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Pangs of conscience or howl of an empty wallet? Steele claims he never meant for infamous Russiagate dossier to go public

RT | July 22, 2020

Former British spy Christopher Steele insists he never wanted the notorious Trump dossier, which was central to the Russiagate investigation, to be made public. The belated pang of conscience emerged in response to a new lawsuit.

Steele would have done “whatever I could do to prevent” BuzzFeed from publishing the dossier, he told London’s High Court in a written statement on Wednesday.

The document, which Steele compiled at the behest of the US opposition research firm Fusion GPS and Hillary Clinton’s campaign in 2016, was published in early January 2017, shortly before Donald Trump’s inauguration.

The former spy’s pang of conscience might have had something to do with the defamation lawsuit by Russian tech entrepreneur Aleksey Gubarev. One of the claims in the Steele dossier was that Gubarev’s Webzilla internet service provider was used by Russian security services to hack the Clinton campaign. The tech executive has not only denied the claim but sued both BuzzFeed and Steele for making it.

Despite his professed remorse, however, Steele admitted he provided copies of the “pre-election” dossier, compiled between June and October 2016, to the FBI and the State Department because of its “national security implications.” Another copy was sent to a UK national security official in the days following the election, lest the Trump administration “compromise British sources and operations.”

He whipped up a second version in December 2016, and gave that to the same UK official, as well as the since-deceased Arizona Senator John McCain – who leaked it to a number of US media outlets, including BuzzFeed, Steele explained.

That second memo, he wrote, was “self-evidently sensitive and confidential,” meaning it was never intended to make it into print, where Gubarev could read it and sue him.

Steele has admitted the dossier was largely “unverifiable,” presumably intended to serve as the basis for further investigation that could confirm or deny its claims. Earlier this week, internet sleuths suggested that Steele’s mysterious Russian source was in fact a Washington-based Brookings Institute researcher, who lacked firsthand knowledge of any of its salacious claims.

Steele has previously said that his 17-page report was commissioned with the intention of giving Clinton legal basis to challenge the 2016 election. While the legal challenge never happened, the dossier saw plenty of uses in “further investigation” of Trump, both official and in the court of public opinion.

The FBI used it as the backbone of its request for a FISA warrant to spy on Trump’s campaign via aide Carter Page, whom Steele claimed met secretly with Russian agents in Moscow. The dossier also underpinned special counsel Robert Mueller’s sprawling ‘Russiagate’ probe.

While Mueller ultimately came up empty in his efforts to prove the Trump campaign had colluded with the Russian government to get the president elected, relations between the US and Russia deteriorated considerably as Trump’s cabinet urged him to take a more antagonistic position toward Moscow so as not to be seen as the ‘Putin puppet’ the media and Democrats were determined to call him anyway.

July 22, 2020 Posted by | Deception, Russophobia | , , , | Leave a comment

John McCain’s Disastrous Militaristic Legacy

By James Bovard | FFF | March 13, 2019

When Sen. John McCain passed away in August, he was lauded far and wide for his long career of public service. Rep. John Lewis, the famous civil-rights activist, hailed McCain as a “warrior for peace.” In reality, McCain embodied a toxic mix of moralism and militarism that worked out disastrously for America and the world.

In his funeral eulogies, McCain was portrayed as a hero and a visionary. But early in his congressional career, he barely avoided indictment as part of the Keating Five Savings and Loan bribery scandal that cost taxpayers billions of dollars. McCain repaired his image by becoming a champion of campaign-finance reform and new restrictions on political contributions. In 2002, Congress enacted the McCain-Feingold Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act, which proved more effective at suppressing criticism than at reforming political life. The McCain-Feingold Act authorized harsh penalties for private citizens who accused their rulers of abusing their power. It prohibited most issue ads by private groups on television or radio in the months before a presidential or congressional election. In 2003, the Supreme Court (by a 5-4 margin) upheld the new law in response to activities with “a significant risk of actual and apparent corruption.” Justice Antonin Scalia noted in a dissent to the decision upholding the law, that the McCain-Feingold act “cuts to the heart of what the First Amendment is meant to protect: the right to criticize the government.” But that was fine with McCain, since he declared that if he had the power, he would outlaw all negative political ads. He declared, “I detest the negative advertising. I think it is one of the worst things that has ever happened in American politics.” Banning negative ads but not political lies was McCain’s notion of a level playing field.

When he was awarded the Liberty Medal in October 2017 at the National Constitution Center in Philadelphia, Senator McCain declared, “We live in a land made of ideals…. We are the custodians of those ideals at home, and their champion abroad. We have done great good in the world.” He warned that it would be “unpatriotic” to “abandon the ideals we have advanced around the globe.” But idealism has fared better in political speeches than in the lives of American soldiers or supposed foreign beneficiaries.

McCain served 25 years as the chairman of the International Republican Institute, a federally funded entity that intervenes in foreign elections to promote pro-American candidates. McCain often spoke as if the institute was the incarnation of America at its best. In 1997, McCain declared, “When we provide the democratic opposition in Albania with 12 Jeep Cherokees and they win an election, I’m incredibly proud.” However, the Institute was involved in violent attempts to overthrow governments in Venezuela and Haiti and was condemned for meddling in many other places. As long as pro-American candidates snared the most votes by hook or by crook, McCain had no complaints.

During the 1990s, McCain “slowly moved toward the idealist camp and became one of his party’s foremost advocates for the use of force abroad,” the Boston Globe noted. In his 2000 presidential campaign, he pledged a “rogue state rollback,” which sounded like “fill-in-the-blank” declarations of war against any regime of which the United States disapproved. He was defeated in the Republican primaries by George W. Bush, who sounded reasonable and moderate in comparison. However, after 9/11 Bush adopted McCain’s bellicose vision and promised to “rid the world of evil.”


McCain was one of the foremost advocates for attacking Iraq and served as honorary co-chairman of the Committee for the Liberation of Iraq. In 2002, he declared that invading that nation would be “fairly easy” and that “we can win an overwhelming victory in a very short period of time.” Two months after the fall of Baghdad, McCain proclaimed that the war was “fully vindicated.” After the war became a debacle, he declared in 2008 that it was “fine with me” to keep U.S. troops in Iraq for “a hundred years.”

McCain believed Americans should idealize military interventions regardless of the political machinations that preceded them. When Bush created a pseudo-independent commission in 2004 to exonerate him for the missing weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, he selected McCain as one of the nine members. On the day his appointment was announced, McCain publicly declared, “The president of the United States, I believe, would not manipulate any kind of information for political gain or otherwise.” McCain’s boundless endorsement of the current president ignored the legendary presidential deceits that trademarked the Mexican-American War, the Spanish-American War of 1898, the First World War, and the Vietnam War.

McCain sanctified a commission (which had no subpoena power) that was a crock from the get-go. As Sen. Robert Byrd scoffed, “This commission is 100 percent under the thumb of the White House. Who created the panel’s charter? The president. Who chooses the panel members? The president. To whom does the panel report? The president. Whom shall the panel advise and assist? The president. Who is in charge of determining what classified reports the panel may see? The president. Who gets to decide whether the Congress may see the panel’s report? The president.” Predictably, the commission concluded that Bush was not to blame for starting the Iraq War on false pretenses.

McCain loved to strut on foreign trips where American reporters were sure to hail him as a visiting savior. He was ridiculed as “the new Baghdad Bob” who took a “magic carpet ride” after he visited a Baghdad market in 2007 and claimed, “Never have I been able to go out into the city as I was today.” McCain touted his visit: “We stopped at a local market, where we spent well over an hour, shopping and talking with the local people, getting their views and ideas about different issues of the day.” Rep. (now Vice President) Mike Pence, who accompanied McCain, ludicrously asserted that the scene was “just like any open-air market in Indiana in the summertime.” At the time of his market visit, McCain was wearing a flak jacket, accompanied by 100 U.S. troops, and protected overhead by attack helicopters. Prior to McCain’s arrival, U.S. troops cleared almost everyone else at the scene. After he departed, Iraqi merchants bitterly scoffed at his claims that the market was safe. One shop owner growled, “They paralyzed the market when they came. This was only for the media. This will not change anything.”

But the American media lapped it up and the charade did nothing to prevent McCain from securing the Republican presidential nomination the following year. The shining moment of his campaign was his proclamation, “We are all Georgians now!” in response to a border clash that the Republic of Georgia commenced against the Russian Federation. McCain’s bellicosity against Russia never died. He also proclaimed during that campaign, “I know how to win wars. And if I’m elected president, I will turn around the war in Afghanistan, just as we have turned around the war in Iraq, with a comprehensive strategy for victory.” McCain never explained how he learned how to win wars (not a lesson taught in North Vietnamese prisons) or why he advocated bombing more than a dozen nations throughout his congressional career.

Syria and Libya

Perhaps the only lesson McCain learned from the Iraq War was that the American media would unquestioningly glorify him for demanding foreign intervention. In 2011, he was outspoken demanding U.S. bombing of Libya — widely considered the biggest foreign-policy blunder of the Obama administration. In April 2011, he visited rebels in Benghazi and labeled them heroes. Yet, as a Wikileaks disclosure revealed, he had sung a different tune two years earlier when he visited Tripoli. Meeting with officials of Muammar Qaddafi’s regime, McCain “pledged to see what he could do to move things forward in Congress” regarding a Libyan request for U.S. military equipment, according to a confidential U.S. embassy cable. After the United States helped topple the Qaddafi regime, chaos erupted and four Americans, including the U.S. ambassador, were killed in Benghazi. A few years later, slave markets were operating in the nation that McCain and Obama had so proudly liberated.

McCain returned to the Middle East for an encore visit with Syrian rebels in 2013, whom he then ceaselessly championed as a moderate alternative to the regime of Bashar Assad. Under pressure from McCain and others, the Obama administration provided massive military aid to anti-Assad forces, but much of the weaponry ended up in the hands of terrorist groups. The absurdity of U.S. policy became undeniable when Pentagon-backed Syrian rebels openly battled CIA-backed rebels. That did not deter McCain from endless pious preening, such as his early 2017 tweet: “On 6th anniversary of Syrian civil war, Assad & Russia cont. to commit genocide — when will the world wake up to the slaughter in Syria?” Since McCain had used the word “genocide,” that meant the U.S. government was morally obliged to topple the Assad regime — even though Libya showed the catastrophic results of intervention. A year later, McCain wailed, “For seven long years, the United States has sat idly by in the face of genocide. We seem to have become immune to images of devastation and brutality coming out of Syria every day. Two successive U.S. administrations have failed to do anything meaningful to stop the slaughter and enabled Assad’s reign of terror to thrive.” Actually, the U.S. government had dropped tens of thousands of bombs and missiles on Syria, despite not having a dog in that fight. Donald Trump twice sent cruise missile barrages against the Assad government after unproven allegations were made that the government had used chemical weapons. (The al-Qaeda-linked terrorist groups fighting Assad were also frequently accused of using chemical weapons.)

Most of the media ignored McCain’s role in making the Syrian conflict longer and bloodier than it otherwise would have been. That is no surprise, since American politicians across the board are perennially absolved by the ideals they invoke when championing foreign wars. But the moral bonus points are void beyond the national borders. Idealistic pretenses can spur vast resentment because “the American judges himself by the way he feels, whereas the foreigner judges him by what he does,” as Irving Babbitt explained after World War One.

There are plenty of nasty dictators in the world but U.S. government efforts have dismally failed to spread democracy this century. John McCain was in the forefront of prominent Americans who had “learned nothing and forgotten nothing” from recent U.S. pratfalls. Instead, he continued talking as if foreign interventions could be a deft blend of Jesus and General Sherman, righteously burning a swath through Georgia.

America cannot afford an idealism that consists of little more than combining bombing and wishful thinking. We should not forget the Americans, Iraqis, Syrians, and Libyans who died in part because of policies McCain championed. The most valuable lesson from McCain’s career is to reject the folly of militarized idealism.

