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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  • He has withdrawn from the 1987 Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty, citing Russian non-compliance – a charge the Kremlin rejects.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

Russia shouldn’t go ‘tooth for a tooth’ after Facebook bans Russian-linked media – Lavrov

RT | February 19, 2019

Sergey Lavrov says he is opposed to retaliating against foreign media in Russia after the Facebook ban of Russia-linked pages. Moscow should instead focus on upholding the rights of its journalists abroad.

The recent suspension of four Maffick Media Facebook pages after a CNN report on their links to RT is “definitely another example of pressure against Russian media and against free speech,” Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov told media after a meeting with his Slovak counterpart and current chairman of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), Miroslav Lajcak.

Lavrov said he had also brought to Lajcak’s attention recent cases of discrimination against Sputnik and RT, including journalists being arbitrarily banned from official events in Spain.

When asked whether Moscow would retaliate against foreign media in Russia, however, Lavrov said he is “firmly against” such measures.

The fact that we still have not done so is not only testimony to our restraint, but also to our strength. We are an open society.

He pointed out that Ukrainian journalists are freely operating in Russia, including those reporting “rather aggressively” on both internal Russian events and Moscow’s relationships with the West.

The authorities responsible for deciding on a response should not employ the “tooth for a tooth” principle, Lavrov said.

“We should focus on maintaining comfortable working conditions for foreign journalists in Russia, while at the same time firmly defending the rights of our journalists abroad,” using the resources of international media rights institutions, the Russian foreign minister said.

During the weekend, CNN reported on the “Russian links” of several Facebook pages hosting political videos with millions of subscribers and over two billion views. Shortly afterwards, Facebook suspended four pages run by Maffick Media, half of which is owned by RT subsidiary Ruptly, and the other by In The Now host Anissa Naouai. No prior warning or explanation had been given for the ban, which Naouai called an act of “blatant censorship.”

February 19, 2019 Posted by | Full Spectrum Dominance, Russophobia | | 1 Comment

Blocked RT-Linked Facebook Accounts Sign of Geopolitical Confrontation

Sputnik – 18.02.2019

Margarita Simonyan, the editor-in-chief of Sputnik and RT, said that Facebook’s suspension of accounts operated by Maffick Media over ties to RT was a sign of “open geopolitical confrontation,” where media platforms are being used as “tools.”

“Obviously, things will be getting only worse. Nobody even tries to believe in any freedom or talk about any freedom. This has already become an open geopolitical confrontation, where media platforms… serve as tools,” Simonyan said.

The editor-in-chief of RT pointed out that Facebook had no complaints about the videos on the suspended pages or their content in general.

“However, since CNN contacted [Facebook] and asked ‘how could you allow these Russians to communicate with our population,’ Facebook removed this account,” Simonyan said.

According to the RT editor-in-chief, CNN acted as “the right hand… of the State Department, NATO and everything linked to that.”

CNN admitted it had been tipped off about Maffick Media’s funding by the Alliance for Securing Democracy, an advocacy group that is part of the German Marshall Fund (GMF) policy research centre. The fund considered an “undesirable organization” under the Russian law, receives some of its funding from the US and German governments, NATO and other organizations. According to CNN, the ASD does not receive financing from the GMF and is supported through private funds and grants, rather than by governments.

Facebook said it would ask the three suspended accounts — Soapbox, Back Then and Waste-Ed — to submit information on their affiliations.

“People connecting with Pages shouldn’t be misled about who’s behind them. Just as we’ve stepped up our enforcement of coordinated inauthentic behaviour and financially motivated spam over the past year, we’ll continue improving so people can get more information about the Pages they follow,” a Facebook spokesperson said in a statement, as quoted by RT.

Moscow considers the blocking of Facebook pages related to RT unacceptable, adding that these authoritarian actions violate the principles of freedom of expression. Moreover, Russia is waiting for a response from “OSCE structures” to these actions, the Russian Foreign Ministry said in a statement.

However, the social network has not, until now, required accounts to disclose information about their parent companies. Maffick remarked in its statement that plenty of media outlets supported in part by governments do not post information about their funding on their Facebook pages.

