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The Terrifying Rise of the Zombie State Narrative

By Craig Murray | January 2, 2020

The ruling Establishment has learnt a profound lesson from the debacle over Iraqi Weapons of Mass Destruction. The lesson they have learnt is not that it is wrong to attack and destroy an entire country on the basis of lies. They have not learnt that lesson despite the fact the western powers are now busily attacking the Iraqi Shia majority government they themselves installed, for the crime of being a Shia majority government.

No, the lesson they have learnt is never to admit they lied, never to admit they were wrong. They see the ghost-like waxen visage of Tony Blair wandering around, stinking rich but less popular than an Epstein birthday party, and realise that being widely recognised as a lying mass murderer is not a good career choice. They have learnt that the mistake is for the Establishment ever to admit the lies.

The Establishment had to do a certain amount of collective self-flagellation over the non-existent Iraqi weapons of mass destruction, over which they precipitated the death and maiming of millions of people. Only a very few outliers, like the strange Melanie Phillips, still claimed the WMD really did exist, and her motive was so obviously that she supported any excuse to kill Muslims that nobody paid any attention. Her permanent pass to appear on the BBC was upgraded. But by and large everyone accepted the Iraqi WMD had been a fiction. The mainstream media Blair/Bush acolytes like Cohen, Kamm and Aaronovitch switched to arguing that even if WMD did not exist, Iraq was in any case better off for having so many people killed and its infrastructure destroyed.

These situations are now avoided by the realisation of the security services that in future they just have to brazen it out. The simple truth of the matter – and it is a truth – is this. If the Iraq WMD situation occurred today, and the security services decided to brazen it out and claim that WMD had indeed been found, there is not a mainstream media outlet that would contradict them.

The security services outlet Bellingcat would publish some photos of big missiles planted in the sand. The Washington Post, Guardian, New York Times, BBC and CNN would republish and amplify these pictures and copy and paste the official statements from government spokesmen. Robert Fisk would get to the scene and interview a few eye witnesses who saw the missiles being planted, and he would be derided as a senile old has-been. Seymour Hersh and Peter Hitchens would interview whistleblowers and be shunned by their colleagues and left off the airwaves. Bloggers like myself would be derided as mad conspiracy theorists or paid Russian agents if we cast any doubt on the Bellingcat “evidence”. Wikipedia would ruthlessly expunge any alternative narrative as being from unreliable sources. The Integrity Initiative, 77th Brigade, GCHQ and their US equivalents would be pumping out the “Iraqi WMD found” narrative all over social media. Mad Ben Nimmo of the Atlantic Council would be banning dissenting accounts all over the place in his role as Facebook Witchfinder-General.

Does anybody seriously wish to dispute this is how the absence of Iraqi WMD would be handled today, 16 years on?

If you do wish to doubt this could happen, look at the obviously fake narrative of the Syrian government chemical weapons attacks on Douma. The pictures published on Bellingcat of improvised chlorine gas missiles were always obviously fake. Remember this missile was supposed to have smashed through ten inches of solid, steel rebar reinforced concrete.

As I reported back in May last year, that the expert engineers sent to investigate by the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) did not buy into this is hardly surprising.

That their findings were deliberately omitted from the OPCW report is very worrying indeed. What became still more worrying was the undeniable evidence that started to emerge from whistleblowers in the OPCW that the toxicology experts had unanimously agreed that those killed had not died from chlorine gas attack. The minutes of the OPCW toxicology meeting really do need to be read in full.

actual_toxicology_meeting_redacted

The highlights are:

“No nerve agents had been detected in environmental or bio samples”
“The experts were conclusive in their statements that there was no correlation between symptoms and chlorine exposure”

I really do urge you to click on the above link and read the entire minute. In particular, it is impossible to read that minute and not understand that the toxicology experts believed that the corpses had been brought and placed in position.

“The experts were also of the opinion that the victims were highly unlikely to have gathered in piles at the centre of the respective apartments, at such a short distance from an escape from any toxic chlorine gas to much cleaner air”.

So the toxicology experts plainly believed the corpse piles had been staged, and the engineering experts plainly believed the cylinder bombs had been staged. Yet, against the direct evidence of its own experts, the OPCW published a report managing to convey the opposite impression – or at least capable of being portrayed by the media of giving the opposite impression.

How then did the OPCW come to do this? Rather unusually for an international organisation, the OPCW Secretariat is firmly captured by the Western states, largely because it covers an area of activity which is not of enormous interest to the political elites of developing world states, and many positions require a high level of technical qualification. It was also undergoing a change of Director General at the time of the Douma investigation, with the firmly Francoist Spanish diplomat Fernando Arias taking over as Director General and the French diplomat Sebastian Braha effectively running the operation as the Director-General’s chef de cabinet, working in close conjunction with the US security services. Braha simply ordered the excision of the expert opinions on engineering and toxicology, and his high-handedness worked, at least until whistleblowers started to reveal the truth about Braha as a slimy, corrupt, lying war hawk.

FFM here stands for Fact Finding Mission and ODG for Office of the Director General. After a great deal of personal experience dealing with French diplomats, I would say that the obnoxious arrogance revealed in Braha’s instructions here is precisely what you would expect. French diplomats as a class are a remarkably horrible and entitled bunch. Braha has no compunction about simply throwing around the weight of the Office of the Director General and attempting to browbeat Henderson.

We see now how the OPCW managed to produce a report which was the opposite of the truth. Ian Henderson, the OPCW engineer who had visited the site and concluded that the “cylinder bombs” were fakes, had suddenly become excluded from the “fact finding mission” when it had been whittled down to a “core group” – excluding any engineers (and presumably toxicologists) who would seek to insert inconvenient facts into the report.

France of course participated, alongside the US and UK, in missile strikes against Syrian government positions in response to the non-existent chlorine gas attacks on Douma. I was amongst those who had argued from day one that the western Douma narrative was inherently improbable. The Douma enclave held by extreme jihadist, western and Saudi backed forces allied to ISIL, was about to fall anyway. The Syrian government had no possible military advantage to gain by attacking it with two small improvised chemical weapons, and a great deal to lose in terms of provoking international retaliation.

That the consequences of the fake Douma incident were much less far-reaching than they might have been, is entirely due (and I am sorry if you dislike this but it is true) to the good sense of Donald Trump. Trump is inclined to isolationism and the fake “Russiagate” narrative promoted by senior echelons of his security services had led him to be heavily sceptical of them. He therefore refused, against the united persuasion of the hawks, to respond to the Douma “attack” by more than quick and limited missile strikes. I have no doubt that the object of the intended false flag was to push the US into a full regime change operation, by falsifying a demonstration that a declared red line on chemical weapon use had been crossed.

There is no doubt that Douma was a false flag. The documentary and whistleblower evidence from the OPCW is overwhelming and irrefutable. In addition to the two whistleblowers reported extensively by Wikileaks and the Courage Foundation, the redoubtable Peter Hitchens has his own whistleblowers inside OPCW who may well be different persons. It is also great entertainment as well as enlightening to read Hitchens’ takedown of Bellingcat on the issue.