March 14, 2019 Posted by | Corruption, Deception, Militarism, Timeless or most popular | , | 1 Comment

‘Maverick’ Media Use McCain Funeral to Shore Up US Imperialism

By Gregory Shupak | FAIR | September 11, 2018

Elite media insist they’re engaged in challenging the imperious presidency of Donald Trump. But their support for US imperialism itself remains vigorous, as coverage of the funeral of Sen. John McCain showed clearly.

In a September 1 news report, Washington Post national security reporter Greg Jaffe and White House Bureau Chief Philip Rucker (9/1/18) write that

the full tableau of his funeral—which included the previous three presidents and every major-party nominee for the past two decades— . . . served as a melancholy last hurrah for the sort of global leadership that the nation once took for granted.

“Global leadership” is a vacuous euphemism media employ that carries the assumption that the US plays a decidedly positive role in world affairs, even as the same outlets report on dozens of Yemeni schoolchildren killed by a US-made bomb, for example, or on Syrians in devastated Raqqa, whose families could be expected to reach a different conclusion.

“Global leadership” also suggests that nations consistently and voluntarily seek to emulate the United States. However, history is replete with examples of countries seeking to chart a course independent of Washington to varying degrees, and being violently attacked by the US as a result—from Guatemala to Cuba to Chile to Nicaragua to Iran to Vietnam, to cite only a few of the practically endless cases.

Jaffe and Ruckner assert:

Much of the praise for McCain focused on his vision of the United States as a global superpower and moral beacon, positions Trump has been accused of abandoning. His longtime friend, former Sen. Joseph I. Lieberman, lauded McCain’s globe-trotting ways and his advocacy on behalf of political prisoners and dissidents in far-flung places such as Myanmar and Syria…. Yet more than ever before in the post–World War II era, McCain’s vision of the United States as the bulwark against tyrants, guarantor of global stability and refuge for the oppressed is out of favor.

By giving credence to characterizations of America as a “moral beacon” and a “bulwark against tyrants, guarantor of global stability and refuge for the oppressed,” the reporters legitimize US international supremacy. Nothing in their article raises any doubt about whether it makes sense to describe as a “guarantor of global stability” a state currently involved in seven wars, all of which it initiated.

Or whether a country loses its “moral beacon” status for bombing and killing more than 6,000 civilians, as the United States has in Syria since 2014. Or whether one can be a “bulwark against tyrants” while underwriting an Israeli government that since March 30 has massacred 179 Palestinians, including 23 children, two journalists, three paramedics and three people with disabilities.

WaPo: This weekend, we really did mourn the passing of America’s greatness

Anne Applebaum (Washington Post, 9/3/18) calls for “a new vision of genuine American greatness” that might require “people who can understand cybersecurity and online manipulation.”

Post columnist Anne Applebaum (9/3/18) echoed concern that McCain’s funeral “marked the end of a particular vision of American greatness.” She expressed faith that “America can still inspire, and America can still lead,” but feared that until new figures emerge to fill the void left by McCain’s allegedly sterling foreign policy record, “the world really will be mourning the passing of American greatness.”

The paper’s Jennifer Rubin (9/3/18) proposed “launch[ing] a party built on the ideals McCain propounded,” the first of which was

American leadership based on American values: Support democratic allies and the international economic system that has existed for 70 years. Stand with freedom-seeking peoples struggling against oppression.

Policy specifics can be worked out, Rubin contended,

as long as one is aligned on the big things—sticking to the facts, defending our alliances, standing up to international bullies, opposing assaults on the First Amendment and bolstering the rule of law.

What Rubin and others occlude is that in those 70 years, no government on Earth has carried out international aggression with a frequency remotely comparable to the US, most recently to devastating effects in Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, Syria and Yemen, which suggests it’s the US that’s the international bully most in need of standing up to. Moreover, Washington is actively propping up dictators crushing “freedom-seeking peoples struggling against oppression” in Honduras, in Egypt, and in Saudi Arabia and the other Gulf monarchies, to name only a few of many examples.

Far from having retreated from the world stage under Trump, as these articles imply, Washington has between 800 and 1,000 military bases in other countries, while only 11 other countries have bases in foreign nations, and these total 70. The US has the highest military expenditure in the world, spending more on its war machine than the next seven highest-spending countries combined, and doing so at an accelerated rate in the Trump era.

The point of the Post’s inversions of reality is to convince people that the US ruling class needs to be in the charge of the world to ensure peace and freedom, when in fact that same ruling class is responsible for an exceedingly large share of war and repression. And if the US can be depicted as a “refuge for the oppressed”—rather than a country with the highest incarceration rate in the world, disproportionately imprisoning the poor and ethnic minorities—then it can claim a moral pretext for policing other countries’ oppression.

Spreading and cementing the unexamined and spectacularly false assumption underlying the handwringing over America’s supposed surrender of its empire—that such a measure would be undesirable—was a central task performed by the coverage of McCain’s funeral.

Gregory Shupak teaches media studies at the University of Guelph-Humber in Toro. His book, The Wrong Story: Palestine, Israel and the Media, is published by OR Books.

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

American Warmongering and Opportunism on Parade

By Philip M. GIRALDI | Strategic Culture Foundation | 06.09.2018

The United States collectively speaking lost its mind last week during a multi-day orgy of smug self-satisfaction centered on the obsequies culminating in the state funeral of Senator John McCain. McCain became the Everyman American-style, embodying virtues that all red-blooded lovers of freedom should aspire to, a hero who fought “for the life and liberty of other people’s in other lands.” He was a man, according to the media, of matchless nobility who endured torture for love of country, a war hero who put down his sword before starting a long career in government service where he selflessly defended liberty and justice worldwide.

Unfortunately, very little of the story is true. The entire hagiographic saga of the warrior prince that has been woven around McCain by those in the media and the political world that want to use him to demonstrate the deficiency of those qualities in Donald Trump is little more than a work of fiction. John McCain was a monster, betraying his country while a prisoner in Hanoi and then his former comrades-in-arms after the war ended. From Vietnam he learned nothing, saying “I hate the gooks. I will hate them as long as I live.”

McCain subsequently embraced every war that came his way while also promoting regime change and doing his best to start new wars in places where America had no interests. Think Afghanistan, Iraq, Georgia, Ukraine, Somalia and Syria just for starters. A prosperous Libya was bombed into anarchy and is now ruled by gangs who have reopened slave markets. McCain was also an opportunist par excellence, parlaying his dubious war record into a political career and at the same time ditching a first wife whom he considered a liability to marry the daughter of a multi-millionaire Arizona beer distributor to finance his personal ambitions.

The number of politicians of all stripes and media hacks eager to climb on the McCain bandwagon is quite astonishing, particularly as the Senator’s real track record is well known inside the beltway. Songs of praise were of course expected from leading Establishment and Deep State toadies completely lacking moral compasses, to include George W. Bush, Barack Obama and Joe Biden, but even Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, self-described socialist and darling of America’s progressives, enthused over the “maverick” warrior, whom she never had met, whose “… legacy represents an unparalleled example of human decency and American service.” Another leftist who should know better, Senator Elizabeth Warren, recalled fondly how McCain advised her “To always get in the fight and throw some punches.”

Only the honest and honorable ex-President Jimmy Carter has had the courage to buck the trend and tell it like it is regarding McCain, describing him in 2014 as a “warmonger.” Hanging the human decency label on McCain is the ultimate travesty as he is a man who actively promoted the policies that have killed millions around the world, to include thousands of his own countrymen. Indeed, he was a symbol of American interventionism, having led the Republican wing of the National Endowment for Democracy, a US government funded democracy promotion engine which has interfered in more elections and governments than even the CIA did in its heyday.

So who is the real John McCain? A credible case has been made that McCain, who was shot down while bombing a civilian target, almost certainly crossed the line and collaborated extensively while a prisoner in North Vietnam before being exonerated through a Navy Department cover-up of his behavior after his release from captivity. His own subsequent actions as a congressman to block any inquiry into the status of possible US prisoners of war remaining in Indochina have also been examined in some detail by prize winning journalist Sydney Schanberg and quite appropriately condemned.

But McCain is perhaps best known for his recent efforts to increase US involvement in Syria and also instigate war with Russia and Iran. Fighting between Georgia and Russia broke out in 2008 when Tbilisi threatened and then attacked Russian peacekeepers in Abkhazia and South Ossetia. McCain responded, “We are all Georgians now,” urging that the US enter the conflict on behalf of Georgia. He later was present in Maidan Square in Kiev together with the odious Victoria Nuland, stirring up opposition to the regime in power that was friendly to Russia. When regime change subsequently took place and fighting broke out, McCain led congressional moves to actively support the new Ukrainian government against Moscow. And who can forget the good Senator’s photo-op with ISIS terrorists in Syria as well as his sparkling rendition of “bomb, bomb, bomb, bomb, bomb Iran” on the Howard Stern radio program?

So it is goodbye to John McCain. And I would add, good riddance.

September 6, 2018 Posted by | Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Timeless or most popular | , | Leave a comment

Neocons Demand ‘Crushing’ Sanctions on Russia

By Ron Paul | August 6, 2018

You can always count on the neocons in Congress to ignore reality, ignore evidence, and ignore common sense in their endless drive to get us involved in another war. Last week, for example, Senators John McCain (R-AZ), Lindsey Graham (R-NC), Bob Menendez (D-NJ), and others joined up to introduce what Senator Graham called “the sanctions bill from hell,” aimed at applying “crushing” sanctions on Russia.

Senator Graham bragged that the bill would include “everything but the kitchen sink” in its attempt to ratchet up tensions with Russia.

Sen Cory Gardner (R-CO) bragged that the new sanctions bill “includes my language requiring the State Department to determine whether Russia merits the designation of a State Sponsor of Terror.”

Does he even know what the word “terrorism” means?

Sen Ben Cardin (D-MD) warns that the bill must be passed to strengthen our resolve against “Vladimir Putin’s pattern of corroding democratic institutions and values around the world, a direct and growing threat to US national security.”

What has Russia done that warrants “kitchen sink” sanctions that will “crush” the country and possibly designate it as a sponsor of terrorism? Sen. Menendez tells us: “The Kremlin continues to attack our democracy, support a war criminal in Syria, and violate Ukraine’s sovereignty.”

There is a big problem with these accusations on Russia: they’re based on outright lies and unproven accusations that continue to get more bizarre with each re-telling. How strange that when US Senators like Menendez demand that we stand by our NATO allies even if it means war, they attack Russia for doing the same in Syria. Is the Syrian president a “war criminal,” as he claims? We do know that his army is finally, with Russian and Iranian help, about to defeat ISIS and al-Qaeda, which with US backing for seven years have turned Syria into a smoking ruin. Does Menendez and his allies prefer ISIS in charge of Syria?

And how hypocritical for Menendez to talk about Russia violating Ukraine’s sovereignty. The unrest in Ukraine was started by the 2014 US-backed coup against an elected leader. We have that all on tape!

How is Russia “attacking our democracy”? We’re still waiting for any real evidence that Russia was involved in our 2016 elections and intends to become involved in our 2018 elections. But that doesn’t stop the propagandists, who claim with no proof that Russia was behind the election of Donald Trump.

These Senators claim that sanctions will bring the Russians to heel, but they are wrong. Sanctions are good at two things only: destroying the lives of innocent civilians and leading to war.

As I mentioned in an episode of my Liberty Report last week, even our own history shows that sanctions do lead to war and should not be taken lightly. In the run-up to US involvement in the War of 1812, the US was doing business with both France and the UK, which were at war with each other. When the UK decided that the US was favoring France in its commerce, it imposed sanctions on the US. What did Washington do in response? Declared war. Hence the War of 1812, which most Americans remember as that time when the British burned down the White House.

Recent polls show that the majority of Americans approve of President Trump’s recent meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin. Among Republicans, a vast majority support the meeting. Perhaps a good defeat in November will wake these neocon warmongers up. Let’s hope so!

