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US media intensify pretext for ousting Trump

By Finian Cunningham | RT | January 16, 2019

It’s no secret that since his election in 2016, powerful elements in the US political and media establishment have been running a non-stop campaign to remove Trump from the White House. Lately, the stakes have been raised.

Spearheading the media effort to defenestrate Trump are the New York Times and Washington Post. Both have been prominent purveyors of the “Russiagate” narrative over the past two years, claiming that Republican candidate colluded with Russian state intelligence, or at least was a beneficiary of alleged Russian interference, to win the presidency against Democratic rival Hillary Clinton.

Congressional investigations and a probe by a Special Counsel Robert Mueller, along with relentless media innuendo, have failed to produce any evidence to support the Russiagate narrative.

Now, the anti-Trump media in alliance with the Democratic leadership, the foreign policy establishment and senior ranks of the state intelligence agencies appear to have come up with a new angle on President Trump – he is a national security risk.

Ingeniously, the latest media effort lessens the burden of proof required against Trump. No longer has it to be proven that he deliberately collaborated with Russian President Vladimir Putin. Trump could have done it “unwittingly,” the media are now claiming, because he is a buffoon and reckless. But the upshot, for them, is he’s still a national security risk. The only conclusion, therefore, is that he should be removed from office. In short, a coup.

Over the past couple of weeks, the supposed media bastions have been full of it against Trump. An op-ed in the New York Times on January 5 by David Leonhardt could not have made more plain the absolute disdain. “He is demonstrably unfit for office. What are we waiting for?”

Follow-up editorials and reports have piled on the pressure. The Times reported how the Federal Bureau of Investigation – the state’s internal security agency – opened a counterintelligence file on Trump back in 2017 out of concern that he was “working for Russia against US interests.”

That unprecedented move was prompted partly because of Trump’s comments during the election campaign in 2016 when he jokingly called on Russia to release Hillary Clinton’s incriminating emails. Never mind the fact that Russian hackers were not the culprits for Clinton’s email breach.

Then the Washington Post reported former US officials were concerned about what they said was Trump’s “extraordinary lengths” to keep secret his private conversations with Russia’s Putin when the pair met on the sidelines of conferences or during their one-on-one summit in Helsinki last July.

The Post claimed that Trump confiscated the notes of his interpreter after one meeting with Putin, allegedly admonishing the aide to not tell other officials in the administration about the notes being sequestered. The inference is Trump was allegedly in cahoots with the Kremlin.

This week, in response to the media speculation, Trump was obliged to strenuously deny such claims, saying: “I have never worked for Russia… it’s a big fat hoax.”

What’s going on here is a staggering abuse of power by the US’ top internal state intelligence agency to fatally undermine a sitting president based on the flimsiest of pretexts. Moreover, the nation’s most prominent news media outlets – supposedly the Fourth Estate defenders of democracy – are complacently giving their assent, indeed encouragement, to this abuse of power.

The Times in the above report admitted, in a buried one-line disclaimer, that there was no evidence linking Trump to Russia.

Nevertheless, the media campaign doubled down to paint Trump as a national security risk.

The Times reported on January 14 about deep “concerns” among Pentagon officials over Trump’s repeated threats to withdraw the US from the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO). The reporting portrays Trump as incompetent, ignorant of policy details and habitually rude to American allies. His capricious temper tantrums could result in the US walking away from NATO at any time, the newspaper contends.

Such a move would collapse the transatlantic partnership between the US and Europe which has “deterred Soviet and Russian aggression for 70 years,” claimed the Times.

The paper quotes US Admiral James Stavridis, the former supreme allied commander of NATO, calling Trump’s withdrawal whims “a geopolitical mistake of epic proportion.”

“Even discussing the idea of leaving NATO — let alone actually doing so — would be the gift of the century for Putin,” added Stavridis.

The Times goes on to divulge the media campaign coordination when it editorialized: “Now, the president’s repeatedly stated desire to withdraw from NATO is raising new worries among national security officials amid growing concern about Mr Trump’s efforts to keep his meetings with Mr Putin secret from even his own aides, and an FBI investigation into the administration’s Russia ties.”

Still another Times report this week reinforced the theme of Trump being a national security risk when it claimed that the president’s Middle East policy of pulling troops out of Syria was “losing leverage” in the region. It again quoted Pentagon officials “voicing deepening fears” that Trump and his hawkish National Security Advisor John Bolton “could precipitate a conflict with Iran”.

That’s a bit hard to stomach: the Pentagon being presented as a voice of sanity and peace, keeping vigilance over a wrecking-ball president and his administration.

But the New York Times, Washington Post and other anti-Trump corporate media have long been extolling the military generals who were formerly in the administration as “the adults in the room.”

Generals H.R. McMaster, the former national security adviser, John Kelly, Trump’s ex-chief of staff, and James Mattis, the former defense secretary until he was elbowed out last month by the president, were continually valorized in the US media as being a constraining force on Trump’s infantile and impetuous behavior.

The absence of “the adults” seems to have prompted the US media to intensify their efforts to delegitimize Trump’s presidency.

A new House of Representatives controlled by the Democratic Party has also invigorated calls for impeachment of Trump over a range of unsubstantiated accusations, Russian collusion being prime among them. But any impeachment process promises to be long and uncertain of success, according to several US legal and political authorities.

Such a tactic is fraught with risk of failing, no doubt due to the lack of evidence against Trump’s alleged wrongdoing. A failed impeachment effort could backfire politically, increase his popularity, and return him to the White House in 2020.

Given the uncertainty of impeaching Trump, his political enemies, including large sections of the media establishment, seem to be opting for the tactic of characterizing him as a danger to national security, primarily regarding Russia. Trump doesn’t have to be a proven agent of the Kremlin – a preposterous idea. Repeated portrayal of him as an incompetent unwitting president is calculated to be sufficient grounds for his ouster.

When the Washington Post editorial board urges a state of emergency to be invoked because of “Russian meddling in US elections”, then the national mood is being fomented to accept a coup against Trump. The media’s fawning over the Pentagon and state intelligence agencies as some kind of virtuous bastion of democracy is a sinister signal for a military-police state.

January 16, 2019 Posted by | Fake News, Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Russophobia | , , , | 1 Comment

The US Mainstream Media Prefer Confrontation to Cooperation

By Brian CLOUGHLEY | Strategic Culture Foundation | 15.01.2019

The Washington Post is a noisily anti-Russian newspaper which every weekday by email produces for subscribers (of whom I am one) the Daily 202 (“Power Post — Intelligence for Leaders”) which covers US politics, a little international stuff, and a section called “There’s a Bear in the Woods” aimed at denigrating, belittling and generally insulting Russia.

The Post is intent on convincing citizens of the United States and the world in general that nothing good is ever done by, in or with the government of Russia, and a favourite target is President Putin. A typical Editorial was headed “Trump just colluded with Russia. Openly” and dealt savagely with the Trump-Putin meeting in Helsinki last year. Much of the world believes that such discussions between nations’ leaders are better than hostile rhetoric, and most reasonable people are pleased and even relieved when meetings take place. They prefer amicable dialogue to venomous confrontation.

But the Post ended its comment on the meeting by asserting that “Mr Trump in fact was openly colluding with the criminal leader of a hostile power.”

That’s the ‘hostile power’ that has cooperated for twenty years with the United States in operating the International Space Station.

The Post doesn’t like such news as “[Russian space agency] Roscosmos director Dmitry Rogozin and Bill Gerstenmaier, head of NASA’s human explorations and operations, said after a conference marking the 20th anniversary of the International Space Station that their agencies plan to collaborate on developing a moon orbiting outpost. Russia is working on a heavy booster rocket and a new spacecraft to complement American projects intended for a future moon mission, Rogozin said. ‘We absolutely trust each other, and political winds haven’t touched us.’ Gerstenmaier spoke in kind, noting that partnership in space exploration could be ‘an example to the outside world. It has been a blessing that our governments have both seen the wisdom of what we are doing and both our governments have avoided placing sanctions on us or getting us caught up in the political things’.”

It is most gratifying that the United States and Russia can cooperate so closely on such an important endeavour. As noted by CNN, “since the retirement of the space shuttle in 2011 the US has depended on Roscosmos to transport astronauts to the space station.” In other words, the space station could not exist without Russia’s no-strings collaboration.

But most western media play down, ignore or deplore such instances of harmony and amity. The UK’s Daily Telegraph, for example, is entirely negative, and grudgingly reported last December that the most recent “launch of the MS-11 ship was a closely watched test for Russia’s space industry, which has suffered several high-profile failures in recent years but remains the only reliable way to deliver crew to the orbiting station.” There had been an accident in the course of a previous launch but, to the regret of many in the West, Russia’s emergency procedures were flawless and there was no loss of life.

In spite of this example of outstandingly successful bilateral cooperation, a meeting scheduled for February between the space professionals of Russia and the United States was cancelled “after mounting pressure from Capitol Hill.” Roscosmos Director General Dmitry Rogozin had hosted his NASA counterpart, Jim Bridenstine, in October last year, so his February visit was to be a combination of practicality and courtesy — but this isn’t the way the US Senate sees or does things.

Senator Bob Menendez of the Foreign Relations Committee declared that “to welcome Mr Rogozin to the United States and provide him a platform to speak is an affront to our sanctions regime and will further undermine the Trump Administration’s limited credibility on Russia policy,” and Senator Jeanne Shaheen of the Senate panel that funds NASA said the planned meeting “undermines the United States’ core national security objectives” and “weakens the US’s global standing by demonstrating the ease by which Russian officials can get around transatlantic sanctions.”

The Senate’s pressure on NASA is part of the campaign of petulant and spiteful attacks on Russia which show that Washington is intent on destruction of even the slightest efforts to bring the US and Russia closer.

Which brings us back to the Washington Post which distinguished itself by getting just a little mixed up during one of its anti-Russia forays when it enthusiastically seized on a faulty piece in the New York Times.

It all started when the Times breathlessly revealed that during the 2016 election campaign, Trump’s campaign manager, Paul Manafort “and his Russian associate, Konstantin V. Kilimnik, discussed a plan for peace in Ukraine.” This dastardly anti-America, pro-Russia activity could not be tolerated by the US mainstream media which reported that one of Mr Manafort’s menacing machinations involved sharing “political polling data with a business associate tied to Russian intelligence.”

(As an aside, it is difficult to believe that notification of political polling data is in some fashion a national security risk. Most of us know that poll results can be made public without release conditions. Every foreign mission in Washington analysed them.)

