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Reality Check: U.S. Can Legally Propagandize Its Own Citizens

Ben Swann | August 14, 2018

The head of the NSA says that the United States is engaged in a war of “weaponized information” with China and Russia… but what about the fact that it is legal for the U.S. government to propagandize its own people? Lets give it a Reality Check.

August 15, 2018 Posted by | Fake News, Full Spectrum Dominance, Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Timeless or most popular, Video | | Leave a comment

Qatar pledges $15bn of direct investments in Turkey – Ankara

RT | August 15, 2018

Qatar has pledged $15 billion of direct investment in Turkey’s financial markets and banks. The news comes in a statement released on Turkey’s President’s website following his meeting with Qatar’s Emir Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani.

“The Turkish President and Emir of Qatar met today [Wednesday] in the presidential complex in Ankara. They have exchanged views on bilateral relations and regional issues, Al-Thani said that Qatar intends to directly invest $15 billion in Turkey,” said a press release after the meeting.

The Turkish lira firmed to 5.8699, from 6.04 to the US dollar after the news. The record low level of 7.2 against the greenback happened on Monday.

The Turkish officials did not provide any further information on the nature of the investments, according to AP. Erdogan’s office said the pledge was made by Qatar’s head, Al Thani.

The investment will be channeled into Turkish financial markets and banks, a government source told Reuters.

The Turkish economy has recently been hit by a record depreciation in the national currency lira. On Friday, US President Donald Trump doubled tariffs on aluminium and steel from Turkey in response to the detention of a US citizen. American pastor Andrew Brunson is being held on terrorism charges in Turkey, facing up to 35 years in prison for his alleged role in a failed coup in 2016.

In response, Erdogan announced boycott of US electronic devices, including Apple iPhones. Turkey has also hiked tariffs on US goods such as tobacco, alcohol, cars, cosmetics and others.

August 15, 2018 Posted by | Economics | , , | Leave a comment

Protectionism for liberals

By Robert Skidelsky | Asia Times | August 15, 2018

Liberal revulsion at US President Donald Trump’s mendacious and uncouth politics has spilled over into a rigid defense of market-led globalization. To the liberal, free trade in goods and services and free movement of capital and labor are integrally linked to liberal politics. Trump’s “America First” protectionism is inseparable from his diseased politics.

But this is a dangerous misconception. In fact, nothing is more likely to destroy liberal politics than inflexible hostility to trade protection. The upsurge of “illiberal democracy” in the West is, after all, the direct result of the losses suffered by Western workers (absolutely and relatively) as a result of the relentless pursuit of globalization.

Liberal opinion on these matters is based on two widespread beliefs: that free trade is good for all partners (so that countries that embrace it outperform those that restrict imports and limit contact with the rest of the world), and that freedom to trade goods and export capital is part of the constitution, of liberty. Liberals typically ignore the shaky intellectual and historical evidence for the first belief and the damage to governments’ political legitimacy wrought by their commitment to the second.

Countries have always traded with one another, because natural resources are not equally distributed round the world. “Would it be a reasonable law,” asked Adam Smith, “to prohibit the importation of all foreign wines, merely to encourage the making of claret and burgundy in Scotland?” Historically, absolute advantage – a country importing what it cannot produce itself, or can only produce at inordinate cost – has always been the main motive for trade.

But the scientific case for free trade rests on David Ricardo’s far more subtle, counter-intuitive doctrine of comparative advantage. Countries with no coal deposits obviously cannot produce coal. But assuming that some production of a naturally disadvantaged good (such as wine in Scotland) is possible, Ricardo demonstrated that total welfare is increased if countries with absolute disadvantages specialize in producing goods in which they are least disadvantaged.

The theory of comparative advantage greatly widened the potential scope of beneficial trade. But it also increased the likelihood that less efficient domestic production would be destroyed by imports. This loss to a country’s production was brushed aside by the assumption that free trade would allocate resources more efficiently and raise productivity, and thus the growth rate, “in the long run.”

But this is not the whole story. Ricardo also believed that land, capital, and labor – what economists call the “factors of production” – were intrinsic to a country and could not be moved around the world like actual commodities. “Experience … shows,” Ricardo wrote,

“that the fancied or real insecurity of capital, when not under the immediate control of its owner, together with the natural disinclination which every man has to quit the country of his birth and connexions, and intrust himself, with all his habits fixed, to a strange government and new laws, check the emigration of capital. These feelings, which I should be sorry to see weakened, induce most men of property to be satisfied with a low rate of profits in their own country, rather than seek a more advantageous employment for their wealth in foreign nations.”

This prudential barrier to capital export fell as secure conditions emerged in more parts of the world. In our own time, the emigration of capital has led to the emigration of jobs, as technology transfer has made possible the reallocation of domestic production to foreign locations – thus compounding the potential for job losses.

Economist Thomas Palley sees the reallocation of production abroad as the distinguishing feature of the current phase of globalization. He calls it “barge economics.” Factories float between countries to take advantage of lower costs. A legal and policy infrastructure has been built to support offshore production that is then imported to the capital-exporting country. Palley rightly sees offshoring as a deliberate policy of multinational corporations to weaken domestic labor and boost profits.

The ability of companies to allocate jobs globally changes the nature of the discussion about the “gains from trade.” In fact, there are no longer guaranteed “gains,” even in the long run, to those countries that export technology and jobs.

At the end of his life, Paul Samuelson, the doyen of American economists and co-author of the famous Stolper-Samuelson theorem of trade, admitted that if countries like China combine Western technology with lower labor costs, trade with them will depress Western wages. True, citizens of the West will have cheaper goods, but being able to purchase groceries 20% cheaper at Walmart does not necessarily make up for wage losses. There is no assured “pot of gold” at the end of the free-trade tunnel. Samuelson even wondered whether “a little inefficiency” was worth suffering to protect things that were “worth doing.”

In 2016, The Economist conceded that “short-term costs and benefits” from globalization are “more finely balanced than textbooks assume.” Between 1991 and 2013, China’s share of global manufacturing exports increased from 2.3% to 18.8%. Some categories of US manufacturing production were wiped out. The United States, the authors averred, would gain “eventually.” But the gains might take “decades” to be realized, and would not be equally shared.

Even economists who concede the losses that come with globalization reject protectionism as an answer. But what is their alternative? The favored remedies are somehow to slow down globalization, giving labor time to re-skill or move to more productive activities. But this is scant comfort to those stuck in the rust belts or decanted into low-productivity, low-paid jobs.

Liberals should certainly exercise their right to attack Trumpian politics. But they should refrain from criticizing Trumpian protectionism until they have something better to offer.

Copyright: Project Syndicate, 2018. www.project-syndicate.org

August 15, 2018 Posted by | Economics | | Leave a comment

US-Turkish alliance reaches the point of no return

The sense of indignation among Turks should not be underestimated, which makes this an exceptional rupture

By M.K. Bhadrakumar | Asia Times | August 15, 2018

The Turkish lira fell 22% on Friday before recovering to 17% on the backdrop of the Trump administration’s announcement to double the tariffs on imports of Turkish steel and aluminum.

