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Trump Administration Follows Corporate Media Playbook for War With Iran

By John C. O’Day | FAIR | October 4, 2018

Three years ago, as Americans debated the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) agreement with the Islamic Republic of Iran—popularly known as “the Iran deal”—I highlighted a troubling media trend on FAIR.org (8/20/15): “For nearly all commentators, regardless of their position, war is the only alternative to that position.”

In the months since US President Donald Trump tore up the JCPOA agreement, his administration has been trying to make good on corporate media’s collective prediction. Last week, John Bolton (BBC, 9/26/18), Trump’s national security advisor and chief warmonger, told Iran’s leaders and the world that there would be “hell to pay” if they dare to “cross us.”

That Bolton’s bellicose statements do not send shockwaves of pure horror across a debt-strapped and war-weary United States is thanks in large part to incessant priming for war, facilitated by corporate media across the entire political spectrum, with a particular focus on Iran.

Back in 2015, while current “resistance” stalwarts like the Washington Post (4/2/15) and Politico (8/11/15) warned us that war with Iran was the most likely alternative to the JCPOA, conservative standard-bearers such as Fox News (7/14/15) and the Washington Times (8/10/15) foretold that war with Iran was the agreement’s most likely outcome. Three years hence, this dynamic has not changed.

To experience the full menu of US media’s single-mindedness about Iran, one need only buy a subscription to the New York Times. After Trump withdrew from the JCPOA, the Times’ editorial board (5/8/18) wrote that his move would “lay conditions for a possible wider war in the Middle East.” Susan Rice (New York Times, 5/8/18), President Barack Obama’s national security advisor, agreed: “We could face the choice of going to war or acquiescing to a nuclear-armed Iran,” she warned. Cartoonist Patrick Chappatte (New York Times, 5/10/18) was characteristically more direct, penning an image of Trump alongside Bolton, holding a fictitious new agreement featuring the singular, ultimate word: “WAR.”

On the other hand, calling Trump’s turn against JCPOA a “courageous decision,” Times columnist Bret Stephens (5/8/18) explained that the move was meant to force the Iranian government to make a choice: Either accede to US demands or “pursue their nuclear ambitions at the cost of economic ruin and possible war.” (Hardly courageous, when we all know there is no chance that Trump or Stephens would enlist should war materialize.)

Trump’s latest antics at the United Nations have spurred a wave of similar reaction across corporate media. Describing his threat to “totally destroy North Korea” at the UN General Assembly last year as “pointed and sharp,” Fox News anchor Eric Shawn (9/23/18) asked Bill Richardson, an Obama ally and President Bill Clinton’s ambassador to the UN, whether Trump would take the same approach toward Iran. “That aggressive policy we have with Iran is going to continue,” Richardson reassured the audience, “and I don’t think Iran is helping themselves.” In other words, if the United States starts a war with Iran, it’s totally Iran’s fault.

Politico (9/23/18), meanwhile, reported that Trump “is risking a potential war with Iran unless he engages the Islamist-led country using diplomacy.” In other words, if the United States starts a war with Iran, it’s totally Trump’s fault. Rice (New York Times, 9/26/18) reiterated her view that Trump’s rhetoric “presages the prospect of war in the Persian Gulf.” Whoever would be the responsible party is up for debate, but that war is in our future is apparently all but certain.

Politico’s article cited a statement signed by such esteemed US experts on war-making as Madeleine Albright, who presided over Clinton’s inhuman sanctions against Iraq in the ’90s, and Ryan Crocker, former ambassador for presidents George W. Bush and Obama to some of America’s favorite killing fields: Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan and Syria.  James Clapper, Obama’s National Intelligence Director, who also signed the letter, played an important role in trumping up WMD evidence against Saddam Hussein before the United States invaded Iraq in 2003. When it comes to US aggression, they’re the experts.

Vanity Fair (9/26/18) interviewed John Glaser of the Cato Institute, who called Trump’s strategy “pathetic,” and also warned that it forebodes war. In an effort to “one-up Obama,” Glaser explained, Trump’s plan is “to apply extreme economic pressure and explicit threats of war in order to get Iran to capitulate.” Sound familiar? As Glaser implies, this was exactly Obama’s strategy, only then it wasn’t seen as “pathetic,” but rather reasonable, and the sole means for preventing the war that every US pundit and politician saw around the corner (The Hill, 8/9/15).

When everyone decides that war is the only other possibility, it starts to look like an inevitability. But even when they aren’t overtly stoking war fever against Iran, corporate media prime the militaristic pump in more subtle yet equally disturbing ways.

Benjamin Netanyahu

Netanyahu speaks for the Iranian people on CNN (9/29/18)

First among these is the near-complete erasure of Iranian voices from US airwaves (FAIR.org, 7/24/15). Rather than ask Iranians directly, national outlets like CNN (9/29/18) prefer to invite the prime minister of Israel, serial Iran alarmist and regional pariah Benjamin Netanyahu, to speak for them. During a jovial discussion this weekend over whether regime change and/or economic collapse is Iran’s most likely fate, Netanyahu explained to the audience that, either way, “The ones who will be happiest if that happens are the people of Iran.” No people of Iran were on hand to confirm or deny this assessment.

Bloomberg (9/30/18) similarly wanted to know, “What’s not to like about Trump’s Iran oil sanctions?” Julian Lee gleefully reported that “they are crippling exports from the Islamic Republic, at minimal cost to the US.” One might think the toll sanctions take on innocent Iranians would be something not to like, but Bloomberg merely worried that, notwithstanding the windfall for US refineries, “oil at $100 a barrel would be bad news for drivers everywhere—including those in the US.” [$500,000,000 increase in gas costs, daily, just for Americans]

Another prized tactic is to whitewash Saudi Arabia, Iran’s chief geopolitical rival, whose genocidal destruction of Yemen is made possible by the United States, about which corporate media remain overwhelmingly silent (FAIR.org, 7/23/18). Iran’s involvement in Yemen, which both Trump and the New York Times (9/12/18) describe as “malign behavior,” is a principal justification for US support of Saudi Arabia, including the US-supplied bombs that recently ended the brief lives of over 40 Yemeni schoolchildren. Lockheed Martin’s stock is up 34 percent from Trump’s inauguration day.

Corporate media go beyond a simple coverup of Saudi crimes to evangelize their leadership as the liberal antidote to Iran’s “theocracy.” Who can forget Thomas Friedman’s revolting puff piece for the Saudi crown prince Mohammad bin Salman? Extensively quoting Salman (New York Times, 11/23/17), who refers to Iranian Ayatollah Ali Khamenei as “the new Hitler of the Middle East,” Friedman nevertheless remains pessimistic about whether “MBS and his team” can see their stand against Iran through, as “dysfunction and rivalries within the Sunni Arab world generally have prevented forming a unified front.” Oh well, every team needs cheerleaders, and Friedman isn’t just a fair-weather fan.

While Friedman (New York Times, 5/15/18) believes that Trump has drawn “some needed attention to Iran’s bad behavior,” for him pivotal questions remain unanswered, such as “who is going to take over in Tehran if the current Islamic regime collapses?” One immediate fix he proposed was to censure Iran’s metaphorical “occupation” of Syria, Iraq and Lebanon. Isn’t this ironic coming from an unapologetic propagandist for Washington’s decades-long, non-metaphorical occupation of the two countries to the east and west of Iran? (FAIR.org, 12/9/15)

In a surprising break from corporate media convention, USA Today (9/26/18) published a column on US/Iran relations written by an actual Iranian. Reflecting on the CIA-orchestrated coup against Iran’s elected government in 1953, Azadeh Shahshahani, who was born four days after the 1979 revolution there, wrote:

I often wonder what would have happened if that coup had not worked, if [Prime Minister] Mosaddeq had been allowed to govern, if democracy had been allowed to flourish.

“It is time for the US government to stop intervening in Iran and let the Iranian people determine their own destiny,” she beseeched readers.

Shahshahani’s call is supported by some who have rejected corporate media’s war propaganda and have gone to extreme lengths to have their perspectives heard. Anti-war activist and Code Pink  founder Medea Benjamin was recently forcibly removed after she upstaged Brian Hook, leader of Trump’s Iran Action Group, on live TV, calling his press conference “the most ridiculous thing I have ever seen” (Real News, 9/21/18). Benjamin implored the audience: “Let’s talk about Saudi Arabia. Is that who our allies are?”