The Times continued, in a version of the report that has been deleted, that Manafort wanted the data passed on to “Oleg V Deripaska, a Russian oligarch close to the Kremlin,” and in its ‘202’ the Washington Post went to town about this supposedly sinister character. It began by stating that “several experts said the Deripaska connection makes this news a huge deal” and quoted Steven Hall, a former head of Russia operations at the CIA, as tweeting “Remember, the polling info Manafort passed to Kilimnik was headed to Deripaska, who is close to Putin… The margins the Russians needed to change in key states during the 2016 elections [were] pretty small. Now we know how they were able to be so precise: Paul Manafort was providing polling data to Russia.” Shock! Horror!

Another expert shaken by such disclosures was Post columnist Max Boot, a senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations, who declared “This is potentially very significant evidence of collusion… Why would Manafort share polling data with the Russians unless it was to help them target their pro-Trump social media campaign?”

On it went for over 400 words recounting how the dastardly Deripaska was up to his ears in conspiracy, although a cautionary note was sounded by former ambassador to Russia Mike McFaul who like a good diplomat injected the phrase “if proven” in his tweet before agreeing “this is serious.”

Yes, it was serious. But not as serious as the downplayed low-profile admission by the Washington Post that its chatter allegations were not “proven”. The Post noted that “the New York Times corrected a story we included in yesterday’s 202: ‘A previous version of this article misidentified the people to whom Paul Manafort wanted a Russian associate to send polling data. Mr. Manafort wanted the data sent to two Ukrainian oligarchs, Serhiy Lyovochkin and Rinat Akhmetov, not to Oleg V Deripaska, a Russian oligarch close to the Kremlin’.”

So much for the Washington Post’s Bear in the Woods, but a sad indicator of how determined are some of the US media to help destroy any movement towards rapprochement with Russia. Fortunately, in spite of their malevolent efforts and the spiteful Senate shenanigans, the International Space Station cooperation will continue, which shows, thank goodness, that there are still some grown-ups in the woods.

January 15, 2019 Posted by | Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Russophobia | , , | Leave a comment

WaPo recycles old Russiagate memes in latest gossip piece about Trump-Putin secret collusion

RT | January 13, 2019

Donald Trump’s reluctance to provide unfettered access to his conversations with Vladimir Putin has upset nameless American officials, the Washington Post has revealed. The US president dismissed the story as absurd and offensive.

According to the revered paper, Trump has “gone to extraordinary lengths to conceal details” of his face-to-face conversations with Putin. During a meeting with the Russian leader in Hamburg in 2017, Trump even purportedly confiscated the notes of his own interpreter, who was then instructed not to discuss what had transpired with other administration officials.

Various (and of course nameless) US officials have now apparently complained to the Washington Post about how they’ve been left in the dark about five conversations that Trump had with the Russian leader, colorfully described by the newspaper as “one of the United States’ main adversaries.”

The story’s thinly veiled assumption is of course that Donald Trump has used his handful of private meetings with Putin to receive secret instructions from Moscow – impose new sanctions on Russia, bomb Syria, send lethal weapons to Ukraine, shred the Iran deal and missile treaties, and so forth.

The creatively framed story suffers from a few other inconvenient plot holes. The super-secret meeting with Putin in Hamburg was also attended by then-secretary of state Rex Tillerson. Does this mean that Tillerson is also a deep-cover KGB agent? Tillerson even released a readout after the meeting – following completely standard, but apparently unsatisfactory protocol.

The self-contradictory report goes on to explain how, as part of Trump’s obsession with ultra-secret Putin pow-wows, the president “generally has allowed aides to listen to his phone conversations” with the Russian leader.

Trump “allies” interviewed by the Post said that the president’s caution when it comes to meeting with Putin may be “driven by embarrassing leaks that occurred early in his presidency.” This theory is of course way less fun than the airtight idea that Trump is actually a Russian agent – that’s why WaPo only gave it one sentence.

Responding to the report, Trump told Fox News that there was nothing scandalous about his talks with the Russian leader. When Fox News host Jeanine Pirro asked if he is or has ever been working on behalf of the Kremlin, Trump responded: “I think it’s the most insulting thing I’ve ever been asked.” Among hardcore Russiagaters, his answer was naturally interpreted as an explosive non-denial.

“Credit to Jeannine Pirro for asking Trump if he’s a Russian Agent. The President, notably, never actually answered that question,” Colby Hall, founding editor of Mediaite, tweeted.

Rehashing months-old Russiagate news, the Washington Post also disclosed that Democratic lawmakers are still demanding details about Trump’s meeting with Putin in Helsinki last summer. House Democrats reportedly plan to form a subcommittee which aims to obtain State Department records of Trump’s various encounters with the Russian president.

January 13, 2019 Posted by | Fake News, Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Russophobia | , | Leave a comment

Guns or Butter: Neocons Want More Weapons less Government Services

By Philip Giraldi | American Herald Tribune | December 30, 2018

It is one of the great ironies that the United States, which is not actually threatened by any foreign power, maintains a ruinously expensive and globally destructive national security policy that is based on fear. It can be argued that Washington was at least briefly a force for stability and good governance in the aftermath of the Second World War when much of Europe and Asia were in ruins, but America’s interference in the internal politics of other nations has, most particularly in the past twenty years, borne bitter fruit. The argument being made that the U.S. national security mandates “forward defense” by maintaining a string of overseas bases and outdated alliances has been proven wrong again and again as allies have proven feckless and countries that would otherwise be friendly have chafed and then rebelled under America’s imposed leadership role.

President and General Dwight D. Eisenhower famously warned in 1961 about the developing military-industrial-complex (MIC), which he had originally dubbed the military-industrial-congressional complex before accepting that he would need legislative help if he were to reverse the seemingly inexorable spending on weapons and expansion of overseas military bases. In the event, Ike’s warning went unheeded and, more recently, the expected “peace dividend” that might have developed from the end of the Cold War in 1991 was wasted when the Clinton Administration recklessly enabled the looting of the former Soviet Union’s natural resources while also expanding the no longer needed NATO alliance up to the Russian border.

Many politicians and industrialists who directly benefit from the spending on the military are largely to blame for propagating the myth that the United States is vulnerable to enemy attack. One only has to recall the panic when Moscow launched a satellite into orbit in 1957 and then there was the essentially fraudulent “Soviet Estimate” by the intelligence community which persisted in overrating Russian military capabilities and the strength of the Soviet Union’s economy. Having a powerful enemy was a sine qua non for those who wished to profit from “defense” spending.

The situation currently is somewhat different than that which prevailed during most of the post-World War 2 era. To be sure, the spending on weapons has continued at a ruinous level but the enemy has changed. Russia is back as a major threat due to the seemingly endless investigations into the 2016 election that have been dubbed “Russiagate,” but it has been joined by China, which is being seen at the major “over the horizon” enemy. And there is also the ubiquitous non-state player “Islamic terrorism” as well as Iran for good measure to keep the money flowing.

It would not be completely fatuous to suggest that the list of all of America’s presumed enemies is at least somewhat contrived. And it is also important to note that the identification of enemies for most Americans depends on the mainstream media, which is now closely linked to corporate and government interests so as to be incapable of independent inquiry or investigation. The impact of a tame media is significant: during the Vietnam War the press was highly critical and hammered the Lyndon B. Johnson Administration. Since then, reporters are embedded and the stories they are allowed to write, are generally puff pieces because to report the truth would make them lose their access.

A recent article that appeared in The Washington Post perfectly illustrates how the newspaper is selling a product that fearmongers to sustain more military spending. It is entitled Wake up. America’s military isn’t invincible, written by regular columnist Robert J. Samuelson.

The article begins with “The most uncovered story in Washington these days is the loss of U.S. military power — a lesson particularly important in light of recent events: the resignation of Defense Secretary Jim Mattis; President Trump’s rash decision to withdraw U.S. troops from Syria; North Korea’s announcement that it will keep nuclear weapons after all; and alleged massive computer hacking by Chinese nationals.”

Now, right off the bat, Samuelson’s argument can be challenged. “Loss of U.S. military power” if it can be quantified at all has nothing to do with Mattis or Syria, nor with North Korea or China. Or even with Donald Trump, who has increased the armed services budget, though one should presume that the president is the ultimate target of the article given that it has appeared in the Post.

Samuelson makes his case by citing defense modernization programs in China and Russia and “advances” in Iran and North Korea that undercut U.S. military capabilities. He refers to a recent report of the congressional National Defense Strategy Commission (NDSC), which identifies specific areas in which Russia and China have upgraded their capabilities and quotes “If the United States had to fight Russia in a Baltic contingency or China in a war over Taiwan . . . Americans could face a decisive military defeat.” The report concludes that “America has reached the point of a full-blown national security crisis.”

The possible armed conflicts cited by Samuelson are, of course, carefully chosen to produce a desired result. Confronting Russia or China in their home waters thousands of miles away from the U.S. gives all the advantage to the defense, which will be able to operate on interior lines and maximize available land, sea, and air forces. And the NDSC report itself is suspect, designed to promote a certain point of view. Its authors are top heavy with retired senior military officers and defense industry “experts” who have a personal interest in more spending on weapons.

Samuelson also cites fellow Post columnist Max Boot, writing that he had “done a great favor by publicizing the report.” He quotes Boot: “Air superiority, which the United States has taken for granted since World War II, is no longer assured. And, without control of the skies, U.S. ships and soldiers would be [highly] vulnerable.” Boot,  sometimes referred to as the Man Who Has Never Been Right About Anything is, of course, a neocon mouthpiece who is in favor of war all the time and nearly everywhere, particularly if Israel is involved. He characteristically, like Samuelson, fancies himself as an expert on national security even though he has never served in the armed forces. His “air superiority” mantra is ridiculous as it would seem to suggest that the U.S. should be able to “control the skies” everywhere simultaneously, which is impossible. And he ignores the fact that the United States uniquely has 19 aircraft carriers which can project air power to anywhere in the world.

Samuelson goes on to condemn what he calls “unwise cuts in defense spending” and cites a 12% decline in spending on the military between 2010 and 2015 as well as a decline in the “defense” share of the GDP from 1960 until 2017. Both figures come from the NDSC report. He does not, however, mention that the current defense budget is larger than the military spending of the next eight countries combined, to include both China and Russia.

Samuelson, doing a great impersonation of ex-Speaker of the House Paul Ryan, blames the lack of money for the Pentagon on “the American welfare state — Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, food stamps and the like.” He advocates cutting “welfare” to buy more and better weapons. He then goes on to liken the current situation to that existing before World War 2, when Adolph Hitler’s Germany rearmed while England and France did nothing. The analogy is not exactly correct as, when war broke out, France alone fielded an army greater than Germany’s, but it’s always reassuring to have Hitler cited yet again in a neocon op-ed.

Samuelson concludes with the obligatory slap at Trump: “We need to keep our commitments — Trump’s abrupt withdrawal from Syria devalues our word. And we need to repair our alliances,” but one might well opine that there is something seriously wrong with that kind of thinking, where guns always take precedence over butter. Government exists to benefit the citizens that together make up the state, not to meddle in the affairs of other nations and peoples worldwide.

