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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

Angered By Saudi Plan to Purchase Russian S-400, Trump Admin Exploiting Khashoggi Disappearance to Force Saudis to “Buy American”

By Whitney Webb | Mint Press News | October 15, 2018

ISTANBUL — The disappearance and alleged murder of Saudi journalist and Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi continues to strain relations between the United States and Saudi Arabia. On Saturday, President Donald Trump warned the Saudis of “severe punishment” if the Saudi government was found to have been responsible for the journalist’s alleged murder.

The Saudi government has vocally denied any involvement even though Khashoggi disappeared within the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul and responded to Trump’s threats by vowing an even “stronger” response if the Gulf monarchy is ultimately targeted by the United States. The exchange of threats caused Saudi stocks to sustain their biggest one-day loss since 2016 when trading opened and has brought the upcoming three-day Future Investment Initiative (FII) in Saudi Arabia much unwanted negative publicity.

However, there is considerable evidence pointing to the fact that the U.S.’ response to the Khashoggi affair is likely to be determined, not by any Saudi government responsibility for Khashoggi’s fate, but instead whether or not the Saudis choose to follow through with their promise to purchase the $15 billion U.S.-made THAAD missile system or its cheaper, Russia-made equivalent, the S-400. According to reports, the Saudis failed to meet the deadline for their planned THAAD purchase and had hinted in late September that they were planning to buy the S-400 from Russia instead.

While the U.S.’ response to the alleged murder of the Saudi journalist is being cast as a U.S. government effort to defend press freedom and finally hold the Saudi government to account for its long litany of human-rights abuses, there is every indication that the U.S. is not in fact seeking to punish the Saudis for their alleged role in Khashoggi’s apparent murder but instead to punish them for reneging on this $15 billion deal to U.S. weapons giant Lockheed Martin, which manufactures the THAAD system.

Khashoggi’s disappearance merely provided a convenient pretext for the U.S. to pressure the Saudis over abandoning the weapons deal by allowing the U.S. to frame its retaliation as a “human rights” issue. As a result, it seems likely that, if the Saudis move forward with the latter, the U.S. and the Trump administration  the Saudi government guilty of involvement in Khashoggi’s disappearance while, if they move forward with the former, the media frenzy and controversy surrounding the Saudi national will likely fizzle out and, with it, Trump’s threats of “severe punishment.”

Ultimately, the response of the U.S. political class to the Khashoggi affair is just the latest example of a U.S. government policy being motivated by the military-industrial complex but masquerading as a policy motivated by concern for “human rights.”

Why the sudden concern over the Saudi government’s atrocious human rights record?

As the Khashoggi saga has drawn on since the Saudi journalist disappeared earlier this month, some observers have noted that the corporate media and the U.S. government’s sudden preoccupation with Saudi Arabia’s human-rights record, particularly in regards to journalists. Indeed, just last Wednesday, Reporters Without Borders (RSF) announced that 15 Saudi journalists and bloggers had been arrested over the past year and noted that “in most cases, their arrests have never been officially confirmed and no official has ever said where they are being held or what they are charged with.”

In addition, Saudi Arabia has helped kill tens of thousands of Yemeni civilians in the war it is leading against that country, with most of those civilian casualties resulting from the Saudi-led coalition’s bombing campaign that routinely targets civilians. The Saudi-led coalition’s blockade of food and medicine into Yemen has also brought the country to the brink of famine, with nearly 18 million now at risk of starving to death — including over 5 million children, while thousands more are dying from preventable diseases in the country.

While murdering a journalist by “hit squad” in a diplomatic compound on foreign soil — as is alleged to have Khashoggi’s fate — would certainly set a dangerous precedent, Saudi Arabia leading the genocide against the Yemeni people is arguably a much worse precedent.  However, little concern over the Saudis’ role in this atrocity in Yemen has been raised by those pushing for action to be taken against Saudi Arabia over Khashoggi’s “inhumane” fate. So, why the sudden concern?

Despite it being a well-known fact that the Saudi government routinely imprisons journalists and activists and is leading a genocidal war against its southern neighbor, the Trump administration has now adopted a harsh tone towards the Saudis, with concerns over Khashoggi’s disappearance serving as the “official” excuse.

Indeed, Trump told CBS’ 60 Minutes during an interview broadcast on Sunday that “there’s something really terrible and disgusting about that if that were the case [that Saudi Arabia had been involved in Khashoggi’s murder], so we’re going to have to see. We’re going to get to the bottom of it and there will be severe punishment.”

Other powerful figures in the U.S. political establishment have called for dramatic action to be taken against the Saudi government, particularly the Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman (MBS). For instance, John Brennan, former CIA Director under Obama and current cable news pundit, lobbied in a recent Washington Post op-ed to dethrone MBS for his alleged role in Khashoggi’s fate.

Brennan also notably called upon the U.S. to impose “immediate sanctions on all Saudis involved; a freeze on U.S. military sales to Saudi Arabia; suspension of all routine intelligence cooperation with Saudi security services; and a U.S.-sponsored U.N. Security Council resolution condemning the murder.”

Another prominent figure in Washington pushing for action to be taken against the Saudis over Khashoggi’s disappearance is Senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC). Graham recently stated that there would be “hell to pay” if the Saudi government was found to be responsible for Khashoggi’s disappearance and alleged murder. Notably, the top contributor to Graham’s 2020 re-election campaign is U.S. weapons manufacturer Lockheed Martin.

Given that human-rights concerns among the U.S. power establishment have only emerged after the disappearance of this one journalist and such concerns regarding the Saudis other grave human-rights abuses continue to go unvoiced by these same individuals, something else is likely driving Washington’s sudden concern over alleged Saudi state-sanctioned murder.

So what has protected the Saudi government from U.S. retribution over its repeated human-rights abuses in the past? Though Saudi Arabia’s vast oil wealth is an obvious answer, a recently leaked State Department memo revealed that U.S. weapon sales to the Gulf Kingdom were the main and only factor in the Trump administration ’s continued support for the Saudi-led coalition’s disastrous war in Yemen. Those lucrative weapon sales, according to the memo, led Secretary of State Mike Pompeo to “rubber stamp” the Saudi-led coalition’s bombing campaign in Yemen despite the fact that the coalition has continued to bomb civilian buses, homes and infrastructure in recent months.

If the Saudis were to back away from a major, lucrative deal with U.S. weapon manufacturers, such an act would likely result in retribution from Washington, given that weapons sales to the Gulf Kingdom are currently the driving factor behind Washington’s “concern” with the Saudi government’s poor human-rights record.

This is exactly what happened and it took place just two days before Khashoggi disappeared inside the Saudi consulate in Istanbul.

The Saudis back out of a US deal and eye the rival’s wares

Last year, President Trump visited Saudi Arabia and praised its crown prince for finalizing a massive weapons deal with the United States at a value of over $110 billion. However, it emerged soon after that this “deal” was not contract-based but instead involved many “letters of interest or intent.” Over a year later, the Washington Post recently noted that many of the planned weapons deals have yet to be finalized.

One of those agreements was the planned $15 billion purchase of the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense System (THAAD), which is manufactured by U.S. weapons giant Lockheed Martin. The deadline for the Saudis to finalize that deal passed on September 30, just two days before Khashoggi’s disappearance on October 2. However, a Saudi official told the Post that the Saudi government is still “highly interested” in the deal but “like any military purchase, there are negotiations happening which we hope will conclude in the quickest means possible.”

Yet, not only has Saudi Arabia apparently backed out of the $15 billion deal to buy Lockheed’s THAAD, it is also actively considering buying the Russian-made S-400 missile defense system instead and has also refused U.S. government requests to disavow its interest in the Russian-made system.

Indeed, on September 21, Saudi ambassador to Russia Raid bin Khalid Krimli stated:

Our cooperation with Russia continues and grows. And during King Salman’s historic visit [to Russia] we have signed 14 agreements that began to be implemented. There were four agreements in the military field; three of them began to be implemented. As for the fourth … there is discussion of the technical issues. Because the system itself is modern and complex.”

