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Obama’s NSC Holdovers Finally Booted After Three Years Of Non-Stop Leaks

By Tyler Durden – Zero Hedge – 01/02/2020

The White House National Security Council is sharply downsizing ‘in a bid to improve efficiency’ by consolidating positions and cutting staff, according to the Washington Times  – which adds that a secondary, unspoken objective (i.e. the entire reason) for the cuts is to address nonstop leaks that have plagued the Trump administration for nearly three years.

Leaks of President Trump’s conversations with foreign leaders and other damaging disclosures likely originated with anti-Trump officials in the White House who stayed over from the Obama administration, according to several current and former White House officials. – Washington Times

The reform is being led by National Security Adviser Robert C. O’Brien, who told the Times that 40-45 NSC staff officials had been sent back to their home-agencies, and more are likely to be moved out.

“We remain on track to meeting the right-sizing goal Ambassador O’Brien outlined in October, and in fact may exceed that target by drawing down even more positions,” said NSC spokesman John Ullyot.

Under Obama, the NSC ballooned to as many as 450 people – and officials wielded ‘enormous power’ according to the report, directly telephoning commanders in Afghanistan and other locations in the Middle East to give them direct orders in violation of the military’s strict chain of command.

Meanwhile, the so-called second-hand ‘whistleblower’ at the heart of President Trump’s impeachment was widely reported to be a NSC staffer on detail from the CIA, Eric Ciaramella, who took umbrage with Trump asking Ukrainian President Volodomyr Zelensky to investigate former VP Joe Biden – who Ciaramella worked with.

After O’Brien is done, less than 120 policy officials will remain after the next several months.

The downsizing will be carried out by consolidating positions and returning officials to agencies and departments such as the CIA, the State and Defense departments and the military.

Mr. O’Brien noted that the NSC had a policymaking staff of 12 in 1962 when President Kennedy faced down the Soviet Union during the Cuban missile crisis. During the 2000s and the George W. Bush administration, the number of NSC staff members increased sharply to support the three-front conflict in Iraq, Afghanistan and the war on terrorism.

However, it was during the Obama administration that the NSC was transformed into a major policymaking agency seeking to duplicate the functions of the State and Defense departments within the White House. – Washington Times

“The NSC staff became bloated during the prior administration,” said O’Brien. “The NSC is a coordinating body. I am trying to get us back to a lean and efficient staff that can get the job done, can coordinate with our interagency partners, and make sure the president receives the best advice he needs to make the decisions necessary to keep the American people safe.”

“I just don’t think that we need the numbers of people that it expanded to under the last administration to do this job right,” he added.

Obama-era NSC officials are suspected of leaking classified details of President Trump’s phone conversations with foreign counterparts.

After Mr. Trump’s election in November 2016 and continuing through the spring of 2017, a series of unauthorized disclosures to news outlets appeared to come from within the White House. Several of the leaks involved publication of sensitive transcripts of the president’s conversations with foreign leaders.

Rep. Devin Nunes, California Republican and former chairman of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, said this year that he sent the Justice Department eight criminal referrals related to the leaks, including those related to Mr. Trump’s conversations with the leaders of Mexico and Australia.

Former White House strategist Steve Bannon said efforts to weed out the Obama holdovers was a priority early in the administration.

The NSC had gotten so big there were over 450 billets,” said Mr. Bannon, adding that he and others tried to remove the Obama detailees from the White House.

“We wanted them out,” he said. “And I think we would have avoided a lot of the problems we got today if they had been sent back to their agencies.”- Washington Times

In addition to Ciaramella, Lt. Col. Alexander Vimdman (likely Ciaramella’s source) testified against President Trump during the House Impeachment investigations – telling the Democratic-led House Intelligence Committee that he was “concerned” by what he heard on Trump’s call with Zelensky.

NSC official Tim Morrison, meanwhile, testified that Vindman was suspected of leaking sensitive information to the press, a claim Vindman denied.

Read the rest of the report here.

January 2, 2020 Posted by | Corruption, Militarism | , | 1 Comment

The IG Report: Malfeasance, Lies, Threats and Denials

By Renée Parsons | OffGuardian | December 28, 2019

It is no surprise that when the Inspector General’s Report was released in early December, the corporate media, which itself has been knee-deep and complicit in spreading the false Russiagate narrative, chose to focus on one narrow conclusion: that, given DOJ’s ‘lax guidelines,’ the IG found no bias related to opening the Crossfire Hurricane investigation.

Ergo, once the Media labels the IG Report, all dutiful subscribers and readers fall in line with its dictates, nodding in concurrence, as those who refuse to do their own homework get on board and accept the hogwash they are being fed. Once the Media hypes the repetitive drone that there was ‘no bias,’ the phrase becomes embedded into the collective unconscious and the disinformation becomes gospel.

The question has yet to be asked what role the FISA Court played in its own debasement by blindly accepting the majority of surveillance requests and by lax procedures that allow its own credibility to be violated.

What remains uncertain is exactly how Crossfire Hurricane was born.  While it is known that the Clinton campaign (via the DNC) hired GP Fusion (which hired DOJ deputy AG Bruce Ohr’s wife) to dig dirt on a Republican candidate for President and we know that former MI6 asset Christopher Steele became involved with creating a salacious Dossier – but the specific links tying those diverse parts to the FBI remains enigmatic.

An almost immediate response to the ‘no bias’ allegation came from AG William Barr stating that…

The Inspector General’s report now makes clear that the FBI launched an intrusive investigation of a U.S. presidential campaign on the thinnest of suspicions that, in my view, were insufficient to justify the steps taken.”

… with Special Investigator US Attorney John Durham adding that he:

advised the IG that he did not agree with some of the report’s conclusions as to predication and how the FBI case was opened.”

Both responses were highly unusual and may be interpreted as affirmation of a deeper level of complicity than the IG discovered although his investigation was limited to DOJ employees and to the FISA Court process.

It was not until IG Horowitz’s testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee that the true scathing impact of the full Report was understood; thus revealing the true depth of the FBI’s embedded systemic problems.

Horowitz told the Senate panel:

We found and are deeply concerned that so many basic and fundamental errors were made by three separate handpicked investigative teams on one of the most sensitive FBI investigations after the matter had been briefed to the highest levels within the FBI even though the information sought through the use of FISA authority related so closely to an on-going Presidential campaign and even though those involved with the investigations knew that their actions would likely be subjected to close scrutiny. The circumstances reflect the failure not just by those who prepared the applications but also by the managers and supervisors in the Crossfire Hurricane chain of command including FBI senior officials who were briefed as the investigation progressed”

In dialogue with Sen. Crapo about FBI misconduct as ‘mind-numbing’, Horowitz responded “there is such a range of conduct here that is inexplicable and the answers we got were not satisfactory that we’re left trying to understand how could all these errors occur over a nine month period or so…”

In other words, the FBI, with a tainted history of deeply embedded corruption, has been out of control for decades with an aggressive pursuit of political opponents, corruption of its Forensic Lab and a COINTEL program against American citizens.

It is ironic that some of the FBI’s Congressional supporters are now recipients of that corruption.

In response to Barr’s statement regarding the IG Report, former Attorney General Erik Holder who once referred to himself as “still Obama’s wing man so i’m there with my boy,” wrote a divisive op ed for the Washington Post provocatively entitled “Eric Holder: William Barr is Unfit to be Attorney General.

In a classic example of covering one’s butt, it can be assumed that Holder is still protecting Obama’s wing as he took cheap shots at Barr for a “series of public statements and taken actions that are so plainly ideological, so nakedly partisan and so deeply inappropriate” making him ‘unfit to lead the Justice Department.

Suffering a partisan anxiety attack, Holder has clearly been directed to slander a successor who exhibits more candor and principle than he himself demonstrated as AG.

Given the IG report’s otherwise thorough analysis, the Hope and Change crowd may be feeling the heat that those morning tete a tete intel briefings in the Oval Office may have included updates on Crossfire Hurricane.

Holder’s condescension, as if he had special privilege to pontificate on “career public servants,” falls flat with his thinly veiled threat to Durham:

I was troubled by his unusual statement disputing the inspector general’s findings. Good reputations are hard-won in the legal profession, but they are fragile; anyone in Durham’s shoes would do well to remember that, in dealing with this administration, many reputations have been irrevocably lost.”

With focus now on whether Durham will succumb to Holder’s warning may instead boomerang, inspiring Durham to dig deeper than he had previously planned.

The IG Report cited former FBI Director Jim Comey for “clearly and dramatically” departing from department norms in the investigation of HRC’s email server and that he made a “serious error of judgment” in sending a letter to Congress announcing the re-opening of the Clinton probe. Comey was fired from the FBI for ‘insubordinate’ acts and ‘dangerous’ behavior in deceiving the FISA Court.

When asked by CNN’s Anderson Cooper,

“When you read what the report said, do you think this is a vindication

Comey responded:

It is. The FBI has had to wait two years while the President and his supporters lied about the institution, finally the truth gets told.”

Apparently Comey had not read the Report in its entirety, not listened to Horowitz’s testimony to the Senate or he continues to live under a rock.

In a recent interview with NBC News Pete Williams, Barr explained that

“One of the problems in the IG investigation is that Comey refused to sign back up for his security clearance and therefore could not be questioned (by the IG) on classified matters.…so someone like Durham can compel testimony.”

In other words, Comey is shrewd enough to know how to deliberately avoid pertinent questions from Horowitz without implicating himself but the day will come when Durham has the legal authority to demand Comey’s full participation.

In a Fox News Sunday interview with Chris Wallace, Comey refused to accept and was significantly at odds with many of the IG most significant findings including denial of any personal role in Crossfire. “I didn’t know, As Director I am not kept informed on the details of an investigation. 

I didn’t know the particulars with an agency of 38,000 people ‘seven layers below.” Wallace repeatedly pushed back with Comey remaining smooth as silk, carefully coached, as he slipped around every iota that he had any responsibility for the investigation of a President and its constitutional screw ups.

When asked if he would resign if all these misdeeds were revealed under his watch, Comey replied “No, I don’t think so. There are other mistakes I consider more consequential than this during my tenure.”

Pray, we await those revelations.

Renee Parsons has been a member of the ACLU’s Florida State Board of Directors and President of the ACLU Treasure Coast Chapter. She has been an elected public official in Colorado, an environmental lobbyist with Friends of the Earth and staff member in the US House of Representatives in Washington, DC. She can be found on Twitter @reneedove31.

 

December 28, 2019 Posted by | Deception | , , , | 1 Comment

Trump Impeachment… Slapstick Diversion From Reality

By Finian Cunningham | Strategic Culture Foundation | December 20, 2019

Fittingly for the jolly season, the House of Representatives’ vote to impeach Trump was more pantomime than serious politics.

“Oh yes, he is!.. Oh no, he isn’t!..” and so it went on for nearly 10 hours of to-and-fro between Democrats and Republicans. Eventually, the finale came when black-clad Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi hammered the gavel, announcing President had been impeached – only the third-ever in two-and-half centuries of 45 presidents.

It was a foregone conclusion given the Democrat majority in the House. The next step in the impeachment process goes to the Republican controlled Senate next month where Trump will almost certainly be acquitted.

For all the grandstanding drama and feverish media coverage, the storyline – like all pantos – is scant in credibility. The accusations against Trump of abusing his office in a phone call with the Ukrainian president and of obstructing subsequent Congressional inquiry are light on evidence while heavy on innuendo. For all his flaws, Trump and the Republicans are right in their call that the Democrats and anti-Trump media are hamming it up in a desperate bid to overturn the 2016 election. For the past three years, Washington has been fixated with Trump Derangement Syndrome.

With faux solemnity, Democrat leader Nancy Pelosi said the impeachment vote was a “sad and tragic day” for US democracy. Then she had to quickly check Democrats from bursting into cheers and applause when the impeachment vote was announced. So much for a “sad day”! The Democrats were elated that their three-year plan to oust Trump was at last happening – albeit for a short-lived period until the Senate takes up the matter.

What was truly sad, however, is how the impeachment fiasco dominated other news, thereby drawing the curtain on several far more significant events.

On the same day as the House brouhaha, over in the Senate Inspector General Michael Horowitz was continuing to give withering testimony from his report into FBI wiretapping of the Trump election campaign back in 2016. The misconduct by the FBI in carrying out surveillance on private American citizens is a shocking abuse of power by the intelligence agency. All the implications suggest that the Obama administration engaged with secret services to sabotage the election campaign of Donald Trump in 2016 with phony allegations about Russia collusion. The constitutional violations by the FBI are colossal.

Knowing the murky past of the FBI and its dirty tricks, we shouldn’t be surprised by Horowitz’s findings. A follow-up report by attorney John Durham promises to be even more damning. But what is so astounding is how the US media, by and large, had their focus on the impeachment debacle instead of this far bigger show of grave importance. Perhaps not really astounding given that major media outlets like CNN, New York Times, MSNBC and Washington Post have invested so much capital in whipping up the Russia claims. Their ignoring the FBI misconduct is vital for self-preservation by avoiding accountability for their “Russia collusion” fantasies.

Another blockbuster story roundly ignored was the unfolding scandal at the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW). The number of whistleblowers from the UN body has grown to 20, according to Wikileaks. They allege that an OPCW report published in 2018 into a purported chemical weapon incident in Syria was “doctored” to wrongly incriminate the Assad government for carrying out an attack on civilians. As a result of the incident on April 7, 2018, the United States, Britain and France days later launched over 100 air strikes against Syria in apparent revenge. President Trump labeled Assad “an animal”. According to the whistleblowers, the OPCW report later in 2018 was deliberately suppressed by senior officials in the organization’s headquarters in The Hague under pressure from the American government. The implication is that the US, British and French air strikes against Syria were naked aggression based on false information. Indeed, the incident on April 7 has the hallmarks of a false-flag operation carried out by Western-backed anti-government militants.