The tariffs affect Turkish exports worth more than $1 billion in trade with the United States.

The US was the top destination for Turkish steel exports in 2017. Turkey came in sixth place among the countries the US imported steel from last year, while the share of Turkish steel was 7% of total US steel imports.

More to the point, President Trump brazenly hinted that this was a political decision and he tauntingly noted that he also kept an eye on the Turkish lira’s exchange rate.

Trump tweeted: “I have just authorized a doubling of Tariffs on Steel and Aluminum with respect to Turkey as their currency, the Turkish Lira, slides rapidly downward against our very strong Dollar! Aluminum will now be 20% and Steel 50%. Our relations with Turkey are not good at this time!”

Trump’s tweet has been the proximate cause of the market mayhem hitting the Turkish lira. This comes on top of foreign investors pulling back money in recent months from the Turkish market even as the US Federal Reserve raised interest rates and cut back on asset holdings from quantitative easing. Unsurprisingly, the dollar has sharply increased in value and the lira has lost value and Turkish bond yields have risen.

Turkey traditionally resorted to external borrowing in foreign currency to bridge current account deficits. External funds were lured to the Turkish economy due to the higher yields, fueling growth in the Turkish economy, especially in the construction sector.

With the pullback of money from the Turkish market in recent months, Turkish companies and banks, which took out loans in dollars or euros, are staring at a potential crisis in repaying their debts. In sum, the currency exchange rate volatility is turning into a debt and liquidity crisis.

The financial crisis means that many Turkish companies may have to file for bankruptcy, which will hit the banks. Meanwhile, a cycle is forming as investor confidence dips despite Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s economic policy of low interest rates.

At such moments, psychological factors inevitably play a big part. Indeed, the Trump administration increasingly prefers to wage economic wars than deploying military force to exert “maximum pressure” in pursuit of foreign policy objectives. Russia, China, Venezuela, Iran, etc are glaring examples. Turkey now joins the rogues’ gallery.

Erdogan too has become a marked man due to his independent foreign policies that are undermining American regional strategies. Trump’s tweet virtually brags about his pressure tactic. Trump’s agenda is unmistakably to bring Erdogan down on his knees.

Turkey’s ruling Justice and Development Party traditionally drew support from the “bazaar” and the so-called “Anatolian Tigers,” who form Erdogan’s core constituency and are the worst affected in this crisis.

The intervention by credit agencies Merrill Lynch and Standard & Poor’s at critical junctures to rubbish Turkey’s credit rating was an early warning of an impending economic conflict.

Erdogan’s dilemma is two-fold. He could approach the International Monetary Fund for a bail-out, which is what Wall Street and Trump expect him to do. But if he does that, Turkish policies will be subject to tight US scrutiny. And Erdogan will not capitulate.

The alternative is that Erdogan takes help from elsewhere. In an op-ed in the New York Times last week, Erdogan sternly warned Trump: “Before it is too late, Washington must give up the misguided notion that our relationship can be asymmetrical and come to terms with the fact that Turkey has alternatives. Failure to reverse this trend of unilateralism and disrespect will require us to start looking for new friends and allies.”

However, Trump has now snubbed him by promptly doubling the tariffs on Turkish steel and aluminum. Erdogan is furious. He said on Sunday: “I declare that we have seen your plot and we are challenging it. There is no economic reason for the present [currency plunge] situation. This a plot to force Turkey to surrender in every field from finance to politics, to make Turkey and its people kneel down.”

The sense of indignation among Turks should not be underestimated, which makes this an exceptional rupture in what has been all along a problematic relationship through the past seven decades. Erdogan on Tuesday said he would enforce an embargo on all American electronic products – including the iPhone famously used to FaceTime CNN Turk the fateful night of the failed coup attempt two years ago.

Alienating Turkey to this extent will be a risky foreign-policy venture on Trump’s part. The US cannot have an effective Middle East policy while antagonizing both Turkey and Iran.

The wider regional geopolitical ramifications are yet to sink in. Turkey is a “swing” state and its policies cast shadows on several regions – from the Balkans, Caucasus and Central Asia to the Middle East and North Africa and the Mediterranean.

Iran has vastly gained in strategic depth. Tehran has expressed strong solidarity with Erdogan. A special envoy from Tehran visited Ankara and met with Erdogan on the weekend. Erdogan expressed a desire for an early meeting with Iranian President Hassan Rouhani.

Statements from Berlin and Rome already convey a growing sense of exasperation over Trump’s unwarranted sanctions against Turkey. In tackling the migrant or refugee crisis, Erdogan is a crucial partner for the EU. Turkey also has a Customs Union agreement with the EU.

The astonishing part is that all this is unfolding at a time when the US and NATO are raring to redraw the strategic map of the Black Sea to challenge Russia and when the US military presence in Iraq and Syria is facing growing local opposition.

Erdogan said on Sunday that Turkey is considering other markets and political alternatives to its “strategic partnership” with Washington. No doubt, China will be the big winner. China prioritizes Turkey as a key partner in its Belt and Road Initiative.

Trump is seriously underestimating the potency of Turkish nationalism, which is rising to a crescendo. In his Art of the Deal, nationalism has no place – business goes to the highest bidder. The Turkish opinion is hardening that the US was behind the 2016 July failed coup attempt in a concerted strategy to take control of Turkish policies, and the “economic war” is its latest manifestation.

August 15, 2018 Posted by | Economics | , , | 2 Comments

Saudi-US Propaganda by PBS NewsHour in Houthi-held Yemen

By William Boardman | Reader Supported News | July 24, 2018

One of the poorest countries in the Middle East, Yemen’s war has pushed it to the brink of famine. A Saudi blockade has slowed the flow of food and helped push prices up. Markets and businesses are ruined from airstrikes. Millions are destitute. Special correspondent Jane Ferguson smuggled herself across front lines to report on what’s happening inside the world’s worst humanitarian disaster.

— PBS NewsHour summary, July 2, 2018

This is what American tax-supported propaganda looks like when an organization like the PBS NewsHour wants to maintain a semblance of credibility while lying through its intimidated teeth. Yes, Yemen is one of the poorest countries in the world, long dependent on imported food and other life support. But to say “Yemen’s war” is major league deceit, and PBS surely knows the truth: that the war on Yemen is American-backed, initiated – illegally – in March 2015 by a Saudi-led coalition that includes the UAE (United Arab Emirates). The US/Saudi war is genocidal, creating famine and a cholera epidemic for military purposes. These are American and Arab war crimes that almost no one wants to acknowledge, much less confront.

The “Saudi blockade” is also a US Navy blockade. The blockade is a war crime. Starving civilians is a war crime.