The selling of America the All-Powerful is a bit of a con job promoted by neocons like Samuelson and Boot but we do not need to send tens of thousands of young Americans overseas to give “value to our word.” We do not need to enter into pointless wars in places like Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, and Syria. We do need an America that is at peace with itself and which is willing to be strong and brave enough to realize that real security will come when the United States is no longer the world’s designated bully. Let’s consider a New Year’s wish to see a 2019 where the soldiers, sailors, marines, and airmen finally come home and where scribblers like Samuelson and Boot find themselves unemployed.

December 30, 2018 Posted by | Economics, Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Militarism, Russophobia | , , , , | Leave a comment

Syria Withdrawal Enrages the Chickenhawks

A Christmas present for the American and Syrian people

By Philip Giraldi • Unz Review • December 25, 2018

President Donald Trump’s order to withdraw from Syria has been greeted, predictably, with an avalanche of condemnation culminating in last Thursday’s resignation by Defense Secretary James Mattis. The Mattis resignation letter focused on the betrayal of allies, though it was inevitably light on details, suggesting that the Marine Corps General was having some difficulty in discerning that American interests might be somewhat different than those of feckless and faux allies like Israel and Saudi Arabia that are adept at manipulating the levers of power in Washington and in the media. Mattis clearly appreciates that having allies is a force multiplier in wartime but fails to understand that it is a liability otherwise as the allies create an obligation to go to war on their behalf rather than in response to any actual national interest.

The media was quick to line up behind Mattis. On Friday, The New York Times featured a lead editorial entitled “Jim Mattis was right” while neocon twitter accounts blazed with indignation. Prominent chickenhawk mouthpieces David Frum and Bill Kristol, among many others, tweeted that the end is nigh.

During the day preceding Mattis’s dramatic announcement, the press went to war against the Administration over Syria and also regarding other reports that there would be troop reductions in Afghanistan. The following headline actually appeared on a Reuters online article the day after the announcement by the president: “In Syria retreat, Trump rebuffs top advisers and blindsides U.S. commanders.” It would be difficult to imagine stuffing more bullshit into one relatively short sentence. “Retreat,” “rebuffs” and “blindsides” are not words that are intended to convey any sort of even-handed assessment of what is occurring in U.S. policy towards the Middle East. They are instead meant to imply that “Hey, that moron in the White House has screwed up again!”

Consider for a moment the agenda that Reuters is apparently pushing. It is supporting an illegal and unconstitutional invasion of Syria by the United States that has a stated primary objective of removing a terrorist organization which is already mostly gone and a less frequently acknowledged goal of regime change for the legitimate government in Damascus and the expulsion of that government’s principal allies. Reuters is asserting that staying in Syria would be a good thing for the United States and also for its “allies” in the region even though there is no way to “win” and no exit strategy.

Reuters is presumably basing its assessment on the collective judgments of a group of “top advisers” who are warmongers that the rest of the world as well as many Americans consider to be psychopaths or possibly even insane. And then there are the preferences of the “blindsided” generals, like Mattis, who have a personal interest in career terms for maintaining a constant state of warfare. If you want to really know how what the military thinks about an ongoing war ask a sergeant or a private, never a general. They will tell you that they are sick of endless deployments that accomplish nothing.

The New York Times lead story headline on Thursday also let you know that its Editors were not pleased by Trump’s move. It read “U.S. Exit Seen as a Betrayal of the Kurds, and a Boon for ISIS.” They also editorialized “Trump’s Decision to Withdraw From Syria Is Alarming. Just Ask His Advisers.”

The Washington Post was not far behind. It immediately ran an op-ed by the redoubtable neocon chickenhawk Max Boot, whom Caitlin Johnstone has dubbed “The Man Who Has Been Wrong About Everything.” The piece was entitled Trump’s surprise Syria pullout is a giant Christmas gift to our enemies making a twofer with an incredible “Fuck the EU” Victoria Nuland’s piece entitled “In a single tweet Trump destroys U.S. policy in the Middle East,” which appeared simultaneously. That anyone would regard Boot and Nuland as objective authorities on the Middle East given their ultimate and prevailing loyalty to Israel has to be wondered at, but then again Fred Hiatt is the editorial/opinion page editor and he is of the same persuasion, both ethnically and philosophically. They are all, of course, devoted Zionists and the big lie about what is going on in the region is apparently always worth repeating. As Joseph Goebbels put it in 1941 “… when one lies, one should lie big, and stick to it… even at the risk of looking ridiculous.”

Comments relating to the articles, op-eds and editorials in the Post and Times bordered on the hysterical, sometimes suggesting that readers actually believe that Trump was following orders from Russian President Vladimir Putin. And what was stirring at Reuters, The Times, and the Post was only the tip of the iceberg. The mainstream television news providers united in condemning the audacity of a president who might actually try to end a war while the only favorable commentary on Trump’s having taken a step that is long overdue came from the alternative media.

One might profitably recall how Trump has only been praised as “presidential” by the Establishment twice – when he staged cruise missile attacks on Syria based on faulty intelligence. The Deep State wants blood, make no mistake about it and it is not interested in “retreat.” And Trump will also get almost no support from Congress, with only longtime critics of Syrian policy Senators Rand Paul and Mike Lee as well as Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard praising the move initially.

The arguments being made to criticize the Trump initiative were essentially cookie cutter neocon soundbites. The Reuters piece in its first few lines of text asserts that the reversal of policy “stunned lawmakers and allies with his order for U.S. troops to leave Syria, a decision that upends American policy in the Middle East. The result, said current and former officials and people briefed on the decision, will empower Russia and Iran and leave unfinished the goal of erasing the risk that Islamic State, or ISIS, which has lost all but a sliver of territory, could rebuild.” The article goes on to quote an anonymous Pentagon source who opined that “… Trump’s decision was widely seen in the Pentagon as benefiting Russia as well as Iran, both of which have used their support for the Syrian government to bolster their regional influence. Iran also has improved its ability to ship arms to Lebanese Hezbollah for use against Israel. Asked who gained from the withdrawal, the defense official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, replied: ‘Geopolitically Russia, regionally Iran.’”

Another so-called expert Charles Lister of the Middle East Institute was also cited in the article, saying “It completely takes apart America’s broader strategy in Syria, but perhaps more importantly, the centerpiece of the Trump administration policy, which is containing Iran.”

Israel is also turning up the heat on Trump, claiming that the move will make it more insecure. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu pledged to increase air attacks on Iranian targets in Syria as an added security measure to make up for the American betrayal. Normally liberal American Jews have joined the hue and cry against Trump on behalf of Israel. Filmmaker Rob Reiner tweeted on Thursday that the president is a “childish moronic mentally unstable malignant narcissist” who is “committing Treason” against the United States.

The real story, lost in the wailing and gnashing to teeth, is that even after conceding that Donald Trump’s hyperbolic claim that the United States had defeated ISIS as the motive for the withdrawal is nonsense, there is still no good reason for Washington to continue to keep troops in Syria. The U.S. in reality did far less in the war against the terrorist groups infesting the region than did the Russians, Iranians or the Syrians themselves and, as a result, it will have less say in what kind of Syria emerges from the carnage. That is almost certainly a good thing for the Syrian people.

But let’s assume for sake of argument that the U.S. invasion really was about ISIS. Well, ISIS continues to hold on to a small bit of territory near the Euphrates River and is reported to have between one and two thousand remaining fighters. There are other estimates suggesting that between 10,000 and 20,000 followers have dispersed and gone underground awaiting a possible resurgence by the group. The argument that ISIS will reorganize and re-emerge as a result of the American withdrawal assumes that it is the 2,000 strong U.S. armed forces that are keeping it down, which is ridiculous. The best remedy against an ISIS recovery is to support a restored and re-unified Syria, which will have more than enough resources available to eliminate the last bits of the terrorist groups remaining in its territory.

So we go to fallback argument B, which is “containing Iran.” “Containment” was a U.S. policy devised by George Kennan in 1947 to inhibit the expansion of a powerful and sometimes aggressive soon-to-be nuclear armed Soviet Union, which was rightly seen as a serious threat. Iran is a second world country with a small military and economy with no nuclear arsenal and it neither threatens the United States nor any of its neighbors. But Israel supported by Saudi Arabia does not like Iran and has induced Washington to follow its lead. Withdrawing from Syria recognizes that Iran is no threat in reality. Positioning American military forces to “counter” Iran does not reduce the threat against the United States because there was no threat there to begin with.

And then there is the argument that the U.S. departure empowers Iran and Russia. Staying in Syria is, on the contrary, a drain on both those countries’ limited resources. The more money and manpower they have to commit to Syria the less they have to become engaged elsewhere and it is hard to imagine how either country would exploit the “victory” in Syria to leverage their involvement in other parts of the world. Both would be delighted if a final settlement of the Syrian problem could be arrived at so they can get out.

And as for the United States, the military should only be deployed anywhere to defend the U.S. itself or vital interests. There is nothing like that at stake in Syria. So, is American national security better or worse if the U.S. leaves? As Russian and American soldiers only confront each other directly in Syria, U.S. national security would in fact be greatly improved because the danger of igniting an accidental war with Russia would be dramatically reduced. There have reportedly already been a dozen incidents between U.S. and Russian troops, including some involving shooting. That has been a dozen too many. Even the possibility of starting an unintended war with Iran would potentially be disastrous for the United States as well as for everyone else in the region, so it is far better to put some distance between the two sides.

And finally, it is necessary to go to the argument for disengagement from Syria that is too little heard in the western media or from the usual bonehead politicians named Graham and Rubio who pronounce on foreign policy. How has American intervention in the Middle East and south and central Asia benefited the people in the countries that have been invaded or bombed? Not at all. By some estimates four million Muslims have been killed as a consequence of the wars since 2001 and millions more displaced. More than eight thousand U.S. military have died in the process in wars that had no purpose and no exit strategy. And the wars have been expensive – $6 trillion and counting, much of it borrowed. War without end means killing without end and it has to stop.

Withdrawing from Syria is the right thing to do, though one has to be concerned that there might be some secret side deals with Israel or Turkey that could actually result in more attacks on Syria and on the Kurds. Donald Trump is already under extreme pressure coming from all directions to reverse his decision to leave Syria and it is quite possible that he will either fold completely or bend at least a bit. It is to be hoped that he will not do so as a Christmas present to the American people. And he might want to think of a Christmas present for 2019. One might suggest a complete withdrawal from Afghanistan.

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.