But there are much deeper questions about the Douma false flag. Did the jihadists themselves kill the “chlorine victims” for display or were these just bodies from the general fighting? The White Helmets were co-located with the jihadist headquarters in Douma, and involved in producing and spreading the fake evidence. How far were the UK and US governments, instrumental in preparing the false flag? That western governments, including through the White Helmets and their men at the OPCW, were plainly seeking to propagate this false flag, to massively publicise and to and make war capital out of it, is beyond dispute. But were they involved in the actual creation of the fake scene? Did MI6 or the CIA initiate this false flag through the White Helmets or the Saudi backed jihadists? That is unproven but seems to me very probable. It is also worth noting the coincidence in time of the revelation of the proof of the Douma false flag and the death of James Le Mesurier.

Now let me return to where I started. None of the New York Times, the Washington Post, the BBC, the Guardian nor CNN – all of which reported the Douma chemical attack very extensively as a real Syrian government atrocity, and used it to editorialise for western military intervention in Syria – none of them has admitted they were wrong. None has issued any substantive retraction or correction. None has reported in detail and without bias on the overwhelming evidence of foul play within the OPCW.

Those sources who do publish the truth – including the few outliers in mainstream media such as Peter Hitchens and Robert Fisk – continue to be further marginalised, attacked as at best eccentric and at worse Russian agents. Others like Wikileaks and myself are pariahs excluded from any mainstream exposure. The official UK, US, French and Spanish government line, and the line of the billionaire and state owned media, continues to be that Douma was a Syrian government chemical weapons attack on civilians. They intend, aided and abetted by their vast online propaganda operations, to brazen out the lie.

What we are seeing is the terrifying rise of the zombie state narrative in Western culture. It does not matter how definitively we can prove that something is a lie, the full spectrum dominance of the Establishment in media resources is such that the lie is impossible to kill off, and the state manages to implant that lie as the truth in the minds of a sufficient majority of the populace to ride roughshod over objective truth with great success. It follows in the state narrative that anybody who challenges the state’s version of truth is themselves dishonest or mad, and the state manages also to implant that notion into a sufficient majority of the populace.

These are truly chilling times.

In the next installment I shall consider how the Establishment is brazening out similar lies on the Russophobe agenda, and sticking to factually debunked narratives on the DNC and Podesta emails, on the Steele Dossier and on the Skripals.

January 2, 2020 Posted by | Deception, Fake News, Full Spectrum Dominance, Mainstream Media, Warmongering | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Afghan Papers Inadvertently Document WaPo’s Role in Spreading Official Lies

By Joshua Cho | FAIR | December 18, 2019

The Washington Post’s publication of the “Afghanistan Papers” (12/9/19) unveiled over 2,000 pages of unpublished notes of interviews with US officials involved in the Afghanistan War, from a project led by the Office of the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction (SIGAR) to investigate waste and fraud. Hailed by some as the “Pentagon Papers of Our Generation” after the Post won access to those documents under the Freedom of Information Act in a three-year legal battle, the Post’s exposé found that senior US officials failed to tell the truth about the war in Afghanistan throughout the 18-year campaign, making rosy pronouncements they knew to be false and hiding unmistakable evidence the war had become unwinnable.

The paper published direct remarks on the war by US officials who assumed that “their remarks would not be made public”:

Every data point was altered to present the best picture possible,” Bob Crowley, an Army colonel who served as a senior counterinsurgency adviser to US military commanders in 2013 and 2014, told government interviewers. “Surveys, for instance, were totally unreliable but reinforced that everything we were doing was right and we became a self-licking ice cream cone.

While more explicit admissions of deception on the part of US officials involved in wars are always appreciated, one question rarely discussed among the reports and opinion pieces praising the “Afghanistan Papers” is what this scoop says about the Washington Post.

If the Post is now publishing material demonstrating that US officials have been “following the same talking points for 18 years,” emphasizing how they are “making progress,” “especially” when the war is “going badly,” shouldn’t the paper acknowledge that it has been cheerleading this same line for all of those 18 years? Doesn’t it have a responsibility to examine how it served as a primary vehicle for those officials to spread these same “talking points” to spin the coverage in the desired fashion?

FAIR has been tracking the Post’s coverage of the Afghanistan War from the very beginning, when the paper—along with the rest of corporate media—was actively following the Bush administration’s “guidance” on how to cover the war. In 2001, a FAIR survey (11/2/01) of the Post’s op-ed pages for three weeks following the September 11 attacks found that

columns calling for or assuming a military response to the attacks were given a great deal of space, while opinions urging diplomatic and international law approaches as an alternative to military action were nearly nonexistent.

Eight years later, FAIR (3/1/09) found that the Post’s cheerleading coverage didn’t change much from 2001, as 7 out of 9 Post op-eds and 4 out of 5 editorials supported some kind of military escalation from the day Barack Obama was elected president (11/4/08) through March 1, 2009, as the US was debating a “surge” of additional troops in Afghanistan later that year.

Another study (Extra!11/1/09) of the first ten months of the Post’s opinion columns that same year found that

pro-war columns outnumbered antiwar columns by more than 10 to 1: Of 67 Post columns on US military policy in Afghanistan, 61 supported a continued war, while just six expressed antiwar views. Of the pro-war columns, 31 were for escalation and 30 for an alternative strategy.

The Post offered this lopsided coverage even though there were several polls at the time showing a majority of the US public opposed the war, because they believed that the Afghan War was “not worth fighting.”

The Post also has a history of facilitating official spin for the war. When WikiLeaks posted tens of thousands of classified intelligence documents related to the Afghanistan War, FAIR (7/30/10) found that the Post either dismissed them as not being as important as the Pentagon Papers (7/27/10), or absurdly spun the leaks as good news for the US war effort (7/27/10) because the “release could compel President Obama to explain more forcefully the war’s importance,” and because they “bolstered Obama’s decision in December to pour more troops and money into a war effort that had not received sufficient attention or resources from the Bush administration.”

The Post also buried attempts by whistleblowers and other journalists who were working to expose official lies and war crimes in Afghanistan. When US Army whistleblower Chelsea Manning was sentenced to serve 35 years in prison for sharing intelligence documents that first exposed what the “Afghanistan Papers” are now corroborating, the Post, along with other corporate outlets, largely neglected Manning’s legal trials and punishment (FAIR, 12/4/126/18/141/18/174/1/19). The New York Times, to its credit, did give Manning space for an op-ed (6/14/19) to explain why she risked her freedom to expose matters that the US military recorded but left unreported, including hundreds of US military attacks on Afghan civilians. The Post, for its part, found room to publish frequent op-eds by the Brookings Institution’s Michael O’Hanlon (e.g., 11/16/096/26/106/3/112/10/137/12/13) spouting the same optimistic US official talking points that the Post’s “Afghanistan Papers” has now exposed as lies (FAIR, 1/3/14).

In fact, one major reason why the Afghanistan Papers are unnecessary to discern deceit from US officials is that—as Michael Parenti pointed out in The Face of Imperialism—when US officials constantly provide new and different justifications for invasions, it’s a sign that they’re being dishonest, not incompetent.

The Post (12/9/19) admits this when it mentions that the US “largely accomplished what it set out to do,” with Al Qaeda and Taliban officials “dead, captured or in hiding,” yet “veered off in directions that had little to do with Al Qaeda or 9/11.” This is consistent with FAIR’s finding (Extra!7/11) that corporate media largely ignored the question of whether to end the Afghanistan War after the ostensible goal of the invasion—to capture or kill the leader of the group that carried out the September 11 attack—was [allegedly] accomplished in the death of Osama bin Laden.