The most amazing sentence is: “Markets and businesses are ruined from airstrikes.” Seems rather bland. But this is a tacit admission of more war crimes – Saudi bombing of civilian businesses, as well as civilian hospitals, weddings, and funerals. But PBS makes it sound like the airstrikes sort of come out of nowhere, like the rain. PBS omits the American culpability that makes the airstrikes possible: mid-air refueling, targeting support, intelligence sharing, and the rest. Think of Guernica, the fascist bombing of civilians that inspired Picasso’s painting. Now think of Guernica lasting three years. That’s what the US has supported in Yemen and that’s what PBS helps cover up.

Yes, “Millions are destitute,” and yes, this is “the world’s worst humanitarian disaster.” But an honest news organization might go on to note that the destitution and the disaster are deliberate results of the world’s most relentless war crime.

From a journalistic perspective, getting the perky blonde reporter Jane Ferguson into northern Yemen, where the Houthis have been in control since 2014, is an accomplishment of note. There has been little firsthand reporting from Houthi Yemen, where the worst war crimes have been committed and the worst suffering continues. Ferguson’s presence was certainly an opportunity for serious independent reporting. PBS didn’t allow that. Based on no persuasive evidence, PBS NewsHour host Judy Woodruff framed the report as coming from “territory held by the Iranian-backed Houthi rebels.” There is no credible evidence of meaningful Iranian support for the Houthis. To believe there is, one has to believe the Iranians are consistently getting through the US-Saudi blockade. PBS ignores such realities, as do most Washington policy-makers. Woodruff does acknowledge in her weaselly way that it’s “a brutal war that the United States is supporting through a Saudi-led coalition,” which is still a long way from the truth that it’s a genocidal bombing campaign made possible by the US.

Reporter Ferguson adds to the distraction by focusing on the poverty and suffering as if they came from nowhere:

Life is slipping away from Maimona Shaghadar. She suffers the agony of starvation in silence. No longer able to walk or talk, at 11 years old, little Maimona’s emaciated body weighs just 24 pounds. Watching over her is older brother Najib, who brought her to this remote hospital in Yemen, desperate to get help. The nurses here fight for the lives of children who are starving….

You were never supposed to see these images of Maimona. A blockade of rebel-held Northern Yemen stops reporters from getting here. Journalists are not allowed on flights into the area. No cameras, no pictures.

That last bit of self-dramatization of the daring journalist glosses over a harsh reality: in addition to waging a genocidal war on a trapped population, the US-Saudi axis is also enforcing isolation and censorship on the victim population. It is a US-Saudi blockade that keeps reporters out, preventing firsthand reporting of endless war crimes. Who says? Jane Ferguson says:

The Houthis cautiously welcomed me in and, once I was there, watched me closely.

Ferguson’s coverage of the hunger and starvation is heart-wrenching, journalism at its most moving but least informative. She frames her narrative falsely:

In the midst of political chaos in Yemen after the Arab Spring, Houthi rebels from the north captured the capital, Sanaa, in 2014, before sweeping south and causing the country’s then president to flee. Neighboring Sunni, Saudi Arabia, views the Houthis, from a Yemeni sect close to Shia Islam and backed by rival Iran, as an unacceptable threat along their border.

Political chaos is Yemen is decades if not centuries old, often fomented by the Saudis and other outside powers. The Houthis have been there for thousands of years (as Ferguson later acknowledges) and their dispute with the Saudis is ancient and territorial. The Houthis’ religion is independent. The influence of Iran is largely a Saudi night-fright made increasingly real by the war the Saudis say is supposed to stop Iran. This is contrary to the official story. Ferguson does not acknowledge it.

Ferguson pitches the second part of her three-part series, deceitfully understating American responsibility for the carnage. She doesn’t mention that the war would not have started without a US green light, saying only:

But there is a role played by the U.S. military, one that is sort of more passively behind, not quite as visible. And so we’re going to be looking at that role.

This is the official position of the Pentagon, which has claimed the US is not involved in combat in Yemen. The US role that is “more passively behind, not quite so visible” is still crucial to killing Yemenis on a daily basis. The war on Yemen began with US blessing and continues only because of US political, logistical, and materiel support. Jane Ferguson begins this segment with a reasonably accurate albeit morally numb description:

Inside rebel territory in Yemen, the war rains down from the sky. On the ground, front lines have not moved much in the past three years of conflict. Instead, an aerial bombing campaign by the Saudi-led and American-backed coalition hammers much of the country’s north….

Treating war crimes against defenseless people as a kind of natural disaster is barren of journalistic integrity and gives the war criminals a pass when they need calling out. Ferguson goes on in her antiseptic, no-one’s-responsible manner to illustrate the killing of civilians and the destruction of civilian facilities, including a Doctors Without Borders cholera clinic. She also documents US-made weaponry, including an array of unexploded bombs and a collection of cluster bombs. She doesn’t mention that cluster bombs are banned by most of the world and constitute a war crime in themselves. She does note that cluster bombs often wound civilians, then follows this fact with the gratuitously propagandistic comment: “The Houthis have also targeted civilians, throwing anyone suspected of opposing them in jail.” She has no follow-up, leaving the audience with a false moral equivalence between blowing off a child’s arm and throwing someone in jail. But it gets worse. Ferguson later gets off this political judo move:

Most people here, whether they support the Houthis or not, know that many of the bombs being dropped are American. It provides a strong propaganda tool for the Houthi rebels, who go by the slogan “Death to America.”

What does that even mean, “go by the slogan ‘Death to America’?” Again Ferguson has no follow-up. Later she shows a crowd chanting “Death to America” as if that has relevance. Why wouldn’t the defenseless victims wish death on the country that murders them without surcease? The main purpose of introducing “Death to America” (with all its Iran-hostage resonance) seems propagandistic, to inflame American audiences that remain in denial about their own very real war guilt. American-supported bombing of Yemen is a fact. It is, quite literally, “Death to Yemen.” For Ferguson to call it a “strong propaganda tool” is a Big Lie in classic propaganda tradition. For PBS to broadcast this lie is to engage in propaganda. PBS and Ferguson not only blame the victim, they characterize their very real victimization as if it weren’t true but mere propaganda. At the end of the segment, Ferguson once again engages in false moral equivalence:

Both the Houthis and the Saudi-led coalition have disregarded innocent civilian life in this war. Every bomb that falls on a hospital, office building or home causes more unease about where they come from.

While it may well be true that “both sides” have killed or wounded civilians, there is absolutely no comparison in scale. The US-Saudi coalition comprises mass murderers; the Houthis don’t come close. “Every bomb that falls,” Ferguson should have said, is dropped by the US-Saudi side on the Houthi side. There is no doubt where the bombs come from.

In her third and last PBS segment, Ferguson foregoes any effort to explore the reality of hundreds of years of Houthi-Saudi territorial conflict. Instead, she goes to bed with US propaganda, opening with a crowd of Yemenis chanting “Death to America” and then stating:

These rebels, known as Houthis, seized control of Sanaa City and much of the north of the country in 2014. They are of Yemen’s Zaydi sect and closest to Shia Islam. Their growing power caused alarm across the border in Sunni Saudi Arabia, so the Saudis formed a coalition of Arab countries to defeat them, a coalition backed by the United States.