Despite the urgent public interest of this scandal, the Western corporate media have largely ignored the matter, apart from notable exceptions, such as Tucker Carlson at Fox and Peter Hitchens in Britain’s Mail newspaper.

Surely on any objective scale, the OPCW scandal is worth far more media attention than the turgid proceedings in the House. But then again invoking objectivity is a naive request when the polarized politics in the US have become so hyper-subjective.

Other important stories that got sidelined this week include the appeal by 100 Australian doctors demanding the release of Julian Assange from prison in Britain. They reiterated similar concerns expressed by Nils Melzer, the UN special rapporteur, warning that Assange could die in prison if he is not given immediate medical care. The Wikileaks founder is awaiting extradition to the US where he faces 175 years in jail for “espionage”. As the leaks this week from Wikileaks regarding corruption at the OPCW demonstrate the real “offense” committed by Assange is his exposure of war crimes by the US and its Western allies. He is being tortured for telling the truth by Western governments that claim to be bastions of democracy and law. Why aren’t Western media covering this bombshell?

Still another huge story to be buried this week under the avalanche of impeachment popcorn was the report that over 90 US companies on the Fortune 500 list paid zero tax in the year 2018, despite having made combined profits of $100 billion. The companies include Amazon, Bank of American, Chevron, General Motors, Goodyear, Honeywell, JP Morgan Chase, Starbucks, and Verizon, to mention only a few. These companies were able to reduce their federal tax bill to zero because of corporate tax breaks and accounting loopholes introduced by President Trump in 2017.

If the Democrat party was a genuine political opposition to Trump then it should be taking up issues that really matter to ordinary citizens. Issues like abuse of power by unelected state agencies that spy illegally on civilians. But the Democrats this month voted for the latest edition of the Patriot Act extending such powers. They also voted for a record $738 billion spend on the US military, instead of deploying some of that for public good in healthcare and education.

If the Democrat party was a genuine political opposition, then it would be highlighting the crimes of illegal wars the US carries out on foreign countries with impunity. It would be defending the rights of whistleblowers like Julian Assange, Chelsea Manning and Edward Snowden who have exposed systematic state crimes.

If the Democrat party was a genuine political opposition, it would be campaigning for US corporations to pay their fair share of taxes so that working families can benefit from a decent society. They would be going after Trump for aiding and abetting the corporate kleptocracy that America has become.

But they don’t. Because the Democrats – most of them anyway – are part of the same bipartisan corporate feeding trough and war machine that is Washington.

The obscenity is so disgraceful that’s why the need for an impeachment pantomime. And the corporate media dutifully obliges.

December 20, 2019 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Deception, Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Russophobia, War Crimes | , , | Leave a comment

Europe was the main player in destroying Syria and creating the refugee crisis

By Steven Sahiounie | Mideast Discourse | December 14, 2019

Monica Maggioni is an Italian journalist and is CEO of Rai.com, which broadcasts ‘Rai News 24 TV’, among others. She interviewed Syrian President, Bashar al Assad, on November 26, and the interview was to be broadcast on December 2; however, it was mysteriously postponed.

Behind the scenes, at Rai.com there was conflict over the interview, with Fabrizio Salini declaring the interview was not commissioned, therefore it would not be broadcast, while Antonio Di Bella, director of news, declared it was not suitable to be broadcast, and Italian Senator Alberto Airola requested Maggioni to explain her role in the interview and answer charges of creating a diplomatic incident.

What was so explosive in the interview that the Italian news media wanted to hide from the Italian viewers? Many believe it has to do with questions 8 and 9 and President Assad’s response.

Question 8: At this moment, when Europe looks at Syria, apart from the considerations about the country, there are two major issues: one is refugees, and the other one is the Jihadists or foreign fighters coming back to Europe. How do you see these European worries?

President Assad: We have to start with a simple question: who created this problem? Why do you have refugees in Europe? It’s a simple question: because of terrorism that’s being supported by Europe – and of course the United States and Turkey and others – but Europe was the main player in creating chaos in Syria. So, what goes around comes around.

Question 9: Why do you say it was the main player?

President Assad: Because they publicly supported, the EU supported the terrorists in Syria from day one, week one or from the very beginning. They blamed the Syrian government, and some regimes like the French regime sent armaments, they said – one of their officials – I think their Minister of Foreign Affairs, maybe Fabius said: “we send.” They sent armaments; they created this chaos. That’s why a lot of people find it difficult to stay in Syria; millions of people couldn’t live here so they had to get out of Syria.

The US-NATO-EU attack on Syria is unprecedented in history. General Wesley Clark was told there was a plan to ‘take out Syria’ well before the first protests took place in Deraa. This was an internationally coordinated attack on Syria by the US and Europe. This was a classic ‘regime-change’ project, which was instigated between the US and Israel, but agreed to by the EU and NATO members. From the early stages of the conflict in Syria, the US and Europe provided political, military and logistic support to the ‘rebels’ in Syria and refused to call them terrorists. On 18 August 2011, President Barack Obama stated, “The future of Syria must be determined by its people, but President Bashar al-Assad is standing in their way. For the sake of the Syrian people, the time has come for President Assad to step aside.” This US statement was fully supported by Europe.

In 2013 President Assad stated he was ready for dialogue with the armed terrorists, but only if they surrender their weapons. However, the US-NATO-EU plan to support the terrorists never included a peaceful surrender of weapons, followed by a national dialog, which would end in a peaceful solution to the conflict. The plan only called for weapons, training, and European officers to be continuously available to the terrorists, for ‘regime-change’. Europe only wanted to fuel the fires in Syria, and never planned to be the voice of peace and international law.

What was at first billed as ‘rebels’ and ‘freedom fighters’ soon morphed into sectarian extremists and Radical Islamic terrorists who filled the battlefields under many names and uniforms, but who were all essentially the same terrorists. Their names ranged from the ‘Free Syrian Army to ISIS. Radical Islam is a political ideology and is not a religion or a sect. Many experts have called Radical Islam a ‘Death-Cult’, which glorifies the killing of unarmed civilians, as well as armed adversaries, even to the point of eating human flesh while recording it on video.

Presidents Obama and Sarkozy convinced the EU to follow their lead. However, the Syrian people and armed forces fought back.

Some of the refugees left Syria for ideological reasons, they sided with the terrorists and followed the Muslim Brotherhood. Others left for Europe because their homes and livelihoods were destroyed by the terrorists, but many were just economic migrants, and had not lost a home, were from safe areas, and perhaps had never seen any fighting, and they left to seek an income from the charity offered to them in the EU.

EU-NATO support of terrorism in Syria

Bulgaria: Boïko Borissov, Prime Minister from 2014, supplied the drug ‘Captagon’ to the terrorists in Syria on orders of the CIA. The drug causes the terrorists to lose inhibitions and while under the influence they are capable of horrific atrocities.

Germany: A ship with intelligence and satellite capabilities was off the coast of Syria providing the terrorists the locations and movements of the Syrian military, as well as intercepted telephone communications. Wolfgang Ischinger, chairman of the Munich Security Conference, said: “If the West supplies arms itself, it has more chance of influencing how they are used.”

Great Britain: British intelligence provided terrorists with information on Syrian military movements. In 2012, SAS Commandos were conducting covert operations within Syrian territory, and provided terrorists with military aid, including communications equipment and medical supplies, and provided intelligence support from its Cyprus bases, revealing Syrian military movements which were passed on to the terrorists. In 2013, Prime Minister David Cameron said that Britain would send weapons to the terrorists. In August 2016, the BBC published photographs that showed British Special Forces soldiers guarding the perimeter of the terrorist’s base at al-Tanf, on the Syria-Iraq border, and the terrorists were shown to be equipped with four-wheel drive Al-Thalab vehicles and weapons such as sniper rifles, anti-tank weapons, and heavy machine guns.

France: The ‘Friends of Syria’ group was initiated by then-French President Nicolas Sarkozy in 2012. They declared their intent to support the terrorists in Syria, “If the regime fails to accept the terms of the political initiative outlined by the Arab League and end violence against citizens, the Friends of Syria should not constrain individual countries from aiding the Syrian opposition by means of military advisers, training, and provision of arms to defend themselves.” In 2013, French President François Hollande said, that France was ready to begin supplying lethal aid to the terrorists, and by 2014 Hollande confirmed that France had delivered arms to the terrorists, and by 2015 had begun airstrikes in Syria.

Italy: On 28 February 2013, the ‘Friends of Syria’ held their meeting in Rome, and among the 11 members were France, Germany, Italy, UK, and the EU.  In a study published in 2019, the number of terrorists from Italy who were in Syria numbered 135 as of July 2018.

The EU: in 2013 Brussels decided assistance to the terrorists would include weapons training. Jane’s Defense Weekly reported a US shipment of 994 tons of weapons and ammunition in December 2015 from Eastern Europe to Syrian rebel groups, including 9M17 Fleyta anti-tank missiles, RPG-7s, AK-47S, DShKs, and PKMs. In early March 2013, a Jordanian security source revealed that the U.S., Britain, and France were training terrorists in Jordan to begin building a militia that would take over after Assad’s fall. By 2019, the EU issued a statement about Syria in which they now claim to call for peace and political negotiations to settle the conflict of almost 9 years duration and to have supported humanitarian and economic assistance there. However, when faced with documented history, this statement is a bald-faced lie. The EU position from the outset of the conflict was to support the armed terrorists and to prevent even chemotherapy drugs to be imported to Syria, because of the EU sanctions, which today prevents any possible rebuilding effort.

December 15, 2019 Posted by | Illegal Occupation, Militarism, War Crimes | , , , , | Leave a comment

‘Obama policies continue’: US Congress doing everything to destroy relations with Russia, says Lavrov

RT | December 11, 2019

Some US lawmakers are doing everything they can to prevent normalization of US-Russia relations, which would benefit both countries, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said while visiting Washington.

Lavrov spent Tuesday in meetings with Secretary of State Mike Pompeo at the State Department and Trump at the Oval Office. At a press conference later in the day, he was asked if Russia saw Trump as a reliable partner.

While Trump sincerely understands the benefits of good relations with Russia for both countries, Lavrov said, “Congress, in my opinion, is doing everything to destroy our relations,” continuing the policies of the Obama administration.

He was referring specifically to the proposed new sanctions in the Senate, and the attempt to amend the must-pass NDAA military funding bill with measures against two Russian-built natural gas pipelines in Europe.

“I can assure you that neither Nord Stream 2 nor Turk Stream will be halted,” Lavrov told reporters.

Both pipelines are in final stages of construction and will enable Russia to export billions of cubic meters of natural gas into Europe via Germany and Turkey, without having to worry about potential obstruction from Ukraine or Poland.

December 10, 2019 Posted by | Russophobia | , , | 6 Comments

Obama on Mount Rushmore: Move Over Guys, Room for One More Con Artist

By Philip Giraldi | Strategic Culture Foundation | December 5, 2019

I am on the emailing lists of both the Republican and Democratic Parties because I like to know what the enemies of the American people are up to. Recently there has been a lot of squeaking from the GOP in an attempt to put lipstick on the Trump pig, but the truly remarkable emailing has been coming out of the Democratic Party, which is desperately seeking to convince the public that it actually represents something.

Hillary Clinton and daughter Chelsea have been particularly active promoting their allegedly co-authored The Book of Gutsy Women: Favorite Stories of Courage and Resilience. They apparently see themselves as “gutsy” as opposed to parasitical, entitled and corrupt while also leaving out the book’s chapter telling one what to do when a husband is receiving oral sex from an intern in the Oval Office or raping a campaign worker in Arkansas.

But Hillary is ancient history even though there is talk of her making another “run.” And she certainly has done her best to repay the donors of the hundreds of millions of dollars given to the Clinton Family Foundation by attempting to destroy the candidacy of Tulsi Gabbard, the only Democrat who appears to be genuinely opposed to perpetual war and globalism.

Of more recent vintage among “traditional” Democrats is ex-president Barack Obama, who has been beatified by the media, and who has now dedicated himself to the task of removing Trump. It is an admirable goal surely, but for the fact that the Democrats have difficulty in finding a candidate and stitching together a platform that actually resonates with American voters.

Obama has always had a lot going for him. Being half-black meant that he got top marks from the Democratic Party Social Justice Warrior wing just because of what he was genetically when he was born. He is always presentable and well-spoken and does not seem interested in having sex with women other than his wife. He plays basketball, which demonstrated to ghetto voters that he had not lost his roots, even though he was raised by his mother in a largely white middle class environment.

But Obama’s actual achievements after eight years in office can be counted on the fingers of one hand. From a foreign policy perspective, one would include only the easing of restrictions on trade and travel with Cuba and the JCPOA nuclear agreement with Iran, both of which have been rescinded by Trump. On the domestic side, his hallmark Affordable Care Act has ironically made insurance unaffordable for many. The president basically turned over medical care to a predatory and inefficient health care industry that raised premiums while also diminishing coverage for those Americans who actually had jobs to pay for their insurance. In the foundation I worked at when Obamacare came in group plan premiums doubled in the first year, doubled again in the following year and were about to go up another 25% when we decided that we could no longer afford health insurance. Sure, some Americans got free or subsidized health insurance but the rest of us paid for it and the heartless and soulless health care industry reaped the benefits.

So what else did Saint Obama do? For starters, Obama was the first president in US history to be at war for every single day of his eight year presidency. As president, Obama approved military action in seven countries, including Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya, Pakistan, Somalia, Syria and Yemen as well as special operations on a smaller scale all over the globe.