It shouldn’t be a surprise that the Post’s Afghanistan Papers have inadvertently exposed the Post as a subservient accomplice in disseminating US official lies; corporate media rely on official sources for free content and “scoops” to subsidize their journalism, which often spreads dishonest but convenient talking points by these same sources to retain “access” to this information, trustworthy or not (Extra!5/02; New York Times4/20/08; FAIR, 12/12/19).

Political cartoonist and journalist Ted Rall pointed out, in an account (Common Dreams12/11/19) of being marginalized by corporate outlets like the Post :

“The Afghanistan Papers” is a bright, shining lie by omission. Yes, our military and civilian leaders lied to us about Afghanistan. But they could never have spread their murderous BS—thousands of US soldiers and tens of thousands of Afghans killed, trillions of dollars wasted—without media organizations like the Washington Post, which served as unquestioning government stenographers.

Press outlets like the Post and New York Times weren’t merely idiots used to disseminate pro-war propaganda. They actively censored people who knew we never should have gone into Afghanistan and tried to tell American voters the truth.

It’s this mutually beneficial relationship between the need for corporate media outlets like the Post for “access” to US official sources, and US officials who need corporate media outlets to propagate their preferred spin on US foreign policy to manipulate public opinion, that explains what the Afghanistan Papers expose as the Post’s own role in deceiving the US public. It’s why the Post’s coverage and editorial board can argue that the Trump administration shouldn’t “abandon the country in haste” (even though it’s been 18 years), and rally around the US’s “forever war” in Afghanistan (FAIR1/31/199/11/19), even as the paper investigates the official lies the continuing occupation depends on.

Of course, this is also the reason why it’s systemically impossible for corporate outlets like the Post to take the opportunity to raise more substantive and provocative questions about whether deceit is a constant and essential aspect of US foreign policy, and not merely confined to isolated military invasions of “quagmire” countries like Vietnam and Afghanistan, despite the Afghanistan Papers providing a perfect opportunity to do so. To say nothing of challenging a worldview that invokes “winnable” wars, in which predictions of increasing numbers of (enemy) human deaths are best described as “rosy.”

There’s quite a long history of US media assisting officials in fabricating moral pretexts for invasion—from fictional accounts of North Vietnamese attacks on American destroyer ships in the Gulf of Tonkin (FAIR, 8/5/17), to conflating very different Islamic groups like the Taliban and Al Qaeda, or claims that formerly US-backed dictator Saddam Hussein possessed WMDs and the intent to use them against the US (CounterPunch6/11/14; FAIR, 3/19/07).

Observers note that the Afghanistan Papers “only confirm what we already know” (Daily Beast12/14/19), or that “the shocking thing about the Post stories… is how unshocking they are” (Atlantic, 12/9/19); even the Washington Post (12/12/19) reminds us that only people who “haven’t been paying attention” to the Afghan War are “surprised” by what’s found in the Afghanistan Papers.

Perhaps instead of pursuing FOIA requests to confirm the obvious, the Post could just interrogate its own contradictory coverage of the Afghan War and stop functioning as credulous mouthpieces for the US government. But to do that would also require confronting the lie that this entire so-called “War on Terror” has any moral credibility, when the US is a leading terrorist state that consciously pursues imperial policies that inflame hatred against the US to serve corporate interests (FAIR3/13/1911/22/19).

Absent that, an exercise like the Afghanistan Papers come off more as a “please consider” note to the Pulitzer judges than as an earnest effort to use the spotlight of journalistic investigation to speak truth to power and halt the ongoing, generation-long destruction of a foreign nation.

December 22, 2019 Posted by | Deception, Mainstream Media, Warmongering | , , | 2 Comments

The Carter Page/Ukraine Lie That Kept On Lying for Mueller and the FBI

By Paul Sperry – RealClearInvestigations – December 12, 2019

The FBI and Special Counsel Robert Mueller repeatedly kept alive a damning narrative that investigators knew to be false: namely, that a junior Trump campaign aide as a favor to the Kremlin had “gutted” an anti-Russia and pro-Ukraine plank in the Republican Party platform at the GOP’s 2016 convention.

Federal authorities used this claim to help secure spy warrants on the aide in question, Carter Page, suggesting to the court that he was “an agent of Russia” – even though investigators knew that Page was working for U.S., not Russian, intelligence, and that they had learned from witnesses, emails and other evidence that Page had no role in drafting the Ukraine platform plank.

The revelation is buried in the Justice Department watchdog’s just-released report on FISA surveillance abuses. RealClearInvestigations fleshed out this unreported story with footnotes from the Mueller report and exclusive interviews with Trump campaign officials who worked on the convention platform.

Of all the Trump-Russia rumors, insinuations and falsehoods – from secret payments for shadowy hackers, to videotaped prostitutes with active bladders, to a clandestine rendezvous with Kremlin figures in Prague – the supposedly pro-Russia Ukraine platform alteration stands out. It seemed to offer early, public, concrete evidence of an actual bending of prospective U.S. policy to suit Moscow. The false narrative is also significant because it was initially pushed not by Democrats, but by associates of Republican Sen. John McCain and other so-called Never Trumpers. As a bipartisan red flag, it helped build momentum around a narrative of Trump treachery with, then as now, Ukraine playing a central role. It also shows how the Russia and Ukraine controversies were linked from the beginning by Trump’s foes.

This episode loomed so large that the first person Mueller’s team interviewed after taking over the Russia investigation in May 2017 was Rachel Hoff, who was serving as McCain’s policy adviser on the Senate Armed Services Committee. Like her boss, Hoff was no fan of President Trump. Agents sought to confirm with her reports that the Trump campaign had “gutted” the GOP’s platform plank on Ukraine to favor Russia during the party’s convention in Cleveland in early July 2016.

As a disgruntled convention delegate, Hoff got the story started by putting Washington Post columnist Josh Rogin in touch with another Never Trump delegate, Diana Denman, who had lost her bid to amend the GOP plank to call for providing “lethal” weapons to Ukraine to help fend off Russian incursions, according to people with direct knowledge of the matter. Instead, the platform called for “appropriate assistance to the armed forces of Ukraine.”

Denman was overruled because heavily arming Ukraine was out of step with the GOP consensus at the time – to say nothing of the Obama administration’s policy, which refused to arm the Ukrainians. And it was at odds with Trump’s stated position, which sought to avoid military escalation in the region, while encouraging the European Union to take a larger peacekeeping role.

On July 18, 2016, the Post ran Rogin’s sensational story under the misleading headline, “Trump Campaign Guts GOP’s Anti-Russia Stance on Ukraine.” Pushing the narrative that Trump was doing the Kremlin’s bidding, it quoted Hoff warning that Trump “would be dangerous for America and the world.” The story left out the key part of the final Trump-approved plank pledging aid “to the armed forces of Ukraine.” Reached by phone, Rogin declined comment.

This story was quickly amplified in the Steele dossier, the series of now-debunked opposition research memos alleging Trump-Russia collusion. Compiled by ex-British intelligence officer Christopher Steele for the Clinton campaign, those memos became a foundation for the FBI and Mueller probes even though – as this week’s IG report established – bureau agents knew that the material in them included demonstrably false assertions and exaggerated gossip dismissed as nonsense by Steele’s own purported source.