This is so twisted it amounts to intellectual fraud. Yemen has a long, tortured history of foreign interference. In the years before 2014, Yemen served (without much choice) as a base for US drone bases. At the same time, the international community imposed a Saudi puppet as Yemen’s president (presently in exile in Saudi Arabia). In 2014, the Houthi uprising, widely popular among Yemen’s 28 million people, drove out both the US drone bases and the Saudi puppet president. The Houthis represented something like Yemeni independence, which the US, Saudis, and others opposed with lethal force.

US support for the war in Yemen constitutes an impeachable offense for two American presidents. So do continuing drone strikes, also known as presidential assassinations. The war began because President Obama approved it and the Saudis were willing to bomb a defenseless population. But according to Ferguson:

The Saudis and the United States say the Houthis are puppets for Tehran, a proxy form of Iranian military power right on Saudi Arabia’s doorstep.

This is real propaganda. There is no evidence that the Houthis are anyone’s puppets (which is one reason they need to be oppressed). Historically, the Houthis are an oppressed people who keep rising up again and again to re-establish their own freedom and independence. There is no credible evidence of significant Iranian presence in Yemen. PBS and Ferguson certainly present none, and neither have the US or Saudi governments. American demonization of Iran has been a fixed idea since 1979, rooted in two psychopathologies: American unwillingness to accept responsibility for imposing a police state on Iran and American inability to see the hostage-taking of 1979 as a rational response to past American predation. American exceptionalism is a sickness that punishes others, currently millions of innocent Yemenis.

Ferguson concludes her series with a dishonest use of journalistic balance, first with a quote from Senator Bernie Sanders arguing that the US role in the Yemen war is unconstitutional. Rather than assess that straightforward argument, Ferguson turns to an Idaho Republican, Senator James Reich, who offers fairy dust and lies:

The Iranians are in there and they are causing the difficulty that’s there. If the Iranians would back off, I have no doubt that the Saudis will back off. But the Saudis have the absolute right to defend themselves.

Imaginary Iranians aren’t there now and they weren’t there when the Saudis attacked in 2015. No one attacked Saudi Arabia. The Saudis are not defending themselves, they are waging aggressive war.

By balancing these quotes, Ferguson creates yet another false moral equivalence. There is no meaningful equivalence between Bernie Sanders challenging the president’s right to take the country to war on his own and James Reich using a lie to defend war-making that disregards Congress. PBS should be ashamed. Jane Ferguson offers a fig leaf with another quote from Bernie Sanders:

I don’t know that I have ever participated in a vote which says that the United States must be an ally to Saudi’s militaristic ambitions. This is a despotic regime which treats women as third-class citizens. There are no elections there. They have their own goals and their own ambitions.*

All this is true, but Ferguson has no follow up. Instead she again offers spurious analysis: “American support for Saudi Arabia is a major propaganda tool for the Houthis.” No, it’s not. American support for the Saudis is not propaganda, it’s a lethal reality for the Houthis and a crime against humanity for the world. Ferguson completes her piece with a soppy lament for civilian victims, as if no one is responsible for their suffering. That’s one last lie. There are many people responsible for the horror in Yemen today and leading the list is the US-Saudi coalition. It doesn’t take much intelligence to see that, but apparently it takes more courage than PBS has to report the obvious.

*[Yet Sanders campaigned on using Saudi troops to depose Syria’s legitimate and secular government – Aletho News ]

August 14, 2018 Posted by | Deception, Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Timeless or most popular, War Crimes | , , , , | 1 Comment

Senator Mark Warner Proposes the End of Free Speech – The Revenge of Hillary

By Martin Armstrong | Armstrong Economics | August 13, 2018

Senate Democrats are circulating a proposal based upon their claim of Russian hacking that will completely takeover the internet and social media which has been leaked. They are adopting the EU approach to silence political criticism. They claim it is necessary, just as the EU argued, that they must act to prevent Russian hackers and “restore” the people’s trust in our institutions, democracy, and the free press. They are proposing comprehensive GDPR-like data protection legislation following the EU. They are calling it a proposal for “Regulation of Social Media and Technology Firms,” and the draft was created by Sen. Mark Warner.

The entire regulation is based upon Russians and it claims they are deliberately spreading disinformation. To justify this act, they also point back to the old Soviet Union stating they attempted to spread “fake news” denigrating Martin Luther King. Despite the Democrats and their campaign to start World War III over Hillary’s emails, of which nobody denied were fake just hacked, their proposal is effectively to shut down anything they can call “hate speech” targeted at them, not Trump of course.

Warner’s paper suggests outlawing companies who fail to label bots and impose Draconian criminal penalties and huge fines. Effectively, they want people to pay for everything. The Democrats want full disclosure regarding ANY online political speech. They even want the Federal Trade Commission to have unbelievable power and require all companies’ algorithms to be audited by the feds as if they even have qualified staff to conduct such audits. On top of that, they have proposed tech platforms above a certain size MUST turn over internal data and processes to “independent public interest researchers” so they can identify potential “public health/addiction effects, anticompetitive behavior, radicalization,” scams, “user propagated misinformation,” and harassment—data that could be used to “inform actions by regulators or Congress.” This is a complete violation of both the First and Fourth Amendment. They want the same mechanisms in Europe where anyone can complain and demand the content be taken down or subject to fines that can confiscate all assets. Sounds to me like retirement is on the horizon.

This bill would effectively end all our freedoms. This is what is wrong with career politicians. They look at the world ONLY through the eyes of government – NEVER the people. What we are facing is the Revenge of Hillary – loss of Free Speech and this constant push to reestablish the Cold War and move to World War III. The Democrats have become the party of hate and they have been the party that always starts wars with the only exception being Iraq and that was Dick Cheney & Donald Rumsfeld.

August 14, 2018 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Full Spectrum Dominance | , , | 1 Comment

Russian Armaments Completely Adhere to International Law – Kremlin

Sputnik – 14.08.2018

MOSCOW – All new Russian armaments are consistent with the letter and spirit of international agreements, Russia has never violated them, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said on Tuesday.

“The president has said that all new armaments are fully consistent with the spirit and letter of relevant international documents. Russia has never violated its obligations under international law and remains committed to them,” Peskov told reporters.

The spokesman stressed that the positioning of Russia as a threat to the United States is groundless, as the US defense budget has always exceeded that of Russia’s.

On Monday, US President Donald Trump signed the 2019 National Defense Authorization Act into law. According to the bill, the United States will discuss with Russia if the latter’s new strategic weapon systems, including the Sarmat missile system, the air-launched nuclear-powered cruise missile X-101, the unmanned underwater vehicle the US government calls “Status 6,” and the long-distance guided flight hypersonic glide vehicle Avangard, are in compliance with the New START treaty.