Obama presided over an offshore prison (which he had promised to close) at Guantanamo Bay in Cuba. Individuals suspected of being terrorists, however that is defined, were confined there and not a single one was tried. It is believed that many of them have been tortured. The United States Constitution’s Sixth Amendment guarantees a public and “speedy” trial to all those accused of crimes and Obama, by the way, is supposed to be an expert on constitutional law.

Obama exceeded the number of killings by drone carried out by his predecessor George W. Bush. His administration also institutionalized the “profile” killing of individuals on the ground. That meant in the case of Afghanistan any male walking around carrying a gun, as is common in rural areas. Or in some cases, it was guilt even without a gun if it was a male aged over 18. All males over age 18 in Afghanistan were considered to be possible terrorists.

Obama was the first and only president to spend his Tuesday mornings in meetings with his security staff drawing up “kill lists” that included American citizens who were somewhere overseas and considered dangerous. Acting off that list, he was the first and only president to actually execute American citizens without any due process using lethal drones. Anwar al-Awlaki and his son Abdulrahman were targeted and killed in Yemen together with another American citizen, and four other citizens were also executed under Obama in Afghanistan and Pakistan. The al-Awlaki son had not been accused or any crimes or membership in any terrorist groups. Many other foreigners, plus families, friends and neighbors were also killed off the lists based purely on the fact that they were in the wrong place at the wrong time. All of the killing overseas has been carried out in countries with which the United States is not at war, so they are unconstitutional as well as illegal.

Obama ran for president promising to do his best to rid the world of nuclear weapons. He then authorized the spending of $1 trillion to upgrade America’s nuclear arsenal.

Under Obama, National Security Agency spying on American citizens accelerated using the authorities granted by the two Patriot Acts. The public would not know about the spying but for the actions of several whistleblowers, to include Chelsea Manning and Edward Snowden. Obama declared “war on whistleblowers,” punishing more of them more severely than any other president.

Obama and his team of women warmongers destroyed the nation of Libya without there being any US national security interest in so doing. They turned it into a failed state and a haven for terrorists, with its looted weapons arsenals supplying radical groups in Africa and the Middle East. Prior to Obama, Moammar Gaddafi’s Libya had been the richest and most developed nation in Africa.

Obama’s desire to bring about regime change in Syria led to the US covert arming of factions of “freedom fighters” with weapons from Libya that produced something like a civil war which killed hundreds of thousands and created a wave of millions of refugees. Most of the fighters trained and equipped by the US joined ISIS or al-Qaeda affiliates. Syria, like Libya, was no threat to the United States when it was attacked by Washington.

Obama directed his Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and his hostile Ambassador to Moscow Michael McFaul to explore a reset with Russia with predictable results, initiating the steadily worsening relationship that has continued to this day. He subsequently presided over the attempts to spin the narrative and blame Moscow for Hillary’s loss while also encouraging accusations that Trump and his team were Russian agents. His national security team prepared a dossier that included numerous lies about both Trump and some of his key appointees.

Obama allowed neocon extraordinaire Victoria Nuland to lead the charge against Ukraine, with the intention of bringing about regime change of a government that he considered to be too pro-Russian. He succeeded but spent $5 billion doing so and Ukraine wound up with a puppet government presiding over a country that is both the poorest and most corrupt in Europe.

Obama made a famous “New Beginning” speech in Cairo in June 2009 that led directly to his being awarded a Nobel Peace prize later that year. He promised to reach out to the Muslim world and improve relations with Washington but promptly ignored what he had said for the following seven years, preferring to take the easy path by deferring to Israel’s expressed interests.

Obama always looked the other way when the Saudi Arabians bombed civilians in Yemen. Likewise, when the Israelis bombed Syria, Lebanon and Gaza. And he allowed the monstrous Benjamin Netanyahu to collude with Congress to manage US foreign policy in the Middle East with hardly any pushback from his foreign policy and national security team.

The Guardian prepared a bit of a retrospective on Obama during the week when he handed over the reins of power to Donald Trump in January 2017. It could not have described the man and his failings better: “Obama is, in terms of influence, nothing more than a used-car salesman. His job is not to create policy, but to sell neocon ideas to the general public, but his lack of agency cannot excuse his lack of vision or morals. Under Obama’s notional leadership the world has moved to the very brink of self-immolation in the name of protecting American hegemony. Domestically America still crumbles. He had a nice smile, and a good turn of phrase. He was witty, and cool, and looked good in a suit…but that doesn’t mean he wasn’t just more of the same. He could say the right things, and sound like he meant them, but he was still a monster.”

 

December 5, 2019 Posted by | Timeless or most popular, War Crimes | , | 2 Comments

The ‘Whistleblower’ and the Politicization of Intelligence

By Scott Ritter – Consortium News – November 27, 2019

The whistleblower. A figure of great controversy, whose actions, manifested in an 11-page report submitted to the Intelligence Community Inspector General (ICIG) on August 12 alleging wrongdoing on the part of the president of the United States, jump-started an ongoing impeachment process targeting Donald Trump that has divided the American body politic as no other issue in contemporary time.

His identity has been cloaked in a shroud of anonymity which has proven farcical, given that his name is common knowledge throughout the Washington-based national security establishment in whose ranks he continues to serve. While Trump publicly calls for the identity of the whistleblower to be revealed, the mainstream media has played along with the charade of confidentiality, and Congress continues to pretend his persona is a legitimate national security secret, even as several on-line publications have printed it, along with an extensive document trail sufficient to corroborate that the named man is, in fact, the elusive whistleblower.

There is no legitimate reason for the whistleblower’s identity to remain a secret. The Democratic chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, Representative Adam Schiff, (D-CA) has cited statutory protections that simply do not exist while using his authority as chairman to prohibit any probe by his Republican colleagues designed to elicit information about the whistleblower’s identity. “The whistleblower has a right, a statutory right, to anonymity,” Schiff recently opined during recent impeachment-related testimony. And yet The Washington Post, no friend of Trump, was compelled to assign Schiff’s statement three “Pinocchios”, out of a scale of four, in rejecting the claim as baseless.

The myth of statutory protection for the whistleblower’s identity has been aggressively pursued by his legal counsel, Andrew Bakaj, the managing partner of the Compass Rose Legal Group, which has taken on the whistleblower’s case pro bono. In a letter to the president’s legal counsel, Pat Cippolone, Bakaj demanded that Trump “cease and desist in calling for my client’s identity”, claiming that the president’s actions, undertaken via Twitter and in press briefings, constituted violations of federal statutes prohibiting, among other things, tampering with a witness, obstruction of proceedings, and retaliating against as witness.

All of Bakaj’s claims are contingent upon the viability of the whistleblower’s status as a legitimate witness whose testimony can, therefore, be tampered, obstructed or retaliated against. The legal foundation of the whistleblower’s claims are based upon the so-called Intelligence Community whistleblower statute, 50 USC § 3033(k)(5), which stipulates the processes required to report and sustain an allegation of so-called “urgent concern” to the U.S. intelligence community. An “urgent concern” is defined, in relevant part, as: “A serious or flagrant problem, abuse, violation of the law or Executive order, or deficiency relating to the funding, administration, or operation of an intelligence activity within the responsibility and authority of the Director of National Intelligence involving classified information, but does not include differences of opinions concerning public policy matters.”

The Call

At issue was a telephone call made between President Trump and the newly elected President of Ukraine, Volodymyr Zelensky, on July 25 of this year. According to the whistleblower’s report to the ICIG, “Multiple White House officials with direct knowledge of the call informed me that, after an initial exchange of pleasantries, the President used the remainder of the call to advance his personal interests.” President Trump, the whistleblower alleged, “sought to pressure the Ukrainian leader to take actions to help the President’s 2020 reelection bid,” an act which the whistleblower claimed presidential abuse of his office “for personal gain.”

Upon review of the whistleblower’s report, which consisted of a nine-page unclassified letter and a separate two-page classified annex, Michael K. Atkinson, the Inspector General of the Intelligence Community, initiated an investigation of the complaint as required by the whistleblower statute. This investigation must be completed within a 14-day period mandated by the statute, during which time the ICIG “shall determine whether the complaint or information appears credible.”

While the statute is silent on the methodology to be used by the ICIG in making this determination, Atkinson had testified during his Senate confirmation hearing that, when it came to any investigation of a whistleblower complaint, “I will work to ensure that ICIG personnel conduct investigations, inspections, audits, and reviews in accordance with Quality Standards promulgated by CIGIE (Council of the Inspectors General on Integrity and Efficiency) to keep those activities free from personal, external, and organizational impairments.” The CIGIE standard in question requires that, “Evidence must be gathered and reported in an unbiased and independent manner in an effort to determine the validity of an allegation or to resolve an issue.”

In a letter transmitting the whistleblower complaint to the Director of National Intelligence (DNI), Atkinson stated that he had “determined that the Complainant (i.e., whistleblower) had official and authorized access to the information and sources referenced in the Complainant’s Letter and Classified Appendix, including direct knowledge of certain alleged conduct, and that the Complainant has subject matter expertise related to much of the material information provided in the Complainant’s Letter and Classified Appendix.”

However, when it came to assessing whether or not the whistleblower, in reporting the second-hand information provided to him by White House persons familiar with the July 25 Trump-Zelensky phone call, had done so accurately, Atkinson did not review the actual records of the telephone call, noting that he “decided that access to records of the telephone call was not necessary to make my determination that the complaint relating to the urgent concern ‘appears credible.’”

Atkinson declared that “it would be highly unlikely for the ICIG to obtain those records within the limited remaining time allowed by statute,” and opted to perform an investigation in violation of the very CIGIE standard he had promise to adhere to in his Senate testimony. In short, no evidence was gathered by the ICIG to determine the validity of the whistleblower’s allegation, and yet Atkinson decided to forward the complaint to the DNI, certifying it as “credible.”

The whistleblower statute allows the DNI seven days to review the complaint before forwarding it to the House Committee on Intelligence, with comments if deemed appropriate. However, in reviewing the actual complaint, Joseph McGuire, the acting DNI who took over from Dan Coats, who was fired by President Trump in early August, had questions about whether or not the matters it alleged fell within the remit of the whistleblower statute, and rather than forwarding it to the House Intelligence Committee, instead sent it to the Justice Department Office of Legal Counsel for legal review.

The Office of Legal Council, on September 3, issued a legal opinion rejecting the ICIG’s certification of the whistleblower complaint as constituting an “urgent concern” under the law. “The complaint,” the opinion read,

“does not arise in connection with the operation of any U.S. government intelligence activity, and the alleged misconduct does not involve any member of the intelligence community. Rather, the complaint arises out of a confidential diplomatic communication between the President and a foreign leader that the intelligence-community complainant received secondhand. The question is whether such a complaint falls within the statutory definition of ‘urgent concern’ that the law requires the DNI to forward to the intelligence committees. We conclude that it does not. The alleged misconduct is not an ‘urgent concern’ within the meaning of the statute.”

DOJ Rejected Complaint as Urgent

As related in the Office of Legal Counsel’s opinion, the Justice Department did, however, refer the matter to the Criminal Division of the Department of Justice for appropriate review. After considering the whistleblower’s complaint and classified annex, the Criminal Division opted not to pursue charges, in effect determining that no crime had been committed.

Under normal circumstances, this would have concluded the matter of Trump’s phone call with Zelensky, and the second-hand concerns unnamed White House officials had reported to the whistleblower. But this was not a normal circumstance. Far from diffusing an improperly predicated complaint, the failure of the acting DNI to forward the whistleblower complaint to the House Intelligence Committee, and the concurrent legal opinion of the Justice Department’s Office of Legal Counsel rejecting the “urgent concern” certification of the ICIG, opened the door for the whistleblower, through legal counsel, to reach out to the House Intelligence Committee directly.

The whistleblower followed procedures set forth in the whistleblower statute detailing procedures for a complaint, which had not been certified as an “urgent concern,” to be forwarded to Congress. The issue is that the matter was being treated by the ICIG, Congress and the whistleblower’s attorney’s as an “urgent concern”, a status that it did not legally qualify for.

On September 24, Bakaj sent a “Notice of Intent to Contact Congressional Intelligence Committees” to acting DNI McGuire providing “formal notice of our intent to contact the congressional intelligence committees directly” on behalf of the whistleblower, identified only as “a member of the Intelligence Community.” Almost immediately, Schiff announced via Twitter that “We have been informed by the whistleblower’s counsel that their client would like to speak to our committee and has requested guidance from the Acting DNI as to how to do so. We‘re in touch with counsel and look forward to the whistleblower’s testimony as soon as this week.”

Thus was set in motion events which would culminate in impeachment proceedings against President Trump. On the surface, the events described represent a prima facia case for the efficacy of statutory procedures concerning the processing of a whistleblower complaint. But there were warning signs that all was not right regarding both the whistleblower himself, and the processes involved leading to the whistleblower’s complaint being presented to Congress.

Political Bias?

Far from an exemplar in bureaucratic efficiency, the whistleblower complaint has opened a window into the politicization of the intelligence community, and the corresponding weaponization of the national security establishment, against a sitting president.

As I shall show, such actions are treasonous on their face, and the extent to which this conduct has permeated the intelligence community and its peripheral functions of government, including the National Security Council and Congress itself, will only be known if and when an investigation is conducted into what, in retrospect, is nothing less than a grand conspiracy by those ostensibly tasked with securing the nation to instead reverse the will of the American people regarding who serves as the nation’s chief executive.

The key to this narrative is the whistleblower himself. Understanding who he is, and what role he has played in the events surrounding the fateful July 25 telephone conversation, are essential to unravelling the various threads of this conspiracy.

Much has been made about the political affiliation of the whistleblower, namely the fact that he is a registered Democrat who supports Joe Biden as the Democratic candidate for the 2020 presidential election. On the surface this information is not dispositive—the intelligence community is populated by thousands of professionals of diverse political leanings and affiliations, all of whom have been trained to check their personal politics at the door when it comes to implementing the policies promulgated by the duly elected national leadership.