December 26, 2018 Posted by | Illegal Occupation, Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Militarism, Wars for Israel | , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Syria Insanity Must Continue, Sez Washington Establishment & Media

By James Bovard | December 20, 2018

The Washington Post front page today is in full panic mode over Trump’s decision on Syria. Reading the Post, one would think that US intervention had achieved something aside from getting vast numbers of Syrians pointlessly killed. Washington’s laptop bombardiers are hysterically opposed to Trump’s withdrawal of US troops from Syria. But the “Combat Veterans for Continued Carnage” lobby is almost nonexistent.  I slammed Trump’s Syria policy last year in USA Today as his “worst foreign policy folly” but his decision to exit Syria is one of his best decisions yet.

Here’s a link to a USA Today oped I did five years ago on why Americans couldn’t trust Obama on Syria. In a 2014 blog on “Obama’s Great Syrian Bombing Scam,” I groused: “Obama loves to preen as if he is spreading peace, freedom, and democracy with his bombs. But there is no reason to presume that bombing Syria is not as idiotic as it appears. Thus far, the Establishment media is largely playing a lapdog role.” The media’s response to Trump’s withdrawal announcement vivifies how the pro-war bias continues.

When Trump denounced “trigger-happy Hillary” on the campaign trail in 2016, crowds roared. Hopefully exiting Syria is the start of a sea change in U.S. intervention abroad.

Cartoonist Tom Toles beautifully captured the idiocy of U.S. policy in this 2014 cartoon. Two years later, CIA-backed Syrian rebels were fighting Pentagon-backed Syrian rebels. What could possible go wrong?

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December 21, 2018 Posted by | Militarism | , , , | Leave a comment

WaPo: Trump Needs to Destroy Venezuela to Save It

By Joe Emersberger | FAIR | December 17, 2018

Tamara Taraciuk Broner of Human Rights Watch (HRW) and Johns Hopkins professor Kathleen Page took to the pages of the Washington Post (11/26/18) to whitewash Donald Trump’s successful efforts to make Venezuela’s economic crisis much worse. Appropriately enough, at the end of the piece, the Post recommended four other articles (11/23/18, 9/11/18, 6/20/18,8/21/18) that either attacked Venezuela’s government or stayed conspicuously silent about the impact of US economic sanctions.

Propaganda works primarily through repetition. The vilification of Venezuela’s government in the Western media has been relentless for the past 17 years, as Alan MacLeod pointed out in his book Bad News From Venezuela.

A Washington Post op-ed (11/26/18) called on international governments to “put considerable pressure on Venezuela” in response to health problems that are largely a result of international pressure. (FAIR)

A WaPo op-ed called on international governments to “put considerable pressure on Venezuela” in response to health problems that are largely a result of international pressure.

NGOs like HRW play an important role in framing the Western imperial agenda from a supposedly “independent” and “humanitarian” perspective, as dramatically illustrated after the death of Sen. John McCain (FAIR.org8/31/18) when several HRW officials joined the US media in sanctifying an overtly racist warmonger. In contrast, a few hours after Hugo Chavez’s death in 2013, HRW rushed out a statement vilifying Chavez’s years in office, displaying total indifference to his achievements in reducing poverty and improving health outcomes, despite the violent, scorched-earth tactics of his US-backed opponents to prevent this from happening. No such statement was rushed out by HRW to attack George H.W. Bush—the recently departed butcher of Panama and initiator of the decades-long mass slaughter in Iraq, to mention only a few of his crimes.

HRW has repeatedly invoked the impact of an economic crisis in Venezuela to call for more US-led “pressure” on Venezuela’s government, as was done by Taraciuk and Page. They wrote:

But most sanctions—imposed by the United States, Canada and the European Union—are limited to canceling visas and freezing assets of key officials implicated in abuses and corruption. They have no impact on the Venezuelan economy.

In 2017, the United States also imposed financial sanctions, including a ban on dealings in new stocks and bonds issued by the government and its state oil company. But even these include an exception for transactions to purchase food and medicines. In fact, the government has purchased food from abroad, but these efforts have given rise to corruption allegations.

The idea that “most sanctions” have “no impact on the Venezuelan economy” is appalling nonsense (FAIR.org3/22/18). Trump has extended Obama’s cynically declared  “national emergency” over Venezuela, and escalated by directly threatening holders of Venezuelan government bonds, making it it impossible for Venezuela to “roll over” any bonds governed under US law (i.e., borrow to pay off principal when a bond comes due, as governments usually do). In January, a Torino Capital report on Venezuela’s economy stated that “all foreign-currency bonds are denominated in dollars, and all are governed by New York law.” Trump also prohibited the Venezuelan government–owned CITGO corporation, based in Texas, from sending any profits or dividends back to Venezuela.

The US allies Taraciuk and Page mentioned mainly provide propaganda cover for a US-led assault. Bear in mind that the United States, Canada and other countries within the European Union are supplying weapons and other essential military support to Saudi Arabia, even as it inflicts famine on Yemen. Why do you suppose governments barbaric enough to arm Saudi Arabia also target Venezuela with economic sanctions? Does concern over human rights and corruption, which Taraciuk and Page uncritically cited as a rationale, pass the laugh test?

It should be said that the financial sanctions the US has applied to Venezuela could not even be justified against Saudi Arabia which, unlike Venezuela, really is a dictatorship. In fact, Saudi Arabia is perhaps the most brutal and backward dictatorship on Earth, and one engaged in horrific aggression abroad. What would be justified against Saudi Arabia is cutting off arm sales and all military collaboration. That appears to be a real possibility in the United States at the moment, but recall that support for the Saudis may be funneled through Israel and other allies, as was done decades ago in Guatemala when the atrocities of US clients became overly embarrassing.

Francisco Rodriguez, the Venezuelan chief economist of Torino Capital and a longtime Chávez (and Maduro) government opponent, produced the graph below, which clearly shows the impact of Trump’s financial sanctions on Venezuelan oil production, which Venezuela depends on to get almost all the foreign currency it uses for trade. The piece Rodriguez wrote calling attention to this alarming fact was ignored by the media, according to a Nexis search done two weeks after it first appeared.

Venezuelan and Colombian oil production both fell when oil prices collapsed—but Venezuelan production kept falling after prices rose again, due to the effect of economic sanctions. (WOLA.org)

Venezuelan and Colombian oil production both fell when oil prices collapsed—but Venezuelan production kept falling after prices rose again, due to the effect of economic sanctions. (WOLA.org)

Before the financial sanctions introduced by Trump, Venezuela’s oil production followed a similar pattern to Colombia’s: There was a fall in production following a drop in investment, due to the steep and sustained drop in oil prices that began near the end of 2014 and bottomed out in 2016.

However, after Trump imposed financial sanctions in August 2017, Venezuela’s oil production plummeted, while Colombia’s stabilized. The impact of US sanctions therefore became much worse, but also easier to calculate. It works out to $6 billion in lost revenue to Venezuela’s government in the first year after the sanctions alone, even if one assumes that Venezuela’s oil production would have continued to decline along its pre–financial sanctions path. That’s over 600 times more than the emergency aid the UN has just approved for Venezuela.

The “exception for transactions to purchase food and medicines” Taraciuk and Page pointed to in Trump’s financial sanctions is a laughable smokescreen. The sanctions deprive the Venezuelan government of billions of dollars to buy foods and medicine, regardless of whether there are dubious “exemptions” to illegal sanctions.

According to Datanálisis, an opposition-aligned pollster whose directors appear regularly in Venezuela’s private media, more than 60 percent of Venezuelan households received subsidized food and other basic products this year, through a government program known as CLAP (in its Spanish language acronym). Taraciuk and Page mention these “corruption allegations”—like the allegations that the government has used this system to “buy support”—to falsely suggest that what concerns the US and its accomplices are revenues lost to corruption (hardly a problem unique to Venezuela).

On the contrary, the US concern is that Venezuelan government revenues might benefit the public. The worry—apparently shared by apologists like Taraciuk and Page—is that the Maduro government has been able to retain popular support by responding to the economic crisis. Sanctions take direct aim at Venezuela’s population by denying the government the revenues to do that—a depraved objective, but consistent with the behavior of the governments of the United States, Canada, France and UK, which continue to arm Saudi Arabia.

I’ve cited Venezuelan opposition sources above, not because I think they should be assumed the most reliable, but to show how extremist commentary on Venezuela has been in Western media. Even Venezuelan opposition sources are ignored when they can’t be used to support US belligerence.

In recent years, HRW officials have taken to calling Venezuela a dictatorship (CBC4/1/17). Pinning this label on Venezuela has been crucial to removing all legal and moral constraints on US policy. Taraciuk and Page refrained from using that label explicitly, but readers were clearly meant to get that idea:

Maduro’s government remains as opaque and repressive as ever. In January, the president called those who spoke out about the crisis “traitors to the fatherland.” His threat should be taken seriously in a country without judicial independence, where critics have been arbitrarily jailed and tortured, and hunger has been used for social and political control.

In fact, basic democratic freedoms in Venezuela remain at a level the US government would never tolerate were it faced with similar circumstances: a major economic crisis deliberately worsened by a foreign power that openly backs the most violent elements of the opposition. Just consider that, in far less dire circumstances, the liberal end of US opinion is either ignoring or viciously applauding the likelihood of Julian Assange being imprisoned in the United States for publishing government secrets.

Aggressive Maduro government critics appear constantly in Venezuela’s private media. Francisco Rodriguez traveled all over Venezuela in May, campaigning for opposition presidential candidate Henri Falcón, whom he advised on economic policy. Rodriguez made numerous appearances in Venezuela’s media during the campaign in which he lashed out at Maduro’s government (examples herehere and here).

Falcón (defying US threats) launched his presidential campaign with a 35-minute speech on Venezuelan state media. In that speech, Falcón repeatedly called Maduro the “hunger candidate,” and said that it is now common to see Venezuelans looking through trash for food. Falcón said democracy has been destroyed, and that all Venezuela’s institutions are “slaves” to the executive, that Maduro’s government has made Venezuela into a “hell,” that Venezuela faces the risk of civil war. Falcon pledged the release of all “political prisoners” and demanded that the election be held at a later date. The election was then moved back a month to May 20.

In an interview on a large private network during the campaign, Falcón said that Maduro’s government was an “unscrupulous monster,” but also “beatable” if voters turned out. Unfortunately for Falcón, much of the opposition leadership not only advocated abstention to discredit the election, but also hurled wild accusations at Falcon, saying he was in cahoots with Maduro.

About 23 minutes into the interview, Falcón advised government opponents that it’s foolish to wait for a “military invasion to save Venezuela.” The contradictions and absurdity of the opposition’s discourse, including the moderate faction, beggar belief. One shudders to think what would become of such opposition figures in Paris or Washington, but you will be shielded from such considerations reading Western media—and from understanding why Maduro easily prevailed in the 2018 election, despite an economic depression. Most importantly, you’ll be prevented from understanding how the Western media’s lies and distortions over the past 17 years have allowed the US to now pose a grave military threat to a democracy.

