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How Corporate Media Got the Trump-Kim Summit All Wrong

By Gareth Porter | truthdig | June 11, 2018

For weeks, the corporate media have been saying that the Trump-Kim summit could have only two possible results: Either Trump will walk away angrily or Kim Jong Un will trick him into a deal in which he extracts concessions from Trump but never commits to complete denuclearization.

The idea that North Korea could not possibly agree to give up its nuclear weapons or its intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs) has become an article of faith among the journalists covering the issue for big media. Two themes that have appeared again and again in their coverage are that the wily North Koreans are “playing” Trump and that previous administrations had also been taken by North Korea after signing agreements in good faith.

But the media have gotten it all wrong. They have assumed that North Korea cannot live without nuclear weapons—without making any effort to understand North Korea’s strategy in regard to nuclear weapons.They have invariably quoted “experts” who haven’t followed North Korean thinking closely but who express the requisite hostility toward the summit and negotiating an agreement with the Kim regime.

One of the few Americans who can speak with authority on North Korea’s calculus regarding nuclear weapons is Joel S. Wit, who was senior adviser to the U.S. negotiator with North Korea, Ambassador Robert L. Gallucci, from 1993 to 1995, and who from 1995 to 1999 was coordinator for the 1994 “Agreed Framework” with North Korea. More importantly, Wit also participated in a series of informal meetings with North Korean officials in 2013 about North Korea’s thinking on its nuclear weapons.

At a briefing on the Trump-Kim summit last week sponsored by the website 38 North, which he started and still manages, Wit made it clear that this dismissal of North Korea’s willingness to agree to denuclearization is misguided. “Everyone underestimates the momentum behind what North Korea is doing,” he said. “It’s not a charm offensive or a tactical trick.”

Wit revealed in an article last month that the North Koreans had informed the American participants in those 2013 meetings that Kim was already anticipating negotiations with the United States in which North Korea would agree to give up nuclear weapons in return for steps by the United States that removed its threatening posture toward North Korea. Wit said his North Korean interlocutors had pointed to a June 2013 statement by the National Defense Commission of North Korea—the nation’s highest policymaking body—which they stated emphatically had been ordered by Kim himself to indicate a readiness to negotiate with the United States on denuclearization. The statement declared, “The denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula is the behest of our leader” and “must be carried out . . . without fail.” And it went on to urge “high-level talks between the DPRK [North Korea] and the U.S. authorities to . . . establish peace and security in the region.”

The statement came a few months after Kim had resumed nuclear testing in an intensive effort to establish a credible nuclear deterrent. In part that was because of the young Kim’s conviction that the United States believed it could “bully” his regime in the transition after Kim father, Kim Jong Il, died in December 2011, according to Wit’s North Korean interlocutors.

But those same North Korean officials also told Wit that the new buildup would be of limited duration—only until it became possible to improve relations with the United States. That explanation suggested that Kim was pursuing a military capability primarily to serve as an incentive for Washington to come to the negotiating table and as a set of bargaining chips to obtain what it really wanted—an end to the hostile policy toward the regime by the United States.

Wit revealed that in the private meetings with Americans, North Korean officials presented a concrete plan for a three-phase agreement with the United States on denuclearization in which each side would undertake a set of related steps simultaneously.The American participants were told that the first stage of North Korea’s implementation would be a freeze on its nuclear weapons development, followed by disabling key facilities and finally dismantling the facilities as well the nuclear weapons. The U.S. steps would include diplomatic recognition, ending economic sanctions and removing the U.S. military threat to North Korea, in part by finally bringing the Korean War to a formal conclusion.

It was the same approach to a denuclearization agreement to which North Korea had agreed in 1994 and again in 2005 and 2007, but which had failed primarily because of the reluctance of the Clinton and Bush administrations to commit to entering into a normal political and economic relationship with North Korea.

The political context for U.S.-North Korean negotiations has changed dramatically since 2013. The most obvious change is that North Korea has an ICBM capable of reaching the United States for the first time. Although it provoked threats by the Trump administration in 2017 to attack North Korea if it completed work on the ICBM, it also has prompted the White House to consider going further than previous administrations in meeting North Korean diplomatic demands.

Furthermore, in 2013, the South Korean government was hostile to diplomacy with the North, and the Obama administration was unwilling to consider any major political or security concessions to North Korea until after it had given up its nuclear weapons. Now South Korean president Moon Jae-in has gone further than any previous government in pushing to end the 70-year military tension and formal state of war between North and South. Moon’s commitment to a Korean peace agreement appears to be the single biggest reason that Kim switched gears so dramatically in a New Year’s Day speech that presaged dramatic diplomatic moves in 2018.

Reflecting the new political-diplomatic situation, in April Kim put forward a new strategic line calling for the bulk of the state’s resources to go to economic development. That replaced the bjungjin line that Kim had introduced in March 2013 putting economic rebuilding and military needs on an equal footing.

Kim has made major adjustments in the North Korean negotiating posture that prevailed when the 2013 meetings were held with nonofficial Americans. The North Koreans had insisted then that the United States would have to remove their troops from South Korea as part of any agreement, according to Wit. But that demand has now been dropped, as Moon told Trump in mid-April.

Kim also has frozen his entire nuclear weapons and ICBM programs by suspending testing and blowing up facilities and tunnels at its nuclear test facility in front of foreign journalists in advance of negotiations with the United States. What gives the freeze far-reaching significance is the fact that North Korea still has not shown that it has mastered the reentry technology or the guidance system necessary to have a convincing deterrent capability, as Defense Secretary James Mattis observed last December. And then CIA Director Mike Pompeo agreed in January that it would take a “handful of months” for North Korea to be able to master the remaining technological challenges—but that would require additional testing. The willingness to freeze the program before it had reached its goal indicates the predominance of Kim’s diplomatic aim over North Korea’s military ambitions.

Contrary to the idea relentlessly repeated in media coverage that there is no objective basis for a denuclearization agreement, it has become clear to Pompeo that Kim is serious about reaching such an agreement. Pompeo noted in his press conference that he had spent “a great deal of time” discussing the prospective deal in two meetings with Kim himself and three meetings with Kim’s special envoy, Kim Yong-chol. And based on the many hours of discussion with them, Pompeo said he believes “they are contemplating a path forward where they can make a strategic shift, one that their country has not been prepared to make before.”

Trump and Kim will be able to agree only on a broad statement of principles that reflect Pompeo’s meetings with the North Koreans, leaving significant differences remaining to be resolved in negotiations over the coming weeks. But this summit between what is surely the oddest couple in modern diplomatic history may well launch the most serious effort yet to end the U.S.-North Korean  conflict.

June 11, 2018 Posted by | Deception, Mainstream Media, Warmongering | , , | 1 Comment

Trump takes ‘Criminal Deep State’ to task amid claims FBI spied on his campaign

By Robert Bridge | RT | May 24, 2018

Hounded by claims of ‘Russian collusion’ for most of his presidency, Trump is now calling out the Obama administration over claims it had the FBI spying on his campaign. Can the Republican leader turn the tables on his accusers?

In a series of rapid-fire Tweets, Trump called upon the Justice Department to investigate claims that the FBI infiltrated his campaign for political purposes, possibly at the direct order of former president, Barack Obama.

“I hereby demand, and will do so officially tomorrow, that the Department of Justice look into whether or not the FBI/DOJ infiltrated or surveilled the Trump Campaign for Political Purposes – and if any such demands or requests were made by people within the Obama Administration!”

Needless to say, those are Watergate-level allegations, and it seems Trump may even possess the one thing the Mueller investigation has conspicuously lacked to date: hard-core evidence.

This month, it was revealed that Professor Stefan Halper, a foreign policy scholar at Cambridge University until 2015, was serving as an FBI mole inside of the Trump campaign.

The operation, started in July 2016 and codenamed ‘Crossfire Hurricane’, is a stunning revelation because for the last two years the FBI denied it was spying on the Trump campaign. Now there is the obvious question as to why the federal agency had infiltrated the Trump team in the first place. Was it simply to find evidence of ‘Russian collusion,’ or, as Trump has suggested, was it politically motivated?

Aside from the high creep factor of academics moonlighting as actual spies, Halper allegedly arranged meetings with campaign advisers Carter Page, George Papadopoulos, and Sam Clovis in an apparent effort to build the case for Russia collusion, the Washington Post reported.

As one example of his covert work, Halper reportedly “reached out to George Papadopoulos, an unpaid foreign-policy adviser for the campaign, inviting him to London to work on a research paper.”

Those efforts to dig up dirt on Trump, however, failed to give Robert Mueller his much-anticipated ‘gotcha!’ moment. Indeed, from Paul Manafort (indicted for corruption in Ukraine) to Stormy Daniels (former American porn star) to Evgeny Freidman (New York ‘taxi king’ and tax cheat), and every other shady character in between, Mueller has failed to make anything more than a tenuous connection to Russia.

Now, combine this ‘nothing burger’ with the debunked claims put forth in the Clinton-funded ‘Steele dossier,’ complete with “golden showers” in Moscow, and you have a very good case to “wrap up” the investigation, as Vice President Mike Pence recommended.

Here is why the Trump administration believes they have finally got the deep state blocked in with the latest findings: the FBI and DOJ must have known that there was zero evidence of Russian collusion since their mole (or moles) would have revealed that information long ago. At the same time, Halper is said to have begun his covert activities inside of the Trump campaign before Crossfire Hurricane began, which also complicates matters for the Democrats.

Thus, the entire Mueller investigation, Republicans argue, has been an elaborate farce, designed to tarnish Trump and the Republican Party in the run-up to the monumental midterm elections. Trump is already claiming that the tables have been turned on the Mueller investigation and the deep state.

“Look how things have turned around on the Criminal Deep State. They go after Phony Collusion with Russia, a made up Scam, and end up getting caught in a major SPY scandal the likes of which this country may never have seen before! What goes around, comes around!” he tweeted triumphantly Wednesday morning.

Naturally, Trump’s announcement triggered howls of pain from the Democrats. Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) accused the White House on Tuesday of putting “extraordinary, unusual and inappropriate pressure on the Department of Justice and the investigation into Russian meddling in the 2016 election.”

Schumer then lashed out at House Intelligence Chairman Devin Nunes (R-Calif.), who subpoenaed the DOJ for all documents related to the FBI informant earlier this month.

“A man like Devin Nunes, who, I hear privately from my Republican colleagues — they think he’s off the deep end,” he said in a personal affront.

That’s right. Schumer thinks it is Nunes who is “off the deep end” because the Republicans have a solid case for proving high-level political manipulation inside of the Trump campaign. The Senator doth protest too much, methinks. Meanwhile, members of the political right have suggested that Barack Obama, who was the Commander-in-Chief at the time of Trump’s campaign being infiltrated, should be forced to explain what prompted such a decision.

“If he doesn’t know, then it would seem a public explanation is also in order — about his management, and about just how far the ‘deep state’ went without specific presidential approval,” argued James Freeman, assistant editor of the Wall Street Journal.

On Thursday, House Intelligence Committee Chairman Devin Nunes and House Oversight Committee Chairman Trey Gowdy will meet with DOJ officials, who are expected to turn over documents detailing the federal intrusion of the Trump campaign.