Steele also embellished the GOP convention story by claiming that Carter Page had played a key role in drafting the Ukraine plank as part of a commitment he had allegedly made to his Kremlin handlers “to sideline Russian intervention in Ukraine as a campaign issue.”

None of this was true. And the FBI — and Mueller — knew it, the Justice inspector general reveals in his report.

Still, the FBI presented the Steele dossier’s smear, cataloged as “Steele Report 95,” as key evidence in all four of its warrant applications to obtain wiretaps to eavesdrop on Page, according to the IG report.

To keep renewing the spy warrants, the FBI had to produce fresh evidence for FISA judges to support suspicions Page was “an agent of Russia.” Just a few weeks before the FISA warrant was set to expire in June 2017, Mueller had his investigators interview Hoff, as his first witness, followed by Denman, hoping they could provide fresh details to keep building an espionage case against Page and the Trump campaign.

But Mueller struck out.

According to agents’ notes documenting their June 2017 interview, as revealed in the IG report, Denham told the FBI that Page was not involved in the drafting of the Ukraine plank. But Mueller’s team did not update its fourth and final FISA warrant application on Page with this exculpatory information. Instead, it recited the same baseless claim that he had shaped the Ukraine policy with guidance from Russia. And the court renewed the warrant that June to electronically monitor Page, allowing the government to continue vacuuming up all of his emails, phone calls, text messages and other communications for another 90 days.

“Although the FBI did not develop any information that Carter Page was involved in the Republican Platform Committee’s change, the FBI did not alter its assessment of Page’s involvement in the FISA applications,” Justice Department Inspector General Michael Horowitz noted in his 476-page report released Monday.

Added Horowitz: “We found that, other than this information from Report 95 [of the Steele dossier], the FBI’s investigation did not reveal any information to demonstrate that Page had any involvement with the Republican Platform Committee.” Yet, “all four FISA applications relied upon information in the Steele reporting” alleging Page’s role in drafting the Republican plank on Ukraine and Russia.

A former U.S. Navy lieutenant, Page was never charged with espionage or any crime. He told RealClearInvestigations that he has received “numerous death threats that directly resulted from the false allegations” that he was a traitor.

The FBI and Mueller failed to correct the record about Page in their FISA warrant applications even after they identified the Trump campaign officials who actually had a hand in influencing the GOP plank, J.D. Gordon and Matt Miller. A July 14, 2016, email from Gordon confirmed what Page had personally told the FBI in an interview — that he had not taken part in the decision. The FBI knew about the email since at least March 2017, when agents sat down with Page. (Gordon and Page were chatting by email about the convention, and it’s clear from Page’s responses he had no idea what Gordon had done in the Ukraine-Russia platform drafting sessions. IG Horowitz published the relevant excerpt in his report and noted the FBI had the email in its possession.)

Still, Horowitz found, “The FBI never altered the assessment.”

Horowitz further concluded that the FBI should not have included the dossier’s rumor even in its original October 2016 application for a FISA warrant targeting Page, let alone its three renewals, because a confidential source the FBI assigned to spy on Page at the time found no basis for it. In the IG report, Horowitz noted that during that same month of October 2016, the FBI informant met with Page and tape-recorded him denying he was involved in the drafting of the Ukraine plank. Page told the informant, Stefan Halper, that he “stayed clear of that.”

Horowitz’s investigators established that the informant’s recorded statements were sent to the FBI agent assigned at the time to Page’s case, and were copied to a supporting team of other agents, supervisors and analysts. Yet the FBI also withheld that critical exculpatory evidence from the FISA court in the initial application for a warrant on Page (and then continued to deny the court the information in subsequent requests to monitor Page).

The lead case agent, unnamed in the report, told investigators the FBI was operating on a “belief” that Page was involved in the Ukraine and Russia platform, and that he and the FISA team were “hoping to find evidence of that” from the wiretaps. Despite all the snooping on Page, the FBI never collected the hoped-for proof.

The lead supervisor, also unidentified, told investigators “he did not recall why Page’s denial was not included.”

Horowitz reports that the exculpatory documents were also sent to a Justice Department attorney before the warrant was renewed for the first time in January 2017, “[y]et, the information remained unchanged in the renewal applications.”

Added Horowitz: “The attorney told us that he did not recall the circumstances surrounding this, but he acknowledged that he should have updated the descriptions in the renewal applications to include Page’s denials.”

The FBI also failed to inform surveillance court judges that Page was an “operational contact” for the CIA for several years, according to the Horowitz report. In 2013, Page also volunteered as a cooperating witness in an FBI espionage case, and helped put away a real Russian agent in 2016. This was additional exculpatory evidence the FBI kept from the FISA court, as RealClearInvestigations first reported last year.

Peter Strzok, then the FBI’s top counterintelligence official, rode herd on the Page wiretap requests and reported back to FBI attorney Lisa Page (no relation to Carter), who in turn, updated then-Deputy FBI Director Andrew McCabe.

Text messages previously uncovered by Horowitz and shared with Mueller revealed that Strzok and Page, who were having an affair, rooted for Hillary Clinton during the 2016 campaign and held Trump in complete contempt. In one exchange, they discussed the need to “stop” Trump from winning the election. And the two of them had also huddled with McCabe in his office to devise an “insurance policy” in the “unlikely event” Trump ended up winning.

The inspector general’s report points out that it was McCabe who urged investigators to look at the Clinton-funded dossier. The previous year, his Democratic politician wife, Jill, received hundreds of thousands of dollars in donations arranged by Clinton ally and Virginia’s governor at the time, Terry McAuliffe.

Strzok remained central to the investigation well into 2017 – until Mueller was forced to kick him off his team when the anti-Trump bias was revealed. The bureau fired him in 2018, the same year Lisa Page resigned from the FBI. In spite of their anti-Trump political bias, Horowitz said he found “no evidence” their bias influenced their investigative decisions.

Lawyers for Strzok and McCabe did not respond to requests for comment. The FBI and a spokesman for Mueller declined comment.

Putting Carter Page under surveillance starting in October 2016 effectively let the FBI spy on the Trump campaign since its beginnings, because it allowed the bureau to scoop up all of Page’s prior communications. Former Trump officials who have reviewed Horowitz’s new findings confirmed their view that the bureau was trying to make it look like Page and the Trump campaign were doing something sinister to help Russia.

“Page actually had no role in the platform, whatsoever,” Gordon, the Trump campaign’s director of national security, told RCI. “Failing to include the exculpatory information in the FISA application is horrifying.”

While it’s true that Trump sought better relations with Russia, Gordon said, there was nothing nefarious about the drafting of the Ukraine platform. He said the FBI simply assumed it was watered down as a favor to Russia based on a false narrative driven by liberal media outlets like the Post and Never Trumpers such as Rachel Hoff. He said the FBI, under the direction of McCabe, Mueller and former FBI Director James Comey, also wanted to believe the worst about Trump, whom they simply did not like.

Gordon noted that, except for the two Never Trump delegates, nobody in the platform drafting sessions raised a fuss about the Ukraine plank — not even the press.

“The media was present in the room, yet not one person wrote about the Ukraine issue,” he said — until, that is, the Never Trumpers went to the Washington Post that July and helped launch the Trump-Russia “collusion” myth.