August 7, 2018 Posted by | Deception, Fake News, Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Russophobia | , , , , , | 2 Comments

US’ Iran Regime-Change Plan: Hit Economy, Orchestrate Protests, Engage MEK Cult to Chant “Democracy”

By Elliot Gabriel | Mint Press News | June 28, 2018

Iran’s latest wave of protests against the suffering state of the economy and the plunging value of the rial appeared to have come and gone by Wednesday, as crowds dissipated and businesses opened up shop following a two-day strike. While clashes between security forces and protesters during the protests were far from widespread, the very fact that the protests broke out hints at the extreme duress Iran is undergoing thanks to President Donald Trump’s renewed economic war on the country.

Judging by the enthusiastic response to the demonstrations in the U.S., Saudi, and Israeli press, anti-Iranian forces are clearly banking on the possibility that the sanctions that will soon be reimposed in the next several months could dislodge the Islamic Republic, clearing the way for a regime friendly to the West.

Thus we have witnessed anti-Iran publications like the Israeli Jerusalem Post frothing over with excitement over scenes of alleged Iranian citizens chanting “Death to Palestine,” “Let go of Syria – think about us,” and the much-beloved anti-Ayatollah Khamenei mainstay “Death to dictator.”

While videos from Iran depict what could very well be an organic groundswell of social protest against government policies, photos published in papers like the Post show a different story: middle-aged Persian men gripping English-language signs and the flags of the toppled Iranian monarchy, along placards bearing the portrait of an unlikely figure: the mustachioed, mysterious and long-disappeared charismatic cult leader who is considered an outlawed terrorist and traitor to the nation — Massoud Rajavi.

Rajavi was the leader of the group that lies at the center of the anti-Iran alliance’s “regime change” dreams: Mujahedin-e Khalq (MEK), or the People’s Mojahedin Organization of Iran (PMOI). A fanatical militant group whose title translates literally to the “The People’s Holy Warriors,” this eccentric left-nationalist, pseudo-religious cult has been led by Massoud’s wife, Maryam Rajavi, since the 1980s.

Formed in 1965, the group’s tortured history has seen it transformed from a movement of communist-influenced, Islamist-tinged anti-imperialists who carried out attacks on U.S. military officers in Iran into an authoritarian de facto mercenary army serving anyone opposed to the Islamic Republic – be it Saddam Hussein’s Iraq, Israel, or the United States.

The group wields major PR clout and outsized influence in Western capitals through countless front groups like the National Council of Resistance in Iran (NCRI), through which it depicts itself as “a political coalition that represents all of Iran’s religious, ethnic, and political groups proportionately;”  stresses feminist, Islamist, free-speech and pro-free-market values; and is firmly “committed to a secular, democratic, non-nuclear republic” in Iran.

The RAND Corporation described the group as “skilled manipulators of public opinion,” but a cursory look at its publications shows a rather ham-fisted and self-celebratory pile of cultish jargon. Throughout the past week, publications like Iran Focus or Iran News Update – the latter of which bills itself as “Insider News & Analysis in Iran” – have pumped out articles boosting NCRI as “the only viable alternative to the Iranian regime” and claiming:

As protests in Iran continue to multiply and intensify, the regime’s claim to power is looking more and more tenuous. If the people were to overthrow their tyrannical government, the only democratic organization in the position to take over governance would be the NCRI … The regime’s reign of terror is at its close.”

The MEK was one of the first groups to be named a Foreign Terrorist Organization by the U.S. State Department, but its extreme opposition to the Islamic Republic of Iran and generous donations to politicians has led to its eventual delisting. The roster of politicians and influential figures tied to the MEK and its fronts spans much of the U.S. political spectrum, from the far right to the left-of-center.

Trump’s White House is a virtual all-star cast of MEK associates – explaining the administration’s frenzied push to scrap the nuclear deal and push to topple Tehran. Among the top supporters of MEK is White House National Security Advisor John Bolton, whose hatred of Iran’s government verges on the pathological.

A congressional foreign-policy aide who attended an Iranian New Year celebration hosted by an MEK front group told Foreign Policy magazine:

Bolton is positively predisposed to the MEK …  they will have some access to this White House, [to say] the least.”

From revolutionary anti-imperialists to bizarre mercenary cult

The MEK once enjoyed a decently-sized support base within Iran and even played a role in the 1979 Iranian Revolution that overthrew U.S.-loyal Shah Reza Pahlevi and opened up a new period of national independence for the nation. Following the revolution, the group’s political struggles with the faction led by Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini and failure to secure widespread support led it to deploy its Shah-era “armed struggle,” or terrorist tactics, against officials and clergy loyal to Khomeini, claiming the lives of dozens of key figures in the newly-formed government.

The Mojahedin (jihadists), whom the Islamic Revolution’s leader regularly derided as monafeghin (hypocrites) – an allusion to those in the Quran who conspired against the Prophet while feigning loyalty – became the top enemies of the Islamic Republic.

Faced with the full brunt of the Islamic Republic’s retribution, the group fled to Iraq in the 1980s and became a virtual “Iranian Legion” for Saddam Hussein, who equipped the group with heavy armor, uniforms, and artillery so that it could fight alongside Iraqi forces during the Iran-Iraq war. Following the war, the self-styled “national liberation army” launched a series of cross-border raids against Iranian civilian and military targets, sacrificing nearly all of its remaining support among Iranians.

The drop in Iranian support led to a push to replenish MEK ranks by targeting family members, wealthy potential donors, and expatriate Iranians in Turkey and the United Arab Emirates. True to their form as a cult, the group promised to connect prospective recruits with a lifeline of assistance as the trade-off for their enlisting in the group.

According to the RAND Corporation:

Many were enticed not with promises of an opportunity to fight the IRI, but rather through promises of paid employment as translators, assistance in processing asylum requests, free visits to family members, public-health volunteer opportunities, and even marriage. All ‘recruits’ were brought into Iraq illegally and then required to hand over their identity documents for ‘safekeeping,’ effectively trapping them at MeK compounds. These findings suggest that many MeK recruits since 1986 were not true volunteers and have been kept at MeK camps in Iraq under duress.”

Watch | Cult of the Chameleon 

Tens of thousands of the group’s members remained under the protection of the Iraqi dictator, even participating in the bloody massacres that followed the Shia Arab and Kurdish uprisings of 1991, until the fall of the Ba’athist regime in 2003 when the U.S.-led coalition bombed the Saddam loyalists’ camps.

Seeing continued use for the MEK for their own anti-Iran efforts, however, the U.S. placed 3,800 members of the group under protective custody at Camp Ashraf, the sprawling city-sized base built for them by Saddam. Those who escaped the group had to undergo cult deprogramming.

Watch | Introducing Camp Ashraf

According to RAND, the group – which claims to uphold women’s equality – ensured that lines were “painted down the middle of hallways separating them into men’s and women’s sides” at the camp, prior to their expulsion by Iraqi forces in 2013. Many were shipped by the U.S. to Albania, the only country willing to accept them.

Yet while a major portion of the group’s membership spent over three decades imprisoned in Ba’athist Iraqi camps near the border with Iran, a significant chunk of the group – such as leader Maryam Rajavi – nestled into the Iranian expatriate communities in Paris, Washington, and other capitals. The group spent decades relentlessly lobbying Western governments and lawmakers to support its attempts to bring “reform” to Iran, and has even furnished intelligence to U.S. and Israeli intelligence agencies in hopes to provide a casus belli for hostile policies and even military actions versus Tehran.

The “Iranian Resistance” wags the dog in Washington

In the U.S. capital, the group was enormously successful in its efforts to recruit an auxiliary brigade of highly influential top politicians to its cause. Even the far-right Washington Times, owned at the time by charismatic cult leader Reverend Sun Myung-Moon, issued glossy “special report” inserts hailing the militaristic group as the bringers of “freedom” to Iran. The publication included words of praise from Rep. John Lewis (D-GA), House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), the late Saudi Prince Turki bin Faisal al-Saud, and Sen. John McCain (R-AZ), among many, many, others.

A brief list of these MEK supporters in the Republican Party reads like a who’s-who of anti-Iran officials from the neoconservative administrations of Presidents George W. Bush and Donald Trump:

  • In 2000, future Bush administration attorney general and Republican then-Senator John Ashcroft intervened on behalf of MKO military commander Mahnaz Samadi, who has been detained by immigration authorities due to her failure to disclose past terrorist ties — hailing the former anti-Iran combatant as a “highly regarded human-rights activist” and a “powerful voice for democracy.”
  • Former Pennsylvania Governor and first U.S. Secretary of Homeland Security Tom Ridge praised the National Council of Resistance in Iran as “the single most visible, most credible, and most effective democratic movement with a clear and specific program to bring a democratic Iran to existence,” led by the “steady hand and inspiring leadership” of cult leader Maryam Rajavi.
  • Representative Ileana Ros-Lehtinen of Miami, Florida, who served as Chair of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, has been a major leader in legislation calling for regime-change measures against Cuba, Iran, Syria, and Venezuela, and even called for Fidel Castro’s assassination in 2006. In 2003, she came out in defense of MEK as a group that “loves the United States” and is an ally in the “war on terrorism.”
  • Tea Party leader, Bush confidante and former House Majority Leader Dick Armey promoted the MEK while working for lobbying firm DLA Piper. Armey also represented Saeid Ghaemi, an Iranian expatriate in the U.S. who paid almost $910,000 to the lobbying firm “for Armey’s services bringing issues relating to Iran to the attention of Congress, the State Department, the Department of Defense, the White House, the National Security Council and the Department of Treasury.”

Watch | Giuliani Leads MEK “Regime Change” Chant

And then we have the top luminaries from President Donald Trump’s circle, including:

  • Former New York City Mayor and top White House lawyer Rudy Giuliani, who co-signed a letter along with various bipartisan officials urging a newly-inaugurated Trump to “establish a dialogue” with NCRI, and was revealed to have been a paid advocate for the removal of MEK from the State Department terror group list. Giuliani has been an almost annual guest at MEK functions in Paris and a regular anti-Iranian voice on television.  In 2015, Giuliani stood before a crowd of MEK supporters in Paris and shouted:

The ayatollah must go! Gone! Out! No more! I will not support anyone for president of the United States who isn’t clear on that slogan behind me. What does it say? It says regime change!”

  • Trump adviser and GOP elder Newt Gingrich, who ripped on former President Obama for bowing to the king of Saudi Arabia, but was caught on camera bowing to Maryam Rajavi – whom the conservative ultra-patriot sees as an Iranian version of U.S. founding father George Washington.
  • Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao, the elite Taiwanese-American wife of Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, who has received honoraria in the amounts of $50,000 and $17,500 to speak for MEK front groups like the Iranian-American Cultural Association of Missouri and the NCRI. At the same Paris event attended by Giuliani, Chao sat as guest of honor alongside “president-elect” cult leader Rajavi before delivering a feminist-themed speech slamming Iran’s government.

And then, of course, there’s John Bolton, a ravening ultra-hawk with a nearly obsessive hatred of the Islamic Republic of Iran.

Speaking to Foreign Policy magazine, Carnegie Endowment for International Peace senior fellow Karim Sadjadpour commented:

I suspect Bolton’s interactions with the MEK were above all motivated by financial interests … The MEK may be a backward cult with little to offer, but they are the enemy of his enemy. And they pay handsomely.”

The same can likely be said about the rest of the elected “representatives”-for-hire in Washington, whose belief in the MEK’s ability to lead a post-IRI Iranian state is no doubt on par with their trust in the late Rev. Moon’s claims to be the one and only messiah.

While the hard-hit Iranian economy is likely to continue reeling, driving more protesters into the streets, one shouldn’t mistake their social demands or financial pain for a desire to subject themselves to a totalitarian cult with hardly a fraction of the support enjoyed by the Shia clergy helming the Islamic Republic — no matter the extent to which Washington and the Saudis attempt to foist the Rajavi group on the Iranian nation.