I reached out to Lionel, legal analyst at lionelmedia.com and regular RT commentator, for some insight into Trump’s chances for emerging successful as he attempts to gain information from the Department of Justice and FBI.

First, there is the composition of the DOJ, which Lionel described, as only Lionel can, as a “Lernaean Hydra with many facets, divisions, jurisdictions and levels of loyalty.”

“There are lifetime, career prosecutors and agents not necessarily committed to an administration or party and there are the targeted, viz. the politically corrupt, biased, partisan and ‘Deep State’ swamp critters whom President Trump has so affectionately titled,” he explained.

Lionel says “the plot now thickens” as Attorney General Jeff Sessions tapped US Attorney John Huber, a Republican from the red state of Utah, to investigate all matters and issues the Republicans have been demanding.

“Huber is a federal prosecutor with plenary powers to empanel grand juries, obtain indictments and secure results that make those of a Special Prosecutor pale by comparison,” he explained. “Sessions has further ordered Huber to work in coordination with DOJ Inspector General (IG) Michael Horowitz and his staff of 470 that dwarfs any of that of a Special Prosecutor.”

“Moreover, the fact that this [US Attorney] is based in Utah means that he’s far from the fetid swamp that is Washington DC. Far from a potential grand jury pool that is anti-Trump, anti-Sessions and (ahem) anti-justice. The move tactically was brilliant.”

As far as the investigation against Trump, which just entered its second year, “Mueller’s status is an unconstitutional hybrid that normally would require Senate confirmation,” the legal analyst explained via email.

“The good news (or bad news, depending on one’s vantage) is that with a Huber-Horowitz team in place, Mueller’s outgunned, outmatched and outmanned.” In short, with the Huber-Horowitz team in place in distant Utah, this means “checkmate” for team Trump, Lionel believes.

Whether or not that prediction comes true, it will be very interesting to see what move the Democrats and the Mueller investigation makes next, because the available spaces on this chessboard of extremely high stakes are diminishing at a breathtaking pace.

Robert Bridge is an American writer and journalist. Former Editor-in-Chief of The Moscow News, he is author of the book, ‘Midnight in the American Empire,’ released in 2013.

@Robert_Bridge

Read more:

Spygate: Trump slams ‘criminal deep state’ over reports of informants in campaign

‘Obama already did it to the French’: WikiLeaks weighs in on Trump’s ‘Spygate’ claims

May 24, 2018 Posted by | Corruption, Deception | , , , | 1 Comment

Haspel is Not the Problem. The CIA is the Problem.

By Ron Paul | May 21, 2018

As a general rule, when Dick Cheney favors a foreign policy position it’s best to be on the opposite side if you value liberty over war and authoritarianism. The former vice president’s enthusiastic endorsement of not only Gina Haspel as CIA director but of the torture program she oversaw should tell us all we need to know about Haspel.

Saying that Haspel would make a great CIA director, Cheney dismissed concerns over the CIA’s torture program. Asked in a television interview last week about the program, Cheney said, “if it were my call, I’d do it again.”

Sadly, the majority of the US Senate agreed with Cheney that putting a torturer in charge of the CIA was a good idea. Only two Republicans – Senators Paul and Flake – voted against Haspel. And just to confirm that there really is only one political party in Washington, it was the “yes” vote of crossover Democrats that provided the margin of victory. Americans should really be ashamed of those sent to Washington to represent us.

Just this month, the New York Times featured an article written by a woman who was kidnapped and sent to the secret CIA facility in Thailand that Haspel was said to have overseen. The woman was pregnant at the time and she recounted in the article how her CIA torturers would repeatedly punch her in the stomach. She was not convicted or even accused of a crime. She was innocent. But she was tortured on Haspel’s watch.

Is this really what we are as a country? Do we really want to elevate such people to the highest levels of government where they can do more damage to the United States at home and overseas?

As the news comes out that Obama holdovers in the FBI and CIA infiltrated the Trump campaign to try and elect Hillary Clinton, President Trump’s seeming lack of understanding of how the deep state operates is truly bewildering. The US increasingly looks like a banana republic, where the permanent state and not the people get to decide who’s in charge.

But instead of condemning the CIA’s role in an attempted coup against his own administration, Trump condemned former CIA director John Brennan for “undermining confidence” in the CIA. Well, the CIA didn’t need John Brennan to undermine our confidence in the CIA. The Agency itself long ago undermined the confidence of any patriotic American. Not only has the CIA been involved in torture, it has manipulated at least 100 elections overseas since its founding after WWII.

As President Trump watched Gina Haspel being sworn in as CIA director, he praised her: “You live the CIA. You breathe the CIA. And now you will lead the CIA,” he said. Yes, Mr. president, we understand that. But that’s the problem!

The problem is not Haspel, it’s not John Brennan, it’s not our lack of confidence. The problem is the CIA itself. If the president really cared about our peace, prosperity, and security, he would take steps to end this national disgrace. It’s time to abolish the CIA!

May 21, 2018 Posted by | Subjugation - Torture, Timeless or most popular, War Crimes | , , | 2 Comments

Talk on “Extreme Weather and Extreme Politics”

By Roger Pielke jr. | The Climate Fix | May 1, 2018

Earlier this month I gave a talk at the University of Minnesota. It was my first public talk on climate since being “investigated” by Rep. Raul Grijalva (D-AZ) in 2015.

It is also the first and only invitation I’ve received to give a public talk on climate at a US university since 2015.

Before that I received about 2-3 invitations per month.

Delegitimization works.

You can see my slides from Minnesota at:

Twitter

PDF

Much of what I presented (and more) will appear in the 2nd edition of Disasters and Climate Change.

Below I document a key episode in my own experience that I have never looked back on in detail. The timeline is of use to me, shared here for anyone else who might be interested.

A Look Back at the Holdren-Pielke Debate of 2014

  • One of the more bizarre experiences I’ve had in the climate debate was when President Obama’s science advisor, John Holdren, posted a weird, 6-page screed about me on the White House web site.
  • Here is a reconstruction of and look back at those events, and an evaluation how they look from vantage point of 2018.
  • This look back is mainly just for me, as when you are in the spin cycle it can be hard to see what has happened at the time.
  • The Holdren episode ultimately led to me being investigated by a member of Congress with a major impact on my life and career.
  • I’ve not taken a close look back at this episode, it’s time for me to document exactly what transpired. If you are not interested, this would be a good place to take the exit ramp.
  • In July 2013, I testified before the US Senate Environment and Public Works Committee on extreme events.
  • You can see my 5 minute statement below and read my full written testimony here in PDF. That testimony was widely discussed.
  • I followed that testimony up with similar testimony before the US House a few months later, in October 2013.
  • I wrote a blog post explaining that the science on these issues was solid. Even so I argued that “zombie science” (to the contrary) would always be with us.
  • On February 14, 2014, Holdren was quoted as saying: “We really understand a number of the reasons that global climate change is increasing the intensity and the frequency and the life of drought in drought-prone regions. This is one of the better-understood dimensions of the relationship between global climate change and extreme weather in particular regions. . . There are other, more subtle, ways climate change may be affecting the prevalence of drought; scientists are still arguing about those. The three I just described are more than enough to understand why we are seeing droughts in drought-prone regions becoming more frequent, more severe and longer.”
  • Two weeks later Dr. Holdren was asked about these statements by Senator Jeff Sessions before the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, the same committee that I had testified before the previous July.
  • The full exchange between Sessions and Holdren can be found here, but below are the key excerpts.
  • After some sparring on what Dr. Holdren said or didn’t say a few week previous, Senator Sessions said:
    • “Well, let me tell you what Dr. Pilkey (sic) said, who sat in that chair you are sitting in today just a few  months ago, he is a climate impact expert, and he agrees that  warming is partly caused by human emissions. But he testified “It is misleading and just plain incorrect to claim that disasters associated with hurricanes, tornadoes, floods or  droughts have increased on climate change time scales either in  the United States or globally.”
  • Holdren replied with a delegitmization effort, saying that I was
    • “not  representative of the mainstream scientific opinion on this  point. And again, I will be happy to submit for the record recent articles from Nature, Nature GeoScience, Nature Climate  Change, Science and others showing that in drought-prone regions droughts are becoming more intense.”
  • Of course, Holdren was incorrect.
  • My views are 100% consistent with those of the IPCC, the very definition of “mainstream scientific opinion.”
  • Holdren promised to submit scientific evidence for the hearing record in support of his views, Sessions said he looked forward to it.
  • Three days later Holdren’s missive about me was posted on the White House website, titled Drought and Global Climate Change: An Analysis of Statements by Roger Pielke Jr ” (here in PDF).
  • Holdren singled out just 2 statements that I had made in my testimony:
    • “It is misleading, and just plain incorrect, to claim that disasters associated with hurricanes, tornadoes, floods or droughts have increased on climate timescales either in the United States or globally.”
    • Drought has “for the most part, become shorter, less, frequent, and cover a smaller portion of the U.S. over the last century”. Globally, “there has been little change in drought over the past 60 years.”
  • The quotes in blue above are from the US National Climate Assessment (former) and a Nature paper (latter) on global drought trends.
  • Holdren explained his objections:
    • “I replied that the indicated comments by Dr. Pielke … were not representative of mainstream views on this topic in the climate-science community; and I promised to provide for the record a more complete response with relevant scientific references. “
  • The slide below shows the entirety of my discussion of drought in my 2013 Senate testimony, which consisted only of quotes from the IPCC, the US CCSP and an image from the CCSP report.PielkeUMN04182018
  • Holdren did not mention hurricanes, floods or tornadoes in his 6 pages of response.
  • Holdren’s response blew up the internet (or at least the tiny part of it involving issues related to climate).
  • When the White House posts 6 pages about you, it gets noticed.
  • For my part, in response I wrote a blog response which you can read here.
  • In that post I noted:
    • “It is fine for experts to openly disagree. But when a political appointee uses his position not just to disagree on science or policy but to seek to delegitimize a colleague, he has gone too far.”
  • This was, as far as I am aware, the first time that a Science Advisor to the US President used his platform to seek to delegitimize an academic with whom he disagreed.
  • I am aware of no such comparable use of the authority and reach of the White House against a researcher.
  • The fact that I was singled out by the president’s science advisor was not reported on or commented on by the mainstream scientific media. Leading scientific organizations said nothing.
  • I found this pretty amazing, but c’est la vie.
  • If John Marburger, say, had gone after James Hansen, it’d have been a story.
  • I responded more forcefully in an article in The New Republic a few days later.
  • None of this mattered, I quickly learned that a lone academic is no match for the bully pulpit that is the White House and the powerful echo chamber of the online climate debate.
  • A few weeks later the campaign to have me removed as a writer for 538 was underway and 11 months later the investigation motivated by Rep. Raul Grijlava (D-AZ), which he indicated was the result of Holdren’s missive, was launched.
  • One of my close colleagues said to me at the time: “I’d love to come to your defense, but I don’t want them coming after me.”
  • Fair enough.
  • Let’s quickly take a look at the state of the science in 2018 on drought.
  • The 2017 US National Climate Assessment, prepared under the direction of John Holdren in the last months of the Obama Administration and released after Donald Trump became president concluded the following about drought:
    • “drought statistics over the entire CONUS have declined … no detectable change in meteorological drought at the global scale”
    • “Western North America was noted as a region where determining if observed recent droughts were unusual compared to natural variability was particularly difficult.”
  • Right.
  • It was an interesting experience.
  • I’m still here.

