iran’s response to US nonobservance gets negatively characterized as a “break”—a pattern that persists throughout the coverage.

There was no indication in the AP piece that Iran offered conditions under which it would continue to comply with the Iran Deal (formally known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action), which gives the false impression that Iran’s decision to end compliance with the JCPOA is settled and unconditional.

The Wall Street Journal (6/17/19) offered the same kind of misleading headline: “Iran to Breach Limits of Nuclear Pact, as US to Send More Troops to the Middle East.” Again, Iran’s potential departure from the pact whose terms the US has vitiated is portrayed as a “breach,” while the US’s actual violation of the deal is labeled a “pullout” in the accompanying piece.

The Journal, unlike the AP, did note that Iran offered conditions under which it would continue to comply with the JCPOA’s terms:

The spokesman for Iran’s atomic energy agency, Behrouz Kamalvandi, said that by June 27—10 days from Monday—the country would surpass its enriched-uranium limits. He said Iran would further increase its production in early July, but could reverse both steps if Europe provided relief from [US] sanctions.

CNN (6/17/19) went with “Iran says it will break the uranium stockpile limit agreed under nuclear deal in 10 days,” as their headline. Only people who read past the headline, which most people don’t, would’ve known that that’s not really what Iran is saying:

Iran has reiterated that it could reverse the new measures should the remaining European signatories in the nuclear deal (France, Germany and the United Kingdom) step in and make more of an effort to circumvent US sanctions.

To its credit, CNN added “withdraw” in addition to the usual “violate,” “break” and “breach” in its list of words to describe Iran’s potential departure compared with just “withdrew” to describe the US’s actions.

The New York Post (6/17/19) chose “Iran Will Violate Nuclear Deal, Boost Uranium Stockpile” as the headline to mislead readers, and kept with the pattern of describing the US’s JCPOA breach as “pulling out of the deal.” However, unlike other reports, it didn’t feature any sources skeptical of Iran’s responsibility for the recent Gulf of Oman attacks on Japanese and Norwegian commercial oil tankers, despite crew members aboard the Japanese Kokuka Courageous contradicting US allegations of an Iranian mine attack by claiming to have been hit by a “flying object,” and European officials calling for further investigation and urging “maximum restraint.”

The New York Times’ headline (6/17/19): “Trump Adds Troops After Iran Says It Will Breach Nuclear Deal,” not only continued the above trends by not giving any hint that Iran might not depart from the pact, and characterizing the US’s JCPOA violations as a mere “withdrawal,” it also reported on US sanctions on Iran without mentioning that the sanctions themselves are violations of international law (Guardian10/3/18).

The Times uncritically cited Secretary of State Mike Pompeo’s statements that the US is “considering a full range of options”—including military strikes—without mentioning that these would be violations of international law because they go against UN Security Council Resolution 1887, which requires peaceful resolutions to disputes regarding nuclear issues, in accordance with the UN Charter and the Non-Proliferation Treaty, which both the US and Iran are parties to.

In fact, virtually all coverage fails to address the JCPOA in light of the NPT, because none of it challenges the legitimacy of the US’s prerogative to impose limits on Iran’s civilian nuclear program to begin with. Article IV of the NPT supports the “inalienable right of all the Parties to the Treaty to develop research, production and use of nuclear energy for peaceful purposes,” in accordance with Articles I and II forbidding the transfer and receiving of nuclear weapons from nuclear-weapon states.

FAIR (10/17/17) has observed that corporate media frequently attribute malicious intentions to Official US Enemies without going through the bother of presenting evidence. Iran is often accused of sneakily plotting to develop nuclear weapons, the way US ally Israel actually did when it built the only nuclear weapons arsenal in the Middle East (Guardian1/15/14).

This is ironic, because Iran has actually been a consistent leader in the nuclear disarmament movement. Foreign Minister Javad Zarif, when Iran was the chair of the Non-Aligned Movement, critiqued the JCPOA because it didn’t go far enough to ensure peace in the Middle East by not establishing a Nuclear Weapons–Free Zone there. Iran was also one of the first countries to propose making the Middle East a NWFZ, bringing up the proposal to the UN General Assembly in 1974 (CounterPunch12/13/13).

Journalist Gareth Porter (Foreign Policy10/16/14), reporting on Iran’s little-understood theocratic system, noted that Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khomeini’s fatwa against building any kind of WMDs in the 1990s is a formal ruling on Islamic jurisprudence, holding a legal status above mere legislation. He also pointed to Khomeini’s refusal to develop WMDs when up to 20,000 Iranians were killed by chemical weapons by then–US ally Saddam Hussein in the 1980s (Reuters9/16/13)—with an additional 100,000 survivors developing chronic diseases. Current US sanctions aiming to bring Iran’s “oil exports to zero” are exacerbating those chronic diseases, in addition to further strangling Iran’s economy, by restricting access to necessary medicine (Guardian9/2/13).

Of course, none of this can be mentioned, because it contradicts the corporate media narrative of Iran being an enemy that must be confronted, with US aggression against Iran being portrayed as defensive countermeasures (FAIR, 5/19/196/6/19). For US media, Iran is the only JCPOA party with commitments that can be “breached,” “violated” or “broken,” with the US free to leave them whenever it wants to, without harming its reputation as a trustworthy party to international agreements.

June 22, 2019 Posted by | Fake News, Mainstream Media, Warmongering | , , , | 2 Comments

As obsession with Trump tanks CNN ratings, network doubles down

RT | May 31, 2019

The pioneer cable news network is getting crushed in the ratings, coming in below Home and Garden TV, and has recently downsized and changed freelance payment terms – but shows no interest in changing the tone of its programming.

Both CNN and MSNBC have allowed themselves to be defined by hostility to both the administration and President Donald Trump personally since the 2016 election, breathlessly pushing the ‘Russiagate’ conspiracy theory.

While this strategy has largely worked for MSNBC – at least until special counsel Robert Mueller was forced to admit Russiagate was bogus – CNN has struggled to attract an audience beyond those trapped at hospitals and airports.

Nielsen TV ratings for May show Fox News dominating for the 35th straight month with 1.3 million total day viewers, MSNBC lagging behind with 909,000, and CNN in the eighth place with 552,000.