Yet despite the group’s dearth of political legitimacy, the congressional aide who spoke to FP understands why they remain a mainstay in the U.S. Capitol:

They’re useful as provocation … They’re useful as a signal to the Iranian government that we’re coming to get you.”

Elliott Gabriel is a former staff writer for teleSUR English and a MintPress News contributor based in Quito, Ecuador.

June 28, 2018 Posted by | Corruption, Deception, Video | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

McCain Calls on US to Retaliate With Cyberattack on Russia to Embarrass Putin

Sputnik | May 3, 2018

According to Senator John McCain, America should consider a cyberattack against President Vladimir Putin to retaliate for Moscow’s alleged interference into the 2016 US presidential election in order to send a message to Russia.

In his upcoming book, entitled “The Restless Wave,” McCain has touched upon the allegations that the Kremlin could have so-called “kompromat” [compromising material] on President Donald Trump, as well as Russia’s alleged meddling in the 2016 presidential election in the United States – an accusation, which Moscow has consistently repudiated.

“I’m of the opinion that unless [Russian President Vladimir] Putin is made to regret his decision he will return to the scene of the crime again and again,” McCain wrote, adding that in order “to make Putin deeply regret his assault on the foundation of our democracy – free and fair elections – we should seriously consider retaliating with the kinds of weapons he used. We have cyber capabilities too. They should be used to expose the epic scale of his regime’s corruption or to embarrass [Putin] in other ways.”

Senator McCain went on to call on the United States to take an offensive stance in the information war with Russia, being very critical of Trump’s perception of Moscow as a potential ally.

“[Putin] never was, he is not now and never will be our partner. He sees evidence of his success every day in our polarization and gridlock,” he elaborated.

In the meantime, he wrote that he was quite skeptical that the sitting president or his aides had colluded with the Kremlin during the 2016 election.

“And I certainly did not want to believe that the Kremlin could have acquired kompromat on an American President.”

The 81-year-old McCain has used his book to dismiss the “Russia hater” label, on a previous occasion the Kremlin described his attitude towards Moscow as a “maniacal hatred towards our country.”

McCain has consistently hurled obscenities at President Putin, coming up with such epithets as “butcher,” a “thug,” a “killer,” a “KGB agent,” an “evil man,” and even called him a greater threat to the United States than Daesh.

In March, the senator lashed out at President Trump for a phone conversation with his Russian counterpart, in which POTUS congratulated Putin following his election win. Previously, McCain had accused the Trump Administration of “playing right into the hands of Vladimir Putin.”


McCain Supports Strikes on Syria, Urges New Strategy for US in Syria

May 3, 2018 Posted by | Militarism, Russophobia | , | 3 Comments

Why Each US President Ends Up As Ruthless Interventionist These Days

By Philip M. GIRALDI | Strategic Culture Foundation | 19.04.2018

In the wake of last week’s cruise missile attack on Syria, there was a joke going around the internet saying that it doesn’t matter who Americans vote for, they always wind up getting John McCain as President of the United States. The humor derives from the fact that the past three presidents all ran for office committed to reducing America’s interventionism overseas but once in office they reversed course and expanded US military commitments worldwide, turning them into facsimiles of John McCain, who has never seen a war he didn’t like.

President Donald Trump’s explicit pledges to avoid expanded engagement in Asia and the Middle East while also fixing the relationship with Russia are by now lost down the memory hole as he has increased troop levels in Afghanistan while, by his own admission, the relationship with Moscow is now even worse than it was during the Cold War. And regarding Syria, his Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Halley has confirmed that the US military will not be going anywhere because certain goals have to be met first. One objective, monitoring developments relating to Iran, is open-ended, implying that it will be impossible to leave for the foreseeable future and suggesting that another Afghanistan-style quagmire is in the making.

Pundits see the process whereby all new presidents turn into hawks as evidence of the pervasiveness of the Deep State in US foreign policy, but as the Deep State operates largely in the open in the United States, it might also be referred to as the Establishment consensus. The persistence of the Establishment view in what has become increasingly a national security state is largely due to the fact that there is little pushback against it. The media is fully on board and Congress, which should be serving as a brake on presumed presidential prerogatives to go to war, benefits substantially from the bloated budgets and other emoluments that derive from American imperialism. Defense and related budgets grow in spite of the lack of any real threat and the public is fed a steady diet of fear by the media and government regarding fabricated threats to US national security.

The combination of government and media lies renders most Americans completely ignorant about what is going in in Syria. First of all, the United States and its allies, who are occupying nearly one quarter of the country, are in Syria illegally. Under international law, attacking and occupying a country that is not directly threatening you without any justifying United Nations Security Council resolution is illegal. It is also a war crime as defined by the Nuremberg Trials that followed after the Second World War, which ruled that a war of aggression is the “ultimate war crime” as it inevitably leads to many other crimes. So the United States is undeniably an unindicted war criminal.

That the United States has not been indicted or brought to justice for its crimes is largely due to its political and military power, which few nations choose to challenge, but also because it is a permanent member of the United Nations Security Council and is able to veto resolutions criticizing it. There have been numerous motions condemning American behavior, but none of them have made it out of the Security Council. This is not a confirmation of US innocence but rather a result of the politics that operate at the United Nations.

The United States is also in violation of international law because it remains in Syria without the permission of the recognized and legitimate Syrian government. Iranian forces and those of Russia are present on the invitation of Damascus. The United States is not. The US has also been illegally working to overthrow the legitimate Syrian government, acting in collusion with groups of so-called rebels, some of whom are actually drawn from internationally recognized terrorist groups, violating its own laws regarding providing material assistance to terrorism.

Establishment politics has meant that the United States is now a rogue nation defined by its propensity to go to war. America’s bombing of Syria is illegal, immoral, ineffective and dishonest. It is past time for the United States to pull out its troops and leave the Syrians alone. Americans killing Syrians while hypocritically claiming that it is done to stop Syrians from killing each other is a recipe for disaster.

April 19, 2018 Posted by | Militarism, Timeless or most popular, War Crimes | , , , , | Leave a comment

McCain’s Transmutation from Cautious Realist to Super-Hawk

By Stephen J. Sniegoski • Unz Review • September 1, 2017

For many years, John McCain has been one of the major war hawks in the Senate, but he was not that way for more than a decade after he was first elected to Congress. When he entered the House of Representatives in 1983, he was a cautious realist, holding the position that U.S. military power should only be used to protect vital national interests. He developed this view as a result of his experience in the Vietnam War and his post-Vietnam studying of the origins of that war at the National War College.[1] That view loomed large among military leaders at this time and was exemplified by General Colin Powell.

In his first year in Congress, McCain, although a strong supporter of then President Reagan, voted against the latter’s decision to continue the deployment of troops in Lebanon during that country’s civil war. The measure would pass in both Houses of Congress, with substantial support from Democrats, and with only a small minority of Republicans daring to oppose Reagan. In his floor speech on this issue, McCain stated:

“The fundamental question is: What is the United States’ interest in Lebanon? It is said we are there to keep the peace. I ask, what peace? It is said we are there to aid the government. I ask, what government? It is said we are there to stabilize the region. I ask, how can the U.S. presence stabilize the region? . . . . The longer we stay in Lebanon, the harder it will be for us to leave. We will be trapped by the case we make for having our troops there in the first place.

“What can we expect if we withdraw from Lebanon? The same as will happen if we stay. I acknowledge that the level of fighting will increase if we leave. I regretfully acknowledge that many innocent civilians will be hurt. But I firmly believe this will happen in any event.”[2]

After a truck filled with explosives rammed into the Marine compound in Beirut, killing 241 service members, Reagan opted to remove the remaining troops a few months later. McCain was vindicated and he gained considerable attention from the mainstream media for his prescience and courage to take such a stand against a popular President from his party. This helped to develop his reputation as a “maverick.”

“The American people and Congress now appreciate that we are neither omniscient nor omnipotent,” McCain would later tell the Los Angeles Times, “and they are not prepared to commit U.S. troops to combat unless there is a clear U.S. national security interest involved. If we do become involved in combat, that involvement must be of relatively short duration and must be readily explained to the man in the street in one or two sentences.”[3]

In 1987, during the Iran-Iraq War, in which the United States was supporting Iraq, McCain, now a Senator, opposed President Reagan’s move to put American flags on Kuwaiti oil tankers and have the U.S. Navy protect them against possible Iranian attacks. In the Arizona Republican, he described Reagan’s action as a “dangerous overreaction in perhaps the most violent and unpredictable region in the world.” He continued: “American citizens are again being asked to place themselves between warring Middle East factions, with no tangible allied support and no real plan on how to respond if the situation escalates.”[4]

McCain did support the Gulf War in 1991, but even here he was something of a moderate. McCain biographer Matt Welch writes: “When Saddam Hussein invaded Kuwait in the summer of 1990, McCain oscillated between hawkishness and reluctance, denouncing the Iraqi dictator and then the U.S. government for having cozied up too closely to Hussein during the Iran-Iraq war, but at the same time warning against a protracted land battle.”[5] McCain stated: “If you get involved in a major ground war in the Saudi desert, I think support will erode significantly. Nor should it be supported. We cannot even contemplate, in my view, trading American blood for Iraqi blood.”[6]

Under Republican Presidents Reagan and the elder Bush, it must be acknowledged that McCain was not an actual non-interventionist since he supported the American opposition to the Soviet Union, and what he considered to be pro-Soviet forces in Central America. Moreover, he supported the removal of Panamanian dictator Manuel Noriega by the U.S. military in 1989. But this was still a far cry from the global interventionist that McCain would become.

Moreover, during Bill Clinton’s presidency, McCain would be even more non-interventionist until his radical change during the last years of Clinton’s term. In a commencement address he made to the Marine Corps Command and Staff College in Quantico, Virginia in June 1994, McCain emphasized that his cautious approach to war resulted from his Vietnam experience. He solemnly orated that he had not forgotten “the friends who did not return with me to the country we loved so dearly. The memory of them, of what they bore for honor and country, causes me to look in every prospective conflict for the shadow of Vietnam.”[7]

In December 1992, after losing the November election to Bill Clinton, the elder George Bush dispatched American troops to Somalia, then embroiled in a many-sided civil war, to facilitate the provision of food to the starving civilian population. This was part of a United Nations effort. By the fall of 1993, this military mission morphed into one of arresting war lords and nation-building. In October 1993, a 15-hour battle took place in Mogadishu that left 18 Americans dead and 73 injured, with many of these casualties the result of two Black Hawk helicopters being shot down.[8]

Because of this loss of American lives, there was a Senate bill supported by President Clinton which planned to remove American troops from Somalia. Demanding a quicker troop exit, McCain stated: “Mr. President, can anyone seriously argue that another six months of United States forces in harm’s way means the difference between peace and prosperity in Somalia and war and starvation there? Is that very dim prospect worth one more American life? No, it is not.”

Drawing an analogy to what happened in Lebanon in 1983, McCain contended: “240 young Marines lost their lives, but we got out. Now is the time for us to get out of Somalia, as rapidly, and as promptly, and as safely as possible.”

“The longer we stay the more difficult it will be to leave,” McCain asserted. “The loss of American lives is not only tragic, it is needless.”[9] His proposed amendment for a quicker departure, however, was voted down.

McCain also opposed Clinton’s intervention in Haiti to bring back President Jean-Bertrand Aristide, who had been elected in 1990 and then overthrown in a coup in 1991. After a UN resolution authorized the use of military force to return Aristide to power, the United States would ultimately do so on October 15, 1994. In late August 1994, McCain declared: “It is the post-invasion circumstances that I fear will bog down U.S. forces in a low-level, open-ended, ill-defined conflict which will require U.S. servicemen and women to serve as a virtual palace guard for President Aristide once he is returned to power.”[10]

The major international concern in the 1990s was the conflict in Yugoslavia—with the focus first on Bosnia and then Kosovo. After the downfall of Communism, Yugoslavia dissolved, with the secession, in 1992, of Croatia, Macedonia and Slovenia. Bosnia also declared its independence despite the staunch opposition of Bosnian Serbs, who wanted to remain united with Serbia. Civil war broke out between the Bosnian Serbs, supported by Serbia, and the Muslim-dominated Bosnian government. Thousands of people were killed, raped, and expelled from their homes. The West generally looked upon the atrocities, real and imagined, as being primarily perpetrated by the Serbs. In the United States, this was especially the case among American liberals who would advocate “humanitarian” military intervention to protect the Muslims.