May 6, 2018 Posted by | Full Spectrum Dominance, Science and Pseudo-Science, Timeless or most popular | , | 1 Comment

Ex-DNI Clapper leaked Steele dossier info to CNN, then tried to deny it in Congress – House report

RT | April 28, 2018

James Clapper, the former director of national intelligence-turned CNN pundit, first denied and then admitted to discussing the anti-Trump ‘Steele dossier’ with a CNN journalist while in office, an intelligence report reveals.

The 253-page US House Intelligence Committee report on the alleged Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential elections outlines Clapper’s “inconsistent testimony to the Committee about his contacts to the media, including CNN.” Pages 107-108 feature the record of how Clapper “flatly denied” discussing the dossier compiled by Christopher Steele with the media during a congressional testimony in July, but then “subsequently acknowledged discussing the dossier with CNN journalist Jake Tapper.”

Tapper co-authored a breaking CNN report on a briefing that US President Donald Trump received from senior intelligence officials on a Steele Dossier.

The heavily-redacted House report notes that Clapper discussed the topic with Tapper around the same time that Trump and outgoing President Barack Obama received their respective briefings on the Steele dossier. The conversation took place in “early January,” which runs counter to Clapper’s own account of events, in which he previously insisted that he had not leaked any info to the media about the infamous dossier before he left office on January, 20.

The House report also says that the CNN article served as a trigger for all the subsequent dossier-related publications, becoming a “proximate cause of BuzzFeed News’ decision to publish the dossier for the first time just a few hours later.” The report notes that the dossier had long been circulating in the intelligence community and among the media, but only following the CNN release that cited “multiple US officials with direct knowledge of the briefings” in its report, Pandora’s box was opened.

Ironically, a day after CNN published its report, which it now turns out could have been sourced by Clapper himself, the former DNI chief publicly denounced the leaks, voicing his “profound dismay,” and saying that he does not “believe the leaks came from within the IC [ intelligence community],” the report notes.

The Steele dossier features unverified, salacious details about Trump’s stay in Moscow, sparking speculations that Russia might be in possession of compromising material, which it could use to blackmail the US president.

Topping off the Clapper-CNN controversy is the fact that soon after leaving office, he was hired by none other than CNN as its national security analyst. The timing is mentioned specifically in the House report, which says Clapper started working for CNN “shortly after his testimony to the committee.”

This is not the first time that Clapper has been caught red-handed lying to lawmakers. Last month marked five years since he told the US Select Committee on Intelligence how the National Security Agency (NSA) was not collecting the data on millions of Americans. Three months later, NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden uncovered a mass surveillance program that had been run by the agency for years.

April 28, 2018 Posted by | Corruption, Deception, Timeless or most popular | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Whether it’s Russiagate, Skripal or Syria, the Media Have Lost Their Grip on Reality

Despite a series of collapsing mainstream narratives, the establishment can’t help but doubling (and tripling) down on their official conspiracy theories.

By Paul Mansfield | 21st Century Wire | April 26, 2018

The “Blame Russia” for absolutely everything world we currently occupy has reached a point almost beyond return and is scaling heights that would turn Joseph McCarthy green with envy. Whether it is internally produced political turmoil and scandal, or because of generally reckless and failed foreign policy endeavours, the US and UK governments are more wiling than ever to pin the blame on Russia without fail.

The instant blame on Russia for the poisoning of Sergei and Yulia Skripal, or “highly likely it was Russia”, as Theresa May put it, proved grossly premature, graduating onto maybe not so likely at all – thanks to dedicated alt media and social media researchers and activists uncovering the development of Novichoks in multiple countries, making it entirely plausible that some country other than Russia may be responsible for the improbable Salisbury event.

No sooner did the Skripal Affair wind up, than another supposed ‘chemical attack’ unfolded, this time in Syria, where an alleged chemical weapons airstrike was said to have taken place in Douma on 7 April. Accounts of this incident were reliant entirely for its evidence on two dubious sources, the US and UK-backed White Helmets and the Syrian American Medical Society (SAMS). It didn’t take long before the official story started springing leaks though. The hilarity of seeing chlorine cylinders laying on a bed, rather than smashing through it, numerous witness statements there was no chemical attack, the testimony of over a dozen medical personnel at the medical centre concerned that the White Helmets caused a panic by shouting chemical attack when there was none and the interview of 11 year old Hassan Diab, who was not a chemical weapon victim, but certainly was a victim of an unwarranted drenching as part of a staged event, have all demolished yet another false flag instigated by western intelligence agencies and their White Helmets operatives. All this was irrelevant however to the criminal Troika, the US, UK and France, who bypassed the United Nations and bombed Syria in the early hours of 14 April, provoking Russia into an instant reaction which never came.

Some are of the opinion that the Troika and Russia reached an agreement beforehand and so therefore there was never the threat of outbreak of conflict which could escalate to a catastrophic WWIII.

Here is the White Helmets ‘hose-down’ video which triggered a western military intervention:

Faced with rapidly dwindling legitimacy and credibility, the UK government in particular set their attack dogs in the mainstream media on to alt media and social media activists. The result is a coordinated and intensive smear campaign against independent journalists, academics and social media activists with large followings. The gutter press of the UK have demonstrated that in terms of propaganda and disinformation, they are without peer. US media Russophobes almost look like babes in the woods in comparison.

What we are witnessing is a war on truth, vicious intimidation of dissenting voices, the negating of fierce independent voices as Russian puppets and bots and Assad apologists, and ad hominem attacks all designed to shut down a powerful narrative which shines a light on the warmongering narrative propagated by the mainstream media.

The campaign reached a level of absurdity beyond comprehension when Twitter activist @Ian56789 was asked by Sky News hosts if he was a bot as he was being interviewed live on air!

As disinformation against Russia soars off the fake news Richter Scale and independent journalists and activists are being personally targeted, one only has to revisit the recent Devon Nunes Memo story as an example of a real domestic US political scandal which the derelict US mainstream media attempted to transform into yet another Russian disinformation campaign.

You would have to be living under a rock to not know of the salacious, but unverified dossier on US President Donald Trump, which purportedly started out as a piece of opposition research during the 2016 election campaign, but quickly became the driving force behind allegations that Trump colluded with the Russian government in order to win the presidential election. In the mind of many a deep state adoring Democrat and mainstream media journalist, it is beyond dispute that Trump colluded with Russia. The major questions are how extensive the collusion was and does it amount to having committed federal crimes. To answer these questions, the Mueller investigation must continue expanding as far and wide as necessary.

Many Republicans believe the widely ridiculed and discredited dossier prepared by a former British spy, Christopher Steele, was the catalyst for the FBI decision to investigate allegations of Trump campaign collusion with Russia. A mocked and debunked dossier, which looked like it was concocted in a teenagers bedroom bought down on CNN and Buzzfeed a truck load of embarrassment when they decided to run with a story other media outlets balked at.

So how did it transform into such a vital document that initiated the Mueller probe into suspected Trump collusion with Russia?

We have had the mainstream media pumping this story 24/7. They will not let it go, determined that it bring about the downfall of Donald Trump. By gleefully accepting any lead from their highly coveted ‘sources’, the MSM begs to be subverted by the intelligence community, thereby subverting any prospect of a properly functioning US democracy and informed citizenry.

However, the revelations of #ReleaseTheMemo which alleged shocking FISA abuses by the FBI has raised the spectre of another alleged collusion; the FBI and the Obama DOJ colluding against Trump. The major accusation is that the FBI hid from the FISA court judge the fact that it was heavily relying on the dodgy Trump Dossier to obtain a surveillance warrant to spy on Trump, the man who was to become the future President. What is even more explosive is that it was not revealed to the judge that the Democratic National Committee and Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign paid for the dossier. Dirty partisan politics has gone a step too far in this sordid affair, with the DNC and FBI duping the FISA court into unwittingly assisting them in their campaign against Trump.

And let’s be clear here; this is the work of the Obama administration and any rigorous investigation would pursue whether or not the collusion against Trump went all the way to former president Obama himself.

Republicans were outraged and demanded the release of the memo.

This is hardly a surprise, being shocked and alarmed at possible internal interference in the election by US intelligence agencies, the very agencies that told us it was Russia that undermined US democracy by its electoral interference.

It is crucial to grasp the fact that this affair is a case of internal interference in the election campaign and has generated intense reaction within the US political establishment and among many in the general public.

One may question then the spin the Hamilton 68 propaganda organ placed on the interest whipped up by the memo. It attempted to reframe calls to release the memo as yet another so-called Russian influence operation, using trolls and bots to amplify the message across cyberspace.

Hamilton 68, a banal and comical operation, is projecting on to Russia the very thing it is doing itself; spreading disinformation aimed at undermining and destabilizing Russia, but also the US political system. On the strength of CNN’s dumpster diving, Hamilton 68 likes to tell us all about how the cryptic ‘Internet Research Agency’ in St. Petersburg is one big giant troll factory. Sorry, Hamilton 68, but you are one big NATO/Deep state cyberspace troll factory yourselves.

The Democratic Party Russophobia icons, Dianne Feinstein and Adam Schiff, quickly took the opportunity to deflect from the emerging memo scandal, pulling out the playbook of Russian subversion through social media for the umpteenth time. Quite comfortable with the fact that they have secured the social media giants as appendages of the US deep state, Feinstein and Schiff wrote to Twitter and Facebook asking them to investigate what they claimed are Russian bots spreading the #ReleaseTheMemo hashtag. The letter reads in part:

“… Several Twitter hashtags, including #ReleaseTheMemo, calling for release of these talking points attacking the Mueller investigation were born in the hours after the Committee vote. According to the German Marshall Fund’s Alliance for Securing Democracy, this effort gained the immediate attention and assistance of social media accounts linked to Russian influence operations. By Friday, January 19, 2018, the #ReleaseTheMemo hashtag was “the top trending hashtag among Twitter accounts believed to be operated by Kremlin-linked groups.” Its use had “increased by 286,700 percent” and was being used “100 times more than any other hashtag” by accounts linked to Russian influence campaigns. These accounts are also promoting an offer by WikiLeaks to pay up to $1 million to anyone who leaks this classified partisan memo.

If these reports are accurate, we are witnessing an ongoing attack by the Russian government through Kremlin-linked social media actors…”

Nice sleight of hand Hamilton 68, Schiff and Feinstein, but this is a scandal that whipped Republicans, not Russians into a frenzy. It is a stand-alone scandal that raised questions about the ethics, partiality and possible illegal acts of the US intelligence community and the Obama DOJ. It does not need any Russian trolls to inflate the gravity of the situation.

Florida Republican Rep. Ron Desantis tweeted, “Yesterday, I viewed a deeply troubling report compiled by House Intelligence that raises questions about Obama DOJ & the so-called collusion investigation.”

