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Dutch vote to reject ‘Big Brother’ legislation expanding surveillance powers of security agencies

RT | March 29, 2018

The Dutch population does not want security agencies to receive more surveillance powers, official results of the referendum showed. Although only advisory, the vote sends a strong signal to the government pushing for the law.

The Electoral Council said 49.4 percent of the voters spoke out against the Intelligence and Security Law during the March 21 referendum. The legislation was supported by 46.5 percent, with four percent of those participating casting blank ballots, it added.

The addition of the law on the ballot boosted voter turnout to almost 52 percent, far exceeding the minimum turnout of 30 percent required for a plebiscite to be declared valid.

The new legislation, which the opponents dubbed the ‘Big Data Law,’ or data mining law, provides additional powers to the General Intelligence and Security Service (AIVD) and the Military Intelligence and Security Service (MIVD).

Among other things, it would allow the country’s two security agencies to tap telephone and internet traffic on a large scale, which would include reaching an alleged perpetrator by hacking devices of those not under suspicion.

The data obtained through such surveillance would be stored for up to three years, and the AIVD and the MIVD would be granted the right to share this information with foreign colleagues, even without performing any preliminary analysis themselves. The law would also enable the Dutch security agencies to store DNA material for people.

The legislation has already been approved by the government and was set to go into effect on May 1. The referendum was non-binding and the Dutch ministers have the right to ignore the public concerns, leaving the legislation unchanged. However, they would still have to revisit the legislation and debate it once again next month.

Dutch Interior minister Kajsa Ollongren said on Thursday that the cabinet wanted “to do justice” by the referendum and that the Intelligence and Security Law will be re-evaluated carefully and in the shortest time possible, NOS reported.

Last week, Prime Minister Mark Rutte also promised that the legislation will be revised, but refrained from providing any specifics.

Back in 2014, when the Dutch voted against approving the Association Agreement between the European Union and Ukraine, authorities in the Netherlands opted to secure an additional agreement between the 28 EU member-states, which it said addressed the concerns of the no-voters. However, it did not change the wording of the EU-Ukraine association agreement in any way as it was passed by the Dutch authorities.

March 30, 2018 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Full Spectrum Dominance | , | Leave a comment

Dutch Lies Over Putin’s ‘Aggression’ Expose NATO War Agenda

By Finian CUNNINGHAM | Strategic Culture Foundation | 15.02.2018

Netherlands Prime Minister Mark Rutte was this week forced to bear a parliamentary vote of no confidence after his foreign minister finally came clean over a dangerous lie he has been telling for two years concerning Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Halbe Zijlstra quit in shame on Monday as the country’s foreign minister after admitting that a story he had peddled about personally hearing Putin plotting to create a “greater Russia” was false. That then forced premier Rutte to endure a “no confidence” motion from parliamentarians. In the end, Rutte survived the vote. If a majority had voted against his leadership, his coalition government may have collapsed.

But the deep damage done to the Dutch authorities will not be so easily repaired by Rutte’s survival as premier. What has been exposed this week is a senior member of government recklessly telling bare-faced lies in an attempt to slander Russia, poison international relations, and ratchet up already dangerous geopolitical tensions.

Zijlstra had claimed two years ago, in 2016, that he had personally witnessed Russian leader Vladimir Putin boasting about creating a “greater Russia” which, it is claimed, would incorporate Ukraine, the Baltic states, Belarus and Kazakhstan.

The newly resigned Dutch top diplomat claimed he heard Putin making the remarks while present with others at the Russian leader’s dacha (summer house) back in 2006.

This week, Zijlstra finally came clean and admitted before parliament that he hadn’t in fact been present at the alleged gathering. He still maintains, however, that a confidant who was among the guests at Putin’s dacha informed him of the alleged “greater Russia” plan. But how can we now trust the word of a self-confessed liar?

Zijlstra’s boss, Prime Minister Rutte, also sought to downplay the debacle, claiming that his foreign minister had made “a big mistake” – but that “lying was not a deadly sin”.

Rutte is in for a rude awakening due to his complacent thinking. For indeed his government has been caught telling a very grave lie whose ramifications concern issues of war and peace in Europe.

Disgraced former minister Zijlstra stands accused of gross distortion of Russia’s foreign policy.

Since the US and European-backed illegal coup in Ukraine in early 2014, geopolitical reality has been turned upside-down. American and European corporate media have peddled relentless anti-Russia propaganda accusing Moscow of “aggression” and “expansionism” in Europe.

This torrent of Russophobia spewed out by Washington, the Pentagon, NATO and the European Union has created the worst crisis in relations with Russia since the Cold War ended nearly three decades ago. There are real fears that the mounting crisis could escalate into an all-out war involving nuclear powers.

Zijlstra’s offense therefore is not merely a “mistaken” lie. His flagrant public distortion has contributed directly to the grave deterioration in geopolitical relations. One could even argue such reprehensible remarks amount to incitement of war, which is a cardinal crime under Nuremberg legal principles.

Lamentably, the mendacious senior Dutch politician is not an isolated case. Recall how former Polish foreign minister Radek Sikorski was caught out telling similar defamatory lies about Russia in 2014.

Sikorski, who has been an ardent supporter of NATO force build-up against Russia, reportedly claimed that he personally overheard Vladimir Putin in 2008 plotting to annex Ukrainian territory in a covert plot. Sikorski claimed that he heard Putin propositioning then Polish Prime Minister Donald Tusk with a carve-up deal of Ukraine between Poland and Russia.

Sikorski was obliged to swiftly retract the claims published in US media, and awkwardly admit that he was not present at the alleged meeting with Putin, and that his quoted remarks were meant as a “surreal joke”.