Indeed, Inspector General Atkinson, while acknowledging in his assessment of the whistleblower’s complaint an indication of possible political bias on the part of the whistleblower in favor of a rival political candidate, noted that “such evidence did not change my determination that the complaint relating to the urgent concern ‘appears credible’”. But when one reverse engineers the whistleblower’s career, it becomes clear that there in fact existed a nexus between the whistleblower’s political advocacy and professional actions that both influenced and motivated his decision to file the complaint against the president.

A Rising Star

Like most CIA analysts, the whistleblower possessed a keen intellect born of stringent academic preparation, which in the whistleblower’s case included graduating from Yale University in 2008 with a degree in Russian and East European studies, post-graduate study at Harvard, and work experience with the World Bank.

Andrea Kendall-Taylor, a contemporary colleague of the whistleblower, has provided an apt account for what is expected of a CIA analyst. “The CIA is an intensely apolitical organization,” Kendall-Taylor wrote. “As intelligence analysts, we are trained to check our politics at the door. Our job is to produce objective analysis that the country’s leaders can use to make difficult decisions. We undergo rigorous training on how to analyze our own assumptions and overcome biases that might cloud our judgement.”

The training program Kendall-Taylor referred to is known as the Career Analyst Program (CAP), a four-month basic training program run out of the CIA’s in-house University, the Sherman Kent School, which “introduces all new employees to the basic thinking, writing, and briefing skills needed for a successful career. Segments include analytic tools, counterintelligence issues, denial and deception analysis, and warning skills.”

The standards to which aspiring analysts such as the whistleblower were trained to meet were exacting, and included a requirement to be “independent of political considerations,” meaning the product produced should consist of objective assessments “informed by available information that are not distorted or altered with the intent of supporting or advocating a particular policy, political viewpoint, or audience.” As an analyst, the whistleblower would have chosen a specific specialization, which in his case was as a “Political Analyst”, charged with examining “political, social, cultural, and historical information to provide assessments about foreign political systems and developments.”

By the time the whistleblower completed his application process with the CIA, which requires a detailed background check, several rounds of interviews, and final security and psychological evaluation before an actual offer of employment can be made, and by the time he finished his basic analytical training, the U.S. had undergone a political and social revolution of sorts with the election of Barack Obama as the 44th president of the United States.

The whistleblower was assigned to the Office of Russian and Eurasian Analysis (OREA), within the CIA’s Directorate of Intelligence, at a time when U.S.-Russian policy was undergoing a radical transformation.

Under the guidance of Michael McFaul, President Obama’s special advisor on Russia and the senior director of Russian and Eurasian Affairs at the National Security Council, the Obama administration was seeking to take advantage of the opportunity afforded by the election of Dmitri Medvedev as Russia’s president in 2008. Medvedev had succeeded Vladimir Putin, who went on to serve as prime minister. Medvedev was a more liberal alternative to Putin’s autocratic conservatism, and McFaul envisioned a policy “reset” designed to move relations between the U.S. and Russia in a more positive trajectory.

Andrea Kendall-Taylor (Center for a New American Security)

As a junior analyst, the whistleblower worked alongside colleagues such as Andrea Kendall-Taylor, who joined OREA about the same time after graduating from UCLA in 2008 with a PhD is Slavic and Eurasian studies. A prolific writer, Kendall-Taylor wrote extensively on autocratic leaders and Putin in particular. Her work was in high demand at both the CIA and NSC, which under the Obama administration had undergone a massive expansion intended to better facilitate policy coordination among the various departments that comprised the NSC.

The whistleblower had a front-row seat on the rollercoaster ride that was U.S.-Russian policy during this time, witnessing the collapse of McFaul’s Russian “reset,” Putin’s return to power in 2012, and the U.S.-backed coup in Ukraine that led to the annexation of Crimea and Russian support for rebels in the Donbas region.

During his tenure at OREA, the whistleblower obviously impressed his superiors, receiving several promotions and, in July 2015, he detailed to the NSC staff at the Obama White House as the Director for Ukrainian Affairs. According to a former CIA officer, any high-performing analyst who aspires to be promoted into the ranks of the Senior Intelligence Service must, prior to that time, do a rotation as part of the overall policy community, which includes the NSC or another department, such as Defense or State, as well as a tour within another directorate of the CIA.

NSC positions were originally intended for senior CIA analysts, at the GS-15 level, but waivers could be made for qualified GS-14 or “very strong” GS-13’s (the whistleblower was a GS-13 at the time of his assignment at the NSC, a reflection of both his qualification and the regard to which he was held by the CIA.) NSC assignments do not coincide with the political calendar—detailees (as career civil servants who are detailed to the NSC are referred) are expected to serve in their position regardless of what political party controls the White House. When an opening becomes available (usually when another detailee’s assignment has finished), prospective candidates apply, and are interviewed by their senior management, who forward qualified candidates to another board for a final decision.

Assignments to the NSC are considered highly sought after, and while the process for application must be followed, the selection process is highly political, with decisions being signed off by the director of the CIA. In the case of the whistleblower, his candidacy would have been approved by both Peter Clement, the director of OREA, and John Brennan, the CIA director.

Into the Lion’s Den

By the time the whistleblower arrived at the NSC, the NSC staff had grown into a well-oiled policy machine managing the entire spectrum of Obama administration national security policy-making and implementation. The NSC staff operated in accordance with Presidential Policy Memorandum (PPM) 1, “Organization of the National Security Council System”, which outlined the procedures governing the management of the development and implementation of national security policies by multiple agencies of the United States Government.

Brennan briefing Obama May 3, 2010. He approved whistleblower. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

The vehicle for accomplishing this mission was the NSC Interagency Policy Committee (NSC/IPC). The NSC/IPCs were the main day-to-day fora for interagency coordination of national security policy. They provided policy analysis for consideration by the more senior committees of the NSC system and ensured timely responses to decisions made by the president. NSC/IPCs were established at the direction of the NSC Deputies Committee and were chaired by the relevant division chief within the NSC staff.

The whistleblowers job was to develop, coordinate and execute plans and policies to manage the full range of diplomatic, informational, military and economic national security issues for the countries in his portfolio, which included Ukraine. The whistleblower coordinated with his interagency partners to produce internal memoranda, talking points and other materials for the National Security Advisor and senior staff.

The whistleblower reported directly to Charles Kupchan, the Senior Director for European Affairs on the NSC. Kupchan, a State Department veteran who had previously served on the NSC staff of President Bill Clinton before turning to academia, in turn reported directly to Susan Rice, President Obama’s national security adviser.

When the whistleblower first arrived at the NSC, he volunteered for the Ukraine portfolio. Kupchan was impressed by the whistleblower’s work ethic and performance, and soon expanded his portfolio to include the fight against the Islamic State. The whistleblower was aided by another organizational connection—his colleague and mentor at OREA, Andrea Kendall-Taylor, had been selected to serve in the Office of the Director of National Intelligence as the deputy national intelligence officer for Russia and Eurasia. Among Kendall-Taylor’s responsibilities was to closely coordinate with the NSC staff on critical issues pertaining to Russia and Ukraine.

The whistleblower’s arrival at the NSC staff also coincided with the start of Trump’s improbable candidacy for the presidency of the United States. As 2015 transitioned into 2016, and it became apparent that Trump was the presumptive nominee for the Republican Party, allegations about the Trump campaign colluding with Russia began to circulate within the interagency. Trump’s electoral victory in November 2016, shocked the whistleblower, like everyone else on the NSC staff.

Alarmed By Trump on Russia

The line between policy and politics began to blur, and then disappeared altogether. National Security Advisor Rice was becoming increasingly alarmed by the activities of the Trump transition team, especially when it came to issues pertaining to Russia. According to The Washington Post, “Rice apparently was closely monitoring the high-profile investigation into Russian interference.”

The President-elect had, during the campaign, openly advocated for better relations between the U.S. and Russia and had even suggested that the Russian annexation of Crimea could eventually be accepted by the U.S. This stance was anathema to the policies that had been massaged into place by the NSC in general, and the whistleblower in particular. According to multiple sources familiar with the whistleblower during this time, his animus against Trump was palpable.

In December 2016, Rice was involved in the unmasking of the identities of several members of the Trump transition team. Various sensitive intelligence reports were circulating within the NSC regarding the interaction of unnamed U.S. citizens with foreign targets of intelligence interest. In order to better understand the significance of such a report, Rice has acknowledged that, on several occasions, she requested that the identity of the U.S. persons involved be “unmasked.”

The U.S. intelligence community is prohibited by law from collecting information about U.S. citizens. As such, when a conversation undertaken by a foreign national of intelligence interest was captured, and it turned out the person or persons whom the target was speaking to was a U.S. citizen, the analysts preparing the report for wider dissemination would “mask”, or hide, the identities of the U.S. citizens involved. Under relevant laws governing the collection of intelligence, up to 20 officials within the Obama administration had the authority to unmask the identities of U.S. citizens. One of those was Rice.

In late December 2016, the crown prince of the United Arab Emirates, Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed al-Nahyan, arrived in New York for a meeting with several top Trump transition officials, including Michael Flynn, Trump’s son-in-law, Jared Kushner, and the President-elect’s top strategist Steve Bannon. Intelligence reports had been circulating about the UAE coordinating a backchannel for the Trump transition team and Russia.

Zayed’s arrival, which was unannounced and had not been coordinated with the U.S. government, caused great concern among the NSC staff especially given the context of allegations of collusion between Trump and Russia to influence the outcome of the 2016 election.

The principle NSC staffers who would logically have been advising Rice on this matter were Kupchan, the whistleblower, and Sean Misko, a State Department detailee who served as the director for the Gulf Arab States (According the NSC staffers who worked in the White House at the time, Misko and the whistleblower were said to be close friends, frequently socializing with one another after hours, and possessing a common dislike for Trump.) Rice requested that the intelligence reports pertaining to Zayed’s visit be subjected to unmasking procedures.

While the subsequent reporting about the three-hour meeting between Zayed and the Trump transition team failed to uncover any evidence of a secret communications channel with Russia, Rice (who would logically have been assisted by Kupchan and the whistleblower) facilitated the near continuous unmasking of intelligence reports involving Flynn, who was in contact with Russian officials, including Sergei Kislyak, the Russian ambassador to the U.S.

The Greatest Sin

Susan Rice, center, with Obama, March 10, 2009. (White House photo)

As a professional intelligence analyst detailed to the NSC, the whistleblower was committed to a two-year assignment, extendable to three years upon the agreement of all parties. President Obama’s departure from the White House did not change this commitment. According to NSC staffers who served in the White House at the time, the whistleblower, like many of his fellow detailees, had grown attached to the policies of the Obama administration which they had fought hard to formulate, coordinate and implement. They viewed these policies to be sacrosanct, regardless of who followed in the White House.

In doing so, they had committed the greatest sin that an intelligence professional could commit short of espionage—they had become political.

In December 2016, the whistleblower was, based upon his role as a leading Russian analysts advising Rice directly, more than likely helping unmask Flynn’s communications with Russians; a month later, he was working for Flynn, someone he  had likely actively helped conspire against, using the unfettered power of the intelligence community.

The Trump administration had inherited a national security decision-making apparatus that was bloated, and which fostered White House micromanagement via the NSC. While the Obama NSC had proven able to generate a proliferate amount of “policy”, it did so by relying on a staff that had expanded to the largest in the history of the NSC, and at the expense of the various departments of government that were supposed to be the originators of policy.

As the new national security adviser, Flynn let it be known from day one that there would be changes. One of his first actions was to hire four new deputies who centralized much of the responsibilities normally tasked to regional directors such as the whistleblower. Flynn was putting in place a new level of bureaucracy that shielded professional detailees from top level decision makers.

Moreover, it recognized that the NSC, while staffed with professionals who are supposed to be apolitical, was viewed by the White House as a partisan policy body whose work not only furthered the interests of the United States, but also the political interests of the president. When Trump included his top political advisor, Bannon, on the list of people who would comprise the National Security Council (normally limited to cabinet-level officials), it sent shockwaves through the national security establishment, which accused Trump of politicizing what they claimed was an apolitical process.

But the reality was that the NSC had always functioned as a partisan decision-making body. Its previous occupants may have tried to temper the level to which domestic politics intruded on national security decision-making, but its presence was an unspoken reality. All Trump did by seeking to insert Bannon into the mix was to be open about it.

Like the other professional detailees who comprised 90 percent of the NSC staff and were expected to remain at their posts as part of a Trump administration, the whistleblower was dismayed by the changes. Some accounts of the early days of the Trump NSC indicate that the whistleblower was defensive of the Ukraine policies he had helped craft during his tenure at the NSC.

When his immediate superior, Kupchan (a political appointee) departed the NSC, the whistleblower was temporarily elevated to the position of senior director for Russia and Eurasia until a new replacement could be found. (Flynn had reached out to Fiona Hill, a former national intelligence officer for Russia under the administration of George W. Bush, to take this job; Hill had accepted, but would not be available until April.)

The whistleblower was a known quantity within the NSC, as were his decidedly pro-Obama political leanings. As such, he was not trusted by the incoming Trump officials, and his access to the decision-making process was limited.

According to persons familiar with his work at the NSC during the Trump administration, the whistleblower’s frustration and anger soon led to acts of resistance designed to expose, and undermine public confidence in President Trump.

Cut Out of Call to Putin

In late January 2017 Trump made several introductory telephone calls to world leaders, including President Putin. Normally the NSC director responsible for Russia would help prepare the president for such a call by drafting talking points and supporting memoranda, and then monitor the call directly, either from within the Oval Office or from the White House situation room.