Desantis said it right there: collusion between the Obama DOJ and the FBI. If true, it is a shocking indictment on deep state interference in US politics, going all the way to the top in attempting to subvert the US presidential election.

So we have at least 2 allegations of collusion; the longstanding and tiresome Russiagate story, which the mainstream media will not give a moments rest and the newer, but equally shocking FBI/DOJ collusion emerging from the woodworks with the news of the classified memo.

You can read and watch RussiaGate stories in both US/Western MSM and Russian media. Fair enough, it was a big story, newsworthy and deeply concerning if it was true (the US media has overplayed their hand though to put it mildly). As time goes on and without a shred of evidence produced, it is time to put the whole issue to bed and move on. It is only the absurdity of the MSM insistence that collusion has been proved beyond doubt and any who question it are conspiracy theorists, that maintains the interest of the reasonable person, even if only to mock media figures and politicians who are the true conspiracy theorists.

The calls to release the Devon Nunes compiled memo also attracted huge coverage in both US and Russian media. However, US media framed it in terms of a partisan struggle between Democrats and Republicans; detracting from the implications of the abuse of the FISA system and placing the scandal into the realm of normal everyday, if somewhat dirty party politics.

There is nothing everyday about the possibility that this whole Russia investigation is in reality a conspiracy by top FBI officials and the DOJ to sabotage Trump and install Hillary Clinton (remember her?) as president. Look at Peter Strzok and Lisa Page as examples, whose texts made no secret of their contempt for Trump and their desire to see him lose the election.

So why did CNN, the New York Times and the supposedly reputable Business Insider deem it newsworthy to claim Russian influence networks were spreading the release the memo hashtag like wildfire across the social media landscape. Business Insider even implied the Nunes memo has been given wings by being amplified by Russian trolls and bots across the social media landscape.

The compiling of the memo by Republican aides on the House Intelligence Committee that led to the unfolding scandal was not initiated by Russia. The angry calls for action came from Republicans, not Russians.

We can’t even be sure if these so-called Russian networks of trolls are Russian at all. But let’s assume for a minute they are. Big deal if they spread the story. It is fascinating, very interesting and could have huge consequences of DOJ and FBI heads rolling. It also serves to relieve some of the pressure on Russia, so why wouldn’t they promote it heavily. They are merely acting in the interests of Russia, which no reasonable person could complain about.

Many people believe Americans are simply apathetic victims and that these supposed Russian trolls or bots are drowning them in disinformation, and that western media figures and politicians are powerless to stop it. That’s the mainstream’s moderate narrative. However, a look at the number of followers of some US media celebrities on Twitter should dispel that misinformation in a heartbeat. Rachel Maddow, with 9 million followers, retweeted a tweet by NBC reporter Ken Dilanian, a tweet which itself got 6K retweets and 19K likes. His tweet, included, “your #ReleaseTheMemo is the top trending hashtag among the Russian bots and trolls over the last 48 hours, and you might want to ask yourself why.”

So a media figure from NBC is clearly muddying the waters, throwing us a red herring in implying the nefarious hand of Russia is at play. Maddow gave Dilanian huge impetus in his attempt to try to flip the story to turn it into yet another opportunity to attack Russia. Deeply troubling allegations which could rock the foundations of the intelligence and justice communities are made a mockery of by a disreputable journalist who sees it as another chance to Russia bait. Before you know it, they will be telling us the #Memo was a joint venture put together by the FSB and Republicans, thus proving the collusion is still going as strong as ever. This level of hysteria is way beyond Cold War McCarthyism.

And when Rachel Maddow retweets something, how many likes and retweets does that generate. Enough to turn the Russian bots and trolls green (or should that be red) with envy.

Maddow herself is capitalizing very nicely on the Russophobia being generated by the whole Russiagate affair to boost her own ratings and affection within the political establishment. She has not got a single progressive bone in her body and epitomizes the dumbed down, hyped up claims about Russian interference in American political and social life. The spectacle is the theatre of the absurd, as Americans are subjected to Hollywood type entertainment to titillate and shock with the never ending “revelations” which roll out like clockwork. And, true to Hollywood style fiction, the more outrageous and sensational the better.

This is why Maddow is able to get away with calling Jill Stein a Kremlin puppet, and to feign seriousness and solemnity as she continues to call Trump a Putin puppet, putty in his hands, even as Trump has clearly embarked on a path which has plummeted US/Russian relations to their lowest point since the darkest days of the Cold War.

Maddow uses a technique for these claims which may enthrall Never-Trumpers and fill Le Resistance with fear, but it is straight from the neocon playbook. It is that any sign of Trump not being totally committed to overt and outright hostility to Russia proves that he is a Russian puppet. He must adopt the neocon attitude of Russia being the eternal enemy, the biggest threat the US faces and that it must be confronted and made to pay a price for its aggression, expansionist ambitions and meddling in US affairs.

Putin has Trump in a vice like grip with the “compromat” on him, using it to blackmail him in to doing Russia’s bidding according to Maddow. Putin is forcing Trump to declare war on the intelligence community, fomenting chaos in a crowning glory of undermining US national security. How better to leave the US vulnerable to the rapacious desires of Russia than by shattering the institutions of US national security.

Maddow believes Putin blackmailed Trump with the Golden showers tape to hire Paul Manafort as his campaign manager, to hire Rex Tillerson as Secretary of State, and to pressure him to withdraw US forces in Eastern Europe and the Baltics, (which hasn’t happened).

“Is the new President gonna take those troops out? After all the speculation, after all the worry, we are actually about to find out if Russia maybe has something on the new President? We’re about to find out if the new President of our country is going to do what Russia wants once he’s Commander-in-Chief of the US military starting noon on Friday. What is he gonna do with those deployments? Watch this space.”

In Maddows demented mind, anything less than the Trump administration universally standing poised to unsheathe their swords and land a mortal blow on Russia is proof of collusion with the Kremlin. Any conciliatory overtures are met by howls of derision by the Maddow/Hillary Clinton led “resistance.” Amid this red hot rhetoric and witch hunt for internal traitors, Maddow and her ilk are the ones to claim it is Russia sowing discord and discontent.

“This is international warfare against our country,” Maddow said on her show.

Maddow says she goes to bed every night wondering what new Russia scandal awaits the country the next morning, propelling the Russia hysteria all the way to election 2020 and bankrolling her show and career almost exclusively on one issue threadbare of any evidence. The McCarthy of the modern mainstream media some say. It’s Clickbait applied to cable TV you could also say:

“If the presidency is effectively a Russian op, if the American presidency right now is the product of collusion between the Russian intelligence services and an American campaign — I mean, that is so profoundly big, we not only need to stay focused on figuring it out. We need to start preparing for what the consequences are going to be if it proves to be true.”

‘If it proves to be true.’  That’s right, and we’re still waiting for the evidence.

Maddow and her fellow military industrial complex media mouthpieces don’t need evidence to believe Russia interfered in the election, as she spreads her poison to millions of viewers night after night. She sees Vladimir Putin as pure evil, the embodiment of the terrifying KGB and tells her viewers this repeatedly. She has become the torchbearer for an ever wilder conspiracy theory, whipping her audience into a frenzy, baying for Russian blood.

It is extraordinary that anyone listens to a word Maddow says after she produced her only evidence on Trump; his tax return which revealed he paid $38million in federal taxes on more than $150 million in income in 2005. Bombing out big time on alleged Trump tax cheating has clearly not stopped Maddow proceeding full steam ahead in accusing him of being a Kremlin installed puppet.

So who is running an influence campaign here, Moscow, or the US military industrial complex media?

What is never discussed outside of alt-media circles is how far were the FBI, the DOJ, and the Hillary Clinton campaign involved in what is increasingly looking every day more like FBIgate than Russiagate? What about the roles of powerful deep state actors like John Brennan and James Clapper, who are bound to have played a hand in concocting and promoting the official conspiracy theory? Clapper, who thinks it is in Russian DNA to hack things and Brennan who sees Russia as a long term threat intent on attacking US democracy, sternly warning the incoming President Trump not to ignore the huge threat Russia poses.

What was also not overtly acknowledged is that by pressuring for the release of the memo, Devon Nunes and other Republicans actually carried out a duty they were elected to perform; holding the intelligence community accountable. As former CIA analyst Ray McGovern of Consortium News said:

At this point, the $64 question is whether the various congressional oversight committees will remain ensconced in their customarily cozy role as “overlook” committees, or whether they will have the courage to attempt to carry out their Constitutional duty. The latter course would mean confronting a powerful Deep State and its large toolbox of well-practiced retaliatory techniques, including J. Edgar Hoover-style blackmail on steroids, enabled by electronic surveillance of just about everything and everyone. Yes, today’s technology permits blanket collection, and “Collect Everything” has become the motto.

The take-away from all of this is that no sin is too great, and no scandal can’t be flipped to pin the blame on Russia.

Meanwhile, any criminal or unethical conduct of Democrats and deep staters will not be plastered across the newspapers and cyberspace.

Don’t worry about it. Just say its Russian disinformation. Works every time.

April 26, 2018 Posted by | Deception, Fake News, False Flag Terrorism, Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Russophobia | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Washington Has Violated Iran Deal ‘Ever Since the Agreement Was Signed’

Sputnik – 25.04.2018

European leaders are clamoring for US President Donald Trump not to rip up the historic 2015 Iran nuclear deal. Whether or not Trump kills the deal, the US hasn’t been living up to its end of the bargain since the agreement was signed, according to Mohammad Marandi, a professor at Iran’s University of Tehran.

​French President Emmanuel Macron is in Washington to convince Trump to go against the suggestions of new neoconservative National Security Adviser John Bolton and keep the 2015 Iran nuclear deal intact.

While anything is possible between now and May 12 — when Trump must renew the the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) — Bolton’s role in the White House has led to increasing conviction among political observers that Trump will pull the US out of the history agreement struck by his predecessor.

“The Iranians have, for a very long time, been sensing that the deal is coming to an end. Ever since the agreement was signed, the United States has been violating it,” Marandi told Sputnik Radio’s Loud & Clear on Tuesday.

“Under [former] President Barack Obama, they passed the nuclear restriction laws. They also passed — again, despite promises to do otherwise — the Iran Sanctions Act. The Treasury Department has constantly added people and institutions to the sanctions list. But also, more importantly, the United States behind the scenes was putting pressure on banks, financial institutions, insurance companies and shipping companies not to work with Iran. That was in direct violation of the agreement, specifically between Articles 26 and 29,” Marandi, a professor of English Literature and Orientalism at the University of Tehran, said.

Earlier in the day, Trump actually hinted that he may have reached an “understanding” with Macron on the Iran deal. “We could have at least an agreement, among ourselves, fairly quickly… I think our meeting, our one-on-one, went very, very well,” Trump said following the meeting in the Oval Office, shortly before the joint news conference.

And during their joint news conference, Macron introduced the idea of building on top of the Iran nuclear arms deal to accomplish mutual goals instead of tearing up the JCPOA.