December 20, 2018 Posted by | Deception, Fake News, Mainstream Media, Warmongering | , , , | 1 Comment

Washington Post Hypocrisy on Khashoggi and Kennedy

By Jacob G. Hornberger | FFF | November 26, 2018

Ever since Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi was murdered in the Saudi Arabian embassy in Turkey, the Post has pressed hard to show that the murder was a state-sponsored assassination orchestrated by Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.

If only the Post had shown the same diligence, determination, and perseverance in the assassination of President Kennedy that it is displaying in the Khashoggi assassination. Instead, like many other U.S. mainstream newspapers, the Post has long taken the same position on the Kennedy assassination that President Trump is taking with respect to the Khashoggi assassination: obtuse denial.

This was especially true during the tenure of the Assassination Records Review Board in the 1990s. You couldn’t find a better example of journalistic indifference than what happened during that period of time. The following are just two examples of this phenomenon.

First, though, the background:

In 1991 Oliver Stone came out with his movie JFK, which posited that the assassination of President Kennedy was actually a highly sophisticated regime-change operation at the hands of the U.S. national security establishment, i.e., the military and the CIA.

The mainstream press went after Stone with a vengeance. Although they didn’t dispute the fact that the U.S. national-security establishment carried out assassinations and regime-change operations against foreign leaders, they were indignant and outraged over the suggestion that such an operation would be carried out against a U.S. president.

At the end of Stone’s movie was a blub informing people that despite the passage of almost 30 years since the assassination, the national-security agencies were steadfastly continuing to keep their records relating to the Kennedy assassination secret from the American people, most of whom had never accepted the official lone-nut theory of the assassination.

That blurb produced such outrage among the public that Congress was pressured into enacting the JFK Records Act, which mandated that the national-security agencies disclose their long-secret records to the public.

But there was a major oddity about the law: While the ARRB was charged with enforcing the JFK Records Act, the law also prohibited it from investigating any aspect of the assassination. That is a very bizarre provision. If newly discovered evidence is discovered that incriminates the national-security establishment, why wouldn’t Congress want it investigated?

Did the Post write any editorials questioning that particular provision? Nope. Unlike the Khashoggi assassination, about which the Post has published multiple editorials and op-eds, the Post didn’t see fit to issue even a mild criticism of that no-investigation provision.

Did the ARRB come up with evidence that incriminated the national-security establishment? You bet it did. The following are just a few examples.

  1. The two brain examinations

The military pathologists who conducted the autopsy on President Kennedy’s body claimed that there was only one examination of President Kennedy’s brain as part of the autopsy. The general counsel for the ARRB, an attorney named Jeremy Gunn, and an ARRB staff member named Douglas Horne discovered, however, that that was a lie. They discovered that were actually two brain examinations, the second which could not possibly have involved the president’s brain and instead was almost certainly a brain specimen that had been brought over from the Bethesda Medical School.

How did Gunn and Horne discover the military pathologists’ lie? They did it by examining the testimony and the timelines of the two brain exams.

The first brain examination was held within a couple of days after the assassination. It was attended by the two military pathologists who were falsely claiming that there was only one brain examination, Navy Commanders James Humes and J. Thornton Boswell.

That first brain exam was also attended by the official autopsy photographer, John Stringer, who taught medical photography at the Bethesda Medical School. Stringer told the ARRB that at that brain examination, which almost certainly involved President Kennedy’s brain, the pathologists “sectioned” the brain. That meant that they cut it like one would cut a loaf of bread. That is standard procedure in gunshot wounds to the head, especially to examine the trajectory of the bullet. Once a brain is sectioned, there is no way to put it back together. It remains cut into slices.

The second brain examination was held about a week later. How do we know that? Because the third military pathologist who conducted the autopsy, Army Lt. Col. Pierre Finck, told the ARRB that he attended that brain examination. Also attending that second brain exam were the two lying pathologists, Humes and Boswell.

Thus, Humes and Boswell participated in both brain exams, which they were falsely conflating into one brain exam.

Stringer told the ARRB that Finck was not at the brain examination. Finck told the ARRB that Stringer was not at the brain examination. That’s how Gunn and Horne figured out that Humes and Boswell were lying when they claimed that there had been only one brain examination.

Here’s something important about the second brain examination: The brain in that examination was fully intact. That means that it had to be a brain specimen of someone other than President Kennedy because, again, a brain that has been sectioned cannot be put back together.

Here’s something else to note about the second brain examination: The second brain weighed 150 grams more than an average person’s brain, which would have been impossible if it were President Kennedy’s brain. That’s because the gunshot that hit Kennedy in the head destroyed one-fourth to one-third of his brain. Thus, there is no way that Kennedy’s brain could have weighed more than an average person’s brain after having lost so much brain mass from the gunshot.

That again confirms that the second brain could not possibly have been President Kennedy’s brain. Yet, a photograph of that second brain is what is in the official autopsy record. The photograph of the second brain shows that the brain is damaged but without major loss of brain tissue. In other words, the military’s photograph of President Kennedys’ brain in the official autopsy record is bogus.

But here’s the kicker: Remember that provision in the JFK Records Act, the one that the Washington Post didn’t see fit to criticize when the law was enacted. It prohibited the ARRB from investigating any aspect of the Kennedy assassination. It was a provision of the law that the board of commissioners of the ARRB strictly enforced on the staff, making it very clear that any staff member who was caught violating that restriction would be immediately fired.

Thus, after discovering that there were, in fact, two separate brain examinations, the second of which could not possibly have involved the president’s brain, Gunn and Horne were absolutely prohibited from investigating the matter.

Did the Washington Post investigate the issue? After all, here was clear circumstantial evidence pointing in the direction of a fraudulent autopsy having been carried out on the body of the deceased president on the very day of the assassination. Isn’t that something that any self-respecting investigative newspaper or journalist would relish checking into? Like maybe just a telephone call to Humes and Boswell asking them to explain why Stringer and Finck were both claiming to be at the brain exam at completely different times and denying that the other was there.

And it’s not like the Post was unaware of what Gunn and Horne had discovered. Take a look at these two articles, both of which detail Gunn’s and Horne’s discovery of the two brain examinations:

Newly Released JFK Documents Raise Questions About Medical Evidence” by Deb Riechman, a writer fotr the Associated Press. It was published by the Post on November 9, 1998.

Archive Photos Not of JFK’s Brain, Concludes Aide to Review Board” by George Lardner, a Washington Post staff writer. It was published by the Post on November 10, 1998.

Did the Post follow up on these two articles by assigning an investigative reporter to investigate the matter? Did it publish a slew of editorials and op-eds demanding that the military explain what was going on here, as it has with the Khashoggi assassination? Did it publish critiques of the provision in the JFK Records Act that prohibited the ARRB from investigating the matter and request Congress to amend the law to allow such an investigation?

No, no, and no.

  1. The Saundra Spencer testimony

During its tenure in the 1990s, the ARRB summoned a woman named Saundra Spencer to testify. In November 1963, Spencer was a U.S. Navy Petty Officer who was working in the U.S. Navy’s photography lab in Washington, D.C. She had a top-secret security clearance and helped developed top-secret photographs. She worked closely with the White House. No one has ever questioned the integrity, veracity, or competence of Saundra Spencer. It would be virtually impossible to find a more credible witness.

Spencer told the ARRB an astounding story. On the weekend of the assassination, she was asked to develop, on a top-secret, classified basis the military’s autopsy photographs for President Kennedy. Given that she had been led to believe that the matter was classified, Spencer had kept her secret for some 30 years.

The ARRB’s general counsel, Jeremy Gunn, showed her the official autopsy photographs in the JFK autopsy record. Spencer carefully examined them. She then told Gunn in direct and unequivocal terms that those official autopsy photographs were not the ones she developed on the weekend of the assassination. The records she developed, she stated, showed a massive exit-sized wound in the lower back of Kennedy’s head. The military’s official autopsy photographs show no such wound and show the back of Kennedy’s head to be fully intact.

There is something important to note about Spencer’s testimony: It matched what the treating physicians at Parkland Hospital in Dallas said immediately after the president was declared dead. It also matched what bystanders stated who were situated to the rear of the presidential limousine and who had been splattered with brain tissue. It also matched what two of the Parkland nurses stated. It also matched what Secret Service agent Clint Hill stated. It also matched the bone fragment from the lower rear of the president’s skull that was found the day after the assassination. It also matched what two FBI agents said, one of whom told the ARRB that the official autopsy photographs appeared to be “doctored.” It also matched what many of the official autopsy participants had secretly told the House Select Committee in the 1970s.

That could only mean one thing: The military’s autopsy photograph of the back of President Kennedy’s head was bogus, as bogus as the military’s autopsy brain photograph.

But keep in mind something important: Notwithstanding Spencer’s sworn testimony, the ARRB was prohibited from investigating the matter because of the no-investigation provision that someone had slipped into the JFK Records Act.

Did Spencer’s testimony motivate the Washington Post to launch a journalistic investigation into the Kennedy autopsy? Did her testimony motive the Post to call for a modification of the JFK Records Act to enable ARRB to investigate the matter?

No and no.

You see, only national-security establishments of other countries carry out assassinations and regime-change operations against their own leaders. In the eyes of the U.S. mainstream press, our national-security establishment would never do such a thing. Therefore, there was and is no reason to investigate the manifest fraud in the Kennedy autopsy that was carried out by the U.S. military on the very evening of assassination as well as the origin and purpose of that fraudulent scheme.

For more information, see:

The Kennedy Autopsy by Jacob Hornberger
The JFK Assassination (ongoing video series) by Jacob Hornberger
Regime Change: The Kennedy Assassination by Jacob Hornberger
JFK’s War with the National Security Establishment: Why Kennedy Was Assassinated by Douglas Horne
The CIA, Terrorism, and the Cold War: The Evil of the National Security State by Jacob Hornberger
CIA & JFK: The Secret Assassination Files by Jefferson Morley Altered History: Exposing Deceit and Deception in the JFK Assassination Medical Evidence by Douglas Horne (video)

November 26, 2018 Posted by | Deception, Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Timeless or most popular | , , , | Leave a comment

Khashoggi: How US Media Is Losing Its Moral Compass by Feeding Off Conspiracy Theories

By Martin JAY | Strategic Culture Foundation | 21.11.2018

Trump’s relationship with Erdogan raises new questions about the credibility of US mainstream journalism. Was Khashoggi a victim of a Turkish ‘honey trap’?

The Washington Post continues its banal attack on the regime of Saudi Arabia, following the horrific murder of Jamal Khashoggi in the Saudi Consulate on October 2. In Turkey too there is much which the western media cannot understand or refuses to probe, as Ankara plays a game of blackmail with Riyadh in a bid to extract a deal from Mohammad bin Salman who is at the centre of its character assassination.