“How dare you bring up the issue of Yemen,” admonished Benjamin as she was dragged from the room. “It’s the Saudi bombing that is killing most people in Yemen. So let’s get real. No more war! Peace with Iran!” Code Pink is currently petitioning the New York Times and Washington Post to stop propagandizing war.

Sadly, no matter whom you ask in corporate media, be they spokespeople for “Trump’s America” or “the resistance,” peace remains an elusive choice in the US political imagination. And while the public was focused last week on Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh’s perjurious testimony, the Senate finalized a $674 billion “defense” budget. Every single Democrat in the chamber voted in favor of the bill, explicitly naming Iran as persona non grata in the United States’ world-leading arms supply network, which has seen a 25 percent increase in exports since Obama took office in 2009.

The US government’s imperial ambitions are perhaps its only truly bipartisan project—what the New York Times euphemistically refers to as “globalism.” Nowhere was this on fuller display than at the funeral for Republican Sen. John McCain (FAIR.org, 9/11/18), where politicians of all stripes were tripping over themselves to produce the best accolades for a man who infamously sang “bomb bomb bomb, bomb bomb Iran” to the tune of a Beach Boys song.

McCain’s bloodlust was nothing new. Nearly a hundred years ago, after the West’s imperial competition culminated in the most destructive war the world had ever seen, the brilliant American sociologist and anti-colonial author WEB Du Bois wrote, “This is not Europe gone mad; this is not aberration nor insanity; this is Europe.”

Iranian leaders have repeatedly said they do not want war with the US (AP, 9/27/18), but US corporate media, despite frequently characterizing Trump as a “mad king” (FAIR.org, 6/13/18), continue to play an instrumental role in rationalizing a future war with Iran. Should such an intentional catastrophe come to pass, we can hardly say that this would be America gone mad; war is not aberration, it is always presented as the next sane choice. This is America.

October 4, 2018 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Militarism, Wars for Israel | , , , , , , | 1 Comment

The New York Times as Judge and Jury

By Joe Lauria • Consortium News • September 21, 2018

We’ve seen it before: a newspaper and individual reporters get a story horribly wrong but instead of correcting it they double down to protect their reputations and credibility—which is all journalists have to go on—and the public suffers.

Sometimes this maneuver can contribute to a massive loss of life. The most egregious example was the reporting in the lead-up to the invasion of Iraq. Like nearly all Establishment media, The New York Times got the story of Iraq’s weapons of mass destruction—the major casus belli for the invasion—dead wrong. But the Times, like the others, continued publishing stories without challenging their sources in authority, mostly unnamed, who were pushing for war.

The result was a disastrous intervention that led to hundreds of thousands of civilian deaths and continued instability in Iraq, including the formation of the Islamic State.

In a massive Timesarticle published on Thursday, entitled, “‘A Plot to Subvert an Election: Unravelling the Russia Story So Far,” it seems that reporters Scott Shane and Mark Mazzetti have succumbed to the same thinking that doubled down on Iraq.

They claim to have a “mountain of evidence” but what they offer would be invisible on the Great Plains.

With the mid-terms looming and Special Counsel Robert Mueller unable to so far come up with any proof of collusion between Russia and the Trump campaign to steal the 2016 election—the central Russia-gate charge—the Times does it for him, regurgitating a Russia-gate Round-Up of every unsubstantiated allegation that has been made—deceptively presented as though it’s all been proven.

This is a reaffirmation of the faith, a recitation of what the Russia-gate faithful want to believe is true. But mere repetition will not make it so.

The Times’ unsteady conviction is summed up in this paragraph, which the paper itself then undermines only a few paragraphs later:

“What we now know with certainty: The Russians carried out a landmark intervention that will be examined for decades to come. Acting on the personal animus of Mr. Putin, public and private instruments of Russian power moved with daring and skill to harness the currents of American politics. Well-connected Russians worked aggressively to recruit or influence people inside the Trump campaign.”

But this schizoid approach leads to the admission that “no public evidence has emerged showing that [Trump’s] campaign conspired with Russia.”

The Times also adds: “There is a plausible case that Mr. Putin succeeded in delivering the presidency to his admirer, Mr. Trump, though it cannot be proved or disproved.”

This is an extraordinary statement. If it cannot be “proved or disproved” what is the point of this entire exercise: of the Mueller probe, the House and Senate investigations and even of this very New York Times article?

Probing to prove this constructed story without proof is the very point of this piece.

A Banner Day

The 10,000-word article opens with a story of a pro-Russian banner that was hung from the Manhattan Bridge on Putin’s birthday, and an anti-Obama banner hung a month later from the Memorial Bridge in Washington just after the 2016 election.

On public property these are constitutionally-protected acts of free speech. But for the Times, “The Kremlin, it appeared, had reached onto United States soil in New York and Washington. The banners may well have been intended as visual victory laps for the most effective foreign interference in an American election in history.”

Why? Because the Times tells us that the “earliest promoters” of images of the banners were from social media accounts linked to a St. Petersburg-based click-bait farm, a company called the Internet Research Agency. The company is not legally connected to the Kremlin and any political coordination is pure speculation. IRA has been explained convincingly as a commercial and not political operation. Its aim is get and sell “eyeballs.”

For instance the company conducted pro and anti-Trump rallies and social media messages, as well as pro and anti-Clinton. But the Times, in classic omission mode, only reports on “the anti-Clinton, pro-Trump messages shared with millions of voters by Russia.” Sharing with “millions” of people on social media does not mean that millions of people have actually seen those messages. And if they had there is little way to determine whether it affected how they voted, especially as the messages attacked and praised both candidates.

The Times reporters take much at face value, which they then themselves undermine. Most prominently, they willfully mistake a an indictment for a conviction, as if they do not know the difference.

This is in the category of Journalism 101. An indictment need not include evidence and under U.S. law an indictment is not evidence. Juries are instructed that an indictment is merely an accusation. That the Times commits this cardinal sin of journalism to purposely confuse allegations with a conviction is not only inexcusable but strikes a fatal blow to credibility of the entire article.

It actually reports that “Today there is no doubt who hacked the D.N.C. and the Clinton campaign. A detailed indictment of 12 officers of Russia’s military intelligence agency, filed in July by Mr. Mueller, documents their every move, including their break-in techniques, their tricks to hide inside the Democrats’ networks and even their Google searches.”

Who needs courts when suspects can be tried and convicted in the press?

What the Times is not taking into account is that Mueller knows his indictment will never be tested in court because the GRU agents will never be arrested, there is no extradition treaty between the U.S. and Russia and even if it were miraculously to see the inside of a courtroom Mueller can invoke states secrets privilege to show the “evidence” to a judge with clearance in his chambers who can then emerge to pronounce “Guilty!” without a jury having seen that evidence.

This is what makes Mueller’s indictment more a political than a legal document, giving him wide leeway to put whatever he wants into it. He knew it would never be tested and that once it was released, a supine press would do the rest to cement it in the public consciousness as a conviction, just as this Times piece tries to do.

Errors of Commission and Omission

There are a series of erroneous assertions and omissions in the Times piece:

–Not mentioning that the FBI was never given access to the DNC server but instead gullibly believing the assertion of the anti-Russian private company CrowdStrike, paid for by the DNC, that the name of the first Soviet intelligence chief found in metadata proves Russia was behind the hack. Only someone wanting to be caught would leave such a clue.

–Incredibly believing that Trump would have launched a covert intelligence operation on live national television by asking Russia to get 30,000 missing emails.

–Ignoring the possible role of the MI6, the CIA and the FBI setting up Trump campaign members George Papadopoulos and Carter Page as “colluders” with Russia.

–Repeating misleading statements about the infamous Trump Tower meeting, in which Trump’s son did not seek dirt on Clinton but was offered it by a music promoter, not the Russian government. None was apparently produced. It’s never been established that a campaign receiving opposition research from foreigners is illegal (though the Times has decided that it is) and only the Clinton campaign was known to have obtained any.