CNN wasn’t even in the top 15 primetime spots (for comparison, HGTV came in fifth), and its three main primetime shows – hosted by Chris Cuomo, Anderson Cooper and Don Lemon – ranked 25, 26, and 35, respectively.

Could this have anything to do with the network’s obsession with Trump and his administration that no longer bothers hiding naked partisanship? No way, says CNN leadership, insisting they are “real news” and claiming to be victims of Trump’s “attacks” on “free press.”

In the real world, CNN offered buyouts to 100 or so people at its Atlanta, Georgia headquarters, earlier this month, including CNN International executive vice president Tony Maddox. Since then, it has also laid off a number of people from its Health division and drastically cut back production at its London bureau.

Furthermore, the network’s parent company Warner Media recently sent out a notice to contractors that it is changing payment terms beginning in June, from 30 days to 90 days – essentially asking anyone it contracts to wait three months to get paid.

But hey, have you heard that the US government now owns a condominium in New York City’s Trump Tower, because of the Mueller probe? Priorities, people!

The twist is that CNN boss Jeff Zucker is laughing all the way to the bank, because CNN’s annual profits have doubled to $1.2 billion during his tenure. Some 70 percent of the network’s revenue comes not from advertisers but from carriage fees charged from cable and satellite operators. Some 90 million US households pay these fees every year, effectively subsidizing CNN and giving the network very little incentive to change its ways.

May 31, 2019 Posted by | Fake News, Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Russophobia | , , | 3 Comments

Fake news alert: CNN says Venezuelan opposition leader Juan Guaido ‘won election in January’

RT | May 6, 2019

CNN took the concept of “fake news” to a whole new level with a recent report on Venezuela, in which it claimed that citizens “chose” coup leader Juan Guaido over current president Nicolas Maduro in January “elections.”

In a report on Sunday’s deadly Venezuelan military helicopter crash, CNN wrote that “pressure is mounting” on Maduro to step down “following elections in January in which voters chose opposition leader Juan Guaido over him for president.”

The report was finally corrected on Monday after being published on Sunday afternoon and remaining unfixed overnight. It now reflects the fact that Guaido was not elected, but “declared himself interim president” in January.

A correction added to the bottom of the piece explains that the earlier version had “incorrectly described” the situation. Elections? Military coups? Really, who can keep up these days!?

Amazingly, the botched report which initially referenced these mysterious imaginary elections, was the product of work by no less than six journalists — two whose names appear on the main byline and four more listed as contributors at the bottom. Normal practice would see the piece run past a couple of editors too, before being published. That’s potentially eight pairs of eyes — and none of them managed to catch the glaring error.

A number of journalists and Twitter users called CNN out for the “blatant” lie and “shameful” and “terrible” reporting.

It wasn’t the first Venezuela-related embarrassment for CNN. Reporter Jake Tapper was called out on social media last week after he tweeted a link with a picture of opposition army defectors wielding guns to claim Maduro’s government “mows down citizens in streets.”

CNN likes to be known for its so-called adversarial journalism when it comes to the Trump administration, but so far, it seems fully on board with its regime change policies in Venezuela — although, even the White House hasn’t gone so far as to pretend fake elections took place in January.

May 6, 2019 Posted by | Fake News, Mainstream Media, Warmongering | , | 1 Comment

Top 51 Fake News Russiagate ‘Bombshells’ Spread By The MSM

By Tyler Durden – Zero Hedge – 04/23/2019

Following the release of the Mueller report, the mainstream media tried to pull a fast one – absurdly claiming that their reporting for the last 2.5 years has been largely vindicated.

Except, they weren’t vindicated at all. In fact, they lied through their teeth, peddling falsehood after falsehood.

To that end, Breitbart‘s John Nolte isn’t about to let them get away with peddling even more fiction about their reporting, and has compiled a list of 51 instances where the MSM flat out lied, borrowing from the work of Sharyl AttkissonGlenn Greenwald, and Sohrab Ahmari.

John Nolte Via Breitbart

Top 51 Fake News ‘Bombshells’ the Media Spread About RussiaGate

The list below of 51 might sound like a lot, but it is a drop in the ocean when you recall the thousands and thousands of hours CNN, MSNBC, Meet the Press, This Week, PBS NewsHour, State of the Union, Good Morning AmericaReliable Sources, and the Today Show devoted to anchors and pundits pushing the hoax that Trump colluded with Russia.

Not to mention, millions and millions of establishment media tweets and Facebook posts.

Rachel Maddow, Lawrence O’Donnell, Shepard Smith, Andrew Napolitano, Joe Scarborough, Chris Hayes, Chuck Todd, Joy Reid, Chris Matthews, Jake Tapper, Don Lemon, Chris Cuomo, Brian Stelter, Erin Burnett, et al.,  are alone responsible for thousands and thousands and thousands of hours of lies and conspiracy-mongering.

This list of 51 doesn’t count the half-million — half-MILLION — Russia collusion stories published over the past two years, almost all of which were premised on the idea that Trump did, indeed, collude with a foreign power to steal the 2016 presidential election.

This list cannot begin to count the countless times these 51 fake stories were repeated as fact throughout other news outlets, social media, and thousands upon thousands of cumulative broadcast hours.

What’s more, this list of 51 can’t begin to count the countless examples of fake news launched against Trump that have nothing to do with Russia — desperate and deliberate lies involving fish food and ice cream scoops…

Before we begin, credit where it’s due. This list would not have been possible without the lists already compiled by Sharyl AttkissonGlenn Greenwald, and Sohrab Ahmari.

  1. New York magazine, McClatchy:

Michael Cohen went to  Prague.

  1. BuzzFeed:

Trump directed Michael Cohen to lie, and Mueller has emails proving it.

  1. The New York Times:

Paul Manafort passed polling information to Kremlin.

  1. Axios:

Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein forced out.

  1. NBC News:

Federal investigators wiretapped Trump’s personal attorney Michael Cohen, have recordings of Trump.

  1. Associated Press:

Phony Russia dossier was initially funded by Republican group.

  1. ABC News:

Donald Trump directed Flynn to make contact with Russian officials during the 2016 presidential campaign

  1. Talking Points Memo:

Russian social media company provided documents to Senate about communications with Trump official.

  1. CNN:

Donald Trump Jr. conspired with WikiLeaks.