“We’re going to have a short little meeting and it turned out to be a long meeting, and it could have gone on for another two hours,” Trump said following extended talks with the French president. “We’ve come a long way — just the two of us — as understanding.”

“We talked about Iran. We talked about Syria… I think we really had some substantive talks on Iran, maybe more than anything else. We’re looking forward to doing something, but it has to be done, and it has to be done strongly,” the New York native said Tuesday.

April 25, 2018 Posted by | Deception, Wars for Israel | , , , , | Leave a comment

US govt spent $9mn on Soros-backed political campaign in Albania – documents

RT | April 5, 2018

Documents the State Department was forced to publish show that it spent almost $9 million on political reform in Albania coordinated with billionaire George Soros. The US government denies the expenditure was inappropriate.

The US Agency for International Development (USAID) channeled funds into a ‘Justice for All’ campaign to reform the judicial system in Albania in 2016. The campaign was run by Soros’s East West Management Institute, according to the conservative watchdog Judicial Watch. The group obtained 32 pages of State Department documents in a legal battle, which concluded with the US government submitting to a Judicial Watch Information Act (FOIA) request in exchange for a dropped lawsuit.

“The Obama administration quietly spent at least $9 million in US taxpayers’ dollars in direct collusion with left-wing billionaire George Soros’s backing of a socialist government in Albania,” Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton said in a statement.

Soros is a billionaire and “shouldn’t be receiving taxpayer support to advance his radical left agenda to undermine freedom here at home and abroad,” Fitton added.

Following the report’s publication, a USAID official told Fox News that the agency did not provide grants to Soros’s Open Society Foundation (OSF) in Albania, which is technically true according to the Judicial Watch publication. Instead, the US embassy in Tirana and the OSF “each provided funding to a local organization to conduct a public opinion poll on attitudes towards the Judicial Reform effort,” a document from February 2017 said. The poll’s result sounded favorable for the judicial reform championed by the OSF and the Obama administration.

“For decades, there has been broad bipartisan agreement in Washington, DC, on the need to promote democracy and human rights abroad,” a spokesperson for OSF told Fox News in a statement, adding: “Of late there has been an unfortunate and misguided effort to politicize this process.”

Fitton and Judicial Watch were especially critical of US Ambassador to Albania Donald Lu, whom the group called in the statement “a holdover from the Obama administration” and an official with inappropriately close ties to Soros. The embassy in Tirana, they point out, frequently asks representatives of the OSF to “participate in technical reviews” of applications for funding USAID receives, according to a February 2017 memo.

Judicial Watch accuses Lu of interfering in Albanian politics by backing the country’s ruling Socialist Party at the expense of the opposition. The group said that in May 2017 Lu declared that the US would recognize the results of the Albanian general election even if the opposition refused to participate.

In March 2017, five Republican senators wrote to then-Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, asking about claims that US taxpayer funds were spent on interfering in the internal politics of countries such as Albania, as well as neighboring Macedonia.

“This includes reports of diplomats playing political favorites, USAID funds supporting extreme and sometimes violent political activists, and the US government working to marginalize the moderates and conservatives in leadership roles,” Senator Mike Lee (R-Utah) said at the time, adding that “this behavior is unacceptable and must be halted immediately.”

Judicial Watch has also made FOIA requests about the activities of Soros groups in Macedonia, Romania and Colombia.

Judicial reform in Albania remains a matter of controversy. In December last year, opposition parties in the national parliament tried to stop the appointment of an interim prosecutor general – with is part of Albania’s transition to the new system – by igniting smoke bombs in the chamber. The radical move was meant to express protest against what they called an unconstitutional move by the ruling party.

Last month, the political establishment in Washington was up in arms over the Trump administration’s proposal to cut the budget for “democracy promotion” activities abroad, specifically funding for the National Endowment for Democracy (NED) and its partisan adjuncts, the National Democratic Institute (NDI) and the International Republican Institute (IRI).

Read more:

Establishment alarmed as Trump threatens to gut US ‘democracy promotion’ racket

April 5, 2018 Posted by | Corruption, Deception | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Hillary Clinton: Love, Kindness and Child Soldiers

By Brett Wilkins | Daily Kos | March 7, 2016

One of the darkest stains on President Barack Obama’s record is his active support for enslaved child soldiers in the name of the “national interest,” an abomination which blackens not only the president’s legacy but also that of Hillary Clinton.

As she battles toward the Democratic presidential nomination, Clinton has been preaching “love and kindness” to mainstream voters who view her as a humane alternative to the walking human rights violations named Trump and Cruz. “I’m going to keep saying it,” she said again during her Super Tuesday victory speech, “I believe what we need in America today is more love and kindness.”

However, too many of Clinton’s actions have demonstrated a glaring absence of love and kindness. Ranking high among these is her support for child soldiers. As Obama’s former secretary of state, she signed off on presidential policies that used American taxpayer dollars to provide training and military hardware to armies in which enslaved children are forced to kill, rape, torture, plunder and die, and it seems as if none of the self-proclaimed human rights advocates who support her care. Or maybe they just don’t know. For those who don’t know, here’s a little background info:

In his last year in office, President George W. Bush signed into law the Child Soldiers Prevention Act of 2008 (CSPA), which prohibits US military aid to nations whose armies include child soldiers among their ranks. CSPA contains a “national interest” waiver clause allowing the president to ignore the military aid ban if it is determined that granting such assistance to nations which violate the law serves the national interest.

In 2010, Obama issued a presidential determination granting CSPA waivers to Chad, Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Sudan and Yemen. The president sent his memo to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, arguing that it was “in the national interest” in the war against terrorism to continue providing training and equipment to these countries’ armed forces even though they use child soldiers. He assured that his action was a one-off. Clinton implemented the waivers without any public objection.

The following year, Obama shocked human rights advocates around the world when he once again granted sanctions waivers to the same four countries. There was less surprise in 2012 when Obama granted, and Clinton implemented, waivers for South Sudan, Libya, Yemen and, partially, DRC. This, shortly after Obama delivered a rousing speech to the Clinton Global Initiative—an address attended by Hillary Clinton—in which he condemned the use of child soldiers, saying, “when a little boy is kidnapped, turned into a child soldier, forced to kill or be killed, that’s slavery. It is barbaric, and it is evil, and it has no place in a civilized world.”

Unless, of course, it is determined that such barbarism is in the “national interest.”

In 2013, Obama granted waivers to Chad, South Sudan, Yemen and, partially, DRC and Somalia. In Chad, US-backed government forces were known to forcibly conscript children as young as 8 years old as recently as 2007. In South Sudan, the United Nations found that more than 9,000 child soldiers, many of them not even teenagers yet, were fighting on both sides of a brutal civil war. In DRC, where a decades-long conflict has claimed millions of lives, widespread child rape is a weapon of war used to terrorize targeted populations into submission. US-backed Congolese armed forces routinely kidnap girls as sex slaves.

By 2014, no one was surprised when Obama again granted CSPA waivers to five countries using child soldiers—Rwanda, Somalia, Yemen, DRC (partial) and Central African Republic (partial). He did so again last year, adding Nigeria and South Sudan to the list of exempted nations. All told, Obama has granted “national interest” waivers to authorize around $1 billion in military aid, including training and arms sales, to countries where child soldiers are exploited.

Rep. Jeff Fortenberry (R-NE), who authored CSPA and serves as vice chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on Africa, Global Health, and Human Rights, has called Obama’s repeated decision to provide taxpayer-funded military aid to countries whose armies enslave children as soldiers “an assault on human dignity.”

“Children belong on playgrounds, not battlegrounds,” asserted Fortenberry. “It is unconscionable that the United States of America continues to facilitate the militarization of children, whose innocence is stripped as they are forced to fight and kill—and are subjected to the real likelihood that they will be killed themselves.”

However, Obama has repeatedly calculated that America’s “national interest” trumps the lives of children forced to kill and die, to rape and be raped and to endure and commit other horrific crimes that no adult, let alone child, should ever have to face. Hillary Clinton, who served as Obama’s secretary of state from 2009 to 2013, signed off on the president’s first three rounds of CSPA waivers without objection, just as she supported the Bush-Obama war against terrorism—including the disastrous Iraq invasion—that has claimed and maimed hundreds of thousands of innocent men, women and children. Yet Clinton’s support for child soldiers hasn’t even been mentioned in any of the debates, town hall meetings or even by her Republican rivals. Shining light on this most despicable of practices simply does not serve the “national interest,” it seems.

April 2, 2018 Posted by | Militarism, Timeless or most popular, War Crimes | , , , , | Leave a comment

Let’s Investigate John Brennan

Time to find out if CIA interfered in the 2016 election

By Philip Giraldi • Unz Review • March 27, 2018

Former Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) Director John Brennan, a Barack Obama friend and protégé as well as a current paid contributor for NBC and MSNBC, has blasted President Donald Trump for congratulating President Vladimir Putin over his victory in recent Russian national elections. He said that the U.S. President is “afraid of the president of Russia” and that the Kremlin “may have something on him personally. The fact that he has had this fawning attitude toward Mr. Putin … continues to say to me that he does have something to fear and something very serious to fear.”

It is an indication of how low we have sunk as a nation that a possible war criminal like Brennan can feel free to use his former official status as a bully pulpit to claim that someone is a foreign spy without any real pushback or objection from the talking heads and billionaire manipulators that unfortunately run our country. If Trump is actually being blackmailed, as Brennan implies, what evidence is there for that? One might reasonably conclude that Brennan and his associates are actually angry because Trump has had the temerity to try to improve relations with Russia.

It is ironic that when President Trump does something right he gets assailed by the same crowd that piles on when he does something stupid, leading to the conclusion that unless The Donald is attacking another country, when he is lauded as becoming truly presidential, he cannot ever win with the inside the Beltway Establishment crowd. Brennan and a supporting cast of dissimulating former intelligence chiefs opposed Trump from the git-go and were perfectly willing to make things up to support Hillary and the status quo that she represented. It was, of course, a status quo that greatly and personally benefited that ex-government crowd which by now might well be described as the proverbial Deep State.

The claim that Trump is a Russian agent is not a new one since it is an easy mark to allege something that you don’t have to prove. During the campaign, one was frequently confronted on the television by the humorless stare of the malignant Michael Morell, former acting CIA Director, who wrote in a mind numbing August 2016 op-ed how he was proud to support Hillary Clinton because of her “commitment to our nation’s security: her belief that America is an exceptional nation that must lead in the world for the country to remain secure and prosperous; her understanding that diplomacy can be effective only if the country is perceived as willing and able to use force if necessary; and her capacity to make the most difficult decision of all: whether to put young American women and men in harm’s way.” Per Morell, she was a “proponent of a more aggressive approach [in Syria], one that might have prevented the Islamic State from gaining a foothold…”

But Morell saved his finest vitriol for Donald Trump, observing how Vladimir Putin, a wily ex-career intelligence officer “trained to identify vulnerabilities in an individual and to exploit them” obtained the services of one fairly obscure American businessman named Trump without even physically meeting him. Morell, given his broad experience as an analyst and desk jockey, notes, “In the intelligence business, we would say that Mr. Putin had recruited Mr. Trump as an unwitting agent of the Russian Federation.” An “unwitting agent” is a contradiction in terms, but one wouldn’t expect Morell to know that. Nor would John Brennan, who was also an analyst and desk jockey before he was elevated by an equally witless President Barack Obama.