August 14, 2018 Posted by | Militarism | , | Leave a comment

‘Dismantling global security’: Russian lawmakers dismiss US claims of Open Skies violations

RT | August 14, 2018

High-ranking members of the Russian parliament have stated that Washington’s refusal to cooperate with Moscow on the Open Skies Treaty is based on unfounded charges as Russia has always stuck to its obligations.

“The United States’ accusations in our address are completely unfounded. Russia is acting strictly in accordance with the existing agreements and their terms – the same applies to the treaty on destruction of chemical weapons,” Senator Yevgeniy Serebrennikov said in comments to RIA Novosti.

The senator reacted to the recent news that the US National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) for 2019, signed by President Donald Trump on Monday, contained a ban on using any funds appropriated by it “to modify any United States aircraft for purposes of implementing the Open Skies Treaty” in response to alleged previous violations of this treaty by Russia.

The head of the Russian Upper House Committee for International Relations, Senator Konstantin Kosachev, said that the US move to freeze its participation in the Open Skies Treaty must be scrutinized by the treaty’s consultative commission. He added that the treaty allowed any of its signatories to deny other participants a particular inspection and also to exit it completely, but had no provisions for a freeze of cooperation between any two of its members.

“Therefore, in my opinion, the US decision contradicts its obligations fixed in the treaty and this must be considered by the Consultative Commission,” Kosachev was quoted as saying by TASS.

Russia’s Deputy Foreign Minister Sergey Ryabkov said that Washington’s move to freeze cooperation with Russia on the Open Skies Treaty was an example of unilateral actions that were unacceptable for civilized dialogue between nations.

“Apart from the extremely high military budget, de-facto the record high $719 billion, the new act contains a number of provisions that boil down to an attempt to impose on other nations the decisions of some well-known problems in the sphere of arms control. They should be regulated by talks and a common search for an acceptable solution at the negotiations table,” the diplomat was quoted as saying by Interfax on Tuesday.

“We are constantly urging the US side to act like this, but unfortunately instead of some constructive replies we only witness new manifestations of the course aimed at dismantling the global security architecture and the existing system of agreements in the field of arms control,” he added.

The Open Skies Treaty was signed in 1992 and became one of the measures to build confidence in post-Cold War Europe. The parties to the treaty regularly conduct reconnaissance flights over each other’s territory to openly collect information on each other’s military forces and activities.

Previously, the United States has accused Russia of violating the terms of the Open Skies Treaty by placing restrictions on overflights of its westernmost exclave of Kaliningrad. Russia’s Foreign Ministry argued that Moscow had complied with all its obligations under all international agreements including the Open Skies Treaty.

August 14, 2018 Posted by | Militarism | , , , | Leave a comment

Ex-Canadian Envoy Slams US Call on Russia for Chem Weapons Inspections as Absurd

Sputnik – 14.08.2018

WASHINGTON – US demands for Russia to accept new inspections for chemicals weapons as a condition for not imposing sanctions are absurd since an international authority has confirmed Moscow scrapped all of them, former Canadian diplomat Patrick Armstrong told Sputnik.

On Monday, the Russian Foreign Ministry in a statement said that US Skripal-related sanctions unveiled last week calling for inspections undermines the authority of the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW), which confirmed that Russia had destroyed all such weapons.

“The official [US] justifications for this latest set of sanctions prove that they are not the real reasons because they are too ridiculous to be taken seriously by any thinking person,” Armstrong said. “The OPCW certified… that Russia had eliminated its chemical weapons stocks. Who is supposed to certify that it still has?”

The narrative claiming that Russia carried out the fatal poisoning of defector Sergei Skripal in the United Kingdom town of Salisbury had collapsed into incoherence, Armstrong pointed out.

Now that Washington was punishing countries and businesses that did not go along with its sanctions, the sanctions would hurt US allies and probably, as with the earlier sanctions and counter-sanctions, hurt them more than Russia, Armstrong predicted.

“The upshot? The Moscow-Beijing alliance will be strengthened and Moscow’s determination to reduce its exposure redoubled,” he argued.

On Wednesday, the US State Department rolled out two rounds of anti-Russia sanctions over the Skripal affair. The first set targeting security-related exports will be implemented August 22 and the second round three months later unless Russia agrees to chemical weapons inspections.

The US government and its allies have blamed Russia for the March 4 chemical attack on double agent Sergei Skripal in Salisbury, England. Russian authorities have strongly refuted the allegations as groundless, citing lack of evidence and London’s refusal to cooperate in a probe.

August 14, 2018 Posted by | Economics, Russophobia | , | 1 Comment

Why Confronting Israel Is Important

The Jewish state is no friend

By Philip Giraldi • Unz Review • August 14, 2018

I am often asked why I have this “thing” about Israel, with friends suggesting that I would be much more respected as a pundit if I were to instead concentrate on national security and political corruption. The problem with that formulation is that the so-called “special relationship” with Israel is itself the result of terrible national security and foreign policy choices that are sustained by pervasive political and media corruption, so any honest attempt to examine the one inevitably leads to the other. Most talking heads in the media avoid that dilemma by choosing to completely ignore the dark side of Israel.

Israel – not Russia – is the one foreign country that can interfere with impunity with the political processes in the United States yet it is immune from criticism. It is also the single most significant threat to genuine national security as it and its powerful domestic lobby have been major advocates for the continuation of America’s interventionist warfare state. The decision to go to war on false pretenses against Iraq, largely promoted by a cabal of prominent American Jews in the Pentagon and in the media, killed 4,424 Americans as well as hundreds of thousands Iraqis and will wind up costing the American taxpayer $7 trillion dollars when all the bills are paid. That same group of mostly Jewish neocons more-or-less is now agitating to go to war with Iran using a game plan for escalation prepared by Israel which will, if anything, prove even more catastrophic.

And I can go on from there. According to the FBI, Israel runs the most aggressive spying operations against the U.S. among ostensibly “friendly” nations, frequently stealing our military technology for resale by its own arms merchants. Its notable successes in espionage have included the most devastating spy in U.S. history Jonathan Pollard, while it has also penetrated American communications systems and illegally obtained both the fuel and the triggers for its own secret nuclear weapons arsenal.

Israel cares little for American sovereignty. It’s prime ministers Ariel Sharon and Benjamin Netanyahu have both boasted how they control the United States. In 2001, Israel was running a massive secret spying operation directed against Arabs in the U.S. Many in the intelligence and law enforcement communities suspect that it had considerable prior intelligence regarding the 9/11 plot but did not share it with Washington. There was the spectacle of the “dancing Shlomos,” Israeli “movers” from a company in New Jersey who apparently had advanced knowledge of the terrorist attack and danced and celebrated as they watched the Twin Towers go down.

Jewish power, both in terms of money and of access to people and mechanisms that really matter, is what allows Israel to act with impunity, making the United States both poorer and more insecure. A well-funded massive lobbying effort involving hundreds of groups and thousands of individuals in the U.S. has worked to the detriment of actual American interests, in part by creating a permanent annual gift of billions of dollars to Israel for no other reason but that it is Israel and can get anything it wants from a servile Congress and White House without any objection from a controlled media.