The fourth deal to which he alludes appears to be the S-400. The Saudi ambassador also stated the he hoped “nobody will impose any sanctions on us” for making the purchases with Russia — further suggesting that the system he was discussing was the S-400, given that the U.S. sanctioned China for purchasing the system soon before the Saudi ambassador’s comments.

Interestingly, soon after the Saudis’ failure to stick to the planned deal with Lockheed, Trump began to publicly criticize the Saudis for “not paying” their fair share. Speaking at a campaign rally in Mississippi on October 3 – one day after Khashoggi’s disappearance in Istanbul and three days after Saudi Arabia “missed” the Lockheed Martin deadline, Trump stated:

“I love the king [of Saudi Arabia], King Salman, but I said: ‘King, we’re protecting you. You might not be there for two weeks without us. You have to pay for your military, you have to pay.”‘

More recently, this past Saturday, Trump told reporters that he did not want to risk the bottom line of the U.S.’ top weapons manufacturers in determining the Saudis’ “punishment:”

I tell you what I don’t want to do. Boeing, Lockheed, Raytheon, all these companies. I don’t want to hurt jobs. I don’t want to lose an order like that [emphasis added]. And you know there are other ways of punishing, to use a word that’s a pretty harsh word, but it’s true.”

However, if the Saudis do follow through with the purchase of the S-400, Lockheed Martin will lose $15 billion as a result. It will also endanger some of other potential contracts contained within the $110 billion weapons contract that Trump has often publicly promoted. With Trump not wanting to “lose an order like that,” some analysts like Scott Creighton of the Nomadic Everyman blog have asserted that the Khashoggi scandal is being used as a “shakedown” aimed at pressuring the Saudis into “buying American” and to force them to disavow a future purchase of the Russian-made S-400.

Would the U.S. use such tactics against a close ally like the Saudis over their potential purchase of the Russian-made S-400? It would certainly fit with the U.S.’ recent efforts to threaten countries around the world with sanctions for purchasing that very missile defense system. For instance, in June, U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs Wess Mitchell threatened Turkey with sanctions if Turkey purchased the S-400. Those threats were followed by the September decision made by the Trump administration to sanction China for its purchase of the S-400 system.

Notably, it was right after China was sanctioned for purchasing the S-400 that the Saudi ambassador to Russia told Russian media that “I hope nobody will impose any sanctions on us” for purchasing the S-400.

However, U.S. sanctions against the Saudis may now be in the works after all, with Khashoggi’s disappearance as the pretext. Indeed, as previously mentioned, former CIA director John Brennan, among other powerful figures in Washington, is calling for sanctions against the Saudi government and Trump himself stated on Saturday that “severe punishment” could soon be in the Saudis’ future.

Yet another piece of this puzzle that cannot be ignored is the fact that Khashoggi himself has ties to the CIA, as well as to Lockheed Martin through his uncle Adnan Khashoggi, one of Saudi Arabia’s most powerful weapons dealers.

Khashoggi’s deep connections to CIA, Saudi Intelligence suggest his “disappearance” may be something more

Following his disappearance, Khashoggi has been praised by establishment and non-establishment figures alike, from Jake Tapper to Chris Hedges, for being a “dissident” and a “courageous journalist.” However, prior to his scandalous disappearance and alleged murder, Khashoggi did not receive such accolades and was a very controversial figure.

As Federico Pieraccini recently wrote at Strategic Culture :

[Khashoggi is a] representative of the shadowy world of collaboration that sometimes exists between journalism and the intelligence agencies, in this case involving the intelligence agencies of Saudi Arabia and the United States. It has been virtually confirmed by official circles within the Al Saud family that Khashoggi was an agent in the employ of Riyadh and the CIA during the Soviet presence in Afghanistan.”

Indeed, Khashoggi doubled as a journalist and an asset for the Saudi and U.S. intelligence services and was also an early recruit of the Muslim Brotherhood. He was also the protégé of Turki Faisal Al-Saud, the head of Saudi intelligence for 24 years, who also served as the Saudi ambassador to Washington and to the United Kingdom. Khashoggi was “media advisor” to Faisal Al-Saud during his two ambassadorships. Notably, Khashoggi became a regime “critic” only after internal power struggles broke out between former Saudi King Abdullah and Turki Faisal al-Saud.

Supporters of King Abdullah accused Khashoggi at the time of having recruited and paid several journalists on behalf of the CIA while he was editor of the leading English-language magazine in Saudi Arabia, Arab News, a post he held from 1999 to 2003.

More recently, Khashoggi strongly supported the Muslim Brotherhood during the “Arab Spring” and backed the Barack Obama/Hillary Clinton regime-change efforts that spread throughout the Middle East, including the regime-change effort targeting Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.

However, under King Salman, the Muslim Brotherhood’s presence in Saudi Arabia came under threat and was suppressed. This led Khashoggi to leave and seek refuge in Turkey.

Perhaps most significantly, prior to his disappearance, Khashoggi was “working quietly with intellectuals, reformists and Islamists to launch a group called Democracy for the Arab World Now.” As Moon of Alabama notes, these projects that Khashoggi was involved in prior to his disappearance “reek of preparations for a CIA-controlled color revolution in Saudi Arabia.”

Not only does Khashoggi share ties to the CIA and the Saudi intelligence services (services that often collaborate), but his family is well-connected to global power structures, including Lockheed Martin.

Indeed, as previously mentioned, Khashoggi’s uncle is none other than Adnan Khashoggi, the notorious Saudi arms dealer who was an important player in the Iran-contra affair and was once Saudi Arabia’s richest man. Adnan Khashoggi was deeply connected to Lockheed Martin, as demonstrated by the fact that, between 1970 and 1975, he received $106 million in commissions from the U.S. weapons giant with his commission rate on Lockheed sales eventually rising to 15 percent. According to Lockheed’s former Vice President for International Marketing, Max Helzel, Adnan Khashoggi “became for all practical purposes a marketing arm of Lockheed. Adnan would provide not only an entry but strategy, constant advice and analysis.”

Adnan Khashoggi also had close ties to the Richard Nixon and Ronald Reagan White Houses, with the latter likely explaining why he was acquitted for his role in the Iran-contra scandal. Also notable is the fact that Adnan Khashoggi sold his famed yacht to none other than Donald Trump for $30 million. Trump later called Adnan Khashoggi “a great broker and a lousy businessman.”

Given Jamal Khashoggi’s past and present connections to the CIA and his family’s connections to Lockheed Martin and powerful players in the U.S. political establishment, the possibility emerges that Khashoggi’s disappearance may have in fact been a set-up in order to place pressure on the Saudi government following its decision to renege on its plan to purchase Lockheed’s THAAD system. This theory is also somewhat supported by the fact that the U.S. intelligence community had known in advance of an alleged Saudi plot to capture Khashoggi but ignored its duty (via ICD 191) to warn Khashoggi of the apparent threat against him. Furthermore, the claims that Khashoggi was murdered in the Saudi consulate in Istanbul have — so far — been entirely based on claims from U.S. and Turkish intelligence and no evidence to support the now prevailing narrative of murder has been made public.

If a “set-up” were the case, Khashoggi’s CIA links and his apparent efforts at pushing a CIA-controlled “color revolution” in Saudi Arabia suggest that his disappearance could also have been intended for use as a pretext, not necessarily to punish the Saudis over the S-400, but to remove MBS from his position as crown prince and replace him with former crown prince Mohammed bin Nayef, who was ousted by MBS last year and also holds close ties to the CIA. Such a possibility cannot be ignored.

However, the Trump administration’s willingness to cooperate with the faux outrage regarding Khashoggi is much more likely to be motivated by the weapons-deal drama given the administration’s close ties to MBS.

Of course, it is equally likely that this was not a set-up given that MBS is undeniably authoritarian and relentlessly pursues his critics and perhaps thought that his close relationship with Trump would allow him to act with impunity in targeting Khashoggi. However, MBS’ pursuits of his critics in the past were more readily accepted by the West — like the so-called “corruption crackdown” last December. Either way, the Saudi government’s role in the alleged murder of Khashoggi is being capitalized on by the CIA and other elements of the U.S. political scene and military-industrial complex for its own purposes, as these groups normally turn a blind eye to Saudi government atrocities.