Last week Facebook suspended pages of projects run by Maffick Media, an independent journalistic group that is partly owned by the Ruptly video agency, which is a subsidiary of RT. Facebook did not give Maffick Media any prior warning. According to Maffick’s statement, the social network was “pressured” into doing this by CNN, which ran a story on Maffick Media and its perceived ties to the Kremlin.

February 18, 2019 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Full Spectrum Dominance | , , | Leave a comment

US Top General Takes to CNN to Dispute Syria Withdrawal

Sputnik – 15.02.2019

US General Joseph L. Votel, who has presided over stagnant results in America’s wars since being named commander of US Central Command last year, recently publicly disagreed with US President Donald Trump’s decision to pull US troops from Syria.

“It would not have been my military advice at that particular time,” Votel told CNN of the plan to withdraw troops. Of course, the advice of US generals has brought the country 18 years of war with nothing to show for it except the Pentagon’s expanded budget. The United States now spends about 40 percent more on the military per year than it did during the height of the Iraq War in 2005.

“I would not have made that suggestion, frankly,” said Votel, referring to the decision to bring the troops back home to the US — a process that’s evidently ongoing and also a source of mystery. Exits are notoriously dangerous military maneuvers, so the US has kept quiet on the precise number of forces it has maintained across Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan.

Some analysts have suggested that the military’s consistent refusal over the years to be transparent about troop numbers in the above-mentioned countries has backfired, leaving them with little evidence for their assertions that Trump is killing a critical mission.

The US Constitution, of course, leaves final military decisions up to the president and not the generals, who are subordinate to the office.

Trump has advocated withdrawing US personnel from costly foreign military engagements that lack clear objectives, but his administration has waffled on putting those desires into motion for about two years, variously saying Daesh has been defeated, calling out the need to prevent a Daesh resurgence and combat Iran and plainly admitting that there is nothing in Syria for the US military except “sand and death.”

On Friday, Votel was back on the Pentagon’s message that Daesh is not actually defeated, even though the terrorists’ land holdings have been reduced from the size of Britain to less than a square mile. Daesh “still has leaders, still has fighters, it still has facilitators, it still has resources, so our continued military pressure is necessary to continue to go after that network,” said Votel to CNN, as reported by The Hill.

In any event, achieving the top post in US Central Command (CENTCOM) is often seen as a boon for the careers of military officers. Former CENTCOM chiefs include retired generals David Petraeus and James Mattis, who would go on to become the head of the Central Intelligence Agency and US Secretary of Defense, respectively, after their stints as CENTCOM commanders.

Former UK Ambassador to Syria Peter Ford tells Sputnik not to read too much into Votel’s comments but instead to observe the “continuing efforts of the media and political establishment to undermine Trump,” who has expressed far more anti-interventionist sentiments than his predecessor both during his campaign and while in office.

February 16, 2019 Posted by | Illegal Occupation, Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Militarism | , , , , | 2 Comments

The Real Motive Behind the FBI Plan to Investigate Trump as a Russian Agent

By Gareth Porter | Consortium News | February 13, 2019

The New York Times and CNN led media coverage last month of discussions among senior FBI officials in May 2017 of a possible national security investigation of President Donald Trump himself, on the premise that he may have acted as an agent of Russia.

The episode has potentially profound political fallout, because the Times and CNN stories suggested that Trump may indeed have acted like a Russian agent. The New York Times story on Jan. 11 was headlined, “F.B.I. Opened Inquiry into Whether Trump Was Secretly Working on Behalf of Russia.” CNN followed three days later with: “Transcripts detail how FBI debated whether Trump was ‘following directions’ of Russia.”

By reporting that Russia may have been able to suborn the president of the United States, these stories have added an even more extreme layer to the dominant national political narrative of a serious Russian threat to destroy U.S. democracy. An analysis of the FBI’s idea of Trump as possible Russian agent reveals, moreover, that it is based on a devious concept of “unwitting” service to Russian interests that can be traced back to former CIA director John O. Brennan.