According to sources familiar with the incident, Flynn did not coordinate Trump’s call with NSC staff, and as such the whistleblower, who was acting as the director for Russia and European Affairs at the time, would have been cut out of the process altogether. When the whistleblower tried to access the read out of the phone call afterwards, he found that no verbatim record existed, only a short summary released by the White House, presumably prepared by Flynn.

More frustrating was the fact that the official readout of the call released by the Kremlin contained much more information, putting Russia in the driver’s seat in terms of defining U.S.-Russian policy priorities—the very policy blunder the NSC was supposed to prevent from happening. While searching for the non-existent records of the Putin-Trump conversation, however, the whistleblower came across detailed verbatim transcripts of two other calls made by Trump that day—one with Mexico, and one with Australia.

Within days the details of these calls were leaked to the media, resulting in a series of unflattering articles being published by the mainstream media. While no direct evidence has emerged about who was responsible for leaking these calls, NSC staffers who worked in the White House at the time suspected the whistleblower. (One of the byproducts of this incident was the decision by NSC lawyers to move the records of Presidential phone calls to a more secure server, significantly limiting access by NSC staff.)

On February 13, 2017, Flynn resigned from his position as President Trump’s national security adviser. The reason given was Flynn’s having misrepresented his conversations with Russian Ambassador Kislyak when questioned by Vice President Mike Pence. For the whistleblower, whose previous work in the Obama NSC appeared to help Rice’s efforts to unmask the very conversations Flynn was being held accountable for, this had to have been a satisfying moment. He had to have been even more pleased by Trump’s choice to replace Flynn —Lieutenant General H. R. McMaster, a decorated combat veteran known for his intelligence and willingness to challenge the establishment.

In the little more than a month that transpired between McMaster coming on board and the arrival of Hill as the new director for Russia and Europe, the whistleblower would have had the opportunity to meet his new boss and work with him on repairing what they both viewed as the flawed changes undertaken by Flynn at the NSC.

McMaster rewrote the presidential guidance regarding the functioning of the NSC, replacing the original Presidential Policy Memorandum 1 with a new version, PPM 4, which removed Bannon from the NSC and restored much of the policy coordinating functions that characterized the NSC under Obama.

Moreover, McMaster stuck up for the professional detailees, such as the whistleblower. When Hill arrived in April 2017 to assume her responsibilities as the NSC director for Russia and Europe, the whistleblower found himself without a job.

But instead of being returned to the CIA, McMaster, who had come to know the whistleblower during his first month as national security adviser, appointed him to serve as his personal assistant. The whistleblower moved from his desk next door in the Executive Office Building, where most NSC staffers work, to the West Wing of the White House, a move which gave him direct access to every issue that crossed McMaster’s desk.

Oval Office Leak

The new job, however, did nothing to diminish the disdain the whistleblower had for Trump. Indeed, the proximity to the seat of power may have served to increase the concern the whistleblower had about Trump’s stewardship. On May 10, President Trump played host to Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov and Russian Ambassador Kislyak. During the now-infamous meeting, Trump spoke about the firing of former FBI Director Jim Comey; a sensitive Israeli intelligence source related to the ongoing fight against ISIS in Syria; and alleged Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election.

As McMasters’ assistant, the whistleblower was privy to the readout of the meeting, and was so alarmed by what he had seen that he sent an email to John Kelly, who at that time was serving as director of the Department of Homeland Security, detailing the president’s actions and words. All materials relating to this meeting were collected and secured in the NSC’s top secret codeword server; the only unsecured data was that contained in the whistleblower’s email. When the media subsequently reported on the details of Trump’s meeting with the Russians, the White House condemned the “leaking of private and highly classified information” which undermined “our national security.”

Trump meets with Lavrov on May 10, 2017. (TASS/Wikipedia)

According to a NSC staffer who worked in the White House at the time, an internal investigation pointed to the whistleblower’s email as the likely source of the leak, and while the whistleblower was not directly implicated in actually transmitting classified information to the press, he was criticized for what amounted to unauthorized communication with an outside agency, in this case the Department of Homeland Security. When his initial two-year assignment terminated in July 2017, the White House refused to authorize a one-year extension (a courtesy offered to the vast majority of detailees).

The whistleblower had become a liability, publicly smeared by right-wing bloggers and subjected to death threats. He was released from the NSC and returned to the CIA, where he resumed his role as a Eurasian analyst. Shortly after the whistleblower left the NSC, the full transcripts of President Trump’s January 28, 2017 conversations with the leaders of Mexico and Australia were leaked to the press. While several colleagues in the NSC believed that the whistleblower was behind the leaks, McMaster refused to authorize a formal investigation which, if evidence had been found that implicated the whistleblower, would have effectively terminated his career at the CIA.

It is at this juncture the saga of the whistleblower should have ended, avoiding the turn of events which ended up labeling him with the now famous (or infamous) appellation. However, in June 2018 the whistleblower’s colleague, Kendall-Taylor, ended her assignment as the deputy national intelligence officer for Russia and Eurasia. An announcement was made to fill the vacancy, and the whistleblower applied.

Despite having left the NSC under a cloud of suspicion regarding the unauthorized disclosure of sensitive information, and even though his anti-Trump sentiment was common knowledge among his colleagues and superiors, the whistleblower was picked for a position that would put him at the center of policy formulation regarding Russia and Ukraine, and the sensitive intelligence that influenced such. His appointment would have been approved by Director of National Intelligence Dan Coates.

Enter Vindman

The whistleblower was well versed in the collaborative functions of the deputy national intelligence officer position, having worked with Kendall-Taylor during his time at the NSC. He began to develop professional relationships with a number of individuals, including the new director of Ukraine at the NSC, Army Lieutenant Colonel Alexander Vindman. Vindman had extensive experience regarding Ukraine and had been detailed to the NSC from the Joint Chiefs of Staff. The two soon appeared to share a mutual concern over President Trump’s worldview of both Russia and Ukraine, which deviated from the formal policy formulations promulgated by the interagency processes that both Vindman and the whistleblower were involved in.

Kiev-born Vindman. (Wikipedia)

The whistleblower’s concerns about President Trump and Ukraine predated the July 25, 2019 telephone call, and mirrored those expressed by Lieutenant Colonel Vindman, both in chronology and content, provided during his testimony before the House Intelligence Committee. While Vindman was critical of President Trump’s deviation and/or failure to conform with policy that had been vetted through proper channels (i.e., in conformity with PDD 4), he noted that, as president, “It’s his prerogative to handle the call whichever way he wants.”

Vindman took umbrage at the non-national security topics brought up by the president, such as investigating former Vice President Joe Biden and his son, Hunter, regarding their relationship with a Ukrainian energy company, Burisma Holdings, and other references to the 2016 U.S. presidential election.

According to Vindman, it was this aspect of the telephone call Vindman believed to be alarming, and which he subsequently related to an authorized contact within the intelligence community. While Vindman remained circumspect about the identity of the intelligence community official he communicated with about his concerns over Trump’s Ukraine policy, the fact that the chairman of the House Intelligence Committee refused to allow any discussion of this person’s identity strongly suggests that it was the whistleblower who, as the deputy national intelligence officer for Russia and Ukraine, would be a logical, and fully legitimate, interlocuter.

According to an account published in The Washington Post, sometime after being informed by Vindman of the July 25 Trump-Zelensky telephone call, the whistleblower began preparing notes and assembling information related to what he believed was untoward activity vis-à-vis Ukraine on the part of President Trump and associates who were not part of the formal Ukraine policy making process. He made numerous telephone calls to U.S. government officials whom he knew from his official work as the deputy national intelligence officer for Russia and Eurasia. Because much of the information he was using was derived from classified sources, or was itself classified in nature, the whistleblower worked from his office, using a computer system approved for handling classified data.

Off Limits

From the perspective of security, the whistleblower’s work was flawless. There was one problem, however; investigating the actions of the president of the United States and officials outside the intelligence community who were carrying out the instructions of the president was not part of the whistleblower’s official responsibilities.

Indeed, anything that whiffed of interference in domestic American politics was, in and of itself, off limits to members of the intelligence community.

Robert Gates, a long-time CIA analyst and former CIA director, had warned about this possibility in a speech he delivered to the CIA in March 1992 on the issue of the politicization of intelligence. “National intelligence officers”, Gates noted, “are engaged in analysis and—given their frequent contact with high-level policymakers—their work is also vulnerable to distortion.”

There was no greater example of politicized distortion than the rabbit hole the whistleblower had allowed himself to fall into. From Gates’ perspective, the whistleblower had committed the ultimate sin of any intelligence analyst—he had allowed his expertise to become tarnished by political considerations.

Worse, the whistleblower had crossed the threshold from advocating a politicized point of view to becoming political—that is, to intervene in the domestic political affairs of the United States in a manner which influenced the political future of a sitting president of the United States.

Once he had assembled his notes, he sought out staffers on the House Intelligence Committee for guidance on how to proceed. Schiff, the chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, had hired two former members of the Trump NSC staff who had served at the same time as the whistleblower.

One, Abigail Grace, had worked at the NSC from 2016-2018, covering U.S.-Chinese relations. Grace was hired by Schiff in February 2019 for the express purpose of investigating the Trump White House. A second NSC veteran was hired in August 2019, around the same time that the whistleblower was preparing his complaint. That staffer was none other than Sean Misko, the whistleblowers friend and fellow anti-Trump collaborator.

Both Misko and the whistleblower departed the NSC in 2017 under a cloud. Misko went on to work for the Center for New American Security, a self-described bipartisan think tank set up by two former Obama administration officials, Michèle Flournoy and Kurt M. Campbell, before being recruited by Schiff. It is not known if Misko was one of the House Intelligence staffers the whistleblower approached, or if there had been any collaboration between the whistleblower and Misko about the nature of the complaint prior to Misko being recruited by Schiff.

After conferencing with the House Intelligence Committee staffers, the whistleblower sought legal counsel. He reached out to a lawyer affiliated with Whistleblower Aid, a group of national security lawyers who came together in September 2017—eight months after the inauguration of President Trump—to encourage whistleblowers within the U.S. government to come out against Trump, and provide legal and financial assistance to anyone that chose to do so. One of Whistleblower Aid’s founding members was a lawyer named Mark Zaid.

In the days following Trump’s swearing in as president, Zaid turned to Twitter to send out messages supportive of a “coup” against Trump that would lead to the president’s eventual impeachment. The identity of the lawyer who met with the whistleblower is not known. However, this lawyer referred the whistleblower to Bakaj, a fellow member of Whistleblower Aid, who took on the case and provided procedural guidance regarding the preparation of the complaint. Bakaj later brought on Zaid and another lawyer, Charles McCullough, with close ties to Senator Chuck Schumer and Hillary Clinton, to assist in the case.

On August 12, the whistleblower completed his complaint, and forwarded it to the intelligence community inspector general, thereby setting in motion events that produced weeks of hearings before the House Intelligence Committee that will very likely result in Trump’s impeachment.

Shielded from Questions

While the whistleblower, through counsel, had expressed a desire to testify before the House Intelligence Committee about the issues set forth in his complaint, he was never called to do so, even in closed-door session. The ostensible reason behind this failure to testify was the need to protect his anonymity, a protection that is not contained within the relevant statutes governing whistleblower activities within the intelligence community.

Later, as witnesses were identified from the content of the whistleblower’s complaint and subpoenaed to testify before the House Intelligence Committee, both Schiff and Bakaj indicated that the whistleblower’s testimony was no longer needed, since the specific issues and events covered in his complaint had been more than adequately covered by the testimony of others.

But the apparent reason Schiff and Bakaj refused to allow the whistleblower to testify, or to be identified, was to avoid legitimate questions likely to be asked by Republican committee members.

Namely, what was a deputy national intelligence officer of the U.S. intelligence community doing investigating activities of a sitting president? Who, if anyone, authorized this intervention in U.S. domestic political affairs by a CIA official? How did the whistleblower, who had a history of documented animosity with the Trump administration that included credible allegations of leaking sensitive material to the press for the express purpose of undermining the credibility of the president, get selected to serve as a deputy national intelligence officer? Who signed off on this assignment? What was the precise role played by the whistleblower in unmasking the identities of U.S. citizens in 2016, during the Trump transition?

Did the whistleblower maintain his friendship with Misko after leaving the NSC in July 2017? Did the whistleblower collaborate with Misko to get the House Intelligence Committee to investigate the issues of concern to the whistleblower before his complaint was transmitted to the ICIG? Who did the whistleblower meet on the House Intelligence staff? What did they discuss? Who was the lawyer the whistleblower first met regarding his intent to file a complaint? Did the whistleblower have any contact with Whistleblower Aid prior to this meeting?

Answers to these questions, and more, would have been useful in understanding not only the motives of the whistleblower in filing his complaint—was he simply a concerned citizen and patriot, or was he part of a larger conspiracy to undermine the political viability of a sitting president? There is no doubt that Congress has a constitutional right and obligation to conduct proper oversight of the operations of the executive branch, and to hold the president of the United States accountable if his conduct and actions are deemed unworthy of his office. Whether or not the facts surrounding the July 25, 2019 telephone call between Trump and Zelensky constitute grounds for impeachment is a political question for Congress to decide.

Intervening in Domestic Affairs

There is, however, the major issue looming in the background of this impeachment frenzy: the intervention by elements of the intelligence community in the domestic political affairs of the United States. There is no question that the whistleblower’s complaint served as the genesis of the ongoing impeachment proceedings.

The American people should be deeply concerned that an inquiry which could result in the removal of a duly elected president from office was initiated in secrecy by a member of the intelligence community acting outside the four corners of his legal responsibilities. The legitimacy of the underlying issues being investigated by the House Intelligence Committee is not at issue here; the legitimacy of the process by which these proceedings were initiated is.