In 1992, the UN peacekeeping forces intervened for humanitarian reasons and set up several so-called safe areas for refugees, which often turned out to be not very safe. The UN forces were composed of non-American troops, while American ships and airplanes enforced an arms embargo.

The wars in Yugoslavia would ultimately lead to a sea change in McCain’s position on American military intervention, but this did not occur all at once. Initially, McCain was, like many Republicans, opposed to American involvement in the conflict. In fact, biographer Matt Welch describes McCain as having been “one of the Senate’s most stubborn opponents to US military intervention against Serbs.”[11] McCain contended that any American military “peace-keeping” effort in Bosnia would likely lead to a quagmire. “I think you can draw a parallel to the military challenge in Bosnia with what the Russians faced in Afghanistan,” McCain opined in May 1993. “Even with ground forces and with overwhelming air superiority, they were unable to defeat a motivated, very capable enemy.”[12]

In December 1994, McCain, whom the Los Angeles Times described as a “a leading opponent of greater American military involvement in the war,” stated: “I think we have a very full plate of a legislative agenda, which are the commitments we made to the American people–and Bosnia wasn’t one of those.”[13] In May 1995, McCain held that U.S. efforts in the Balkans were “doomed to failure from the beginning, when we believed that we could keep peace in a place where there was no peace.”[14] Neocon Robert Kagan bemoaned the fact that on Bosnia, Senator McCain led the Republican attack, warning that any use of military power there would result in “another failure like Vietnam or Lebanon.”[15]

Prospects for peace, however, improved in the summer of 1995 when NATO, led by the United States, launched airstrikes against Bosnian Serb targets, which combined with better-equipped Muslim and Croatian forces pressured the Bosnian Serbs into participating in peace negotiations. This led to the Dayton Accords in November 1995, which ended the war in Bosnia. NATO would provide peace-keeping troops, including 20,000 from the U.S.

After NATO’s success, McCain quickly dropped his staunch anti-interventionist position. McCain later claimed that his position had begun to change as a moral reaction to the Serbs’ massacre of thousands of unarmed Bosnian Muslims in July 1995.[16] While most Republican members of Congress were opposed to sending American troops to Bosnia, McCain joined Senator Robert Dole (Republican—Kansas) in putting forth the nonbinding Dole-McCain resolution which permitted Clinton to send troops, though limiting the deployment to one year–which was Clinton’s stated time period—and requiring the United States to lead an effort to arm and train Bosnian troops. The resolution passed in the Senate but was not taken up in the House.[17]

Showing that he had not completely dropped his previous cautious approach to intervention, McCain emphasized that the Dole-McCain resolution was not seeking support for President Clinton’s decision to deploy the troops. “It asks that you support the deployment after the decision has been made,” he said. “The decision has been made by the only American elected to make such decisions [i.e., the President].” However, McCain also expressed a firm interventionist conviction: “When we arrive at the moment when less is expected from our leadership by the rest of the world, then we will have arrived at the moment of our decline.” And he said, “We cannot withdraw from the world into our prosperity and comfort and hope to keep those blessings.”[18]

While a change from his previous strong opposition to American intervention abroad, supporting this peace effort in Bosnia did not portend McCain’s radical transmutation to the global super-hawk that he would become. That final step would require the involvement of the neoconservatives. This connection began when, in 1997, McCain and his advisers read an article in the Wall Street Journal editorial page by neoconservatives Bill Kristol and David Brooks who were promoting the idea of “national greatness” conservatism, which consisted of a more activist domestic agenda and a more interventionist global role.[19]

While this article may have fit in with the direction that McCain’s thinking was moving, it had political implications as well: McCain had been eyeing the presidency for a number of years. According to John Weaver, a major political adviser to McCain at this time: “I wouldn’t call it a ‘eureka’ moment, but there was a sense that this is where we are headed and this is what we are trying to articulate and they [Kristol and Brooks] have already done a lot of the work. . . . And, quite frankly, from a crass political point of view, we were in the making-friends business. The Weekly Standard represented a part of the primary electorate that we could get.”[20] And it should be emphasized that McCain’s change was not a gradual one but rather one that was quite radical and took place in a very short period of time.

After reading this article, McCain and staff were consulting regularly with leading neocons, including Kristol, Robert Kagan, and Randy Scheunemann[21], to, in the words of journalist David Kirkpatrick, “develop the senator’s foreign policy ideas and instincts into the broad themes of a presidential campaign.”[22] In short, McCain realized that he needed the neocons’ intellectual and political support if he were to achieve higher office. The neocons were already well-known and had played a significant role in the Reagan administration. And during the Clinton years, neocons promoted their views from a strong interlocking network of think tanks which have had a significant influence in shaping American foreign policy.

McCain would begin to support neocon positions. On January 26, 1998, the neocon-dominated Project for a New American Century (PNAC), created in 1997 and headed by Bill Kristol, sent a letter to President Clinton urging him to take unilateral military action against Iraq to overthrow Saddam and offered a plan to achieve that objective. After the Clinton administration failed to take action, another neocon-front group, the resurrected Committee for Peace and Security in the Gulf, which had promoted the 1991 Gulf War, sent another letter urging war. And, because of Clinton’s continued inaction, PNAC would send another such letter in May.

While President Clinton failed to take action, McCain pushed for military action against Saddam in 1998. McCain co-sponsored the Iraq Liberation Act, committing the United States to support the overthrow of Saddam and funding opposition groups, most importantly the Iraqi National Congress. Headed by the notorious neocon-favorite Ahmed Chalabi, the Iraqi National Congress would provide much of the spurious information that generated support for the war on Iraq in 2003. The bill passed in both houses of Congress and on October 31, 1998, President Clinton signed it into law. Clinton, however, did not intend to implement this measure and George Bush made no mention of it during the 2000 campaign.[23] McCain, however, remained in lock-step with the neocons on Iraq and would be made Honorary Co-chair of the Committee for the Liberation of Iraq when it was created in 2002.

McCain had been in line with the neocons as a strong supporter of Israel even during the time he adhered to a cautious realist position regarding U.S. military interventionism. He was the 1999 recipient of the Defender of Jerusalem award, given by the National Council of Young Israel. In his acceptance speech, McCain in effect told his pro-Zionist audience that the United States should be prepared to make war for Israel’s sake. “Certainly, no one would argue with the proposition that our armed forces exist first and foremost for the defense of the United States and its vital interests abroad,” McCain intoned. “We choose, as a nation, however, to intervene militarily abroad in defense of the moral values that are at the center of our national conscientiousness even when vital national interests are not necessarily at stake. I raise this point because it lies at the heart of this nation’s approach to Israel. The survival of Israel is one of this country’s most important moral commitments. . . . Like the United States, Israel is more than a nation; it is an ideal.”[24] Note that this was diametrically opposed to his former view that American intervention abroad should only take place to protect vital American interests.

However, it was not Iraq or any of Israel’s enemies that put McCain in the national limelight but rather the U.S.-led NATO war on Serbia over Kosovo in 1999. As Washington Post staff writer Dan Balz wrote in early April 1999, “no politician has been more visible on the issue of Kosovo the past two weeks than the former Vietnam prisoner of war, and a number of political analysts say his performance has given a boost to his presidential aspirations.”[25]

President Clinton orchestrated the NATO war on Serbia, because of the Serbs “ethnic cleansing” of Muslims in their territory of Kosovo. Since Serbia could not possibly threaten the United States, the war was presented as being largely for humanitarian reasons. At this time, there were all types of stories of Serb mass killings of Kosovars, with figures up to 100,000 Kosovar civilians being missing and conceivably murdered.[26] Physical evidence for these extreme claims was not found and former Yugoslav president Slobodan Milosevic was not even charged with crimes of such great magnitude at his trial before the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY). And according to German government documents no “ethnic cleansing” of Kosovar Albanians took place until after the NATO bombing.[27]

Unlike many Republicans, McCain supported Clinton’s decision for war. But while Clinton limited American actions to air strikes, McCain maintained that it was essential to win this military confrontation at all costs and called on the Clinton Administration to deploy ground troops if the reliance on air strikes alone appeared to be insufficient to achieve victory.[28]

McCain thus sponsored a resolution that would have given President Clinton congressional authorization to use all means necessary to win the military campaign in Kosovo. The leaders of both parties opposed this resolution and it was tabled. McCain complained: “The president doesn’t want the power he possesses by law because the risks inherent in its exercise have paralyzed him.”[29]

McCain’s hawkish position reflected the views of the neoconservatives. And obviously, his pro-intervention stance represented a sea change from his previous emphasis on caution and support of war only if it involved a vital American interest.

Members of the interventionist Balkan Action Committee, which advocated NATO ground troops for Kosovo, included such prominent neoconservative mainstays as Richard Perle, Max M. Kampelman, Morton Abramowitz, and Paul Wolfowitz. Other neoconservative proponents of a tougher war included Eliot Cohen, Elliott Abrams, John Bolton, Bill Kristol, Robert Kagan, and Norman Podhoretz.[30]

Largely because of his bellicose position on Kosovo, McCain was the favorite presidential candidate for many leading neoconservatives in 2000. As Franklin Foer, editor of the liberal New Republic, put it: “Jewish neoconservatives have fallen hard for John McCain. It’s not just unabashed swooner William Kristol, editor of The Weekly Standard. McCain has also won over such leading neocon lights as David Brooks, the entire Podhoretz family, The Wall Street Journal‘s Dorothy Rabinowitz, and columnist Charles Krauthammer, who declared, in a most un-Semitic flourish, ‘He suffered for our sins.’”[31]

McCain was especially championed by Bill Kristol, editor of the Weekly Standard, and his associate David Brooks. They held that McCain would promote their idea of “national greatness,” as opposed to what they regarded as the standpatness of the conservative Republicans. The “national greatness” program would entail a greater role for the federal government and more extensive intervention throughout the world to promote American values.

Neoconservatives admired McCain for his support of the American war on Serbia, toward which many mainstream conservatives were decidedly cool. The attack on Serbia, ostensibly for humanitarian reasons, provided the intellectual groundwork for the attack on Iraq, the neocons’ fundamental target, since it set the precedent of violating international law’s prohibition against initiating offensive wars. No longer would the United States have to be attacked, or even threatened, to engage in war. As Kristol and Brooks put it: “For all his conventional political views, McCain embodies a set of virtues that today are unconventional. The issue that gave the McCain campaign its initial boost was Kosovo. He argued that America as a great champion of democracy and decency could not fail to act. And he supported his commander in chief despite grave doubts about the conduct of the war–while George W. Bush sat out the debate and Republicans on the Hill flailed at Clinton.”[32]

But the neocons did not support McCain simply because of his defense of the Kosovars, but rather because of his broader interventionist position of “rogue state rollback,” which pointed directly at the enemies of Israel. While participating in a Republican debate moderated by CNN’s Larry King on February. 15, 2000, the candidates were asked: “What area of American international policy would you change immediately as president?” McCain replied: “I’d institute a policy that I call ‘rogue state rollback.’ I would arm, train, equip, both from without and from within, forces that would eventually overthrow the governments and install free and democratically-elected governments.” And he added: “As long as Saddam Hussein is in power, I am convinced that he will pose a threat to our security.”[33]

What caused McCain’s radical shift from cautious realist to super hawk? Biographer Matt Welch sees it as essentially a return to his basic world view, largely derived from the family’s military background, after the non-interventionist effect of the Vietnam Syndrome. Welch writes: “But much less understood is the extent to which interventionist hegemony has been literally seared into McCain’s skull and then reignited late in life after the long intellectual detour of Vietnam.”[34]

Justin Raimondo sees it otherwise: “It is impossible to know what is in McCain’s heart. There may be a purely ideological explanation for his changing viewpoint. But what seems to account for his evolution from realism to hopped-up interventionism is nothing more than sheer ambition.” He goes on: “He was positioning himself against his own party, while staking out a distinctive stance independent of the Democrats. It was, in short, an instance of a presidential candidate maneuvering himself to increase his appeal to the electorate—and, most importantly, the media.”[35]

In an article in Rolling Stone, Tim Dickerson expresses a view similar to that of Raimondo, describing McCain as “a man willing to say and do anything to achieve his ultimate ambition: to become commander in chief, ascending to the one position that would finally enable him to outrank his four-star father and grandfather.” Dickerson continues: “Few politicians have so actively, or successfully, crafted their own myth of greatness.”[36]

McCain has flip-flopped on domestic issues, sometimes supporting a conservative position and at other times a more liberal one which wins him the plaudits of the mainstream media—but once he moved into the neocon orbit regarding U.S. foreign policy, he has stayed there. It is obviously beneficial for a politician to have the broad neocon network of organizations on one’s side. And more than a few of these neocons—such as Bill Kristol, Robert Kagan, David Brooks, are featured regularly in the mainstream media. Moreover, the mainstream liberal media itself has adopted many neocon interventionist positions in foreign policy in regard to Russia and the Middle East, so McCain’s positions are held in esteem there, too.