  1. Bloomberg and the Wall Street Journal:

Robert Mueller subpoenaed Trump’s Deutsche Bank records.

  1. ABC News:

Former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort worked with Russia intelligence-connected official as late as December 2017.

  1. The New York Times:

Trump Deputy National Security adviser K.T. McFarland lied about another official’s contacts with Russians.

  1. CNN:

Trump’s campaign was never wiretapped.

  1. NBC News:

Manafort notes from Russian meeting refer to political contributions.

  1. The New York Times:

Seventeen intelligence agencies concur Russia hacked the 2016 presidential race.

  1. CNN:

Congress investigating Russian investment fund with ties to Trump officials.

  1. The New York Times:

Former FBI Director James Comey says Attorney General Jeff Sessions told him not to call Russia probe an investigation but “a matter.”

  1. CNN:

James Comey will testify he never told Trump he was not under investigation.

  1. NBC News:

Putin admits he has compromising information about Trump.

  1. Politico, the New York Times, the Washington Post, CNN, AP, Reuters, and the Wall Street Journal:

Trump fired Comey after Comey asked for additional resources for the Russia investigation.

  1. The New York Times:

Numerous contacts between Trump campaign staff and “senior Russian intelligence officials.”

  1. MSNBC:

Among others, a Trump family member will be indicted on February 8.

  1. The Guardian:

Paul Manafort visited WikiLeaks’ Julian Assange on three occasions.

  1. The Washington Post:

Trump campaign changed GOP platform on Ukraine.

  1. The Atlantic:

Then-Attorney General Jeff Sessions lied about meeting with Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak.

  1. McClatchy:

Michael Cohen really did visit Prague.

  1. CNN:

Trump is lying when he calls Russia dossier “phony.”

  1. Fortune:

RT had hacked into and taken over C-SPAN and C-SPAN “confirmed” it had been hacked.

  1. USA Today, MSNBC, Associated Press:

Russia’s hacked the election systems of 21 American states.

  1. The Washington Post, ABC News, CNN:

Russian hackers penetrated U.S. electricity grid through a utility in Vermont.

  1. The Washington Post:

“More than 200 websites” were “routine peddlers of Russian propaganda during the election season.”

  1. NBC News, MSNBC:

Russia is the main suspect in the sonic attacks that sickened 26 U.S. diplomats.

  1. Slate:

Trump created a secret Internet server to covertly communicate with a Russian bank.

  1. CNN:

Donald Trump knew in advance of the Trump Tower meeting.

  1. CNN:

Mueller Report will show Trump “has helped” Putin “destabilize” the United States.

  1. NBC:

Russia supports Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (D-HI).

    1. CNN:

Sessions failed to disclose meetings he had with the Russian ambassador.

  1. Vox:

“There’s actually lots of evidence of Trump-Russia collusion.”

  1. The Washington Post, The New York Times, NPRReutersthe Guardian, USA Today, CNN, BuzzFeed:

Trump revealed classified information to Russians.

  1. The Washington Post:

House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) said Russia paid Trump.

  1. Fox News:

Mueller can show Trump campaign “had a connection to Russian intelligence.”

  1. MSNBC:

“Rudy Giuliani just told America that Trump’s campaign colluded with Russia.”

  1. The Washington Post:

Evidence suggests Trump could be a Russian “asset.”

  1. NBC:

Russians began hacking Hillary Clinton’s emails on the day Donald Trump joked about it in July 2016.

  1. Mic.com:

Russia spy visited Trump’s Oval Office.

  1. CNN:

Phony Russia dossier has been “corroborated.”

  1. NPR:

Donald Trump Jr. lied under oath about Trump Tower deal in Moscow.

  1. NBC, The Hill, New York Daily News:

Russia successfully hacked voting systems in a number of states.

  1. CNN:

Trump is “bonkers” for claiming Hillary Clinton behind Russia dossier.

  1. CNN:

“Every intelligence expert, both under the Obama administration and under the Trump administration,” agrees with the assessment that Russia attempted to interfere in the 2016 presidential election.

  1. BBC:

Ukrainian president “authorized” an illegal payment of $400,000 to Michael Cohen for additional face time during a June 2017 meeting with President Trump.

April 24, 2019 Posted by | Deception, Fake News, Mainstream Media, Warmongering | , , , , , | 2 Comments

Reality check: CNN’s claim that Trump has been unwilling to confront Putin is total bulls**t

By Bryan MacDonald | RT | April 2, 2019

Fareed Zakaria is a veteran Putin conspiracy theorist. And you can assume he feels this obsession has helped further his career, especially at CNN.

Back in 2017, he made a pseudo-documentary on Russia’s president, titled “The most powerful man in the world,” which was widely pilloried. Indeed, the Kremlin labeled it “hysterical” and “odious,” and dismissed it as “often complete fiction.”

Russia expert Dominic Basulto summed it up as “what slick propaganda for the masses looks like in the digital era.” Further pointing out how Zakaria failed to disclose his own “Russian collusion” as a host at the 2016 St Petersburg Economic Forum. An appearance which didn’t go very well for the CNN anchor.

Over the past couple of years, Zakaria has been one of the loudest voices pushing the “Trump/Russia” hoax. But, instead of accepting reality after Robert Mueller’s report kiboshed the yarn, he doubled down. And his latest video is unhinged.

Dubbed ‘Fareed’s take,’ the segment’s blurb states “the real puzzle remains: Why has Trump been unwilling to confront Putin in any way on any issue? And will Venezuela be the moment when Trump finally ends his appeasement?” And note the use of the word “appeasement,” intended to ‘Chamberlain’ Trump.

Anyway, let’s not beat around the bush, the clip is complete bulls**t. President Trump has confronted Putin on many issues and their relationship has been hyper-adversarial. In the real world, of course, not the fantasy-land of American network TV.