To find out what happened, the whistleblower should not only be identified, called before the House Intelligence Committee, and other relevant Congressional committees, and be compelled to answer for his actions.

Impeachment is a constitutional remedy afforded to the U.S. Congress to deal with the political issues surrounding the conduct of a sitting president. If this constitutional remedy can be triggered by the intelligence community in a manner which obviates laws prohibiting the intrusion of intelligence agencies into the domestic political affairs of the United States, and done so in a manner where the identities of the persons and organizations involved, along with their possible motives, are shielded from both American people and those whom they elect to represent them in Congress, then a precedent will have been set for future interventions of this nature which undermine the very foundation of American democracy.

The political weaponization of intelligence represents a significant threat to the viability of the American constitutional republic that cannot be ignored.

Scott Ritter is a former Marine Corps intelligence officer who served in the former Soviet Union implementing arms control treaties, in the Persian Gulf during Operation Desert Storm, and in Iraq overseeing the disarmament of WMD.

December 1, 2019 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Deception | , , , , , | Leave a comment

From killed Armenian priest in Syria to the roots of hatred and genocide

By Steven Sahiounie | December 1, 2019

Father Hovsep Bedoyan, the head of the Armenian Catholic community in Qamishli, and the priest’s father, Abraham Bedoyan, were killed November 11, on the road leading from Qamishli to Deir Ez Zor, where they were headed to check on the rebuilding of the Forty Martyr’s Armenian Apostolic Church in Deir Ezzor, which was destroyed in 2014 by terrorists who targeted Christians and churches. Deacon Fati Sano of the Al-Hasakeh church was injured in the attack when the car was ambushed at a checkpoint by masked gunmen on motorcycles, which shot at point-blank range. The car they drove was inscribed with the Armenian Church’s logo. The same day, a series of bomb blasts in Qamishli occurred, targeting the Armenian Catholic church, an Assyrian Christian-owned business, and a Catholic school, killing at least 6 people and wounded 22 others. More than 100,000 ethnic Armenians lived in Syria, mainly in the province of Aleppo prior to 2011; however, after the constant targeting of Christians by the Free Syrian Army (FSA) beginning in 2011, thousands have fled and many hundreds went to Armenia, who offered the Syrians a visa, when most of the world had shut its doors to them.

Tens of thousands of Christians from the Assyrian minority fled attacks in 2015, and have not returned. Christians in Homs were targeted very early in 2011 by the FSA, with churches attacked, burned and priests killed. Christians in Damascus were dodging missiles fired into Bab Touma by terrorists, in East Ghouta, until the Syrian Arab Army defeated them and they could walk again safely on the street called straight, from Bible passages about Saint Paul.

In September 2012, the large Christian neighborhood in Aleppo, Azizia, fought the FSA, with Christian civilians holding arms to defend their homes and churches. George, an Armenian Christian of Aleppo said, “The Armenians are fighting because they believe the FSA are sent by their Turkish oppressors to attack them, the Christians want to defend their neighborhoods.”

FSA snipers were on the rooftops and they were attacking the Maronite church and Armenian residents there,” said a former clergyman calling himself John.  A Syrian Armenian mother said, “They are shouting ‘the Alawites to the graves and the Christians to Beirut.”

While many Syrian Christians have resisted leaving Syria, for the life of a refugee abroad. Many have gone even though they were living in safe areas, such as the coast. They saw their Christian countrymen leaving in large numbers, and they feared that the FSA terrorists that the Obama administration was supporting would win, and in that case, they could never live safely in Syria.

Father Hovsep Bedoyan had been visiting Deir Ez Zor every 2 weeks while overseeing the rebuilding of the church there. The France-based association, L’Oeuvre d’Orient, is a Catholic charity aimed at reconstructing infrastructure for the return of the Christian community. Monseigneur Pascal Gollnisch, the group’s head, pointed at Turkey’s recent invasion of Northern Syria: “It is the responsibility of all occupying forces to protect the safety of the local Christian minority,” he insisted.

The United Nations (UN) estimates that almost 200,000 people have been displaced by the Turkish invasion, dubbed “Operation Peace Spring”, during which there have been eyewitness accounts of summary executions, beatings, and torture, unlawful detention, and kidnappings by the Turkish military and the FSA, who are Radical Islamic terrorists, employed as mercenaries.

The FSA is the Turkish backed terrorists/mercenaries

“It was sadly learned that a cleric from the Syrian Armenian community was killed in a vicious attack in the area under the control of the terrorist organization PYD/YPG/PKK,” the Turkish Foreign Ministry said in a written statement, which deflected responsibility, and blamed the Syrian Kurds who had been allied to the US, and denying their own FSA mercenaries were the actual killers. ISIS has claimed responsibility for the killings, but the FSA and ISIS are allies, and sources close to the events on the ground have said it was the FSA who killed them, and ISIS only issued the claim of responsibility to shield the blame from the FSA.

FSA history in Syria and sectarianism

The FSA and its political wing, the SNC, have never been secular or moderate. The founding members of the SNC and FSA were members of the Muslim Brotherhood. Their goal for Syria has always been to establish an Islamic government, thus abolishing the secular Ba’ath Party as well as the Syrian Social Nationalist Party (SSNP).

“The Free Syrian Army practically doesn’t exist,” Kamal Sido, a Mideast expert at the human rights group Society for Threatened Peoples (GfbV) told Germany’s Deutschlandfunk broadcaster. “The Free Syrian Army is a smokescreen hiding various names, and if you look at the names, at these groups’ videos, you’ll find they are radical Islamist, Jihadist groups.”

The FSA was not only fighting the Syrian government but they were also killing, raping, maiming and kidnapping unarmed Syrian civilians, most of whom were Sunni Muslims, like themselves. On July 20, 2017, President Trump cut the CIA’s covert program to equip and train the FSA.

The CIA program began in 2013 by Obama to overthrow President Assad; however, CIA officials observed that many FSA had joined ISIS and other radical groups, and feared the weapons they gave the group might end up with ISIS.

The Marmarita massacre

On August 17, 2013, in Marmarita,  Amin Nakour, Maya Barshini, Atalla Aboud, and Ibrahim Saadi were attending a Christian celebration to honor the annual commemoration of “Mother Mary’s Day”. The small village of Marmarita sits in the historic “Valley of the Christians” which is near Homs. It was a hot August night, and Christian party-goers were suddenly attacked the FSA and their allies. The four were killed when they attempted to flee the party in a car. The FSA and their allies, have vowed to make Syria a Sunni Muslim State, and have targeted Christians and minorities for 8 years.

The invasion, occupation, and destruction of Kessab

On March 21, 2014, Kessab was attacked when shelling from the Turkish side of the border rained down on the undefended Armenian village, sending its 2,000 residents into panic. Over 20,000 fanatics from the FSA and its allies came pouring over the border. They desecrated all 3 churches, and looted the village’s graves, before scattering the bones of the deceased around the town. The FSA held 26 elderly Armenians against their will for forty days in Turkey, where the FSA kidnappers brought the US Ambassador to Turkey, Francis J. Riccardone, Jr., to visit the elderly captives, but offered no help or release.

Samuel Poladian, who stayed in Kessab for the 3-month occupation, claims he heard Turkish military helicopters overhead on the morning of the invasion, and that Turkey assisted in the invasion.

Monseigneur Ayvazian said, ”They burned all my books and documents, many of them very old, and left my library with nothing but 60cm of ash on the floor.” He has a photo of the church altar, which was desecrated by the FSA before the Syrian Arab Army liberated Kessab on June 15, 2014. The Armenians claim the Kessab attack, which was directed solely against Armenian Christians, was Turkey’s brutal way of showing the Armenians and the Syrian government that they can attack at any time.

Armenian Church in Deir Ez Zor  destroyed

On November 10, 2014, terrorists blew up the Armenian Church in Deir el-Zour, which is dedicated to the 1.5 million Armenians slaughtered by the Turks during the 1915 genocide, when many hundreds of thousands of victims died in death camps around Deir el-Zour. Because the FSA has received arms from Turkey, the destruction of the church is regarded by Armenians as crimes carried out by Turks, harkening back to the genocide. “During the Armenian genocide, the Turks entered the church and killed its priest, Father Petrus Terzibashian, in front of the congregation,” Monseigneur Ayvazian said, adding “Then they threw his body into the Euphrates. This time when the Islamists came, our priest there fled for his life.”

The Turkish hatred of Armenians

The 19th century Armenian Surp Asdvadzadzin Church in Gurun district of Sivas (Sebastia), Turkey, will reopen as a museum. At different times the church has been used as a prison, movie theater, storeroom, and wedding hall. The local mayor hopes it will boost the development of tourism in the region. That is the stark reality in Turkey, where Muslims account for 98% of the population, compared to the large Christian minority in Syria. In Turkey, they have tried to erase their Christian history, and have used the old Armenian churches as museums, or locked up or ruined them.

The Armenian Genocide, Turkish denial, the US House recognition

The Armenian Genocide was the systematic mass extermination and expulsion of 1.5 million ethnic Armenians within the Ottoman Empire, from approximately 1914 to 1923. Other ethnic groups were similarly targeted for extermination; such as Assyrians and the Greeks, also strictly Christians. Mass executions were followed by the deportation of women, children, the elderly, and the infirm on death marches leading to Deir Ez Zor, which were driven forward by military escorts, as the deportees were deprived of food and water and subjected to periodic robbery, rape, and massacre.

On Oct. 29, 2019, the US House voted overwhelmingly to formally recognize the Armenian genocide and denounce it. Lawmakers had previously failed to support such a resolution to preserve the United States’ relationship with Turkey, a NATO ally that has steadfastly denied that the atrocities amounted to genocide. Livid at Turkey’s recent bloody military invasion in Syria, lawmakers saw a possible tie to the Armenian genocide, as many feared the withdrawal of American forces would lead to ethnic cleansing in northeast Syria.

December 1, 2019 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, War Crimes | , , , , , | 1 Comment

Ukrainegate 13,000 Times Worse Than You Think

By Joe Giambrone | Dissident Voice | November 22, 2019

Did you know that Donald Trump had the State Department, USAID, NED, and the CIA fund and train Neo-Nazi, fascist militias to overthrow the government of Ukraine? These riot mobs, primarily Svoboda and Right Sector, stormed the capital, firebombed and shot the police, and destroyed democracy inside Ukraine. When the legitimately elected president was forced out by the rioters, the population which had supported him in the east seceded from the country, tearing the entire nation into pieces and sparking a civil war. The Ukraine civil war has cost the lives of over 13,000 Ukrainians. There is so much blood on Donald Trump’s hands.

Oh, wait a minute! That was Barack Obama. Change that paragraph, please.

Since 2014, it’s been glaringly obvious to astute (and honest) observers that the Administration of Barack Obama and Joe Biden supported the most vicious street mobs in Europe, people who considered themselves proud fascists. Western media routinely censored this part of the story. Obama’s Assistant Secretary of State, Victoria Nuland, made deals with their leaders and was caught on an open phone line handpicking the next unelected leader of Ukraine, someone they could sell to the US public: “Yats is the guy.”

Representative Dennis Kucinich expressed outrage on Bill O’Reilly’s TV show that the Obama Administration had aided this bloody, illegitimate coup. The head of the CIA-linked STRATFOR called Ukraine “the most blatant coup in history.

America’s proxy terrorists burned Kiev, seized power violently, and through the power of the purse strings, Obama’s Administration installed friendly-faced fascists, who immediately set about attacking their countrymen in the east, with a policy of mass murder and indiscriminate bombings. Eastern provinces of Crimea and Donetsk, which notably had supported the ousted president, held referenda. The people there voted overwhelmingly to secede from the illegitimate, unelected, foreign-sponsored coup regime in Kiev.

The above is most certainly not the reason cited this week for Impeachment hearings.

Aiding and abetting fascist militias to violently siege a foreign capital is not considered a crime in Washington DC, at all. Conversely, it is business as usual, as Bolivians and Venezuelans can attest to.

Woody Allen directed a film entitled “Crimes and Misdemeanors.” That pretty much sums up the DC circus unfolding in Congress. Everything above is completely true, and yet Barack Obama is heralded as someone in the neighborhood of saints and superheroes. To the belligerent American empire, Obama was a star quarterback. Let’s not even delve into Barack’s support for Al Qaeda in Syria, and another half-million dead there, or we’ll be here all day.

Donald Trump made a phone call. In his phone call, he is said to have bullied the President of Ukraine a little. He may have even delayed some weapons transfers to that country, which was engaged in a proxy war with nuclear-armed Russia and its separatist allies in the east of Ukraine.

That’s a crime? A real crime? In light of over thirteen thousand slaughtered and an illegal coup in broad daylight? Trump’s telephone call is the real crime?

Other Presidents haven’t bullied other client-state puppet leaders, ever?

And why exactly is the President of the United States of America required to send lethal weapons to foreign fascists at all? Has anyone located that section of the Constitution?

This farce is so laughable on its face and so irrelevant to the American people’s interests, that it’s difficult to overstate the insanity—and outrageous hypocrisy—of the Democrats’ contrived “Ukrainegate” case. This impeachment charge has nothing whatsoever to do with right and wrong.

In 2014, Barack Obama’s White House, “refused to include weapons in an aid package… for embattled Ukraine despite an impassioned plea by Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko for more military assistance.” Obama didn’t send any weapons at all, which would have provoked Russia to an even greater degree, after overthrowing their legitimately elected next-door ally and tearing Ukraine apart. It was obvious that Russia wasn’t “invading” Ukraine, as propaganda memes claimed, but simply responding to these international crimes and to the dangerous destabilization on its border. The US had already done quite enough damage, and they didn’t need to escalate a proxy war against Russia toward nuclear Armageddon.