Israel has also obtained carte blanche political protection from the U.S. in fora like the United Nations, which is damaging to America’s reputation and its actual interests. This protection now extends to the basing of U.S. troops in Israel to serve as a tripwire, guaranteeing that Washington will become involved if Israel is ever attacked or even if Israel itself starts a war. The current U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. Nikki Haley is little more than a shill for Israel while America’s Ambassador in Israel David Friedman is an open supporter of Israel’s illegal settlements, which the U.S. opposes, who spends much of his time defending Israeli war crimes.

And here on the home front Israel is doing damage that might be viewed as even more grave in Senator Ben Cardin’s attempt to destroy First Amendment rights by making any criticism of Israel illegal. The non-violent Israel Boycott movement (BDS) has already been sanctioned in many states, the result of intensive and successful lobbying by the Israeli government and its powerful friends.

So if there is a real enemy of the United States in terms of the actual damage being inflicted by a foreign power, it is Israel. In the recent Russiagate investigations it was revealed that it was Israel, not Russia, that sought favors from Michael Flynn and the incoming Trump Administration yet Special Counsel Robert Mueller has evidently not chosen to go down that road with his investigations, which should surprise no one.

Noam Chomsky, iconic progressive intellectual, has finally come around on the issue of Israel and what it means. He has always argued somewhat incoherently that Israeli misbehavior has been due to its role as a tool of American imperialism and capitalism. At age 89, he has finally figured out that it is actually all about what a parasitic Israel wants without any regard for its American host, observing on “Democracy Now” that

… take, say, the huge issue of interference in our pristine elections. Did the Russians interfere in our elections? An issue of overwhelming concern in the media. I mean, in most of the world, that’s almost a joke. First of all, if you’re interested in foreign interference in our elections, whatever the Russians may have done barely counts or weighs in the balance as compared with what another state does, openly, brazenly and with enormous support. Israeli intervention in U.S. elections vastly overwhelms anything the Russians may have done… I mean, even to the point where the prime minister of Israel, Netanyahu, goes directly to Congress, without even informing the president, and speaks to Congress, with overwhelming applause, to try to undermine the president’s policies – what happened with Obama and Netanyahu in 2015….

Politicians are terrified of crossing the Jewish lobby by saying anything negative about Israel, which means that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu always gets a pass from the American government, even when he starves civilians and bombs hospitals and schools. Netanyahu uses snipers to shoot dead scores of unarmed demonstrators and the snipers themselves joke about their kills without a peep from Washington, which styles itself the “leader of the free world.”

Just recently, Israel has declared itself a Jewish State with all that implies. To be sure, Israeli Christians and Muslims were already subject to a battery of laws and regulations that empowered Jews at their expense but now it is the guiding principle that Israel will be run for the benefit of Jews and Jews alone. And it still likes to call itself a “democracy.”

A recent television program illustrates just how far the subjugation of America’s elected leaders by Israel has gone. British comedian Sacha Baron Cohen is featured on a new show called “Who is America?” in which he uses disguises and aliases to engage politicians and other luminaries in unscripted interviews that reveal just how ignorant or mendacious they actually are. Several recent episodes remind one of a February 2013 Saturday Night Live skit on the impending confirmation of Chuck Hagel as Secretary of Defense. A Senator asks Hagel. “It is vital to Israel’s security for you to go on national television and perform oral sex on a donkey… Would you do THAT for Israel?” A “yes” answer was, of course, expected from Hagel. The skit was never aired after objections from the usual suspects.

Baron Cohen, who confronted several GOP notables in the guise of Colonel Erran Morad, an Israeli security specialist, provided a number of clues that his interview was a sham but none of the victims were smart enough to pick up on them. Cohen, wearing an Israeli military uniform and calling himself a colonel, clearly displayed sergeant’s stripes. Hinting that he might actually be a Mossad agent, Cohen also sported a T-shirt on which the Hebrew text was printed backwards and he claimed that the Israeli spy agency’s motto was “if you want to win, show some skin.”

Cohen set up Dick Cheney by complimenting him on being the “the king of terrorist killers” before commenting that “my neighbor in Tel Aviv is in jail for murder, or, as we call it, enhanced tickling.” Morad went on to tell Cheney that he once waterboarded his wife to check for infidelity and then convinced the former Vice President to sign a “waterboarding kit” that “already had” the signatures of Benjamin Netanyahu, Ariel Sharon and Demi Lovato.

Another more spectacular sketch included a Georgia state senator Jason Spencer who was convinced to shout out the n-word as part of an alleged video being made to fight terrorism. After Cohen told Spencer that it was necessary to incite fear in homophobic jihadists, Spencer dropped his pants and underwear, before backing up with his exposed rear end while shouting “USA!” and “America!” Spencer also spoke with a phony Asian accent while simulating using a selfie-stick to secretly insert a camera phone inside a Muslim woman’s burqa.

In another series of encounters, Cohen as Morad managed to convince current and ex-Republican members of Congress — to include former Senate majority leader Trent Lott — to endorse a fictional Israeli program to arm grade school children for self-defense.

Cohen’s footage included a former Illinois congressman and talk radio host named Joe Walsh saying: “The intensive three-week ‘Kinderguardian’ course introduces specially selected children from 12 to 4 years old to pistols, rifles, semiautomatics and a rudimentary knowledge of mortars. In less than a month — less than a month — a first-grader can become a first grenade-er.”

Both controversial Alabama judge Roy Moore and Walsh were fooled into meeting Cohen to attend a non-existent pro-Israel conference to accept an award for “significant contributions to the state of Israel.” Representative Dana Rohrabacher, meanwhile, also was interviewed and he commented that, “Maybe having young people trained and understand how to defend themselves and their school might actually make us safer here.” And Congressman Joe Wilson observed that “A 3-year-old cannot defend itself from an assault rifle by throwing a ‘Hello Kitty’ pencil case at it.”

Cohen’s performance is instructive. A man shows up in Israeli uniform, claims to be a terrorism expert or even a Mossad agent, and he gains access to powerful Americans who are willing to do anything he says. How Cohen did it says a lot about the reflexive and completely uncritical support for Israel that many American politicians — particularly Republicans — now embrace. This, in a nutshell, is the damage that Israel and its Lobby have done to the United States. Israel is always right for many policymakers and even palpably phony Jews like Colonel Morad are instantly perceived as smarter than the rest of us so we’d better do what they say. That kind of thinking has brought us Iraq, Libya, Syria and the possibility of something far worse with Iran.

Israel routinely interferes in American politics and corrupts our institutions without any cost to itself and that is why I write and speak frequently regarding the danger to our Republic that it poses. It is past time to change the essentially phony narrative. Israel is nothing but trouble. It has the right to defend itself and protect its interests but that should not involve the United States. One can only hope that eventually a majority of my fellow American citizens will also figure things out. It might take a while, but the ruthless way Israel openly operates with no concern for anyone but itself provides a measure of optimism that that day is surely coming.

