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US Senators Urge to Prevent Alleged ‘Russian Meddling’ in Mexico’s Election

Sputnik – February 1, 2018

WASHINGTON – The Trump administration should take steps to deter alleged Russian interference in the upcoming presidential election in Mexico and other parts of the Western Hemisphere, US Senators Tim Kaine, Marco Rubio and Robert Menendez said in a letter to Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and USAID Administrator Mark Green.

“We are deeply troubled by recent news articles that Russia is reportedly using sophisticated technology to meddle in Mexico’s upcoming election,” the letter said on Wednesday. “As such, we believe it is critical that USAID continue to play an active role in providing technical assistance, education and training to support countries’ efforts to strengthen electoral systems.”

The lawmakers fear Russia’s alleged actions in the region will cause instability, especially as six contentious presidential elections will take place this year in the Western Hemisphere, including in Brazil and Colombia, the letter said.

Tillerson is set to visit Mexico City on Friday to meet with Mexican Foreign Minister Luis Videgaray and Canadian Foreign Affairs Minister Chyrstia Freeland for talks on regional issues.

Russian ambassador to Mexico Eduard Malayan earlier this month dismissed rumors about Russia’s “interference” in Mexico’s forthcoming election as “nonsense.”

Russia has faced numerous accusations of meddling in elections since the 2016 US presidential vote in which then-Republican candidate Donald Trump claimed victory against the odds. The US intelligence community alleged that Trump’s campaign team colluded with the Kremlin to bring him victory in the election.

Similar accusations followed France’s presidential election, Spain’s Catalan referendum and the United Kingdom’s Brexit vote.

Russian officials have repeatedly refuted such accusations. Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov has called the claims groundless. Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov has stressed that the accusations of Russia meddling in the elections of foreign states were unsubstantiated.

READ ALSO:

CIA Prediction of Russian Meddling in US Midterm Elections ‘Nonsense’

February 1, 2018 Posted by | Russophobia | , , , , , | 1 Comment

Kaine, Pence and Their VP Debate Fact-Checkers Are All Wrong on Iran

By Nima Shirazi | Wide Asleep In America | October 6, 2016

If anything was made clear during the Vice Presidential debate between Tim Kaine and Mike Pence it’s that neither man knows much about the Iranian nuclear program. And neither do the fact-checkers tasked with judging the candidates’ own statements about it.

During the course of 90 excruciating minutes, Tim Kaine accused Iran of “racing toward a nuclear weapon” and repeatedly boasted that his running mate Hillary Clinton was responsible for “stopping” that “nuclear weapons program without firing a shot.” Meanwhile, Donald Trump’s veep pick Mike Pence kept insisting that the Iran deal, signed by six world powers and Iran in July 2015, effectively guaranteed that “Iran will someday become a nuclear power because there’s no limitations once the period of time of the treaty comes off.”

None of these claims is even remotely true.

Obviously, claims put forth by both Kaine and Pence rest on a wholly false presumption: that Iran is/was desperately trying to acquire nuclear weapons and has/had an active “nuclear weapons program” to achieve that goal.

As I have written endlessly:

International intelligence assessments have consistently affirmed that Iran has no nuclear weapons program. What Iran does have, however, is a nuclear energy program with uranium enrichment facilities, all of which are under international safeguards, strictly monitored and routinely inspected by the IAEA. No move to divert nuclear material to military or weaponization purposes has ever been detected. This is consistently affirmed by U.S., British, Russian, and even Israeli intelligence, as well as the IAEA. In fact, the IAEA itself has said there is “no concrete proof” Iran’s nuclear program “has ever had” a military component.

Eventually, due to the distinct and consistent lack of evidence for any nuclear weapons program, the United States echo chamber sidelined accusations of an active militarization program in favor of the round-about, jargon-laden claim that Iran was “intending to obtain the capability” to make nukes, rather than actually trying to make nukes. This, conveniently, put Iran in the position of having to prove a negative, despite being under the strictest IAEA inspection regime in history and providing access to its facilities above and beyond what was required by law.

The rhetorical bait-and-switch was plain for all to see when Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta admitted in 2012, “Are they trying to develop a nuclear weapon? No.” For good propagandistic measure, however, he added, “But we know that they’re trying to develop a nuclear capability, and that’s what concerns us.”

Around the same time, an unnamed U.S. intelligence official told the Washington Post that no decision had even been made in Iran to pursue nuclear weapons, explaining, “Our belief is that they are reserving judgment on whether to continue with key steps they haven’t taken regarding nuclear weapons.”