Tracking the political typhoon

Though the U.S. tactic to strong-arm Saudi Arabia seems clear, it is a situation that could dangerously escalate as both MBS and Trump have proven over the course of their short tenure that they are stubborn and unpredictable.

Furthermore, the timing of this situation is also troubling. In early November, the Trump administration’s efforts to punish countries importing Iranian crude oil will take effect and Trump is set to lean heavily on the Saudis to prevent a dramatic oil price increase due to the supply shock the removal of Iranian oil from the market will cause. Notably, the Saudis are working closely with Russia to keep oil prices from spiking.

Is the U.S. willing to risk the dramatic jump in oil prices, which themselves could have major domestic economic consequences, in order to keep the Saudis from buying the S-400? It’s hard to say but the coming battle of wills between Trump and MBS could well have truly global consequences.

Acknowledgment: The author of this article would like to thank Scott Creighton of the Nomadic Everyman blog for his assistance in researching aspects of this investigation.

Whitney Webb is a staff writer for MintPress News and a contributor to Ben Swann’s Truth in Media. Her work has appeared on Global Research, the Ron Paul Institute and 21st Century Wire, among others. She has also made radio and TV appearances on RT and Sputnik. She currently lives with her family in southern Chile.

October 15, 2018 Posted by | Corruption, Deception, Timeless or most popular | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Khashoggi Was No Critic of Saudi Regime

By As`ad AbuKhalil | Consortium News | October 15, 2018

The disappearance of Jamal Khashoggi, the Saudi journalist, in the Saudi consulate in Istanbul last week has generated huge international publicity, but unsurprisingly, little in Saudi-controlled, Arab media. The Washington Post, for whom Khashoggi wrote, and other Western media, have kept the story alive, increasing the pressure on Riyadh to explain its role in the affair.

It’s been odd to read about Khashoggi in Western media. David Hirst in The Guardian claimed Khashoggi merely cared about absolutes such as “truth, democracy, and freedom”. Human Rights Watch’s director described him as representing “outspoken and critical journalism.”

But did he pursue those absolutes while working for Saudi princes?

Khashoggi was a loyal member of the Saudi propaganda apparatus. There is no journalism allowed in the kingdom: there have been courageous Saudi women and men who attempted to crack the wall of rigid political conformity and were persecuted and punished for their views. Khashoggi was not among them.

Some writers suffered while Khashoggi was their boss at Al-Watan newspaper. Khashoggi—contrary to what is being written—was never punished by the regime, except lightly two years ago, when Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman (MbS) banned him from tweeting and writing for Al-Hayat, the London-based, pan-Arab newspaper owned by Saudi Prince Khalid bin Sultan.

By historical contrast, Nasir As-Sa`id was a courageous secular Arab Nationalist writer who fled the kingdom in 1956 and settled in Cairo, and then Beirut. He authored a massive (though tabloid-like) volume about the history of the House of Saud. He was unrelenting in his attacks against the Saudi royal family.

For this, the Saudi regime paid a corrupt PLO leader in Beirut (Abu Az-Za`im, tied to Jordanian intelligence) to get rid of As-Sa`id. He kidnapped As-Sa`id from a crowded Beirut street in 1979 and delivered him to the Saudi embassy there. He was presumably tortured and killed (some say his body was tossed from a plane over the “empty quarter” desert in Saudi Arabia). Such is the track record of the regime.

Finding the Right Prince

Khashoggi was an ambitious young reporter who knew that to rise in Saudi journalism you don’t need professionalism, courage, or ethics. In Saudi Arabia, you need to attach yourself to the right prince. Early on, Khashoggi became close to two of them: Prince Turki Al-Faysal (who headed Saudi intelligence) and his brother, Prince Khalid Al-Faysal, who owned Al-Watan (The Motherland) where Khashoggi had his first (Arabic) editing job.

Khashoggi distinguished himself with an eagerness to please and an uncanny ability to adjust his views to those of the prevailing government. In the era of anti-Communism and the promotion of fanatical jihad in Afghanistan and elsewhere, Khashoggi was a true believer. He fought with Osama bin Laden and promoted the cause of the Mujahideen.

The Washington Post‘s David Ignatius and others want to embellish this by implying that he was an “embedded” reporter—as if bin Laden’s army would invite independent journalists to report on their war efforts. The entire project of covering the Afghan Mujahideen and promoting them in the Saudi press was the work of the chief of Saudi intelligence, Prince Turki, Khashoggi’s principal patron-prince.

Western media coverage of Khashoggi’s career (by people who don’t know Arabic) presents a picture far from reality. They portray a courageous investigative journalist upsetting the Saudi regime. Nothing is further from the truth: there is no journalism in Saudi Arabia; there is only crude and naked propaganda.

Editors are trusted individuals who have demonstrated long-time loyalty. Khashoggi admitted to an Arab reporter last year in an interview from Istanbul that in Saudi Arabia he had been both editor and censor. Editors of Saudi regime papers (mouthpieces of princes and kings) enforce government rules and eliminate objectionable material.

Khashoggi never spoke out for Saudis in distress. He ran into trouble in two stints as Al-Watan editor because of articles he published by other writers, not by himself, that were mildly critical of the conservative religious establishment—which he at times supported. He was relocated to another government media job— to shield him from the religious authorities.

Khashoggi was the go-to man for Western journalists covering the kingdom, appointed to do so by the regime. He may have been pleasant in conversation with reporters but he never questioned the royal legitimacy. And that goes for his brief one-year stint in Washington writing for the Post.

A Reactionary

Khashoggi was a reactionary: he supported all monarchies and sultanates in the region and contended they were “reformable.” To him, only the secular republics, in tense relations with the Saudis, such as Iraq, Syria and Libya, defied reform and needed to be overthrown. He favored Islamization of Arab politics along Muslim Brotherhood lines.

Khashoggi’s vision was an “Arab uprising” led by the Saudi regime. In his Arabic writings he backed MbS’s “reforms” and even his “war on corruption,” derided in the region and beyond. He thought that MbS’s arrests of the princes in the Ritz were legitimate (though he mildly criticized them in a Post column) even as his last sponsoring prince, Al-Walid bin Talal, was locked up in the luxury hotel. Khashoggi even wanted to be an advisor to MbS, who did not trust him and turned him down.

Writing in the Post (with an Arabic version) Khashoggi came across as a liberal Democrat favoring democracy and reform. But he didn’t challenge Saudi regime legitimacy or Western Mideast policy. Mainstream journalists were enamored with him. They saw him as an agreeable Arab who didn’t criticize their coverage of the region, but praised it, considering the mainstream U.S. press the epitome of professional journalism. Khashoggi was essentially a token Arab writing for a paper with a regrettable record of misrepresenting Arabs.

In Arabic, his Islamist sympathies with Turkey and the Muslim Brotherhood (Ikhwan) were unmistakable. Forgotten or little known in the West is that during the Cold War the Saudis sponsored, funded, and nurtured the Muslim Brotherhood as a weapon against the progressive, secular camp led by Egypt’s Gamal Abdel Nasser. Ikhwan controlled the Saudi educational system raising Saudi students to admire the Brotherhood. But Sep. 11 changed the Saudi calculus: the rulers wanted a scapegoat for their role in sponsoring Islamist fanaticism and the Ikhwan was the perfect target. That made Khashoggi suspect too.

Hints Against Him

Recent articles in the Saudi press hinted that the regime might move against him. He had lost his patrons but the notion that Khashoggi was about to launch an Arab opposition party was not credible. The real crime was that Khashoggi was backed alone by Ikhwan supporters, namely the Qatari regime and the Turkish government.

A writer in Okaz, a daily in Jeddah, accused him of meeting with the Emir of Qatar at the Four Seasons Hotel in New York and of having ties to “regional and international intelligence services.” If true it may have sealed his fate. Qatar is now the number one enemy of the Saudi regime—arguably worse than Iran.

Khashoggi was treated as a defector and one isn’t allowed to defect from the Saudi Establishment. The last senior defections were back in 1962, when Prince Talal and Prince Badr joined Nasser’s Arab nationalist movement in Egypt.