So while McCain portrays himself as a “maverick” and “straight-talker” who is above politics– and this image is largely accepted by the mainstream media—it would seem most likely that his political positions have been adopted to advance his own political interests.[37] While this approach did not enable him to become President, it did serve to make him something of a public icon, which is a position few politicians attain. However, the war-oriented policies he has advocated have been disastrous for the United States. It is only fortunate that John McCain has not attained the power to have his positions adopted in their entirety.

September 1, 2017 Posted by | Militarism, Timeless or most popular, Wars for Israel | , , , , , | 1 Comment

A Blacklisted Film and the New Cold War

By Robert Parry | Consortium News | August 2, 2107

Why is the U.S. mainstream media so frightened of a documentary that debunks the beloved story of how “lawyer” Sergei Magnitsky uncovered massive Russian government corruption and died as a result? If the documentary is as flawed as its critics claim, why won’t they let it be shown to the American public, then lay out its supposed errors, and use it as a case study of how such fakery works?

Film director Andrei Nekrasov

Instead we – in the land of the free, home of the brave – are protected from seeing this documentary produced by filmmaker Andrei Nekrasov who was known as a fierce critic of Russian President Vladimir Putin but who in this instance found the West’s widely accepted Magnitsky storyline to be a fraud.

Instead, last week, Senate Judiciary Committee members sat in rapt attention as hedge-fund operator William Browder wowed them with a reprise of his Magnitsky tale and suggested that people who have challenged the narrative and those who dared air the documentary one time at Washington’s Newseum last year should be prosecuted for violating the Foreign Agent Registration Act (FARA).

It appears that Official Washington’s anti-Russia hysteria has reached such proportions that old-time notions about hearing both sides of a story or testing out truth in the marketplace of ideas must be cast aside. The new political/media paradigm is to shield the American people from information that contradicts the prevailing narratives, all the better to get them to line up behind Those Who Know Best.

Nekrasov’s powerful deconstruction of the Magnitsky myth – and the film’s subsequent blacklisting throughout the “free world” – recall other instances in which the West’s propaganda lines don’t stand up to scrutiny, so censorship and ad hominem attacks become the weapons of choice to defend “perception management” narratives in geopolitical hot spots such as Iraq (2002-03), Libya (2011), Syria (2011 to the present), and Ukraine (2013 to the present).

But the Magnitsky myth has a special place as the seminal fabrication of the dangerous New Cold War between the nuclear-armed West and nuclear-armed Russia.

In the United States, Russia-bashing in The New York Times and other “liberal media” also has merged with the visceral hatred of President Trump, causing all normal journalistic standards to be jettisoned.

A Call for Prosecutions

Browder, the American-born co-founder of Hermitage Capital Management who is now a British citizen, raised the stakes even more when he testified that the people involved in arranging a one-time showing of Nekrasov’s documentary, “The Magnitsky Act: Behind the Scenes,” at the Newseum should be held accountable under FARA, which has penalties ranging up to five years in prison.

Browder testified: “As part of [Russian lawyer Natalie] Veselnitskaya’s lobbying, a former Wall Street Journal reporter, Chris Cooper of the Potomac Group, was hired to organize the Washington, D.C.-based premiere of a fake documentary about Sergei Magnitsky and myself. This was one the best examples of Putin’s propaganda.

“They hired Howard Schweitzer of Cozzen O’Connor Public Strategies and former Congressman Ronald Dellums to lobby members of Congress on Capitol Hill to repeal the Magnitsky Act and to remove Sergei’s name from the Global Magnitsky bill. On June 13, 2016, they funded a major event at the Newseum to show their fake documentary, inviting representatives of Congress and the State Department to attend.

“While they were conducting these operations in Washington, D.C., at no time did they indicate that they were acting on behalf of Russian government interests, nor did they file disclosures under the Foreign Agent Registration Act. United States law is very explicit that those acting on behalf of foreign governments and their interests must register under FARA so that there is transparency about their interests and their motives.

“Since none of these people registered, my firm wrote to the Department of Justice in July 2016 and presented the facts. I hope that my story will help you understand the methods of Russian operatives in Washington and how they use U.S. enablers to achieve major foreign policy goals without disclosing those interests.”

Browder’s Version

While he loosely accused a number of Americans of felonies, Browder continued to claim that Magnitsky was a crusading “lawyer” who uncovered a $230 million tax-fraud scheme carried out ostensibly by Browder’s companies but, which, according to Browder’s account, was really engineered by corrupt Russian police officers who then arrested Magnitsky and later were responsible for his death in a Russian jail.

Sergei Magnitsky

Browder’s narrative has received a credulous hearing by Western politicians and media already inclined to think the worst of Putin’s Russia and willing to treat Browder’s claims as true without serious examination. However, beyond the self-serving nature of Browder’s tale, there are many holes in the story, including whether Magnitsky was really a principled lawyer or instead a complicit accountant.

According to Browder’s own biographical description of Magnitsky, he received his education at the Plekhanov Institute in Moscow, a reference to Plekhanov Russian University of Economics, a school for finance and business, not a law school.

Nevertheless, the West’s mainstream media – relying on the word of Browder – has accepted Magnitsky’s standing as a “lawyer,” which apparently fits better in the narrative of Magnitsky as a crusading corruption fighter rather than a potential co-conspirator with Browder in a complex fraud, as the Russian government has alleged.

Magnitsky’s mother also has described her son as an accountant, although telling Nekrasov in the documentary “he wasn’t just an accountant; he was interested in lots of things.” In the film, the “lawyer” claim is also disputed by a female co-worker who knew Magnitsky well. “He wasn’t a lawyer,” she said.

In other words, on this high-profile claim repeated by Browder again and again, it appears that presenting Magnitsky as a “lawyer” is a convenient falsehood that buttresses the Magnitsky myth, which Browder constructed after Magnitsky’s death from heart failure while in pre-trial detention.

But the Magnitsky myth took off in 2012 when Browder sold his tale to neocon Senators Ben Cardin, D-Maryland, and John McCain, R-Arizona, who threw their political weight behind a bipartisan drive in Congress leading to the passage of the Magnitsky sanctions act, the opening shot in the New Cold War.

A Planned Docudrama

Browder’s dramatic story also attracted the attention of Russian filmmaker Andrei Nekrasov, a well-known critic of Putin from previous films. Nekrasov set out to produce a docudrama that would share Browder’s good-vs.-evil narrative to a wider public.

Nekrasov devotes the first half hour of the film to allowing Browder to give his Magnitsky account illustrated by scenes from Nekrasov’s planned docudrama. In other words, the viewer gets to see a highly sympathetic portrayal of Browder and Magnitsky as supposedly corrupt Russian authorities bring charges of tax fraud against them.

However, Nekrasov’s documentary project takes an unexpected turn when his research turns up numerous contradictions to Browder’s storyline, which begins to look more and more like a corporate cover story. For instance, Magnitsky’s mother blames the negligence of prison doctors for her son’s death rather than a beating by prison guards as Browder had pitched to Western audiences.

Nekrasov also discovered that a woman who had worked in Browder’s company blew the whistle before Magnitsky talked to police and that Magnitsky’s original interview with authorities was as a suspect, not a whistleblower. Also contradicting Browder’s claims, Nekrasov notes that Magnitsky doesn’t even mention the names of the police officers in a key statement to authorities.

When one of the Browder-accused police officers, Pavel Karpov, filed a libel suit against Browder in London, the case was dismissed on technical grounds because Karpov had no reputation in Great Britain to slander. But the judge seemed sympathetic to the substance of Karpov’s complaint.

Browder claimed vindication before adding an ironic protest given his successful campaign to prevent Americans and Europeans from seeing Nekrasov’s documentary.

“These people tried to shut us up; they tried to stifle our freedom of expression,” Browder complained. “[Karpov] had the audacity to come here and sue us, paying high-priced libel lawyers to come and terrorize us in the U.K.”

The ‘Kremlin Stooge’ Slur

A pro-Browder account published at the Daily Beast on July 25 – attacking Nekrasov and his documentary – is entitled “How an Anti-Putin Filmmaker Became a Kremlin Stooge,” a common slur used in the West to discredit and silence anyone who dares question today’s Russia-hating groupthink.

The article by Katie Zavadski accuses Nekrasov of being in the tank for the Kremlin and declares that “The movie is so flattering to the Russian narrative that Pavel Karpov — one of the police officers accused of being responsible for Magnitsky’s death — plays himself.”

But that’s not true. In fact, there is a scene in the documentary in which Nekrasov invites the actor who plays Karpov in the docudrama segment to sit in on an interview with the real Karpov. There’s even a clumsy moment when the actor and police officer bump into a microphone as they shake hands, but Zavadski’s falsehood would not be apparent unless you had somehow gotten access to the documentary, which has been effectively banned in the West.

In the documentary, Karpov, the police officer, accuses Browder of lying about him and specifically contests the claim that he (Karpov) used his supposedly ill-gotten gains to buy an expensive apartment in Moscow. Karpov came to the interview with documents showing that the flat was pre-paid in 2004-05, well before the alleged hijacking of Browder’s firms.

Karpov added wistfully that he had to sell the apartment to pay for his failed legal challenge in London, which he said he undertook in an effort to clear his name. “Honor costs a lot sometimes,” the police officer said.

Karpov also explained that the investigations of Browder’s tax fraud started well before the Magnitsky controversy, with an examination of a Browder company in 2004.

“Once we opened the investigation, a campaign in defense of an investor started,” Karpov said. “Having made billions here, Browder forgot to tell how he did it. So it suits him to pose as a victim. … Browder and company are lying blatantly and constantly.”

However, since virtually no one in the West has seen this interview, you can’t make your own judgment as to whether Karpov is credible or not.

A Painful Recognition

Yet, in reviewing the case documents and noting Browder’s inaccurate claims about the chronology, Nekrasov finds his own doubts growing. He discovers that European officials simply accepted Browder’s translations of Russian documents, rather than checking them independently. A similar lack of skepticism prevailed in the United States.

In other words, a kind of trans-Atlantic groupthink took hold with clear political benefits for those who went along and almost no one willing to risk the accusation of being a “Kremlin stooge” by showing doubt.

As the documentary proceeds, Browder starts avoiding Nekrasov and his more pointed questions. Finally, Nekrasov hesitantly confronts the hedge-fund executive at a party for Browder’s book, Red Notice, about the Magnitsky case.

The easygoing Browder of the early part of the documentary — as he lays out his seamless narrative without challenge — is gone; instead, a defensive and angry Browder appears.