Moreover, the narrative was untrue even on its own terms – without the spurious inclusion of Carter Page. Internal platform committee documents show the Ukraine plank could not have been weakened as claimed, because the “lethal” weapons language was never part of the GOP platform in the first place. The final language actually strengthened the platform by pledging direct assistance not just to the country of Ukraine, but to its military in its struggle against Russian-backed forces.

Far from “gutting” assistance, the Trump administration approved the transfer of tank-busting Javelin missiles to Kiev — something the Obama administration refused to do. More than 200 of those weapons have been sold to Ukraine since Trump took office. And the sale and delivery of Javelins never stopped even during this year’s temporary suspension of military aid to Ukraine that is now the subject of the Democrats’ impeachment proceedings.

The final draft of the Ukraine plank also branded Russia a menace, and pledged to stand against “any territorial change imposed by force in Ukraine.” Yet Mueller and his prosecuting staff of mostly Democratic donors still suspected collusion, and they dispatched FBI agents to grill Gordon about the drafting of the platform three times between 2017 and 2019. They also got a grand jury to subpoena his phone records.

In the end, the Mueller report found no Russian influence in the platform.

But the false narrative – that the Ukraine plank stood as early proof of the “extensive conspiracy” between the Trump campaign and Moscow that Steele alleged in his now-debunked dossier – has persisted.

Earlier this year, House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerry Nadler demanded Gordon provide additional documents, and he has complied. Nadler is now marking up articles of impeachment against Trump over a request he lodged with Ukraine’s new president this summer to help investigate the former Clinton-friendly regime’s attempts to “sabotage” Trump’s election bid in 2016. Trump also asked Kiev to look into possible corruption involving former Vice President Joe Biden’s son Hunter and a Ukrainian energy oligarch.

Meanwhile, Nadler’s impeachment partner, House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff, continues to insist that the Trump team “softened” the GOP platform to accommodate “Putin’s invasion of Ukraine.”

A retired Navy commander and former Pentagon spokesman, Gordon said he has run up a five-figure legal bill defending against what he calls a “hoax” perpetrated by Never Trumpers, the media, Comey, Mueller, and now congressional Democrats.

“In the vicious frenzy to destroy President Trump and his associates at all costs, they attempted to turn a routine foreign policy debate in conjunction with the four-year renewal of the GOP platform into a crime scene,” Gordon said in an interview with RCI.

“Incredibly,” he added, “the GOP platform change hoax [later] became the very first order of business in Mueller’s nearly two-year investigation.”

December 16, 2019 Posted by | Deception, Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Russophobia | , , , , | 1 Comment

Unprecedented brazenness

By Paul Robinson | IRRUSIANALITY | December 11, 2019

‘Something is rotten with the state of Denmark’, or if not Denmark then certainly the United States of America. It’s the only conclusion one can draw from the way the absolutely normal is nowadays treated as the most extraordinary drama.

On Monday, US President Donald Trump met Russian foreign minister Sergei Lavrov. It’s about as normal a diplomatic event as one could possibly imagine, but it caused much of the American commentariat to go into a collective meltdown.

Lavrov-Trump-Dec-10

‘Trump welcoming Russia’s top diplomat to the Oval Office is one of his most brazen moves yet,’ declared the Washington Post, which makes you think that Trump really needs to step up his game on the brazenness front. The Post isn’t alone in thinking this way, however. What one might call the ‘liberal’ TV channels leapt on the story too, dragging in some representatives of the American security apparatus to ram home the point (there was a time when liberals regarded the FBI and CIA with suspicion, but such days are apparently long gone).

And so it was that CNN brought on as a guest former FBI deputy director Andrew McCabe to ‘explain why the photograph tweeted by President Trump of his meeting with Russian foreign minister Sergei Lavrov is so extraordinary.’ As McCabe told CNN:

There’s no doubt there’s something deeply odd about the way this president interacts with Russia. We’ve never seen anything like this before. … Russia is our most significant enemy on the world stage. … I don’t think that we’ve ever seen a photograph out of the Oval Office on the lines of the one we saw today.

Meanwhile, MSNBC had its own star witness, former Under Secretary of State Richard Stengel. ‘Why is a head of state meeting with the Russian foreign minister?’ Stengel asked, ‘Vladimir Putin doesn’t meet with Mike Pompeo when he comes to Moscow. So it’s very curious and it’s very strange.’

Actually Rick, dear boy, Putin does meet with Pompeo, as you can see from this photo here. But when did one ever let little details like factual accuracy get in the way of a good line?

putin pompeo

Stengel wasn’t MSNBC’s only witness to Trump’s suspicious behaviour. Former US ambassador to Russia Michael McFaul also put in an appearance. ‘He’s obsessed with the East, like a certain world leader in the 1940s was obsessed with the East. Why is this guy obsessed with meeting with Russians all over the place’, the host asked McFaul. The latter let pass the gratuitous Hitler comparison, and gave his learned response: ‘It’s truly bizarre. I confess I do not have a rational explanation for it,’ said McFaul.

Just in case you think it was only the media, FBI, and the State Department, others were on the ball too. The Trump-Lavrov meeting had Twitter abuzz. Anne Applebaum, for instance, had the following to say.

applebaum

It’s all simply nuts. Trump is Hitler. A former ambassador can’t think of any reason why representatives of two major powers might wish to meet. A former deputy head of the US foreign service thinks that heads of state never meet foreign ministers. And all of them believe that a photograph of the US President and the Russian foreign minister is totally unprecedented and suggestive of something deeply suspicious, though exactly what they can’t quite tell us. Which makes you wonder what they’d all make of this picture.

800px-Lavrov_and_Obama

I don’t know about you, but that looks a lot like Sergei Lavrov and President Obama to me. So, was Obama a Russian agent? Was he secretly selling out US interests to a foreign power? Should we be investigating him as well? It’s all rather suspicious, don’t you think?

I’ll leave the last word to the excellent Fred Weir of the Christian Science Monitor :

It’s pretty clear by now that no normal dialog is going to be possible between Russia and the US. Perhaps ever again. It’s not my job to advise the Russians what to do, but if it were I would suggest they just give it up. Spend your time going to Beijing, Delhi, Ankara, even Berlin and Paris, but give Washington a miss.

It’s the most peculiar damned thing I have ever seen. Even at the lowest depths of the Cold War, the Washington Post would never have run a headline that described a US president meeting a Soviet leader in the Oval Office as “one of his most brazen moves yet.”

Analyzing the official photo of Trump and Lavrov in the Oval Office, the main — disapproving — takeaway the WaPo has to offer here is: “Judging by the expressions on their faces, the conversation does not seem to have been particularly acrimonious.” Geez.

December 12, 2019 Posted by | Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Russophobia | , | 2 Comments

US Federal Court Orders Tehran to Pay $180M to Washington Post Journalist – WaPo

Sputnik – 23.11.2019

Jason Rezaian, 43, the chief of The Washington Post’s Tehran bureau, was detained for over 18 months in Iran. along with his wife, who was released after two months of detention.

Washington DC federal Judge Richard Leon has ordered the government of Iran to pay Washington Post journalist Jason Rezaian and his family “compensatory damages” in the amount of $180 million, according to The Washington Post.

“Holding a man hostage and torturing him to gain leverage in negotiations with the United States is outrageous, deserving of punishment, and surely in need of deterrence”, the judge wrote in a 30-page ruling.