Khashoggi had to be punished in a way that would send shivers down the spine of other would-be defectors.

As’ad AbuKhalil is a Lebanese-American professor of political science at California State University, Stanislaus. He is the author of the Historical Dictionary of Lebanon (1998), Bin Laden, Islam and America’s New “War on Terrorism” (2002), and The Battle for Saudi Arabia (2004). He also runs the popular blog The Angry Arab News Service.

October 15, 2018 Posted by | Deception, Mainstream Media, Warmongering | , , , | 1 Comment

Pages purged by Facebook were on blacklist promoted by Washington Post

By Andre Damon  | WSWS | October 13, 2018

Media outlets removed by Facebook on Thursday, in a massive purge of 800 accounts and pages, had previously been targeted in a blacklist of oppositional sites promoted by the Washington Post in November 2016.

The organizations censored by Facebook include The Anti-Media, with 2.1 million followers, The Free Thought Project, with 3.1 million followers, and Counter Current News, with 500,000 followers. All three of these groups had been on the blacklist.

In November 2016, the Washington Post published a puff-piece on a shadowy and up to then largely unknown organization called PropOrNot, which had compiled a list of organizations it claimed were part of a “sophisticated Russian propaganda campaign.”

The Post said the report “identifies more than 200 websites as routine peddlers of Russian propaganda during the election season, with combined audiences of at least 15 million Americans.”

The publication of the blacklist drew widespread media condemnation, including from journalists Matt Taibbi and Glenn Greenwald, forcing the Post to publish a partial retraction. The newspaper declared that it “does not itself vouch for the validity of PropOrNot’s findings regarding any individual media outlet.”

While the individuals behind PropOrNot have not identified themselves, the Washington Post said the group was a “collection of researchers with foreign policy, military and technology backgrounds.”

PropOrNot, which remains active on Twitter, publicly gloated about Facebook’s removal of the pages on Thursday. “Russian propaganda is VERY VERY MAD about their various front outlets & fellow travellers getting suspended by @Facebook &/or @Twitter,” it wrote. The tweet tagged The Anti Media and The Free Thought Project, and included a Russian flag emoji next to an emoji depicting feces.

PropOrNot did not attempt to reconcile its own narrative that the targeted organizations were front groups for the Kremlin with Facebook’s official claim that they operated independently of any government but sought to “stir up political debate” for financial motives. This is because both accusations are hollow pretexts for political censorship.

In a separate post, PropOrNot added: “Well, look at that… @Facebook removed some of the most important gray/black Russian propaganda outlets from their platform! Bravo @Facebook – better late than never, so a BIG thank you for this.”

It added, ominously: “All of these [organizations] are cross platform & have websites, but one thing at a time.”

These comments by PropOrNot make clear where the censorship measures supervised by the US government and implemented by the internet companies are going. While these organizations still “have websites,” the authorities are handling “one thing at a time.”

The clear implication is that censorship will not end with Google’s manipulation of its search platform or the removal of accounts by Facebook and Twitter. The ultimate aim is the total banning of oppositional news web sites.

The publication of the PropOrNot blacklist and its promotion by the Washington Post helped trigger a wave of censorship measures against oppositional news sites by the major technology companies, working at the instigation of the US intelligence agencies and leading politicians.

Last year, the World Socialist Web Site reported that it an other sites, including Global Research, Counterpunch, Consortium News, WikiLeaks and Truthout, saw their search traffic plunge after search giant Google implemented a change to its search ranking algorithm.

In the subsequent period, search traffic to these sites has fallen even further. Search traffic to Counterpunch has fallen by 39 percent, and Consortium News has fallen by 51 percent.

These developments confirm the analysis made by the World Socialist Web Site in its open letter to Google alleging that it was censoring left-wing, anti-war and socialist websites.

“Censorship on this scale is political blacklisting,” the letter declared. “The obvious intent of Google’s censorship algorithm is to block news that your company does not want reported and to suppress opinions with which you do not agree. Political blacklisting is not a legitimate exercise of whatever may be Google’s prerogatives as a commercial enterprise. It is a gross abuse of monopolistic power. What you are doing is an attack on freedom of speech.”

On Tuesday, Google admitted in an internal document that it and other technology companies had “gradually shifted away from unmediated free speech and towards censorship and moderation.” The document stated that an aim of the censorship was to “increase revenues” under conditions of growing government and commercial pressure.

The document acknowledged that such actions constitute a break with the “American tradition that prioritizes free speech for democracy.”

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

‘Maverick’ Media Use McCain Funeral to Shore Up US Imperialism

By Gregory Shupak | FAIR | September 11, 2018

Elite media insist they’re engaged in challenging the imperious presidency of Donald Trump. But their support for US imperialism itself remains vigorous, as coverage of the funeral of Sen. John McCain showed clearly.

In a September 1 news report, Washington Post national security reporter Greg Jaffe and White House Bureau Chief Philip Rucker (9/1/18) write that

the full tableau of his funeral—which included the previous three presidents and every major-party nominee for the past two decades— . . . served as a melancholy last hurrah for the sort of global leadership that the nation once took for granted.

“Global leadership” is a vacuous euphemism media employ that carries the assumption that the US plays a decidedly positive role in world affairs, even as the same outlets report on dozens of Yemeni schoolchildren killed by a US-made bomb, for example, or on Syrians in devastated Raqqa, whose families could be expected to reach a different conclusion.

“Global leadership” also suggests that nations consistently and voluntarily seek to emulate the United States. However, history is replete with examples of countries seeking to chart a course independent of Washington to varying degrees, and being violently attacked by the US as a result—from Guatemala to Cuba to Chile to Nicaragua to Iran to Vietnam, to cite only a few of the practically endless cases.

Jaffe and Ruckner assert:

Much of the praise for McCain focused on his vision of the United States as a global superpower and moral beacon, positions Trump has been accused of abandoning. His longtime friend, former Sen. Joseph I. Lieberman, lauded McCain’s globe-trotting ways and his advocacy on behalf of political prisoners and dissidents in far-flung places such as Myanmar and Syria…. Yet more than ever before in the post–World War II era, McCain’s vision of the United States as the bulwark against tyrants, guarantor of global stability and refuge for the oppressed is out of favor.

By giving credence to characterizations of America as a “moral beacon” and a “bulwark against tyrants, guarantor of global stability and refuge for the oppressed,” the reporters legitimize US international supremacy. Nothing in their article raises any doubt about whether it makes sense to describe as a “guarantor of global stability” a state currently involved in seven wars, all of which it initiated.

Or whether a country loses its “moral beacon” status for bombing and killing more than 6,000 civilians, as the United States has in Syria since 2014. Or whether one can be a “bulwark against tyrants” while underwriting an Israeli government that since March 30 has massacred 179 Palestinians, including 23 children, two journalists, three paramedics and three people with disabilities.

WaPo: This weekend, we really did mourn the passing of America’s greatness

Anne Applebaum (Washington Post, 9/3/18) calls for “a new vision of genuine American greatness” that might require “people who can understand cybersecurity and online manipulation.”

Post columnist Anne Applebaum (9/3/18) echoed concern that McCain’s funeral “marked the end of a particular vision of American greatness.” She expressed faith that “America can still inspire, and America can still lead,” but feared that until new figures emerge to fill the void left by McCain’s allegedly sterling foreign policy record, “the world really will be mourning the passing of American greatness.”

The paper’s Jennifer Rubin (9/3/18) proposed “launch[ing] a party built on the ideals McCain propounded,” the first of which was

American leadership based on American values: Support democratic allies and the international economic system that has existed for 70 years. Stand with freedom-seeking peoples struggling against oppression.

Policy specifics can be worked out, Rubin contended,

as long as one is aligned on the big things—sticking to the facts, defending our alliances, standing up to international bullies, opposing assaults on the First Amendment and bolstering the rule of law.

What Rubin and others occlude is that in those 70 years, no government on Earth has carried out international aggression with a frequency remotely comparable to the US, most recently to devastating effects in Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, Syria and Yemen, which suggests it’s the US that’s the international bully most in need of standing up to. Moreover, Washington is actively propping up dictators crushing “freedom-seeking peoples struggling against oppression” in Honduras, in Egypt, and in Saudi Arabia and the other Gulf monarchies, to name only a few of many examples.