The Proposal That Fell Apart

The FBI discussions that drove these stories could have led to the first known investigation of a U.S. president as a suspected national security risk. It ended only a few days after the deliberations  among the senior FBI officials when on May 19, 2017, the Justice Department chose Robert Mueller, a former FBI director, to be special counsel. That put control over the Trump-Russia investigation into the hands of Mueller rather than the FBI.

Peter Strzok, who led the bureau’s counter-espionage section, was, along with former FBI General Counsel James A. Baker, one of those involved in the May 2017 discussions about investigating Trump. Strzok initially joined Mueller’s team but was fired after a couple of months when text messages that he had written came to light exposing a deep animosity towards Trump that cast doubt over his  impartiality.

The other FBI officials behind the proposed investigation of Trump have also since left the FBI; either fired or retired.

The entirety of what was said at the meetings of five or six senior FBI officials in the immediate aftermath of Trump’s firing of James Comey as FBI director on May 9, 2017, remains a mystery.

Closed-door Testimony

The CNN and Times stories were based on transcripts either obtained or, in the case of the Times, on portions read to it, of private testimony given to the House Judiciary and Government Oversight and Reform committees last October by Baker, one of the participants in the discussions of Trump as a possible Russian agent.

Excerpts of Baker’s testimony published by CNN make it clear that the group spoke about Trump’s policy toward Russia as a basis for a counter-intelligence investigation. Baker said they “discussed as [a] theoretical possibility” that Trump was “acting at the behest of [Russia] and somehow following directions, somehow executing their will.”

Baker went on to explain that this theoretical possibility was only “one extreme” in a range of possibilities discussed and that “the other extreme” was that “the President is completely innocent.”

He thus made it clear that there was no actual evidence for the idea that he was acting on behalf of Russia.

Baker also offered a simpler rationale for such an investigation of Trump: the president’s firing of FBI Director Comey. “Not only would [firing Comey] be an issue of obstructing an investigation,” he said, “but the obstruction itself would hurt our ability to figure what the Russians had done, and that is what would be the threat to national security.”

But the idea that Comey’s firing had triggered the FBI’s discussions had already been refuted by a text message that Strzok, who had been leading the FBI’s probe into the Trump campaign’s contacts with Russians, sent immediately after the firing to Lisa Page, then legal counsel to Andrew McCabe, formerly the bureau’s deputy director who was then acting director.

“We need to open the case we’ve been waiting on now while Andy is acting,” Strzok wrote, referring to McCabe.

As Page later confirmed to congressional investigators, according to the CNN story, Strzok’s message referred to their desire to launch an investigation into possible collusion between Trump and the Russians. Strzok’s message also makes clear he, and others intent on the investigation, were anxious to get McCabe to approve the proposed probe before Trump named someone less sympathetic to the project as the new FBI director.

Why the FBI Wanted to Investigate

The New York Times story argued that the senior FBI officials’ interest in a counter-intelligence investigation of Trump and the Russians sprang from their knowledge of the sensational charges in the opposition research dossier assembled by British ex-spy Christopher Steele (paid for by the DNC and the Clinton campaign) that the Putin government had “tried to obtain influence over Mr. Trump by preparing to blackmail and bribe him.”

But the Times writers must have known that Bruce Ohr, former associate deputy attorney general, had already given McCabe, Page and Strzok information about Steele and his dossier that raised fundamental questions about its reliability.

Ohr’s first contacts at FBI headquarters regarding Steele and his dossier came Aug. 3, 2016, with Page and her boss McCabe. Ohr later met with Strzok.

Ohr said he told them that Steele’s work on the dossier had been financed by the Clinton campaign through the Perkins-Cole law firm. He also told them that Steele, in a July 30, 2016 meeting, told him he was “desperate that Donald Trump not get elected and was passionate about him not being president,” according to Ohr’s contemporaneous notes of the meeting.

So, key figures in the discussion of Trump and Russia in May 2017 knew that Steele was acting out of both political and business motives to come up with sensational material.

Strzok and Page may have started out as true believers in the idea that the Russians were using Trump campaign officials to manipulate Trump administration policy. However, by May 2017, Strzok had evidently concluded that there was no real evidence.