–Making no mention at all of the now discredited opposition research dossier paid for by the Clinton campaign and the DNC from foreign sources and used by the FBI to get a warrant to spy on Carter Page and potentially other campaign members.

–Dismissing the importance of politicized text messages between FBI agents Peter Strzok and Lisa Page because the pair were “skewered regularly on Mr. (Sean) Hannity’s show as the ‘Trump-hating F.B.I. lovebirds.’”

–Putting down to “hyped news stories” the legitimate fear of a new McCarthyism against anyone who questions the “official” story being peddled here by the Times.

–Seeking to get inside Putin’s head to portray him as a petulant child seeking personal revenge against Hillary Clinton, a tale long peddled by Clinton and accepted without reservation by the Times.

–Pretending to get into Julian Assange’s head as well, saying he “shared Mr. Putin’s hatred of Mrs. Clinton and had a soft spot for Russia.” And that Assange “also obscured the Russian role by fueling a right-wing conspiracy theory he knew to be false.”

–Ignoring findings backed by the Veteran’s Intelligence Professionals for Sanity that the DNC emails were leaked and not hacked.

–Erroneously linking the timing of WikiLeaks’ Podesta emails to deflect attention from the “Access Hollywood” tape, as debunked in Consortium News by Italian journalist Stefania Maurizi, who worked with WikiLeaks on those emails.

Distorts Geo-Politics

The piece swallows whole the Establishment’s geo-strategic Russia narrative, as all corporate media do. It buys without hesitation the story that the U.S. seeks to spread democracy around the world, and not pursue its economic and geo-strategic interests as do all imperial powers.

The Times reports that, “The United States had backed democratic, anti-Russian forces in the so-called color revolutions on Russia’s borders, in Georgia in 2003 and Ukraine in 2004.” The Times has also spread the erroneous story of a democratic revolution in Ukraine in 2014, omitting crucial evidence of a U.S.-backed coup.

The Times disapprovingly dismisses Trump having said on the campaign trail that “Russia was not an existential threat, but a potential ally in beating back terrorist groups,” when an objective view of the world would come to this very conclusion.

The story also dismisses American voters’ real concerns that led to Trump’s election. For the Times, economic grievances and rejection of perpetual war played no role in the election of Trump. Instead it was Russian influence that led Americans to vote for him, an absurd proposition defied by a Gallup poll in July that showed Americans’ greatest concerns being economic. Their concerns about Russia were statistically insignificant at less than one percent.

Dismissing Americans’ real concerns exposes the class interests of Times staffers and editors who are evidently above Americans’ economic and social suffering.

Establishment reporters insulate themselves from criticism by retreating into the exclusive Establishment club they think they inhabit. It is from there that they vicariously draw their strength from powerful people they cover, which they should instead be scrutinizing. Validated by being close to power, Establishment reporters don’t take seriously anyone outside of the club, such as a website like Consortium News.

But on rare occasions they are forced to take note of what outsiders are saying. Because of the role The New York Times played in the catastrophe of Iraq its editors took the highly unusual move of apologizing to its readers. Will we one day read a similar apology about the paper’s coverage of Russia-gate?


Joe Lauria is editor-in-chief of Consortium News and a former correspondent for The Wall Street Journal, Boston GlobeSunday Times of London and numerous other newspapers. He can be reached at joelauria@consortiumnews.com and followed on Twitter @unjoe .

September 21, 2018 Posted by | Deception, Fake News, Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Russophobia | , | 1 Comment

Alabama debunks the Times’ story about our warming world

Fabius Maximus website | September 19, 2018

Summary: The NY Times gives a story with bold numbers, confidently stated. Too bad their fact-checkers did not notice that their numbers are grossly misleading. Propaganda pretending to be science. This does not help, even if well-intended. The State Climatologist of Alabama tells the real story.

The Alabama Climate Report, August 2018.

By John R. Christy, Alabama State Climatologist.
Also Professor of Atmospheric Science and Director of the Earth System Science Center
at the U of AL in Huntsville. Links added.

Meteorological summer (June, July and August) is over. It is time to check how the summer temperatures compare with other years. For a research project a few years ago we developed a statewide summer temperature index for four 100-mile diameter regions centered on the major cities of the state – Mobile, Montgomery, Birmingham and Huntsville – going back to 1883. This summer will go down in that database and in NOAA’s official records as being slightly cooler than average.

Somewhat related to this, a reader sent me a link to a New York Times interactive website that claims to provide the number of days above 90°F each year for cities across the country: “How Much Hotter Is Your Hometown Than When You Were Born?” The results are produced for the Times by Climate Impact Lab (some might call it an environmental pressure group).

Since I build numerous datasets of this type, I took a look. The website asks you for the town and year in which you were born, then provides a time series purportedly showing the number of 90°F days per year since your birth and how that has increased.

Though a native of California, I have lived in Huntsville more years than any other place, so I put in my birth year and Huntsville as my hometown. Immediately I became suspicious when their dataset started only recently in 1960 (and a few years after my birth). …

For Huntsville and Montgomery, here are their results. Quite scary. It appears that the number of 90°F days has risen to their highest levels ever. It says that in 1960 Huntsville had 45 days above 90°F, but by 2017 it was 57 days and rising.

Huntsville, Alabama.

Huntsville AL - number of 90+ degree days

Montgomery, Alabama.

Montgomery AL - number of 90+ degree days

Then, to make matters even scarier, they use climate model projections to 2090 to tell me that in 2040, when I’m 80, there will be 73 such hot days in Huntsville (as shown below). Yikes!

Huntsville’s future per RCP4.5!

Huntsville AL - projected future temperature

Editor’s note – From the NYT website.

“For each year, the count of days at or above 90 degrees reflects a 21-year rolling average. Temperature observations for your hometown are averaged over an area of approximately 625 km² (240 square miles), and may not match single weather-station records.

“The time series is based on historical data for 1960-2000. The 2001-2020 period relies on a combination of historical data and future projections. After 2020, the data uses a mixed climate model that captures a broad range of extreme temperature responses. The “likely” future range reflects outcomes with 66 percent probability of occurrence in the RCP 4.5 scenario.”

The rest of the story

Before you sell your house and move to Canada, let’s take a look at the real story. Having built many climate datasets of Alabama, some starting as early as 1850, I knew the Times story was designed to create alarm and promote the claim that humans who use carbon-based energy (gasoline, natural gas, coal) to help them live better lives are making our summers ever more miserable. Be aware reader, this webtool is not designed to provide accurate information.

First of all, climate data for Alabama began in the 19th century, not 1960. In 2016 Dr. Richard McNider (Alabama’s former State Climatologist) and I published a carefully constructed time series of summer temperatures for the state starting from 1883. This used numerous station records, including some that the federal government had not archived into its databases (which are the most common source for outfits like the Climate Impacts Lab.)

Time Series Construction of Summer Surface Temperatures for Alabama, 1883–2014, and Comparisons with Tropospheric Temperature and Climate Model Simulations” in the Journal of Applied Meteorology and Climatology, March 2016.

I’ve updated that work to include summer temperatures through 2018. The result is below. Not only are summer daytime temperatures not rising, they have actually fallen over the last 136 years. After looking at the graph, why do you suppose the Climate Impacts Lab decided to start their charts in 1960?

We went a step further in that paper and demonstrated that climate models failed completely to replicate the downward temperature trend in Alabama over the past 120 years: 76 different models with a 100% failure rate. Would you trust these same models to tell you about the future as the Times does? Why did they not check the models for validity?

Now, what about the number of “hot” (or in Alabama we would say “typical”) 90°F days? For Alabama and the nation, I’ve calculated the average value per station each year since 1895. The results below speak for themselves (there is no increase of days hotter than 90°F) and expose the misinformation provided through the Times.

Alabama - days exceeding 90 degrees

 

Continental 48 US states - days exceeding 90 degrees

Providing accurate information on Alabama’s climate is what we do in our office. In fact, using real data, I can’t even come close to reproducing the images that the Climate Impacts Lab did which show 2010’s as having the most 90°F days in Alabama. I’m guessing they are using some theoretical output rather than sticking with observations. …I’ll check and follow-up as I can, but something is fishy.