The ways in which Trump has frustrated his Russian counterpart are myriad:

  • He has withdrawn from the 1987 Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty, citing Russian non-compliance – a charge the Kremlin rejects.
  • Trump has accepted Montenegro into NATO and will probably add North Macedonia before his term is up. Both countries are in the Balkans, a traditional Russian sphere of influence.
  • Under Trump, the US armed Ukraine with lethal weapons in 2017, a step his predecessor Barack Obama was reluctant to take.
  • The US president expelled dozens of Russian diplomats last year in response to the alleged poisoning of a Russian spy, who defected to Britain. He also closed Russia’s consulate in Seattle (he’d already shuttered the San Francisco equivalent a year earlier).
  • In the spring of 2018, Trump ordered airstrikes against Syria, Russia’s Middle Eastern ally, which Putin condemned “in the most serious way.”
  • The Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline is a major piece of infrastructure for both Germany and Russia, and both countries have invested considerable energy in its completion. But Trump accuses Berlin of “paying billions of dollars into the coffers of Russia” adding how Germany is “totally controlled by Russia.” US media reported last month that Trump told German Chancellor Merkel: “Angela, you got to stop buying gas from Putin.”
  • Russia has backed the government of Nicolas Maduro in Venezuela, which the Americans hope to remove. Just last week, Trump ‘ordered’ Russia to “get out” of Venezuela, despite the fact that they have been there under a treaty with Caracas.

So, there we go again, yet another CNN Russia-related falsehood debunked. If this carries on much longer, the once-respected channel might as well rebrand as “Conspiracy Network News.”

April 3, 2019 Posted by | Deception, Fake News, Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Russophobia | , | 1 Comment

THE VETO: Exposing CNN, Al Jazeera, Channel 4, western media propaganda war in Syria

Vanessa Beeley | March 21, 2019

I met journalist and friend Rafiq Lutf and cameraman Abdul-Mun’aim Arnous in January 2018 and I was honoured when Rafiq asked me to work with him on his film project, The Veto.

As Dr Shaaban said to me in August 2016, “Western propaganda is paid for in Syrian blood”. This is true. The horrifying bloodshed and loss of life in Syria could never have happened without the colonial media manufacturing consent for another illegal war against a Sovereign nation.

The Veto tracks the evolution of the propaganda campaign waged by Western media against Syria. From Baba Amr in Homs 2011/2012 until the modern day “propaganda construct” – the NATO-member-state funded White Helmets.

It honours Russia and China’s vetoes that have consistently defended Syria’s sovereignty and territorial integrity in the UN.

George Orwell said “The most effective way to destroy people is to deny and obliterate their own understanding of their history.” Western media has been tasked with writing the history of the Syrian conflict to serve the aggressors in the US Coalition of terrorism. As Dr Shaaban also told me:

“The US alliance and its media are focusing on our history, material history, cultural history, identity, our army. Any power that keeps you as an entire state, or any statesman that represents strength or unity will be demonized and destroyed.”

The Veto exposes the criminal intentions of Western media and it archives the progression of the propaganda war waged by the West against Syria. Syrians are writing the history of the Syrian conflict because Syria and her allies have courageously resisted the Imperialist machine.

As Rafiq has said so eloquently “ we are the Veto” and we must use it against the Industrial Media Complex in the West.

Syria’s history belongs to the Syrians and Syria’s final victory must ensure that Western media is never again given the power to destroy a nation, divide its people and promote international terrorism both military and economic.

March 30, 2019 Posted by | Deception, Fake News, Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Timeless or most popular, Video | , , | 1 Comment

US War Crimes in Syria Whitewashed in Real Time

Strategic Culture Foundation | 15.03.2019

It was quite amazing to watch reports from Syria this week by US news channel CNN. American bombing of a remaining redoubt of the ISIS terror group near Baghouz on the border with Iraq was presented as some kind of heroic final onslaught against the terror group.

The inversion of reality is a staggering case study in propaganda and “perception management” under the guise of “free media”.

CNN broadcast on-the-ground reports from its correspondent Ben Wedeman in Syria’s Deir ez-Zor province. In the background were evident signs, according to the channel’s video footage, that the US air force was dropping white phosphorus incendiary munitions in support of the offensive against militants.

Indiscriminate use of white phosphorus bombs is arguably a war crime. Yet the US media openly reported this as if it was a legitimate war operation in order to “defeat terrorism”.

Nothing in the CNN reportage suggested anything illegal about the US military campaign. On the contrary, the events were presented as a valorous attempt to “defeat ISIS”.

There are several reasons why this latest US military operation in eastern Syria is disturbing, not least because of mounting civilian deaths as a result of American air strikes.

For a start, American military presence in Syria is a gross violation of international law. The US has no legal mandate to be in that country, operating their since 2015, either as ground forces or warplanes.

Secondly, it is well-documented that Washington has been covertly funneling military aid to various anti-government militia, including terrorist groups like ISIS, in a bid to overthrow the Syrian government of President Bashar al Assad. This has been conducted as part of an eight-year covert war sponsored by Washington and its allies for illegal regime change against the sovereign government in Damascus.

President Trump has given orders for US forces to withdraw from Syria. He says it’s time to bring “our boys” home. As if “our boys” have performed a noble duty there. The fact is American forces in Syria constitute a war crime. They shouldn’t even be there.

So, belated US media reports of American forces bearing down on the remnants of ISIS in eastern Syria are, to say the least, a little anomalous, given the systematic support that Washington has been covertly plying to assorted jihadist terror groups for the purpose of regime change. That is an entirely criminal aggression against Syria.

But the latest operation in eastern Syria is particularly hard to take. It has been the Syrian army along with Russian, Iranian and Hezbollah forces that largely liberated Syria from the scourge of foreign-backed Islamist terror groups. The war in Syria has been won against the US and its malign criminal partners, not, as American media would have us believe, due to Washington’s “heroic efforts”.

Western news media have lately focused on a small pocket of ISIS hold-outs in eastern Syria as if the US is the liberator of the Arab country – a country which Washington and its NATO allies have infiltrated with jihadists for criminal regime change.

CNN’s coverage this week was especially perverse. Ben Wedeman and his team were showing US military dropping banned white phosphorus incendiaries on civilian areas of eastern Syria in the name of “fighting terrorism”.

CNN’s reportage was without the slightest hint that such military actions amount to gross war crimes. The entire US military presence in Syria is an even bigger violation of international law. The “normalization” of such violations and war crimes by the US media in real time is an illustration of how such supposed news channels are nothing but a propaganda arm for Washington’s imperialist warmongering.

The banal normalization by US news media of what should be viewed as enormous war crimes is something to behold, if not to be nauseated by.