So Morell is by his own words clearly an idiot, which explains a lot about what is wrong with CIA and is probably why he is now a consultant with CBS News instead of serving as Agency Director under the beneficent gaze of President Hillary Clinton.

Well, Trump’s fractured foreign policy aside, I have some real problems with folks like Michael Morell and John Brennan throwing stones. Both can be reasonably described as war criminals due to what they did during the war on terror and also as major subverters of the Constitution of the United States that has emerged as part of the saga of the 2016 election, the outcome of which, ironically, is being blamed on the Russians.

Back in 2013 John Brennan, then Obama’s counter-terrorism advisor, had a difficult time with the Senate Intelligence Committee explaining some things that he did when he was still working at CIA. He was predictably attacked by some senators concerned over the expanding drone program, which he supervised; over CIA torture; for the kill lists that he helped manage; and regarding the pervasive government secrecy, which he surely condoned to cover up the questionable nature of the assassination lists and the drones. Not at all surprisingly, he was forced to defend the policies of the administration that he was then serving in, claiming that the United States is “at war with al-Qaeda.” But he did cite his basic disagreement with the former CIA interrogation policies and expressed his surprise at learning that enhanced interrogation, which he refused to label torture because he is “no lawyer,” had not provided any unique or actionable information. He claimed that he had only “raised serious questions” in his own mind on the interrogation issue after reading the 525 page summary of the 6,000 page report prepared by the Senate Intelligence Committee which detailed the failure of the Agency program. Brennan’s reaction, however, suggested at a minimum that he had read only the rebuttal material produced by CIA that had deliberately inflated the value of the intelligence produced.

Surprisingly the subject of rendition, which Brennan must surely have been involved with while at CIA, hardly surfaced though two other interesting snippets emerged from the questioning. One was his confirmation that the government has its own secret list of innocent civilians killed by drones while at the same time contradicting himself by maintaining that the program does not actually exist and that if even if it did exist such fatalities do not occur. And more directly relevant to Brennan himself, Senator John D. Rockefeller provided an insight into the classified sections of the Senate report on CIA torture, mentioning that the enhanced interrogation program was both “managed incompetently” and “corrupted by personnel with pecuniary conflicts of interest.” One would certainly like to learn more about the presumed contractors who profited corruptly from waterboarding and one would like to know if they were in any way punished, an interesting sidebar as Brennan has a number of times spoken about the need for accountability.

Brennan was not questioned at all about the conflict of interest or ethical issues raised by the revolving door that he benefited from when he left CIA as Deputy Executive Director in 2005 and joined a British-owned company called The Analysis Corporation (TAC) where he was named CEO. He made almost certainly some millions of dollars when the Agency and other federal agencies awarded TAC contracts to develop biometrics and set up systems to manage the government’s various watch lists before rejoining the government with a full bank account to help him along his way. Brennan also reportedly knew how to return a favor, giving his former boss at CIA George Tenet a compensated advisory position in his company and also hosting in 2007 a book signing for Tenet’s At the Center of the Storm. The by-invitation-only event included six hundred current and former intelligence officers, some of whom waited for hours to have Tenet sign copies of the book, which were provided by TAC.

Brennan certainly knew how to feather his nest and reward his friends, but the area that is still murky relates to what exactly he was up to in 2016 when he was CIA Director and also quite possibly working hard to help Hillary get elected. He was still at it well after Trump got elected and assumed office. In May 2017, his testimony before Congress was headlined in a Washington Post front page featured article as Brennan’s explosive testimony just made it harder for the GOP to protect Trump. The article stated that Brennan during the 2016 campaign “reviewed intelligence that showed ‘contacts and interaction’ between Russian actors and people associated with the Trump campaign.” Politico was also in on the chase in an article entitled Brennan: Russia may have successfully recruited Trump campaign aides.

The precise money quote by Brennan that the two articles chiefly rely on is “I encountered and am aware of information and intelligence that revealed contacts and interactions between Russian officials and US persons involved in the Trump campaign that I was concerned about because of known Russian efforts to suborn such individuals. It raised questions in my mind whether or not Russia was able to gain the co-operation of those individuals.”

The testimony inevitably raises some questions about just what Brennan was actually up to. First of all, the CIA is not supposed to keep tabs on American citizens and tracking the activities of known associates of a presidential candidate should have sent warning bells off, yet Brennan clearly persisted in following the trail. What Brennan did not describe, because it was “classified,” was how he came upon the information in the first place. We know from Politico and other sources that it came from foreign intelligence services, including the British, Dutch and Estonians, and there has to be a strong suspicion that the forwarding of at least some of that information might have been sought or possibly inspired by Brennan unofficially in the first place. But whatever the provenance of the intelligence, it is clear that Brennan then used that information to request an FBI investigation into a possible Russian operation directed against potential key advisers if Trump were to somehow get nominated and elected, which admittedly was a long shot at the time. That is how Russiagate began.

So, Mr. Brennan, for all his bluster and scarcely concealed anger, has a lot of baggage, to include his possible role in coordinating with other elements in the national security agencies as well as with overseas parties to get their candidate Hillary Clinton elected. Brennan should be thoroughly investigated by Special Counsel Robert Mueller, to include subpoenaing all records at CIA relating to the Trump inquiries before requiring testimony under oath of Brennan himself with possible legal consequences if he is caught lying.

March 27, 2018 Posted by | Corruption, Deception, Subjugation - Torture, Timeless or most popular, War Crimes | , , , , | 1 Comment

Iraq +15: Accumulated Evil of the Whole

By Nat Parry | Consortium News | March 19, 2018

Robert Jackson, the Chief United States Prosecutor at the Nuremberg Trials of Nazi war criminals, once denounced aggressive war as “the greatest menace of our time.” With much of Europe laying in smoldering ruin, he said in 1945 that “to initiate a war of aggression … is not only an international crime: it is the supreme international crime differing only from other war crimes in that it contains within itself the accumulated evil of whole.”

When it comes to the U.S. invasion of Iraq 15 years ago today, the accumulated evil of the whole is difficult to fully comprehend. Estimates of the war’s costs vary, but commonly cited figures put the financial cost for U.S. taxpayers at upwards of a trillion dollars, the cost in Iraqi lives in the hundreds of thousands, and U.S. soldier deaths at nearly 5,000. Another 100,000 Americans have been wounded and four million Iraqis driven from their homes as refugees.

As staggering as those numbers may be, they don’t come close to describing the true cost of the war, or the magnitude of the crime that was committed by launching it on March 19-20, 2003. Besides the cost in blood and treasure, the cost to basic principles of international justice, long-term geopolitical stability, and the impacts on the U.S. political system are equally profound.

Lessons Learned and Forgotten

Although for a time, it seemed that the lessons of the war were widely understood and had tangible effects on American politics – with Democrats, for example, taking control of Congress in the midterm elections of 2006 based primarily on growing antiwar sentiment around the country and Barack Obama defeating Hillary Clinton in the 2008 primaries based largely on the two candidates’ opposing views on the Iraq War – the political establishment has, since then, effectively swept these lessons under the rug.

One of those lessons, of course, was that proclamations of the intelligence community should be treated with huge grain of salt. In the build-up to war with Iraq a decade and a half ago, there were those who pushed back on the politicized and “cherry-picked” intelligence that the Bush administration was using to convince the American people of the need to go to war, but for the most part, the media and political establishment parroted these claims without showing the due diligence of independently confirming the claims or even applying basic principles of logic.

For example, even as United Nations weapons inspectors, led by Swedish diplomat Hans Blix, were coming up empty-handed when acting on tips from the U.S. intelligence community, few within the mainstream media were willing to draw the logical conclusion that the intelligence was wrong (or that the Bush administration was lying). Instead, they assumed that the UN inspectors were simply incompetent or that Saddam Hussein was just really good at hiding his weapons of mass destruction.

Yet, despite being misled so thoroughly back in 2002 and 2003, today Americans show the same credulousness to the intelligence community when it claims that “Russia hacked the 2016 election,” without offering proof. Liberals, in particular, have hitched their wagons to the investigation being led by Special Counsel Robert Mueller, who is widely hailed as a paragon of virtue, while the truth is, as FBI Director during the Bush administration, he was a key enabler of the WMD narrative used to launch an illegal war.

Mueller testified to Congress that “Iraq has moved to the top of my list” of threats to the domestic security of the United States. “As we previously briefed this Committee,” Mueller said on February 11, 2003, “Iraq’s WMD program poses a clear threat to our national security.” He warned that Baghdad might provide WMDs to al-Qaeda to carry out a catastrophic attack in the United States.

Mueller drew criticism at the time, including from FBI whistleblower Coleen Rowley, for conflating Iraq and al-Qaeda, with demands that the FBI produce whatever evidence it had on this supposed connection.

Today, of course, Mueller is celebrated by Democrats as the best hope for bringing down the presidency of Donald Trump. George W. Bush has also enjoyed a revival of his image thanks largely to his public criticisms of Trump, with a majority of Democrats now viewing the 43rd president favorably. Many Democrats have also embraced aggressive war – often couched in the rhetoric of “humanitarian interventionism” – as their preferred option to deal with foreign policy challenges such as the Syrian conflict.

When the Democratic Party chose Clinton as its nominee in 2016, it appeared that Democrats had also embraced her willingness to use military force to achieve “regime change” in countries that are seen as a threat to U.S. interests – whether Iraq, Iran or Syria.

As a senator from New York during the build-up for military action against Iraq, Clinton not only voted to authorize the U.S. invasion, but fervently supported the war – which she backed with or without UN Security Council authorization. Her speech on the floor of the Senate on Oct. 10, 2002 arguing for military action promoted the same falsehoods that were being used by the Bush administration to build support for the war, claiming for example that Saddam Hussein had “given aid, comfort, and sanctuary to terrorists, including al-Qaeda members.”

“If left unchecked,” she said, “Saddam Hussein will continue to increase his capacity to wage biological and chemical warfare, and will keep trying to develop nuclear weapons. Should he succeed in that endeavor, he could alter the political and security landscape of the Middle East, which as we know all too well affects American security.”

Clinton maintained support for the war even as it became obvious that Iraq in fact had no weapons of mass destruction – the primary casus belli for the war – only cooling her enthusiasm in 2006 when it became clear that the Democratic base had turned decisively against the war and her hawkish position endangered her chances for the 2008 presidential nomination. But eight years later, the Democrats had apparently moved on, and her support for the war was no longer considered a disqualification for the presidency.

One of the lessons that should be recalled today, especially as the U.S. gears up today for possible confrontations with countries including North Korea and Russia, is how easy it was in 2002-2003 for the Bush administration to convince Americans that they were under threat from the regime of Saddam Hussein some 7,000 miles away. The claims about Iraq’s WMDs were untrue, with many saying so in real time – including by the newly formed group Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity, which was regularly issuing memoranda to the president and to the American people debunking the falsehoods that were being promoted by the U.S. intelligence community.