This is a great state in which people can enjoy life and in which businesses can operate. Our climate resources are one of the reasons we are doing so well in recruitment. Occasionally though the time comes when I must address claims made by those whose intention is not to inform but to promote false alarm. This usually happens when an environmental pressure group generates a press release whose dramatic statements are published by a willing media (without any fact-checking). This is one of those times, and I’m sure it will not be the last.


Dr. John R. Christy is the Distinguished Professor of Atmospheric Science and Director of the Earth System Science Center at the University of Alabama in Huntsville. Since November 2000 he has been Alabama’s State Climatologist. See his bio at the U of AL website (from which this bio was taken).

In 1989 Dr. Roy W. Spencer (then a NASA scientist, now a Principle Research Scientist at UAH) and Christy developed a global temperature data set from microwave data observed from satellites beginning in 1979. For this achievement, the Spencer-Christy team was awarded NASA’s Medal for Exceptional Scientific Achievement in 1991. In 1996, they received a Special Award by the American Meteorological Societyfor developing a global, precise record of earth’s temperature from operational polar-orbiting satellites, fundamentally advancing our ability to monitor climate.” In January 2002 Christy was inducted as a Fellow of the American Meteorological Society.

Dr. Christy has served as a Contributor (1992, 1994, 1996 and 2007) and Lead Author (2001) for the U.N. reports by the IPCC in which the satellite temperatures were included as a high-quality data set for studying global climate change. He has served on five National Research Council panels or committees, has performed research funded by NASA, NOAA, DOE, DOT and the State of Alabama, and has testified 18 times for congressional committees.

His papers have been published in many journals, including Science, Nature, Journal of Climate, and The Journal of Geophysical Research. See the list here (with links).

September 21, 2018 Posted by | Fake News, Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Science and Pseudo-Science, Timeless or most popular | | Leave a comment

New York Times’ fraudulent “election plot” dossier escalates anti-Russia hysteria

By Bill Van Auken | WSWS | September 21, 2018

The New York Times published a fraudulent and provocative “special report” Thursday titled “The plot to subvert an election.”

Replete with sinister looking graphics portraying Russian President Vladimir Putin as a villainous cyberage cyclops, the report purports to untangle “the threads of the most effective foreign campaign in history to disrupt and influence an American election.”

The report could serve as a textbook example of CIA-directed misinformation posing as “in-depth” journalism. There is no news, few substantiated facts and no significant analysis presented in the 10,000-word report, which sprawls over 11 ad-free pages of a separate section produced by the Times.

The article begins with an ominous-sounding recounting of two incidents in which banners were hung from bridges in New York City and Washington in October and November of 2016, one bearing the likeness of Putin over a Russian flag with the word “peacemaker,” and the other that of Obama and the slogan “Goodbye Murderer.”

It acknowledges that “police never identified who had hung the banners,” but nonetheless goes on to assert that: “The Kremlin, it appeared, had reached onto United States soil in New York and Washington. The banners may well have been intended as visual victory laps for the most effective foreign interference in an American election in history.”

Why does it “appear” to be the Kremlin? What is the evidence to support this claim? Among the 8.5 million inhabitants of New York City and another 700,000 in Washington, D.C., aren’t there enough people who might despise Obama as much as, if not a good deal more than, Vladimir Putin?

This absurd passage with its “appeared” and “may well have” combined with the speculation about the Kremlin extending its evil grip onto “United States soil” sets the tone for the entire piece, which consists of the regurgitation of unsubstantiated allegations made by the US intelligence agencies, Democratic and Republican capitalist politicians and the Times itself.

The authors, Scott Shane and Mark Mazzetti, complain about a lack of “public comprehension” of the “Trump-Russia” story. Indeed, despite the two-year campaign of anti-Russian hysteria whipped up in Washington and among the affluent sections of the upper-middle class that constitute the target audience of the Times, polls have indicated that the charges of Russian “meddling” in the 2016 presidential election have evoked little popular response among the broad masses of the American population.

The “special report” attempts to remedy this problem by ginning up the meddling allegations, claiming that the Kremlin staged a “stealth cyberage Pearl Harbor” against the United States and succeeded in “hijacking” both “American companies like Facebook and Twitter” and “American citizens’ feelings about immigration and race.”

The reporting is all couched in “maybes” and “appears,” with the claim made that “there is a plausible case that Mr. Putin succeeded in delivering the presidency to his admirer, Mr. Trump, though it cannot be proved or disproved.” In other words, the Times reporters cannot substantiate their claims.

Mazzetti and Shane strain to portray the actions of Putin, assuming for the sake of argument that he was the mastermind behind the Facebook postings, as something uniquely horrible in the annals of international relations.

But as is well known, the US spends tens of billions of dollars every year to influence foreign elections, subvert governments viewed as obstacles to US interests and buy politicians, intellectuals and other agents of influence. It has backed coups and waged direct wars to effect regime change. Many of these coups have been supported by the New York Times. Many of its reporters collaborate with US intelligence agencies and dish up the propaganda required to advance the international interests of the United States.

There is not a country in the world whose political system has not been targeted by the United States. This includes Russia and the former Soviet republics, where it has carried out continuous regime-change operations, while extending the NATO military alliance across vast swaths of territory and spheres of influence vacated by the Soviet Union, deploying US-led armed forces right to Russia’s borders, in contravention of agreements reached between Washington and Moscow at the time of the Stalinist bureaucracy’s dissolution of the USSR.

This is passed over lightly by the Times special report, which presents the alleged Russian “meddling” as all a product of Putin’s personal grudges against President Barack Obama and Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton.

In the context of US global operations, what the Times article alleges, even if it were all true, amounts to less than a hill of beans.

It claims that Russian “trolls, hackers and agents” assigned to influence the 2016 US election “totaled barely 100.” Their task, it states, was “to steer millions of American voters” and “sabotage an election.”

To that end, the article states, Russians allegedly spent $100,000 on Facebook ads, “a trivial sum compared with the tens of millions spent on Facebook by both the Trump and Clinton campaigns.” Far less than trivial compared to the nearly $7 billion spent on all US federal elections in 2016.

The ads, the Times claims, were directed at “sowing division” in the American body politic, as if the US was not already a country torn by the deepest social inequality of any of the so-called advanced capitalist countries, with a population seething with anger over declining living standards for the masses of the working population, while a financial and corporate oligarchy has registered the biggest income gains in history.

The article refers to a handful of demonstrations allegedly promoted by Russian Facebook ads that attracted a few dozen people as evidence that Moscow’s “trolls” could act as “puppet masters for unsuspecting Americans.” One only need compare this to Washington’s spending of what former State Department official Victoria Nuland acknowledged was $5 billion to promote an armed fascist-led coup that toppled a pro-Russian government in Ukraine in 2014.

The most sinister side of the Times report is its indictment of WikiLeaks and its founder and editor Julian Assange for the leaking of emails of the Democratic National Committee (DNC) and Clinton campaign chairman John Podesta. The emails laid bare the DNC’s rigging of the primaries in favor of Clinton against Bernie Sanders and made public the texts of slavish and well-paid speeches given by Clinton to Wall Street audiences, guaranteeing she would defend their interests and making clear her readiness to escalate the war in Syria and bomb Iran.

The Times report complains that Clinton’s self-damning words were “taken out of context” and “subjected to the most damaging interpretation.”

The report paints Assange as either a witting or unwitting agent of the Kremlin at a moment in which the WikiLeaks founder is facing imminent threat of losing his refuge in the Ecuadorian embassy in London followed by arrest and extradition to the US to stand trial for treason and espionage.

Also resurrected in the report is the neo-McCarthyite vilification of Jill Stein, the Green Party’s presidential candidate in 2016. “The Russian operation also boosted” her candidacy, the Times claims, in order “to draw votes from Mrs. Clinton.”

The political thrust of the “special report” is clear. It is aimed at criminalizing domestic dissent, delegitimizing and suppressing any opposition to the political monopoly exercised by the capitalist two-party system and outlawing the use of the internet to report any news or express any opinions that have not first been vetted by “authoritative sources” like the CIA-embedded stenographers of the Times .