American forces in Syria have killed thousands of civilians. Their latest operations to “liberate” the eastern region from jihadists that they infiltrated with in the first place has caused, this week alone, dozens of civilian deaths from US air strikes. This is a gruesome reminder of the horror that US air strikes inflicted on the Syrian city of Raqqa which was flattened in 2017 by American bombardment.

The charnel house that Syria has been turned into is a direct consequence of American regime-change machinations. And yet US media report a microcosm of the horror in terms suggesting that the American forces are somehow liberators. How grotesque.

Such an obscene distortion is partly why Washington is allowed to continue its criminal wars in other parts of the world. It is because of US media whitewashing war crimes in real time. And CNN has the shameless audacity to call its war propaganda “journalism”.

March 15, 2019 Posted by | Mainstream Media, Warmongering, War Crimes | , , | 1 Comment

CNN analyst claims Trump’s speech sounded like HITLER’s, but script was written by… PUTIN?!

RT | March 3, 2019

A CNN analyst and adviser at the Biden Institute has showcased her unmatched skill to roll all in one by comparing Donald Trump to Hitler for using a turn of phrase once shouted by Joe Biden and at the same time written by Putin.

Offering her thoughts on the president’s speech at the 2019 Conservative Action Conference (CPAC), Sam Vinograd told her CNN colleagues that she was horrified that Trump had spoken about “reclaiming our nation’s priceless heritage.”

For Vinograd, this was clearly a message lifted straight from Mein Kampf.

“His statement makes me sick, on a personal level, preserving your heritage, reclaiming our heritage, that sounds a lot like a certain leader that killed members of my family and about six million other Jews in the 1940s,” she said.

She went on to lament how Trump had used his CPAC address to “spread misinformation and conspiracy theories,” and that certain things he said “really” made it seem as if “Vladimir Putin scripted his speech.”

It wasn’t long before her eyebrow-raising remarks caught the attention of social media users – who found some glaring problems with her logic.

For starters, former vice president Joe Biden made a nearly verbatim declaration in 2011, when he told the Florida Democratic Party Convention that “it’s time to reclaim our heritage.” He yelled it, too – which seems like something Hitler might do.

To add salt to the open hypocrisy wound, Vinograd is a former Obama administration official who currently serves as an adviser to the Biden Institute, a think tank named in honor of – yes, you guessed it – Joe Biden.

Then, of course, there’s the inconvenient reality that Trump’s daughter converted to Orthodox Judaism in keeping with her husband’s Jewish faith. Others pointed out that the US Commission for the Preservation of America’s Heritage Abroad – a government agency that uses that scary Hitler word! – is chaired by an Orthodox Jew.

Vinograd’s comments about Putin also didn’t quite add up, with Twitter pundits expressing regret that she had failed to elaborate on which parts of Trump’s speech were allegedly written by the Russian president.

Twitter users were especially impressed by Vinograd’s lack of self-awareness, after she accused the president of “pretending that there are foreign people trying to influence our country in a way that just isn’t accurate.” Seconds later, she suggested Vladimir Putin wrote Trump’s speech.

The televised train wreck also got two thumbs down from radio host and former CIA analyst Buck Sexton, who summed up his feelings about the segment with a perceptive observation.

“CNN is a joke. Just not a funny one,” he mused.

March 3, 2019 Posted by | Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Russophobia | , , | 3 Comments

Venezuela Coverage Takes Us Back to Golden Age of Lying About Latin America

By Mark Cook | FAIR | February 22, 2019

I was sitting in my apartment in Caracas, Venezuela, reading the online edition of Time magazine (5/19/16), which carried a report that there was not even something as basic as aspirin to be found anywhere in Venezuela: “Basic medicines like aspirin are nowhere to be found.”

I walked out of the apartment to the nearest pharmacy, four blocks away, where I found plenty of aspirin, as well as acetaminophen (generic Tylenol) and ibuprofen (generic Advil), in a well-stocked pharmacy with a knowledgeable professional staff that would be the envy of any US drugstore.

A few days after the Time story, CNBC (6/22/16) carried a claim that there was no acetaminophen to be found anywhere, either: “Basic things like Tylenol aren’t even available.” That must have taken the Pfizer Corporation by surprise, since it was their Venezuelan subsidiary, Pfizer Venezuela SA, which produced the acetaminophen I purchased. (Neither Time writer Ian Bremer nor CNBC commentator Richard Washington was in Venezuela, and there was no evidence offered that either of them had ever been there.)

I purchased all three products, plus cough syrup and other over-the-counter medications, because I doubted that anyone in the United States would believe me if I couldn’t produce the medications in their packages.

Unrelenting drumbeat of lies

In fact, I myself wouldn’t have believed anyone who made such claims without being able to produce the proof, so intense and unrelenting has been the drumbeat of lies. When the Youth Orchestra of Venezuela gave a concert in New York in early 2016, before I moved to Caracas, I went there thinking, “Gee, I hope that the members of the orchestra are all well-dressed and well-fed.” Yes, of course they were all well-dressed and well-fed!

When I mentioned this in a talk at the University of Vermont, a student told me that he’d had the same feeling when he was following the Pan American soccer championship. He wondered if the Venezuelan players would be able to play, because they’d be so weakened from lack of food. In fact, he said, the Venezuelan team played superbly, and went much further in the competition than expected, since Venezuela has historically been a baseball country, unlike its soccer-obsessed neighbors Brazil and Colombia.

Hard as it may be for followers of the US media to believe, Venezuela is a country where people play sports, go to work, go to classes, go to the beach, go to restaurants and attend concerts. They publish and read newspapers of all political stripes, from right to center-right, to center, to center-left, to left. They produce and watch programs on television, on TV channels that are also of all political stripes.

CNN was ridiculed recently (Redacted Tonight, 2/1/19) when it carried a report on Venezuela, “in the socialist utopia that now leaves virtually every stomach empty,” followed immediately with a cut to a demonstration by the right-wing opposition, where everybody appeared to be quite well-fed.

But surely that’s because most of the anti-government demonstrators were upper-middle class, a viewer might think. The proletarians at pro-government demonstrations must be suffering severe hunger.