The federal judge distributed the amount between Rezaian and his family members as $23.8 million to the journalist in compensatory damages for pain, suffering, and economic losses; $2.7 million to his brother, Ali; $2.7 million to his mother, Mary; and $150 million for the whole family in punitive damages, according to WaPo.

Rezaian’s then-newlywed wife, fellow journalist and Iranian citizen Yeganeh Salehi, was not a plaintiff in the lawsuit against Iran, although she was detained together with her husband before being released after two months.

Rezaian, who served as The Washington Post’s Tehran bureau chief, was arrested on 22 July 2014 and was charged with espionage and three other security-related crimes, including “collaborating with hostile governments” and “propaganda against the establishment”. The administration of US President Barack Obama  urged Tehran many times to free the journalist, accusing Iran of violating international law.

In 2015, Rezaian was sentenced to several years in jail after being indicted on all four charges, including espionage and propaganda against the establishment.

Rezaian, along with three other Americans, was released in January 2016 under a prisoner-swap deal with the United States, in exchange for seven Iranian-US nationals serving jail time in the US.

The swap agreement also envisaged that the international criminal police group Interpol would cease prosecuting 14 other Iranian nationals.

Following the prisoner swap exchange, The Wall Street Journal alleged that the US had paid a ransom for the US nationals, allegations that were denied by the Obama administration.

November 23, 2019 Posted by | Aletho News | , , | 6 Comments

Trump Declared Anti-Ukrainian Racist by Clownish Mainstream Media

By Tim Kirby | Strategic Culture Foundation | November 9, 2019

Donald Trump has been accused of racism since the moment he decided to run as a Republican, but The Washington Post is pushing this narrative one step farther, claiming that the President of the United States is so blinded by his own “loathing” for Ukraine, that he is blowing critical American foreign policy opportunities in that nation. CNN has also jumped on the propaganda bandwagon declaring that Trump has a “disdain” for the Ukraine that is “raising alarm bells”. Trump does not have an irrational hatred for Ukrainians and there is nothing in this region to be gained which has not already been achieved in recent years.

WaPo’s bizarre and utterly irrational condemnation of Trump begins with the following statement…

“Three of President Trump’s top advisers met with him in the Oval Office in May, determined to convince him that the new Ukrainian leader was an ally deserving of U.S. support.”

Ukraine’s leadership has no choice but to be an ally of the United States, much in the same way that India had to be allies of Britain during Queen Victoria’s reign. Ukraine is a vassal entity whose near future will be determined by Washington and/or Moscow. Ukraine is too battered and poor and infiltrated by both greater powers to actually have any real self-determination, meaning that there is no need for Trump or any other President to woo Kiev. The region is now almost completely under Washington’s control thanks to the US meddling that was the cause for the Maidan and the war in the Donbass. The “powers that be” in Kiev push a hardcore anti-Russian\pro-EU\pro-Western agenda because they have to serve masters who got them into power, this is only natural. Presenting the Ukraine as a sovereign nation that needs to be won over to America’s side is a complete lie and a slap in the face to The Washington Post’s readership. But this is only the beginning…

“They had barely begun their pitch when Trump unloaded on them, according to current and former U.S. officials familiar with the meeting. In Trump’s mind, the officials said, Ukraine’s entire leadership had colluded with the Democrats to undermine his 2016 presidential campaign.”

The words “In Trump’s mind…” imply that his beliefs of Ukrainian influence against his campaign are completely made up and irrational. Basically the big hint is that Trump’s fears are paranoia/delusional, which could be true if fake dirt hadn’t actually been directly thrown onto Trump’s campaign manager Paul Manafort from Ukraine. The implication that Trump has just dreamt up a conspiracy against himself from around the Dnieper is factually proven to be untrue.

So far, a dozen witnesses have testified before House lawmakers since the closed-door impeachment inquiry began a month ago. One theme that runs through almost all of their accounts is Trump’s unyielding loathing of Ukraine, which dates to his earliest days in the White House.”

No examples of these tweets were supplied (Trump is known to be very loose with his tweets so this very well could be fully true) but you can see in this statement that there is a heavy handed hinting that a dislike of the status quo in Kiev is now a form of hatred and racism.

This is the most cheap and basic way to try to get a politician to shut up – using the “if you don’t approve of X, then you are a racist against X”, which sadly very often works. A “loathing” for some Israeli policy makes one anti-Semitic, a “disdain” for sending US troops to die in countries with odd names means you are against the troops or at the very least unpatriotic.

But thankfully for the President of the United States, unlike Israel or “The Troops”, no one actually cares about the Ukraine outside of the Beltway. Furthermore, if Trump had been projecting a blazing hatred towards everything Russian over the last few years, no one would be accusing him of Russophobia.

The Washington Post’s wretched hypocrisy in this article can me smelled from over the ocean.

“Inside the administration, Trump’s top advisers debated the origins of his ill-feeling. Some argued that Trump saw Ukraine as an impediment to better U.S. relations with Russian President Vladi­mir Putin, who was angry about U.S. sanctions imposed on Moscow for its annexation of Crimea and for the Kremlin’s ongoing support of pro-Russian separatists in eastern Ukraine.”

If the Russians took away the entire South of the United States, put a puppet government into power that is fanatically anti-American that then killed thousands of its own citizens (i.e. Americans) one would sure see that as an “impediment” to better US-Russian relations. Ukraine is a blip on the radar for America but for Russia it is basically the holy land from which it was born and an inalienable part of its civilization. Russia can be Russia without Tajikistan, but not without the Ukraine and Belarus. The horrors in the Donbass witnessed by many Russian-speakers that reminded them of the atrocities committed by the Nazis on the Eastern Front will not be soon be forgotten and make a submissive compromise situation a non-option. Thus, unless Washington throws away half of its current territorial control of Ukraine to the Russians (i.e. the regions that are strongly pro-Russian) there is no chance of reaching some sort of resolution that will improve US-Russian relations.

“Trump’s entire national security Cabinet unanimously supported it. But Trump hesitated. “He kept saying it… wasn’t worth pissing off Russia and what a bad country Ukraine was,” said the former senior White House official.”

If we take the time to reformat this question we can see where Trump could be coming from – “is it worth risking WWIII over a region of the world that means nothing to America (or the West) and everything to the Russians?” Protecting American territory from the Russians is important, protecting the West as a whole is also worth it, but funneling buckets of money into an endless Ukrainian hole on former Russian territory will not yield anything positive for America.

“None of those lofty arguments worked with Trump. “Many Americans feel strongly about supporting Ukraine because it’s the little guy and is fighting for values we consider fundamentally American”

There are more Americans who are concerned over plastic straws and the rights of men in dresses to pee in the women’s room than the Ukrainian situation. American men often voluntarily signed up for WWII and to a lesser extent Vietnam to fight a real ideological threat to the USA. How many guys would register for the draft over the Donbass? The overwhelming majority of Americans do not care about the fate of Kiev and why should they?

Fundamentally this primitive article by The Washington Post, is one long blunt implication that if Trump does not want to use American resources to push for maintaining a firm grasp on a heavily anti-Russian Ukraine then he is a racist bad person or at the very least is heavily misguided and irrational due to hurt feelings from his election campaign.