Early the following year, Panetta begrudgingly reaffirmed this assessment on Meet The Press. “What I’ve said, and I will say today,” Panetta told Chuck Todd, “is that the intelligence we have is they have not made the decision to proceed with the development of a nuclear weapon. They’re developing and enriching uranium. They continue to do that.” He added, “I think– I think the– it’s a clear indication they say they’re doing it in order to develop their own energy source.” The NPT guarantees signatory states the right to enrich uranium for nuclear energy production. There is nothing illegal or sinister about this and Iran has operated its enrichment program openly and under IAEA safeguards.

Panetta, in response to Todd’s repeated goading, eventually disputed the entire premise so often repeated by politicians and pundits: “I can’t tell you they’re in fact pursuing a weapon because that’s not what intelligence says we– we– we’re– they’re doing right now,” he said.

U.S. intelligence assessments have consistently affirmed this. In 2012, Director of National Intelligence James Clapper told a Congressional committee, “We assess Iran is keeping open the option to develop nuclear weapons, in part by developing various nuclear capabilities that better position it to produce such weapons, should it choose to do so. We do not know, however, if Iran will eventually decide to build nuclear weapons.” This finding has been repeated year in and year out.

Even the final report on outstanding allegations made by the United States and Israeli governments by the IAEA, released last December, was sensationalized to the point of absurdity. At most, the agency found, the “Possible Military Dimensions” of its nuclear energy program or the “Alleged Studies” that Iran had long been accused of conducting turned out to be merely “feasibility and scientific studies”(of nuclear and non-nuclear technology that has proven civilian uses), not active procedures or policies directed at making atomic bombs.

Moreover, and more importantly, this supposed research involved absolutely no diversion of nuclear material for non-peaceful uses, and therefore were not violations of either Iran’s commitments under its safeguards agreement with the IAEA or a breach of the NPT itself.

By actually assessing the facts, it is beyond clear that, despite decades of alarmism, hype and hysteria, Iran never violated the NPT, and there has never been any evidence of the existence of an “Iranian nuclear weapons program.”

Beyond this, Tim Kaine’s claims that Hillary Clinton was the driving force behind diplomacy with Iran are absurd. Quite the contrary, the breakthrough for talks – that is, the Obama administration deciding to drop the “zero enrichment” demand that had soured diplomatic efforts since 2005 – occurred despite Clinton’s insistence that Iran be denied their inalienable nuclear rights. This shift in policy was due primarily to the efforts of John Kerry, both as Senate Foreign Relations Chair during Obama’s first term and then as Secretary of State after Clinton left the office.

But Kaine wasn’t alone in his mistakes. Even fact-checkers didn’t get their facts straight.

For instance, in response to Kaine’s claim that Clinton “worked a tough negotiation with nations around the world to eliminate the Iranian nuclear weapons program without firing a shot,” PBS National Security Correspondent Mary Louise Kelly wrote this:

The deal slowed but does not eliminate Iran’s nuclear weapons program. Iran agreed to eliminate its stockpile of medium enriched uranium, to dramatically cut its stockpile of low enriched uranium, and to allow international inspectors to visit nuclear facilities — in exchange for relief from sanctions.

Again, Iran didn’t have a nuclear weapons program for anyone to eliminate. Furthermore, there is no such thing as “medium enriched uranium,” according to the International Atomic Energy Agency. There’s only low and high – Iran has never, ever, enriched uranium close to weapons-grade levels. Also misleading is Kelly’s assertion that the deal allowed “international inspectors to visit nuclear facilities,” considering that IAEA inspectors already had access to Iran’s nuclear infrastructure long before the deal was struck.

Other fact-checkers – from ABC to the New York Times – were similarly wrong on the facts, as noted by longtime Iran watcher Ali Gharib:

Hillary Clinton didn’t help to eliminate Iran’s nuclear weapons program because the talks weren’t about eliminating Iran’s nuclear weapons program because Iran didn’t have a nuclear weapons program at that time to eliminate. Kaine, therefore, did exaggerate Clinton’s role: he credited her with participating in talks that didn’t actually do what he said they did.

Pence’s insistence that the Iran deal failed at its primary mission was also wholly false. “The goal was always that we would only lift the sanctions if Iran permanently renounced their nuclear [ambitions],” said Pence, adding, “They have not renounced their nuclear ambitions. When the deal’s period runs out, there is no limitation on them obtaining weapons.”

Everything about this is wrong. Iran has publicly, repeatedly and consistently renounced any and all interest in acquiring nuclear weapons on legal, strategic and moral grounds for literally decades. Therefore, the phrase “their nuclear ambitions,” which Pence uses as a dog whistle for “pursuit of nuclear weapons,” doesn’t mean what Pence thinks it does.