“It’s bullshit,” Browder says when told that his presentations of the documents are false.

But Nekrasov continues to find more contradictions and discrepancies. He discovers evidence that Browder’s web site eliminated an earlier chronology that showed that in April 2008, a 70-year-old woman named Rimma Starova, who had served as a figurehead executive for Browder’s companies, reported the theft of state funds.

Nekrasov then shows how Browder’s narrative was changed to introduce Magnitsky as the whistleblower months later, although he was then described as an “analyst,” not yet a “lawyer.”

As Browder’s story continues to unravel, the evidence suggests that Magnitsky was an accountant implicated in manipulating the books, not a crusading lawyer risking everything for the truth.

A Heated Confrontation

In the documentary, Nekrasov struggles with what to do next, given Browder’s financial and political clout. Finally securing another interview, Nekrasov confronts Browder with the core contradictions of his story. Incensed, the hedge-fund executive rises up and threatens the filmmaker.

William Browder (right) with Magnitsky’s widow and son,
along with European parliamentarians.

“I’d be very careful going out and trying to do a whole sort of thing about Sergei [Magnitsky] not being the whistleblower, it won’t do well for your credibility on this show,” Browder said. “This is sort of the subtle FSB version,” suggesting that Nekrasov was just fronting for the Russian intelligence service.

In the pro-Browder account published at the Daily Beast on July 25, Browder described how he put down Nekrasov by telling him, “it sounds like you’re part of the FSB. … Those are FSB questions.”

But that phrasing is not what he actually says in the documentary, raising further questions about whether the Daily Beast reporter actually watched the film or simply accepted Browder’s account of it. (I posed that question to the Daily Beast’s Katie Zavadski by email, but have not gotten a reply.)

The documentary also includes devastating scenes from depositions of a sullen and uncooperative Browder and a U.S. government investigator, who acknowledges relying on Browder’s narrative and documents in a related case against Russian businesses.

In an April 15, 2015 deposition of Browder, he, in turn, describes relying on reports from journalists to “connect the dots,” including the Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project (OCCRP), which is funded by the U.S. government and financial speculator George Soros. Browder said the reporters “worked with our team.”

While taking money from the U.S. Agency for International Development and Soros, the OCCRP also targeted Ukraine’s elected President Viktor Yanukovych with accusations of corruption prior to the Feb. 22, 2014 coup that ousted Yanukovych, an overthrow that was supported by the U.S. State Department and escalated the New Cold War with Russia.

OCCRP played a key role, too, in the so-called Panama Papers, purloined documents from a Panamanian law firm that were used to develop attack lines against Russian President Vladimir Putin although his name never appeared in the documents.

After examining the money-movement charts published by OCCRP about the Magnitsky case, Nekrasov notes that the figures don’t add up and wonders how journalists could “peddle these wooly maths.” He also observed that OCCRP’s Panama Papers linkage of Magnitsky’s $230 million fraud and payments to an ally of Putin made no sense because the dates of the Panama Papers transactions preceded the dates of the alleged Magnitsky fraud.

The Power of Myth

Nekrasov suggests that the power of Browder’s convoluted story rested, in part, on a Hollywood perception of Moscow as a place where evil Russians lurk around every corner and any allegation against “corrupt” officials is believed. The Magnitsky tale “was like a film script about Russia written for the Western audience,” Nekrasov says.

But the Browder’s narrative also served a strong geopolitical interest to demonize Russia at the dawn of the New Cold War.

In the documentary’s conclusion, Nekrasov sums up what he had discovered: “A murdered hero as an alibi for living suspects.” He then ponders the danger to democracy: “So do we allow graft and greed to hide behind a political sermon? Will democracy survive if human rights — its moral high ground — is used to protect selfish interests?”

But Americans and Europeans are being spared the discomfort of having to answer that question or to question their representatives about the failure to skeptically examine this case that has pushed the planet on a course toward a possible nuclear war.

Instead, the mainstream Western media has hurled insults at Nekrasov even as his documentary is blocked from any significant public viewing.

Despite Browder’s professed concern about the London libel case that he claimed was an attempt “to stifle our freedom of expression,” he has sicced his lawyers on anyone who might be thinking about showing Nekrasov’s documentary to the public.

The documentary was set for a premiere at the European Parliament in Brussels in April 2016, but at the last moment – faced with Browder’s legal threats – the parliamentarians pulled the plug. Nekrasov encountered similar resistance in the United States. There were hopes to show the documentary to members of Congress but the offer was rebuffed. Instead a room was rented at the Newseum near Capitol Hill.

Browder’s lawyers then tried to strong arm the Newseum, but its officials responded that they were only renting out a room and that they had allowed other controversial presentations in the past.

“We’re not going to allow them not to show the film,” said Scott Williams, the Newseum’s chief operating officer. “We often have people renting for events that other people would love not to have happen.”

In an article about the controversy in June 2016, The New York Times added that “A screening at the Newseum is especially controversial because it could attract lawmakers or their aides.”

One-Time Showing

So, Nekrasov’s documentary got a one-time showing with a follow-up discussion moderated by journalist Seymour Hersh. However, except for that audience, the public of the United States and Europe has been essentially shielded from the documentary’s discoveries, all the better for the Magnitsky myth to retain its power as a seminal propaganda moment of the New Cold War.

After the Newseum presentation, a Washington Post editorial branded Nekrasov’s documentary Russian “agit-prop” and sought to discredit Nekrasov without addressing his many documented examples of Browder’s misrepresenting both big and small facts in the case.

Instead, the Post accused Nekrasov of using “facts highly selectively” and insinuated that he was merely a pawn in the Kremlin’s “campaign to discredit Mr. Browder and the Magnitsky Act.”

Like the recent Daily Beast story, which falsely claimed that Nekrasov let the Russian police officer Karpov play himself, the Post misrepresented the structure of the film by noting that it mixed fictional scenes with real-life interviews and action, a point that was technically true but willfully misleading because the fictional scenes were from Nekrasov’s original idea for a docudrama that he shows as part of explaining his evolution from a believer in Browder’s self-exculpatory story to a skeptic.

But the Post’s deception – like the Daily Beast’s falsehood – is something that almost no American would realize because almost no one has gotten to see the film.

The Post’s editorial gloated: “The film won’t grab a wide audience, but it offers yet another example of the Kremlin’s increasingly sophisticated efforts to spread its illiberal values and mind-set abroad. In the European Parliament and on French and German television networks, showings were put off recently after questions were raised about the accuracy of the film, including by Magnitsky’s family.

“We don’t worry that Mr. Nekrasov’s film was screened here, in an open society. But it is important that such slick spin be fully exposed for its twisted story and sly deceptions.”

The Post’s arrogant editorial had the feel of something you might read in a totalitarian society where the public only hears about dissent when the Official Organs of the State denounce some almost unknown person for saying something that almost no one heard.

It is also unlikely that Americans and Europeans will get a chance to view this blacklisted documentary in the future. In an email exchange, the film’s Norwegian producer Torstein Grude told me that “We have been unsuccessful in releasing the film to TV so far. ZDF/Arte [a major European network] pulled it from transmission a few days before it was supposed to be aired and the other broadcasters seem scared as a result. Netflix has declined to take it. …

“The film has no other release at the moment. Distributors are scared by Browder’s legal threats. All involved financiers, distributors, producers received thick stacks of legal documents (300+ pages) threatening lawsuits should the film be released.” [Grude sent me a special password so I could view the documentary on Vimeo.]

The blackout continues even though the Magnitsky issue and Nekrasov’s documentary have become elements in the recent controversy over a meeting between a Russian lawyer and Donald Trump Jr. [See’sHow Russia-gate Met the Magnitsky Myth.”]

So much for the West’s vaunted belief in freedom of expression and the democratic goal of encouraging freewheeling debates about issues of great public importance. And, so much for the Post’s empty rhetoric about our “open society.”

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

View the film:

August 2, 2017 Posted by | Deception, Fake News, Film Review, Full Spectrum Dominance, Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Timeless or most popular | , , , | Leave a comment

John McCain and The Cancer of Conflict

By Patrick Henningsen | 21st Century Wire | July 21, 2017

This week some devastating news befell John Sidney McCain III.

On Wednesday, his staff announced that the US Senator had been diagnosed with a brain tumor called glioblastoma discovered during recent testing at the Mayo Clinic in Phoenix, Arizona.

Since then warm wishes and tributes have been pouring in for the former Republican Presidential candidate. Both the US media and political establishment have closed ranks and are rallying around the Senator to help soften the blow.

Putting previous feuds aside, President Donald Trump was magnanimous and cordial to the Arizona Senator, wishing him and his family the very best.” Melania and I send our thoughts and prayers to Senator McCain, Cindy, and their entire family,” said Trump. “Get well soon.”

Even former electoral rival President Barack Obama pitched in a little love for the 80 year old:

“John McCain is an American hero & one of the bravest fighters I’ve ever known. Cancer doesn’t know what it’s up against. Give it hell, John.”

Regarding McCain’s diagnosis, we all can acknowledge the difficulties and risks involved with various cancer treatments, especially with brain cancer. Likewise, nearly everyone these days can attest to losing a friend, a loved one or family member to the disease.

As with anyone suffering from this terrible condition, we wish the Senator well, along with a successful treatment and recovery.

Still, McCain has a lot in his favor. Unlike most Americans, he will not have to worry about his medical care, and will be receiving the best cancer treatment money can buy, if not the best in the world, and with absolutely no expense spared. In this way, the Senator is extremely fortunate.

And for those reasons, this is not an easy article to write. For fear of appearing too cruel in the face of his dramatic medical disclosure, one would be expected to suspend any political critique for now. Hence, the media has placed an unofficial moratorium on any negative coverage of McCain.

That said, he is a special case.  As much as any political leader – he deserves to be panned, even under the present circumstances, because his geopolitical handiwork continues to cause havoc in certain corners of the world.

Cancer Treatment in Syria

Immediately after McCain’s major health announcement, the US mainstream media and Republicans began fretting over the prospect that his extended absence from the legislature might jeopardize his party’s ability to pass legislation to repeal the Affordable Care Act (commonly known as Obamacare).

With that in mind, maybe it’s worth asking: how many innocent Syrians have been denied basic medical treatment, supplies and pharmaceuticals as a result of the harsh US-led regime economic sanctions imposed on Syria? This brutal campaign of collective punishment has been led by US Senator John McCain.

Of course, the idea of sanctions as a form of economic warfare hardly registers in the West as being at all harmful to the population of Syria. “Sanctions? They’re not against the people of Syria, only against Assad.”  That’s the general mainstream phantasm when it comes to sanctions, even though the official numbers show a vivid tale of devastation.

One can only imagine how many among Syria’s population of 20 million are no longer able to receive cancer treatment in Syria as a result of McCain’s insistence on punitive sanctions. Before the conflict in Syria began in 2011, citizens were able to get free medical treatment including high-end state-of-the-art cancer treatment (consider that one simple aspect of this war, as men like John McCain still claim to be delivering ‘freedom’ to the Syrian people by backing armed terrorist factions).

Before the terrorist forces occupied the eastern part of the city, Aleppo was home to one of the Middle East’s top cancer treatment centers, Al-Kindi Hospital. This is important because after McCain’s secret trip to the Aleppo area in May 2013, the very same ‘rebels’ he was cavorting with and supplying weapons to – the ‘Free Syrian Army’ (under the command of Jabbat al Nusra aka al Qaeda in Syria) would later order the bombing on this cancer treatment hospital.

Professor Tim Anderson explains the destruction of Al Kindi Hospital in December 2013, including the shameful spin applied after the fact by BBC and western mainstream media:

In an Orwellian revision of events the BBC (21 December 2013) reported the destruction of Al-Kindi with the headline: “Syria rebels take back strategic hospital in Aleppo”. The introduction claimed the “massive suicide lorry bomb” had managed “to seize back a strategic ruined hospital occupied by Assad loyalists.” Al-Kindi was said to have been “a disused building” and “according to an unconfirmed report, 35 rebels died in the attack”. In fact, these ‘rebels’ were a coalition of Free Syrian Army and Jabhat al Nusra, while the ‘Assad loyalists’ were the staff and security guards of a large public hospital.