Which brings us now to Donald Trump, who became interested in Joe Biden’s obvious corruption inside Ukraine, installing his own son on the board of a Ukrainian gas company, Burisma. Hunter Biden knew absolutely nothing about Ukraine or the natural gas industry. The nepotism was glaring. This was clear graft, payback, kickback, corruption, parasites descending after the violent seizure of the state. Biden the elder was in charge of US Ukraine policy, and specifically the big money spigot, after the illegal, US-supported coup there.

Then—as Joe will be Joe—Biden bragged publicly about getting Ukraine’s top prosecutor fired to the strains of Washington insider laughter. The Ukrainian prosecutor had been investigating that same company which Biden had arranged his son Hunter onto the board of. Biden’s conflict of interest was so obvious that Trump certainly believed he was onto something. Joe Biden, and media sympathetic to his claims, has predictably tried to cloud the issue, but the corruption is too obvious not to notice. This should, and may, have ended Joe Biden’s 2020 presidential bid.

What happened in Ukraine was old-timey Smash & Grab, a reckless attack right on Russia’s western border. Joe Biden arrived to grab as much loot from Ukraine’s gas sector as he possibly could through a cut-out, his son. Biden used his leverage over Ukraine’s international “loan guarantees” (which is money the coup leaders receive but don’t have to pay back) to finance their new illegitimate junta.

Biden’s own quid pro quo, in his own words: “I’m leaving in six hours. If the prosecutor is not fired, you’re not getting the money. Well, son of a bitch. He got fired.” This is exactly the type of crime they now accuse Trump of perpetrating with his telephone. The hypocrisy is comical.

The Obama Administration’s corruption, along with a bloody war and thirteen-thousand corpses, is what a real crime looks like. Hold onto that picture.

Democrats were allegedly the good guys vis a vis Ukraine?

Weren’t these international war crimes breaching the UN Charter, which demands exclusively peaceful actions between states, Article II?

All Members shall settle their international disputes by peaceful means in such a manner that international peace and security, and justice, are not endangered.

— United Nations Charter, a ratified Treaty, and the “Supreme Law of the Land”

Launching a proxy war on nuclear-armed Russia was a sane foreign policy? Sending even more arms to escalate that conflict was allegedly such a glorious idea that any delay in weapons shipments becomes an impeachable offense?

This unserious charge leveled against Donald Trump distracts from all of his obvious corruption. Trump’s Emoluments violations have been impeachable for years, but the Democrats weren’t interested. Do Democrats long to cash in on the Office of the Presidency next time?

Multiple deaths of refugee children in US federal custody at the southern border could be considered murders linked directly to official policies of harsh treatment and deliberate neglect. Are Democrats afraid of exposing Obama’s own caging of immigrant children?

This current Ukrainegate impeachment charade appears to be motivated only by blind partisanship and the desire to insulate corrupt insiders like Joe Biden from any scrutiny of their actions. The farce has gone so over-the-top that even as Democratic partisan media heralded the testimony of Trump’s Ukraine Ambassador, Marie Yovanovitch, Donald Trump’s allies have already used portions of her testimony as a video advertisement for his reelection!

Yovanovitch blatantly lied in her introductory remarks and was caught admitting that Obama’s own State Department had groomed her to answer uncomfortable questions about Joe Biden’s son, Hunter, and his appointment inside Ukraine’s gas sector. This gift to Trump now undermines the entire endeavor.

Are Democrats trying to hurt or to help Trump’s reelection?

Joe Giambrone’s fabulous new novel is DEMIGODS.

November 23, 2019 Posted by | Progressive Hypocrite, Timeless or most popular | , , | 3 Comments

John Brennan’s CIA Trump Task Force

Could it become Obamagate?

By Philip Giraldi • Unz Review • November 12, 2019

There is considerable evidence that the American system of government may have been victimized by an illegal covert operation organized and executed by the U.S. intelligence and national security community. Former Director of National Intelligence Jim Clapper, former CIA Director John Brennan and former FBI Director Jim Comey appear to have played critical leadership roles in carrying out this conspiracy and they may not have operated on their own. Almost certainly what they may have done would have been explicitly authorized by the former President of the United States, Barack Obama, and his national security team.

It must have seemed a simple operation for the experienced CIA covert action operatives. To prevent the unreliable and unpredictable political upstart Donald Trump from being nominated as the GOP presidential candidate or even elected it would be necessary to create suspicion that he was the tool of a resurgent Russia, acting under direct orders from Vladimir Putin to empower Trump and damage the campaign of Hillary Clinton. Even though none of the alleged Kremlin plotters would have expected Trump to actually beat Hillary, it was plausible to maintain that they would have hoped that a weakened Clinton would be less able to implement the anti-Russian agenda that she had been promoting. Many observers in both Russia and the U.S. believed that if she had been elected armed conflict with Moscow would have been inevitable, particularly if she moved to follow her husband’s example and push to have both Georgia and Ukraine join NATO, which Russia would have regarded as an existential threat.

Trump’s surprising victory forced a pivot, with Clapper, Brennan and Comey adjusting the narrative to make it appear that Trump the traitor may have captured the White House due to help from the Kremlin, making him a latter-day Manchurian Candidate. The lesser allegations of Russian meddling were quickly elevated to devastating assertions that the Republican had only won with Putin’s assistance.

No substantive evidence for the claim of serious Russian meddling has ever been produced in spite of years of investigation, but the real objective was to plant the story that would plausibly convince a majority of Americans that the election of Donald Trump was somehow illegitimate.

The national security team acted to protect their candidate Hillary Clinton, who represented America’s Deep State. In spite of considerable naysaying, the Deep State is real, not just a wild conspiracy theory. Many Americans nevertheless do not believe that the Deep State exists, that it is a politically driven media creation much like Russiagate itself was, but if one changes the wording a bit and describes the Deep State as the Establishment, with its political power focused in Washington and its financial center in New York City, the argument that there exists a cohesive group of power brokers who really run the country becomes much more plausible.

The danger posed by the Deep State, or, if you choose, the Establishment, is that it wields immense power but is unelected and unaccountable. It also operates through relationships that are not transparent and as the media is part of it, there is little chance that its activity will be exposed.

Nevertheless, some might even argue that having a Deep State is a healthy part of American democracy, that it serves as a check or corrective element on a political system that has largely been corrupted and which no longer serves national interests. But that assessment surely might have been made before it became clear that many of the leaders of the nation’s intelligence and security agencies are no longer the people’s honorable servants they pretend to be. They have been heavily politicized since at least the time of Ronald Reagan and have frequently succumbed to the lure of wealth and power while identifying with and promoting the interests of the Deep State.

Indeed, a number of former Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) Directors have implicitly or even directly admitted to the existence of a Deep State that has as one of its roles keeping presidents like Donald Trump in check. Most recently, John McLaughlin, responding to a question about Donald Trump’s concern over Deep State involvement in the ongoing impeachment process, said unambiguously “Well, you know, thank God for the ‘deep state’… With all of the people who knew what was going on here, it took an intelligence officer to step forward and say something about it, which was the trigger that then unleashed everything else. This is the institution within the U.S. government… is institutionally committed to objectivity and telling the truth. It is one of the few institutions in Washington that is not in a chain of command that makes or implements policy. Its whole job is to speak the truth — it’s engraved in marble in the lobby.”

Well, John’s dedication to truth is exemplary but how does he explain his own role in support of the lies being promoted by his boss George “slam dunk” Tenet that led to the war against Iraq, the greatest foreign policy disaster ever experienced by the United States? Or Tenet’s sitting in the U.N. directly behind Secretary of State Colin Powell in the debate over Iraq, providing cover and credibility for what everyone inside the system knew to be a bundle of lies? Or his close friend and colleague Michael Morell’s description of Trump as a Russian agent, a claim that was supported by zero evidence and which was given credibility only by Morell’s boast that “I ran the CIA.”

Beyond that, more details have been revealed demonstrating exactly how Deep State associates have attempted, with considerable success, to subvert the actual functioning of American democracy. Words are one thing, but acting to interfere in an electoral process or to undermine a serving president is a rather more serious matter.

It is now known that President Barack Obama’s CIA Director John Brennan created a Trump Task Force in early 2016. Rather than working against genuine foreign threats, this Task Force played a critical role in creating and feeding the meme that Donald Trump was a tool of the Russians and a puppet of President Vladimir Putin, a claim that still surfaces regularly to this day. Working with James Clapper, the Director of National Intelligence, Brennan fabricated the narrative that “Russia had interfered in the 2016 election.” Brennan and Clapper promoted that tale even though they knew very well that Russia and the United States have carried out a broad array of covert actions against each other, including information operations, for the past seventy years, but they pretended that what happened in 2016 was qualitatively and substantively different even though the “evidence” produced to support that claim was and still is weak to nonexistent.

The Russian “election interference” narrative went on steroids on January 6, 2017, shortly before Trump was inaugurated, when an “Intelligence Community Assessment” (ICA) orchestrated by Clapper and Brennan was published. The banner headline atop The New York Times, itself an integral part of the Deep State, on the following day set the tone for what was to follow: “Putin Led Scheme to Aid Trump, Report Says.”

With the help of the Establishment media, Clapper and Brennan were able to pretend that the ICA had been approved by “all 17 intelligence agencies” (as first claimed by Hillary Clinton). After several months, however Clapper revealed that the preparers of the ICA were “handpicked analysts” from only the FBI, CIA, and NSA. He explained rather unconvincingly during an interview on May 28, 2017, that “the historical practices of the Russians, who typically, are almost genetically driven to co-opt, penetrate, gain favor, whatever, which is a typical Russian technique,” adding later that “It’s in their DNA.”

Task Force Trump was kept secret within the Agency itself because the CIA is not supposed to spy on Americans. Its staff was pulled together by invitation-only. Specific case officers (i.e., men and women who recruit and handle spies overseas), analysts and administrative personnel were recruited, presumably based on their political reliability. Not everyone invited accepted the offer. But many did because it came with promises of promotion and other rewards.

And this was not a CIA-only operation. Personnel from the FBI also were assigned to the Task Force with the approval of then Director James Comey. Former MI-6 agent Christopher Steele’s FBI handler, Michael Gaeta, may have been one of those detailed to the Trump Task Force. Steele, of course, prepared the notorious dossier that was surfaced shortly before Donald Trump took office. It included considerable material intended to tie Trump to Russia, information that was in many cases fabricated or unsourced.

So, what kind of things would this Task Force do? The case officers would work with foreign intelligence services such as MI-6, the Italians, the Ukrainians and the Australians on identifying intelligence collection priorities that would implicate Trump and his associates in illegal activity. And there is evidence that John Brennan himself would contact his counterparts in allied intelligence services to obtain their discreet cooperation, something they would be inclined to do in collegial fashion, ignoring whatever reservations they might have about spying on a possible American presidential candidate.

Trump Task Force members could have also tasked the National Security Agency (NSA) to do targeted collection. They also would have the ability to engage in complicated covert actions that would further set up and entrap Trump and his staff in questionable activity, such as the targeting of associate George Papadopoulos. If he is ever properly interviewed, Maltese citizen Joseph Mifsud may be able to shed light on the CIA officers who met with him, briefed him on operational objectives regarding Papadopoulos and helped arrange monitored meetings. It is highly likely that Azra Turk, the woman who met with George Papadopoulos, was part of the CIA Trump Task Force.

The Task Force also could carry out other covert actions, sometimes using press or social media placements to disseminate fabrications about Trump and his associates. Information operations is a benign-sounding euphemism for propaganda fed through the Agency’s friends in the media, and computer network operations can be used to create false linkages and misdirect inquiries. There has been some informed speculation that Guccifer 2.0 may have been a creation of this Task Force.

In light of what has been learned about the alleged CIA whistleblower there should be a serious investigation to determine if he was a part of this Task Force or, at minimum, reporting to them secretly after he was seconded to the National Security Council. All the CIA and FBI officers involved in the Task Force had sworn an oath to uphold the Constitution of the United States, but nevertheless were involved in a conspiracy to first denigrate and then possibly bring down a legally elected president. That effort continues with repeated assertions regarding Moscow’s malevolent intentions for the 2020 national elections. Some might reasonably regard the whole Brennan affair, to include its spear carriers among the current and retired national security state leadership, as a case of institutionalized treason, and it inevitably leads to the question “What did Obama know?”

Philip M. Giraldi, Ph.D., is Executive Director of the Council for the National Interest, a 501(c)3 tax deductible educational foundation (Federal ID Number #52-1739023) that seeks a more interests-based U.S. foreign policy in the Middle East. Website is councilforthenationalinterest.org, address is P.O. Box 2157, Purcellville VA 20134 and its email is inform@cnionline.org.

November 12, 2019 Posted by | Deception, Fake News, Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Russophobia | , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

The Deep State Goes Shallow: A Reality-TV Coup d’état in Prime Time

By Edward Curtin | February 21, 2019

This article was first published on February 21, 2017, one month after Donald Trump was sworn in as president, more than two-and-a half years ago. What was true then is even truer now, and so I am reprinting it with this brief introduction since I think it describes what is happening in plain sight today. Now that years of Russia-gate accusations have finally fallen apart, those forces intent on driving Trump from office have had to find another pretext. Now it is Ukraine-gate, an issue similar in many ways to Russia-gate in that both were set into motion by the same forces aligned with the Democratic Party and the CIA-led Obama administration. It was the Obama administration who engineered the 2014 right-wing, Neo-Nazi coup in Ukraine as part of its agenda to undermine Russia. A neo-liberal/neo-conservative agenda. This is, or should be, common knowledge. Obama put it in his typically slick way in a 2015 interview with CNN’s Fareed Zakiria, saying that the United States “had brokered a deal to transition power in Ukraine.” This is Orwellian language at its finest, from a warmonger who received the Nobel Prize for Peace while declaring he was in support of war. That the forces that have initiated a new and highly dangerous Cold War, a nuclear confrontation with Russia, demonized Vladimir Putin, and have overthrown the elected leader of a country allied with Russia on its western border, dares from the day he was elected in 2016 to remove its own president in the most obvious ways imaginable seems like bad fiction. But it is fact, and the fact that so many Americans approve of it is even more fantastic. Over the past few years the public has heard even more about the so-called “deep state,” only to see its methods of propaganda become even more perversely cynical in their shallowness. No one needs to support the vile Trump to understand that the United States is undergoing a fundamental shift wherein tens of millions of Americans who say they believe in democracy support the activities of gangsters who operate out in the open with their efforts to oust an elected president. We have crossed the Rubicon and there will be no going back.