But what are we missing? What is at the heart of this story which isn’t getting picked up by journalists or even TV commentators in the region?

Much has been written about the ‘free license’ that Trump and his son in law, Jared Kushner gave the Saudi prince and that this murder is an inevitable consequence of such blinded dogma towards ones allies. There is some truth in this, but if you are to look at the coverage of, in particular, the US media over Khashoggi, you might be curious to understand why it is so extensive and prolonged. After all, Saudi Arabia has been kidnapping its own dissidents for years and there are many western journalists who are killed or go missing around the world which get minimal coverage. Why such an entrenched campaign for Khashoggi?

Guilty

Partly this is a guilt complex of the Wapo editors, who I have accused in earlier articles for more or less sending Khashoggi on a suicide mission when they chose to publish his articles in Arabic. This was recently confirmed when Khashoggi’s editor at the Post – Karen Attiah – admitted to The Independent that the traffic which the Arabic articles generated shocked bosses there. I have always argued that this was a final blow for MbS, humiliated now by his adversaries in Riyadh who can read about his failings on a regular basis.

And it’s also about the fact that the Post considered him part of the DC elite. One of their own, which explains why he has become so canonised and his personality enshrined in virtue.

Their trade is treachery

In truth, Khashoggi was no saint. He took the King’s shilling from the Saudi elite all his life and made a good lifestyle for himself. At the end of a thirty year relationship of working for them and learning all of their secrets, he used that privilege as a weapon to destroy MbS. In most cultures around the world, this is called treachery. We should remember that even in London in 1963, when British spy Kim Philby defected to Moscow, many wanted him to hang for selling out to the Russians and being a double agent for all his career. Khashoggi may well have been an amiable character. But he was also a traitor.

We are led to believe that he left Riyadh in 2017 because he feared being detained. But could it be that he was frustrated at not being promoted within the hierarchy?

A select number of journalists and academics, like Dr Nafeez Ahmed, support this theory, in part at least and go further to say that Khashoggi was murdered because he was about to distribute solid evidence of the Saudis using chemical weapons in Yemen. The British academic also underlines Khashoggi’s role for Saudi intelligence and, moreover, how he helped the Saudi royal family support Bin Laden, right up until 9-11.

Yet my own sources close to the Saudi elite tell me that MbS wanted to call him back to Riyadh because Khashoggi was at the centre of a coup in the making, which would have benefitted the former Crown Prince Mohamed bin Nayef, and still operated very much as though he was a Saudi intelligence asset. Not so much a treacherous journalist who didn’t know which side his bread was buttered, but more a double agent who was the gatekeeper of incendiary information. Something had to be done about Khashoggi.

Frustrated journalists are dangerous people. They lose sight of their loyalties and promises they made. And Khashoggi was an odd character struggling with an identity crisis. Is it the same case with Karen Attieh on the Oped desk of the Post which managed him? Did she connect with him as she too feels not taken seriously by her bosses at the Washington Post ?

Conspiracy theory extended? Unfortunately we are led to feral speculation when we are denied the facts, especially deliberately.

Western media has a lot to be ashamed of on both covering up the Khashoggi murder – by going along with the demonization of the kingdom – and in being part of it happening in the first place. How does all of the gory details about Khashoggi’s murder get reported as fact by the Post, when it has no proof from the Turkish police sources who supply them? There is gargantuan hypocrisy at play here as the Post is part of a conspiracy now. It played a role in Khashoggi getting murdered and it is now playing a role in diverting blame away from itself and blithely accusing Saudi Arabia’s leader of the murder with little or no solid evidence. This is sloppy journalism on a whole new scale and shows a dire lack of journalistic credibility and judgment (unless of course the Post is part of a murky campaign of disinformation which has been agreed between Ankara and Washington whose firebrand leaders are now on good terms once again). Is the Post part of a dirty deal which has been struck by Trump and Erdogan to rewrite this story?

Far fetched? Ludicrous? Maybe, but let’s look at the facts. Trump is standing back and letting Erdogan continue with his drip feeding of sensational detailed evidence, in a blackmail game with MbS – but what’s the price Americans pay for that? To place himself at the centre of that charade, Trump has indicated to the Saudis that they need to release women activists from jail (likely to happen soon) and to cancel the Qatar blockade (on the cards, but will take longer). But before that happens, what we are witnessing is Trump looking for a media distraction (sanctions against the Saudi ‘killers’) while he mulls the idea of letting Erdogan have the exiled cleric, Gulen, who the Turkish President accuses of being the architect of the July 2017 attempted coup.

But he has also allowed Erdogan to use the US media as a platform for his own moral tutelage. Yes, astonishingly, the Washington Post – which presents itself as an arbiter of free speech and a protector of journalists and their sanctity, following Khashoggi’s murder – chose to publish Erdogan’s Oped about the affair, giving the Turkish leader the edge in the power game by selling out the lives of all 170 journalists in Turkish prisons, which, presumably, Wapo editors just forgot about on that given day. One can only assume that Karen Attiah managed to hold back the tears for those who are rotting in Turkish prisons for merely writing an Oped which vexed the Turkish leader.

Presumably Erdogan paid the Post to publish the piece – otherwise, if it were gratis, then that would be like Wapo supporting him and his political leadership. But was this the same money that Saudi Arabia is reported to pay to regional media outlets to buy their loyalty? How can a Middle Eastern leader who has imprisoned a record number of journalists and who is now blackmailing the Saudis, get the support from the Washington Post ? Can this really be happening?

Erdogan must be laughing his head off in Turkey as he sees day after day that western media just report as facts, what his officials say about the details of the murder. And laughing even hysterically when all he needs to do is write an article taking the moral high ground – don’t laugh – on the rights of journalists in the region and give it to the Post to publish.

The dark side of Khashoggi murder

Good investigative journalists are cynical about everything which is presented to them. Is, for example, the relationship between Khashoggi and his fiancé entirely what it seemed, or was she directed by Erdogan to ‘honey trap’ the Saudi journalist as part of an elaborate plot to ensnare the Saudi crown prince? Sources from the intelligence community of one middle eastern country (I prefer not to name which one) are at least beginning to wonder about this. And almost certainly so are the Saudis. Yet western journalists who refuse to at least consider that the Khashoggi abduction was bungled (and ended up being a murder) are likely to call this a conspiracy theory. Even if it is, they should at least report on it and mull it. What about all the tools which the hit team brought, they might ask. Could they have been brought to be used to scare Khashoggi into handing over the information that MbS was seeking?

Khashoggi’s fiancé doesn’t seem distraught and the sheer speed in which the couple headed towards the marriage courts is questionable, as is, indeed her own personal relationship with Erdogan, which she even admitted to the BBC. Other questions should be the ‘evidence’ presented by Erdogan, which is looking ropy to say the least, which some journalists are identifying as such.

For the moment, the only certain thing about the Khashoggi affair is how standards of western media have plummeted to an all time low with the Post leading the pack with partisan judgment, check book journalism and an internal guilt trip fuelling their unremarkable reporting, not to mention their abysmal editorial judgment. American media has lost the moral compass and Khashoggi will be remembered for this above all – with many arguing that this, in itself, plays a role in the impunity of those carrying out the rendition and murder. When the Saudis fell into the Turkish trap, they probably believed that Turkey would be the last place in the world to care about one kidnapped journalist. But they could never have imagined how partisan, sloppy and hypocritical western media would be in covering the story. What Khashoggi has taught us is that the day that Americans read newspapers based on the editors’ judgment are well behind us. So why should we read them at all?

November 21, 2018 Posted by | Deception, Mainstream Media, Warmongering | , , | 3 Comments

News Media Gave Blanket Coverage To Flawed Climate Paper

Global Warming Policy Forum – 07/11/18

A week ago, we were told that climate change was worse than we thought. But the underlying science contains a major error.

Independent climate scientist Nicholas Lewis has uncovered a major error in a recent scientific paper that was given blanket coverage in the English-speaking media. The paper, written by a team led by Princeton oceanographer Laure Resplandy, claimed that the oceans have been warming faster than previously thought. It was announced, in news outlets including the BBC, the New York Times, the Washington Post and Scientific American that this meant that the Earth may warm even faster than currently estimated.

However Lewis, who has authored several peer-reviewed papers on the question of climate sensitivity and has worked with some of the world’s leading climate scientists, has found that the warming trend in the Resplandy paper differs from that calculated from the underlying data included with the paper.

“If you calculate the trend correctly, the warming rate is not worse than we thought – it’s very much in line with previous estimates,” says Lewis.

In fact, says Lewis, some of the other claims made in the paper and reported by the media, are wrong too.

“Their claims about the effect of faster ocean warming on estimates of climate sensitivity (and hence future global warming) and carbon budgets are just incorrect anyway, but that’s a moot point now we know that about their calculation error”.

And now that the errors have been uncovered, Lewis points out that it is important that the record is corrected.

“The original findings of the Resplandy paper were given blanket coverage by the media, who rarely question hyped-up findings of this kind. Let’s hope some of them are willing to correct the record”.

November 8, 2018 Posted by | Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Science and Pseudo-Science | , , , | Leave a comment

Who’s really ‘undermining’ US democracy?

‘We have met the enemy and he is us’

The Nation | November 2, 2018

Allegations that Russia is still “attacking” US elections, now again in November, could delegitimize our democratic institutions.

Summarizing one of the themes in his new book, ‘War with Russia? From Putin and Ukraine To Trump and Russiagate,’ Stephen F. Cohen argues that Russiagate allegations of Kremlin attempts to “undermine American democracy” may themselves erode confidence in those institutions.

Ever since Russiagate allegations began to appear more than two years ago, their core narrative has revolved around purported Kremlin attempts to “interfere” in the 2016 US presidential election on behalf of then-candidate Donald Trump. In recent months, a number of leading American media outlets have taken that argument even further, suggesting that Putin’s Kremlin actually put Trump in the White House and now is similarly trying to affect the November 6 midterm elections, particularly House contests, on behalf of Trump and the Republican Party. According to a page-one New York Times “report,” for example, Putin’s agents “are engaging in an elaborate campaign of ‘information warfare’ to interfere with the American midterm elections.”

Despite well-documented articles by Gareth Porter and Aaron Mate effectively dismantling these allegations about 2016 and 2018, the mainstream media continues to promote them. The occasionally acknowledged lack of “public evidence” is sometimes cited as itself evidence of a deep Russian conspiracy, of the Kremlin’s “arsenal of disruption capabilities… to sow havoc on election day.” (See the examples cited by Alan MacLeod.)