The Washington Post demonstrates in this piece the mentality of a Medieval peasant – if you don’t agree with me then you must be evil or possessed by demons blinding your judgment. This publication’s motto is “Democracy dies in Darkness” but their attitude towards the President having a viewpoint they don’t like is straight out of the Dark Ages.

November 9, 2019 Posted by | Fake News, Mainstream Media, Warmongering | , , | Leave a comment

Ms. Pumpkin Head for President: A Nightmare

By Edward Curtin | Behind the Curtain | October 20, 2019

A few weeks ago I had a terrifying nightmare, so gruesome was it that I awoke screaming and had to run to the bathroom to vomit in the toilet. In this dark horror show, I was carving a pumpkin for Halloween.  The cap came off easily and I disemboweled the slimy interior quickly, but as I did, I felt a strange sensation on my hand, as if a tongue were biting it. When I was finishing carving the face, however, the trouble really started. The pumpkin head came alive as the eyes and mouth moved and then it started speaking in a voice that was familiar but one I couldn’t place. Blond hair started sprouting from its head as it started shrieking and bouncing on the table in an hysterical manner. I jumped back in fear and trembling as it started cackling, “I running, I running.” Blood ran from between the carved teeth and the blue eyes pulsated with the mania of a serial killer in a horror movie.

I awoke with a scream when I realized it was Hillary Clinton.

So hideous was this night terror that I kept it to myself. But a week later when the next Democratic pseudo-debate was being promoted, I said to my wife that something told me that Hillary Clinton would be the Democratic nominee and the debates were a sideshow. She said she thought that would never happen and that Clinton was now hated and done for. I disagreed without recounting my nightmare because to describe it at that point would have induced more retching at the thought of the night monster.

Then this past week during the Democratic debate, the courageous Tulsi Gabbard put the lie to the murderous militarism of U.S. foreign policy and its regime change operations with its use of American supported terrorists in Syria and throughout the world. She calmly and eloquently denounced the militarist positions of the other candidates standing beside her, as they listened disquieted and disturbed to a patriotic American speaking truth that they dare not even think, so bought and sold are they.

She was a woman alone among a cast of sycophants denouncing the murderous policies carried out by presidents Democratic and Republican and foisted on the American people through a vast network of propaganda, appealing to their worst instincts. It was a stunning few minutes, for it is so rare, almost unheard of, for a politician to tell Americans the brutal truth about their government.

To many it was a sign of hope, but to the evil forces that run this country, Rep. Gabbard had gone too far and the knives came out in force, this time led by the pumpkin-headed Hillary Clinton and her accomplices at The New York Times and The Washington Post, who have consistently trashed Tulsi Gabbard in an effort to destroy her candidacy.

I felt my dream was prophetic when Clinton, in her slimy manner, attacked Tulsi Gabbard, without naming her, by saying,

I’m not making any predictions but I think they’ve [The Russians] got their eye on somebody who is currently in the Democratic primary and are grooming her to be the third-party candidate. She’s the favorite of the Russians. They have a bunch of sites and bots and other ways of supporting her so far.

Well, I ain’t making any prediction either; I’m leaving that up to my nightmare to do my talking.

It tells me that Hillary-O-Lantern, spitting blood, is running and gunning again.

She’s the favorite of the CIA and the military industrial complex and all those who profit from war and live off the deaths of victims everywhere. They have bunches of sites and bots and fake news conspirators and all sorts of ways of supporting her, which they have been doing for many years, straight through their constructed Russia-gate and Ukraine-gate conspiracies and her barbaric support for wars everywhere, including the destruction of Libya and her joyful response to the fiendish death of Muammar Gaddafi, among so may atrocities.

Tulsi, never cowered, said it straight and true in response:

Great, Thank you. You the Queen of warmongers, embodiment of corruption, and of the rot that has sickened the Democratic Party for so long, have finally come out from behind the curtain. From the day I announced my candidacy, there has been a concerted campaign to destroy my reputation. We wondered who was behind it and why. Now we know — it was always you, through your proxies and concerted campaign to destroy my reputation. We wondered who was behind it and why. Now we know — it was always you, through your proxies and powerful allies in the corporate media and war machine, afraid of the threat I pose. It’s now clear that this primary is between you and me. Don’t cowardly hide behind your proxies. Join the race directly.

She later said, “I stand against everything she represents.”

Halloween is the time for masks and dissembling. Hillary Clinton is a figure straight out of a grotesque Halloween party, as are her clones in the Democratic party. Tulsi Gabbard was not invited to their party but came anyway, and came to tell the truth about the masquerade.

She has torn off Clinton’s mask and asks the American people to see the true face of Clinton and all her minions, who represent the triumph of war and death, and the sick play we have been living through, an endless war on terror justified by endless lies.

Norman O. Brown so well describes our stage set:

Ancestral voices prophesying war; ancestral spirits in the danse macabre or war dance; Valhalla, ghostly warriors who kill each other and are reborn to fight again. All warfare is ghostly, every army an exercitus feralis (army of ghosts), every soldier a living corpse.

Lying is the leading cause of living death in the United States.

Tulsi Gabbard has told the truth.

Like me, I am sure you don’t want your nightmares to become reality. Let’s live in the truth.

October 20, 2019 Posted by | Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Militarism, Timeless or most popular, War Crimes | , , , | 5 Comments

Another Day, Another Scandal. What the ‘Trump-Ukraine Collusion’ Is Really About

By Daniel Lazare | Strategic Culture Foundation | September 25, 2019

This is soooooo boring.

For nearly a week, Washington has been consumed by reports that Donald Trump pressured Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky to dig up dirt on Democratic frontrunner Joe Biden.

The furor began on Wednesday, Sept. 18, when the Washington Post disclosed that Trump had said something to an unknown foreign leader that “was so alarming that a US intelligence official who had worked at the White House went to the inspector general of the intelligence community.” Two days later, the Wall Street Journal reported that the foreign leader was Zelensky and that Trump had asked him “about eight times” in the course of a single phone conversation to look into allegations that then-Vice President Biden had pushed for the removal of a public prosecutor investigating a Ukrainian company that employed his son, Hunter. A day after that, Biden complained that Trump was trying to “smear me,” while on Sunday, Adam Schiff, Democratic chairman of the House intelligence committee, declared that Trump might be guilty of “the most profound violation of the presidential oath of office … during just about any presidency.”

From initial report to America’s greatest scandal ever in just four days – surely this was some sort of Washington speed record. Since the moment Trump was elected, Democrats have been searching for “the Big One,” as New York Times columnist Maureen Dowd put it, the scandal “that’s going to finally bring Donald Trump down” – and now at last they found it.

Of course, Democrats said the same about Russiagate, the scandal that dominated headlines for two and a half years but fizzled when special prosecutor Robert Mueller said he was unable to come up with evidence “that members of the Trump Campaign conspired or coordinated with the Russian government.” But now that Trump stood accused of conspiring or coordinating with the Ukrainian government – or at least trying to – surely the Big One was finally at hand.

But it’s not. One reason is that there’s no sign of a quid pro quo. The Washington Post suggested in its initial report that the purpose of the July 25 phone call was to “manipulate the Ukrainian government into helping Trump’s reelection campaign.” The means, supposedly, was $250 million in military aid that he was threatening to withhold if the Ukraine failed to cooperate. But the Wall Street Journal’s source specifically denied that Trump had threatened a cut-off while the New York Times reported that a decision to end military aid – subsequently revoked – had actually occurred weeks earlier.