Not if one consults photos of the massive pro-government demonstration on February 2, where people seemed to be doing pretty well. This is in spite of the Trump administration’s extreme economic squeeze on the country, reminiscent of the “make the economy scream” strategy used by the Nixon administration and the CIA against the democratic government of President Salvador Allende in Chile, as well as many other democratically elected governments.

Rival demonstrations

That demonstration showed considerable support for the government of President Nicolás Maduro and widespread rejection of Donald Trump’s choice for president of Venezuela, Juan Guaidó.

Guaidó, who proclaimed himself to be president of the country and was recognized minutes later by Trump, even though a public opinion poll showed that 81 percent of Venezuelans had never heard of him, comes from the ultra-right faction in Venezuelan politics.

The pro-Maduro demonstration suggested, not surprisingly, that Guaidó had failed to win much popular support outside the wealthy and upper-middle class. But Guaidó couldn’t even win support from many of them. The day before rival rallies February 2, Henrique Capriles, the leader of a less extreme right-wing faction, gave an interview to the AFP that appeared in Últimas Noticias (2/1/19), the most widely read newspaper in Venezuela. In it, Capriles said that most of the opposition had not supported Guaidó’s self-proclamation as president. That may explain the surprisingly weak turnout at Guaidó’s demonstration, held in the wealthiest district of Caracas, and obviously outshone by the pro-government demonstration on the city’s main boulevard.

The New York Times did not show pictures of that pro-government demonstration, limiting itself to a claim by unnamed “experts” (2/2/19) that the pro-government demonstration was smaller than the anti-government one.

Readers can look at the photos of the rival demonstrations and judge for themselves. Both groups did their best to pull out their faithful, knowing how much is riding on a show of popular support. The stridently right-wing opposition paper El Nacional (2/3/19) carried a photo of the right-wing opposition demonstration:

If that was the best photo it could find, it was remarkably unimpressive compared to the photos in the left-wing papers CCS (2/2/19)….

… and Correo del Orinoco (2/3/19), which were only too happy to publish pictures of the pro-government event:

Unlikely humanitarian

A huge anti-government demonstration was supposed to make possible a coup d’état, a maneuver the CIA has used repeatedly—in Iran in 1953, Guatemala in 1954, Brazil in 1964 and many more, straight through to Honduras in 2009 and Ukraine in 2015. The turnout at the Trump administration’s demonstration was disappointing, and the coup d’état never occurred. The result is that Trump has expressed a sudden interest in getting food and medicine to Venezuelans (FAIR.org, 2/9/19).

Trump, who let thousands die in Puerto Rico and put small children in cages on the Mexican border, seems to be an unlikely champion of humanitarian aid to Latin Americans, but the corporate media have straight-facedly pretended to believe it.

Most have suppressed reports that the Red Cross and the UN are providing aid to Venezuela in cooperation with the Venezuelan government, and have protested against US “aid” that is obviously a political and military ploy.

The corporate media have continued to peddle the Trump-as-humanitarian-champion line, even after it was revealed that a US plane was caught smuggling weapons into Venezuela, and even after Trump named Iran/Contra criminal Elliott Abrams to head up Venezuelan operations. Abrams was in charge of the State Department Human Rights Office during the 1980s, when weapons to US-backed terrorists in Nicaragua were shipped in US planes disguised as “humanitarian” relief.

Canada’s CBC (2/15/19) at least had the honesty to acknowledge that it had been had in swallowing a lie from Secretary of State Mike Pompeo that the Venezuelan government had blockaded a bridge between Colombia and Venezuela to prevent aid shipments. The newly built bridge has not yet been opened: it has never been open, apparently because of hostile relations between the two countries, but the non-opening long predates the US government’s alleged food and medicine shipments.

The absurdity of $20 million of US food and medicine aid to a country of 30 million, when US authorities have stolen $30 billion from Venezuela in oil revenue, and take $30 million every day, needs no comment.

‘Failed state’

The campaign of disinformation and outright lies about Venezuela was kicked off in 2016 by the Financial Times. Ironically, it chose the 14th anniversary of the 2002 failed coup d’etat against President Hugo Chávez—April 11, 2016—to claim that Venezuela was in “chaos” and “civil war,” and that Venezuela was a “failed state.” As with the Time and CNBC reports, the Financial Times reporter was not in Venezuela, and there was no evidence in the report that he had ever been there.

I asked right-wing friends in Venezuela whether they agreed with the Financial Times claims. “Well, no, of course not,” said one, stating the obvious, “there is no chaos and no civil war. But Venezuela is a failed state, since it has not been able to provide for all the medical needs of the population.” By that standard, every country in Latin America is a failed state, and obviously the United States too.

The New York Times has run stories (5/15/16, 10/1/16) claiming that conditions in Venezuelan hospitals are horrendous. The reports enraged Colombians in New York, who have noted that a patient can die on the doorstep of a Colombian public hospital if the patient has no insurance. In Venezuela, in contrast, patients are treated for free.

One Colombian resident in New York said that his mother had recently returned to Bogotá after several years in the United States, and had not had time to obtain medical insurance. She fell ill, and went to a public hospital. The hospital left her in the waiting room for four hours, then sent her to a second hospital. The second hospital did the same, leaving her for four hours and then sending her to a third hospital. The third hospital was preparing to send her to a fourth when she protested that she was bleeding internally and was feeling weak.

“I’m sorry, Señora, if you don’t have medical insurance, no public hospital in this country will look at you,” said the woman at the desk. “Your only hope is to go to a private hospital, but be prepared to pay a great deal of money up front.” Luckily, she had a wealthy friend, who took her to a private hospital, and paid a great deal of money up front.

Such conditions in Colombia and other neoliberal states go unmentioned in the US corporate media, which have treated the Colombian government, long a right-wing murder-squad regime, as a US ally (Extra!, 2/09).

Well, OK, but are the reports of conditions in Venezuelan hospitals true or grossly exaggerated? “They are much better than they were ten years ago,” said a friend who works in a Caracas hospital. In fact, he said, ten years before, the hospital where he worked did not exist, and new hospitals are now being opened. One was dedicated recently in the town of El Furrial, and another was opened in El Vigia, as reported by the centrist newspaper Últimas Noticias (3/3/17, 4/27/18). The government has also greatly expanded others, like a burn center in Caracas and three new operating rooms at the hospital in Villa Cura.