As Gharib has also pointed out, Iran’s commitment not to obtain nukes goes well beyond the stipulations of the Iran deal. Even after the terms expire (and some of the most important ones never do), “having a nuclear weapons program will still be prohibited not only by Iran’s signature to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty but also by express promises the country made as part of the nuclear deal itself. The Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (the Iran deal’s formal name) says, ‘Iran reaffirms that under no circumstances will Iran ever seek, develop or acquire any nuclear weapons.’ It’s plain as day, right there in the first paragraph. And there’s no sunset clause on that pledge; it stays in force forever.”

The facts are plain, and are essential when discussing issues like this. But when it comes to Iran and American politics, there is no depth to which the propaganda won’t sink, with fact-checkers being dragged down with it.

October 8, 2016 Posted by | Deception | , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Clinton’s new book sells less than 3,000 in first week

By Rebecca Savransky | The Hill | September 14, 2016

Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton’s newest book sold fewer than 3,000 copies in its first week on sale, The New York Times reported.

The book, titled “Stronger Together,” outlines policies Clinton would pursue if she were elected president.

According to the Times, a book’s first-week sales normally make up about a third of the total sold.

The book features a photo of Clinton and her running mate, Sen. Tim Kaine (D-Va.), on the cover and labels it: “A blueprint for America’s future.”

It gives readers “specific and practical solutions, while also articulating a bold and expansive vision of change and renewal” and runs about 250 pages.

The proceeds from the book will reportedly go to charity.

In line with the release of the book, Clinton plans to do “a series of ‘Stronger Together’ speeches over the course of the next several weeks,” campaign spokeswoman Jennifer Palmieri said, according to the Times.

Clinton talked about her book last week.

“We’re putting out a book tomorrow, called ‘Stronger Together,’ which is our blueprint for America’s future,” Clinton said at the time, speaking with reporters on her plane. “We wanted voters to be able to find, in one easy place, all of the various plans and policies that I’ve been talking about throughout this campaign.”

September 15, 2016 Posted by | Book Review | , , | 1 Comment

Parliament and Congress Have No Power to Legalize War

By David Swanson | War is a Crime | September 26, 2014

Congress has fled town to avoid voting for or against a new war. Many of the big donors to Congressional campaigns would want Yes votes. Many voters would want No votes, if not immediately, then as soon as the panic induced by the beheading videos wears off, which could be within the next month. Better to just avoid displeasing anyone — other than people who notice you running away.

The standard for legal-ish cosmopolitan respectability in the U.S. now has become getting five kings and dictators to say they are on your side as you start bombing a new country.

But the British Parliament is still at the level of believing an actual vote by a legislature is appropriate. Do Americans remember that their beloved founding fathers put war powers in the hands of the legislature because of the ugly history of royal wars in Britain? Times have changed.

But if we want to actually comply with the law, we have to admit that neither Parliament nor Congress has the power to legalize attacking Syria. This is because both the U.S. and the U.K. are parties to the United Nations Charter, which bans war with very narrow exceptions — exceptions that have not been in any way met.

And if you want to get really serious about laws, the Kellogg-Briand Pact has never been repealed, the U.S. and U.K. are parties to it, and it bans all war without exception.

Now, you can interpret the Kellogg-Briand Pact to allow self-defense because the right to military self-defense, even when it’s unlikely to actually work, is just so obvious to your way of thinking. And the U.N. Charter explicitly allows military self-defense. But here’s the problem: There’s nothing defensive about attacking Syria, and President Obama himself described it as “offense” in an interview with Chuck Todd on NBC.

Another word for “offense” is aggression, which the Nuremberg tribunal called “essentially an evil thing . . . the supreme international crime, differing only from other war crimes in that it contains within itself the accumulated evil of the whole.”

Asked about Congress’s responsibilities on Tuesday, Senator Tim Kaine (D., Va.) claimed that presidents could fight defensive wars without Congress but needed Congressional authorizations for offensive ones. In fact, offensive wars are not legal by any common understanding. Asked, then, about international law, at an event at the Center for American Progress, Kaine reportedly said that bombing Syria, as distinct from Iraq, was “complicated” and that he was not sure “how they would do that, perhaps using principles of self-defense or defending Iraq against other threats. I think we’ll find out more about what the administration says about that after the UN General Assembly,” he said.

Only in America. Only the White House gets to invent legal rationale for blatant crimes, with the law makers and enforcers prepared to accept the rationale before they hear it.

Prior to the U.N. meeting, U.S. Ambassador Samantha Power wrote to the U.N. arguing that it is legal for the United States to attack Syria because it is legal for Iraq to defend itself. By this logic, if Canada experienced a violent rebellion, it would be legal for China to attack the United States.

It’s fun to pretend that the rule of law doesn’t matter to you because you have all the weapons. It’s fun to take two-month vacations from Washington. Just don’t count on everyone voting you back next year.

September 27, 2014 Posted by | Militarism, Progressive Hypocrite, Timeless or most popular, War Crimes | , , , , | Leave a comment