Far from having retreated from the world stage under Trump, as these articles imply, Washington has between 800 and 1,000 military bases in other countries, while only 11 other countries have bases in foreign nations, and these total 70. The US has the highest military expenditure in the world, spending more on its war machine than the next seven highest-spending countries combined, and doing so at an accelerated rate in the Trump era.

The point of the Post’s inversions of reality is to convince people that the US ruling class needs to be in the charge of the world to ensure peace and freedom, when in fact that same ruling class is responsible for an exceedingly large share of war and repression. And if the US can be depicted as a “refuge for the oppressed”—rather than a country with the highest incarceration rate in the world, disproportionately imprisoning the poor and ethnic minorities—then it can claim a moral pretext for policing other countries’ oppression.

Spreading and cementing the unexamined and spectacularly false assumption underlying the handwringing over America’s supposed surrender of its empire—that such a measure would be undesirable—was a central task performed by the coverage of McCain’s funeral.


Gregory Shupak teaches media studies at the University of Guelph-Humber in Toro. His book, The Wrong Story: Palestine, Israel and the Media, is published by OR Books.

September 12, 2018 Posted by | Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Militarism | , , | Leave a comment

Aftermath of Helsinki summit: American ‘democracy’ in action

© Erin Scott / Global Look Press
By Finian Cunningham | RT | July 19, 2018

After his landmark summit with Russian leader Vladimir Putin in Helsinki, US President Donald Trump was apparently forced into an embarrassing u-turn over allegations of Russian interference in American elections.

On returning to the White House from his summit in Finland, Trump read out a statement, saying that he “accepted” US intelligence claims that Russia had meddled in the 2016 presidential election.

He offered the explanation that he had “mis-spoken” during his press conference with Putin in Helsinki the day before, when he appeared then to accept the Russian president’s “powerful denial” that his country had not interfered in the race for the White House.

What to make of it? Was Trump correcting a glitch in his speech, or is there something more sinister at play?

In any case, political and media critics in the US don’t believe the president’s “attempt at backtracking,” as the Washington Post put it.

Senior Democrats insisted Trump “could not squirm his way out” of the torrent of accusations that he had “capitulated to Putin” and dishonored US intelligence services by appearing to accept Moscow’s assurances it had not interfered in the elections.

The context of words spoken at the press conference in Helsinki does indeed suggest that Trump was countenancing Putin’s denial of Russian meddling. The US president went on to say that the various probes into the matter were a “disaster” for America’s international image and for bilateral relations with Russia. This is consistent with Trump’s long-held view that the Mueller inquiry is a “witch-hunt” based on “fake news”.

So, Trump’s belated about-turn on what he meant to say in Helsinki regarding alleged Russian interference does not seem to be a convincing, genuine correction on his part. It suggests rather that the president is being forced into making a retraction.

What could be viewed as more disturbing is the way the American president has been browbeaten and cowed to make an embarrassing denial of something he actually believes. In other words, Trump has been humiliated or intimidated into toeing a line.

The US media reaction following the summit with Putin was immediate and shockingly coordinated, like a full-on assault.

“Trump faces tidal wave of criticism over handling of summit with Putin,” reported US government-funded Radio Free Europe.

The president was assailed with a torrent of abuse, decrying him as a “disgrace” and “traitor” for having engaged in a cordial manner with the Russian leader. The uniform scorn poured on Trump by the political and media establishment was something to behold.

Rabid pundits in supposedly prestigious newspapers such as the New York Times were declaring that it’s “Trump and Putin vs. America,” claiming that “the president’s refusal to condemn Russian attacks was a betrayal of every single American citizen.”

The media backlash of vituperation against the president was nothing short of extraordinary. It was a concerted campaign of sedition against his authority which, at times, openly called for a palace coup to oust him.

Under the headline, “This sad, embarrassing wreck of a man,” one oped in the Washington Post posed the question: “Which Republicans will stand behind a president who puts Russia first?”

Ironically, Trump’s instincts about the whole Russiagate affair are correct. It is a load of unsubstantiated farrago promoted by Democrats and large sections of supportive news media who have never got over the ignominy of Hillary Clinton losing out to “deplorable Trump.” Clinton was also backed by high-ranking officials in the state intelligence apparatus, as well as the foreign policy establishment.

This constituency of the political class in Washington shared Clinton’s avowed hostility towards Putin. It is to their unforgivable chagrin that Donald Trump was elected. Moreover, Trump was elected partly on the promise of restoring normal relations between the US and Russia. His policy was given a democratic mandate upon his election to the White House.

After nearly two years of relentless Russophobia from the US political and media establishment, the case for alleged Russian interference in American politics remains embarrassingly vacuous. Not even the latest so-called indictments produced by special counsel Robert Mueller have any credibility to anyone who looks earnestly at the charges. What’s more, ordinary American citizens seem to agree that the whole Russiagate affair is a frivolity indulged in by the political and media elites confined to Washington’s Beltway Bubble.

In a poll out this week following the Helsinki summit, a small majority of Americans (55 percent) seem to think that Trump is “mishandling” relations with Russia. It is perhaps not surprising, given the wall-to-wall media pillorying of the president as a “traitor.” Nevertheless, the same poll found that only a minority of Americans view Russia as “an enemy” (38 percent) or an “imminent threat” (27 per cent).

These figures are cold comfort for the US political establishment, which has assiduously pushed the narrative of Russian malevolence.

What the astounding media backlash against Trump shows is not so much the fecklessness of his character. No, the really perplexing issue is how American democracy is warped and fashioned to meet the demands of powerful unelected forces. The imperative is brazen and brutal.

Trump may want to normalize relations with Russia. The people may have voted for this policy. But the powers-that-be are making sure that this policy is not implemented. They want hostility towards Russia to prevail, as it would have explicitly if Hillary Clinton had been elected.

In short, what we are seeing this week is “American democracy” in action. Meaning there is no actual democracy exercised by the power of the people. It is power exercised by elite interests.

In that way, Russian reaction to the Helsinki summit should be restrained.

Indeed, it was welcome to see Trump and Putin engage in cordial, mutual dialogue. Trump deserves credit for holding the summit and for his civilized manner towards the Russian leader, instead of adopting the vulgar offensiveness for which so much of the US establishment is baying.

The problem is that Trump has evidently very limited political authority to implement the obvious goodwill he desires between Washington and Moscow. He has limited authority to actually adopt one of the key policies for which he was elected by the people.

Trump’s cringe-making u-turn was not a correction over his misuse of “double negative speech.” It was a positively damning sign that the president and the citizens who voted for him have actually negligible power when it comes to overturning a fundamental objective of the unelected plutocrats of the deep state.

For Russia, and indeed the wider world, that is deeply troubling. Because the American powers-that-be are evidently hell-bent on pursuing a hostile agenda towards Russia. Their Russophobia is not just some passing phase. It’s a symptom of an incorrigible malaise and desire within the US establishment for conflict.

Finian Cunningham (born 1963) has written extensively on international affairs, with articles published in several languages. Originally from Belfast, Northern Ireland, he is a Master’s graduate in Agricultural Chemistry and worked as a scientific editor for the Royal Society of Chemistry, Cambridge, England, before pursuing a career in newspaper journalism. For over 20 years he worked as an editor and writer in major news media organizations, including The Mirror, Irish Times and Independent. Now a freelance journalist based in East Africa, his columns appear on RT, Sputnik, Strategic Culture Foundation and Press TV.

July 19, 2018 Posted by | Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Russophobia, Timeless or most popular | , , | Leave a comment

Can Truth Survive Trump? WaPo Fails to Ask How Well Truth Was Doing to Begin With

By Dean Baker | FAIR | July 16, 2018

Carlos Lozada, the nonfiction book critic for the Washington Post, promised “an honest investigation” of whether truth can survive the Trump administration in the lead article in the paper’s Sunday Outlook section. He delivered considerably less.

WaPo: Can truth survive this president? An honest investigation.

The Washington Post fails. But, hey, it’s the Washington Post.