Watch as McCain’s ‘freedom fighters’ in Syria drive a suicide truck bomb into the ground level of Al Kindi Cancer Treatment Center in Aleppo:

How many Syrian lives were needlessly cut short as a direct result of that bombing carried out by McCain’s own Free Syrian Army? For the cost of McCain’s treatment at the world-famous Mayo Clinic, who knows how many Syrians could have received desperately needed treatment at Al Kindi or other similarly crippled facilities in Syria? One hundred, or possibly one thousand?

Add to this, how many have died or suffer permanent health afflictions as a direct result of US economic sanctions which have crippled Syria’s own National Health Service? One hundred thousand, or maybe five hundred thousand? One million? One day, those figures will be recorded and we will have the answer.

The other piece of US legislation currently on the table which Republicans are desperate to pass is the $1-trillion US infrastructure spending package. Juxtapose that scene next to the systematic destruction of Syria’s infrastructure by US Coalition and Israeli airstrikes and destruction by proxy militant forces on the ground. Estimates for the cost to Syria range from $180 billion to $275 billion. If the conflict continues past 2020, then these numbers could easily double.

In spite of all this, John McCain claims to have no regrets about the damage that he and his fellow war hawks have inflicted on Syria.

The Cancer of Conflict

At the same time that political figures like Barrack Obama dutifully respect the official Washington line on John McCain as the consummate “Vietnam War hero”, very few in the establishment would dare to criticize the powerful Arizona Senator for his central role in engineering instability and violent conflict in foreign countries.

John McCain sneaks into Syria illegally in May 2013 to meet with known terrorists, promising them weapons and regime change by way US bombs would drop in the Fall of 2013.

Americans should be reminded that more than any other single US official, John McCain has been the driving force behind the training and arming of violent jihadist and terrorists fighting groups in Syria, and that those same terrorists have slaughtered tens of thousands of innocent civilians including women and children in Syria and beyond – all sacrificed at the altar of a US-led geopolitical power play in the Middle East, and in the name of Israeli ‘security interests.’

Back in 2012, a delusional McCain, along with another dotty war enthusiast, Connecticut Senator Joe Liberman, insisted that the US needed to arm the ‘rebels’ in Syria in order to “save lives.” Their statement read:

“The bloodshed must be stopped, and we should rule out no option that could help to save lives. We must consider, among other actions, providing opposition groups inside Syria, both political and military, with better means to organize their activities, to care for the wounded and find safe haven, to communicate securely, to defend themselves, and to fight back against Assad’s forces.”

From the onset of hostilities in 2011, the bold-faced lie that McCain and partner Lindsey Graham have promulgated is that violent jihadists were nothing more than affable “moderate rebels.” That piece of Washington fiction has been widely discredited by now.

Later on in 2015, McCain announced that the US should be supplying stinger missiles to the so-called ‘rebels’ in Syria:

“We certainly did that in Afghanistan. After the Russians invaded Afghanistan, we provided them with surface-to-air capability. It’d be nice to give people that we train and equip and send them to fight the ability to defend themselves. That’s one of the fundamental principles of warfare as I understand it,” said McCain.

Soon after that statement, thousands of US-made TOW Missiles were smuggled into Syria and used by terrorists groups under the command umbrella of Al Nusra.

In her recent exposé for Trud Newspaper, Bulgarian journalist Dilyana Gaytandzhieva revealed the massive scale and scope of the illegal US-NATO weapons trafficking operation to arm thousands of terrorist fighters in Syria.

Despite the overwhelming destruction in Syria and the abject failure of his policies, McCain has never given up on the policy of illegal weapons trafficking in Syria. Just this week, McCain, Chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, openly protested against the Trump Administration’s latest announcement to bring an end to the CIA’s failed program of illegally arming and training ‘anti-Assad’ terrorists in Syria. Rather than admitting what everyone else in the world seems to know already – that the US “train and equip” program has been a debacle – instead he feigns defiance, while demonstrating a breathtaking level of ignorance by accusing the White House of being part of a Russian conspiracy:

“If these reports are true, the administration is playing right into the hands of Vladimir Putin.”

“Making any concession to Russia, absent a broader strategy for Syria, is irresponsible and short-sighted.”

When promoting their latest war, McCain is normally part of a tandem act, accompanied by his geomancing interest, South Carolina Senator Lindsey Graham, who arguably views the world through an even more deranged, albeit binary comic book prism:

“Breaking Syria apart from Iran could be as important to containing a nuclear Iran as sanctions.”

“If the Syrian regime is replaced with another form of government that doesn’t tie its future to the Iranians, the world is a better place.”

Like a world view gleaned straight from Ian Flemming’s Goldfinger.

In his seminal 2008 interview with McCain heading to the GOP presidential nomination, The Atlantic magazine’s Jeffrey Goldberg asked, “What do you think motivates Iran?”.… to which McCain replied:

“Hatred. I don’t try to divine people’s motives. I look at their actions and what they say. I don’t pretend to be an expert on the state of their emotions. I do know what their nation’s stated purpose is, I do know they continue in the development of nuclear weapons, and I know that they continue to support terrorists who are bent on the destruction of the state of Israel. You’ll have to ask someone who engages in this psycho stuff to talk about their emotions.”

McCain’s views on Iraq were even more disturbing, essentially surmising that the invasion and occupation was a good thing, and that we shouldn’t have left because ‘leaving Iraq gave rise to al Qaeda.’ OK. Admittedly, it’s a bit counter intuitive, but it works for neoconservatives.

These statements by McCain and Graham are not admissions made by normal well-adjusted individuals, but rather by cold, dark hearted sociopaths who generally view the lives of Arabs (along with Slavs, Russians and others) as necessary cannon fodder in the pursuit of military industrial profits for a select cadré of transnational corporate ‘defense’ contractors – whose interests Senator John McCain represents in his home state of Arizona; Boeing, Raytheon, Lockheed Martin, General Dynamics, and the list goes on, and on.

The geopolitical hubris doesn’t end there, as McCain still maintains – even after 6 years of absolute implosion of his own foreign policy agenda – that removing Syrian President Bashar al Assad from power is still a “key pillar” of the US strategy for Syria.

“The administration has yet to articulate its vision for Syria beyond the defeat of ISIL, let alone a comprehensive approach to the Middle East,” said McCain this week.

The reality, of course, is that ISIL/ISIS could have been defeated already had the US-led ‘Coalition’ and Israel not illegally intervened in Syria territory. Far from doing much to “defeat ISIS” since they have invaded Syrian airspace since 2014, the US has conveniently stretched-out the ‘ISIS problem’ through the extension of its own self-styled international mandate which was originally intended to serve as a precursor to the eventual break-up of Syria into federal states and ethnic cantons. This might explain McCain’s rush to enact regime change in Syria before lording over the eventual break-up of the sovereign nation-state.

All Things Russian

The other country which McCain is determined break is Russia.

“Vladimir Putin is a murder and a KGB thug,” crowed McCain on CNN last year, as he protested against positive statements about Russia made by then candidate Trump.

Suffice to say, he, along with the boards of Boeing, Raytheon, Lockheed Martin, are all extremely happy about NATO pressing right up against the Russian border in eastern Europe.

But 2013 was indeed a busy year for the Senator stirring up trouble internationally. As part of his opening gambit against Moscow, it was McCain who was the driving force behind the US-backed coup d’etat in Ukraine in February 2014 – which ultimately led to a bloody civil war which continues to this day in the Ukraine. Apparently, this was McCain’s way of ‘stopping Putin.’

His has a very dodgy track record; whether it’s NeoNazis, or Jihadi Terrorists, McCain seems always ready to do a deal with the devil, and that’s what makes him particularly dangerous.

Below we can see McCain helping to whip-up Nazi-linked, neofascist street mobs in Kiev helping to bring the ensuing junta into power. Some mainstream US pundits have claimed that this never happened, and that it’s just a conspiracy theory invented by ‘Russian propagandists’ to discredit McCain. Unfortunately for them – it is true, and here is the photo to prove it:

John McCain shares the stage in Kiev with Right Sector strongman, Oleg Tyhanbock, ahead of violent street protests in Ukraine in December of 2013, prior to the US-backed coup.

Looking back at his erratic and flippant behavior, attacking nearly anyone who even suggested détente with Russia or that supplying lethal arms to militants in Syria was a bad idea, it’s no surprise that cognizant onlookers have questioned whether or not McCain is in a normal frame of mind.

Frankly speaking, how could any one in their right mind be so consistently on the wrong side of every issue? How could any politician’s judgement be that poor? Unless there was something else going on below the surface…

The questions didn’t stop there. McCain’s performance during a recent Senate Intelligence Committee Hearing on “Russian Influence in US Elections” was an embarrassment. Onlookers were stunned when McCain lost the plot during the hearing when asking former FBI Director James Comey:

“Well, at least in the minds of this member, there’s a whole lot of questions remaining about what went on, particularly considering the fact that as you mentioned, it’s a “big deal” as to what went on during the campaign, so I’m glad you concluded that part of the investigation, but I think that the American people have a whole lot of questions out there, particularly since you just emphasized the role that Russia played.”

“And obviously she was a candidate for president at the time. So she was clearly involved in this whole situation where fake news, as you just described it, is a big deal took place. You’re going to have to help me out here. In other words, we’re complete, the investigation of anything former Secretary Clinton had to do with the campaign is over and we don’t have to worry about it anymore?”

… to which Comey replied:

“With respect to — I’m a little confused. With respect to Secretary Clinton, we investigated a criminal investigation with her use of a personal email server.”

McCain then finished digging his own hole by responding:

“So at the same time you made the announcement there would be no further charges brought against then-Secretary Clinton for any activities involved in the Russia involvement and our engagement and our election. I don’t quite understand how you can be done with that but not done with the whole investigation of their attempt to affect the out of come our election.”

It was clear McCain had no idea what was going on. At that point any reasonable person would have concluded that John McCain had in fact lost his mind – and was no longer fit to serve in public office.  In fact, 21WIRE made this very same case back in 2013 after McCain was caught playing video poker on his iPhone during a Senate Committee where lawmakers were debating the very war of which he is a chief architect. Here is the photo:

As stunning displays of ignorance go, the video poker incident was one of McCain’s greatest ever, and certainly should have been a warning to everyone that this man had no business making military decisions, let alone litigating war and peace between nuclear superpowers like the United States and Russia.

Perhaps an announcement is forthcoming, but it’s surprising after being diagnosed with brain cancer at 80 years old – why McCain has not yet announced his resignation from office?

It’s fair to say that while this Senator is being treated in the world’s leading medical facilities, thousands of innocents will have died needlessly because of US sanctions and support for terrorists – all [supposedly] in the name of defense, energy and ever vast corporate profits. Strange as that might sound to some, for those who consider themselves members of a ruling elite and its mandarin management class, that is perfectly acceptable quid pro quo in 2017.

After World War II, the military industrial complex and the international arms trade has spread conflict like a disease across the planet, metastasizing in ways, in places, and on a scale which no one could have previously imagined before. Undoubtedly, over the last decade, John McCain has played a key role in spreading that anguish. For the people of Syria, Afghanistan and the Ukraine, that will be his legacy, not the chimerical image of a ‘maverick’ Senator or the ‘war hero.’

Once again, we implore the Senator to do the right thing by the American people and for those innocents around the world who have suffered at the hands of an arms industry whose interests John McCain represents.

Please retire.

July 22, 2017 Posted by | Timeless or most popular, War Crimes, Wars for Israel | , , , , , , | 4 Comments

John McCain tells NBC, ‘I hope the Washington establishment sucked Trump in’

John McCain cackles in laughter at how the swamp is completely sucking in US President Trump:

April 18, 2017 Posted by | Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Timeless or most popular, Video | , , | Leave a comment