In a text message to Page on May 19, 2017, Strzok said he was reluctant to join the Mueller investigation, because of his “gut sense and concern” that “there’s no big there there.”

Why, then, were Strzok, Page, McCabe and others so determined to launch an investigation of Trump at about the same time in May 2017?

A CNN article about the immediate aftermath of the Comey firing reported that Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein and senior FBI officials “viewed Trump as a leader who needed to be reined in, according to two sources describing the sentiment of the time.”

That description by anti-Trump law enforcement officials suggests that the proposed counter-intelligence investigation of Trump served as a means to maintain some leverage over his treatment of the FBI in regard to the Russia issue.

That motivation would be consistent with the decision by McCabe on May 15, 2017 – a few days after the discussions in question among the senior FBI officials – to resume the bureau’s relationship with Steele.

The FBI had hired Steele as a paid source when it had earlier launched its investigation of Trump campaign official’s contacts with Russians in July 2016. But it had suspended and then terminated the relationship over Steele’s unauthorized disclosure of the investigation to David Corn of Mother Jones magazine in October 2016. So, the decision to resume the relationship with Steele suggests that the group behind the new investigation were thinking of seizing an opportunity to take off the gloves against Trump.

The ‘Unwitting Collaboration’ Ploy

The discussion by senior FBI officials of a counter-intelligence investigation of Trump has become part of the political struggle over Trump mainly because of the stories in the Times and CNN.

The role of the authors of those stories illustrates how corporate journalists casually embraced the ultimate conspiracy theory – that the president of the United States was acting as a Russian stooge.

The reporters of the CNN story — Jeremy Herb, Pamela Brown and Laura Jarrett — wrote that the FBI officials were “trying to understand why [Trump] was acting in ways that seemed to benefit Russia.”

The New York Times story was more explicit. Co-authors Adam Goldman, Michael S. Schmidt and Nicholas Fandos wrote that the FBI officials “sought to determine whether Mr. Trump was knowingly working for Russia or had unwittingly fallen under Moscow’s influence.”

The same day the Times story was published, the lead author on the piece, Adam Goldman, was interviewed by CNN. Goldman referred to Trump’s interview with NBC’sLester Holt in the days after the Comey firing as something that supposedly pushed the FBI officials over the edge. Goldman declared, “The FBI is watching him say this, and they say he’s telling us why he did this. He did it on behalf of Russia.”

But Trump said nothing of kind. What he actually said — as the Times itself quoted Trump, from the NBCinterview —was: “[W]hen I decided just to do it, I said to myself – I said, you know this Russia thing with Trump and Russia is a made-up story.” The Times article continued: “Mr. Trump’s aides have said that a fuller examination of his comments demonstrates that he did not fire Mr. Comey to end the Russia inquiry. ‘I might even lengthen out the investigation, but I have to do the right thing for the American people,” Mr. Trump added. ‘He’s the wrong man for that position.’”

Goldman was evidently trying to sell the idea of Trump as a suspected agent of Russia.

Goldman also gave an interview to The New Yorker’s Isaac Chotiner, in which the interviewer pressed him on the weakest point of the Trump-as-Russian-agent theory. “What would that look like if the President was an unwitting agent of a foreign power?” asked Chotiner.

The Times correspondent, who won a Pulitzer Prize for his coverage of the alleged Russian efforts to influence the 2016 election, responded: “It is hard to say what that would look like.” Goldman then reiterated the concept. “People were very careful to tell me that: ‘It is wittingly or unwittingly.’” And in answer to a follow-up question, Goldman referred to evidence he suggested might be held by the FBI that “perhaps suggests that the President himself may be acting as a foreign agent, either wittingly or unwittingly….”

The idea that American citizens were somehow at risk of being led by an agent of the Russian government “wittingly or unwittingly” did not appear spontaneously. It had been pushed aggressively by former CIA Director John O. Brennan both during and after his role in pressing for the original investigation.