Lost in these reckless allegations is the long-term damage they may themselves do to American democracy. Consider the following possibilities:

Even though still unproven, charges that the Kremlin put Trump in the White House have cast a large shadow of illegitimacy over his presidency and thus over the institution of the presidency itself. This is unlikely to end entirely with Trump. If the Kremlin had the power to affect the outcome of one presidential election, why not another one, whether won by a Republican or a Democrat? The 2016 presidential election was the first time such an allegation became widespread in American political history, but it may not be the last.

Now the same shadow looms over the November 6 elections and thus over the next Congress. If so, in barely two years, the legitimacy of two fundamental institutions of American representative democracy will have been challenged, also for the first time in history.

And if US elections are really so vulnerable to Russian “meddling,” what does this say about faith in American elections more generally? How many losing candidates on November 6 will resist blaming the Kremlin? Two years after the last presidential election, Hillary Clinton and her adamant supporters still have not been able to do so.

We know from critical reporting and from recent opinion surveys that the origins and continuing fixation on the Russiagate scandal since 2016 have been primarily a product of US political-intelligence-media elites. It did not spring from the American people – from voters themselves. Thus a Gallup poll recently showed that 58 percent of those surveyed wanted improved relations with Russia. And other surveys have shown that Russiagate is scarcely an issue at all for likely voters on November 6. Nonetheless, it remains a front-page issue for US elites.

Indeed, Russiagate has revealed the low esteem that many US political-media elites have for American voters – for their ability to make discerning, rational electoral decisions, which is the bedrock assumption of representative democracy. It is worth noting that this disdain for rank-and-file citizens echoes a longstanding attitude of the Russian political intelligentsia, as recently expressed in the argument by a prominent Moscow policy intellectual that Russian authoritarianism springs not from the nation’s elites but from the “genetic code” of its people.

US elites seem to have a similar skepticism about – or contempt for – American voters’ capacity to make discerning electoral choices. Presumably this is a factor behind the current proliferation of programs – official, corporate, and private – to introduce elements of censorship in the nation’s “media space” in order to filter out “Kremlin propaganda.” Here, it also seems, elites will decide what constitutes such “propaganda.”

The Washington Post recently gave such an example: “portraying Russian and Syrian government forces favorably as they battled ‘terrorists’ in what US officials for years have portrayed as a legitimate uprising against the authoritarian government of President Bashar al-Assad.” That is, thinking that the forces of Putin and Assad were fighting terrorists, even if closer to the truth, is “Kremlin propaganda” because it is at variance with “what US officials for years have” been saying. This was the guiding principle of Soviet censorship as well.

If the American electoral process, presidency, legislature, and voter cannot be fully trusted, what is left of American democracy? Admittedly, this is still only a trend, a foreboding, but one with no end in sight. If it portends the “undermining of American democracy,” our elites will blame the Kremlin. But they best recall the discovery of Walt Kelly’s legendary cartoon figure Pogo: “We have met the enemy and he is us.”

Stephen F. Cohen is a professor emeritus of Russian studies and politics at New York University and Princeton University and a contributing editor of The Nation.

November 2, 2018 Posted by | Book Review, Full Spectrum Dominance, Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Russophobia | , , | 2 Comments

DNC Emails–A Seth Attack Not a Russian Hack

Publius Tacitus | October 23, 2018

If Russia had actually “hacked” the DNC emails then the National Security Agency would have had proof of such activity. In fact, the NSA could have tracked such activity. But they did not do that. That lack of evidence did not prevent a coordinated media campaign from spinning up to pin the blame on Russia for the “theft” and to portray Donald Trump as Putin’s lackey and beneficiary.

Any effort to tell an alternative story has met with stout opposition. Fox News, for example, came under withering fire after it published an article in May 2017 claiming that Seth Rich, a young Democrat operative, had leaked DNC emails to Julian Assange at Wikileaks. The family of Seth Rich reacted with fury and sued Fox, Malia Zimmerman and Ed Butowsky, but that suit subsequently was dismissed.

Now there is new information, courtesy of the National Security Agency aka NSA, that confirms that the NSA has Top Secret and Secret documents that are responsive to a FOIA request for material on Seth Rich and his contacts with Julian Assange. While the content of these documents remain classified for now, they may provide documentary proof that Seth Rich “dropped boxed” the emails to Julian. If these documents are declassified, a big hole could be blown in the claim that Russia hacked the DNC.

If Seth Rich was just a normal kid in the wrong place at the wrong time, his murder and untimely death would only have been a minor blip in the news cycle. Blip or not, it was a terrible loss for his family and friends. But Seth was not an ordinary kid. He worked for the Democratic National Committee aka the DNC and described himself as an “experienced and impassioned data analyst” keen on making the world a better place.Rich met a sudden and brutal end in a neighborhood near the U.S. Capitol in Washingtion, DC in the early hours of July 10, 2016. The initial report about the murder did not raise any political antanae in the United States. The CNN reporting of the murder was representative of the coverage at the time:

A Democratic National Committee employee died this weekend after he was shot in Northwest Washington.

Seth Rich, 27, suffered multiple gunshot wounds early Sunday morning in Washington’s Bloomingdale neighborhood, according to law enforcement officials.

D.C. police said officers who had been patrolling the area responded to the sound of shots fired, ultimately finding Rich at the scene both “conscious and breathing.” He was then transported to an area hospital, where police said he “succumbed to his injuries and was pronounced dead.”

Rich worked as voter expansion data director for the DNC since 2014, the DNC confirmed. A 2011 graduate of Creighton University, Rich’s resume is filled with various jobs in Democratic politics and political consulting.

But the circumstances and facts surrounding the murder were strange. Seth was shot in the back. Nothing was taken from his body—not his watch, not his wallet and not his credit cards. There was no obvious answer to the questions—who shot Seth and why?

The interest in Seth’s death took a dramatic turn when Wikileaks dumped the contents of DNC emails on its website on July 22, 2016. In order to put the Wikileaks theory regarding Seth’s death in proper perspective, we must review events in the prior months connected to the Hillary Clinton and DNC email controversies.

Seth Rich will go down in history, fairly or unfairly, linked to the debate surrounding Hillary Clinton’s missing and/or classified emails. During her time as Secretary of State, Hillary used a private server and sent thousands of messages over that server. This included emails containing Top Secret material.

In May 2016, the State Department Inspector General added further fuel to the controversy by concluding that Hillary had violated State Department protocols and policies:

The Inspector General was unable to find evidence that Clinton had ever sought approval from the State Department staff for her use of a private email server, determining that if Clinton had sought approval, Department staff would have declined her setup because of the “security risks in doing so.”[54] Aside from security risks, the report stated that “she did not comply with the Department’s policies that were implemented in accordance with the Federal Records Act.”[57]

Public interest in Hillary’s emails grew on June 12, 2016 when Wikileaks founder, Julian Assange, stated during an ITV interview that his outfit had more Hillary emails:

“We have upcoming leaks in relation to Hillary Clinton … We have emails pending publication, that is correct,” Assange said.

Two days later (June 14) came news that the DNC computers had been “hacked” by the Russians. Ellen Nakamura, a Washington Post reporter who had been briefed by a computer security company hired by the DNC—Crowdstrike–, wrote:

Russian government hackers penetrated the computer network of the Democratic National Committee and gained access to the entire database of opposition research on GOP presidential candidate Donald Trump, according to committee officials and security experts who responded to the breach.

The intruders so thoroughly compromised the DNC’s system that they also were able to read all email and chat traffic, said DNC officials and the security experts.

The intrusion into the DNC was one of several targeting American political organizations. The networks of presidential candidates Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump were also targeted by Russian spies, as were the computers of some Republican political action committees, U.S. officials said. But details on those cases were not available.

The Nakamura piece marked the first salvo in the Russian hacking meme. But the claim was not backed up by independently verified forensic evidence—it rested solely on the conclusions of a computer security company—Crowdstrike. The pro-Ukrainian politics of Crowdstrike’s founder, Dmitri Alperovitch, and his strident opposition to Russia cast a pall of bias over the findings of Crowdstrike. No U.S. Federal Law Enforcement official or agency was given access to the DNC servers. Neither the FBI nor Homeland Security were permitted to examine the servers and the alleged evidence of a hack.

Crowdstrike revealed that not one but two groups of hackers believed to be based in Russia had done just that. The intruders, according to Crowdstrike and the DNC officials who spoke to the Washington Post, fully accessed the campaign organization’s emails and chats, and stole opposition research on Republican presidential front-runner Donald Trump. . . .

In a blog post detailing the attack, Crowdstrike pointed to two groups of known Russian government-aligned hackers, one dubbed Cozy Bear and another called Fancy Bear. According to Crowdstrike, the two teams seemingly worked independently, either unaware of each others’ existence or even vying for dominance within the strange, internally competitive intelligence apparatus of Vladimir Putin’s regime.

The most bizarre aspect of Crowdstrike’s claim is that it started its “investigation” of the so-called hacking on the 7thof May and supposedly immediately discovered it was “the Russians.” Yet Crowdstrike waited more than a month to do what should have been done on 7 May—shutdown the network. Vicky Ward reported in Esquire on 24 October 2016 that Crowdstrike waited until June 10 to take steps to protect the DNC network:

Ultimately, the teams decided it was necessary to replace the software on every computer at the DNC. Until the network was clean, secrecy was vital. On the afternoon of Friday, June 10, all DNC employees were instructed to leave their laptops in the office.

For the next two days, three CrowdStrike employees worked inside DNC headquarters, replacing the software and setting up new login credentials using what Alperovitch considers to be the most secure means of choosing a password: flipping through the dictionary at random. (After this article was posted online, Alperovitch noted that the passwords included random characters in addition to the words.) The Overwatch team kept an eye on Falcon to ensure there were no new intrusions. On Sunday night, once the operation was complete, Alperovitch took his team to celebrate at the Brazilian steakhouse Fogo de Chão.

This was a classic case of closing the barn door after the horse had escaped. Crowdstrike started work in early May 2016 but failed to prevent the DNC emails from making their way to Wikileaks. The DNC emails that were released on July 22, 2016 by Wikileaks covered the period from January 2015 thru 25 May 2016. Crowdstrike started work on 7 May at the DNC. If this was truly a hack from an outside computer network then it should have been impossible for any outsider to electronically hack the DNC network. But the information on the DNC network was taken around the close of business on the 25thof May.

The day after Ellen Nakamura reported that the Russians had hacked the DNC, Guccifer 2.0 surfaced and took credit for the hack. Guccifer 2.0 made a point of specifically denying that he was Russian in an interview with Motherboard:

“I don’t like Russians and their foreign policy. I hate being attributed to Russia,” he said, adding that he was from Romania, just like the first Guccifer.

Guccifer 2.0 said he hacked into the DNC in the summer of 2015. He claimed that he used an unknown vulnerability in NGP VAN, which is a software provider for the DNC, to hack into the DNC servers, which have a Windows architecture. (There’s no evidence whatsoever that the hacker really broke through via NGP VAN.)