“In irony a man annihilates what he posits within one and the same act; he leads us to believe in order not to be believed; he affirms to deny and denies to affirm; he creates a positive object but it has no being other than its nothingness.” – Jean-Paul Sartre

It is well known that the United States is infamous for engineering coups against democratically elected governments worldwide. Voters’ preferences are considered beside the point. Iran and Mosaddegh in 1953, Arbenz in Guatemala in 1954, Indonesia and Sukarno in 1965-7, Allende in Chile in 1973, to name a few from the relatively distant past. Recently the Obama administration worked their handiwork in Honduras and Ukraine. It would not be hyperbolic to say that overthrowing democratic governments is as American as apple pie. It’s our “democratic” tradition – like waging war.

What is less well known is that elements within the U.S. ruling power elites have also overthrown democratically elected governments in the United States. One U.S. president, John F. Kennedy, was assassinated because he had turned toward peace and opposed the forces of war within his own government. He is the lone example of a president who therefore was opposed by all the forces of imperial conquest within the ruling elites.

Others, despite their backing for the elite deep state’s imperial wars, were taken out for various reasons by competing factions within the shadow government. Nixon waged the war against Vietnam for so long on behalf of the military-industrial complex, but he was still taken down by the CIA, contrary to popular mythology about Watergate. Jimmy Carter was front man for the Tri-Lateral Commission’s deep-state faction, but was removed by the group represented by George H. Bush, William Casey, and Reagan through their traitorous actions involving the Iran hostages. The emcee for the neo-liberal agenda, Bill Clinton, was rendered politically impotent via the Lewinsky affair, a matter never fully investigated by any media.

Obama, CIA groomed, was smoothly moved into power by the faction that felt Bush needed to be succeeded by a slick smiling assassin who symbolized “diversity,” could speak well, and played hoops. Hit them with the right hand; hit them with the left. Same coin: Take your pick – heads or tails. Hillary Clinton was expected to complete the trinity.

But surprises happen, and now we have Trump, who is suffering the same fate – albeit at an exponentially faster rate – as his predecessors that failed to follow the complete script. The day after his surprise election, the interlocking circles of power that run the show in sun and shadows – what C. Wright Mills long ago termed the Power Elite – met to overthrow him, or at least to render him more controllable. These efforts, run out of interconnected power centers, including the liberal corporate legal boardrooms that were the backers of Obama and Hillary Clinton, had no compunction in planning the overthrow of a legally elected president. Soon they were joined by their conservative conspirators in doing the necessary work of “democracy” – making certain that only one of their hand-picked and anointed henchmen was at the helm of state. Of course, the intelligence agencies coordinated their efforts and their media scribes wrote the cover stories. The pink Pussyhats took to the streets. The deep state was working overtime.

Trump, probably never having expected to win and as shocked as most people when he did, made some crucial mistakes before the election and before taking office. Some of those mistakes have continued since his inauguration. Not his derogatory remarks about minorities, immigrants, or women. Not his promise to cut corporate taxes, support energy companies, oppose strict environmental standards. Not his slogan to “make America great again.” Not his promise to build a “wall” along the Mexican border and make Mexico pay for it. Not his vow to deport immigrants. Not his anti-Muslim pledges. Not his insistence that NATO countries contribute more to NATO’s “defense” of their own countries. Not even his crude rantings and Tweets and his hypersensitive defensiveness. Not his reality-TV celebrity status, his eponymous golden tower and palatial hotels and sundry real estate holdings. Not his orange hair and often comical and disturbing demeanor, accentuated by his off the cuff speaking style. Surely not his massive wealth.

While much of this was viewed with dismay, it was generally acceptable to the power elites who transcend party lines and run the country. Offensive to hysterical liberal Democrats and traditional Republicans, all this about Trump could be tolerated, if only he would cooperate on the key issue.

Trump’s fatal mistake was saying that he wanted to get along with Russia, that Putin was a good leader, and that he wanted to end the war against Syria and pull the U.S. back from foreign wars. This was verboten. And when he said nuclear war was absurd and would only result in nuclear conflagration, he had crossed the Rubicon. That sealed his fate. Misogyny, racism, support for Republican conservative positions on a host of issues – all fine. Opposing foreign wars, especially with Russia – not fine.

Now we have a reality-TV president and a reality-TV coup d’etat in prime time. Hidden in plain sight, the deep-state has gone shallow. What was once covert is now overt. Once it was necessary to blame a coup on a secretive “crazy lone assassin,” Lee Harvey Oswald. But in this “post-modern” society of the spectacle, the manifest is latent; the obvious, non-obvious; what you see you don’t see. Everyone knows those reality-TV shows aren’t real, right? It may seem like it is a coup against Trump in plain sight, but these shows are tricky, aren’t they? He’s the TV guy. He runs the show. He’s the sorcerer’s apprentice. He wants you to believe in the illusion of the obvious. He’s the master media manipulator. You see it but don’t believe it because you are so astute, while he is so blatant. He’s brought it upon himself. He’s bringing himself down. Everyone who knows, knows that.

I am reminded of being in a movie theatre in 1998, watching The Truman Show, about a guy who slowly “discovers” that he has been living in the bubble of a television show his whole life. At the end of the film he makes his “escape” through a door in the constructed dome that is the studio set. The liberal audience in a very liberal town stood up and applauded Truman’s dash to freedom. I was startled since I had never before heard an audience applaud in a movie theatre – and a standing ovation at that. I wondered what they were applauding. I quickly realized they were applauding themselves, their knowingness, their insider astuteness that Truman had finally caught on to what they already thought they knew. Now he would be free like they were. They couldn’t be taken in; now he couldn’t. Except, of course, they were applauding an illusion, a film about being trapped in a reality-TV world, a world in which they stood in that theatre – their world, their frame. Frames within frames. Truman escapes from one fake frame into another – the movie. The joke was on them. The film had done its magic as its obvious content concealed its deeper truth: the spectator and the spectacle were wed. McLuhan was here right: the medium was the message.

This is what George Trow in 1980 called “the context of no context.” Candor as concealment, truth as lies, knowingness as stupidity. Making reality unreal in the service of an agenda that is so obvious it isn’t, even as the cognoscenti applaud themselves for being so smart and in the know.

The more we hear about “the deep state” and begin to grasp its definition, the more we will have descended down the rabbit hole. Soon this “deep state” will be offering courses on what it is, how it operates, and why it must stay hidden while it “exposes” itself.

Right-wing pundit Bill Krystal tweets: “Obviously [I] prefer normal democratic and constitutional politics. But if it comes to it, [I] prefer the deep state to Trump state.”

Liberal CIA critic and JFK assassination researcher, Jefferson Morley, after defining the deep state, writes, “With a docile Republican majority in Congress and a demoralized Democratic Party in opposition, the leaders of the Deep State are the most – perhaps the only – credible check in Washington on what Senator Bob Corker (R-Tenn.) calls Trump’s “wrecking ball presidency.”

These are men who ostensibly share different ideologies, yet agree, and state it publically, that the “deep state” should take out Trump. Both believe, without evidence, that the Russians intervened to try to get Trump elected. Therefore, both no doubt feel justified in openly espousing a coup d’etat. They match Trump’s blatancy with their own. Nothing deep about this.

Liberals and conservatives are now publically allied in demonizing Putin and Russia, and supporting a very dangerous military confrontation initiated by Obama and championed by the defeated Hillary Clinton. In the past these opposed political factions accepted that they would rotate their titular leaders into and out of the White House, and whenever the need arose to depose one or the other, that business would be left to deep state forces to effect in secret and everyone would play dumb.

Now the game has changed. It’s all “obvious.” The deep state has seemingly gone shallow. Its supporters say so. All the smart people can see what’s happening. Even when what’s happening isn’t really happening.

“Only the shallow know themselves,” said Oscar Wilde.

October 5, 2019 Posted by | Deception, Militarism | , , , | 2 Comments

Whistleblower Report is US Intel Community ‘Tremor’ Caused by Barr’s Russiagate Origins Probe

Sputnik – October 3, 2019

US Attorney General William Barr traveled to Rome last week as part of his investigation into the origins of Russiagate. Meanwhile, Democrats have tried to paint Barr’s probe as enlisting foreign support for US President Donald Trump’s 2020 campaign, but really the probe “has the intelligence community scared,” an expert told Sputnik.

The Daily Beast reported Wednesday that Barr and US Attorney John Durham, who is heading the probe into why Trump’s 2016 campaign was watched by the FBI and CIA, had traveled to Rome last week as part of their investigation. At the Italian Ministry of Justice, they listened to a taped deposition given by Maltese academic Joseph Mifsud before he disappeared into police protection in 2017, explaining why people might want to harm him.

“Mifsud is the key to the whole Russiagate episode – and it’s a very strange episode … Mifsud is the guy who got the ball rolling,” Daniel Lazare, a journalist and the author of three books – “The Frozen Republic,” “The Velvet Coup” and “America’s Undeclared War” – told Radio Sputnik’s Loud and Clear Wednesday.

“Robert Mueller tried to paint Mifsud as apparently a Russian intelligence asset, but that is not true, because there is ample evidence … connecting Mifsud to Western intelligence. So it’s very important to get to Mifsud, to ask him who put him up to this, what they were thinking and why he did what he did. So apparently that is what Bill Barr is doing in Rome,” Lazare told hosts Brian Becker and John Kiriakou.

In March 2016, about eight months before the US presidential election, Mifsud met newly minted Trump campaign foreign policy adviser George Papadopoulos at an event at Link University in Rome, a CIA spy school set up to train employees of Italian intelligence services. Papadopoulos told Sputnik this past April that Mifsud offered to become his window to Eurasian politicos, attempting to woo the adviser by telling him that the Russian government had “thousands” of emails belonging to Hillary Clinton, then the Democratic challenger to Trump.

What happened next is in dispute. US special counsel Robert Mueller concluded that a drunken Papadopoulos blabbed the information at a mixer to Alexander Downer, then the Australian high commissioner to the UK, who then tipped off the CIA, which began the Russiagate investigation. However, Papadopoulos maintained he never told Downer, being conscious of staying on his guard that night, since he didn’t trust the diplomat.

That said, Freedom of Information Act requests by Citizens United this past June revealed that the Steele Dossier, another piece of evidence wielded by US intelligence to claim Trump was colluding with Moscow to steal the election, was actually begun well before any such tip could’ve been given. The dossier, really an assemblage of unsubstantiated claims about Trump churned out by a Ukraine-based research firm contracted first by Democrats, then by the FBI, was compiled by an ex-MI6 agent named Christopher Steele. The documents revealed the FBI knew about the political biases of the dossier – something that “should have set off alarms,” Kevin Brock, the former FBI assistant director for intelligence, told The Hill –  but pressed ahead in financing its compilation nonetheless.

However, when Mueller’s report was released this past March, it found no evidence of collusion, raising the question: why and how did several US intelligence agencies begin the Russiagate probe in the first place? In May, Barr set out to answer just that.

Lazare said he “strongly suspects” that the impeachment inquiry and attempts to stifle Barr’s investigation are part of a factional feud between two parts of the US ruling class.

The writer noted that “unlike [US Secretary of State Mike] Pompeo or Mueller, who are both dunderheads, Bill Barr’s a very, very smart guy, a very formidable guy. He seems to be … conducting a very serious investigation, and I think it’s reasonable to suspect that it has the intelligence community scared, and the intelligence community is, therefore, fighting back.”

“It seems that the most important part of this whistleblower’s report, which took … probably a couple weeks to compile with the approval of higher-ups in the intelligence community … it identified Bill Barr as part of Trump’s effort to enlist foreign support in his re-election campaign” for 2020, Lazare told Sputnik. “So it was really a strike against Barr, and I think that may be the most important part of this whole episode – that it’s sort of an attempt to stop Barr, to force him to back off, and to leave the CIA alone, which has a great deal to answer for, great deal, in this whole Russiagate episode.”

“Trump, and presumably Barr as well, are trying to zero in as to how this whole very weird episode got started. It seems that Barr is moving vigorously on this front, and it seems that tremors are being set off in the intelligence community, and I strongly suspect that this whole episode involving this strange whistleblower report is a manifestation – is one of those tremors going off,” Lazare said.

However, Lazare said he thought impeachment would ultimately “backfire” on the Democrats.

“First of all, the amazing incompetence of the Democrats just can’t be overestimated,” he said. “They’re amazing. And essentially what happened here is the CIA barked an order, and the Democrats snapped to attention.”

“But first of all, the first victim is going to be Joe Biden, I mean, Joe Biden is a dead man walking. This corruption involving his son is astonishing. It’s astonishing that Obama never stepped in, it’s a wonder the State Department didn’t raise any flags; they allowed this kind of nonsense to continue,” Lazare said.

“I think this will open up a huge can of worms. This will bring the infighting in the intelligence community up to the surface, and if Barr ever comes out with his report, which of course the Democrats will scramble to discredit, it won’t make the Democrats look good.”

October 3, 2019 Posted by | Deception | , , | 1 Comment