Mazzetti and Shane are Times national security correspondents. In an accompanying piece posted on the newspaper’s website, they claim that their “special report” was modelled upon two special issues of the Times magazine section published in July 1973 and the following January detailing the background and development of the Watergate scandal that ultimately brought down the Nixon presidency.

While they may be attempting to signal that their reporting could bring down Trump, the comparison is as ludicrous as it is self-serving. The pieces produced by the Times 45 years ago provided cogent political analysis that served to at least partially expose the crimes and conspiracies of the US government. They came just three years after the newspaper had defied the Nixon administration in publishing the Pentagon Papers—leaked to the paper by Daniel Ellsberg—exposing the lies and crimes associated with the US war in Vietnam.

Mazzetti and Shane have produced a poorly written propaganda potboiler, parroting the unsubstantiated allegations of US intelligence agencies and making the case for the criminal prosecution of Julian Assange for exposing similar crimes.

Mazzetti is notorious for his secretly passing to the CIA in 2011—prior to publication—a piece written by Times columnist Maureen Dowd, along with a note reading, “this didn’t come from me … and please delete after you read.”

Shane was the author of a 2012 article titled “The moral case for drones,” which attempted to justify the assassination program being run out of the White House that claimed the lives of thousands in Pakistan, Afghanistan, Yemen and elsewhere.

The authors are, to put it bluntly, a pair of broken-down hacks, embedded with the US military and intelligence apparatus and held in contempt by serious journalists.

Their “special report” expresses the thoroughgoing repudiation of any democratic principles by the Times and the rest of the major media, which have adopted the role of guarantors of state secrecy and apologists for war and political repression.

September 21, 2018 Posted by | Deception, Fake News, Mainstream Media, Warmongering | , | Leave a comment

U.S. Perversity on Peace in Korea

By Jacob G. Hornberger | FFF | September 19, 2018

Just when you think that the U.S. national-security state’s policy toward Korea can’t get more perverse, it does. The latest perversion? Opposing a peace agreement between North Korea and South Korea! Imagine that. And why would U.S. officials oppose such an agreement? Because it would inevitably lead to calls for U.S. troops in Korea to be sent packing home to the United States. After all, when a peace agreement is entered into, what would be the justification for keeping U.S. troops in that faraway land?

Don’t believe me? Well, take if from the New York Times, one of the most mainstream papers in the country:

President Moon Jae-in of South Korea arrived in Pyongyang Tuesday for his third summit with Kim Jong-un, North Korea’s leader, to work toward a common goal: fashioning a political statement this year declaring the end of the Korean War. Such a declaration, although not a legally binding treaty, could carry far-reaching repercussions, helping North Korea escalate its campaign for the withdrawal of American troops from the South, analysts said. For that and other reasons, the United States has strong reservations about such a breakthrough.

Why the strong reservations? Wouldn’t you think that U.S. officials would be ecstatic about the prospect of peace in Korea? Wouldn’t you expect that to be the response of any rational person?

Not for a regime that has come to view Korea as a constant flashpoint to keep people on edge and afraid, thereby assuring ever-increasing budgets for the Pentagon, the CIA, the NSA, and their army of contractors and sub-contractors. And not for a regime that has come to view Korea as a place that permanently bases tens of thousands of U.S. troops. And not for a regime that continues to target the North Korean regime for regime change.

A peace agreement between the two Koreas would threaten all of those things. Suddenly, the national-security state would lose one its principal flashpoints for crisis and fear, one that it has relied on since at least 1950. It would also mean having to bring all those troops home and trying to figure out what to do with them. And it would mean giving up its dream of regime change, at least through military force.

That’s why U.S. officials are so concerned about the ongoing improvement in relations between North and South Korea and the possibility that the two countries could enter into a peace agreement.

South Korean president Moon Jae-in and North Korea’s leader Kim Jong-un continue their efforts to improve relations between their two countries. They are currently holding their third summit, with Kim visiting Pyongyang, North Korea’s capital, for the first time ever. Kim was met by huge throngs of people, organized of course by the North Korean regime, cheering for Kim, waving flowers, and chanting “reunification of the fatherland.”

Left out of these negotiations are U.S. officials. But so what? Korea belongs to the Koreans, not to the Pentagon or the CIA. It’s their civil war, a civil war that the Pentagon and the CIA butted into more than 60 years ago, and without the constitutionally required congressional declaration of war. Koreans don’t need the permission of U.S. officials to resolve their war and their differences.

What is concerning U.S. officials is that the two leaders might reach an agreement that doesn’t involve “denuclearization” by North Korea. But the only reason that North Korea has nuclear weapons is to deter the Pentagon and the CIA from attacking and invading North Korea for the purpose of regime change. With no regime-change attack by the United States, North Korea’s nukes become irrelevant.

But there’s the rub: The Pentagon and the CIA refuse to give up their goal of regime change in North Korea. They don’t want U.S. troops to come home. They want to keep them in South Korea forever (just like they want to keep their wars in the Middle East and Afghanistan, their war on terrorism, and their war on drugs going on forever). In that way, there is always the chance that North Korea can be provoked into committing some provocative act that could serve as an excuse for bombing and destroying North Korea’s communist, anti-U.S. regime and replacing it with a pro-U.S. puppet regime.

Meanwhile, trying their best to ratchet up tensions and forcing North Korea to “denuclearize,” U.S. officials are doing everything they can to fortify their brutal systems of economic sanctions on the North Korea people, even lashing out against everyone they suspect is violating the sanctions, like Russia. They have to keep those North Korea citizens starving to death so that their public officials finally “denuclearize.”

In another perversity, South Koreans are being warned against violating U.S. sanctions by entering into mutually beneficial economic transactions with the North, such as working together to operate a passenger rail line between the two countries.

The best thing South Koreans could ever do for themselves and the American people would be to boot all U.S. troops out of their country, whether South and North arrive at a peace agreement or not. Korea remains no business of the Pentagon and the CIA. But at least the American people are getting to see the real truth about the U.S. national-security state and its perverse and destructive policies.

September 20, 2018 Posted by | Illegal Occupation, Militarism | , , | 1 Comment

Why Is Assad An Insane Suicidal Monster? – #PropagandaWatch

corbettreport | September 17, 2018

As we know from the political puppets and their mouthpieces in the controlled corporate media, Syrian President Basher al-Assad is a bloodthirsty monster responsible for the wanton slaughter of (fill in the number) of his own citizens, and he particularly enjoys dropping chemical weapons on women and children despite knowing that this is the one thing that will bring him universal condemnation and ensure a full-scale assault on his country. . . But why? Why is he such a monster? That is the question, and the New York Times offers its own helpful explainer with predictably comic results. Don’t miss this edition of #PropagandaWatch from The Corbett Report.

SHOW NOTES: https://www.corbettreport.com/?p=28173

September 18, 2018 Posted by | Deception, Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Wars for Israel | , , | 2 Comments

The New York Times Editorial Opposing Military Intervention in Venezuela May Do More Harm Than Good

By Steve Ellner – Venezuelanalysis – September 13, 2018

There is a growing body of pro-establishment statements opposing the possibility of U.S. military intervention in Venezuela. The latest expression of this position is a New York Times editorial titled “Stay Out of Venezuela, Mr. Trump” published on September 11. At first glance the editorial is a welcomed statement that counters the careless war-mongering declarations coming from the ilk of Marco Rubio and a number of high-ranking Trump administration officials as well as Trump himself.

Certainly, one must applaud the NY Times’ decision to come out in opposition to military intervention, and its recognition that similar intervention and support for regime change in Latin America historically (the editorial even makes reference to the Brazilian coup of 1964) as well as elsewhere in the world has had disastrous consequences.

The line of reasoning of the New York Times’s editorial overlaps that of other articles that have come out recently in the establishment media such as one titled “U.S. Military Intervention in Venezuela would be a Major Mistake” by Robert Moore published the following day in The Hill as well as the position of the Washington Office on Latin America (WOLA). The anti-war stand crosses party lines as Moore has served Republican senators including Tea Party Republican Jim DeMint.