“Then I installed my Trojans on several PCs. I had to go from one PC to another every week so CrowdStrike couldn’t catch me for a long time,” he said. “I know that they have cool intrusion detection system. But my heuristic algorithms are better.”

Guccifer’s claim to be something other than Russian immediately was derided by those invested in the blame Russia meme. Motherboard, for example, published a piece on June 16 labeling Guccifer 2.0 as a Russian front, but that conclusion was based solely on circumstantial, stylistic evidence:

. . . considering a long trail of breadcrumbs pointing back to Russia left by the hacker, as well as other circumstantial evidence, it appears more likely that Guccifer 2.0 is nothing but a disinformation or deception campaign by Russian state-sponsored hackers to cover up their own hack—and a hasty and sloppy one at that.

Guccifer 2.0 surfaced again the end of June with more documents:

On June 30, Guccifer 2.0 posted additional documents from the Democratic National Committee’s servers on the WordPress blog. The post again denied Russian links, and spoke admiringly of Julian Assange, the founder of WikiLeaks; Edward J. Snowden, the former intelligence analyst who leaked archives of surveillance documents; and Chelsea Manning, the Army private who sent a huge trove of military and diplomatic documents to WikiLeaks in 2010.

Guccifer 2.0 faded into the woodwork when Wikileaks released the DNC emails on the 22 of July. Although Wikileaks protected the source of the DNC material, Julian Assange insisted that Russia had anything to do with putting the DNC trove into his hands.

Following the Wikileaks dump, Donald Trump made news on the campaign trail by sarcastically calling on the Russians to provided Hillary’s missing 30,000 emails:

“Russia, if you’re listening, I hope you’ll be able to find the 30,000 emails that are missing,” he said, referring to deleted emails from the private account Hillary Clinton used as secretary of State. “I think you’ll probably be rewarded mightily by our press.”. . .

“If Russia or China or any other country has those emails, I’ve got to be honest with you. I’d love to see them,” he said later, declining to back down.

Experts suspect that Russian agents  are behind the hack and release of Democratic officials’ emails last week that showed officials discussing ways to undermine Bernie Sanders’ primary campaign against Clinton.

Trump often has praised Putin and has claimed to have met him, but on Wednesday, he denied that they have met. He also denied multiple media reports that he is in debt to Russian lenders.

Trump clearly was joking. He was riffing on the fact that the DNC emails had been published on Wikileaks and that Russia was being blamed. But the Democrats, never known for their keen sense of humor, seized on this moment as an opportunity to introduce the meme that Trump and Russia were collaborating to stop Hillary’s quest for the Presidency. The Hillary team understood the fundamentals of good drama–i.e., a solid story needs a good villain. Donald and Vladimir Putin became the villains of this tale:

Hillary Clinton . . . accused Russian intelligence services of hacking into the Democratic National Committee computers and she said her Republican rival Donald Trump has shown support for Russian president Vladimir Putin.

“We know that Russian intelligence services hacked into the DNC and we know that they arranged for a lot of those emails to be released and we know that Donald Trump has shown a very troubling willingness to back up Putin, to support Putin,” Ms Clinton said in an interview with Fox News, as reported by Reuters.

US officials and cyber security experts have previously said they believed Russia had something to do with the release of the emails in order to influence the election.

In reviewing the media coverage of the DNC “hack” during June and July the name of Seth Rich does not surface even as a minor concern. This all changed on August 9, 2016 when Wikileak’s Julian Assange announced via Twitter “a $20,000 reward for information leading to a conviction in Rich’s killing on July 10 in the 2100 block of Flagler Place NW.” Assange subsequently discussed the murder of Seth Rich during an interview with Dutch TV:

WikiLeaks editor Julian Assange suggested that the Democratic National Committee staffer shot dead last month in Washington, DC, was killed because he was a “source.”

“Whistleblowers go to significant efforts to get us material and often very significant risks. As a 27-year-old, works for the DNC, was shot in the back, murdered just a few weeks ago for unknown reasons as he was walking down the street in Washington,” he told Dutch TV, referring to Seth Rich, who was gunned down in the early morning hours of July 10 while walking to his apartment in Bloomingdale.

The interviewer followed up by asking, “That was just a robbery, I believe. Wasn’t it?”

The WikiLeaks founder cryptically replied, “No, there’s no finding … I’m suggesting that our sources take risks.”

Rather than address the substance and facts of what Wikileaks and Assange were saying and doing with respect to Seth Rich, most of the media concentrated on dismissing the Seth Rich story as a crazed conspiracy theory.

The only media outlet that tried to tell this story–Fox News–soon found itself in a media and legal maelstrom. Fox released a well-sourced article in May 2017. Written by Malia Zimmerman, the article reported that Seth had downloaded the Wikileaks documents, uploaded them to a DropBox account and passed them on to Julian Assange. Malia wrote:

The Democratic National Committee staffer who was gunned down on July 10 on a Washington, D.C., street last July just steps from his home in the cozy Washington DC’s Columbia Heights neighborhood, leaked thousands of highly controversial emails to WikiLeaks that were generated internally between DNC party leaders, Fox News has confirmed after a 10-month investigation.

A federal investigator who reviewed an FBI forensic report detailing the contents of DNC staffer Seth Rich’s computer generated within 96 hours after his murder, said Rich made contact with Wikileaks through Gavin MacFayden, a famous American investigative reporter and director of Wikileaks.

“I have seen and read the emails between Seth Rich and Wikileaks,” the federal investigator told Fox News, confirming the MacFayden connection. But he said the whole case was put to rest after the FBI initial audit, and agents were told not to investigate further. The emails sit inside the FBI today, said the federal agent, who asked to remain a confidential source.

The Fox News piece was solid and well sourced. In addition to the Federal agent who confirmed Seth Rich had made contact with Wikileaks using a cut out, two other people with direct access to Julian Assange also told Fox reporters that Seth was the source for the DNC emails.

The DNC sprang into action and moved aggressively to shut down the Fox story. Fox, along with Malia Zimmerman and Ed Butowsky, were sued by the Rich family and by investigator Rod Wheeler claiming that some or all elements of the story were false. The lawyers behind these suits were tied to the Democrats. In the face of this pressure, Fox News folded like a cheap tent in a hurricane and pulled the Malia Zimmerman story.

Too bad Fox lacked the courage to back Malia Zimmerman because the lawsuit fell apart. The cases were dismissed in August 2018:

A federal judge in Manhattan dismissed a lawsuit Thursday that was brought against Fox News by the parents of Seth Rich, the young Democratic aide whose unsolved murder was turned into fodder for a lingering right-wing conspiracy theory.

In his dismissal of the lawsuit, Judge George B. Daniels said he sympathized with Mr. Rich’s parents, but added that they had not been personally defamed by the story — despite the fact that it included “false statements or misrepresentations.”

Who killed Seth Rich remains a mystery. It is unfortunate that the Fox News story intermingled the speculation that Seth’s murder was a deliberate hit with the actual factual statements identifying him as the source of the DNC emails.

But now there is new information that may corroborate what the human sources quoted in the Fox article claimed about Seth’s role in getting the DNC documents to Wikileaks. Borne from a FOIA request filed in November 2017 by attorney Ty Clevenger, who requested any information regarding Seth Rich and and Julian Assange. The NSA informed Clevenger in a letter dated 4 October 2018 that:

Your request has been processed under the provisions of the FOIA. Fifteen documents (32 pages) responsive to your request have been reviewed by this Agency as required by the FOIA and have found to be currently and properly classified in accordance with Executive Order 13526. These documents meet the criteria for classification as set forth in Subparagraph (c) of Section 1.4 and remains classified TOP SECRET and SECRET.

If NSA had come back and said, “No, we do not have anything pertaining to Seth Rich,” that would have been news. It would have been especially unwelcome news for those who believe that Seth was the source on the DNC emails. But now the opposite is true. The NSA says that it has documents that are classified TS and S. What do those documents say or prove? That remains to be seen.

But there is other evidence that buttresses the claim that the DNC emails were physically downloaded and then transferred to Wikileaks rather than being taken via an electronic intrusion of the DNC network. This is not a matter of opinion. It is a simple matter of science and math.

As noted earlier, Guccifer 2.0 took credit in mid-June 2016 for “hacking” the DNC and published documents as proof of his culpability. Those documents contain meta data. Bill Binney, who served with distinction as a Technical Director at the NSA, has written extensively on this issue:

We stand by our main conclusion that the data from the intrusion of July 5, 2016, into the Democratic National Committee’s computers, an intrusion blamed on “Russian hacking,” was not a hack but rather a download/copy onto an external storage device by someone with physical access to the DNC.

That principal finding relied heavily on the speed with which the copy took place – a speed much faster than a hack over the Internet could have achieved at the time – or, it seems clear, even now. Challenged on that conclusion – often by those conducting experiments within the confines of a laboratory – we have conducted and documented additional tests to determine the speeds that can be achieved now, more than a year later.

To remind: We noted in the VIPS memo that on July 5, 2016, a computer directly connected to the DNC server or DNC Local Area Network, copied 1,976 megabytes of data in 87 seconds onto an external storage device. That yields a transfer rate of 22.7 megabytes per second. (https://consortiumnews.com/2017/09/20/more-holes-in-russia-gate-narrative/)

The meta data does not prove that Seth Rich did it or that it occurred at the DNC headquarters. But the meta data does conclusively show that the material provided by Guccifer 2.0, which the US DOJ now insists was a Russian front, could not have been obtained via a computer hack.

So what do we know for certain?

First, no one in the Federal Governemnt—law enforcement or intelligence—was granted access to examine the computer servers and files on the DNC server even after the DNC claimed they had been hacked by a foreign government.

Second, the steps that Crowdstrike allegedly took to shutdown computer hacking by Russia do not match the timeline of the actual download of the documents from the DNC server.

Third, Seth Rich worked at the DNC and had access to the computer server and systems.

Fourth, Wikileaks founder Julian Assange identified Seth Rich as a “source” and posted a $20,000 reward for information concerning his murder.

Fifth, a Federal law enforcement agent told two witnesesses that Seth Rich had email exchanges with Wikileaks.

Sixth, two people with direct access to Julian Assange told three separate sources that Seth Rich was the source of the DNC material published by Wikileaks.

Seventh, the documents published by Guccifer contain meta data that establish that the documents were physically downloaded onto a device like a thumb drive.

Eighth, the NSA has confirmed that it has Top Secret and Secret documents responsive to a FOIA request for information concerning contact between Seth Rich and other people including Julian Assange.

October 24, 2018 Posted by | Deception, Fake News, Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Russophobia, Timeless or most popular | , , , , | Leave a comment