But, again, this is no joke or mistake. It is deadly serious disinformation by senior government officials, which is recklessly inciting war tensions with Russia. Sikorski is prominently associated with pro-NATO think-tanks like the hawkish American Enterprise Institute. He is married to Anne Applebaum who makes a living from writing anti-Russian screeds for news outlets like the Washington Post.

Zijlstra and Sikorski join the ranks of Russophobia regurgitated by other European foreign ministers like Britain’s Boris Johnson who issued the outlandish claim earlier this year that Russia is “targeting” British infrastructure; or French foreign minister Jean-Yves Le Drian who has impugned Russia for chemical weapons use in Syria – only for the French President Emmanuel Macron to admit this week that his government has actually no evidence about the use of such weapons in Syria.

Macron has made his own contribution to Russophobia by leveling unsubstantiated allegations that his presidential election campaign last year was “hacked” by Kremlin agents. He has since banned Russian news media from attending his press conferences.

All these senior government figures are irresponsibly fueling a climate of demonization against Russia which is compounding other unhinged claims made by politicians in Washington and the Baltic states. Lithuanian President Dalia Grybauskaite, for example, recently claimed that Russian Iskander missiles based on Russian sovereign territory of Kaliningrad were targeting half of Europe, an alarmist claim which has been amplified by US secretary of defense James Mattis in the Pentagon’s recent Nuclear Posture Review.

The climate of hysteria – based on false, fevered official claims – is militating against normal political and diplomatic relations, which is, in turn, exacerbating the war in Ukraine and leading to wider war tensions with Russia across Europe.

A good question is why the ousted Dutch minister decided to own up this week to his lies about Putin.

The answer may be related to the bigger credibility crisis of the Dutch government and its NATO allies with regard to the whole Russophobia propaganda war.

Next month, the Netherlands is to hold a national referendum on extending powers of Dutch state intelligence to monitor public electronic communications. To convince the Dutch public to vote for more snooping powers, the authorities are relying on the hackneyed claims about Russian “meddling” and “interference”.

It seems significant that Dutch media reported last month that the country’s secret services allegedly “hacked into” Russian state hackers who were allegedly penetrating the American Democratic party’s databases during the US presidential elections back in 2015-2016. As usual, no evidence was provided to support the claims. We know from other credible reports that the Democratic party was quite possibly not hacked at all, but rather was leaked from inside by a Democrat staffer. So the Dutch intel story smearing Russia is highly dubious.

But it seems that the purported “good deed” performed by the Dutch intelligence services was pitched in the media as a way to ingratiate bona fides with the Netherlands public. The aim being to dispose the public toward voting in the referendum next month to give the Dutch state more intrusive powers over citizens to “protect” them from “nefarious Russians”.

Now, if the Dutch minister had held on to his office any longer there was a risk that his lies may have become public embarrassingly close to the March referendum, which could have resulted in the public rejecting the authorities’ desire for more snooping powers.

Perhaps then the decision was taken in high office for the minister to take the fall now in order to get rid sooner of an embarrassing story concerning his lies over Russia.

Whatever the explanation about the timing, the admission of Dutch government lying about Russian aggression in Europe is nevertheless an illuminating and appalling insight into how Russophobia and war is being fomented by the US and its European NATO allies.

Abominably, European government officials are willing to risk plunging millions of citizens into a war with Russia based on lies and warped, self-serving prejudices.

February 15, 2018 Posted by | Deception, Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Russophobia, Timeless or most popular | , , , , , | 1 Comment

US should have withdrawn its estimated 200 nukes from Europe long ago – Moscow

RT | December 18, 2017

The US should withdraw the nuclear weapons it has deployed in Europe rather than upgrading them, a senior Russian diplomat has said. Moscow is concerned that the upgrades are making the bombs more suitable for actual combat.

The US stores an estimated 200 of its B61 nuclear bombs in countries like Germany, Belgium, Italy, the Netherlands and Turkey as part of NATO’s nuclear sharing program. Russia has long considered the continued presence of American nuclear weapons in other nations as a hostile gesture after the Cold War.

“Russia has long withdrawn its nuclear weapons to its national territory. We believe that the American side should have done the same a long time ago,” Mikhail Ulyanov, head of the non-proliferation and arms control department in the Russian Foreign Ministry, told RIA Novosti.

“They are actually planning to upgrade them to be, according to some retired American military officials, ‘more suitable for combat use’ thanks to better precision and somewhat reduced power,” the diplomat said, adding that Moscow suspects that the US may have plans to deploy additional nuclear bombs to Europe under the guise of an upgrade.

In August, the US National Nuclear Security Administration announced a second successful test of the B61 – the 12th version of the bomb with no nuclear warhead. The first test was conducted in March. The Mod12 version is meant to replace a number of older designs by refurbishing them, with the process expected to start in 2019.

Moscow criticized the US not only for keeping nuclear weapons in non-nuclear nations, but also for training its NATO allies in their deployment. Such actions, Russia believes, violate the spirit of America’s non-proliferation commitments.

The Trump administration plans to spend over $1 trillion upgrading America’s nuclear arsenal, claiming it is necessary to keep up with Russia.

December 18, 2017 Posted by | Militarism | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Over 120 UN Member States Adopt Treaty to Ban Nuclear Weapons

Sputnik – 07.07.2017

UNITED NATIONS — More than 120 UN member states on Thursday adopted a treaty to categorically prohibit nuclear weapons although the world’s nuclear powers boycotted the entire process.

“Each State Party undertakes never under any circumstances to… Develop, test, produce, manufacture, otherwise acquire, possess or stockpile nuclear weapons or other nuclear explosive devices,” the treaty, approved by a 122-member majority, stated.

All nine nuclear powers did not participate in the conference, including five permanent members of the UN Security Council: Russia, the United States, China, France, and the United Kingdom. Four others known or suspected to possess nuclear weapons — Pakistan, India, Israel, and North Korea — also refused to partake.