Meanwhile, the government is inaugurating a new high-speed train line, The Dream of Hugo Chávez, in March (Correo del Orinoco, 2/6/19). Since the US media have never allowed reporting on any accomplishments in the years since  Chávez took office in 1999, but only any alleged, exaggerated or, as noted, completely invented shortcomings, readers have to consult an alternative history. Here is one offered by a Venezuelan on YouTube (3/31/11): “Por Culpa de Chávez” (“It’s Chávez’s Fault”). Depicting new hospitals, transit lines, housing, factories and so on built under Chavismo, it might help many understand why the Maduro government continues to enjoy such strong backing from so many people.

Economic warfare

This is not to minimize Venezuela’s problems. The country was hit, like other oil-producing countries, and as it was in the 1980s and ’90s, by the collapse of oil prices. That failed to bring down the government, so now the Trump administration has created an artificial crisis by using extreme economic warfare to deprive the country of foreign exchange needed to import basic necessities. The Trump measures seem designed to prevent any economic recovery.

Like any country at war (and the Trump administration has placed Venezuela under wartime conditions, and is threatening immediate invasion), there have been shortages, and products that can mostly be found on the black market. This should surprise no one: During World War II in the US, a cornucopia of a country not seriously threatened with invasion, there was strict rationing of products like sugar, coffee and rubber.

The Venezuelan government has made food, medicine and pharmaceuticals available at extremely low prices, but much of the merchandise has made its way to the black market, or over the border to Colombia, depriving Venezuelans of supplies and ruining Colombian producers. The government recently abandoned some of the heavy price subsidies, which resulted initially in higher prices. Over the past few weeks, prices have been coming down as supplies stayed in Venezuela, especially as the government gained greater control over the Colombian border to prevent smuggling.

There has never been a serious discussion of any of this in the US corporate media, much less any discussion of the campaign of lies or the Trump administration warfare. There has been no comparison with conditions in the 1980s and ’90s, when Venezuela’s neoliberal government imposed IMF economic recipes, resulting in a popular rebellion, the bloody 1989 Caracazo, when wholesale government repression took the lives of hundreds (according to the government at the time) or thousands (according to government critics), and martial law took the lives of many more.

Efforts by the right-wing opposition to provoke a similar uprising, and another Caracazo that could justify a foreign “humanitarian intervention,” have failed repeatedly. So the US administration and corporate media simply resort to the most extreme lying about Latin America that has been seen since the Reagan administration wars of the 1980s.

February 24, 2019 Posted by | Fake News, Mainstream Media, Warmongering | , , , , | 2 Comments

Telling Only Part of the Story of Jihad

By Daniel LAZARE | Consortium News | February 21, 2019

A recent CNN report about U.S. military materiel finding its way into Al Qaeda hands in Yemen might have been a valuable addition to Americans’ knowledge of terrorism.

Entitled “Sold to an ally, lost to an enemy,” the 10-minute segment, broadcast on Feb. 4, featured rising CNN star Nima Elbagir cruising past sand-colored “Mine-Resistant Ambush Protected” armored vehicles, or MRAPs, lining a Yemeni highway.

“It’s absolutely incredible,” she says. “And this is not under the control of [Saudi-led] coalition forces. This is in the command of militias, which is expressly forbidden by the arms sales agreements with the U.S.”

“That’s just the tip of the iceberg,” she adds. “CNN was told by coalition sources that a deadlier U.S. weapons system, the TOW missile, was airdropped in 2015 by Saudi Arabia to Yemeni fighters, an air drop that was proudly proclaimed across Saudi backed media channels.” The TOWs were dropped into Al Qaeda-controlled territory, according to CNN. But when Elbagir tries to find out more, the local coalition-backed government chases her and her crew out of town.

U.S.-made TOWs in the hands of Al Qaeda? Elbagir is an effective on-screen presence. But this is an old story, which the cable network has long soft-pedaled.

In the early days of the Syrian War, Western media was reluctant to acknowledge that the forces arrayed against the Assad regime included Al Qaeda. In those days, the opposition was widely portrayed as a belated ripple effect of the Arab Spring pro-democracy uprisings elsewhere in the region.

However, in April-May 2015, right around the time that the Saudis were air-dropping TOWs into Yemen, they were also supplying the same optically-guided, high-tech missiles to pro-Al Qaeda forces in Syria’s northern Idlib province. Rebel leaders were exultant as they drove back Syrian government troops. TOWs “flipped the balance,” one said, while another declared: “I would put the advances down to one word – TOW.”

CNN reported that story very differently. From rebel-held territory, CNN’s Nick Paton Walsh described the missiles as a “possible game-changer … that may finally be wearing down the less popular side of the Shia-Sunni divide.” He conceded it wasn’t all good news: “A major downside for Washington at least, is that the often-victorious rebels, the Nusra Front, are Al Qaeda. But while the winners for now are America’s enemies, the fast-changing ground in Syria may cause to happen what the Obama administration has long sought and preached, and that’s changing the calculus of the Assad regime.”

Foreign Policy, The Washington Post, The Guardian, and The New York Times all reacted the same way, furrowing their brows at the news that Al Qaeda was gaining, but expressing measured relief that Syrian President Bashar al-Assad was at last on the ropes.

But now that Elbagir is sounding the alarm about TOWs in Yemen, CNN would do well to acknowledge that it has been distinctly more blasé in the past about TOWs in the hands of al Qaeda.

The network appears unwilling to go where Washington’s pro-war foreign-policy establishment doesn’t want it to go. Elbagir shouldn’t be shocked to learn that U.S. allies are consorting with Yemeni terrorists.

U.S. History with Holy Warriors

What CNN producers and correspondents either don’t know or fail to mention is that Washington has a long history of supporting jihad. As Ian Johnson notes in “A Mosque in Munich” (2010), the policy was mentioned by President Dwight Eisenhower, who was eager, according to White House memos, “to stress the ‘holy war’ aspect” in his talks with Muslim leaders about the Cold War Communist menace.” [See “How U.S. Allies Aid Al Qaeda in Syria,” Consortium News, Aug. 4, 2015.]

Britain had been involved with Islamists at least as far back as 1925 when it helped establish the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt, and both the U.S. and Britain worked with Islamists in the 1953 coup in Iran, according to Robert Dreyfus in “Devil’s Game” (2006).