Most importantly and incredibly, Lozada never considers the possibility that respect for traditional purveyors of “truth” has been badly weakened by the fact that they have failed to do so in many important ways in recent years. Furthermore, they have used their elite status (prized university positions and access to major media outlets) to deride those who challenged them as being unthinking illiterates.

This dynamic is most clear in the trade policy pursued by the United States over the last four decades. This policy had the predicted and actual effect of eliminating the jobs of millions of manufacturing workers and reducing the pay of tens of millions of workers with less than a college education. The people who suffered the negative effects of these policies were treated as stupid know-nothings, and wrongly told that their suffering was due to automation or was an inevitable product of globalization.

These claims are what those of us still living in the world of truth know as “lies,” but you will never see anyone allowed to make these points in the Washington Post. After all, its readers can’t be allowed to see such thoughts.

This was far from the only major failure of the purveyors of truth. The economic crisis caused by the collapse of the housing bubble cost millions of workers their jobs and/or houses. While this collapse was 100 percent predictable for anyone with a basic knowledge of economics, with almost no exceptions, our elite economists failed to see it coming, and ridiculed those who warned of the catastrophe.

Incredibly, there were no career consequences for this momentous failure. No one lost their job and probably few even missed a scheduled promotion. Everyone was given a collective “who could have known?” amnesty. This leaves us with the absurd situation where a dishwasher who breaks the dishes get fired, a custodian that doesn’t clean the toilet gets fired, but an elite economist who completely misses the worst economic disaster in 70 years gets promoted to yet another six-figure salary position.

And, departing briefly from my area of expertise, none of the geniuses who thought invading Iraq was a good idea back in 2003 seems to be on the unemployment lines today. Again, there was another collective “who could have known?” amnesty, with those responsible for what was quite possibly the greatest foreign policy disaster in US history still considered experts in the area and drawing high salaries.

When we have a world in which the so-called experts are not held accountable for their failures, even when they are massive, and they consistently look down on the people who question their expertise, it undermines belief in truth. It would have been nice if Lozada had explored this aspect of the issue, but, hey, it’s the Washington Post.

Dean Baker is the author of Rigged: How Globalization and the Rules of the Modern Economy Were Structured to Make the Rich Richer.

July 16, 2018 Posted by | Economics, Fake News, Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Militarism, Timeless or most popular | , , | Leave a comment

The View of Russia in the West

By Paul Craig Roberts | OffGuardian | July 12, 2018

The upcoming Trump/Putin summit is hampered by the crazed portrait of Russia painted by presstitutes. Jonathan Chait, Amy Knight, Max Bergmann, Yaroslav Trofimov, Roger Cohen, and the rest of the conscious or de facto CIA assets that comprise the Western presstitute media have turned Putin into a superhuman who controls election outcomes throughout the West, murders people without rhyme or reason, and has President Trump under his thumb doing Putin’s bidding. Who could imagine a more extreme conspiracy theory?

Jonathan Chait in New York magazine writes that “the dark crevices of the Russia scandal run deep,” so deep that “it would be dangerous not to consider the possibility that the summit is less a negotiation between two heads of state than a meeting between a Russian-intelligence asset and his handler.”

So here is Chait, who brands truth-tellers “conspiracy theorists” coming up with the greatest conspiracy theory of our time that President Trump has been a Kremlim asset since 1987. Chait provides a ”crazy quilt of connections” to illustrate his absurd conspiracy theory that “it’s not necessary to believe that Putin always knew he might install Trump in the Oval Office to find the following situation highly plausible: Sometime in 2015, the Russian president recognized that he had, in one of his unknown number of intelligence files, an inroad into American presidential politics.”

Chait believes that Russia is also behind the UK’s exit from the European Union. “Driving Britain out of the European Union advanced the decades-long Russian goal of splitting Western nations apart, and Russia found willing allies on the British far right.”

Chait gets even more conspiratorial. He admits that Paul Manafort’s indictments for alleged white collar crimes are not related to Trump’s election, having occurred years previously in Ukraine. Nevertheless, Chait is certain that Manafort is shielding Trump even though according to Chait Manafort is facing many years in prison. Why would Manafort shield Trump? Chait’s answer:

One way to make sense of his behavior is the possibility that Manafort is keeping his mouth shut because he’s afraid of being killed. That speculation might sound hyperbolic, but there is plenty of evidence to support it. In February, a video appeared on YouTube showing Manafort’s patron Deripaska on his yacht with a Belarusian escort named Anastasia Vashukevich.”

Chait’s article is long and heavily weighted with innuendo. Chait, or whoever wrote the article, possibly the person who wrote the Steele Dossier, collects every disparaging fact and fantasy about Trump and assembles them in a way to paint a portrait of a person who must also, without much doubt, be a Russian agent. If the public can be convinced of this, the military/security complex can assassinate Trump and blame Putin for getting rid of an asset who was exposed by the Russiagate investigation, no longer useful, and perhaps prepared to spill the beans.

Another conspiracy theorist, Amy Knight, writes that “The real question is where does the Russian criminal state end and the criminal underworld begin, and how do they work together in what amounts to a new murder incorporated?”

Yaroslav Trofimov tells us in the Wall Street Journal (July 7) that “Putin maps out his own empire” to replace the lost Soviet one.

In the Washington Post Max Bergmann tells us that Trump is going to sell out NATO in Helsinki. This line leads to the supposition that Putin is using Trump to unleash the Russian military on Europe. Many conspiracy theorists have come together on the view that first the Baltic States will be invaded and then Putin will move on to Germany and the rest of Europe. The New York Times’ Roger Cohen even pulls Marine Le Pen into the plot which widens to include ethnically cleansing the West of the refugees from Washington’s wars.

This is the level of absurdity that the American media delivers to the public’s understanding of foreign affairs.


Dr. Paul Craig Roberts was Assistant Secretary of the Treasury for Economic Policy and associate editor of the Wall Street Journal. He was columnist for Business Week, Scripps Howard News Service, and Creators Syndicate. He has had many university appointments. His internet columns have attracted a worldwide following. Roberts’ latest books are The Failure of Laissez Faire Capitalism and Economic Dissolution of the WestHow America Was Lost, and The Neoconservative Threat to World Order.

July 12, 2018 Posted by | Fake News, Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Russophobia | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

The Two Conflicting Histories of the King Assassination

By Bill Willers | Dissident Voice | July 10, 2018

There are now in the public sphere two totally contradictory narratives of the assassination in 1968 of Martin Luther King, Jr. with each being advanced again and again over the years by respective advocates as if the other did not exist.

Attorney William Pepper, confidant of Martin Luther King, Jr., became convinced in 1978 that James Earl Ray, the officially declared lone gunman, was innocent. Years of investigation led to his 1995 book, Orders to Kill, in which Pepper presented evidence of governmental involvement in the assassination. Three years later, Gerald Posner, already famous for his support for the Warren Commission’s report concerning President Kennedy’s assassination, published Killing the Dream, a defense of the official governmental contention that Ray was the assassin. The King Family also believed Ray innocent, but due to governmental refusal to pursue a criminal trial, there was instead a 1999 civil trial, The King Family vs. Loyd Jowers et al. Jowers, who had admitted having received the rifle actually used in the shooting, was granted immunity to reveal all he knew. All facets of news media boycotted the trial, arguably the de facto “Trial of the Century”.

History A

The trial brought together three decades of accumulated information, much for the first time. James Earl Ray was shown as set up to take blame for the killing. Some Memphis policemen had met in Jim’s Grill, where Jowers worked, while planning the assassination. The fatal shot, rather than fired by Ray from a rooming house, as officially reported, was seen by eyewitnesses to have come from a brushy area across the street from the Lorraine Motel. Police units near the Lorraine were called away prior to the shooting, as were the “Invaders”, a gang being lodged at the Lorraine while coordinating with King on the planned sanitation worker’s strike. Inexplicably, within hours following the assassination the brushy area was cut to the ground by the city. Many witnesses were not interviewed, and those with accounts at odds with the governmental explanation were ignored.