But even if the claims about Iraq’s alleged stockpiles were true, there was still no reason to assume that Saddam Hussein was on the verge of launching a surprise attack against the United States. Indeed, while Americans were all but convinced that Iraq threatened their safety and security, it was actually the U.S. government that was threatening Iraqis.

Far from posing an imminent threat to the United States, in 2003, Iraq was a country that had already been devastated by a U.S.-led war a decade earlier and crippling economic sanctions that caused the deaths of 1.5 million Iraqis (leading to the resignation of two UN humanitarian coordinators who called the sanctions genocidal).

Threats and Bluster

Although the invasion didn’t officially begin until March 20, 2003 (still the 19th in Washington), the United States had been explicitly threatening to attack the country as early as January 2003, with the Pentagon publicizing plans for a so-called “shock and awe” bombing campaign.

“If the Pentagon sticks to its current war plan,” CBS News reported on January 24, “one day in March the Air Force and Navy will launch between 300 and 400 cruise missiles at targets in Iraq. … [T]his is more than the number that were launched during the entire 40 days of the first Gulf War. On the second day, the plan calls for launching another 300 to 400 cruise missiles.”

A Pentagon official warned: “There will not be a safe place in Baghdad.”

These public threats appeared to be a form of intimidation and psychological warfare, and were almost certainly in violation of the UN Charter, which states:  “All Members shall refrain in their international relations from the threat or use of force against the territorial integrity or political independence of any state, or in any other manner inconsistent with the Purposes of the United Nations.”

The Pentagon’s vaunted “shock and awe” attack began with limited bombing on March 19-20, as U.S. forces unsuccessfully attempted to kill Hussein. Attacks continued against a small number of targets until March 21, when the main bombing campaign began. U.S.-led forces launched approximately 1,700 air sorties, with 504 using cruise missiles.

During the invasion, the U.S. also dropped some 10,800 cluster bombs on Iraq despite claiming that only a fraction of that number had been used.

“The Pentagon presented a misleading picture during the war of the extent to which cluster weapons were being used and of the civilian casualties they were causing,” reported USA Today in late 2003. Despite claims that only 1,500 cluster weapons had been used resulting in just one civilian casualty, “in fact, the United States used 10,782 cluster weapons,” including many that were fired into urban areas from late March to early April 2003.

The cluster bombs killed hundreds of Iraqi civilians and left behind thousands of unexploded bomblets that continued to kill and injure civilians weeks after the fighting stopped.

(Because of the indiscriminate effect of these weapons, their use is banned by the international Convention on Cluster Munitions, which the United States has refused to sign.)

Attempting to kill Hussein, Bush ordered the bombing of an Iraqi residential restaurant on April 7. A single B-1B bomber dropped four precision-guided 2,000-pound bombs. The four bunker-penetrating bombs destroyed the target building, the al Saa restaurant block and several surrounding structures, leaving a 60-foot crater and unknown casualties.

Diners, including children, were ripped apart by the bombs. One mother found her daughter’s torso and then her severed head. U.S. intelligence later confirmed that Hussein wasn’t there.

Resistance and Torture

It was evident within weeks of the initial invasion that the Bush administration had misjudged the critical question of whether Iraqis would fight. They put up stiffer than expected resistance even in southern Iraqi cities such as Umm Qasr, Basra and Nasiriya where Hussein’s support was considered weak, and soon after the fall of the regime on April 9, when the Bush administration decided to disband the Iraqi army, it helped spark an anti-U.S. insurgency led by many former Iraqi military figures.

Despite Bush’s triumphant May 1 landing on an aircraft carrier and his speech in front of a giant “Mission Accomplished” banner, it looked as though the collapse of the Baathist government had been just the first stage in what would become a long-running war of attrition. After the Iraqi conventional forces had been disbanded, the U.S. military began to notice in May 2003 a steadily increasing flurry of attacks on U.S. occupiers in various regions of the so-called “Sunni Triangle.”

These included groups of insurgents firing assault rifles and rocket-propelled grenades at U.S. occupation troops, as well as increasing use of improvised explosive devices on U.S. convoys.

Possibly anticipating a long, drawn-out occupation and counter-insurgency campaign, in a March 2003 memorandum Bush administration lawyers devised legal doctrines to justify certain torture techniques, offering legal rationales “that could render specific conduct, otherwise criminal, not unlawful.”

They argued that the president or anyone acting on the president’s orders were not bound by U.S. laws or international treaties prohibiting torture, asserting that the need for “obtaining intelligence vital to the protection of untold thousands of American citizens” superseded any obligations the administration had under domestic or international law.

“In order to respect the President’s inherent constitutional authority to manage a military campaign,” the memo stated, U.S. prohibitions against torture “must be construed as inapplicable to interrogations undertaken pursuant to his Commander-in-Chief authority.”

Over the course of the next year, disclosures emerged that torture had been used extensively in Iraq for “intelligence gathering.” Investigative journalist Seymour Hersh disclosed in The New Yorker in May 2004 that a 53-page classified Army report written by Gen. Antonio Taguba concluded that Abu Ghraib prison’s military police were urged on by intelligence officers seeking to break down the Iraqis before interrogation.

“Numerous incidents of sadistic, blatant and wanton criminal abuses were inflicted on several detainees,” wrote Taguba.

These actions, authorized at the highest levels, constituted serious breaches of international and domestic law, including the Convention Against Torture, the Geneva Convention relative to the treatment of Prisoners of War, as well as the U.S. War Crimes Act and the Torture Statute.

They also may have played a role in the rise of the ISIS terror group, the origins of which were subsequently traced to an American prison in Iraq dubbed Camp Bucca. This camp was the site of rampant abuse of prisoners, one of whom, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, later became the leader of ISIS. Al-Baghdadi spent four years as a prisoner at Bucca, where he started recruiting others to his cause.

America’s Weapons of Mass Destruction

Besides torture and the use of cluster bombs, the crimes against the Iraqi people over the years included wholesale massacres, long-term poisoning and the destruction of cities.

There was the 2004 assault on Fallujah in which white phosphorus – banned under international law – was used against civilians. There was the 2005 Haditha massacre, in which 24 unarmed civilians were systematically murdered by U.S. marines. There was the 2007 “Collateral Murder” massacre revealed by WikiLeaks in 2010, depicting the indiscriminate killing of more than a dozen civilians in the Iraqi suburb of New Baghdad – including two Reuters news staff.

There is also the tragic legacy of cancer and birth defects caused by the U.S. military’s extensive use of depleted uranium and white phosphorus. In Fallujah the use of depleted uranium led to birth defects in infants 14 times higher than in the Japanese cities targeted by U.S. atomic bombs at close of World War II, Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Noting the birth defects in Fallujah, Al Jazeera journalist Dahr Jamail told Democracy Now! in 2013:

“And going on to Fallujah, because I wrote about this a year ago, and then I returned to the city again this trip, we are seeing an absolute crisis of congenital malformations of newborn. … I mean, these are extremely hard to look at. They’re extremely hard to bear witness to. But it’s something that we all need to pay attention to, because of the amount of depleted uranium used by the U.S. military during both of their brutal attacks on the city of 2004, as well as other toxic munitions like white phosphorus, among other things.”

A report sent to the UN General Assembly by Dr. Nawal Majeed Al-Sammarai, Iraq’s Minister of Women’s Affairs, stated that in September 2009, Fallujah General Hospital had 170 babies born, 75 percent of whom were deformed. A quarter of them died within their first week of life.

The military’s use of depleted uranium also caused a sharp increase in Leukemia and birth defects in the city of Najaf, which saw one of the most severe military actions during the 2003 invasion, with cancer becoming more common than the flu according to local doctors.

By the end of the war, a number of Iraq’s major cities, including Fallujah, Ramadi, and Mosul, had been reduced to rubble and by 2014, a former CIA director conceded that the nation of Iraq had basically been destroyed.

“I think Iraq has pretty much ceased to exist,” said Michael Hayden, noting that it was fragmented into multiple parts which he didn’t see “getting back together.” In other words, the United States, using its own extensive arsenal of actual weapons of mass destruction, had completely destroyed a sovereign nation.

Predictable Consequences

The effects of these policies included the predictable growth of Islamic extremism, with a National Intelligence Estimate – representing the consensus view of the 16 spy services inside the U.S. government – warning in 2006 that a whole new generation of Islamic radicalism was being spawned by the U.S. occupation of Iraq. According to one American intelligence official, the consensus was that “the Iraq war has made the overall terrorism problem worse.”

The assessment noted that several underlying factors were “fueling the spread of the jihadist movement,” including “entrenched grievances, such as corruption, injustice, and fear of Western domination, leading to anger, humiliation, and a sense of powerlessness,” and “pervasive anti-U.S. sentiment among most Muslims all of which jihadists exploit.”

But rather than leading to substantive changes or reversals in U.S. policies, the strategy agreed upon in Washington seemed to be to double down on the failed policies that had given rise to radical jihadist groups. In fact, instead of withdrawing from Iraq, the U.S. decided to send a surge of 20,000 troops in 2007. This is despite the fact that public opinion was decidedly against the war.

A Newsweek poll in early 2007 found that 68 percent of Americans opposed the surge, and in another poll conducted just after Bush’s 2007 State of the Union Address, 64 percent said Congress was not being assertive enough in challenging the Bush administration over its conduct of the war.

An estimated half-million people marched on Washington on Jan. 27, 2007, with messages for the newly sworn in 110th Congress to “Stand up to Bush,” urging Congress to cut the war funding with the slogan, “Not one more dollar, not one more death.” A growing combativeness was also on display in the antiwar movement with this demonstration marked by hundreds of protesters breaking through police lines and charging Capitol Hill.

Although there were additional large-scale protests a couple months later to mark the sixth anniversary of the invasion, including a march on the Pentagon led by Iraq War veterans, over the next year the antiwar movement’s activities steadily declined. While fatigue might explain some of the waning support for mass mobilizations, much of the decline can also surely be explained by the rise of Barack Obama’s candidacy. Millions of people channeled their energies into his campaign, including many motivated by a hope that he represented real change from the Bush years.

One of Obama’s advantages over Clinton in the Democratic primary was that he had been an early opponent of the Iraq War while she had been one of its most vocal supporters. This led many American voters to believe in 2008 that they had elected someone who might rein in some of the U.S. military adventurism and quickly end U.S. involvement in Iraq. But this wasn’t to be the case. The combat mission dragged on well into President Obama’s first term.

War, War and More War

After its well-publicized failures in Iraq, the U.S. turned its attention to Libya, overthrowing the government of Muammar Gaddafi in 2011 utilizing armed militias implicated in war crimes and backed with NATO air power. Following Gaddafi’s ouster, his caches of weapons ended up being shuttled to rebels in Syria, fueling the civil war[sic] there. The Obama administration also took a keen interest in destabilizing the Syrian government and to do so began providing arms that often fell into the hands of extremists.

The CIA trained and armed so-called “moderate” rebel units in Syria, only to watch these groups switch sides by joining forces with Islamist brigades such as ISIS and Al Qaeda’s affiliate the Nusra Front. Others surrendered to Sunni extremist groups with the U.S.-provided weapons presumably ending up in the arsenals of jihadists or sometimes just quit or went missing altogether.