Other notable countries that declined to engage in the process include Japan, which was on the receiving end of two US atomic bombs, and South Korea, which borders a recently very active nuclear state.

Netherlands, the only NATO member state to participate in the proceedings, voted against the treaty while Singapore abstained.

According to the convention, it will be open for signature by states at the United Nations in New York on September 20, 2017 and will come into force 90 days after it is ratified by 50 countries.

In March, US Ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley said the United States abandoning nuclear weapons at this time would put the world at risk because of North Korea’s nuclear activities.

In October 2016, the UN General Assembly voted to negotiate and conclude a treaty prohibiting nuclear weapons. The first negotiation session took place at the United Nations in New York City in March and lasted a week. The second session opened on June 15 and is due to close today, July 7.

July 7, 2017 Posted by | Militarism, Timeless or most popular, War Crimes | , , | Leave a comment

Moscow Regards Dutch Allegations of Russian Cyberattacks as ‘Hysteria’

Sputnik – 09.02.2017

Dutch allegations that Russia may carry out cyberattacks to influence the results of parliamentary elections in the Netherlands are manifestations of “hysteria,” Russian Foreign Ministry’s spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said Thursday.

Dutch experts claim that Russian hackers have targeted the Binnenhof complex, located in The Hague and housing Prime Minister Mark Rutte’s office, Zakharova added.

“Members of the state’s government are increasingly active in engaging in this hysteria, amplified by the media. They do not choose words, they do not have any proof, they publicly claim that Russia is a source of cyberthreats, without having any facts,” Zakharova said at a briefing in Moscow.

Zakharova recalled that former Dutch Foreign Minister and NATO’s ex-Secretary General Jaap de Hoop Scheffer had called the Netherlands attractive for Russian hackers in the light of the upcoming parliamentary elections.

On February 1, Dutch Interior Minister Ronald Plasterk expressed concern over the possibility that the results of the parliamentary elections could be manipulated and added that he considered Russia as one of the actors, which could be interested in influencing the vote.

In mid-January, Dutch Foreign Affairs Minister Bert Koenders said the state’s government had been on alert about the risk of Russian hacking ahead of the Dutch parliamentary elections, set for March 15.

February 10, 2017 Posted by | Deception, Mainstream Media, Warmongering | , | Leave a comment

Dutch intel probed right-wing Geert Wilders over Israel ties – report

RT | December 5, 2016

Dutch secret services conducted an investigation into suspicions that Geert Wilders, head of the anti-Islam Party for Freedom, was strongly influenced by top Israeli military and political figures, according to reports in the Netherlands.

Wilders, the firebrand leader of the Dutch far-right Party for Freedom (PVV), was investigated by the country’s General Intelligence and Security Service (AIVD) between 2009 and 2010 over his “ties to Israel and their possible influence on his loyalty,” according to De Volkskrant newspaper, which conducted interviews with 37 public officials and former intelligence officers.

An investigation into an opposition leader is an exceptional case in the Netherlands, the newspaper noted, citing several former intelligence officers who said such inquiries are considered an “absolute no-go” due to political sensitivity.

Wilders was an MP at the time the AIVD probe was carried out, with his party supporting the center-right coalition government led by then Prime Minister Jan Peter Balkenende, enabling it to remain in power.

The intelligence agency sanctioned the operation, citing concerns about “the possibility that Wilders is influenced by Israeli factors,” according to the newspaper.

Back in 2010, Wilders reportedly had close ties to influential people in Tel Aviv. At the time, he visited Major General Amos Gilad, former chief of the Israeli Defense Ministry’s intelligence division, and frequently met the Israeli ambassador in the Netherlands.

According to the De Volkskrant report, which cites sources from the Netherlands’ Jewish community, these contacts stalled as Wilders did not turn his agenda into policy.

The results of the AIVD investigation have never been disclosed. Both Gerard Bouman, who led the AIVD from 2007 to 2011, and Wilders himself declined to comment.

Wilders’ Israeli connections trace back to his youth, when he volunteered for a year at Moshav Tomer, a Jewish settlement in the occupied West Bank, according to the Times of Israel. He also repeatedly referred to Jews as role models for Europe and urged a complete seizure of the West Bank. At one stage, his anti-Muslim slogans made him a star among Dutch Jewish constituencies and beyond.

According to a recent poll by Maurice de Hond, Wilders’ PVV would have won 33 seats in the 150-seat lower chamber of the Dutch parliament if elections had been held on November 29. In that case, Wilders would have become the Netherlands’ next prime minister as chairman of the biggest parliamentary party.

The far-right party has 15 seats in the current parliament, having gained about 10 percent of the vote at the 2012 general election. The next election is scheduled to take place in March 2017, leaving many to believe Wilders will triumph amid growing frustration with the Netherlands’ center-right coalition.

December 5, 2016 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Islamophobia | , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

15 European leaders call for new arms deal with Russia

RT | November 26, 2016

Fifteen European countries, headed by Germany, have issued a statement pushing for the reopening of “a new structured dialogue” with Russia aimed at preventing a possible arms race in Europe, according to the German foreign minister.

The countries, all belonging to the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), have expressed their deep concern over the current situation in Europe and support the relaunch of a conventional arms treaty with Russia, German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier told Die Welt newspaper in an interview published on Friday.

“Europe’s security is in danger. As difficult as ties to Russia may currently be, we need more dialogue, not less,” Steinmeier said.

The ongoing conflict in the Eastern Ukraine and the fact that Crimea joined Russia in 2014, a move most often dubbed as “annexation” by western officials, have put the question of war in Europe back on the table, Steinmeier continued. Fragile trust between Russia and European countries has suffered a significant setback and a “new armament spiral” is hanging over the continent, the foreign minister warned.