One hint regarding the limitations of this new position is the subtitle of the NY Times’ editorial: “President Maduro has to Go, but an American Backed Coup is not the Answer.” The way the article frames the issue is what makes it worrisome. The New York Times does not question the right of the U.S. as a nation (as opposed to the UN) to promote regime change. All it says is that a more intelligent approach to getting rid of Maduro is what is called for. As an alternative to military intervention, Trump’s pro-establishment critics call for increased sanctions.

WOLA, for instance, criticizes the Trump administration for increasing the number of Chavistas who are being sanctioned, rather than concentrating on a smaller number of leading Chavistas and increasing the penalties against them. In fact, the issue of sanctions against individuals serves as a cover for the financial embargo which has inflicted considerable harm on Venezuela, as even Reuters recognizes.

A valid question is why the New York Times has waited until now to adamantly oppose military intervention. After all, the then Secretary of State Rex Tillerson raised the possibility of a military solution as far back as February of this year when he kicked off his six-day Latin American tour in Austin where he stated “In the history of Venezuela and South American countries, it is often times that the military is the agent of change when things are so bad and the leadership can no longer serve the people.” The statement was a trial balloon. Trump pushed the idea in subsequent months but the response from right-wing and conservative governments was negative. Countries which form part of the Lima Group rejected the military option and distanced themselves from Washington by supporting Mexico in its differences with the U.S. on tariffs and NAFTA.

The New York Times saw the handwriting on the wall and realized that military intervention would not count on the support of Latin American governments, in spite of their hostility to the Maduro government. The intervention that Trump proposed would be truly unilateral (unlike current military intervention in the Middle East) as Latin American governments would be unwilling to pay the inevitably high political price for supporting a U.S. invasion in the region.

Given these circumstances, coupled with Trump’s lack of political capital, a military invasion is unlikely. Talk of it may be designed to encourage dissension and unrest within the Venezuelan military. The strategy is that by threatening military action, members of the Venezuelan armed forces may put up resistance to Maduro out of the prospect of having to risk their lives in a confrontation against the world’s greatest military superpower.

In any case, if the central argument of the New York Times and other members of the “liberal” establishment is that Trump should focus on economic sanctions rather than a military solution, then they are undoubtedly doing more harm than good.

September 14, 2018 Posted by | Mainstream Media, Warmongering | , , , | 1 Comment

Bringing Down a President

By Philip M. GIRALDI | Strategic Culture Foundation | 13.09.2018

If anyone doubted that the top level of the intelligence agencies in Washington have dedicated themselves to ousting President Donald Trump, the past two weeks should have demonstrated precisely how such a plan of action is being executed. First came the leaked accounts of chaos in the Trump Administration derived from the Bob Woodward book Fear: Trump in the White House.

Then a New York Times op-ed entitled “I am part of the resistance inside the Trump administration” written by one Anonymous who claimed to be a senior official in the White House, exploded on the scene, describing how top officials were deliberately sabotaging Trump’s policies to protect the country.

Finally, another another op-ed “Why so many former intelligence officers are speaking out” by former CIA Acting Director John McLaughlin appeared, providing a rationale for intelligence officers to speak up against the White House.

There has been considerable chatter in the media regarding the Woodward book and the Anonymous op-ed, but relatively little concerning McLaughlin, who arguably has made the most serious case for pushback against Donald Trump from within the intelligence community. To sum up the op-ed, McLaughlin wrote that many former intelligence officers are beginning to speak out against the foreign policy of the Trump Administration because America’s institutions are being seriously damaged by an “extraordinarily unprecedented context” of threats emerging from both inside and outside the country due to a “president’s dangerous behavior.”

McLaughlin claims that “failure to warn is the ultimate sin in the intelligence world” and that is precisely why he and his colleagues now speak out. In particular, and perhaps inevitably, he cites the “refus[al] to combat a well-documented covert foreign attack on U.S. elections — in the process weakening efforts by others to do so and encouraging Russia to keep it up.”

McLaughlin also addresses the issue of the credibility of the intelligence community after Trump, i.e. will the public and many policymakers henceforth believe that the national security team is in fact politically biased, tainting the judgments that it makes when delivering its intelligence product. He argues somewhat evasively and not altogether clearly that “… we have to hope most people will understand why we reject silence: It’s because this is a threat that we cannot combat silently, as we have been able to do with foreign threats — overseas and out of the public’s eye.”

McLaughlin is praising himself and friends as constituting some kind of loyal opposition consisting of the good guys driven to protect “American values” and “American institutions” from Trump and his “deplorables.” His argument is carefully framed but ultimately self-serving. Witness his own career as Deputy Director of CIA under George Tenet, who famously sat in the United Nations sagaciously nodding to validate the argument that Saddam Hussein threatened the world with weapons of mass destruction and terrorist support. It was all a lie, leading to America’s greatest foreign policy disaster and McLaughlin was complicit. Did he ever apologize for what he did? No. He was also around when the CIA was “renditioning” people by snatching them off the streets and sending them to foreign lands to be tortured. Did he ever consider how that damaged America’s rule of law? And then there were the torture prisons. Again, silence from the suddenly-found-Jesus John McLaughlin.

And since that time, where was McLaughlin’s conscience when Barack Obama was sitting down with his intelligence advisor John Brennan and making up lists of American citizens to be killed by drone? Or planning the destruction of Libya? Apparently, the only threats that matter are those presumably generated by Donald Trump, who is particularly reviled because he has spoken of bettering relations with Russia. And when McLaughlin inevitably cites the threat from Moscow, he ignores the fact that the United States has been arming Ukraine while at the same time conducting military exercises right on Russia’s border. It has also been sanctioning Russians and Persona Non Grata’ing its diplomats regularly to punish it under Trump, making the bilateral relationship the worst it has been since the end of the Cold War. So where is the coddling of Moscow?

And McLaughlin is also wrong about the timing and substance of the intelligence officers’ speaking out. John Brennan, Michael Morell, Michael Hayden, James Woolsey and James Clapper all have been actively trying to discredit Trump since before he was nominated. Several of them have claimed absurdly that the president is a Russian spy, also suggested in some comments made by McLaughlin himself in July, including that Trump is an “intelligence recruiter’s dream.” So, it all would appear to be less a response to policies than it is a personal vendetta by a number of politicized senior officers who were lined up behind Hillary Clinton with hopes of being personally rewarded after her election.

Finally, though McLaughlin is claiming to support former intelligence officers who bravely speak out when the United States is threatened, he completely ignores a whole lot of them who have been doing just that for many years. They are sometimes labeled whistleblowers or dissidents, but McLaughlin probably considers them to be the lowest of the low. The whistleblowers and their allies have been calling for an end to the warfare surveillance state, which McLaughlin helped create and which he is still sustaining through his fearmongering, Russophobia being the wedge issue that drives both him and his “patriotic” friends. Introspection is apparently not McLaughlin’s strong suit, but he perhaps should pause and think for a second whether he and they are doing the American people any favors by their setting the stage for yet another war in their zeal to bring down Donald Trump.

September 13, 2018 Posted by | Deception, Russophobia, Timeless or most popular | , , | 2 Comments

Butina prosecutors wrote their own James Bond novel with sex allegations – and the media loved it

Jailed Russian “spy” Maria Butina / Facebook
RT | September 10, 2018

US prosecutors who wrongly accused Russian ‘foreign agent’ and gun activist Maria Butina of trading sex for influence peddled their own cheap James Bond fan fiction. No matter how incorrect, the media lapped it up.

Butina’s request to be released until the time of her trial was declined by US District Judge Tanya Chutkan on Monday. Chutkan ruled that the Russian activist is to remain in jail until she’s tried on the charges of acting as an unregistered agent for a foreign government. Butina has pleaded not guilty.

The judge has also slapped both the prosecution and the defense with a media gag order, after berating the defense attorney for giving interviews on his client’s innocence and slamming the prosecution for opening the case with a “salacious” and “notorious” claim that proved to be completely false. Days after Butina was arrested in July, Assistant US Attorney Erik M. Kenerson claimed she was offering an individual “sex in exchange for a position within a special interest organization.”

In a filing on Friday, prosecutors in the US attorney’s office in Washington, including Kenerson, backtracked on the July allegation, and stressed that it “was based both on a series of text messages between the defendant and another individual.” They admitted that the “government’s understanding of this particular text conversation was mistaken.”