The 30-06 rifle presented as the murder weapon had actually been discovered next to a shop door wrapped in a bedspread ten minutes before the shooting. Moreover, it had not been sighted in so could not have hit at point of aim, and bullets found with it did not match the bullet taken from King’s body. The bathroom from which Ray is supposed to have fired was seen by a witness to be empty at the time of the shooting, and observers saw Ray drive away from the area a quarter hour before the shooting. Jowers, who worked at Jim’s Grill, adjacent to the brushy area, was handed a still smoking rifle after the shot was fired, which rifle he hid until giving it the following day to a collaborator to throw into the Mississippi river.

US Army Intelligence maintained surveillance on King, who had become a problem for the Federal Government through his opposition to the Vietnam War and for his plans for a Poor People’s Campaign aimed at obstructing governmental function. Army photographers, positioned on a roof near the Lorraine, photographed the shooter lowering his rifle and departing the brushy area. There were multiple military snipers as backup shooters if needed. Elements of the military, CIA, FBI, Alabama National Guard, Memphis Police, and the Mafia were identified as components of a carefully organized conspiracy.

The trial ended with the jury unanimous in finding that King had been assassinated not by James Earl Ray but by means of a conspiracy involving Jowers (30%) and “others including governmental agencies” (70%). Although the trial did not make the news, a Washington Post editorial (December 12, 1999, pg B08) stated “The more quickly and completely this jury’s discredited verdict is forgotten, the better”. (Note: That editorial is apparently no longer available in the Post’s online archive). In 2003, Pepper published An Act Of State, a book detailing the court’s findings.

History B

In 2010, writer Hampton Sides published Hellhound On His Trail, like Gerald Posner’s 1998 book an elaboration of the official governmental report portraying James Earl Ray as lone assassin. Sides described movements of King and Ray during days leading up to King’s killing on April 4, 1968 and of the ensuing hunt by the authorities for Ray. In minute-by-minute detail, Sides has Ray, a racist interested in a reported bounty, following King to Memphis and renting a room in a boarding house with a clear view of the balcony outside King’s Lorraine Motel room. With King in view, Ray rests a recently purchased, scoped 30-06 on the bathroom windowsill and fires, mortally wounding King. Ray then wraps rifle and other items in a bedspread, runs from the building and, seeing police within view of his car, ditches the suspicious looking bundle next to a shop door. He then departs and is on the run until his arrest.

Meanwhile, King was hurried to ER at Catholic-run St. Joseph’s hospital, where Drs. Ted Galyon and Rufus Brown attended him. Shortly, others, including various specialists, entered. Ralph Abernathy remained in the room along with Reverend Bernard Lee. At 7:05 PM King was pronounced dead by Dr. Jerome Basso, who closed King’s eyes. The bullet found in King is reported by Sides to be consistent with ammunition purchased by Ray and found with his rifle.

Although Sides claims to have explored all available sources of data, including “court proceedings”, declares that he “drew from a wealth of memoirs written by the King Family”, and lists the King Center in his bibliography, there is mention neither of the 1999 trial nor of William Pepper’s two books, published years earlier than his 2010 book. However, and despite years of media censorship, awareness of both the trial and of Pepper’s books had spread by 2010, so one must conclude that Sides’ omissions were deliberate. The evasion of such a quantity of opposing information is fatal to Hellhound On His Trail as an objective history.

Nevertheless, in 2010, the same year as the release of Hellhound On His Trail, the PBS television program “American Experience” aired Roads to Memphis, a documentary film described as “the entwined stories of assassin James Earl Ray and his target, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.” The film, for which Sides was historical consultant, was based on his book and featured commentary by Sides himself, as well as by author Gerald Posner, an established supporter of the official governmental account. As the book, so the film, in that there was no mention of either the trial or of Pepper’s books. Like Hellhound On His Trail, Roads to Memphis serves as forceful support for the Government’s narrative.

2016: Pepper’s Magnum Opus

William Pepper published The Plot To Kill King, a 770-page detailed summation of the Government’s role in the killing with new material gathered since his 2003 book. Here, Pepper traced the long-term strategy to bring both King and Ray to Memphis. Half of the book consists of appendices revealing military, CIA, FBI, Memphis police and Mafia involvement in the assassination and supportive of Ray’s innocence. The claim by attorney Percy Foreman that he had never pressured his client into a rash, untimely guilty plea is shown to be a lie by a letter from Foreman in which he offers Ray money “… contingent upon the plea of guilty and … without any unseemly conduct on your part in court.” There is a photocopy of the letter in the book’s appendix.

Pepper writes, “At Hoover’s request, James [Earl Ray] had been profiled as a potential scapegoat.” Clyde Tolson, Hoover’s deputy at the FBI, and shown by Pepper to be a central figure in the conspiracy, paid a prison official to engineer Ray’s escape from a prison, so that this designated patsy could thereafter be managed by another conspirator, Raul Coelho, who would then guide Ray to Memphis. Tolson distributed cash, some of which apparently made its way to Jesse Jackson. Jackson, along with others within King’s group, is depicted as an informant paid by the FBI to relay information on King. There is also a report that it was Jackson who had King’s room changed from the ground floor of the Lorraine to the more exposed second floor with its open balcony, and who ordered the Invaders away from the Lorraine shortly before the shooting. Pepper claims that evidence indicates the actual shooter to have been Memphis Police sharpshooter Frank Strausser.

Mortally wounded, King was taken to St. Joseph’s Hospital where, surprisingly, “a large presence” of military intelligence officers had taken positions well before the shot was fired. More surprisingly, the hospital’s head surgeon, Breen Bland, accompanied by two men in suits, entered the hospital room in which King was being attended by medical staff. Bland is quoted as shouting, “Stop working on the nigger and let him die” and then ordering everyone out of the room. Personnel hearing the sound of men clearing their throats lingered behind and reported seeing Bland and his two accomplices spit on King, after which Bland smothered King to death with a pillow (Note: Pepper describes this in a 2017 lecture, here on Vimeo).

2118: PBS Takes a Stand 

In the spring of 2018 there were multiple airings on the PBS program “American Experience” of Hampton Sides’ 2010 film Roads to Memphis. This is renewed reinforcement by PBS of the Government’s depiction of James Earl Ray as lone assassin and an excellent illustration of how televised media can function as servant of the State.

Sides’ contention that he drew from memoirs of the King Family as part of his thorough research is at odds with a filmed interview by ABC of the entire King Family. From dialogue, as well as from the youth of the family members, it is clear the interview was pre-1999 Trial (Note: The link indicated is to a 2-hour piece available, at the time of this writing, on YouTube. Start at 1:03 for the 5-minute segment of the King Family interview). In it, Dexter King states, “Evidence I’ve seen or heard will vindicate or exonerate James Earl Ray”. When asked who was behind the assassination, Dexter continues, “I am told that it was part-and-parcel Army Intelligence, CIA, FBI”. When the interviewer says, “This is a staggering idea to carry around”, Dexter answers, with a short derisive laugh, “I think we knew it all along. It’s why we’re not, like, jumping out of our seats, because we’ve known for years.” How on earth could Sides (or Posner) have overlooked such as that?

Although the keepers of the nation’s information gates have striven to bury the results of William Pepper’s four decade quest for the truth of King’s death, millions by now have been exposed to the fact that two opposing explanations of King’s murder continue to exist. Theologian James Douglass, who attended the 1999 trial, later wrote an article in which he stated:

The Memphis trial has opened wide the door to our assassination politics. Anyone who walks through it is faced by an either/or: to declare naked either the empire or oneself.

Bill Willers is an emeritus professor of biology, University of Wisconsin at Oshkosh. He is founder of the Superior Wilderness Action Network and editor of Learning to Listen to the Land, and Unmanaged Landscapes, both from Island Press. He can be contacted at willer@uwosh.edu.

July 10, 2018 Posted by | Book Review, Civil Liberties, Deception, Fake News, Mainstream Media, Warmongering | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

US establishment in hysterics that Trump-Putin summit might succeed

RT | July 6, 2018

There are many reasons the bipartisan US establishment hates Trump. His heresies from neoliberal orthodoxies on immigration and trade are prominent. But top among them is his oft-stated intention to improve relations with Russia.