The statement contains strong anti-Russian rhetoric, blaming Moscow for violating arms deals as far back as 1990.

“The Conventional Forces in Europe treaty, which led to the destruction of tens of thousands of heavy weapon systems in Europe in the years following 1990, is no longer being implemented by the Russian Federation,” the statement said.

Russia put its participation in the treaty on hold in 2007 and then fully walked out of it last year.

Russian President Vladimir Putin called for the suspension of the treaty following a US decision to locate missile defense facilitates in the neighbouring Czech Republic and Poland. On top of that, President Putin noted that some of the NATO members did not join or ratify the treaty and there was no point in Russia abiding by the agreement.

Later Putin signed a decree suspending the treaty due to “extraordinary circumstances … which affect the security of the Russian Federation and require immediate measures,” having notified NATO and its members of the decision.

Since then NATO has taken no steps to upgrade the treaty, the Russian Foreign Ministry said in September, 2016, adding that Moscow is ready for dialogue on the subject. However, it is not planning to be the one to initiate it.

The statement names a number of other documents that need to be overviewed, including the OSCE’s Vienna document, stipulating the exchange of information on military movements, and the Open Skies treaty, enabling the monitoring of other countries’ ground forces. The documents are either neglected or in need of modernization.

The countries that spoke in favor of Steinmeier’s initiative include France, Italy, Austria, Belgium, Switzerland, the Czech Republic, Spain, Finland, the Netherlands, Norway, Romania, Sweden, Slovakia, Bulgaria and Portugal.

The group of the European foreign ministers is planning to meet again on the sidelines of a OSCE meeting in Hamburg on December, 8-9.

November 26, 2016 Posted by | Militarism | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

What Keeps the F-35 Alive

By David Swanson | Let’s Try Democracy | October 31, 2016

Imagine if a local business in your town invented a brand new tool that was intended to have an almost magical effect thousands of miles away. However, where the tool was kept and used locally became an area unsafe for children. Children who got near this tool tended to have increased blood pressure and increased stress hormones, lower reading skills, poorer memories, impaired auditory and speech perception, and impaired academic performance.

Most of us would find this situation at least a little concerning, unless the new invention was designed to murder lots of people. Then it’d be just fine.

Now, imagine if this same new tool ruined neighborhoods because people couldn’t safely live near it. Imagine if the government had to not only compensate people but kick them out of living near the location of this tool. Again, I think, we might find that troubling if mass murder were not the mission.

Imagine also that this tool fairly frequently explodes, emitting highly toxic chemicals, particles, and fibers unsafe to breathe into the air for miles around. Normally, that’d be a problem. But if this tool is needed for killing lots of people, we’ll work with its flaws, won’t we?

Now, what if this new gadget was expected to cost at least $1,400,000,000,000 over 50 years? And what if that money had to be taken away from numerous other expenses more beneficial for the economy and the world? What if the $1.4 trillion was drained out of the economy causing a loss of jobs and a radical diminution of resources for education, healthcare, housing, environmental protection, or humanitarian aid? Wouldn’t that be a worry in some cases, I mean in those cases where the ability to kill tons of human beings wasn’t at stake?

What if this product, even when working perfectly, was a leading destroyer of the earth’s natural environment?

What if this high-tech toy wasn’t even designed to do what was expected of it and wasn’t even able to do what it was designed for?

Amazingly, even those shortcomings do not matter as long as the intention is massive murder and destruction. Then, all is forgiven.

The tool I’m describing is called the F-35. At RootsAction.org you can find a new petition launched by locally-minded people acting globally in places where the F-35 is intended to be based. Also at that link you’ll find explanations of how the tool I’ve been describing is the F-35.

The petition is directed to the United States Congress and the governments of Australia, Italy, the Netherlands, Norway, Turkey, the United Kingdom, Israel, Japan and South Korea from the world and from the people of Burlington, Vermont, and Fairbanks, Alaska, where the F-35 is to be based. This effort is being initiated by Vermont Stop the F35 Coalition, Save Our Skies Vermont, Western Maine Matters, Alaska Peace Center, University of Alaska Fairbanks Peace Club, North Star Chapter 146 Veterans For Peace, World Beyond War, RootsAction.org, Code Pink, and Ben Cohen.

The petition reads:

The F-35 is a weapon of offensive war, serving no defensive purpose. It is planned to cost the U.S. $1.4 trillion over 50 years. Because starvation on earth could be ended for $30 billion and the lack of clean drinking water for $11 billion per year, it is first and foremost through the wasting of resources that this airplane will kill. Military spending, contrary to popular misconception, also hurts the U.S. economy (see here) and other economies. The F-35 causes negative health impacts and cognitive impairment in children living near its bases. It renders housing near airports unsuitable for residential use. It has a high crash rate and horrible consequences to those living in the area of its crashes. Its emissions are a major environmental polluter.

Wars are endangering the United States and other participating nations rather than protecting them. Nonviolent tools of law, diplomacy, aid, crisis prevention, and verifiable nuclear disarmament should be substituted for continuing counterproductive wars. Therefore, we, the undersigned, call for the immediate cancellation of the F-35 program as a whole, and the immediate cancellation of plans to base any such dangerous and noisy jets near populated areas. We oppose replacing the F-35 with any other weapon or basing the F-35 in any other locations. We further demand redirection of the money for the F-35 back into taxpayers’ pockets, and into environmental and human needs in the U.S., other F-35 customer nations, and around the world, including to fight climate change, pay off student debt, rebuild crumbling infrastructure, and improve education, healthcare, and housing.

Add your name.

October 31, 2016 Posted by | Economics, Militarism | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

MH-17 Probe’s Torture-Implicated Ally

By Robert Parry | Consortium News | July 3, 2016

A senior United Nations official has accused Ukraine’s SBU intelligence service of frustrating U.N. investigations into its alleged role in torture and other war crimes, even as the SBU has been allowed to guide the international investigation into the shooting down of Malaysia Airline Flight 17 for nearly two years.