Accusing Butina of trading sex for work was never about building a solid case against her, however. Instead, it was about portraying her as a Russian femme fatale; a pawn of Putin seducing her way through American political circles to sow division and discord in American politics.

“I think it was done to get headlines,” human rights lawyer Dan Kovalik told RT. “I think it was done to injure her reputation… All along, the US officials and even the press have tried to present her as some kind of spy, when in fact there is not even an allegation in that regard.”

Using the term “spy” to describe Butina, even to the untrained eye, is a bit of a reach. Before falling victim to Washington’s anti-Russian crusade, Butina moved to the US on a student visa in 2016. She graduated from American University in Washington DC with a master’s degree in international relations earlier this year. Butina is also the founder of Right to Bear Arms, a pro-gun organization that lobbies to change Russia’s strict gun laws. Right to Bear Arms has developed ties with the National RIfle Association (NRA) in the US. In her time in America, Butina met and socialized with several conservative political figures.

The sex allegations, Kovalik argues, were tacked on to bolster the US government’s already weak case against Butina. The 28-year-old gun activist was arrested for failing to register as a foreign lobbyist under the Foreign Agents Registration Act (FARA), an offense that doesn’t immediately scream “spy.”

“Clearly, this is a political case,” Kovalik said. “It is unclear to me what this young woman has done wrong, except maybe not registered under the FARA act. I believe no one has been arrested ever for violating that act which is rarely invoked.”

The smear worked, and the salacious headlines did the rounds in US media. “A simple Google search using the phrase ‘Maria Butina and sex’ yields over 300,000 hits,” her defense lawyer Robert Driscoll said in an interview, after the government backtracked on the allegation.

With their imaginations left to run riot, American journalists pumped out cold-war style spy fiction with impunity. “Sex and schmoozing are common Russian spy tactics. Publicity makes Maria Butina different,” read a headline from USA Today on August 29.

The USA Today writer scratches his head as to why Butina operated so publicly; giving interviews and speeches, publishing articles explaining her political views, and even posing for photos in magazines. After speaking to four anonymous ‘intelligence officials,’ he can only conclude that Butina’s transparency is “evidence the Russians have grown bolder in their spy efforts.”

Throughout much of the mainstream media, journalists parroted the prosecutors’ claims. Butina’s activism, the New York Times wrote in July “appears to be another arm of the Russian government’s attempts to influence or gain information about the American political process.” Butina, Time Magazine wrote at the same time, “lived a double life by using sex and a love of guns to infiltrate American political organizations… in order to advance Moscow’s agenda.”

What ‘Moscow’s agenda’ is here is unclear. Butina’s however, is clear as day. “She was meeting with people to talk about gun rights that she wants loosen in her own country back home in Russia,” Kovalik told RT. After all, if you want to talk gun rights in the USA, who better to talk to than the NRA, the world’s best-known gun rights organization, with more than six million members and a yearly revenue of almost $500 million.

Why then did she find herself the unwilling star of a third-rate spy novel, serialized and dramatized in US newspapers?

“I think this was a political gambit to deal with bigger geopolitical issues to try to ruin the outcome of the summit between Trump and Putin,” Kovalik said. “She is being used as a political pawn by the US.”

As long as the case against Butina is ongoing, the US government has human proof that the specter of ‘Russian meddling’ in US politics is alive and well.Unfortunately for Butina, that means she sits in jail until her case is eventually resolved. The Russian Embassy in Washington DC has accused American authorities of subjecting her to ‘borderline torture’ conditions, including unnecessary strip searches after every visit, sleep deprivation, and denying the 28-year-old medical treatment for a swelling on her leg.

“There are attempts to break her will,” the embassy said.

According to Kovalik, Butina’s outlook is grim. “I am going to bet that this case will drag on and this poor woman will rot in jail, apparently subjected to all sorts of indignities, including a body cavity search she is after every meeting,” the veteran human rights lawyer said. “And ultimately the charges will be dropped for the lack of evidence. But in the meantime her reputation and life will be destroyed. That is how I see this case going, to be perfectly frank.”

While the sex allegations against Butina have been dropped, prosecutors have still clung to the claims that she is, in fact, a spy. They say that her having received multiple visits from Russian officials while in jail is somehow proof of her importance to the Russian government, as is the fact that Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov complained about her detention to his US counterpart Mike Pompeo.

However, a visit from a Russian bureaucrat doesn’t sell newspapers like a juicy, sex-filled headline does. Therefore, this information was relegated to the final paragraphs of the retraction articles on Friday – an ignominious end to a damp squib of a modern spy thriller.

See also:

Accused ‘Russian agent’ Butina didn’t offer sex for job, prosecutors admit

September 10, 2018 Posted by | Fake News, Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Russophobia | , , , | Leave a comment

The New York Times Anonymous Op-Ed – A Neocon Generated Document?

By Philip Giraldi | American Herald Tribune | September 8, 2018

It seems that the entire world now knows that an Anonymous senior official on the White House staff has described an administration in chaos, headed by an “amoral” ignoramus, which only avoids disaster because a patriotic cabal within the West Wing that “puts country first” and constitutes a “resistance” has blocked or circumvented the president when he tries to do something unwise or dangerous. Or so the story goes.

My first admittedly quick reading of the op-edI am Part of the Resistance Inside the Trump Administration” that appeared in The New York Times a week  ago left me with the impression that it was a hoax, possibly concocted via the connivance of a lower level official in the national security apparatus who sold a dodgy package to the Times. The newspaper then cast aside all journalistic ethics to run with it in light of the near-simultaneous timing of the forthcoming Bob Woodward book Fear: Trump In the White House, which has a narrative that meshes nicely with the op-ed. The fact that the Times admits that it only had contact with the source, which may have been by phone, after dealing through intermediaries, suggests that they were hungry for the story and might not have carefully established the bona fides of the person claiming to be the author. And one has to wonder if the Times might have actively enabled a possible imposture to succeed or even engaged in some fabrication to delegitimize Donald Trump.

So it might just have been the latest symptom of Trump Derangement Syndrome, but then I read the piece through again and observed that the argument being made was logically consistent, i.e. that Donald Trump’s instincts and morals are so bad that he would end up destroying the American Republic but for the brave White House staffers who are taking steps to “box-in” the president on policies that those same staffers view as undesirable. Also, stylistically and syntactically, I noted how the writing and some on the contents reflect the worldview and linear thinking of someone who has been working in some aspect of national security. Indeed, it read like the sort of document that might have been produced by an intelligence agency.

Assuming that it actually was written by an individual in the Administration, one might profitably consider that many mid-level and even higher White House staffers are increasingly being drawn from the neocon ranks that infested the George W. Bush Administration. They hate their boss Trump and they also hate Russia, which features prominently (and somewhat oddly) in the op-ed.

In short, I now believe that the op-ed is serious, with intent to undermine the Trump Administration, written by someone or several someones in or close to the White House. The argument that the author should have gone public and resigned can be countered by two observations: first, the staffer might actually believe that he and his brethren staying in place and blocking Trump is for the good of the country. And second, if an increasingly paranoid Trump becomes consumed by searching through his staff for Anonymous “traitors,” he will become even more error and gaffe-prone, strengthening the case, if it should come to it, for impeachment.

The author’s possible neocon credentials surface in several places, starting with the reference to the “more robust military” before proceeding on to Russia. The op-ed describes how the good work of the dissidents in the White House, which he or she describes as “the Resistance,” have succeeded in “[calling out] countries like Russia… for meddling and [have them] punished accordingly” in spite of the president’s desire for détente. It then goes on to elaborate on Russia and Trump, describing how “… the president was reluctant to expel so many of Mr. Putin’s spies as punishment for the poisoning of a former Russian spy in Britain. He complained for weeks about senior staff members letting him get boxed into further confrontation with Russia, and he expressed frustration that the United States continued to impose sanctions on the country for its malign behavior. But the national security team knew better – such actions had to be taken to hold Moscow accountable.”