When Brennan testified before the House Intelligence Committee in May 2017, he was asked whether he had intelligence indicating that anyone in the Trump campaign was “colluding with Moscow.” Instead of answering the question directly, Brennan said he knew from past experience that “the Russians try to suborn individuals, and they try get them to act on their behalf either wittingly or unwittingly.” And he recalled that he had left the government with “unresolved questions” about whether the Russians had been successful in doing so in regard to unidentified individuals in the case of the 2016 elections.

Brennan’s notion of “unwitting collaboration” with Russian subversion is illogical. Although a political actor might accidentally reveal information to a foreign government that is valuable, real “collaboration” must be mutually agreeable. A policy position or action that may benefit a foreign government, but is also in the interest of one’s own government, does not constitute “unwitting collaboration.”

The real purpose of that concept is to confer on national security officials and their media allies the power to cast suspicion on individuals on the basis of undesirable policy views of Russia rather than on any evidence of actual collaboration with the Russian government.

The “witting or unwitting” ploy has its origins in the unsavory history of extreme right-wing anti-communism during the Cold War. For example, when the House Un-American Activities Committee was at its height in 1956, Chairman Francis E. Walter declared that “people who are not actually Communist Party members are witting or unwitting servants of the Communist cause.”

The same logic – without explicit reference to the phrase — has been used to impugn the independence and loyalty of people who have contacts with Russia.

It has also been used to portray some independent media as part of a supposedly all-powerful Russian media system.

The revelation that it was turned against a sitting president, however briefly, is a warning signal that national security bureaucrats and their media allies are now moving more aggressively to delegitimize any opposition to the new Cold War.

Gareth Porter is an independent investigative journalist and historian writing on U.S. national security policy. His latest book, “Manufactured Crisis: The Untold Story of the Iran Nuclear Scare,” was published in 2014. Follow him on Twitter: @GarethPorter.

February 14, 2019 Posted by | Fake News, Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Russophobia | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Democrats are the McCarthyites

By Margaret Kimberley | Black Agenda Report | February 6, 2019

The unceasing torrent of Russiagate lies turns Democrats into war hawks and causes liberals to spout nonsense that was once consigned to the fringe right wing. It’s worse than the old McCarthyism.

A recent poll indicated that Democrats are more likely than Republicans to hold pro-war views. That revelation is hardly surprising considering the degree to which their party has promoted the trope of Donald Trump as a Russian government asset. This strategy is a focal point for them and a weapon to be used against the Republicans instead of the political opposition their voters need.

The ongoing investigation popularly known as Russiagate is a cynical hoax perpetrated by the Democratic Party leadership and their friends in corporate media. Russiagate distracts the public from taking a hard look at the Democratic Party corruption and resulting missteps that put Donald Trump in the White House. It also serves the interests of the bi-partisan surveillance state, which feared that Trump pronouncements indicated fundamental changes in foreign policy which they could not abide.

These allegations have Trump on the ropes, but mostly because of the relentless repetition of lies about the investigation. The litany of indictments paraded by the media involve crimes like tax fraud and payments to porn stars. None of the indictments point to collusion between the Russian government and the Trump campaign. Because no such connections have been made the media continue whipping up hysteria in an effort to keep the tale alive. The campaign is more shrill than ever because the hollowness of the case is clear to anyone who is really paying attention.

Comparisons have been made with McCarthyite “Red Scare” of the 1950s. But it can be argued that Russiagate is even worse. Bizarre assertions that were once consigned to the fringe right wing are now repeated on a daily basis by influential corporate media personalities and nearly all Democratic Party politicians.

The most prolific Russiagate practitioner is Rachel Maddow of MSNBC. She has ridden that horse so successfully that she now has the highest rated program on cable news. But she may have reached a moment which prompted the famous question asked at the army/McCarthy hearings. “At long last have you no sense of decency?”

Her assertion that Russia might be able to hack into the power grid and freeze Americans to death is quite dangerous . “What would you do if you lost heat indefinitely as the act of a foreign power on the same day that the temperature in your front yard matched the temperature in Antarctica? I mean, what would you and your family do?” It doesn’t matter that experts declared that the claim was highly improbable if not impossible. There is now no depth that cannot be reached in the effort to bamboozle Democrats and keep them stupid and needlessly fearful.