On June 29, Assistant Secretary-General for Human Rights Ivan Simonovic criticized various “armed groups” in Ukraine for engaging in torture and arbitrary detention, adding that “The Security Services of Ukraine (SBU) is also not always providing access to all places where detainees may be kept. … OHCHR (the Office of the U.N. High Commissioner on Human Rights) also continues to receive accounts about torture and ill-treatment, arbitrary and incommunicado detention by the SBU, especially in the conflict zone.

“Torture and threats to members of the families, including sexual threats, are never justifiable, and perpetrators will be held to account sooner or later. … War crimes, crimes against humanity and grave breaches of human rights cannot be the subject of an amnesty.”

In late May, U.N. inspectors called off their Ukraine torture investigation because the SBU denied the team access to detention facilities where human rights groups had found evidence of torture.

“This denial of access is in breach of Ukraine’s obligations as a State party to the Optional Protocol to the Convention against Torture,” according to the U.N. statement at the time. Sir Malcolm Evans, head of the four-member U.N. delegation, said: “It has meant that we have not been able to visit some places where we have heard numerous and serious allegations that people have been detained and where torture or ill-treatment may have occurred.”

Yet, the SBU, which is also responsible for protecting state secrets, has strongly influenced the direction of the supposedly Dutch-led Joint Investigation Team trying to determine who was responsible for shooting down MH-17 over eastern Ukraine on July 17, 2014, killing 298 people.

Conflict of Interest

Although Ukrainian military units are among the logical suspects in the case, Ukraine was made one of five countries responsible for the inquiry and granted what amounts to veto power over what information the JIT can release. A recent internal report on how the JIT operates also revealed how dependent the investigators have become on information provided by the SBU.

According to the report, the SBU has helped shape the MH-17 investigation by supplying a selection of phone intercepts and other material that would presumably not include sensitive secrets that would implicate the SBU’s political overseers in Ukraine. But the JIT report seems oblivious to this conflict of interest, saying:

“Since the first week of September 2014, investigating officers from The Netherlands and Australia have worked here [in Kiev]. They work in close cooperation here with the Security and Investigation Service of the Ukraine (SBU). Immediately after the crash, the SBU provided access to large numbers of tapped telephone conversations and other data. …

“At first rather formal, cooperation with the SBU became more and more flexible. ‘In particular because of the data analysis, we were able to prove our added value’, says [Dutch police official Gert] Van Doorn. ‘Since then, we notice in all kinds of ways that they deal with us in an open way. They share their questions with us and think along as much as they can.’”

The JIT report continued: “With the tapped telephone conversations from SBU, there are millions of printed lines with metadata, for example, about the cell tower used, the duration of the call and the corresponding telephone numbers. The investigating officers sort out this data and connect it to validate the reliability of the material.

“When, for example, person A calls person B, it must be possible to also find this conversation on the line from person B to person A. When somebody mentions a location, that should also correlate with the cell tower location that picked up the signal. If these cross-checks do not tally, then further research is necessary.

“By now, the investigators are certain about the reliability of the material. ‘After intensive investigation, the material seems to be very sound’, says Van Doorn, ‘that also contributed to the mutual trust.’”

Long Assignments

Another concern about how the SBU could manipulate JIT’s investigation is that the long assignments of investigators in Kiev over a period of almost two years could create compromising situations. Kiev has a reputation as a European hotbed for prostitution and sex tourism, and there’s the possibility of other human relationships developing over long periods away from home.

According to the JIT report, four investigating officers from Australia are stationed in Kiev on three-month rotations while Dutch police rotate in two teams of about five people each for a period of a “fortnight,” or two weeks.

The relative isolation of the Australian investigators further adds to their dependence on their Ukrainian hosts. According to the report, “The Australian investigators find themselves a 26 hour flight away from their home country and have to deal with a large time difference. ‘For us Australians, it is more difficult to get into contact with our home base, which is why our operation is quite isolated in Kiev’, says [Andrew] Donoghoe,” a senior investigating officer from the Australian Federal Police.

The JIT’s collegial dependence on the SBU’s information has not led to a quick resolution of the mystery of MH-17. Almost two years after the tragedy, the JIT has struggled to even pin down where the suspected anti-aircraft missile was fired, bringing down the passenger jet en route between Amsterdam and Kuala Lumpur. The location of the alleged missile firing was something that U.S. officials claimed to know within days of the crash but have kept secret.

The snail’s pace of the investigation and the curious failure of the U.S. government to share usable data from its own intelligence services have caused concerns among some family members of MH-17 victims that the inquiry has been compromised by big-power geopolitics.

Immediately after the shoot-down, the U.S. government sought to pin the blame on ethnic Russian rebels in eastern Ukraine and their Russian government backers, a charge that was crucial to getting the European Union to adopt economic sanctions against Russia. But – as more evidence emerged – the possible role of a Ukrainian military unit became more plausible.

According to the Dutch intelligence service in a report released last October, the only anti-aircraft missiles in eastern Ukraine on July 17, 2014, capable of hitting a plane flying at 33,000 feet belonged to the Ukrainian military.

Twists in the Investigation

After CIA analysts had time to evaluate U.S. satellite, electronic and other intelligence data, the U.S. government went curiously silent about what it had discovered, including the possible identity of the people who were responsible. The U.S. reticence, after the initial rush to judgment blaming Russia, suggested that the more detailed findings may have undercut those original claims.

A side-by-side comparison of the Russian presidential jetliner and the Malaysia Airlines plane.

A side-by-side comparison of the jetliners.