The op-ed is also notable for its praise of recently deceased neocon icon Senator John McCain, urging all Americans to “follow his example.” It notes “Mr. Trump may fear such honorable men, but we should revere them.” One might point out that the combination of citation of McCain with expressions like “robust” military, “punishing Russia,” “malign behavior” and holding Moscow “accountable” are straight out of the neoconservative playbook. They are also assertions that can be challenged. McCain was a flat-out warmonger. The “meddling” in any serious fashion in America’s 2016 election has yet to be demonstrated and the Skripal spy case in Britain is also based on questionable evidence, while “malign behavior” depends on which side of the fence one is standing on. To heighten tension with nuclear-armed and capable Russia is not necessarily in America’s interest. And Anonymous also forgets that Trump’s margin of victory in 2016 came from voters who found his calls for mending relations with Moscow appealing.

In passing, one other bizarre feature of the op-ed is the description of Trump as “amoral.” Compared to Bill and Hillary Clinton, George W. Bush and Barack Obama that is quite an astonishing observation unless one considers rape, starting wars as a foreign policy option and assassinating American citizens to be just part of the job. And also the author might wonder about his or her own morality as he or she is betraying both his or her boss and plausibly the oath taken to uphold the Constitution.

But who wrote the op-ed and with what intention pales besides what the Times document appears to reveal. A cabal of senior officials who were not elected by the American people might be acting together and have possibly seen fit to circumvent the elected president by refusing to carry out his instructions as well as by actively and deliberately narrowing his options over policy issues to reflect what they think is best.

One might reasonably have problems with much of what Donald Trump does and how he does it, but our Constitution derives from the belief that the president and congressmen ought to be elected by popular vote and subject to the will of the people. Like it or not, the people spoke in November 2016. Nameless and faceless officials, many of whom are appointed purely on the basis of political connections, do not represent voters any more than they necessarily have any correct understanding about what is going on in the world. Their track record would suggest that they are wrong far more than they are right.

The Washington consensus has proven to be disastrous both for the American people and for many others worldwide. Anonymous represents the Establishment or Deep State or neoconservatism, call it what you will, striking back to bring down Trump. He or she is party to boxing in a president who, in his best moments, appears to be eager to bring change. Make no mistake, it all amounts to subversion of the intent of the Constitution of the United States and no one should regard “the Resistance,” if it truly exists, as patriotic or heroic.

September 8, 2018 Posted by | Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Russophobia | , | 2 Comments

Deep State Refines Hit Job on Trump

By Finian CUNNINGHAM | Strategic Culture Foundation | 07.09.2018

If this week’s media broadside on Trump were a Deep State hit job, then this is how it would proceed. First, an award-winning journalist of Bob Woodward’s august reputation publishes a searing book seemingly substantiating long-held accusations of “dysfunction” in the White House.

Then the next day to consolidate the book’s lurid claims, the New York Times, America’s so-called “paper of record” publishes an oped allegedly by an administration insider essentially “confirming” Woodward’s tell-all account.

What’s more, the sense of paranoia within the Trump administration will now be ratcheted up to levels which make normal staff working and communications almost paralyzed. It’s a perfect psy-ops to explode chaos and mistrust among Trump’s inner circle.

But who really is Bob Woodward? He is famed as one of the Washington Post reporters who exposed the Watergate affair in 1974 which forced then President Richard Nixon to quit office in ignominy. The exposé of Nixon’s wiretapping on Democrat rivals is commonly seen as the high-point of American journalism, and thus Woodward as a paragon of journalistic integrity.

But as Russ Baker contends in his groundbreaking book, Family of Secrets: The Bush Dynasty, the Watergate and Nixon affair is not all that it seems. And neither is Woodward. There is credible evidence that the American Deep State of the military-intelligence apparatus used the Watergate scandal as a way to get rid of Nixon whose febrile mental state was becoming a concern to them. Woodward, who had a background in Navy intelligence was suspiciously a prodigy journalist who rapidly rose to cover what became the scandal that ended Nixon’s presidency.

Woodward’s newly published book on the Trump White House makes a damning case of a president who is allegedly despised and feared by his inner circle. It claims that staff have engineered an “administrative coup” against Trump, preventing him from taking key decisions, and generally portraying him as a farcical figure. The book seeds the concept among the public of a necessary coup against Trump.

This is where Woodward’s prestigious Watergate reputation comes into play. His role in that affair as a supposed champion of truth and of holding power to account is then invoked to give the seal of accuracy to his book on Trump. If Woodward says the president is a basket case, then it must be so, so goes the anticipated general public reaction.

In order to drive the message home, the New York Times follows up with an oped claiming to be written by an anonymous official within the Trump administration who “confirms” what Woodward’s book is claiming.

When the Woodward book came out, there were staunch rebuttals of its claims from senior White House officials. In particular the Defense Secretary James Mattis, who was supposedly one of Woodward’s main sources, saying that Trump was an idiot who wanted to assassinate Syrian President Bashar al Assad. Mattis dismissed the book and its author as having a “rich imagination”. There were also similar putdowns from Trump’s Chief of Staff John Kelly and his ambassador the United Nations Nikki Haley.

Trump himself scorned Woodward’s book, ‘Fear’, as a shoddy “work of fiction”. Thanks to the publicity, the title has become a “best-seller” within days of being published.

The pushback from the Trump White House was of course to be expected, given the claims from such an imminent journalist. That’s why the New York Times oped is a crucial capping on the claims, especially since the oped is supposedly written by a senior administration official.

The New York Times says it knows the name of the official who wrote the piece. But it is not disclosing his or her identity, as the supposed author requests.

The public therefore can’t know the authenticity of the oped. Was it really written by a Trump administration senior official? Or some low-level staff? Or maybe not even an actual member of staff? The author of the oped claims: “I work for the president but like-minded colleagues and I have vowed to thwart parts of his agenda and his worst inclinations.”

But the main purpose is the sowing of grave doubt in the public mind and among Trump’s senior staff at the White House. The oped appears to confirm the claims made by Woodward about a dysfunctional president who is being handled by staff working in “resistance” to his “impetuousness” for the “safety of America”. It also goes further by saying that the dysfunction ultimately stems from Trump’s “immorality”.

Ultimately, it is virtually impossible to prove the veracity of Woodward’s book and the subsequent “confirmatory” article in the New York Times. Woodward’s book has been denied by supposedly “key sources”. The authenticity of the author of the New York Times oped is a matter of trust in that newspaper’s editors. The so-called paper of record has lately been a massive purveyor of baseless scare stories slandering Russia. For many critics it is not a reliable nor ethical source, as is claimed.

But the point is that a gravely damaging impact has been inflicted on the Trump presidency. His ability to rebuff critics with his customary braggadocio of slamming “fake news” appears this time to be mortally wounded.

This is not meant to be a defense of the Trump administration nor of this president. Trump’s White House certainly appears to be an unorthodox place, as indicated by the high turnover of senior staff over the past two years since his election.

Trump’s personality certainly comes across as impetuous and petty. His personal also life seems tainted with deceit and lewd scandals.

Nevertheless he is the president that Americans voted for. And so far, he has not done anything out of the ordinary for American presidents. He is the usual run-of-the-mill guardian of big business and the oligarch system of enriching the super wealthy. Trump, like most [?] of his predecessors, should also be prosecuted for war crimes over his bombing of Syria and Yemen. But all those misdemeanors and crimes are par for the course for US presidents.

The one thing that Trump has done out of the ordinary, as far as the Deep State opponents are concerned, is his refusal so far to ramp up aggression with Russia. That has always been the unacceptable problem with Trump as president for the unelected imperial planners of the Deep State.

The so-called “Russiagate” charade has failed to oust Trump due to its embarrassing dearth of evidence on alleged collusion with Russian leader Vladimir Putin. The wider American public have simply not bought into that drama which has been concocted by political and media elites to nix Trump.

Given the futility of those efforts, the Deep State may have now found at last the effective instrument with which to eliminate Trump from the White House. You enlist a “star journalist” with yesteryear’s Deep State operative experience, get the supposed paper of record to quickly “confirm” the salacious details, and then wait for the desired “administrative coup” to become a popularly demanded reality.

September 7, 2018 Posted by | Book Review, Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Timeless or most popular | , , | 2 Comments