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

August 14, 2018 Posted by | Corruption, Wars for Israel, Timeless or most popular | , , , , | 6 Comments

Mueller’s Indictments Debunked by NSA Whistle-blower Bill Binney

The Jimmy Dore Show | August 13, 2018

VIPS Professional Bill Binney sets the record straight on Guccifer 2.0 and Mueller’s latest indictments.

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August 13, 2018 Posted by | Deception, Russophobia, Video | | Leave a comment

‘Too Big to Fail’: Russia-gate One Year After VIPS Showed a Leak, Not a Hack

By Patrick Lawrence | Consortium News | August 13, 2018

A year has passed since highly credentialed intelligence professionals produced the first hard evidence that allegations of mail theft and other crimes attributed to Russia rested on purposeful falsification and subterfuge. The initial reaction to these revelations—a firestorm of frantic denial—augured ill, and the time since has fulfilled one’s worst expectations. One year later we live within an institutionalized proscription of proven reality. Our discourse consists of a series of fence posts and taboos. By any detached measure, this lands us in deep, serious trouble. The sprawl of what we call “Russia-gate” now brings our republic and its institutions to a moment of great peril—the gravest since the McCarthy years and possibly since the Civil War. No, I do not consider this hyperbole.

Much has happened since Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity published its report on intrusions into the Democratic Party’s mail servers on Consortium News on July 24 last year. Parts of the intelligence apparatus—by no means all or even most of it—have issued official “assessments” of Russian culpability. Media have produced countless multi-part “investigations,” “special reports,” and what-have-yous that amount to an orgy of faulty syllogisms. Robert Mueller’s special investigation has issued two sets of indictments that, on scrutiny, prove as wanting in evidence as the notoriously flimsy intelligence “assessment” of January 6, 2017.

Indictments are not evidence and do not need to contain evidence. That is supposed to come out at trail, which is very unlikely to ever happen. Nevertheless, the corporate media has treated the indictments as convictions.

Numerous sets of sanctions against Russia, individual Russians, and Russian entities have been imposed on the basis of this great conjuring of assumption and presumption. The latest came last week, when the Trump administration announced measures in response to the alleged attempt to murder Sergei and Yulia Skripal, a former double agent and his daughter, in England last March. No evidence proving responsibility in the Skripal case has yet been produced. This amounts to our new standard. It prompted a reader with whom I am in regular contact to ask, “How far will we allow our government to escalate against others without proof of anything?”

This is a very good question.

Cover of 2001 book that looks at an earlier era of anti-Russia hysteria

There have been many attempts to discredit VIPS50 as the group’s document is called. There has been much amateurish journalism, false reporting, misrepresentation, distortion, misquotation, and omission. We have been treated to much shoddy science, attempts at character assassination, a great deal of base name-calling, and much else. Russia is routinely advanced as the greatest threat to democracy Americans now face. Is there any denying that we live amid an induced hysteria now comparable to the “Red under every bed” period of the 1950s?

None of this has altered the basic case. VIPS and forensic scientists working with it have continued their investigations. New facts, some of which alter conclusions drawn last year, have come to light, and these are to be addressed. But the basic evidence that Russia-gate is a false narrative concocted by various constituents of national power stands, difficult as this is to discern. Scrape back all that is ethically unacceptable and unscrupulously conveyed into the public sphere and you find that nothing has changed: No one “hacked” the Democratic party’s mail in the summer of 2016. It was leaked locally, from what one can make out, to expose the party leadership’s corrupt efforts to sink Bernie Sanders’ insurgent campaign to win the Democratic nomination.

But in another, very profound way, more has changed since VIPS50 was published than one could have imagined a year ago. American discourse has descended to a dangerous level of irrationality. The most ordinary standards of evidentiary procedure are forgone. Many of our key institutions—the foreign policy apparatus, the media, key intelligence and law-enforcement agencies, the political leadership—are now extravagantly committed to a narrative none appears able to control. The risk of self-inflicted damage these institutions assume, should the truth of the Russia-gate events emerge—as one day it surely will—is nearly incalculable. This is what inspires my McCarthy and Civil War references. Russia-gate, in a phrase, has become too big to fail.

This column is an attack on no one. However it may be read, it is not intended as another round of vituperative argument adding to the din and fog we already suffer daily. No shred of ideology informs it. I write a lament—this for all we have done to ourselves and our institutions this past year, and to the prospect of an orderly world, and for all that must somehow be done to repair the damage once enough of us indeed recognize what has been done.

New VIPS Findings

Binney: Dares anyone to prove remote speeds

The forensic scientists working with VIPS continued their research and experiments after VIPS50 was published. So have key members of the VIPS group, notably William Binney, the National Security Agency’s former technical director for global analysis and designer of programs the agency still uses to monitor internet traffic. Such work continues as we speak, indeed. This was always the intent: “Evidence to date” was the premise of VIPS50. Over the past year there have been confirmations of the original thesis and some surprises that alter secondary aspects of it. Let us look at the most significant of these findings.

At the time I reported on the findings of VIPS and associated forensic scientists, that the most fundamental evidence that the events of summer 2016 constituted a leak, not a hack, was the transfer rate—the speed at which data was copied. The speed proven then was an average of 22.7 megabytes per second. That speed matches what is standard when someone with physical access uses an external storage device to copy data from a computer or server and is much faster than a remote hack reliant on an internet service provider could achieve—either at the time or since, Binney has found.

Binney experimented into the autumn. By mid-autumn he had tested several routes—from East Coast locations to cities in eastern Europe, from New Jersey to London. The fastest internet transfer speed achieved, during the New Jersey–to–Britain test, was 12.0 megabytes of data per second. Since this time it has emerged from G-2.0’s metadata that the detected average speed—the 22.7 megabytes per second—included peak speeds that ran as high as 49.1 megabytes per second, impossible over the internet. “You’d need a dedicated, leased, 400–megabit line all the way to Russia to achieve that result,” Binney said in a recent interview.

To my knowledge, no one with an understanding of the science involved, including various former skeptics, any longer questions the validity of the specific finding based on the observed transfer rate. That remains the bedrock evidence of the case VIPS and others advance without qualification. No one—including the FBI, the CIA, and the NSA—has come out against this finding,” Binney said Monday. “Anyone who says the speed we demonstrated can be achieved remotely, our position is ‘Let’s see it. We’ll help any way we can.’ There hasn’t been anyone yet.”

There is also the question of where and when leaks were executed. Research into this has turned out differently.

Evidence last year, based on analysis of the available metadata, showed that the copy operation date-stamped July 5, 2016, took place in the Eastern U.S. time zone. But Forensicator, one of the chief forensic investigators working on the mail-theft case anonymously, published evidence in May that, while there was activity in the Eastern zone at the time of that copy, here was also a copy operation in the Pacific time zone, where clocks run three hours earlier that EST. In an earlier publication he had also reported activity in the Central time zone.