Prestigious newspapers like the New York Times are equally guilty of passing off lies as the truth. The Times reported that Trump and his associates had more than 100 interactions with Russians before inauguration day in 2017. But the story falls apart on even cursory inspection. The Times includes unproven claims of contacts with Wikileaks when it isn’t even a Russian organization. Roger Stone is the latest to be indicted because of his own stupidity, having claimed contacts with Wikileaks that never even took place.

But even as the case for collusion falls apart, the McCarthyite media find new ways to keep the narrative running. Russian press coverage of Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard’s presidential campaign is called a “campaign of support” for her candidacy. NBC called Russian reporting the “propaganda machine.” The real issue is that Gabbard dares to question U.S. foreign policy dictates. She met with Syrian president Assad and opposes the coup attempt against Venezuela. But stopping such heretical acts from taking place is a central feature of the Russiagate scare.

So insane is the conspiracy mongering that clear damage to Russian government aspirations are called “wins for Putin.” The Trump administration’s unilateral withdrawal from the 30-year old INF missile treaty is not something that Vladimir Putin would ever want. The decades long effort to limit nuclear proliferation gives both countries security knowing that the other is restricted in the number and placements of nuclear weapons. Yet this very obvious reality is now turned on its head, and truth is twisted and disappeared.

The worst possible outcome of Russiagate is that it increases the likelihood of armed conflict between the United States and Russia. The same people who see MSNBC, CNN and national newspapers as divine oracles can be led to support any government act, no matter how dangerous it may be. Liberals who might once have opposed a hot war would now be the first to support it.

The Russiagate pimps are stoking fear and hatred. They spread outright lies and ignorance and they are doing so because of base motives. The Democratic Party rank and file ought to be demanding answers about the 2016 defeat and the previous loss of 900 legislative seats around the country. But they have been so badly misled that they don’t know that they should be asking anything at all. Even people who call themselves progressives are worshipping prosecutorial excess from the Robert Mueller investigation team and applauding surveillance state killers bloviating on cable news programs.

McCarthyism is back and it is being led by liberals. The entire world is endangered because of their leaders’ lies and cover ups and their determination to follow blindly. The outcome will be continued political defeat at home and an increased likelihood of what was once unimaginable, war between two nuclear powers.

Margaret Kimberley lives in New York City, and can be reached via e-Mail at Margaret.Kimberley(at)BlackAgendaReport.com.

February 6, 2019 Posted by | Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Progressive Hypocrite, Russophobia | , , , , | 1 Comment

Weapons ending up with terrorists is OK, as long as Obama did it: The world according to CNN

RT | February 5, 2019

A “bombshell” CNN report has revealed that US-made weapons found their way to Al-Qaeda-linked fighters in Yemen. But is anyone surprised? And where was CNN when the Obama administration armed hardcore jihadists in Syria?

The CNN investigation revealed how American-made weapons ended up in the hands of “al Qaeda-linked fighters, hardline Salafi militias, and other factions waging war in Yemen,” vis-a-vis the US’ coalition partners Saudi Arabia and the UAE. Some of these weapons have also been seized by Iranian-backed militias, CNN claims.

The hardware, referred to as “Beautiful military equipment” by President Trump, was supplied to Saudi Arabia and the UAE, who have backed the embattled Yemeni government in its three-year civil war against Houthi rebels. However, CNN claims that Saudi Arabia and the UAE have funnelled the arms to pro-government factions, including the islamist Giants Brigade and the Al-Qaeda-linked Abu Abbas brigade.

The shifting frontlines in Yemen ensured that many of these weapons – including wire-guided TOW missiles and mine-resistant armored vehicles (MRAPs) – ended up seized by Houthi militants and Iranian proxy forces. More American weapons still ended up for sale in Yemen’s teeming arms bazaars, where they fetch a higher price than the rusted AK-47s more common to the region.

CNN lays responsibility squarely at the feet of Saudi Arabia, the UAE, and the Trump administration, which refused to cancel its multibillion dollar arms deals with the Saudis last year, for fear of losing “all of that investment being made into our country.”

The report paints a depressing, but familiar picture. Picking sides in foreign wars has historically proven disastrous for the United States, yet successive administrations have made the same mistakes again and again. The Reagan administration armed Saddam Hussein in his war with Iran, going as far as arranging the sale of anthrax to the Iraqi leader. Both Jimmy Сarter and Ronald Reagan propped up the Afghan mujahideen in their fight against the Soviets in the 1980s. In both cases, US forces would be shot at with the same weapons just two decades later.

Covering for Obama

More recently, in 2014 Barack Obama announced that the US would hand-select and arm ‘moderate rebels’ in Syria, stepping into the country’s bloody civil war. That too would prove disastrous, with troves of US arms ending up in the hands of Al-Nusra and ISIS.

But where was CNN when Obama asked Congress for $500 million to train, arm, and “empower the moderate Syrian opposition?”

CNN was reporting the news verbatim from Obama’s mouth, repeating the phrase “moderate rebels” without the ironic quotation marks that have become necessary since. Obama’s assertion that the rebels offered the “best alternative to terrorists and a brutal dictator” was not questioned, unlike Trump’s continuation of the longstanding US policy of arming the Saudis.

Obama called for funding in June 2014, but Syrian militias had already received support from the CIA for two years at that stage. CNN’s reporting on the covert arms pipeline was scant, didn’t question the credentials of the recipients, and mostly repeated the line of US intelligence officials: “That is something we are not going to dispute, but we are not going to publicly speak to it.”

Few questions were asked as Congress authorized the military support that September, and none were asked a year later as Obama resupplied his chosen rebels in Syria. Instead, Obama’s declaration of support for “the moderate Syrian opposition” was taken at face value and left unquestioned.

The reality in Syria

As CNN repeated the White House line on Syria, the network published just one report hinting that things might be amiss: an investigation by Amnesty International that found Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS) militants were armed to the teeth with US-made weapons. The weapons were acquired by IS from local forces armed by the Obama administration, and then used to “relentlessly” target civilians with “small arms, artillery fire and huge quantities of improvised explosive devices.”

While CNN was assuaging the public, the situation on the ground in Syria was anything but moderate. US arms were quickly sold on the black market by ‘moderate rebels’ who either retired from the fight or wanted to turn a quick buck. With morale low, some of these fighters literally handed their weapons to Al-Nusra jihadists in exchange for safe passage away from the frontlines, while more were stolen by the Islamists.

Moreover, one Al-Nusra commander codenamed Abu Al Ezz told the German Koelner Stadt-Anzeiger newspaper that his group, and not so-called ‘moderate rebels’, received TOW missiles directly from the US. “The missiles were given to us directly,” he said, adding: “The Americans are on our side.” The commander went on to detail how his fighters had received training from US instructors, and financial support from Saudi Arabia and Israel for capturing specific objectives in Syria.

The Trump administration ended the arms supply program to the Syrian rebels in 2017, a decision that CNN called“a big win for Russia.” The idea that ending material support for terrorists might just be a good thing was not raised, and CNN described the program as “a lifeline” to anti-government forces.

CNN even stuck by its straight-faced use of the term ‘moderate rebels’, despite multiple other news outlets publishing reports of US weapons falling into terrorist hands.

Two months before the 2016 election, CNN absolved Obama of all his sins in Syria by publishing an interview in which the then-president said the situation there “haunts” him constantly. The network blamed external factors for the deteriorating situation in Syria, and ended with a quote from Obama’s press secretary, who said that every one of the former president’s decisions “was squarely within the national security interest of the United States and even advanced our national security interests.”

CNN’s latest exclusive report is a well-researched piece of journalism, fleshed out with on-the-ground reporting from war-torn Yemen. However, given the network’s history in reporting US arms programs, it was much more likely motivated by a desire to score points against Trump than the pursuit of cold truth, no matter who is in charge.

February 5, 2019 Posted by | Deception, Mainstream Media, Warmongering | , , , , , , | Leave a comment