A source who was briefed by U.S. intelligence analysts told me that the CIA’s conclusion pointed toward a rogue Ukrainian operation involving a hard-line oligarch with the possible motive of shooting down Russian President Vladimir Putin’s official plane returning from South America that day, with similar markings as MH-17. But I have been unable to determine if that assessment represented a dissident or consensus view inside the U.S. intelligence community.

Although the JIT also includes Belgium and Malaysia, the key roles have been played by the Netherlands, Australia and Ukraine, with Ukraine’s SBU arguably the most influential party as it feeds the other investigators leads to pursue.

Given the SBU’s legal responsibility to shield Ukrainian government secrets, you might think the question would have arisen whether the SBU would supply any data that might implicate some powerful political figure connected to the regime in Kiev. But there was nothing in the JIT’s update to suggest any such suspicion.

Regarding the SBU’s refusal to grant access to the U.N.’s torture investigators in May, Ukraine’s deputy justice minister Natalya Sevostyanova said the U.N. team was denied access to SBU centers in Mariupol and Kramatorsk, frontline towns in the simmering civil war between the U.S.-backed Ukrainian government and Russian-supported eastern Ukrainian rebels.

SBU director Vasyl Hrytsak said the reason for barring the U.N. team was to protect Ukrainian government secrets, adding: “If you arrive, for example, in the United States and ask to come to the C.I.A. or the F.B.I., to visit a basement or an office, do you think they will ever let you do it?”

[For more background on this controversy, see Consortiumnews.com’sMore Game-Playing on MH-17.”]


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

July 3, 2016 Posted by | Deception, Subjugation - Torture | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

US Underestimates Civilian Death Toll in Iraq and Syria by 95%

teleSUR | June 17, 2016

The United States-led coalition that is bombing Iraq and Syria may be under-reporting the civilian toll of that war by as much as 95 percent, according to a new report released Friday by the monitoring group Airwars.

The U.S.-led coalition, which includes nations such as Britain, France and the Netherlands, has been bombing Islamic State group targets in Iraq and Syria since 2014, carrying out more than 13,121 airstrikes, or just over 19 a day. The vast majority of the strikes are carried out by the U.S., according to Airwars—68 percent in Iraq and and 82.5 percent in Syria—with an estimated civilian death toll of at least 1,312 people.

Over the past six months it’s gotten worse, according to Airwars. “Between December and May, in both Iraq and Syria, there was a marked increase in the number of alleged casualty incidents and civilian death attributed to coalition actions,” it says. In Iraq, the group reports that between 297 and 518 civilians were killed by coalition airstrikes in this time. In Syria, between 197 and 274 civilians were killed, “a 38 percent increase in likely civilian deaths above the previous six months.

The U.S. has admitted to killing just 20 civilians. Its allies have admitted to none. “If correct, Airwars data suggests the coalition may be under-reporting civilian deaths by more than 95 percent,” the report says.

The worst incident for civilians occurred on March 19 in the Islamic State-occupied city of Mosul, when at least 25 innocents were killed when coalition airstrikes hit Mosul University in the middle of the day. As teleSUR reported at the time, such a strike on a civilian institution—confirmed by the U.S. Department of Defense—may constitute a breach of international law.

The U.S. and its coalition allies are not the only foreign governments reportedly killing civilians in the region. Of 630 alleged incidents where civilians died in Syria as a result of international airpower, 91 percent have been attributed to Russia, according to Airwars, killing between 2,792 and 3,451 civilians between December 2015 and May 2016, largely as the result of airstrikes targeting non-Islamic State forces and civilian areas, “particularly in and around Aleppo.

The Russian government says its airstrikes have not killed any civilians since they began in Sept. 2015.

June 18, 2016 Posted by | Deception, Illegal Occupation, Militarism, War Crimes | , , , | 1 Comment

Dutch and Australian troops were planning to start war with Russia after MH17 was shot down

By John Helmer | Dances With Bears | June 15, 2016

President Barack Obama and his advisors spent at least a week, and as much as three weeks, planning to send up to 9,000 combat troops into eastern Ukraine, on the border with Russia, following the shoot-down of Malaysia Airlines Flight MH17 two years ago. The scheme, which was to have involved Dutch and Australian army units, with German ground and US air support, plus NATO direction, has inadvertently leaked from the publication of a report this week by a former Australian Army captain.

The military plan, according to James Brown, now head of research at the US Studies Centre of the University of Sydney, “would have consumed the bulk of the Australian Army.” Captain Brown also claims “planning for these military options consumed Australia’s intelligence agencies. The National Security Committee of [the Australian ministerial] Cabinet met every day for more than three weeks , and staff and agencies produced a frenzied stream of briefings on Ukraine, Russia and the intentions of [President] Vladimir Putin.”

According to Dutch sources, the military plan of attack was aborted when Germany refused to participate directly, or allow its bases and airspace to be used. Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte announced the Dutch were pulling their troops out of the plan on July 27. He said at the time: “Getting the military upper hand for an international mission in this area is, according to our conclusion, not realistic.” That was ten days after the MH17 crash. But Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott and his cabinet continued, Brown and his sources reveal, to plan the operation with the US for another 10 days.

MH17 was shot down on July 17, 2014, killing 298 passengers and crew. Of the lives lost, 193 of them were Dutch; 43 Malaysian; and 27 Australian (plus 11 dual nationals or residents). From the first hours, the Malaysian government suspected elements of the Ukrainian military had been involved. Kuala Lumpur was reluctant to endorse the claims of the Ukrainian and US governments that Russia had been culpable, and that Russian-backed forces were directly to blame. That story can be read here.

The Dutch and Australian governments were, and continue to be, the most supportive of blame for Moscow. This was adopted as the official policy of the European Union (EU) states when they joined the US in introducing new sanctions against Russian oil companies and banks between July 16 and 31, 2014. For more details of the disagreements between political leaders on what had caused the shoot-down, read this.

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Left: Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak with Rutte, The Hague, July 31, 2014; right: Najib with Putin, Sochi,
May 21, 2016

Rutte and Abbott combined to pressure Prime Minister Najib to drop his public scepticism, and join the police and prosecutors group known as the Joint Investigation Team (JIT). Najib is the only one of the three to discuss with Russia its assessment of the causes of the MH17 crash.

The report by Brown was cited in an Australian newspaper on Monday as an attack on ex-prime minister Abbott for “grand aspirations [which] could have exposed Australian troops to substantial danger in pursuit of lofty objectives misaligned with national interests”. Abbott lost his job when the MPs of his party combined to replace him with the current prime minister, Malcolm Turnbull, on September 14, 2015. Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko then appointed Abbott one of his “international advisors”.

In 2014, according to Brown, Abbott “calculated that the best way to encourage the United States to retain an active role in world affairs was for Australia to lead by example: as an ally encouraging, reassuring, and perhaps even occasionally shaming the US into taking action.” The full Brown report can be read here.

Brown reveals that “military planners worked up options for Abbott that involved deploying up to a brigade’s worth of troops to Eastern Ukraine, a formation of as many as 3,000 troops”. Another proposal, which he reports as coming from Abbott’s office, was “to commit uniformed Australian military logistics personnel to help the Ukrainians improve their own systems”.

Brown, who favours special forces operations himself and the command of the Australian Army by former spetznaz officers, says “nearly 200 [special force troops] were eventually sent to Europe to support the MH17 recovery operations, staging from bases in the United Kingdom and the Netherlands to provide close support to investigators and backup for further crisis or contingency.” Less than four weeks later, according to Brown, one hundred of these men were moved to Iraq instead.

Abbott himself told Australian state radio in February 2015: “We did talk to the Dutch about what might have been done in those perilous circumstances, because certainly they were perilous circumstances. There was talk with the Dutch about a joint operation.” Abbott claimed this wasn’t his initiative. “This arose out of the most important and the most necessary discussions between the Dutch military and our own.”

This week’s report by Brown breaks news in identifying how large the Australian force was to have been. He does not report the Dutch, German and NATO planning which was going on at the same time. When asked, Brown declined to say whether he and his sources knew, or didn’t know, that Abbott was acting in concert with the others.

On July 25, 2014, the Dutch newspaper De Telegraaf reported that the 11th Airmobile Brigade was being mobilized for action in eastern Ukraine. That’s 4,500 troops, and part of a division-sized German military force called Division Schnelle Kräfte (Rapid Forces Division – unit flash, silver) of about 9,000 men.

The cover story, according to the Telegraaf, was “to ensure the 23 Dutch crash investigators and 40 unarmed military police officers can do their job.” The real objective, according to one of Telegraaf’s sources, was: “if our commandos are there, they should certainly try to arrest those responsible. [Russian] Colonel Igor the Terrible Girkin [Strelkov] and his associates.” For background on Girkin’s role in Russian plans and operations in eastern Ukraine, read this.

The Dutch newspaper didn’t reveal the Dutch troops would be deployed alongside the 3,000-man Australian force, and that the German command of Division Schnelle Kräfte would also be involved. Telegraaf claimed the operation was “not expected at the NATO headquarters in Brussels”, although it had been presented to “the authorities in Kiev before the green light [was given] and cooperation promised.”

Two days later, on July 27, the BBC reported Dutch Prime Minister Rutte as calling off the operation. “Getting the military upper-hand for an international mission in this area is, according to our conclusion, not realistic, “he said, conceding it would be “such a provocation to the separatists that it could destabilise the situation”. With almost two years in retrospect, Brown concludes, without mentioning the Dutch, Germans, or other NATO forces, “the potential for harm to Australian troops was all too real. The logic of deploying large numbers of troops into an active war zone alongside the border of a major global military power was entirely shaky.”

Russian analysts in Moscow do not regard the Australian and Dutch governments as capable of planning military action without prior encouragement by the US. The Russians did not realize at the time, they now say, that the US may have been planning a military operation in the wake of the MH17 crash. Yevgeny Krutikov, military analyst for Versiya and Vzglyad, recalls there were reports in the press “about the organization of protection for the crash site. Then Abbott offered to send about 1,000 Australian troops to cordon off the crash site. By definition, that was unrealizable stupidity.”

“The number of 9,000 is not real. For the protection of the aircraft wreckage that had fallen, the requirement is less than a militia company. The area was open fields where [the locals] had planted potatoes and sunflowers. There was no talk about the arrival of armed forces from NATO. Air support was even more unreal. By this time, Ukraine has already lost all of its aircraft, and ‘cooperation’ was not technically feasible.”

The omissions in the Dutch and now the Australian report suggest the close coordination of US and EU officials on introducing new sanctions against Russia immediately after the MH17 crash was not matched by coordination of any kind between the Obama Administration, the US command of NATO, the Dutch, Germans and Australians. To Russian observers this is not credible. Preposterous, they believe, is that the Dutch and the Australian governments, at the urging of the White House, went as close as they did to war on the Russian frontier.

Brown declines to identify or corroborate his sources for the size of the Australian armed force intended for the Ukrainian operation. He was asked to explain “that the prime minister, his advisors, the National Security Committee of Cabinet meeting every day for three weeks, the Australian intelligence agencies, and the Australian military staffs failed to ask for US assessments, US policy guidance, US logistic and other support in the event of engagement between Australian and Russian forces, and US approval of the plans and proposals considered at the time. If the Australians did obtain the US responses, would you say the proposals you attribute to Mr Abbott had US backing, at least at the outset?”

Brown refuses to answer. Was it possible for two prime ministers, the Australian and the Dutch, to start mobilizing for a combined Ukraine operation without US and NATO participation in the planning? Brown won’t say.