Plainly, more was awaiting discovery as to the when and where of the copy operations. The identity of Guccifer 2.0, who claimed to be a Romanian hacker but which the latest Mueller indictment claims is a construct of the GRU, Russian military intelligence, has never been proven. The question is what G–2.0 did with or to the data in question. It turns out that both more, and less, is known about G–2.0 than was thought to have been previously demonstrated. This work has been completed only recently. It was done by Binney in collaboration with Duncan Campbell, a British journalist who has followed the Russia-gate question closely.

Peak Speed Established

Binney visited Campbell in Brighton, England, early this past spring. They examined all the metadata associated with the files G–2.0 has made public. They looked at the number of files, the size of each, and the time stamps at the end of each. It was at this time that Binney and Campbell established the peak transfer rate at 49.1 megabytes per second.

But they discovered something else of significance, too. At some point G–2.0 had merged two sets of data, one dated July 5, 2016, which had been known, and another dated the following September 1, which had not been known. In essence, Campbell reverse-engineered G–2.0’s work: He took the sets of data G–2.0 presented as two and combined them back into one. “G–2.0 used an algorithm to make a downloaded file look like two files,” Binney explained. “Those two shuffled back together like a deck of cards.”

G–2.0 then took another step. Running another algorithm, he changed all the dates on all the files. With yet another algorithm, he changed the hours stamped on each file. These are called “range changes” among the professionals. The conclusion was then obvious: G–2.0 is a fabrication and a fabricator. Forensicator had already proven that the G–2.0 entity had inserted Russian “fingerprints” into the document known as the “Trump Opposition Report,” which he had published on June 15, 2016. It is clear that no firm conclusions can be drawn at this point as to when or where G–2.0 did what he did.

“Now you need to prove everything you might think about him,” Binney told me. “We have no way of knowing anything about him or what he has done, apart from manipulating the files. We detected activity in the Eastern time zone. Now we have to ask again, ‘Which time zone?’ The West Coast copy operation [discovered by Forensicator] has to be proven. All the data has been manipulated. It’s a fabrication.”

This throws various things into question. The conclusions initially drawn on time and location in VIPS50 are now subject to these recent discoveries. “In retrospect, giving ‘equal importance’ status to data pertaining to the locale was mistaken,” Ray McGovern, a prominent VIPS member, wrote in a recent note. “The key finding on transfer speed always dwarfed it in importance.”

The indictments against 12 Russian intelligence officers announced in mid–July by Rod Rosenstein, the deputy attorney-general, also come into question. They rest in considerable part on evidence derived from G–2.0 and DCLeaks, another online persona. How credible are those indictments in view of what is now known about G–2.0?

Binney told me: “Once we proved G–2.0 is a fabrication and a manipulator, the timing and location questions couldn’t be answered but really didn’t matter. I don’t right now see a way of absolutely proving either time or location. But this doesn’t change anything. We know what we know: The intrusion into the Democratic National Committee mail was a local download—wherever ‘local’ is.” That doesn’t change. As to Rosenstein, he’ll have a lot to prove.”

What Role does Evidence Play?

Rosenstein’s predicament—and there is no indication he understands it as one—brings us to an essential problem: What is the place of evidence in American public discourse? Of rational exchange?

The questions are germane far beyond the Russia-gate phenomenon, but it is there that answers are most urgent. What is implicit in the Rosenstein indictments has been evident everywhere in our public sphere for a year or more: Make a presumption supported by circumstantial evidence or none and build other presumptions upon it until a false narrative is constructed. The press has deployed this device for as long as I have been a practitioner: “Might” or “could” or “possibly” becomes “perhaps,” “probably” and “almost certainly,” and then moves on to unqualified fact in the course of, maybe, several weeks. Now this is how our most basic institutions—not least agencies of the Justice Department—routinely operate.

Rosenstein at the Department of Justice July 13, 2018 announcing indictments against 12 Russian GRU. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

This is what I mean when I refer to ours as a republic in peril.

There is the argument that certain things have been uncovered over the past year, and these are enough to conclude that Russia plots to undermine our democracy. I refer to the small number of Facebook advertisements attributed to Russians, to strings of Twitter messages, to various phishing exercises that occur thousands of times a day the world over. To be clear, I am no more satisfied with the evidence of Russian involvement in these cases than I am with the evidence in any other aspect of the Russia-gate case. But for the sake of argument, let us say it is all true.

Does this line up with the Russophobic hysteria—not too strong a term—that envelops us? Does this explain the astonishing investments our public institutions, the press, and leading political parties have made in advancing this hysteria as they did a variant of in the 1950s?

As global politics go, some serious thought should be given to a reality we have created all by ourselves: It is now likely that America has built a new Cold War division with Russia that will prove permanent for the next 20 to 30 years. All this because of some Facebook ads and Twitter threads of unproven origin? Am I the only one who sees a weird and worrisome gap between what we are intent on believing—as against thinking or knowing—and the consequences of these beliefs?

There was an orthodoxy abroad many centuries ago called Fideism. In the simplest terms, it means the privileging of faith and belief over reason. It was the enemy of individual conscience, among much else. Fideism has deep roots, but it was well around in the 16th century, when Montaigne and others had to navigate its many dangers. Closer to our time, William James landed a variant on American shores with an 1896 address called “The Will to Believe.” Bertrand Russell countered this line of thinking a couple of decades later with “Free Thought and Official Propaganda,” a lecture whose title I will let speak for itself. Twenty years ago, none other than Pope John Paul II warned of a resurgence of Fideism. It is still around, in short.

Do we suffer from it? A variant of it, I would say, if not precisely in name. There seems to be a givenness to it in the American character. I think we are staring into a 21st century rendition of it.

To doubt the hollowed-out myth of American innocence is a grave sin against the faith. It is now unpatriotic to question the Russia-gate narrative despite the absence of evidence to support it. Informal censorship of differing perspectives is perfectly routine. It is now considered treasonous to question the word of intelligence agencies and the officials who lead them despite long records of deceit. Do we forget that it was only 15 years ago that these same institutions and people deceived us into an invasion of Iraq the consequences of which still persist?

This was the question Craig Murray, the former British diplomat (who has vital information on the DNC mail theft but who has never been interviewed by American investigators) posed a few weeks ago. Eugene Robinson gave a good-enough reply in a Washington Post opinion piece shortly afterward: “God Bless the Deep State,” the headline read.

How we got here deserves a work of social psychology, and I hope someone takes up the task. Understanding our path into our self-created crisis seems to me the first step to finding our way out of it.


Patrick Lawrence, a correspondent abroad for many years, chiefly for the International Herald Tribune, is a columnist, essayist, author, and lecturer. His most recent book is Time No Longer: Americans After the American Century (Yale). Follow him @thefloutist. His web site is www.patricklawrence.us. Support his work via www.patreon.com/thefloutist.

August 13, 2018 Posted by | Deception, Fake News, Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Russophobia, Timeless or most popular | , | 1 Comment