By the 1980s a growing Islamist revolt against a left-leaning, pro-Soviet government in Afghanistan brought U.S. support. In mid-1979, President Jimmy Carter and his national security adviser, Zbigniew Brzezinski, armed the Afghan mujahideen — not at first to drive the Soviets out, but to lure them in. Brzezinski intended to deal Moscow a Vietnam-sized blow, as he put it in a 1998 interview.

Meanwhile, a few months after the U.S. armed the mujahideen, the Saudis were deeply shaken when Islamist extremists seized the Grand Mosque in Mecca and called for the overthrow of the royal family. While Saudi Arabia has been keen to repress jihadism at home, it has been a major supporter of Sunni extremists in the region, particularly to battle the Shi‘ite regime that came to power in Tehran, also in 1979.

Since then, the U.S. has made use of jihad, either directly or indirectly, with the Gulf oil monarchies or Pakistan’s notoriously pro-Islamist Inter-Services Intelligence agency. U.S. backing for the Afghan mujahideen helped turn Osama bin Laden into a hero for some young Saudis and other Sunnis, while the training camp he established in the Afghan countryside drew jihadists from across the region.

U.S. backing for Alija Izetbegovic’s Islamist government in Bosnia-Herzegovina brought al-Qaeda to the Balkans, while U.S.-Saudi support for Islamist militants in the Second Chechen War of 1999-2000 enabled it to establish a base of operations there.

Downplaying Al Qaeda

Just six years after 9/11, according to investigative reporter Seymour Hersh, the U.S. downplayed the fight against Al Qaeda to rein in Iran  – a policy, Hersh wrote, that had the effect of “bolstering … Sunni extremist groups that espouse a militant vision of Islam and are hostile to America and sympathetic to Al Qaeda.”

Under Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, policy toward Al-Qaeda turned even more curious. In March 2011, she devoted nearly two weeks to persuading Qatar, the UAE and Jordan to join the air war against Libya’s Muammar Gaddafi, only to stand by and watch as Qatar then poured hundreds of millions of dollars of aid into the hands of Islamist militias that were spreading anarchy from one end of the country to the other.  The Obama administration thought of remonstrating with Qatar, but didn’t in the end.

Much the same happened in Syria where, by early 2012, Clinton was organizing a “Friends of Syria” group that soon began channeling military aid to Islamist forces waging war against Christians, Alawites, secularists and others backing Assad. By August 2012, the Defense Intelligence Agency reported that “the Salafist, the Muslim Brotherhood, and AQI [Al Qaeda in Iraq] are the major forces driving the [anti-Assad] insurgency”; that the West, Turkey, and the Gulf states supported it regardless; that the rebels’ goal was to establish “a declared or undeclared Salafist principality in eastern Syria,” and that “this is exactly what the supporting powers want in order to isolate the Syrian regime….”

Biden Speaks Out

Two years after that, Vice President Joe Biden declared at Harvard’s Kennedy School:

“Our allies in the region were our largest problem in Syria… The Saudis, the Emiratis, etc. what were they doing? They were so determined to take down Assad and essentially have a proxy Sunni-Shia war, what did they do? They poured hundreds of millions of dollars and tens of thousands of tons of military weapons into anyone who would fight against Assad, except the people who were being supplied were al Nusra and al Qaeda and the extremist elements of jihadis coming from other parts of the world.” (Quote starts at 53:25.)

The fact that Obama ordered the vice president to apologize to the Saudis, the UAE and Turkey for his comments provided back-handed confirmation that they were true. When TOWs turned up in the hands of pro-Qaeda rebels in Syria the following spring, all a senior administration official would say was: “It’s not something we would refrain from raising with our partners.”

It was obvious that Al Qaeda would be a prime beneficiary of Saudi intervention in Yemen from the start. Tying down the Houthis — “Al Qaeda’s most determined foe,” according to the Times — gave it space to blossom and grow. Where the State Department said it had up to 4,000 members as of 2015, a UN report put its membership at between 6,000 and 7,000 three years later, an increase of 50 to 75 percent or more.

In early 2017, the International Crisis Group found that Al Qaeda was “thriving in an environment of state collapse, growing sectarianism, shifting alliances, security vacuums and a burgeoning war economy.”

In Yemen, Al Qaeda “has regularly fought alongside Saudi-led coalition forces in … Aden and other parts of the south, including Taiz, indirectly obtaining weapons from them,” the ICG added. “… In northern Yemen … the [Saudi-led] coalition has engaged in tacit alliances with AQAP fighters, or at least turned a blind eye to them, as long as they have assisted in attacking the common enemy.”

In May 2016, a PBS documentary showed Al Qaeda members fighting side by side with UAE forces near Taiz. (See “The Secret Behind the Yemen War,” Consortium News, May 7, 2016.)

Last August, an Associated Press investigative team found that the Saudi-led coalition had cut secret deals with Al Qaeda fighters, “paying some to leave key cities and towns and letting others retreat with weapons, equipment, and wads of looted cash.” Saudi-backed militias “actively recruit Al Qaeda militants,” the AP team added, “… because they’re considered exceptional fighters” and also supply them with armored trucks.

If it’s not news that U.S. allies are providing pro-Al Qaeda forces with U.S.-made equipment, why is CNN pretending that it is? One reason is that it feels free to criticize the war and all that goes with it now that the growing human catastrophe in Yemen is turning into a major embarrassment for the U.S. Another is that criticizing the U.S. for failing to rein in its allies earns it points with viewers by making it seem tough and independent, even though the opposite is the case.

Then there’s Trump, with whom CNN has been at war since the moment he was elected. Trump’s Dec. 19 decision to withdraw U.S. troops from Syria thus presented the network with a double win because it allowed it to rail against the pullout as “bizarre” and a “win for Moscow” while complaining at the same time about administration policy in Yemen. Trump is at fault, it seems, when he pulls out and when he stays in.

In either instance, CNN gets to ride the high horse as it blasts away at the chief executive that corporate outlets most love to hate. Maybe Elbagir should have given her exposé a different title: “Why arming homicidal maniacs is bad news in one country but OK in another.”

February 22, 2019 Posted by | Aletho News | , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment