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Goodbye ‘Freedom and Democracy’ – Hello ‘Rules-based International Order’

By Paul Carline | OffGuardian | February 2, 2019

The banner and the clarion call of western countries, and their own asserted legitimation – especially when they are engaging in illegal wars and coups – used to be “freedom and democracy”: the precious gift they were generously and selflessly offering to a backward world – or one allegedly in the ‘chains’ of Socialism/Communism. There was “Radio Free Europe”, for example, pushing out western liberal propaganda, primarily against the countries of the former Soviet Union.

The Washington-based “Freedom House” organisation, which claims to be independent, has around 150 staff members in Washington and in ‘field offices’ around the world. Its President is Michael J. Abramowitz, who before joining Freedom House in 2017, was director of the US Holocaust Memorial Museum’s Levine Institute for Holocaust Education. Before that, he was National Editor and then White House correspondent for the Washington Post. He is a member of the Council on Foreign Relations and a former fellow at the German Marshall Fund and the Hoover Institution. He is also a board member of the National Security Archive. The Board of Trustees is chaired by Michael Chertoff, Secretary of Homeland Security under George W. Bush and co-author of the USA Patriot Act.

Since 1972, Freedom House, whose website sports a warm endorsement by none other than Francis Fukuyama, has produced an annual “Freedom in the World” global map (above), which divides the world into countries which are either “free”, “partly free”, or “not free”. The allegedly “free” countries are coloured green, the “partly free” ones a kind of muddy yellow, and the “not free” ones blue.

Its analysis of “freedom” covers “the electoral process, political pluralism and participation, the functioning of government, freedom of expression and belief, rights of association and organization, the rule of law, and personal autonomy and individual rights”. The word ‘democracy’ is not used in the ratings system, nor is it defined anywhere, but the 2018 analysis is headlined “Democracy in Crisis”.

According to Freedom House, in 2018 45% of the world (by country) or 39% (by population) was “free”, 30% (country) or 24% (population) was “partly free”, and 25%/37% “not free”. Countries are rated on a percentage points system. Sweden, which last year joined in the NATO ‘war games’ – despite not being a NATO member – is given a full 100 points, Canada 99, Uruguay 98, both Chile and the UK 94, France a completely undeserved 90, the USA 86 and Israel an unreal 79. By contrast, China scores 14, Iran 17, and Russia a mere 20, while Tibet and Syria are granted only 1 point each (no bias there). Almost incredibly, Ukraine scores 62 – allowing it to be rated as “partly free”! Very oddly, the FAQ section is available in only two languages – English and Ukrainian!

I suspect that the statement by Freedom House’s President, Michael J. Abramowitz, to the effect that: “A quarter-century ago, at the end of the Cold War, it appeared that totalitarianism had at last been vanquished and liberal democracy had won the great ideological battle of the 20th century”, must induce wry smiles – if not outright anger – in many Off-Guardian readers. Abramowitz predictably refers to “the rise of populist leaders who appeal to anti-immigrant sentiment and give short shrift to fundamental civil and political liberties” and describes “newcomer Emmanuel Macron” as a “centrist” who “handily” (interesting choice of words!) won the French presidency.

Depressingly predictable is his comment on China and Russia, which he labels “the world’s leading autocracies” and which he asserts “have seized the opportunity not only to step up internal repression but also to export their malign influence to other countries, which are increasingly copying their behaviour and adopting their disdain for democracy” (emphasis added; no mention of the massive ‘disdain for democracy’ in the USA, UK, and numerous members of the EU).

According to Abramowitz, “Democratic governments allow people to help set the rules to which all must adhere, and have a say in the direction of their lives and work!” If that were true, there would be lots of direct democracy in all those “free” countries. It’s true that there is some ‘direct democracy’, e.g. popular initiatives and referendums, in a few states of the USA and in a few European countries – with Switzerland far and away the best example, followed by Germany at the regional and local levels, thanks to the efforts over decades of its leading pro-democracy organisation “Mehr Demokratie”, which has been trying to have direct democratic rights established also at the national level, which would really allow the people to “help set the rules”. Germany’s “Basic Law” (it doesn’t have a proper constitution for reasons which I cannot go into here but which will be known to many) actually states: “All power derives from the people” (Article 20) and “State power is exercised by the people in elections and referendums” (emphasis added) – but successive governments have refused to enact the laws that would allow state-level referendums, presumably because they fear the “people power” that is the literal meaning of ‘democracy’.

Given subsequent developments, Kofi Annan’s 2001 Nobel Peace Prize acceptance speech now strikes a sour note:

“The obstacles to democracy have little to do with culture or religion, and much more to do with the desire of those in power to maintain their position at any cost. This is neither w new phenomenon nor one confined to any particular part of the world. People of all cultures value their freedom of choice and feel the need to have a say in the decisions affecting their lives”

In the 2002 UNDP World Development Report, Annan re-affirmed the true nature of democracy in these words:

“True democratization means more than elections. People’s dignity requires that they be free – and able – to participate in the formation and stewardship of the rules and institutions that govern them”.

According to Abramovitch’s definition, and that of Kofi Annan, there is zero genuine democracy in the U.K. (a purely representative system – especially one still using an outdated and wholly disreputable FPTP system, with rare referendums arranged by the government, which sets the question – is not a legitimate form of democracy).

We may also ask, in parenthesis as it were, who – if not the electorates – is “helping to set the rules”, for example in Europe specifically. As of July 2017, there were 11,327 registered lobby organisations in the EU, employing some 82,096 people – the equivalent of 50,326 full-time personnel – of which nearly 7,000 have access to the Parliament. In Germany there are around eight lobbyists – representing ‘outside’ interests – for every member of the national parliament – and the lobby registers are voluntary. Only seven countries (France, Ireland, Lithuania, Austria, Poland, Slovenia and the UK) have passed any laws on lobbying.

What is extremely interesting and telling is the general absence of references to ‘freedom and democracy’ by our so-called ‘leaders’. Those words have been replaced in the political lexicon by the now clearly favoured expression “the rules-based international order” – which doesn’t have quite the same ring, or the same connotations, as “freedom and democracy”.

One is forced to ask: whose order? whose rules? If Abramowitz is correct, and since we are privileged enough to live in a country which, if we are to believe its FH rating, is little short of perfect, we the people must have been involved in setting those rules. We should at least have been told what they mean! For example, what does ‘international’ mean in this context? It suggests a global compact – but when it is used it specifically excludes certain countries and regimes which we are led to believe are not part of, or indeed are allegedly trying to undermine, this new ‘order’.

Although the word ‘international’ is often taken to be a synonym for ‘global’ or ‘universal’, its literal meaning is ‘between nations’. The UN has of course long promulgated and endorsed all kinds of ‘universal’ rules (the ICC rules on aggression for instance) – many of which are routinely flouted by the countries which most loudly lay claim to being ‘democracies’ and loyal observers of the “rules-based international order”.

But we are now seeing a new type of literally ‘inter-national’ agreements being made in Europe, often merely between two governments at a time (with no democratic endorsement by either parliaments or people) and where the suspicion is that this is a new way of hiding from the general public what is really going on in Europe – specifically the step-by-step implementation of the “United States of Europe” project which dates from at least 1946.

There seems to be an undue haste to complete the creation of a unified military establishment that would not be answerable to the individual nation states which are contributing their forces (and infrastructure!) and which would also appear to include a much closer working relationship between military and police forces. Does the urgency have to do with the level of chaos in Europe and the threat – now materialised in the form of the “Yellow Vest” protests – of widespread civil unrest and potentially public revolt?

So Prime Minister Theresa May can pretend to the public that the ‘Brexit’ approved by a majority of voters will take place i.e. that Britain will “come out of” the EU, while at the same time, and largely in secret or behind closed doors in completely undemocratic meetings, the government is committing the entire UK military establishment, step by step, to the new ‘unified European defence establishment’. The UK enters into a special relationship with France (and thereby with the EU). France and Germany have just signed a new treaty – the Aachen Treaty – so does the UK automatically acquire the special relationship with Germany? And will this “two-step” approach eventually link all willing states (one could imagine Hungary, perhaps Italy and Greece also, not being so willing) in the ‘new European order’?

In struggling to understand the “rules-based international order” I found this definition by the RAND Corporation very helpful:

Since 1945, the United States has pursued its global interests through creating and maintaining international economic institutions, bilateral and regional security organizations, and liberal political norms; these ordering mechanisms are often collectively referred to as the international order.

In recent years, rising powers have begun to challenge aspects of this order. This report is part of a project, titled “Building a Sustainable International Order,” that aims to understand the existing international order, assess current challenges to the order, and recommend future US policies with respect to the order.

This report is the first of those and reflects the project team’s attempt to understand the existing international order, including how US decision makers have described and used the order in conducting foreign policy, as well as how academics have assessed the mechanisms by which the order affects state behaviour.

When discussing policy responses to a fraying international order, the first challenge is to understand what we mean by the term. Order has various meanings in the context of international politics, and specific orders can take many forms.1 For the purposes of this project, we conceive of order as the body of rules, norms, and institutions that govern relations among the key players in the international environment. An order is a stable, structured pattern of relationships among states that involves some combination of parts, including emergent norms, rulemaking institutions, and international political organizations or regimes, among others.

– RAND Corporation 2016, Understanding the Current International Order

This more recent observation was both insightful and amusing:

“The rules-based international order is being challenged, quite surprisingly, not by the usual suspects, but by its main architect and guarantor, the US,” Donald Tusk, the president of the European Council, said as the summit meeting got underway in Quebec’s picturesque resort town of La Malbaie on the banks of the St. Lawrence River.

The trans-Atlantic rift manifested itself in a behind-the-scenes debate about the wording of the traditional summit communiqué. The American side objected to including the phrase “rules-based international order,” even though it is boilerplate for such statements, according to two people briefed on the deliberations. The Europeans and Canadians were pushing back, but it remained unclear whether the Trump administration would ultimately sign the statement or be left on its own.

– NYT June 8, 2018 Michael D. Shear

So the ‘rules-based international order’ is, in reality, the expression of America’s “global interests”. Other parties – such as British and other governments – may be allowed to put on the mask of the Eagle, whilst claiming to be on the side of justice, truth, human rights … and yes, democracy. And since it’s a US construct, the US and its allies can feel free to ‘make it up as they go along’.

February 2, 2019 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Deception, Timeless or most popular | , , , | Leave a comment

How NATO-linked Think Tanks Control EU Refugee Policy

By F. William Engdahl – New Eastern Outlook – 27.04.2016

A flood of uncontrolled war refugees from Syria, Libya, Tunisia and other Islamic countries destabilized by Washington’s ‘Arab Spring’ Color Revolutions, has created the greatest social dislocation across the EU from Germany to Sweden to Croatia since the end of World War II. By now it has become clear to most that something quite sinister is afoot, something which threatens to destroy the social fabric of the very core of European civilization. What few realize is that the entire drama is being orchestrated, not by German Chancellor Angela Merkel, or by faceless EU bureaucrats of the Brussels EU Commission. It is being orchestrated by a cabal of NATO-linked think tanks.

Last October 8, 2015 amid the great stream of hundreds of thousands of refugees flooding into Germany from Syria, Tunisia, Libya and other lands, a newly self-confident German Chancellor Angela Merkel proclaimed on a popular German TV program, “I have a plan.” She took the occasion to take a sharp dig at coalition partner, Bavarian CSU head, Horst Seehofer, a stauch critic of Merkel’s open arms refugee position since spring 2015 that saw more than one million refugees enter Germany last year alone.

Since that point, with iron-hard resolve, the German Chancellor has defended the criminal Erdogan regime in Turkey, an essential partner in her “plan.”

Most of the world has looked on with astonishment as she ignored principles of free speech and decided to prosecute publicly a well-known German TV comedian, Jan Böhmermann, for his satirical remarks about the Turkish President. They were astonished as the symbol of European democracy, the German Chancellor, chose to ignore Erdogan’s imprisonment of opposition journalists and his shutting of Turk opposition media as he proceeded with plans to establish a de facto dictatorship rule within Turkey. They were puzzled as Berlin’s government chose to ignore overwhelming proof that Erdogan and his family were materially aiding and abetting ISIS terrorists within Syria who were in fact creating the war refugee crisis. They were astonished to see her push through an EU commitment to give Erdogan’s regime billions of euros to supposedly deal with the refugee flow from Turkish refugee camps across the border into EU neighbor land, Greece and beyond.

The Merkel Plan

All of those seemingly inexplicable actions from the once-pragmatic German leader appear to go back to her embrace of a 14-page document prepared by a network of pro-NATO think-tanks, brazenly titled “The Merkel Plan.”

What the newly-self-confident German Chancellor did not tell her hostess, Anne Will, or her viewers was that “her” plan was given to her just four days earlier, on October 4, in a document already titled The Merkel Plan, by a newly-created and obviously well-financed international think-tank called the European Stability Initiative or ESI. The ESI website showed that it had offices in Berlin, Brussels and in Istanbul, Turkey

Suspiciously, the authors of the ESI plan titled their plan as if it had come from the German Chancellor’s office and not from them. More suspicious is the contents of The Merkel Plan of ESI. In addition to already taking more than one million refugees in 2015, Germany should “agree to grant asylum to 500,000 Syrian refugees registered in Turkey over the coming 12 months.” In addition, “Germany should accept claims from Turkey… and provide safe transport to successful applicants… already registered with the Turkish authorities…” And finally, “Germany should agree to help Turkey obtain visa-free travel in 2016.”

That so-called Merkel Plan was a product of US and NATO-linked think tanks and of governments of NATO member countries or prospective members. The maxim “follow the money trail” is instructive in this case to see who really runs the EU today.

The ESI

The ESI came out of NATO-led efforts to transform South East Europe following the US-instigated war in Yugoslavia during the 1990’s that resulted in the Balkanization of the country and establishment of a major USA and NATO airbase, Camp Bond Steel in Kosovo.

Current ESI Chairman directly responsible for the final Merkel Plan document is Istanbul-based Austrian sociologist, Gerald Knaus. Knaus is also a member of the European Council on Foreign Relations (ECFR), and an Open Society Fellow.

Founded in London in 2007, the ECFR is an imitation of the influential New York Council on Foreign Relations, the think-tank created by the Rockefeller and JP Morgan bankers during the 1919 Versailles peace talks to coordinate an Anglo-American global foreign policy. Significantly, the creator and moneybags for the ECFR is American multi-billionaire and Color Revolution funder, George Soros. In virtually every US State Department-backed Color Revolution since the collapse of the Soviet Union, including in Serbia in 2000, in Ukraine, in Georgia, in China, in Brazil and in Russia, George Soros and offshoots of his Open Society Foundations have been in the shadows financing “democracy” NGOs and activists to install pro-Washington and pro-NATO regimes.

The select members, called Council Members or associates, of the London-based ECFR include ECFR co-chairman Joschka Fischer, former German Green Party Foreign Minister who arm-twisted his party into backing Bill Clinton’s illegal 1999 bombing of Serbia without UN Security Council backing.

Other members of the Council of Soros’ European Council on Foreign Relations think tank include former NATO Secretary General, Xavier Solana. It includes disgraced plaigarist and former German Defense Minister, Karl-Theodor zu Guttenberg; Annette Heuser, Executive Director Bertelsmann Stiftung in Washington DC; Wolfgang Ischinger, Chairman, Munich Security Conference; Cem Özdemir, chairman, Bündnis90/Die Grünen; Alexander Graf Lambsdorff, German Liberal Party (FDP) MP; Michael Stürmer, Chief Correspondent, Die Welt; Andre Wilkens, Director of Mercator Foundation; pederasty defender, Daniel Cohn-Bendit of the European Parliament. Cohn-Bendit, known as “Danny the Red” during the May, 1968 French student riots, was a member of the the autonomist group Revolutionärer Kampf (Revolutionary Struggle) in Rüsselsheim, Germany along with his close ally, now ECFR chairman, Joschka Fischer. The two went on to found the “realo” wing of the German Greens.

The Open Society Foundations is the network of tax-exempt “democracy-promoting” foundations created by George Soros on the collapse of the Soviet Union to promote “free market” pro-IMF market liberalization of former communist economies that opened the doors for the systematic plundering of invaluable mining and energy assets of those countries. Soros was a major financier of the liberal economic team of Boris Yeltsin including Harvard “Shock Therapy” economist, Jeffrey Sachs, and Yeltsin liberal adviser, Yegor Gaidar.

Already it becomes clear that the “Merkel Plan” is the Soros Plan in fact. But there is more if we wish to understand the darker agenda behind the plan.

The ESI Funders

The European Stability Initiative think-tank of Soros-tied Gerald Knaus is financed by an impressive list of donors. Their website lists them.

The list includes, in addition to Soros’ Open Society Foundations, the Soros-tied German Stiftung Mercator, and the Robert Bosch Stiftung. ESI funders also include European Commission. Then, curiously enough the funder list for The Merkel Plan includes an organization with the Orwellian name, The United States Institute of Peace.

Some research reveals that the United States Institute of Peace has anything but a peace-loving background. The United States Institute of Peace is chaired by Stephen Hadley, former US National Security Council adviser during the neo-conservative war-waging Bush-Cheney administration. Its Board of Directors includes Ashton B. Carter, current Obama Administration neo-conservative hawkish Secretary of Defense; Secretary of State John Kerry; Major General Frederick M. Padilla, President of the US National Defense University. These are some very seasoned architects of the US Pentagon Full Spectrum Dominance strategy for world military domination.

The “Merkel Plan” authors at the European Stability Initative, in addition to the largesse of George Soros’ foundations, list as “core” funder, the German Marshall Fund of the United States. As I describe in my book, The Think Tanks, the German Marshall Fund is anything but German. With its seat in Washington, as I noted in the book, “It’s an American think tank with its headquarters in Washington, D.C. In point of fact, its agenda is the deconstruction of postwar Germany and more broadly of the sovereign states of the EU to fit them better into the Wall Street globalization agenda.”

The German Marshall Fund of Washington has been involved in the post-1990 USA agenda of regime change around the world in league with the US-funded National Endowment for Democracy, Soros Foundations, and the CIA front called USAID. As I describe it in the think tanks book, “The major focus of the German Marshall Fund according to its 2013 Annual Report was to support the US State Department agenda for so-called democracy-building operations in former communist countries in eastern and south-eastern Europe, from the Balkans to the Black Sea. Significantly their work included Ukraine. In most instances, they worked together with the USAID, widely identified as a CIA front with ties to the State Department, and the Stewart Mott Foundation which gives funds to the US Government-funded National Endowment for Democracy.”

Notably, the same Stewart Mott Foundation is also a funder of the ESI-authored Merkel Plan, as is the Rockefeller Brothers Fund.

This all should give pause for reflection as to who and for what goals the Merkel-Erdogan deal for dealing with the EU refugee crisis is intended. Does the Rockefeller-Bush-Clinton faction in the United States intend to use it as a major social engineering experiment to create chaos and social conflict across the EU at the same time their NGOs such as the NED, Freedom House and the Soros Foundations are stirring things up in Syria and Libya and across the Islamic world? Is Germany, as former US presidential adviser and Rockefeller crony, Zbigniew Brzezinski called her, a “vassal” of US power in the post-1990 world? To date the evidence is pretty strong that that’s the case. The role of US and NATO-linked think tanks is central to get an understanding of how the Federal Republic of Germany and the European Union are actually controlled from behind the Atlantic curtain.

August 12, 2018 Posted by | Book Review, Deception | , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

In Nicaragua, is Operation “Contra bis” failing?

By Alex Anfrus | Journal of Our Americas, Investig’Action | July 21, 2018

Thrown under the spotlight since mid-April, the homeland of Sandino is still facing an intense political crisis. From now on, the crisis seems to be approaching its final resolution. On the one hand, the Nicaraguan people are mobilizing more and more alongside the authorities to help them dismantle barricades in insurgent spots. And on the other hand, in one week two big demonstrations for peace took place. Against the wishes of an opposition camp and spokespersons of the US administration, the message of Daniel Ortega during the march for peace of July 7 in Managua was crystal clear: “Here it is the people who set the rules in the Constitution of the Republic. They will not change overnight by the will of some coup leaders. If the putschists want to come to the government, let them seek the people’s vote in the next elections. With all the destruction they have provoked, we will see what support they will have.” But these facts are minimized by the private media and major news agencies, which continue to hide the evolution on the ground and blow on the embers of the dispute. Which side will tip the scales?

A dreadful propaganda scheme

In a recent article, I examined a number of contradictions in the treatment by international media of Nicaragua. Notably, one can recognize one of the principles of war propaganda which is to reverse the aggressor and the victim. The scheme works as follows: first, an opposition sector, one that refuses dialogue with the government, plans to control some parts of the capital and other cities by means of barricades. These areas are then considered “liberated from tyranny”, and thus represent the hearth of insurgency that must recur throughout the country, to defeat the operations of “repression” of police forces. This tactic of deploying barricades has been theorized as an effective means of preventing the authorities from gaining control over the national territory, because it is “impossible for the government to have enough personnel to control every inch of the country”. The first obvious thing to emphasize is that this is not a completely spontaneous crisis that emerges from a massive popular mobilization, but that there is indeed an insurrectional plan in place capable of standing up to the authorities for months. We are witnessing the first phase in the development of an unconventional war to overthrow a democratically elected government.

Then, a number of clashes take place in these areas “liberated” by the opposition. At this point, it is not trivial to note that the activists who defend these barricades are no longer peaceful protesters that the mainstream media has portrayed. Images of hooded youths handling homemade mortars and other explosive devices are impossible to conceal. In fact, they even contribute to the creation of a “romantic” dimension of popular resistance in the context of face-to-face contact with the professional police corps. This is where the second phase of the unconventional war comes in, namely the decisive role of media corporations that contribute to the production of a dominant and one-sided narrative of the crisis. It is easier to identify with a young demonstrator who is rebelling than a young police officer compelled to use force to enforce the law. Thus, when there have been deaths around the barricades, it becomes complicated for an outside observer to know the truth.

Who is not concerned with these victims?

A simple and quick tour of private media news will make anyone realize that the idealized dimension mentioned above serves only to delegitimize government action. No one is asking themselves this simple question: “Was the victim a pro-government Sandinista helping the police dismantle the barricades, or an opponent who defended them?” Many testimonies in favor of the first version have been systematically dismissed! Indeed, the role of the private media is fundamental in order to give maximum credibility to the opposition’s side of the story. Would the latter be manipulating the victims’ memory with the complicity of some private media in Nicaragua? This is quite a strong point for us: what about the many cases of victims whose membership in the pro-government camp has been proven?

In the framework of the peace talks, the Nicaraguan government first accepted that the IACHR (Note: Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, organ of the Organization of American States (OAS)) lead a human rights observation mission. But it went on to denounce that its report does not include the description of many cases of attacks against civilian victims, including public officials, as a result of the violence unleashed by the opposition. Are the dice loaded? Here are some recent examples that illustrate a much more nuanced situation than that described by some media:

– On June 19, the authorities launch an operation in Masaya to release the Deputy Director of the National Police Ramon Avellan and his agents, who were entrenched in the police station, surrounded by barricades since June 2. Every night, protesters fired mortar at the police station, accompanied by threats: “What do you think? That there were only “güevones” (rascals) in this fight? Here again, here is my little sister… ” Then, the mortar fire would start again near the police station… Under the pretext of playful action, a video shows how protesters positioned behind a barricade sing menacing songs against General Avellan, accompanied by shots. According to the Pro-Human Rights Nicaraguan Association ANPDH organization, as a result of the police rescue operation, six people – including three whose identity remains to be verified – were murdered in several surrounding neighborhoods.

– On June 30, in the context of an opposition march, a protester was shot dead. Recorded a few minutes before the tragedy by a journalist who was there, a video shows how opposition members surround a private security officer and ask him to handover his weapon, simulating a hostage situation in order to justify their action. Then, the images show a person who stands behind the agent, points a pistol at his temple and steals his rifle. Later, the protesters will attribute the death to government repression.

– On July 3, two people were kidnapped in Jinotepe by a group of armed hooded men: police major Erlin García Cortez and Enacal worker Erasmo Palacios. Three days later, Bismarck de Jesús Martínez Sánchez, a worker from the Managua City Hall, was also kidnapped. A week later, relatives had still not received any sign of life from them.

– On July 5, the lifeless body of National Police officer Yadira Ramos was found in Jinotepe. She had been kidnapped, raped and tortured. She had been forced to get off her vehicle and her husband had been killed on the spot.

– On July 6, FSLN member Roberto Castillo Cruz was killed by opposition hoodlums who held barricades in Jinotepe. His son, Christopher Castillo Rosales had been killed just a week before him. In a video published shortly before his own murder, Castillo Cruz denounced the murderers: “This criminal gang of the right has killed my son, I only ask for justice and that peace prevails so that our children do not lose their lives!”

– On July 8, during a nighttime clash in Matagalpa, a 55-year-old man named Aran Molina was killed while rescuing Lalo Soza, a Sandinista activist who was under attack. The following day, Frente Sandinista de Liberación Nacional (FSLN) paid tribute to him through a procession. The same day, two other people were killed: social worker Tirzo Ramón Mendoza, executed by hooded people after being kidnapped, and a third victim whose identity remains unknown.

– On 9 July, the authorities dismantled the barricades that prevented free movement in the towns of Diriamba and Jinotepe. Many residents then testified about the many violent actions of the opposition, including torture against the Sandinistas. At the same time, representatives of the Episcopal Conference arrived. Citizens of Jinotepe then entered the church, where they found opposition members disguised as members of the clergy. Residents accused church officials of protecting them and not saying anything or doing anything to stop the violence unleashed in the last two months. In Diriamba, the inhabitants also discovered an arsenal of mortars hidden in the church of San Sebastian.

– On July 12, a criminal gang attacked the Morrito Town Hall in Rio San Juan. A historical Sandinista fighter, Carlos Hernandez, was kidnapped there. Seriously wounded and unable to escape, a youth Sandinista activist, two police officers and their superiors are murdered. A Sandinista activist received a bullet in the abdomen. Later, schoolmaster Marvin Ugarte Campos would succumb to his injuries. The version of the opposition? It says the massacre was … a “self-attack by paramilitaries”!

It seems that some deaths and violent acts have no value, while others are erected as martyrs for a sacred cause. In the end, does everything depend on the prism through which we look at reality? Are we already placed in a camp in a conflict without knowing it or even suspecting it? In this case, would it be a waste of time to try to form one’s own opinion from fact analysis? The search for peace and truth prevents us from succumbing to such resignation.

In a remarkable 46-page work entitled “The monopoly of death – how to inflate figures to assign them to the government”, Enrique Hendrix identified the numerous inconsistencies in the various reports presented by the three main human rights organizations, the CENIDH (Nicaraguan Center for Human Rights), the IACHR and the ANPDH. Comparing the various reports from the beginning of the crisis to the date of the last reports presented (from April 18 to June 25), he concluded that the three organizations recorded a total of 293 deaths. In 26% of cases (77 citizens), information on the deaths is incomplete and remains to be verified. In 21% of cases (60 citizens), the dead are persons murdered by the opposition, either public officials or Sandinista militants who were murdered for helping the authorities dismantle the barricades. In 20% of the cases (59 citizens), the dead were protesters, opposition members or people who erected barricades. In 17% of cases (51 citizens), the dead do not have a direct relationship with the demonstrations. Finally in 16% of the cases (46 citizens), the dead were passers-by who did not take part in the clashes.

As can be seen in this study, the balance sheets of these organizations are sorely lacking in rigor and mix all sorts of victims (fights between gangs, road accidents, murders in the context of vehicle theft, conflict between land owners, police officers, a pregnant woman in an ambulance blocked by barricades …). Conclusion: if we take into account the exact circumstances of each death, it is obvious that we cannot attribute the responsibility to the government alone. In light of these elements, we have the right to challenge the international media about their lack of objectivity. Why such an alignment with a sector of the opposition who has declared itself fiercely hostile to any dialogue?

Who is not interested in dialogue?

This propaganda mechanism is completed by the “blackout” of other information that is not considered relevant. However, while the media focuses on the clashes, other sectors of the opposition continue to participate in the various sessions of the “dialogue tables for truth, peace and justice”, organized to listen to different points of view and seek to establish responsibility in the wave of violence ravaging the country. Moreover, the final conclusions of the various human rights observation missions in the country had not yet been made, they were to be discussed and include new elements. But what can we expect from the dialogue between the two parties, when a number of observers have already decided in advance that the government alone is responsible for the violence?

All over the world, the role of the police is to repress in case of “disturbance of public order”. But we struggle to understand why the authorities would order it to attack civilians wildly and arbitrarily at the same time as the peace dialogue is taking place. On the other hand, one could expect such an attitude from those who, refusing to participate in the dialogues, would seek to sabotage it, having an interest in the derailment of this process. In this case, it is not unlikely that hooded thugs have been posing as police forces on several occasions.

In any case, it is no less credible than the version of these same hooded thugs, who say that the government of Daniel Ortega would have given the green light to disguised civilians to destroy infrastructure and kill other civilians! Still, the government did not deny that at the beginning of the crisis some police officers sometimes acted using disproportionate violence, and it responded that justice will have to determine their responsibility in actions punishable by law. The National Assembly, for its part, has launched an initiative to create a “Commission for Truth, Justice and Peace” with the aim of reporting on the responsibilities of human rights violations within three months.

But in the fairy tale that the mainstream media is manufacturing from dawn to dusk, and on the internet 24 hours a day, it is not even conceivable that the government of Nicaragua is facing difficulties whose causes would be complex and numerous. The media hype and the positions of foreign political figures serve as irrefutable proof! As has been the case in Venezuela in recent years, taking the public hostage in this way is an insult to its intelligence. Of course, not everything is explained by the tentacles of the imperialist octopus. But for those who are interested in the history of inter-American relations for the last two centuries, it is not serious to forget about its weight and consider that this influence is a thing of the past.

How to export democracy in dollars

It seems that few observers are really shocked by the rapid progression of these events, which are shaped like a breadcrumb trail towards a single objective: condemning the Ortega government and demanding early elections. That’s where the hiccup is: Latin American countries where assassinations of trade unionists, peasants and social leaders have been a common thing for years, where the peace efforts of governments are considered, at best, as totally ineffective, and at worst as non-existent, such as Colombia, Honduras or Mexico, are not at all worried about the image of their “democracies”. There is something wrong, isn’t it? To shed some light on this mystery, a reminder of the history of the twentieth century is worth the detour.

The coups and destabilizations fomented from abroad, such as in the Dominican Republic or in Guatemala, show that in the second half of the 20th century the Latin-American context was still marked by the military interventionism of the Monroe Doctrine and the “manifest destiny” of the United States. It was nothing more than an imperialist policy of controlling the resources and raw materials of Latin America, now presented as an anticommunist “crusade” in the context of the Cold War. On the other hand, the dominance of the United States would not be limited to a demonstration of force based on the “regime change” and the sending of troops on the ground, but it would also take forms of cultural domination, in particular through the so-called “development aid” policies.

In his speech in January 1949, US President Harry Truman described non-industrialized countries as “underdeveloped” countries. Thus, in 1950, the American Congress passed an Act for International Development (AID). On September 4, 1961, a US Congress law replaced the AID by USAID, which was to implement a new, more comprehensive vision of “development assistance” directed anywhere in the planet. As can be seen in the coup against Jacobo Arbenz in Guatemala in 1954, the anti-communist struggle was only a pretext. The main concern of the US government was to prevent the development of national consciousness within the armies and police of “underdeveloped countries”. That is why, from 1950 to 1967, “the United States government spent more than $ 1,500 million on military aid to Latin American countries.” (1)

After the victory of the Cuban Revolution in 1959, John Kennedy announced the Alliance for Progress in 1961. It was a similar initiative to the Marshall Plan in Europe. Between 1961 and 1970, the Alliance for Progress provided $ 20 billion in economic assistance to Latin America. One of the objectives was the stabilization of the regimes that fought against communism and the influence of Cuba.

“John F. Kennedy and his advisers are developing an action plan for the region, the Alliance for Progress, consisting of a $ 20 billion investments for economic development and massive military assistance. The decade of the sixties is marked by the formation of a new generation of Latin American military and the transfer of capital and technology from the US military to Latin America. The Pentagon and the CIA draw their strategy to halt the advance of socialism: the US Army-run Panama School trains the cadres of the Latin American armed forces “. (2)

Under the fallacious concept of “development aid policies”, the “creation of strong armies and police” and “military aid to reactionary and pro-imperialist regimes” served to offer to the monopolies “the most favorable conditions of exploitation of underdeveloped countries “. (3) In other words, this “aid” represented above all a political weapon in favor of the economic interests of the countries of the Global North. These were represented in the OECD (Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development), founded in 1961 and also known as the “Rich Country Club”. It consisted of 27 countries, mostly those of North America, Western Europe and Japan.

Resistance emerges sooner or later

But the new reality resulting from decolonization in Asia and Africa also represented an awareness: the strength of the liberated countries now resided in their unity. This would enable them to exercise some orientation on the agenda of the United Nations General Assembly, and to defend the autonomous “right to development”. Thus, in the 1970s, the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) would play an important role in defending the interests of the Group 77. Created in 1964, UNCTAD was characterized by the Common Declaration of the 77 countries as a “historic turning point”.

The invasion and the military occupation of Nicaragua by the United States makes it possible to better appreciate the historical value of the Sandinista Popular Revolution and the resistance to the interferences which it showed in the 1980s. The scandal of the financing of Contras by the CIA through the drug trade in Central America was proof that these plans are not infallible. Despite the many interferences and destabilizations suffered throughout history, the peoples of the South have an advantage over the powerful: collective memory and intelligence.

After the dictatorships’ repression, the debt crisis and the rule of the IMF in the 1970s and 1980s, Latin America was to experience many social revolts in the 1990s, paving the way for the arrival of new progressive governments in Brazil, Ecuador, Venezuela or Bolivia. The next step was to launch the Bolivarian Alliance for the Peoples of Our America (ALBA), a regional cooperation body created in 2004 to defeat the proposed Free Trade Area of ​​the Americas (ALCA in Spanish) by the United States.

What remains today of yesterday’s meddling?

Since the 1990s, at the end of the Cold War, US aid no longer had the pretext of restraining communism. It then took the form of “counter-terrorism” or “security and anti-drug policies”. Here are the main recipients of US aid in Latin America: $ 9.5 billion for Colombia; $ 2.9 billion for Mexico; and since 2016, aid to all countries in the Northern Triangle of Central America (El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras) has exceeded that of the first two. (4) Which explains why we systematically condemn some countries and not others… regardless of reality and the degree of violence.

Yet the Cold War is not over in the minds of some. Thus, OAS Secretary General Luis Almagro believes it is necessary in 2018 to comply with White House requirements, and to harass night and day countries such as Nicaragua or Venezuela at the risk of being ridiculed. Indeed, when in a special session of the OAS the US spokesperson has just criticized the violence in Nicaragua and attributed it exclusively to the government, can we take his word for it? It would be better to remind him that his country does not have the slightest legitimacy to talk about Nicaragua, because it invaded and occupied it militarily for 21 years, then went on to support the clan of the dictator Somoza for another 43 years!

The “conservative restoration” of recent years, with the “soft coups” to overthrow Lugo in Paraguay, Zelaya in Honduras, Rousseff in Brazil; the failure of the peace process in Colombia, the judicial persecution against Jorge Glas, Lula Da Silva and now Rafael Correa, is the ideal context for the OAS, this obsolete organization, to try to put an end to the memory of the social achievements of recent years.

Since the US did not invent hot water, to reach their ends they must use the means at hand. Unsurprisingly, Freedom House, funded among others by USAID and the National Endowment for Democracy (NED), decided to create a special task force to fight the FSLN in Nicaragua in 1988. It is always opportune to hear NED Co-Founder Allen Weinstein: “A lot of what we do today was done covertly 25 years ago by the CIA. The biggest difference is that when such activities are done overtly, the flap potential is close to zero. Openness is its own protection.”. (5)

Today, the interference keeps going through the financing of opposition movements, framed by training programs for “young leaders” ready to defend tooth and nail the values ​​of the sacrosanct “democracy” and to overthrow “dictatorships” from their countries of origin. From 2014 to 2017, the NED has dedicated up to $ 4.2 million to Nicaraguan organizations such as IEEPP (Institute for Strategic Studies and Public Policy), CPDHN (Human Rights Permanent Commission in Nicaragua), Invermedia, Hagamos Democracia and Fundacion Nicaraguense para el Desarrollo Economico y Social. When we remind this to young opponents and their sympathisers, they pretend not to understand…

While it may have been extremely effective in some countries like Ukraine in 2014, the pattern we have described must be confronted with the reality and political traditions of each country. In Nicaragua, the FSLN is the dominant political force that has won democratically in the last three elections. It is significant that opposition sectors that rely on the support of the US, the right wing, and local employers are forced to use references to Sandinismo in an attempt to gain credibility. However, this practice goes too far when it tries to compare the Sandinista government and the dictatorship of Somoza, thus demonizing Daniel Ortega.

The march for peace convened by the FSLN on July 13, in tribute to the 39th anniversary of the historic “tactical retreat” of Sandinism in Masaya, was a new show of strength of the Nicaraguan people and its willingness to defeat the violent strategy of the opposition. Will the peoples of the world live up to the solidarity that this moment demands?

Notes

1) Yves Fuchs; La coopération. Aide ou néo-colonialisme ? Editions Sociales. Paris, 1973, pp. 55 (Cooperation. Help or neo-colonialism?)

2) Claude Lacaille; En Mission dans la Tourmente des Dictatures. Haïti, Equateur, Chili : 1965-1986. Novalis, Montreal, 2014. p 23. (In Mission in the Torment of Dictators. Haiti, Ecuador, Chile: 1965-1986)

3) Gustavo Esteva, “Desarrollo” in SachsWolfgang (coord.) Diccionario del Desarrollo, Lima, PRATEC, 1996. p. 52.

4) https://www.wola.org/es/analisis/ayuda-militar-de-estados-unidos-en-latinoamerica/

5) Washington Post, 22 September 1991.

July 22, 2018 Posted by | Deception | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

America’s Democracy Hypocrisy

By Thomas Knapp | The Garrison Center | February 27, 2018

In late February, Venezuela’s government began accepting presidential candidate registrations and announced a snap legislative election for April. The country’s opposition denounces the process as a sham and Maduro as a dictator, both of which may be true.

Oddly,  a third voice — the US government — also weighed in. Per US state media outlet Voice of America, “the United States, which under President Donald Trump has been deeply critical of Maduro’s leadership in crisis-torn and economically suffering Venezuela, on Saturday rejected the call for an early legislative vote.”

Given the perpetual public pearl-clutching over alleged Russian meddling in the 2016 US presidential election, that’s some major league chutzpah.

The US State Department wants “‘a free and fair election’ involving full participation of all political leaders, the immediate release of all political prisoners, credible international observation and an independent electoral authority.

Let’s take that one at a time.

Participation of all political leaders? In some US states, it’s harder for a third party to get on a ballot than in, say, Iran.

The immediate release of all political prisoners? Last I heard, US president Donald Trump hadn’t pardoned (among others) Leonard Peltier.

Credible international observation? The US proper committed to admitting international election observers in the Organization for Security and Co-Operation in Europe’s 1990 Copenhagen Document, but many US states forbid international observers or, for that matter, local observers who aren’t affiliated with one of the two ruling parties.

Electoral authorities? The two ruling parties control them all and routinely use them to suppress threatened competition, as do pseudo-private entities like the Commission on Presidential Debates, which makes giant illegal (but government approved) in-kind contributions to the Republican and Democratic candidates in the form of televised candidate beauty pageants which exclude the opposition parties.

Writing in The Atlantic, veteran election meddler Thomas O. Mela — formerly of the US State Department, the  US Agency for International Development, the National Democratic Institute and Freedom House — argues that election meddling is different when the US does it, because … well, “democracy.”

Mela asserts a “difference between programs to strengthen democratic processes in another country (without regard to specific electoral outcomes), versus efforts to manipulate another country’s election in order to sow chaos, undermine public confidence in the political system, and diminish a country’s social stability.”

The US government spends a lot of time and money (USAID’s budget alone is about one-tenth the budget of the entire Russian government) on foreign election meddling, and somehow “democracy” always gets interpreted as “whatever outcome the US government prefers at the moment.”

Perhaps we should get our own democratic house in order instead of, or at least before, presuming to tell the rest of the world how democracy does or should work.

Thomas L. Knapp (Twitter: @thomaslknapp) is director and senior news analyst at the William Lloyd Garrison Center for Libertarian Advocacy Journalism (thegarrisoncenter.org).

February 28, 2018 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Timeless or most popular | , , , , , , | 6 Comments

Reagan Documents Shed Light on U.S. ‘Meddling’

By Robert Parry | Consortium News | September 13, 2107

“Secret” documents, recently declassified by the Reagan presidential library, reveal senior White House officials reengaging a former CIA “proprietary,” The Asia Foundation, in “political action,” an intelligence term of art for influencing the actions of foreign governments.

The documents from 1982 came at a turning-point moment when the Reagan administration was revamping how the U.S. government endeavored to manipulate the internal affairs of governments around the world in the wake of scandals in the 1960s and 1970s involving the Central Intelligence Agency’s global covert operations.

Instead of continuing to rely heavily on the CIA, President Reagan and his national security team began offloading many of those “political action” responsibilities to “non-governmental organizations” (NGOs) that operated in a more overt fashion and received funding from other U.S. government agencies.

But secrecy was still required for the involvement of these NGOs in the U.S. government’s strategies to bend the political will of targeted countries. If the “political action” of these NGOs were known, many countries would object to their presence; thus, the “secret” classification of the 1982 White House memos that I recently obtained via a “mandatory declassification review” from the archivists at the Reagan presidential library in Simi Valley, California.

In intelligence circles, “political action” refers to a wide range of activities to influence the policies and behaviors of foreign nations, from slanting their media coverage, to organizing and training opposition activists, even to setting the stage for “regime change.”

The newly declassified memos from the latter half of 1982 marked an ad hoc period of transition between the CIA scandals, which peaked in the 1970s, and the creation of more permanent institutions to carry out these semi-secretive functions, particularly the National Endowment for Democracy (NED), which was created in 1983.

Much of this effort was overseen by a senior CIA official, Walter Raymond Jr., who was moved to Reagan’s National Security Council’s staff where he managed a number of interagency task forces focused on “public diplomacy,” “psychological operations,” and “political action.”

Raymond, who had held top jobs in the CIA’s covert operations shop specializing in propaganda and disinformation, worked from the shadows inside Reagan’s White House, too. Raymond was rarely photographed although his portfolio of responsibilities was expansive. He brought into his orbit emerging “stars,” including Lt. Col. Oliver North (a central figure in the Iran-Contra scandal), State Department propagandist (and now a leading neocon) Robert Kagan, and NED President Carl Gershman (who still heads NED with its $100 million budget).

Despite his camera avoidance, Raymond appears to have grasped his true importance. In his NSC files, I found a doodle of an organizational chart that had Raymond at the top holding what looks like the crossed handles used by puppeteers to control the puppets below them. The drawing fit the reality of Raymond as the behind-the-curtains operative who controlled various high-powered inter-agency task forces.

Earlier declassified documents revealed that Raymond also was the conduit between CIA Director William J. Casey and these so-called “pro-democracy” programs that used sophisticated propaganda strategies to influence not only the thinking of foreign populations but the American people, too.

This history is relevant again now amid the hysteria over alleged Russian “meddling” in last year’s U.S. presidential elections. If those allegations are true – and the U.S. government has still not presented any real proof  – the Russian motive would have been, in part, payback for Washington’s long history of playing games with the internal politics of Russia and other countries all across the planet.

A Fight for Money

The newly released memos describe bureaucratic discussions about funding levels for The Asia Foundation (TAF), with the only sensitive topic, to justify the “secret” stamp, being the reference to the U.S. government’s intent to exploit TAF’s programs for “political action” operations inside Asian countries.

Indeed, the opportunity for “political action” under TAF’s cover appeared to be the reason why Reagan’s budget cutters relented and agreed to restore funding to the foundation.

William Schneider Jr. of the Office of Management and Budget wrote in a Sept. 2, 1982 memo that the Budget Review Board (BRB) had axed TAF funding earlier in the year.

“When the BRB last considered this issue on March 29, 1982, it decided not to include funding in the budget for a U.S. Government grant to TAF. The Board’s decision was based on the judgement that given the limited resources available for international affairs programs, funding for the Foundation could not be justified. During that March 29 meeting, the State Department was given the opportunity to fund TAF within its existing budget, but would not agree to do so.”

However, as Schneider noted in the memo to Deputy National Security Advisor Robert McFarlane, “I now understand that a proposal to continue U.S. funding for the Asia Foundation is included in the ‘political action’ initiatives being developed by the State Department and several other agencies.

“We will, of course, work with you to reconsider the relative priority of support for the Foundation as part of these initiatives keeping in mind, however, the need for identifying budget offsets.”

A prime mover behind this change of heart appeared to be Walter Raymond, who surely knew TAF’s earlier status as a CIA “proprietary.” In 1966, Ramparts magazine exposed that relationship and led the Johnson administration to terminate the CIA’s money.

According to an April 12, 1967 memo from the State Department’s historical archives, CIA Director Richard Helms, responding to a White House recommendation, “ordered that covert funding of The Asia Foundation (TAF) shall be terminated at the earliest practicable opportunity.”

In coordination with the CIA’s “disassociation,” TAF’s board released what the memo described as “a carefully limited statement of admission of past CIA support. In so doing the Trustees sought to delimit the effects of an anticipated exposure of Agency support by the American press and, if their statement or some future expose does not seriously impair TAF’s acceptability in Asia, to continue operating in Asia with overt private and official support.”

The CIA memo envisioned future funding from “overt U.S. Government grants” and requested guidance from the White House’s covert action oversight panel, the 303 Committee, for designation of someone “to whom TAF management should look for future guidance and direction with respect to United States Government interests.”

In 1982, with TAF’s funding again in jeopardy, the CIA’s Walter Raymond rallied to its defense from his NSC post. In an undated memo to McFarlane, Raymond recalled that “the Department of State underscored that TAF had made significant contributions to U.S. foreign policies through fostering democratic institutions and, as a private organization, had accomplished things which a government organization cannot do.” [Emphasis in original]

Raymond’s bureaucratic intervention worked. By late 1982, the Reagan administration had arranged for TAF’s fiscal 1984 funding to go through the U.S. Information Agency (USIA) budget, which was being used to finance a range of President Reagan’s “democracy initiatives.” Raymond spelled out the arrangements in a Dec. 15, 1982 memo to National Security Advisor William Clark.

“The issue has been somewhat beclouded in the working levels at State since we have opted to fund all FY 84 democracy initiatives via the USIA budgetary submission,” Raymond wrote. “At the same time, it is essential State maintain its operational and management role with TAF.”

Over the ensuing three and half decades, TAF has continued to be  subsidized by U.S. and allied governments. According to its annual report for the year ending Sept. 30, 2016, TAF said it “is funded by an annual appropriation from the U.S. Congress, competitively bid awards from governmental and multilateral development agencies, including the U.S. Agency for International Development, Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, United Kingdom’s Department for International Development and by private foundations and corporations,” a sum totaling $94.5 million.

TAF, which operates in 18 Asian countries, describes its purpose as “improving lives across a dynamic and developing Asia.” TAF’s press office had no immediate comment regarding the newly released Reagan-era documents.

Far From Alone

But TAF was far from alone as a private organization that functioned with U.S. government money and collaborated with U.S. officials in achieving Washington’s foreign policy goals.

For instance, other documents from the Reagan library revealed that Freedom House, a prominent human rights organization, sought advice and direction from Casey and Raymond while advertising the group’s need for financial help.

In an Aug. 9, 1982 letter to Raymond, Freedom House executive director Leonard R. Sussman wrote that “Leo Cherne [another senior Freedom House official] has asked me to send these copies of Freedom Appeals. He has probably told you we have had to cut back this project to meet financial realities. We would, of course, want to expand the project once again when, as and if the funds become available.”

According to the documents, Freedom House remained near the top of Casey’s and Raymond’s thinking when it came to the most effective ways to deliver the CIA’s hardline foreign policy message to the American people and to the international community.

On Nov. 4, 1982, Raymond wrote to NSC Advisor Clark about the “Democracy Initiative and Information Programs,” stating that “Bill Casey asked me to pass on the following thought concerning your meeting with [right-wing billionaire] Dick Scaife, Dave Abshire [then a member of the President’s Foreign Intelligence Advisory Board], and Co.

“Casey had lunch with them today and discussed the need to get moving in the general area of supporting our friends around the world. By this definition he is including both ‘building democracy’ and helping invigorate international media programs. The DCI [Casey] is also concerned about strengthening public information organizations in the United States such as Freedom House.

“A critical piece of the puzzle is a serious effort to raise private funds to generate momentum. Casey’s talk with Scaife and Co. suggests they would be very willing to cooperate. Suggest that you note White House interest in private support for the Democracy initiative.”

In a Jan. 25, 1983 memo, Raymond wrote, “We will move out immediately in our parallel effort to generate private support” for “public diplomacy” operations. Then, on May 20, 1983, Raymond recounted in another memo that $400,000 had been raised from private donors brought to the White House Situation Room by USIA Director Charles Wick. According to that memo, the money was divided among several organizations, including Freedom House and Accuracy in Media, a right-wing media attack group.

In an Aug. 9, 1983 memo, Raymond outlined plans to arrange private backing for that effort. He said USIA Director Wick “via [Australian publishing magnate Rupert] Murdock [sic], may be able to draw down added funds” to support pro-Reagan initiatives. Raymond recommended “funding via Freedom House or some other structure that has credibility in the political center.”

[For more on the Murdoch connection, see Consortiumnews.com’sRupert Murdoch: Propaganda Recruit.”]

Questions of Legality

Raymond remained a CIA officer until April 1983 when he resigned so in his words “there would be no question whatsoever of any contamination of this” propaganda operation to woo the American people into supporting Reagan’s policies.

Raymond fretted, too, about the legality of Casey’s role in the effort to influence U.S. public opinion because of the legal prohibition against the CIA influencing U.S. policies and politics. Raymond confided in one memo that it was important “to get [Casey] out of the loop,” but Casey never backed off and Raymond continued to send progress reports to his old boss well into 1986.

It was “the kind of thing which [Casey] had a broad catholic interest in,” Raymond said during his Iran-Contra deposition in 1987. He then offered the excuse that Casey undertook this apparently illegal interference in domestic affairs “not so much in his CIA hat, but in his adviser to the president hat.”

In 1983, Casey and Raymond focused on creating a permanent funding mechanism to support private organizations that would engage in propaganda and political action that the CIA had historically organized and paid for covertly. The idea emerged for a Congressionally funded entity that would be a conduit for this money.

But Casey recognized the need to hide the strings being pulled by the CIA. In one undated letter to then-White House counselor Edwin Meese III, Casey urged creation of a “National Endowment,” but added: “Obviously we here [at CIA] should not get out front in the development of such an organization, nor should we appear to be a sponsor or advocate.”

document in Raymond’s files offered examples of what would be funded, including “Grenada — 50 K — To the only organized opposition to the Marxist government of Maurice Bishop (The Seaman and Waterfront Workers Union). A supplemental 50 K to support free TV activity outside Grenada” and “Nicaragua — $750 K to support an array of independent trade union activity, agricultural cooperatives.”

The National Endowment for Democracy took shape in late 1983 as Congress decided to also set aside pots of money — within NED — for the Republican and Democratic parties and for organized labor, creating enough bipartisan largesse that passage was assured.

But some in Congress thought it was important to wall the NED off from any association with the CIA, so a provision was included to bar the participation of any current or former CIA official, according to one congressional aide who helped write the legislation.

This aide told me that one night late in the 1983 session, as the bill was about to go to the House floor, the CIA’s congressional liaison came pounding at the door to the office of Rep. Dante Fascell, a senior Democrat on the House Foreign Affairs Committee and a chief sponsor of the bill.

The frantic CIA official conveyed a single message from CIA Director Casey: the language barring the participation of CIA personnel must be struck from the bill, the aide recalled, noting that Fascell consented to the demand, not fully recognizing its significance.

The aide said Fascell also consented to the Reagan administration’s choice of Carl Gershman to head the National Endowment for Democracy, again not recognizing how this decision would affect the future of the new entity and American foreign policy.

Gershman, who had followed the classic neoconservative path from youthful socialism to fierce anticommunism, became NED’s first (and, to this day, only) president. Though NED is technically independent of U.S. foreign policy, Gershman in the early years coordinated decisions on grants with Raymond at the NSC.

For instance, on Jan. 2, 1985, Raymond wrote to two NSC Asian experts that “Carl Gershman has called concerning a possible grant to the Chinese Alliance for Democracy (CAD). I am concerned about the political dimension to this request. We should not find ourselves in a position where we have to respond to pressure, but this request poses a real problem to Carl.”

Besides clearing aside political obstacles for Gershman, Raymond also urged NED to give money to Freedom House in a June 21, 1985 letter obtained by Professor John Nichols of Pennsylvania State University.

What the documents at the Reagan library make clear is that Raymond and Casey stayed active shaping the decisions of the new funding mechanism throughout its early years. (Casey died in 1987; Raymond died in 2003.)

Lots of Money

Since its founding, NED has ladled out hundreds of millions of dollars to NGOs all over the world, focusing on training activists, building media outlets, and supporting civic organizations. In some geopolitical hotspots, NED may have scores of projects running at once, such as in Ukraine before the 2014 coup that overthrew elected President Viktor Yanukovych and touched off the New Cold War with Russia. Via such methods, NED helped achieve the “political action” envisioned by Casey and Raymond.

From the start, NED also became a major benefactor for Freedom House, beginning with a $200,000 grant in 1984 to build “a network of democratic opinion-makers.” In NED’s first four years, from 1984 and 1988, it lavished $2.6 million on Freedom House, accounting for more than one-third of its total income, according to a study by the liberal Council on Hemispheric Affairs, which was entitled “Freedom House: Portrait of a Pass-Through.”

Over the ensuing decades, Freedom House has become almost an NED subsidiary, often joining NED in holding policy conferences and issuing position papers, both organizations pushing primarily a neoconservative agenda, challenging countries deemed insufficiently “free,” including Syria, Ukraine (before the 2014 coup) and Russia.

NED and Freedom House often work as a kind of tag-team with NED financing NGOs inside targeted countries and Freedom House berating those governments if they try to crack down on U.S.-funded NGOs.

For instance, on Nov. 16, 2012, NED and Freedom House joined together to denounce a law passed by the Russian parliament requiring Russian recipients of foreign political money to register with the government. Or, as NED and Freedom House framed the issue: the Russian Duma sought to “restrict human rights and the activities of civil society organizations and their ability to receive support from abroad. Changes to Russia’s NGO legislation will soon require civil society organizations receiving foreign funds to choose between registering as ‘foreign agents’ or facing significant financial penalties and potential criminal charges.”

Of course, the United States has a nearly identical Foreign Agent Registration Act that likewise requires entities that receive foreign funding and seek to influence U.S. government policy to register with the Justice Department or face possible fines or imprisonment.

But the Russian law would impede NED’s efforts to destabilize the Russian government through funding of political activists, journalists and civic organizations, so it was denounced as an infringement of human rights and helped justify Freedom House’s rating of Russia as “not free.”

The Russian government’s concerns were not entirely paranoid. On Sept. 26, 2013, Gershman, in effect, charted the course for the crisis in Ukraine and the greater neocon goal of regime change in Russia. In a Washington Post op-ed, Gershman called Ukraine “the biggest prize” and explained how pulling it into the Western camp could contribute to the ultimate defeat of Russian President Vladimir Putin.

“Ukraine’s choice to join Europe will accelerate the demise of the ideology of Russian imperialism that Putin represents,” Gershman wrote. “Russians, too, face a choice, and Putin may find himself on the losing end not just in the near abroad but within Russia itself.”

The long history of the U.S. government interfering covertly or semi-covertly in the politics of countries all over the world is the ironic backdrop to the current frenzy over Russia-gate and Russia’s alleged dissemination of emails that undermined Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton’s campaign.

The allegations are denied by both Putin and WikiLeaks editor Julian Assange who published the Democratic emails – and the U.S. government has presented no solid evidence to support the accusations of “Russian meddling” – but if the charges are true, they could be seen as a case of turnabout as fair play.

Except in this case, U.S. officials, who have meddled ceaselessly with their “political action” operations in countries all over the world, don’t like even the chance that they could get a taste of their own medicine.

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

September 13, 2017 Posted by | Deception, Mainstream Media, Warmongering | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

US Wages Cyberwar Abroad Under Cover of “Activism”

By Joseph Thomas – New Eastern Outlook – 20.08.2017

The threat of cyberterrorism has competed for centre stage in American politics with fears of “Russian hackers” disrupting everything from elections to electrical grids. And yet as US policymakers wield threats of cyberterrorism to promote a long and growing list of countermeasures and pretexts for expanding its conflict with Moscow, it is simultaneously promoting very real cyberterrorism globally.

Worst of all, it does so under the guise of “activism.”

The Carnegie Endowment for International Peace recently published a paper titled, “Growing Cyber Activism in Thailand.”

In it, readers may have expected a detailed description of how independent local activists were using information technology to inform the public, communicate with policymakers and organise themselves more efficiently.

Instead, readers would find a list of US-funded fronts posing as “nongovernmental organisations” (NGOs) engaged in subversion, including attacks carried out against Thai government websites aimed at crippling them, the dumping of private information of ordinary citizens online and coercing policymakers into adopting their foreign-funded and directed agenda.

US-Backed Cyberterrorism

The paper cites petitions created by the US-funded Thai Netizen Network on the US-based petition site, Change.org as well as distributed denial of service attacks (DDoS) aimed at crippling essential government websites, a campaign defended by US-funded Thai Netizen as being “virtual civil disobedience.”

The paper would claim (our emphasis):

The most innovative countermeasure was a series of Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) attacks: an anonymous group, Thailand F5 Cyber Army, declared a cyberwar on the Thai government by encouraging netizens to visit listed official websites and continuously press F5 on their keyboards to refresh the pages. The goal was to overwhelm web servers and cause a temporary collapse of the websites of the Ministry of Defense, Ministry of Information and Communication Technology, Government House of Thailand, National Legislative Assembly, and Internal Security Operations Command. The group disseminated detailed instructions on the operation to its anonymous activists. It then demanded that the junta cancel its Single Gateway proposal.

Most of the attacks were successful. Activists wanted to demonstrate the government’s technological ineptitude and its lack of capacity to manage the Single Gateway. Arthit Suriyawongkul, coordinator of the Thai Netizen Network, described the campaign as virtual civil disobedience—an online version of the nonviolent resistance practiced by civil rights groups in the United States. 

In another case, an activist group called Anonymous launched a #BoycottThailand campaign on Twitter and reportedly hacked government websites, snatched confidential information from official databases, and shared it online.

The Thai Netizen Network is funded by the US State Department via the National Endowment for Democracy (NED) subsidiary, Freedom House, as well as convicted financial criminal George Soros’ Open Society and a number of other foreign governments and corporate-funded foundations.

The role of a foreign-funded front coordinating efforts to undermine Thailand’s national security, including promoting cyberterrorism as “civil disobedience,” carries with it many implications. That the US is the foreign state promoting these activities in Thailand, undermines its own efforts to define and combat cyberterrorism back home.

What is Cyberterrorism?  

Cyberterrorism is described on the United States Federal Bureau of Investigation’s (FBI) website as:

… the use of computer network tools to shut down critical national infrastructures (e.g., energy, transportation, government operations) or to coerce or intimidate a government or civilian population.

Attacking government websites millions of people across Thailand depend on for information and services while pilfering the personal information of thousands of ordinary citizens clearly fits the definition of not only cyberterrorism because of the political motivations involved, but also malicious criminality in general.

Unlike alleged Russian hacks which divulged emails detailing impropriety among American politicians, the information pilfered by US-backed hackers in Thailand included the personal information of  millions of ordinary citizens using government services as part of their daily lives.

Bangkok Post would fill in the missing information intentionally omitted from the Carnegie Endowment paper, reporting that:

Files posted by Anonymous and examined by the Bangkok Post appear to be from the court system, as the Anonymous posters claimed.

An SQL database file of 1.1 gigabytes contains thousands of names, ID card numbers, photos, email addresses, personal phone numbers and more — all in clear text.

By dumping this information online, US-backed hackers targeted ordinary citizens, jeopardising their privacy and exposing them to criminal elements the world over involved in identity theft.

US Cyberterrorism is not “Activism”

The Carnegie Endowment paper itself was drafted by Janjira Sombatpoonsiri, assistant professor of political science at Thammasat University, Thailand. She is also cited as a member of the Carnegie Endowment’s Civic Activism Network. Not only is she an active, contributing member of Thailand’s foreign-backed opposition, she is admittedly involved in a foreign think-tank funded by foreign corporate interests.

The Carnegie Endowment includes among its sponsors in its 2016 annual report; the US government, pharmaceutical giants including Gilead, petrochemical monopolies including Chevron, British Petroleum and Shell, defence contractors including Lockheed Martin and several automakers including Ford.

Like many other episodes of extraterritorial political interference up to and including military intervention, America’s meddling in Thailand is done on behalf of corporate interests seeking to expand their respective and collective hegemony both regionally in Asia vis-a-vis Beijing, and globally. This interference is done under the cover of rights advocacy, both by the think tanks and foundations funding it and those in Thailand receiving foreign cash.

The US use of cyberterrorism in Thailand and beyond should come as no surprise. It augments already ongoing efforts by US-backed opposition in Thailand to destabilise and upend Thailand’s political order which has included armed terrorism.

Most recently, a string of bombings plagued Bangkok, including one targeting a hospital. At various junctures during Thailand’s political conflict, foreign-backed opposition has brought militants into the streets. In 2010, nearly 100 would die over the course of several weeks, culminating in citywide arson leaving areas of Thailand’s capital, Bangkok, resembling a war zone.

To see US-sponsored authors attempting to promote cyberterrorism as “activism” in Thailand also comes as no surprise. When Thailand’s opposition carries out armed terrorism, US-sponsored media and policy think tanks often attempt to spin it as well. Other forms of more traditional subversion are also regularly defended by the US and its myriad fronts posing as rights advocates as “activism.”

Understanding that it is not “activism,” but by America’s own very definition, cyberterrorism, helps disarm this malicious campaign posing as “civil disobedience” and “activism,” and allows nations like Thailand to defend themselves through enhanced technological security measure as well as legislation.

August 20, 2017 Posted by | Deception | , , , , | Leave a comment

Key Neocon Calls on US to Oust Putin

By Robert Parry | Consortium News | October 7, 2016

The neoconservative president of the U.S.-taxpayer-funded National Endowment for Democracy [NED] has called for the U.S. government to “summon the will” to engineer the overthrow of Russian President Vladimir Putin, saying that the 10-year-old murder case of a Russian journalist should be the inspiration.

Carl Gershman, who has headed NED since its founding in 1983, doesn’t cite any evidence that Putin was responsible for the death of Anna Politkovskaya but uses a full column in The Washington Post on Friday to create that impression, calling her death “a window to Vladimir Putin, the Kremlin autocrat whom Americans are looking at for the first time.”

Gershman wraps up his article by writing: “Politkovskaya saw the danger [of Putin], but she and other liberals in Russia were not strong enough to stop it. The United States has the power to contain and defeat this danger. The issue is whether we can summon the will to do so. Remembering Politkovskaya can help us rise to this challenge.”

That Gershman would so directly call for the ouster of Russia’s clearly popular president represents further proof that NED is a neocon-driven vehicle that seeks to create the political circumstances for “regime change” even when that means removing leaders who are elected by a country’s citizenry.

And there is a reason for NED to see its job in that way. In 1983, NED essentially took over the CIA’s role of influencing electoral outcomes and destabilizing governments that got in the way of U.S. interests, except that NED carried out those functions in a quasi-overt fashion while the CIA did them covertly.

NED also serves as a sort of slush fund for neocons and other favored U.S. foreign policy operatives because a substantial portion of NED’s money circulates through U.S.-based non-governmental organizations or NGOs.

That makes Gershman an influential neocon paymaster whose organization dispenses some $100 million a year in U.S. taxpayers’ money to activists, journalists and NGOs both in Washington and around the world. The money helps them undermine governments in Washington’s disfavor – or as Gershman would prefer to say, “build democratic institutions,” even when that requires overthrowing democratically elected leaders.

NED was a lead actor in the Feb. 22, 2014 coup ousting Ukraine’s elected President Viktor Yanukovych in a U.S.-backed putsch that touched off the civil war inside Ukraine between Ukrainian nationalists from the west and ethnic Russians from the east. The Ukraine crisis has become a flashpoint for the dangerous New Cold War between the U.S. and Russia.

Before the anti-Yanukovych coup, NED was funding scores of projects inside Ukraine, which Gershman had identified as “the biggest prize” in a Sept. 26, 2013 column also published in The Washington Post.

In that column, Gershman wrote that after the West claimed Ukraine, “Russians, too, face a choice, and Putin may find himself on the losing end not just in the near abroad but within Russia itself.” In other words, Gershman already saw Ukraine as an important step toward an even bigger prize, a “regime change” in Moscow.

Less than five months after Gershman’s column, pro-Western political activists and neo-Nazi street fighters – with strong support from U.S. neocons and the State Department – staged a coup in Kiev driving Yanukovych from office and installing a rabidly anti-Russian regime, which the West promptly dubbed “legitimate.”

In reaction to the coup and the ensuing violence against ethnic Russians, the voters of Crimea approved a referendum with 96 percent of the vote to leave Ukraine and rejoin Russia, a move that the West’s governments and media decried as a Russian “invasion” and “annexation.”

The new regime in Kiev then mounted what it called an “Anti-Terrorism Operation” or ATO against ethnic Russians in the east who had supported Yanukovych and refused to accept the anti-constitutional coup in Kiev as legitimate.

The ATO, spearheaded by neo-Nazis from the Azov battalion and other extremists, killed thousands of ethnic Russians, prompting Moscow to covertly provide some assistance to the rebels, a move denounced by the West as “aggression.”

Blaming Putin

In his latest column, Gershman not only urges the United States to muster the courage to oust Putin but he shows off the kind of clever sophistry that America’s neocons are known for. Though lacking any evidence, he intimates that Putin ordered the murder of Politkovskaya and pretty much every other “liberal” who has died in Russia.

Carl Gershman, president of the National Endowment for Democracy.

Carl Gershman, president of the NED

It is a technique that I’ve seen used in other circumstances, such as the lists of “mysterious deaths” that American right-wingers publish citing people who crossed the paths of Bill and Hillary Clinton and ended up dead. This type of smear spreads suspicion of guilt not based on proof but on the number of acquaintances and adversaries who have met untimely deaths.

In the 1990s, one conservative friend of mine pointed to the Clintons’ “mysterious deaths” list and marveled that even if only a few were the victims of a Clinton death squad that would be quite a story, to which I replied that if even one were murdered by the Clintons that would be quite a story – but that there was no proof of any such thing.

“Mysterious deaths” lists represent a type of creepy conspiracy theory that shifts the evidentiary burden onto the targets of the smears who must somehow prove their innocence, when there is no evidence of their guilt (only vague suspicions). It is contemptible when applied to American leaders and it is contemptible when applied to Russian leaders, but it is not beneath Carl Gershman.

Beyond that, Gershman’s public musing about the U.S. somehow summoning “the will” to remove Putin might — in a normal world — disqualify NED and its founding president from the privilege of dispensing U.S. taxpayers’ money to operatives in Washington and globally. It is extraordinarily provocative and dangerous, an example of classic neocon hubris.

While the neocons do love their tough talk, they are not known for thinking through their “regime change” schemes. The idea of destabilizing nuclear-armed Russia with the goal of ousting Putin, with his 82 percent approval ratings, must rank as the nuttiest and most reckless neocon scheme of all.

Gershman and his neocon pals may fantasize about making Russia’s economy scream while financing pro-Western “liberals” who would stage disruptive protests in Red Square, but he and his friends haven’t weighed the consequences even if they could succeed.

Given the devastating experience that most Russians had when NED’s beloved Russian “liberals” helped impose American “shock therapy” in the 1990s — an experiment that reduced average life expectancy by a full decade — it’s hard to believe that the Russian people would simply take another dose of that bitter medicine sitting down.

Even if the calculating Putin were somehow removed amid economic desperation, he is far more likely to be followed by a much harder-line Russian nationalist who might well see Moscow’s arsenal of nuclear weapons as the only way to protect Mother Russia’s honor. In other words, the neocons’ latest brash “regime change” scheme might be their last – and the last for all humanity.

A Neocon Slush Fund

Gershman’s arrogance also raises questions about why the American taxpayer should tolerate what amounts to a $100 million neocon slush fund which is used to create dangerous mischief around the world. Despite having “democracy” in its name, NED appears only to favor democratic outcomes when they fit with Official Washington’s desires.

CIA Director William Casey.

CIA Director William Casey

If a disliked candidate wins an election, NED acts as if that is prima facie evidence that the system is undemocratic and must be replaced with a process that ensures the selection of candidates who will do what the U.S. government tells them to do. Put differently, NED’s name is itself a fraud.

But that shouldn’t come as a surprise since NED was created in 1983 at the urging of Ronald Reagan’s CIA Director William J. Casey, who wanted to off-load some of the CIA’s traditional work ensuring that foreign elections turned out in ways acceptable to Washington, and when they didn’t – as in Iran under Mossadegh, in Guatemala under Arbenz or in Chile under Allende – the CIA’s job was to undermine and remove the offending electoral winner.

In 1983, Casey and the CIA’s top propagandist, Walter Raymond Jr., who had been moved to Reagan’s National Security Council staff, wanted to create a funding mechanism to support outside groups, such as Freedom House and other NGOs, so they could engage in propaganda and political action that the CIA had historically organized and paid for covertly. The idea emerged for a congressionally funded entity that would serve as a conduit for this money.

In one undated letter to then-White House counselor Edwin Meese III, Casey urged creation of a “National Endowment,” but he recognized the need to hide the strings being pulled by the CIA. “Obviously we here [at CIA] should not get out front in the development of such an organization, nor should we appear to be a sponsor or advocate,” Casey wrote.

The National Endowment for Democracy took shape in late 1983 as Congress decided to also set aside pots of money — within NED — for the Republican and Democratic parties and for organized labor, creating enough bipartisan largesse that passage was assured.

But some in Congress thought it was important to wall the NED off from any association with the CIA, so a provision was included to bar the participation of any current or former CIA official, according to one congressional aide who helped write the legislation.

This aide told me that one night late in the 1983 session, as the bill was about to go to the House floor, the CIA’s congressional liaison came pounding at the door to the office of Rep. Dante Fascell, a senior Democrat on the House Foreign Affairs Committee and a chief sponsor of the bill.

The frantic CIA official conveyed a single message from CIA Director Casey: the language barring the participation of CIA personnel must be struck from the bill, the aide recalled, noting that Fascell consented to the demand, not fully recognizing its significance – that it would permit the continued behind-the-scenes involvement of Raymond and Casey.

The aide said Fascell also consented to the Reagan administration’s choice of Carl Gershman to head NED, again not recognizing how this decision would affect the future of the new entity and American foreign policy.

Gershman, who had followed the classic neoconservative path from youthful socialism to fierce anticommunism, became NED’s first (and, to this day, only) president. Though NED is technically independent of U.S. foreign policy, Gershman in the early years coordinated decisions on grants with Raymond at the NSC.

For instance, on Jan. 2, 1985, Raymond wrote to two NSC Asian experts that “Carl Gershman has called concerning a possible grant to the Chinese Alliance for Democracy (CAD). I am concerned about the political dimension to this request. We should not find ourselves in a position where we have to respond to pressure, but this request poses a real problem to Carl.

“Senator [Orrin] Hatch, as you know, is a member of the board. Secondly, NED has already given a major grant for a related Chinese program.”

Neocon Tag Teams

From the start, NED became a major benefactor for Freedom House, beginning with a $200,000 grant in 1984 to build “a network of democratic opinion-makers.” In NED’s first four years, from 1984 and 1988, it lavished $2.6 million on Freedom House, accounting for more than one-third of its total income, according to a study by the liberal Council on Hemispheric Affairs that was entitled “Freedom House: Portrait of a Pass-Through.”

Over the ensuing three decades, Freedom House has become almost an NED subsidiary, often joining NED in holding policy conferences and issuing position papers, both organizations pushing primarily a neoconservative agenda, challenging countries deemed insufficiently “free,” including Syria, Ukraine (in 2014) and Russia.

Indeed, NED and Freedom House often work as a kind of tag-team with NED financing “non-governmental organizations” inside targeted countries and Freedom House berating those governments if they crack down on U.S.-funded NGOs.

For instance, on Nov. 16, 2012, NED and Freedom House joined together to denounce legislation passed by the Russian parliament that required recipients of foreign political money to register with the government.

Or, as NED and Freedom House framed the issue: the Russian Duma sought to “restrict human rights and the activities of civil society organizations and their ability to receive support from abroad. Changes to Russia’s NGO legislation will soon require civil society organizations receiving foreign funds to choose between registering as ‘foreign agents’ or facing significant financial penalties and potential criminal charges.”

Of course, the United States has a nearly identical Foreign Agent Registration Act that likewise requires entities that receive foreign funding and seek to influence U.S. government policy to register with the Justice Department or face possible fines or imprisonment.

But the Russian law would impede NED’s efforts to destabilize the Russian government through funding of political activists, journalists and civic organizations, so it was denounced as an infringement of human rights and helped justify Freedom House’s rating of Russia as “not free.”

Another bash-Putin tag team has been The Washington Post’s editors and NED’s Gershman. On July 28, 2015, a Post editorial and a companion column by Gershman led readers to believe that Putin was paranoid and “power mad” in worrying that outside money funneled into NGOs threatened Russian sovereignty.

The Post and Gershman were especially outraged that the Russians had enacted the law requiring NGOs financed from abroad and seeking to influence Russian policies to register as “foreign agents” and that one of the first funding operations to fall prey to these tightened rules was Gershman’s NED.

The Post’s editors wrote that Putin’s “latest move … is to declare the NED an ‘undesirable’ organization under the terms of a law that Mr. Putin signed in May [2015]. The law bans groups from abroad who are deemed a ‘threat to the foundations of the constitutional system of the Russian Federation, its defense capabilities and its national security.’

“The charge against the NED is patently ridiculous. The NED’s grantees in Russia last year ran the gamut of civil society. They advocated transparency in public affairs, fought corruption and promoted human rights, freedom of information and freedom of association, among other things. All these activities make for a healthy democracy but are seen as threatening from the Kremlin’s ramparts.

“The new law on ‘undesirables’ comes in addition to one signed in 2012 that gave authorities the power to declare organizations ‘foreign agents’ if they engaged in any kind of politics and receive money from abroad. The designation, from the Stalin era, implies espionage.”

However, among the relevant points that the Post’s editors wouldn’t tell their readers was the fact that Russia’s Foreign Agent Registration Act was modeled after the American Foreign Agent Registration Act and that NED President Gershman had already publicly made clear — in his Sept. 26, 2013 column — that his goal was to oust Russia’s elected president.

In his July 28, 2015 column, Gershman further deemed Putin’s government illegitimate. “Russia’s newest anti-NGO law, under which the National Endowment for Democracy … was declared an “undesirable organization prohibited from operating in Russia, is the latest evidence that the regime of President Vladimir Putin faces a worsening crisis of political legitimacy,” Gershman wrote, adding:

“This is the context in which Russia has passed the law prohibiting Russian democrats from getting any international assistance to promote freedom of expression, the rule of law and a democratic political system. Significantly, democrats have not backed down. They have not been deterred by the criminal penalties contained in the ‘foreign agents’ law and other repressive laws. They know that these laws contradict international law, which allows for such aid, and that the laws are meant to block a better future for Russia.”

The reference to how a “foreign agents” registration law conflicts with international law might have been a good place for Gershman to explain why what is good for the goose in the United States isn’t good for the gander in Russia. But hypocrisy is a hard thing to rationalize and would have undermined the propagandistic impact of the column.

Also undercutting the column’s impact would be an acknowledgement of where NED’s money comes from. So Gershman left that out, too. After all, how many governments would allow a hostile foreign power to sponsor politicians and civic organizations whose mission is to undermine and overthrow the existing government and put in someone who would be compliant to that foreign power?

And, if you had any doubts about what Gershman’s intent was regarding Russia, he dispelled them in his Friday column in which he calls on the United States to “summon the will” to “contain and defeat this danger,” which he makes clear is the continued rule of Vladimir Putin.

October 8, 2016 Posted by | Mainstream Media, Warmongering | , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Hong Kong’s “Localists” Made in Washington

By Joseph Thomas – New Eastern Outlook – September 5, 2016

Western media rejoiced over the meagre gains made in recent polls by what they described as “anti-China activists” of the “localist” movement, political groups in Hong Kong who advocate “independence” from China.

In the UK, former colonial administrator of Hong Kong, the BBC would report in their article, “Hong Kong election: Anti-China activists set to take LegCo seats,” that:

A new generation of anti-China activists have won seats on Hong Kong’s Legislative Council (LegCo), preliminary results indicate.

Among them is Nathan Law, one of the young leaders of the mass pro-democracy demonstrations of 2014, who is now on course to win a constituency seat.

It is the first taste of real political power for the young protest leaders.

But pro-Beijing politicians will retain a majority of seats, partly because of the electoral system.

What the BBC conveniently omits is that while pro-Beijing politicians will retain a majority of seats “partly because of the electoral system,” anti-Beijing politicians made their gains almost entirely because of US-funding and support. This includes Nathan Law himself, poised to take a constituency seat, showered with awards by the US State Department for his role in US-backed protests in 2014.

Ironically, in an attempt to add further gravity to these minor electoral gains, the BBC hailed what they called a “record voter turnout” of 58%, while BBC reporters just last month claimed a 60% turnout for Thailand’s charter referendum “undermined the legitimacy of the result.”  The only difference being that gains made in Hong Kong favoured Western interests, while gains made in Thailand favoured the Thai people at the expense of Western interests.

The BBC’s  politically-motivated bias is easily explained as the layers or rhetoric are stripped away and the foreign networks that created and are currently supporting Hong Kong’s supposed “independence” movement are exposed.

The BBC and other Western media organisations portray the recent polls as a continuation of the so-called “Umbrella Revolution.” In this respect, they are partially right.

What they are omitting is that the 2014 protests were organised and carried out by US-funded opposition groups, representing a slim minority of Hong Kong’s population and were eventually moved off the streets when Hong Kong residents themselves lost patience over the protest’s disruptive behaviour.

Months preceding the 2014 protests, two of the movement’s leaders were quite literally in Washington D.C. lobbying the US State Department for support ahead of the planned protests. The US State Department’s own National Endowment for Democracy (NED) would admit in a statement titled, “The National Endowment for Democracy and support for democracy in Hong Kong,” that:

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(Benny Tai, Joshua Wong and Martin Lee stand to Freedom House president Mark Lagon in Washington D.C. during a ceremony celebrating their role in the 2014 Hong Kong protests.)

After the protests ended, NED’s subsidiary Freedom House would even invite Martin Lee to an event titled, “Three Hong Kong Heroes,” which also included protest leaders Joshua Wong and Benny Tai. Lee would shuffle onto stage with an umbrella prop in hand, a virtual admission to his leadership role in the protests and confirmation that the NED’s previous statement was intentionally false.

NED would also deny providing funding to the movement, despite the fact that each member of the movement’s senior leadership were documented grantees of the NED and its various subsidiaries including Freedom house and the National Democratic Institute (NDI).

Toward the end of the 2014 protests, Western media organisations began making partial admissions that indeed the US was funding various segments of the movement’s leadership. Dan Steinbock in an October 2014 article in the South China Morning Post would enumerate the various confirmed accusations and concluded, “perhaps efforts at foreign interference are not entirely unfounded.”

Considering this, claims that Hong Kong’s “anti-China activists” represent “democracy” or “localism” when they represent foreign interest, not those of the Hong Kong’s residents, nor source their support “locally,” are at face value contradictory.

It is also particularly ironic that this strain of political opposition predicates itself on establishing “independence” when in reality it seeks to return Hong Kong back under the influence of Anglo-American hegemony. This is particularly obvious considering the repetitious calls from such groups for “One Country, Two Systems,” the parting demands the British colonialists themselves tabled as a condition to returning the seized territory back to the Chinese.

Nathan Law —America’s, Not Hong Kong’s Candidate 

The BBC made particular mention of Nathan Law, chairman of “Demosisto,” a political party that sprung forth from the US-funded “Umbrella Revolution.” According to the BBC, he was expected to win a constituency seat, but what the BBC fails to mention is his ties to the US State Department and the alarming conflicts of interest this poses considering his potential role in Hong Kong’s governance.

(Nathan Law, left, embraced by US State Department NED chairman Carl Gershman.)

The US State Department’s NED “World Movement for Democracy” website in a post titled, “Democracy Courage Tribute Award Presentation,” would write in regards to the award presented to Nathan Lee:

The Umbrella Movement’s bold call in the fall of 2014 for a free and fair election process to select the city’s leaders brought thousands into the streets to dem­onstrate peacefully. The images from these protests have motivated Chinese democracy activists on the mainland and resulted in solidarity between longtime champions of democracy in Hong Kong and a new gen­eration of Hong Kong youth seeking to improve their city. The Hong Kong democracy movement will face further obstacles in the years to come, and their ide­alism and bravery will need to be supported as they work for democratic representation in Hong Kong.

Nathan Lee would even pose for pictures with NED chairman Carl Gershman, apparently unconcerned of the immense conflicts of interest invited by such compromising associations.

The BBC’s coverage of Hong Kong’s recent legislative elections attempts to spin inroads made by foreign interests as “localism” and “democracy” taking root in the former British colonial holding. While the BBC alludes to Beijing’s influence preventing further gains by the opposition, its intentional omission of which foreign interests are propping up the opposition reveals systemic and intentional bias in the BBC’s reporting. Such bias is echoed across Reuters, CNN, AP and AFP as well.

Democracy, in theory, is supposed to be the expression of the people. Hong Kong is part of China, thus those participating in its political process should represent Chinese interests. An opposition party that spends its time in Washington D.C. and maintains its growing networks through foreign cash do not represent China or the Chinese in a wider sense, and certainly not Hong Kong and its residents in a more local sense.

Foreign interests working through collaborators resembles a dictatorship from abroad more than anything resembling a “democracy” of the people, even if such a dictatorship drapes itself in public polls, elections and street mobs. That before, during and after the “Umbrella Revolution” each and every leader is tied to foreign interests, completely undermines the narrative that they represent “democracy” rather than the foreign interests transparently directing (then rewarding) them every step of the way.

Joseph Thomas is chief editor of Thailand-based geopolitical journal, The New Atlas.

September 7, 2016 Posted by | Aletho News | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Reporters Without Borders – not independent but “strictly linked to US foreign policy”

By Graham Vanbergen | TruePublica | May 4, 2016

Reporters Without Borders has published the latest 2016 report on press freedom where Britain has fallen yet again with the organisation making the following statement about press freedom in Britain:

“Terrorist attacks have led to the adoption of draconian security legislation. The government reacted to the London public transport bombings in 2005 with a Terrorism Act the following year that restricts freedom of expression. The Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act (RIPA) adopted in 2000 allows the authorities to obtain the phone records of journalists in cases of threats to national security. Worse still, despite a law protecting the confidentiality of sources, the police have since 1984 been able to ask the courts to order media outlets to hand over unpublished journalistic source material “in the interests of justice.”

It is hardly surprising that Britain has fallen 4 places in 2016 behind such countries as; Tonga, Belize, OECS (Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States), Samoa, Ghana, Suriname, Namibia, Jamaica, with Burkino Faso and Botswana just behind, given recent legislative actions by the Conservative government since 2010.

The Guardian revealed in January 2015 that the British intelligence agency GCHQ described journalists as a “potential threat to security” and that huge quantities of emails of many journalists were among  interceptions that went as far back as 2008. It was only the result of the Edward Snowden leaks that as many as 70,000 emails from journalists captured by Britain’s surveillance agency became known.

On the 15th October, Gordon Raynor, Chief Reporter at The Telegraph said– “Investigative journalism will be stopped dead in its tracks and local newspapers may be driven out of business when new laws restricting Britain’s free press come into force next month.” He continues – Media organisations face “the most substantial threat to press freedom in the modern era” as a result of the “menacing” laws passed in the wake of the Leveson Inquiry.

An independent report into the implications of the Crime and Courts Act, which came into force on November 3, says that The Telegraph’s landmark investigation into what turned out to be the most explosive political scandal in decades over MPs’ expenses would have been all but impossible under the new regime.

Britain sitting at number 38 flatters reality.

‘Freedom of Press’ is published by the US-based Freedom House, an NGO established in 1941 that has been ranking countries worldwide since 1980 in relation to democracy, human rights and press freedom. In May 2014 it reported that Britain has slipped down the global rankings for freedom of the press to 36th place.

According to Freedom House, “only 13 percent of the world’s population enjoys a free press—that is, where coverage of political news is robust, the safety of journalists is guaranteed, state intrusion in media affairs is minimal, and the press is not subject to onerous legal or economic pressures.” Although Britain is ranked as safe in press freedom terms one has to wonder given the very heavy handed behaviour by the government at The Guardian over the Snowden files and state surveillance over journalists more widely.

Meanwhile, without any sense of shame, US President Obama, the leader of the ‘free-world’, having presided over continual declines in press freedom sees the USA drop to a pitiful 41st place has the Whitehouse Briefing Room release the following statement (first paragraph):

“On World Press Freedom Day, we thank the journalists around the world without whom democracy could not flourish and whose courageous work helps hold authorities to account. These are the men and women who work to ensure that debate on public issues can be, in the words of Justice William Brennan, “uninhibited, robust, and wide open.”

One glaring component missing from all these so-called press freedom reports is that the biggest economic trade deals in the history of humanity are due to be signed in 2016 …. in total secrecy. In the EU, the European Commission is making the secret Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) trade deal even more secret than any normal person would think possible by the introduction of a new rule last year that means politicians can only view (some selected) TTIP text in a secure ‘reading room’ in Brussels. That is, of course, only after their mobile phones, memo pads, and pens have been taken away and two guards ominously placed in the room to ensure no notes are taken. And even then only after signing confidentiality agreements that threaten prosecutions for any leaks.

In the US, the same ‘reading room’ exists. As The Independent reports:

“In the basement of the US capitol, there is a room, a locked soundproof room, and the only people allowed in this room are US senators, and they can’t bring their assistants, they can’t bring their phones, they can’t even take notes in there. Inside this room is not the codes for our nuclear weapons, it’s not CIA files, it’s not the documents that tell us an alien landed in Roswell. No, in this room is the text of a trade deal (TTIP).”

Press freedom?? This type of secrecy, designed by corporations and the unelected politicians of the EU Commission would have made Joseph Goebbels in Nazi Germany proud. The EU Commission have now become completely independent of the politicians who represent the 508 million citizens of the 28 nation bloc where millions sign petitions and protest on the streets, get arrested and/or fined in their thousands and yet remain unheard. This is extreme press freedom censorship in every sense of the word. It says something when citizens have to rely on people like Wikileaks founder Julian Assange and whistleblower Edward Snowden for any real information on the matter – and both of them are in hiding from British and American police.

And so we come back to RWB who that as it turns out, is financed by none other than the US Congress and by various agencies tied to the US government – who coincidentally are conducting the talks on TTIP.

As GlobalResearch reports: “If we go to the RWB website to find who stands behind these self-anointed judges of world press freedom, we find nothing. Not even their board of directors are named, let alone their financial backers. Their annual published Income and Expenditure statements give no clue who stands behind them financially. RWB’s former Secretary General Robert Menard admitted that the budget for the organization was provided by “US organizations strictly linked with US foreign policy.”

Unfortunately, Reporters Without Borders are pretty much in the same boat as the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists amongst many others who have thoroughly important sounding names but in the end prove to be little more than propagandists for their masters.

We asked Reporters Without Borders why there had been no mention of TTIP in any of their reports. At the time of publication, we have received no reply.

May 8, 2016 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Deception, Full Spectrum Dominance | , , , , | Leave a comment

Prosecutors ban Soros Foundation as ‘threat to Russian national security’

RT | November 30, 2015

The Russian Prosecutor General’s Office has recognized George Soros’s Open Society Institute and another affiliated organization as undesirable groups, banning Russian citizens and organizations from participation in any of their projects.

In a statement released on Monday, prosecutors said the activities of the Open Society Institute and the Open Society Institute Assistance Foundation were a threat to the foundations of Russia’s Constitutional order and national security. They added that the Justice Ministry would be duly informed about these conclusions and would add the two groups to Russia’s list of undesirable foreign organizations.

Prosecutors launched a probe into the activities of the two organizations – both sponsored by the well-known US financier George Soros – in July this year, after Russian senators approved the so-called “patriotic stop-list” of 12 groups that required immediate attention over their supposed anti-Russian activities. Other groups on the list included the National Endowment for Democracy; the International Republican Institute; the National Democratic Institute; the MacArthur Foundation and Freedom House.

In late July, the Russian Justice Ministry recognized the US National Endowment for Democracy as an undesirable group after prosecutors discovered the US NGO had spent millions on attempts to question the legitimacy of Russian elections and tarnish the prestige of national military service.

The Law on Undesirable Foreign Organizations came into force in early June this year. It requires the Prosecutor General’s Office and the Foreign Ministry to draw up an official list of undesirable foreign organizations and outlaw their activities. Once a group is recognized as undesirable, its assets in Russia must be frozen, its offices closed and the distribution of any of its materials must be banned.

If the ban is violated, the personnel of the outlawed group and any Russian citizens who cooperate with them could face heavy fines, or even prison terms in the case of repeated or aggravated offences.

The Soros Foundation started working in Russia in the mid-1990s, but wrapped up its active operations in 2003.

READ MORE:

US National Endowment for Democracy labeled ‘undesirable’ group under new law

Foreign Ministry praises law banning undesirable foreign groups in Russia

November 30, 2015 Posted by | Corruption, Deception | , , , , , , | 1 Comment

How Reagan’s Propaganda Succeeded

By Robert Parry | Consortium News | March 8, 2010

In the 1980s, CIA propaganda experts and military psy-war specialists oversaw the creation of special programs aimed at managing public perceptions in both targeted foreign countries and the United States, according to declassified documents at Ronald Reagan’s Presidential Library.

These documents – discovered in 2010 – buttress previously disclosed evidence that President Reagan’s CIA Director William J. Casey played a key behind-the-scenes role in pushing this political action initiative, which recruited well-heeled private-sector conservatives to subsidize the secretive government operations.

The documents show that Casey used a senior CIA propaganda and disinformation specialist named Walter Raymond Jr., who was placed inside the National Security Council in 1982, to oversee the project and to circumvent legal prohibitions against the CIA engaging in propaganda that might influence U.S. public opinion or politics.

Though Raymond formally quit the CIA after going to the NSC, documents from Raymond’s personal NSC files reveal that he often passed on recommendations regarding the propaganda initiative after meetings at CIA headquarters in Langley, Virginia, or after conversations with Casey himself.

In one Nov. 4, 1982, “secret” memo, Raymond described Casey reaching out to right-wing mogul Richard Mellon Scaife, who was already working with other conservative foundation executives to fund right-wing publications, think tanks and activist groups seeking to shift U.S. politics to the Right.

Raymond told then NSC advisor William P. Clark that “Bill Casey asked me to pass on the following thought concerning your [scheduled] meeting with Dick Scaife, Dave Abshire [then a member of the President’s Foreign Intelligence Advisory Board], and Co.

“Casey had lunch with them today and discussed the need to get moving in the general area of supporting our friends around the world.”

Besides a desire to “invigorate international media programs,” Casey wanted to help U.S.-based organizations, such as Freedom House, that could influence American attitudes about foreign challenges, Raymond said.

“The DCI [Director of Central Intelligence] is also concerned about strengthening public information organizations in the United States such as Freedom House,” Raymond told Clark.  “To do this we have identified three overt tracks:

“–enhanced federal funding;

“–the Democracy Project study (although publicly funded this will be independently managed);

“–private funds.”

“A critical piece of the puzzle is a serious effort to raise private funds to generate momentum. Casey’s talk with Scaife and Co. suggests they would be very willing to cooperate.”

(In the following years, Freedom House emerged as a major recipient of funding from the U.S. government’s National Endowment for Democracy, which was founded in 1983. Freedom House became a fierce critic of Nicaragua’s leftist Sandinista government, which Reagan and Casey were seeking to overthrow by covertly supporting Contra rebels.)

Returning from Langley

A Dec. 2 note addressed to “Bud,” apparently senior NSC official Robert “Bud” McFarlane, described a request from Raymond for a brief meeting.  “When he [Raymond] returned from Langley, he had a proposed draft letter … re $100 M democ[racy]  proj[ect],” the note said.

While Raymond passed on Casey’s instructions, the CIA director told White House officials to play down or conceal the CIA’s role.

“Obviously we here [at CIA] should not get out front in the development of such an organization, nor should we appear to be a sponsor or advocate,” Casey said in one undated letter to then-White House counselor Edwin Meese III, urging creation of a “National Endowment” that would support “free institutions throughout the world.”

On Jan. 21, 1983, Raymond updated Clark about the project, which also was reaching out to representatives from other conservative foundations, including Les Lenkowsky of Smith-Richardson, Michael Joyce of Olin and Dan McMichael of Mellon-Scaife.

“This is designed to develop a broader group of people who will support parallel initiatives consistent with Administration needs and desires,” Raymond wrote.

In the late 1970s and through the 1980s, those and other conservative foundations poured millions of dollars into right-wing think tanks, media outlets and anti-journalism attack groups that targeted American reporters who challenged the Reagan administration’s propaganda.

The early planning papers also indicated a desire to use this relatively overt system to funnel money to pro-U.S. trade unions in Asia, Africa and Latin America in support of a variety of political operations, including setting up television stations and funding print publications.

Some examples were $150,000 to a Bolivian trade union; $50,000 to Peru as a “direct counter to Soviet funding”; $50,000 to Grenada “to the only organized opposition to the Marxist government of Maurice Bishop (The Seaman and Waterfront Workers Union). A supplemental to support free TV activity outside Grenada”; $750,000 to Nicaragua “to support an array of independent trade union activity, agricultural cooperatives”; and $500,000 for “Central America labor publishing house and distribution center for printed materials – TV materials, cooperatives, land reform, etc. – to counter Marxist literature.”

The document’s reference to money being spent to counter Bishop’s government in Grenada adds weight to long-held suspicions that the Reagan administration engaged in propaganda and destabilization campaigns against Bishop, who was ousted by internal rivals and killed in October 1983, setting the stage for the U.S. invasion of the tiny Caribbean island.

The invasion of Grenada, though condemned by much of the world as an act of U.S. aggression, proved popular in the United States, an important step in readying the American people for larger military adventures ahead.

Taking Shape

Eventually, Casey’s concept of a global initiative led to the founding of the National Endowment for Democracy in 1983 ostensibly for the purpose of promoting foreign democratic institutions. But the NED also created a cover for the United States to funnel money to pro-U.S. groups in hostile countries. And it subsidized Washington’s growing community of neoconservatives who wrote op-ed articles in leading newspapers and went on TV news shows advocating an aggressive U.S. foreign policy.

Since 1983, NED has been involved in numerous controversies, including allegations that it helped buy the Nicaraguan election in 1990 by spending some $9 million, including $4 million poured into the campaign of U.S.-backed candidate Violeta Chamorro.

NED’s hand also has been detected in “velvet revolutions” staged in Ukraine, Georgia and other eastern European nations. NED has been active, too, in Iran, fueling government suspicions there that its opposition, which took to the streets after the June 2009 presidential election, represented another U.S.-backed scheme to achieve regime change.

Though many of Raymond’s documents at Reagan’s Library in Simi Valley, California, remain secret, the material discovered in 2010 – and some of the previously released documents – offer a panorama of how the administration’s perception management campaigns evolved, from the early days of Casey prodding the process forward to later years when Raymond’s apparatus grew increasingly powerful and even paranoid.

According to a secret action proposal that Raymond submitted on Dec. 20, 1984, to then national security adviser McFarlane, Raymond wanted an even greater commitment of manpower.

“I have attempted to proceed forward with a whole range of political and information activities,” Raymond wrote. “There are a raft of ties to private organizations which are working in tandem with the government in a number of areas ranging from the American Security Council to the Atlantic Council, to the nascent idea of a ‘Peace Institute.’”

Among the examples of his “specific activities,” Raymond listed “significant expansion of our ability to utilize book publication and distribution as a public diplomacy tool. (This is based on an integrated public-private strategy). … The development of an active PSYOP strategy. … Meetings (ad hoc) with selected CIA operational people to coordinate and clarify lines between overt/covert political operations on key areas. Examples: Afghanistan, Central America, USSR-EE [Eastern Europe] and Grenada.”

‘Active Measures’

Another part of Raymond’s domain was “the Soviet Political Action Working Group.” This group discussed what it regarded as “Soviet active measures” and worked on “themes” that soon resonated through Washington, such as the argument regarding “moral equivalents.”

Raymond reported that the “moral equivalents” theme was discussed at the working group’s Dec. 15, 1983, meeting. The idea of “moral equivalents” involved U.S. government officials upbraiding journalists and opinion leaders who tried to apply common moral standards to pro- and anti-U.S. groups.

Reagan administration officials would insist that human rights crimes by the pro-U.S. side of a conflict should not be criticized as severely as similar crimes by the anti-U.S. side because that would apply a “false moral equivalence,” suggesting that the United States was no better than its enemies. To take such a position was regarded as unpatriotic or disloyal.

Along those lines, one of Raymond’s sub-groups, “the Active Measures Working Group,” met “to develop an action plan to turn Soviet active measures back onto the Soviets, i.e. take the offensive.”

Attendees included Raymond and another CIA operations veteran, Ray Warren, a Casey favorite who was placed inside the Pentagon; Herb Romerstein, a former investigator for the House Committee on Un-American Activities; and Robert Kagan, a prominent neoconservative who was an aide to Elliott Abrams at the State Department and later led the Office of Public Diplomacy on Latin America.

The Active Measures Working Group brought in from the Office of the Secretary of Defense and U.S. Special Forces, personnel who specialized in psychological operations, such as a “Col. Paddock (OSD/PSYOP),” a “Mr. Hunter (1st PSYOP Bn)”; a “Colonel Dunbar (1st PYSOP Bn),” and “Lieutenant Colonel Jacobowitz (DOD/PSYOP).”

In previously disclosed documents, Lt. Col. Daniel “Jake” Jacobowitz was listed as the executive officer inside the State Department’s Office of Public Diplomacy on Latin America, where the White House also placed five psychological warfare specialists from the 4th Psychological Operations Group at Fort Bragg, North Carolina.

The main job of these psy-ops specialists was to pick out incidents in Central America that would rile the U.S. public. In a memo dated May 30, 1985, Jacobowitz explained that the military men were scouring embassy cables “looking for exploitable themes and trends, and [would] inform us of possible areas for our exploitation.”

The June 19, 1986, minutes of the working group stated that “Colonel Paddock reported that OSD/PSYOP has been working on some unclassified publications, mainly on Central American issues, in cooperation with State’s Office of Latin American Public Diplomacy.”

At the working group meeting on July 31, 1986, Col. Paddock passed out copies of a joint Pentagon/State Department publication, “The Challenge to Democracy in Central America,” which was then being disseminated to members of Congress, the Washington press corps and the American public.

The publication sought to portray Nicaragua’s leftist Sandinista government as a state sponsor of terrorism, a major propaganda theme that the Reagan administration was using to justify its covert support of the contra rebels, who themselves were infamous for acts of terrorism, including extra-judicial executions and attacks on civilian targets.

Chastising the Enemy

Despite the evidence that it was the Reagan administration that was knee-deep in propaganda, the psyop official, “Mr. Hunter” – whose fuller identity remained classified in the meeting’s minutes – briefed the group on what he described as anti-U.S. “disinformation campaigns,” including “charges of immoral conduct by US troops in Honduras.”

In the world of Raymond’s psyop meetings, nearly every negative piece of news about U.S. activities in the world was dismissed as “Soviet active measures,” presumably even the fact that some U.S. troops operating in Honduras engaged in what surely could be called “immoral conduct.”

Bureaucratic deception was also part of the secret operations inside the NSC. In the mid-1980s, I was told by one senior NSC official that a key early document laying the groundwork for raising money for the contra war in defiance of a congressional prohibition was marked as a “non-paper,” so it would not be regarded as an official document (even though it clearly was).

Similarly, Raymond sent one Nov. 28, 1986, memo to an unnamed CIA officer reminding him to attend what Raymond called “the next non-group meeting.” So it appears that Reagan’s NSC sought to get around requirements for safeguarding historical records by circulating “non-papers” and meeting in “non-groups.”

Raymond’s domestic propaganda activities were explored by congressional Iran-Contra investigators in 1987. However, their findings faced fierce internal opposition from House and Senate Republicans.

In a bid for bipartisanship, House Democratic committee chairman Lee Hamilton agreed to a compromise in which a chapter on Raymond’s operation was dropped while a few segments were inserted elsewhere in the final report.

That meant, however, that the American people never got to read the chapter’s stunning conclusion: that the Reagan administration had built a domestic covert propaganda apparatus managed by a CIA disinformation specialist working out of the National Security Council.

“One of the CIA’s most senior covert action operators was sent to the NSC in 1983 by CIA Director [William] Casey where he participated in the creation of an inter-agency public diplomacy mechanism that included the use of seasoned intelligence specialists,” the chapter’s conclusion stated.

“This public/private network set out to accomplish what a covert CIA operation in a foreign country might attempt – to sway the media, the Congress, and American public opinion in the direction of the Reagan administration’s policies.”

Tracing the Origins

The 84-page “lost” chapter, entitled “Launching the Private Network,” traced the origins of the propaganda network to President Reagan’s “National Security Decision Directive 77” in January 1983 as his administration sought to promote its foreign policy, especially its desire to oust Nicaragua’s leftist Sandinista government. [There appear to have been several versions of this “lost chapter.” This one I found in congressional files.]

The chapter also cited a Jan. 13, 1983, memo by then-NSC Advisor Clark regarding the need for non-governmental money to advance the cause. “We will develop a scenario for obtaining private funding,” Clark wrote.

However, what the newly discovered documents from Raymond’s files make clear is that the initiative dated back to 1982 and was pushed more by Casey and his CIA associates than by the NSC advisor.

The “lost chapter” does explain how Reagan administration officials soon began crossing lines that separated an overseas propaganda program from a domestic propaganda operation aimed at U.S. public opinion, the American press and congressional Democrats who opposed contra funding.

“An elaborate system of inter-agency committees was eventually formed and charged with the task of working closely with private groups and individuals involved in fundraising, lobbying campaigns and propagandistic activities aimed at influencing public opinion and governmental action,” the draft chapter said.

The draft chapter doesn’t initially use Raymond’s name – presumably because his work at the CIA remained classified – but its description of the CIA officer in charge of the NSC-run propaganda operation clearly refers to Raymond.

According to the draft report, the CIA officer [Raymond] had served as Director of the Covert Action Staff at the CIA from 1978 to 1982 and was a “specialist in propaganda and disinformation.”

“The CIA official discussed the transfer with [CIA Director] Casey and NSC Advisor William Clark that he be assigned to the NSC [in June 1982] and received approval for his involvement in setting up the public diplomacy program along with his intelligence responsibilities,” the chapter said.

“In the early part of 1983, documents obtained by the Select [Iran-Contra] Committees indicate that the Director of the Intelligence Staff of the NSC [Raymond] successfully recommended the establishment of an inter-governmental network to promote and manage a public diplomacy plan designed to create support for Reagan Administration policies at home and abroad.”

Raymond “helped to set up an elaborate system of inter-agency committees,” the draft chapter said, adding:

“In the Spring of 1983, the network began to turn its attention toward beefing up the Administration’s capacity to promote American support for the Democratic Resistance in Nicaragua [the contras] and the fledgling democracy in El Salvador.

“This effort resulted in the creation of the Office of Public Diplomacy for Latin America and the Caribbean in the Department of State (S/LPD), headed by Otto Reich,” a right-wing Cuban exile from Miami.

Stiffing Shultz

Though Secretary of State George Shultz wanted the office under his control, President Reagan insisted that Reich “report directly to the NSC,” where Raymond oversaw the operations as a special assistant to the President and the NSC’s director of international communications, the chapter said.

“At least for several months after he assumed this position, Raymond also worked on intelligence matters at the NSC, including drafting a Presidential Finding for Covert Action in Nicaragua in mid-September” 1983, the chapter said.

In other words, although Raymond was shifted to the NSC staff in part to evade prohibitions on the CIA influencing U.S. public opinion, his intelligence and propaganda duties overlapped for a time as he was in the process of retiring from the spy agency.

And despite Raymond’s formal separation from the CIA, he acted toward the U.S. public much like a CIA officer would in directing a propaganda operation in a hostile foreign country. He was the go-to guy to keep this political action operation on track.

“Reich relied heavily on Raymond to secure personnel transfers from other government agencies to beef up the limited resources made available to S/LPD by the Department of State,” the chapter said.

“Personnel made available to the new office included intelligence specialists from the U.S. Air Force and the U.S. Army. On one occasion, five intelligence experts from the Army’s 4th Psychological Operations Group at Fort Bragg, North Carolina, were assigned to work with Reich’s fast-growing operation. …

“White House documents also indicate that CIA Director Casey had more than a passing interest in the Central American public diplomacy campaign.”

The chapter cited an Aug. 9, 1983, memo written by Raymond describing Casey’s participation in a meeting with public relations specialists to brainstorm how “to sell a ‘new product’ – Central America – by generating interest across-the-spectrum.”

In an Aug. 29, 1983, memo, Raymond recounted a call from Casey pushing his P.R. ideas. Alarmed at a CIA director participating so brazenly in domestic propaganda, Raymond wrote that “I philosophized a bit with Bill Casey (in an effort to get him out of the loop)” but with little success.

The chapter added: “Casey’s involvement in the public diplomacy effort apparently continued throughout the period under investigation by the Committees,” including a 1985 role in pressuring Congress to renew contra aid and a 1986 hand in further shielding S/LPD from the oversight of Shultz.

Casey even monitored personnel changes. A Raymond-authored memo to Casey in August 1986 described the shift of S/LPD – then run by neoconservative theorist Kagan who had replaced Reich – to the control of the Bureau of Inter-American Affairs, which was headed by Assistant Secretary of State Elliott Abrams, another prominent neoconservative.

Oliver North and Friends

Another important figure in the pro-contra propaganda was NSC staffer Oliver North, who spent a great deal of his time on the Nicaraguan public diplomacy operation even though he is better known for arranging secret arms shipments to the contras and to Iran’s radical Islamic government, leading to the Iran-Contra scandal.

The draft chapter cited a March 10, 1985, memo from North describing his assistance to CIA Director Casey in timing the disclosures of pro-contra news “aimed at securing Congressional approval for renewed support to the Nicaraguan Resistance Forces.”

However, the discarding of the draft chapter and the ultimate failure of the Iran-Contra report to fully explain the danger of CIA-style propaganda intruding into the U.S. political process had profound future consequences. Indeed, the evidence suggests that the Casey-Raymond media operations of the 1980s helped bring the Washington press corps to its knees, where it has remained most of the time through today.

To soften up the Washington press corps, Reich’s S/LPD targeted U.S. journalists who reported information that undermined the administration’s propaganda themes. Reich sent his teams out to lobby news executives to remove or punish out-of-step reporters – with a disturbing degree of success.

In March 1986, Reich reported that his office was taking “a very aggressive posture vis-à-vis a sometimes hostile press” and “did not give the critics of the policy any quarter in the debate.” [For details, see Parry’s Lost History.]

Though Casey died in 1987 and Raymond in 2003, some U.S. officials implicated in the propaganda operations remain important Washington figures, bringing the lessons of the 1980s into the new century.

For instance, Elliott Abrams – though convicted of misleading Congress in the Iran-Contra Affair and later pardoned by President George H.W. Bush – returned as deputy advisor to George W. Bush’s NSC, where Abrams oversaw U.S.-Middle East policy. Oliver North landed a show on Fox News. Otto Reich was an adviser to John McCain’s presidential campaign in 2008 (and was a foreign policy spokesman for Mitt Romney’s campaign in 2012).

Kagan writes influential op-eds for the Washington Post and was a senior associate at the Carnegie Institute for International Peace (before moving to the Brookings Institution. Kagan also co-founded the Project for the New American Century, which advocated for the invasion of Iraq, and he is the husband of Assistant Secretary of State for European Affairs Victoria Nuland, who oversaw the U.S.-backed coup in Ukraine in February 2014). [See Consortiumnews.com’sA Family Business of Perpetual War.”]

Oliver North landed a show on Fox News. Otto Reich was an adviser to John McCain’s presidential campaign in 2008 (and was a foreign policy spokesman for Mitt Romney’s campaign in 2012).

Beyond the individuals, the manipulative techniques that were refined in the 1980s – especially the skill of exaggerating foreign threats – have proved durable. Such scare tactics brought large segments of the American population into line behind the Iraq War in 2002-03.

It took years and many thousands of deaths before Americans realized they had been manipulated by deceptive propaganda, that their perceptions had been managed.

In his book, What Happened: Inside the Bush White House and Washington’s Culture of Deception, Bush’s former White House press secretary Scott McClellan described Iraq War propaganda tactics that would have been familiar to Casey and Raymond.

From his insider vantage point, McClellan cited the White House’s “carefully orchestrated campaign to shape and manipulate sources of public approval” – and he called the Washington press corps “complicit enablers.”

The documents in Raymond’s files at the Reagan Library offer a glimpse at how these manipulative techniques took root.

[For more recent document discoveries at the Reagan Library, including the recruitment of publisher Rupert Murdoch, see Consortiumnews.com’sMurdoch, Scaife and CIA Propaganda” and “How Roy Cohn Helped Rupert Murdoch.”]

~

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

June 7, 2015 Posted by | Deception, Timeless or most popular | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Democracy Behind Bars in Venezuela? A Reply to the UK Guardian

By Jorge Martin | Hands Off Venezuela | March 31, 2015

One wonders how many mistakes, glaring omissions and biased statements can one fit in just two paragraphs of just 88 words. When it comes to Venezuela, the answer is, a lot. On Friday, 27 of March, the Guardian published a piece called Democracy behind bars: 11 opposition leaders facing jail or death”, which was “sponsored by Crown Agents”. First in the list of 11 “democratic opposition leaders” facing jail or death around the world is Venezuela’s Leopoldo Lopez.

Immediately below this headline is a big picture of Leopoldo López, giving the impression that he himself is potentially facing a death sentence. The writer is probably unaware that Venezuela was the first country in the world still in existence to abolish the death penalty, back in 1863. In contrast, in Britain it was not fully abolished until 1998 and of course in the US is still widely used. But, as they say, why let the facts get in the way of a striking headline?

The section on Leopoldo López opens with a quote from the Harvard graduate regarding a political disqualificaion which saw him banned from running for public office. A quote which is totally unrelated to the reasons why he is currently in jail. López is disqualified from standing for public office for his role in two separate corruption scandals. The first goes back to 1998, when he worked as an analyst at the state-owned oil company PDVSA and his mother, a PDVSA manager, signed a donation to the Primero Justicia NGO, which Leopoldo López was a member of (and which later became the Primero Justicia political party, of which Lopez was one of the main leaders). The second corruption scandal is related to the irregular use of funds when he was Mayor of Chacao. All that the first paragraph of the Guardian article proves, therefore, is that Leopoldo Lopez was involved in two corruption scandals and, as a result, is barred from standing for public office until 2017.

In the second paragraph, Lopez is described as “founder of the opposition Popular Will party.” While this description is true, it leaves out an important part of the story, as Lopez is also well known in Venezuela for his active participation in the April 2002 coup against the democratically elected president Hugo Chávez. During the coup, using his authority as Mayor of Chacao, he led the illegal arrest of Minister of Justice Ramón Rodríguez Chacín (report, videos and pictures). Hardly the conduct of a democrat! Charges against him for these events were dismissed by an amnesty decreed by president Hugo Chávez in December 2007.

In yet another misleading statement, the author of the article, Lauren Razavi, asserts that Lopez was arrested after calling for citizens to protest against the government. Of course, the timeline is correct, in the sense that one thing happened after the other, but the information is not complete. He did not call “for citizens to protest”, but rather called for citizens to forcefully oust the democratically elected government through street protests and barricades which saw whole communities left without access to food, water or gas, and even emergency services refused access.

In a joint appeal with Maria Corina Machado, López called on citizens to join his “La Salida” campaign (“The Way Out”), described the government as a “dictatorship” and called on Venezuelans to “rise up” emulating the example of January 23, 1958 (when a popular uprising overthrew the Perez Jimenez dictatorship). The message was clear: Venezuela was a dictatorship, the government had to be overthrown by force.

As a result of this appeal there were violent protests by their supporters, including arson attacks against public buildings, health care centres, university campuses, the use of sharp shooters to kill police officers, national guard officers and Bolivarian supporters who were removing road blockades. Opposition violence instigated by Machado and López included the setting of steel wire traps above roads which was aimed at, and succeeded in, decapitating a number of motorbike riders. A total of 43 people were killed, a majority of them as a result of the action of violent opposition protesters (see full analysis by Ewan Robertson). The violent protests, involving hired guns and vandals, as well as criminal elements, managed to alienate the majority of the population, including many of the opposition’s own supporters. Despite the escalating violence, Lopez consistently refused to respond to government requests to call off the barricades and protests. It is for his responsibility in these events that López is in jail pending trial.

Yet the article is not just misleading in its description of Lopez. Razavi also says Nicolas Maduro’s leadership has “seen Venezuela pushed into the top 10 countries in the world for corruption and homicide”. The only source she provides for this is assertion is a link to an article signed by Rory Carroll, notorious for his bias against the Bolivarian revolution.

Amazingly though, on closer inspection, Carroll’s article does not even make the claim which Razavi attributes to him. The result? A totally fabricated statistic.

Corruption is certainly a serious problem in Venezuela, but according to the most recent report by Transparency International, Venezuela does not figure amongst the 10 most corrupt countries in the world. As for the homicide rate, the source which is most commonly used is the Global Study on Homicide by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime. The last time this study was published was in 2013 with data from 2012. No one would deny crime is a problem in Venezuela, but President Maduro was inaugurated in April 2013, so he can hardly be blamed for figures collected the previous year.

Two final notes on this short piece. The hook for the article is a report by Freedom House a US based government funded organisation whose current director is a former head of Bureau at the US State Department. Past board members include Otto Reich, Paul Wolfowitz, Zbigniew Brzezinski, Donald Rumsfeld and other outspoken advocates of US imperialist aggression. In other words, the type of “freedom” that this house advocates is the freedom of the US to interfere in other country’s affairs.

On the other hand, the organisation “sponsoring” the article is Crown Agents. It describes its own history thus: “Our story begins in the 1700s, when colonial administrations employed agents to recruit people and procure and ship supplies to the colonies”. In other words, this is an organisation dedicated to promoting the interests of British colonialism. A perspective which is shamelessly manifest in the article itself, which cites jailed opposition leaders in Ethiopia, Tanzania, Malaysia and the Democratic Republic of the Congo, but which fails to mention political prisoners in Europe or the Unites States. For example, Basque opposition leader Arnaldo OtegiOtegi (in jail for his political ideas), or the countless political activists and whistleblowers languishing in US jails for their political ideas and defence of democracy (from Mummia Abu Jamal to Chelsea Manning).

It is beyond doubt that Crown Agents would not have sponsored an article about the achievements of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela in the fields of education, healthcare, housing, political empowerment, workers’ and gender rights and others.

The Bolivarian revolution has won 18 out of 19 democratic elections and referenda held in the country since 1998, yet this, it seems, will not stop Western mass media from presenting it as an “authoritarian regime”.


Letter to the Guardian:

I was disappointed to see a piece in the Guardian (Democracy behind bars: 11 opposition leaders facing jail or death) mentioning Venezuelan Leopoldo López at the top of a list of democratic opposition leaders jailed by what the article presents as authoritarian regimes. López has been disqualified to stand for public office for misuse of public funds twice. He played an important role in the 2002 coup against the democratically elected government of president Chávez, during which he led the illegal and violent arrest of the then Minister of Justice Chacín.

The reason he is in jail pending trial today, is because of his call for an uprising against the democratically elected government of president Maduro last year. His appeal directly led to violence on the part of his supporters leaving 43 people dead. Most of those were killed by the actions of violent supporters of Mr López which used arson attacks, sharpshooters and steel wires to decapitate motorbike riders.

Venezuela has had 19 democratic elections and referendums with full participation of opposition forces since 1998. All bar one have been won by the Bolivarian revolution. Democratic opposition is not a problem, attempts to overthrow a democratically elected government is a different matter.

Jorge Martin

This piece was published with contributions from Venezuelanalysis. 

April 1, 2015 Posted by | Deception, Mainstream Media, Warmongering | , , , | Leave a comment