Instead, he ends his report with an endorsement of Obama’s Nobel Peace Prize speech of 2009: “There will be times,” Obama said then, “when nations – acting individually or in concert – will find the use of force not only necessary but morally justified… For make no mistake: evil does exist in the world.”

June 17, 2016 Posted by | Militarism, Timeless or most popular | , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Brexit and the Future of the EU

By Valentin KATASONOV | Strategic Culture Foundation | 16.06.2016

The world is waiting with baited breath for 23 June. This is the day when a referendum in Great Britain will decide the question of its membership in the European Union. If the country remains a member of the EU, then the process of financial and economic entropy will continue and a global crisis will be postponed to a much later date. If Britain votes to leave the EU, however, then this could disturb the delicate international equilibrium and the referendum could become the trigger that immediately sparks a global crisis. If it happens, Brexit could prompt the collapse of the world’s post-war political, economic and financial architecture.

Experts believe that the main threat posed by Britain’s withdrawal from the EU is the collapse of the European Union itself. But not even the most intrepid daredevils are prepared to calculate the global political, economic and financial consequences of the European Union’s collapse. For several years now, the European Union has been at death’s door and it all started with the 2007-2009 financial crisis. While the US and many other countries managed to drag themselves out of the crisis (for a while at least), it became a chronic disease for the countries of the EU and is now being called a ‘debt crisis’.

The depth of this crisis varies widely from country to country. According to the IMF, the relative level of public debt in 2015 (% of GDP) was: Greece – 178; Italy – 124; Portugal – 124; France – 95; and Spain – 94. The external debt picture for EU countries is even more impressive (% of GDP, 2014): Great Britain – 322; France – 236; Greece – 234; Germany – 159; Italy – 144; and Spain – 136. As can be seen, even Greece, which everyone has gotten used to considering the most inveterate debtor in the European Union, comes second to Britain and France in terms of the relative size of its external debt.

It is still Greece that is considered the weakest link in the European alliance, however. Calls have begun to be heard both within Greece and beyond its borders for the country’s withdrawal first from the eurozone and then from the European Union. Events like the crisis in Ukraine, the economic sanctions against Russia, talks with Washington on the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership, and the mass migration of refugees have started to split ‘United Europe’ apart and it has divided into Euro-optimists and Eurosceptics.

The former advocate for the preservation of the European Union and even for the further deepening of integration, the dismantling of the remnants of state sovereignty, and the accession of new members. The latter stand for the restoration of individual governments’ lost sovereignty either through radical reform of the EU or its dismantling (or the country’s withdrawal from the EU). Britain’s Eurosceptics are now being looked at with hope by like-minded people in other countries of old Europe. In 2017, general parliamentary elections will be held in Germany, France and also the Netherlands, where Eurosceptics are gaining momentum. A vote by Britain in favour of leaving the European Union will cause a chain reaction of similar initiatives in a number of other countries.

At present, the media are regularly publishing opinion poll findings that reveal what the Brits think of the European Union. It is interesting that at the beginning of the year, the number of those in support of Britain staying in the EU was noticeably higher than those in favour of leaving, in April and May the gap began to narrow and now, at the beginning of June, those in support of leaving have started to outnumber those who wish to stay. Despite a split in the British government on the Brexit issue, it is still strongly influenced by Prime Minister David Cameron who, as is well known, is an ardent supporter of the country retaining its EU membership. The effect of the ‘Cameron factor’ on British public sentiment began to weaken in June, however.

Brexit was one of the key issues at the annual Bilderberg Group meeting held on 9-12 June in Dresden. According to unofficial data, the meeting’s participants (130 people from 20 countries) were extremely concerned about the outcome of the forthcoming referendum, and the heads of major corporations and banks taking part in the discussion have committed themselves to doing everything possible to stop those in favour of Britain leaving the EU from winning the referendum.

In the meantime, scepticism about the EU has also increased noticeably in a number of other European countries. On 8 June, the results of a poll conducted in ten EU countries by the Pew Research Center, a US think tank, were made public. They show that even in Germany, only 50 percent of those surveyed have a favourable view of the EU. Last year, the EU had the trust of 58 percent of Germans. And if a referendum on EU membership were to be held in other countries right now, they would probably choose to leave the Union. The results of the survey also show that the level of trust in the EU has fallen over the last year in France from 55 to 38 percent. And there is no point even talking about Greece, where scepticism about the EU had already begun to dominate last year. Today, just 27 percent of Greeks are in favour of EU membership. The European Union only enjoys a higher reputation in the countries that are more recent EU members, for example in Poland (72 percent) and Hungary (61 percent).

Significantly, even many of those in Europe who are currently in favour of remaining a member of the EU are dissatisfied with Brussels’ policies. This concerns the EU’s economic, monetary and financial policies and, over the last year, its migration policy as well. The fewest people unhappy with the policies being carried out by Brussels were in Germany (38 percent), but the percentages in other EU countries are as follows: France – 66, Italy – 68, and Greece – 92. In addition, 67 percent of Germans, 77 percent of Italians, 88 percent of Swedes and 94 percent of Greeks expressed their dissatisfaction at Brussels’ migration policy. And many of those who disapprove or are dissatisfied could soon join those in favour of their country leaving the European Union. This will be inevitable if those voting for Brexit secure a victory in the referendum on 23 June.

It seems that European Parliament President Martin Schultz can be regarded as a Eurosceptic now as well. In an interview last month, Schultz admitted that, «the European Union is in a dismal state».

Whatever the outcome of the vote in the British Isles, the Eurosceptics in Germany, France and the Netherlands, who are expecting to improve their position in the 2017 elections, are determined to achieve similar referendums in their own countries.

June 16, 2016 Posted by | Economics, Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism | , , , , , , | Leave a comment