That’s fighting words for the Deep State and its mainstream media arm, for which demonizing Russia and its president Vladimir Putin is an obsession.

The fact that Donald Trump made his intention to get along with Moscow a priority during his 2016 campaign, both against his Republican primary rivals and Hillary Clinton (who has compared Putin to Hitler) was cause for alarm. This is because far more than even the frightening prospect that the 70-year state of war on the Korean Peninsula might end, US reconciliation with Russia would yank the rug out from under the phony justifications for spending hundreds of billions of dollars annually to counter a “threat” that ceased to exist over a quarter century ago. Absent hostility to Russia that money has no reason to keep sustaining the power, privilege, and prosperity of a horde of moochers and profiteers, both at home and abroad.

That’s why when it was reported soon after his January 2017 inauguration that Trump was seeking to open dialogue with the Kremlin and set an early summit with Putin there was a hysterical counteraction. As described just over a year ago by conservative columnist and former presidential candidate Patrick Buchanan:

Trump planned a swift lifting of sanctions on Russia after inauguration and a summit meeting with Vladimir Putin to prevent a second Cold War. The State Department was tasked with working out the details. Instead, says Daniel Fried, the coordinator for sanctions policy, he received ‘panicky’ calls of ‘Please, my God, can you stop this?’. Operatives at State, disloyal to the president and hostile to the Russia policy on which he had been elected, collaborated with elements in Congress to sabotage any detente. They succeeded.

“It would have been a win-win for Moscow,” said Tom Malinowski of State, who boasted last week of his role in blocking a rapprochement with Russia. State employees sabotaged one of the principal policies for which Americans had voted, and they substituted their own.

Back then, constitutional government and the rule of law took a back seat to bureaucratic obstructionism, atop months of a phony “Russian collusion” story that even anti-Russian Republican Congressmen are now calling to “finish the hell up.” But now, in the aftermath of the successful Singapore summit and with the collusion narrative looking ever more threadbare, Trump is back on track. The summit with Putin will finally take place on July 16 in Helsinki, Finland, the site of earlier meetings between American and Russian leaders.

Today the assaults on Trump are no less frenzied than a year ago, but they seem to pack less of a punch with the critics’ glum awareness that, aside from some extraordinary provocation, little can be done to stop the summit from taking place. The Beltway Swamp’s flagship bulletin board Washington Post accused Trump of “kowtowing” to Putin by merely agreeing to meet with him. Trump’s one-on-one with the “autocrat” Putin will be a “meeting of kindred spirits,” warned the conceited New York Times. Putin has “devoured” Trump grumbled über-Russophobe Ralph Peters on CNN. Trump wants to “Finlandize” the US moaned Max Boot. Officials in the United Kingdom, a key culprit in ginning up “Russiagate” in the first place, are particularly scared that – horror! – there could be a “peace deal” between Trump and Putin.

Major worries are voiced by useless freeloader countries we call “allies,” whose governments fret that the US will become “less reliable” – to their rulers’ interests of course, not to those of the American people. This specifically means the members of NATO, whose summit Trump will attend prior to Helsinki. As former US ambassador to Moscow and to NATO Alexander Vershbow suggests, “allies are wondering whether they will be in for nothing more than a tongue lashing by President Trump over insufficient defense spending, further inflaming transatlantic divisions over trade, the Iran deal, and other issues.”

Indeed, Trump’s hammering on the NATO deadbeats’ treating the US as a “piggy bank” that will no longer be at their disposal exposes the biggest fraud at the heart of the long-obsolete alliance: there is no threat of Russian military “aggression” and they all know it. If these countries really thought they were in danger of invasion from Russia (and not from Third World migrants, regarding which NATO is totally worthless) they wouldn’t need Trump to nag them about spending, they’d commit more money because they knew they had to. The proof is in noting which NATO member, after the US, consistently spends the largest GDP share on its military: Greece. Is that because the penniless Greeks are terrified of Russia? No, they’re afraid of a genuine threat from their fellow NATO “ally,” Turkey.

In the absence of an actual military menace from the east, NATO advocates are scrambling to come up with ever more imaginative justifications. As described by one member of Latvia’s parliament on the website of the Atlantic Council, a leading Washington establishment think tank, the real Russian threat comes from “hybrid warfare, with an increased focus on asymmetric and nontraditional military capabilities, has made it considerably more difficult for NATO to counter destabilization efforts, information operations, cyber-attacks, disinformation, propaganda, and psychological operations.” Yeah sure, maybe Trump will fall for that! Anything to save the Atlantic Council’s $30 million budget provided by a Who’s Who of US government agencies, NATO and Gulf Arab governments, and military contractor firms.

However, it should not be thought that the US and NATO establishment’s hostility to Russia is entirely venal. There is also a strong ideological component. Whereas during the first Cold War much of the western establishment, especially on the Left, felt an affinity for the materialist goals of communism (if not its methods), Russia’s reemergence under Putin as a conservative country in which national traditions and the Orthodox Church are respected has led to a bitter sense of betrayal. That makes Putin, as articulated by Hillary Clinton, leader of the worldwide “authoritarian, white-supremacist, and xenophobic movement” who is “emboldening right-wing nationalists, separatists, racists, and even neo-Nazis.” No Soviet leader, not even Joseph Stalin, was ever portrayed in such diabolical fashion in US media and government circles the way Putin is.

It is no coincidence that Trump himself is vilified in the same dire Hitlerian terms once reserved for foreign targets of regime change like Slobodan Milosevic, Saddam Hussein, and Muammar Gaddafi. Together with the rising elements of anti-establishmentism in Europe, most recently in the installation of a patriotic Lega/Five-Star government in Rome, the post-modern, neo-liberal elite on both sides of the Atlantic feels its dominance slipping away.

For some Democratic partisans and Never-Trump neo-conservative Republicans, horror at improved US-Russia relations competes with the loathing of Trump personally. But for other Americans, both supporters of the President and people who find him objectionable, the summit should not be seen as a litmus test about their attitudes toward the current occupant of the White House. Rather, the issue is what the summit can mean for Americans’ safety and security – and perhaps our very survival.

Claims of Russian collusion and attitudes toward Trump have obscured the fact that Russia is the only country on the planet with a nuclear establishment on a par with ours. Even during the worst periods of the first Cold War with the USSR, US administrations of both parties kept in mind that a minimum of mutual respect and open communication was not just prudent, it was literally a matter of life and death – for the American people and for the world.

During the past few years as we have entered what has been called a second Cold War, this time with post-communist Russia, the seriousness with which the US used to regard the old Soviet Union has been lacking. The bipartisan foreign policy consensus became a closed, incestuous loop in which Republicans and Democrats vied for who could be most strident in their anti-Russian attitudes: let’s poke the bear and see if he growls!

NATO expansion right in Russia’s face became an end in itself, continuing with induction of Montenegro in 2017, plans to welcome Macedonia (or “North Macedonia” or whatever other silly name is concocted to appease Hellenic pride) – even Ukraine, Georgia, and Bosnia-Herzegovina remain formally on track for joining.

Color revolutions and disastrous wars of regime change toppled Moscow-friendly governments, justified as supposed “democracy promotion.” Risk of confrontation between US and Russian military personnel – studiously avoided during Cold War 1 – takes place with reckless glee in Russia’s Black and Baltic Seas littorals, in Ukraine, and especially in Syria, where earlier this year American forces reportedly slaughtered many Russian contractors – to the delight of some of those now warning darkly against the Trump-Putin meeting. Perhaps most dangerously, the painfully constructed complex of arms control agreements has atrophied as both sides build up stocks of new hypersonic, cyber, and space weapons.

It is perhaps beyond the power of either Trump or Putin to reverse this dangerous trend with one stroke, but maybe they can at least make a start in arresting it. The usual suspects warn of failure, but their real worry is that the summit might be a success. Let’s hope their worst nightmare comes true and peace breaks out.

Jim Jatras is a Washington, DC-based attorney, political analyst, and media & government affairs specialist.

Read more:

‘Trump wants to be his own drummer at Putin meeting after NATO Summit’ – Jim Jatras

July 6, 2018 Posted by | Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Militarism, Russophobia | , , , , | Leave a comment