Beyond Syria and Libya, Obama also expanded U.S. military engagements in countries including Yemen, Somalia, Pakistan, and sent a surge of troops to Afghanistan in 2009. And despite belatedly withdrawing U.S. forces from Iraq, with the last U.S. troops finally leaving on December 18, 2011, Obama also presided over a major increase in the use of drone strikes and conventional air wars.

In his first term, Obama dropped 20,000 bombs and missiles, a number that shot up to over 100,000 bombs and missiles dropped in his second term. In 2016, the final year of Obama’s presidency, the U.S. dropped nearly three bombs every hour, 24 hours a day.

Obama also had the distinction of becoming the fourth U.S. president in a row to bomb the nation of Iraq. Under criticism for allowing the rise of ISIS in the country, Obama decided to reverse his earlier decision to disengage with Iraq, and in 2014 started bombing the country again. Addressing the American people on Sept. 10, 2014, President Obama said that “ISIL poses a threat to the people of Iraq and Syria, and the broader Middle East including American citizens, personnel and facilities.”

“If left unchecked,” he continued, “these terrorists could pose a growing threat beyond that region, including to the United States. While we have not yet detected specific plotting against our homeland, ISIL leaders have threatened America and our allies.”

Of course, this is precisely the result that many voices of caution had warned about back in 2002 and 2003, when millions of Americans were taking to the streets in protest of the looming invasion of Iraq. And, to be clear, it wasn’t just the antiwar left urging restraint – establishment figures and paleoconservatives were also voicing concern.

Retired Gen. Anthony Zinni, for example, who served as a Middle East envoy for George W. Bush, warned in October 2002 that by invading Iraq, “we are about to do something that will ignite a fuse in this region that we will rue the day we ever started.” Brent Scowcroft, national security adviser in the first Bush administration, said a strike on Iraq “could unleash an Armageddon in the Middle East.”

No matter, Bush was a gut player who had made up his mind, so those warnings were brushed aside and the invasion proceeded.

Campaign 2016

When presidential candidate Donald Trump began slamming Bush for the Iraq War during the Republican primary campaign in 2015 and 2016, calling the decision to invade Iraq a “big fat mistake,” he not only won over some of the antiwar libertarian vote, but also helped solidify his image as a political outsider who “tells it like it is.”

And after Hillary Clinton emerged as the Democratic nominee, with her track record as an enthusiastic backer of virtually all U.S. interventions and an advocate of deeper involvement in countries such as Syria, voters could have been forgiven for getting the impression that the Republican Party was now the antiwar party and the Democrats were the hawks.

As the late Robert Parry observed in June 2016, “Amid the celebrations about picking the first woman as a major party’s presumptive nominee, Democrats appear to have given little thought to the fact that they have abandoned a near half-century standing as the party more skeptical about the use of military force. Clinton is an unabashed war hawk who has shown no inclination to rethink her pro-war attitudes.”

The antiwar faction within the Democratic Party was further marginalized during the Democratic National Convention when chants of “No More War” broke out during former Defense Secretary Leon Panetta’s speech. The Democratic establishment responded with chants of “USA!” to drown out the voices for peace and they even turned the lights out on the antiwar section of the crowd. The message was clear: there is no room for the antiwar movement inside the Democratic Party.

While there were numerous factors that played a role in Trump’s stunning victory over Clinton in November 2016, it is no stretch of the imagination to speculate that one of those factors was lingering antiwar sentiment from the Iraq debacle and other engagements of the U.S. military. Many of those fed up with U.S. military adventurism may have fallen for Trump’s quasi-anti-interventionist rhetoric while others may have opted to vote for an alternative party such as the Libertarians or the Greens, both of which took strong stances against U.S. interventionism.

But despite Trump’s occasional statements questioning the wisdom of committing the military to far-off lands such as Iraq or Afghanistan, he was also an advocate for war crimes such as “taking out [the] families” of suspected terrorists. He urged that the U.S. stop being “politically correct” in its waging of war.

So, ultimately, Americans were confronted with choosing between an unreconstructed regime-changing neoconservative Democratic hawk, and a reluctant interventionist who nevertheless wanted to teach terrorists a lesson by killing their children. Although ultimately the neocon won the popular vote, the war crimes advocate carried the Electoral College.

Nawar al-Awlaki, 8, killed by US drone 1/29/17

Following the election it turned out that Trump was a man of his word when it came to killing children. In one of his first military actions as president, Trump ordered an attack on a village in Yemen on Jan. 29, 2017, which claimed the lives of as many as 23 civilians, including a newborn baby and an eight-year-old girl, Nawar al-Awlaki.

Nawar was the daughter of the al-Qaeda propagandist and American citizen Anwar al-Awlaki, who was killed in a September 2011 U.S. drone strike in Yemen.

Normalized Aggression

2017, Trump’s first year in office, turned out to be the deadliest year for civilians in Iraq and Syria since U.S. airstrikes began on the two countries in 2014. The U.S. killed between 3,923 and 6,102 civilians during the year, according to a tally by the monitoring group Airwars. “Non-combatant deaths from Coalition air and artillery strikes rose by more than 200 per cent compared to 2016,” Airwars noted.

While this spike in civilian deaths did make some headlines, including in the Washington Post, for the most part, the thousands of innocents killed by U.S. airstrikes are dismissed as “collateral damage.” The ongoing carnage is considered perfectly normal, barely even eliciting a comment from the pundit class.

This is arguably one of the most enduring legacies of the 2003 invasion of Iraq – an act of military aggression that was based on false pretenses, which brushed aside warnings of caution, and blatantly violated international law. With no one in the media or the Bush administration ever held accountable for promoting this war or for launching it, what we have seen is the normalization of military aggression to a level that would have been unimaginable 20 years ago.

Indeed, I remember well the bombing of Iraq that took place in 1998 as part of Bill Clinton’s Operation Desert Fox. Although this was a very limited bombing campaign, lasting only four days, there were sizable protests in opposition to the military action. I joined a picket of a couple hundred people in front of the White House holding a hand-made sign reading “IMPEACH HIM FOR WAR CRIMES” – a reference to the fact that Congress was at the time impeaching him for lying about a blowjob.

Compare that to what we see today – or, more accurately what we don’t see today – in regards to antiwar advocacy. Despite the fact that the U.S. is now engaged in at least seven military conflicts, there is little in the way of peace activism or even much of a national debate over the wisdom, legality or morality of waging war. Few even raise objections to its significant financial cost to U.S. taxpayers, for example the fact that one day of spending on these wars amounts to about $200 million.

Fifteen years ago, one of the arguments of the antiwar movement was that the war on terror was morphing into a perpetual war without boundaries, without rules, and without any end game. The U.S., in other words, was in danger of finding itself in a state of endless war.

We are now clearly embroiled in that endless war, which is a reality that even Senate war hawk Lindsey Graham acknowledged last year when four U.S. troops were killed in Niger. Claiming that he didn’t know that the U.S. had a military presence in Niger, Graham – who chairs the Senate Subcommittee on State, Foreign Operations, and Related Programs – stated that “this is an endless war without boundaries, no limitation on time or geography.”

Although it wasn’t clear whether he was lamenting or celebrating this endless and borderless war, his words should be taken as a warning of where the U.S. stands on this 15th anniversary of the U.S. invasion of Iraq – in a war without end, without boundaries, without limits on time or geography.

March 19, 2018 Posted by | Timeless or most popular, War Crimes | , , , , | 1 Comment

‘Bomb Iran & execute Snowden’: Brief history of Pompeo’s foreign policy rhetoric

RT | March 13, 2018

Newly-installed Secretary of State Mike Pompeo doesn’t have a huge amount of experience as a diplomat so what can we expect from the former Kansas congressman now that he is heading US foreign policy?

Pompeo landed the top job in the State Department on Tuesday after US President Donald Trump ousted Rex Tillerson. Here’s a flavor of his previous comments on the most pressing foreign policy issues.

Russia

Pompeo was appointed CIA director in November 2016. He began his tenure by talking tough on Russia, describing it as a major threat to US interests. “[Russia] has reasserted itself aggressively, invading and occupying Ukraine, threatening Europe, and doing nearly nothing to aid in the destruction and defeat of ISIS.”

He continued with the hawkish rhetoric throughout his time in the CIA. On Sunday he said that Americans are safe from Russia because it has weapons to counter any Russian threat.

“Americans should rest assured that we have a very good understanding of the Russian program and how to make sure that Americans continue to be kept safe from threats from Vladimir Putin,” the then-CIA chief said.

China

However Russia isn’t the only ‘bad guy’ out there, according to Pompeo. In a revealing interview with the BBC the then-US spy chief attacked alleged Chinese efforts to exert covert influence in the West. He claimed China attempts to post spies in schools and hospitals, as well as trying to steal information from US companies.

“We can watch very focused efforts to steal American information, to infiltrate the United States with spies – with people who are going to work on behalf of the Chinese government against America,” according to Pompeo. “We see it in our schools. We see it in our hospitals and medicals systems. We see it throughout corporate America. It’s also true in other parts of the world… including Europe and the UK.”

North Korea

After becoming CIA director Pompeo spoke of a desire to denuclearize the Korean Peninsula because of the danger of North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un possessing weapons of mass destruction. In recent days he reaffirmed this position, asserting that the Trump administration has “its eyes wide open” on North Korea as Kim agreed to pause nuclear testing ahead of forthcoming negotiations between the two nations.

“The pressure will continue to mount on North Korea,” he told CBS. “There is no relief in sight until the president gets the objective that he has set forth consistently during his entire time in office.”

Iran

Pompeo, who, like Trump, had a career as a businessman before turning to politics, has reserved his strongest rhetoric for Iran and the nuclear deal signed by former US President Barack Obama.

His opposition dates back to his time as a congressman when he said that the deal “won’t stop Iran from getting a nuclear bomb and places Israel at more risk.” Pompeo also criticized the Obama administration for not demanding that Iran cease calling for Israel’s destruction as part of the deal.

Before becoming CIA director Pompeo broached the possibility of using force to destroy Iran’s nuclear capacity. “In an unclassified setting, it is under 2,000 sorties to destroy the Iranian nuclear capacity,” he said in 2014. “This is not an insurmountable task for the coalition forces.”

Edward Snowden

Pompeo’s dramatic comments on Iran pale in comparison to the fate he thinks National Security Agency (NSA) whistleblower Edward Snowden deserves. The new secretary of state said that Snowden, who leaked classified NSA information, should be brought back to the US and sentenced to death.

“[He] should brought back from Russia and given due process, and I think the proper outcome would be that he would be given a death sentence,” Pompeo said in February 2016. He also lashed out at Snowden’s appearance via video link at the South by Southwest conference in Austin, Texas, in 2014, fearing it would cause “lawless behavior” in the crowd. The talk went ahead without incident.

Pompeo also had harsh words about WikiLeaks, referring to the whistleblowing organization as a “hostile intelligence service” in April 2017.

March 13, 2018 Posted by | Militarism, Russophobia, Timeless or most popular | , , | 1 Comment