Another reason for skepticism is that charges of a smear job are clearly misplaced. If anyone’s activities are suspicious, it’s Biden’s, and Trump can hardly be blamed for wanting to get to the bottom of them.

To briefly recap: in February 2014, a US-backed coup spearheaded by ultra-rightists sent Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych fleeing and installed billionaire Petro Poroshenko in his place. This was bad news for a wealthy Yanukovych supporter named Mykola Zlochevsky who was widely accused of corruption and was in danger of losing all or some of his holdings. In an attempt to smooth things over with the Americans, Zlochevsky appointed Hunter Biden to a lucrative post with Burisma Holdings, a natural-gas company he founded in 2002. Hunter had just been discharged from the US Navy after testing positive for cocaine. He had no experience in the natural-gas business and knew nothing about the Ukraine. But he got the job anyway along with a salary of $50,000 a month.

But when the Ukrainian prosecutor general launched an investigation into Burisma, the Obama administration demanded that Viktor Shokin, the man who took over the office a year later, be removed. Indeed, Biden bragged that he threatened to withhold $1 billion in loan guarantees during a visit to Kiev if Poroshenko didn’t do as he was told.

“I said, ‘We’re leaving in six hours,’” he said last year. “If the prosecutor’s not fired, you’re not getting the money. Well, son of a bitch, he got fired.”

If anyone’s guilty of a quid pro quo, it would seem to be Biden.

Questions remain. Washington says it wanted Shokin removed because he was impeding the Ukraine’s anti-corruption drive and that it pushed for someone more vigorous even though the results for Burisma might have been negative. But the New York Times says the company was pleased by Shokin’s dismissal, and that a year later it was able to reach an amicable settlement with his successor. Hunter Biden’s job was safe.

Still, profiting off a family connection in this manner is plainly corrupt, and Biden is obviously attempting to deflect attention from his own misdeeds by screaming about Trump. The upshot is yet another tedious pseudo-scandal in which Democrats will only succeed in embarrassing themselves.

September 25, 2019 Posted by | Corruption, Fake News, Mainstream Media, Warmongering | , | 1 Comment

Explaining CIA’s ‘Agent Smolenkov’

By Finian Cunningham | Strategic Culture Foundation | September 16, 2019

The saga of daring escape by a supposed Russian CIA agent from the Kremlin’s clutches and then the added twist of a security-risk American president putting the agent’s life in danger does indeed sound like a pulp fiction novel, as Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov put it.

How to explain this sensational story? “Opportunism” is one word that comes to mind.

The news media who pushed the story, CNN, the New York Times and Washington Post, are vehemently “anti-Trump”. Any chance to damage this president and they grab it.

Also, perhaps more importantly, these media are desperate to salvage their shot-through journalistic credibility since the “Russiagate” narrative they had earnestly propagated died a death, after the two-year Mueller circus finally left town empty-handed.

This damage to supposed bastions of US journalism cannot be overstated. More than two years of spinning speculation-cum-reporting about Russian collusion with Trump and/or interference in US politics has produced not a crumb of substantive fact. That means those media responsible for the “Russiagate” nonsense have forfeited that precious quality – credibility. They no longer deserve to be categorized as news services, and are more appropriately now listed as fiction peddlers.

So when they got the chance to seemingly resurrect their buried “Russiagate” yarn with this latest fable about agent Oleg Smolenkov being exfiltrated from Russia to the US, they leapt at it because their equally buried reputations are also at stake.

As far as we can tell, an anonymous intelligence source started the ball rolling. The source is likely to be former CIA chief John Brennan or former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper. Both are hangouts for the anti-Trump media since they lost their intel jobs at the beginning of 2017, and both are believed to have seeded the “Russiagate” narrative in 2016 from before Trump was elected.

Notably, the current CIA assessment of the latest US media reporting on the exfiltrated spy is that the reporting is “false” and “misguided”. In particular, the CNN spin that the agent (Smolenkov) had to be extricated from Russia in 2017 because Langley feared that Trump may have endangered the supposed Kremlin mole when he hosted Russian foreign minister Sergei Lavrov in the White House in May 2017.

Also of note is the dismissive response from US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo who rubbished the reports. He was head of the CIA during 2017. (Admittedly, Pompeo is a self-confessed liar.)

According to CNN, NY Times and Washington Post, the former spy in the Kremlin, named as Oleg Smolenkov by subsequent Russian media reporting, was a top mole with direct access to President Vladimir Putin. It is claimed that Smolenkov confirmed allegations about a Putin-directed plot to interfere in US presidential elections. The agent is said to have also confirmed that Putin (allegedly) ordered the hacking of the Democratic party’s central database to obtain scandalous material on Hillary Clinton which was then fed to the Wikileaks whistleblower site for the purpose of scuttling her bid for the presidency in November 2016, thus favoring Trump.

Smolenkov was allegedly providing this information on a purported Kremlin interference campaign in 2016.

The US media claim Smolenkov was exfiltrated from Russia by the CIA in June 2017 – out of concern for his safety, which CNN reported was being jeopardized by President Trump due to his implied compromised relations with Putin. Smolenkov and his family disappeared while on a holiday in Montenegro in June 2017.

After the story broke earlier this week about the exfiltrated Kremlin mole, subsequent media reporting tracked down Oleg Smolenkov and his wife living in a $1-million-dollar mansion in Stafford, Virginia. Curiously, public records showed the house purchase was in their names, which seems odd for a supposed top-level spy, who had apparently committed extreme betrayal against the Kremlin, to be living openly. The family apparently fled the house to unknown whereabouts on September 9 after the story about his alleged spy role broke this week.

Who is Oleg Smolenkov? The Kremlin said this week that he previously worked in the presidential administration, but he was sacked “several years ago”. He did not have direct access to President Putin’s office, according to the Kremlin. For his part, Russian foreign minister Sergei Lavrov says he never heard of the man before, never mind ever having met him.

It is understood that Smolenkov previously worked in the Russian embassy in Washington under ambassador Yuri Ushakov (1999-2008). Smolenkov reportedly continued working for Ushakov when the diplomat returned to Moscow after his ambassadorial tenure in the US.

Here is where we may speculate that Smolenkov was recruited by the CIA during his diplomatic assignment in the US. But we assume that the Kremlin’s assessment is correct; he did not have a senior position or access to Putin’s office. By contrast, the US media are claiming Smolenkov was “one of the CIA’s most valuable assets” in the Kremlin and that he was providing confirmatory information that Putin was (allegedly) running an interference campaign to subvert the US presidential elections.

The discerning detail as to the truth of the imbroglio is revealed by the US media claims that Smolenkov corroborated the alleged hacking into the Democratic party database in 2016. However, that specific allegation has been disproven by several top hacker experts, notably William Binney who was formerly technical head at the US National Security Agency. There was no hacking. The damaging information on Hillary Clinton was leaked by a Democratic party insider, possibly Seth Rich, who soon after was shot dead by an unknown attacker. In short, the entire narrative about the Kremlin hacking into the Democratic party is a fiction. The premise to “Russiagate” is baseless.

Thus, if Smolenkov is peddling fiction to his former handlers in the CIA, that means he has no credibility as a “top mole”.

Again, opportunism is the key. Somebody came up with a lurid story about “Russian interference” in US democracy and “collusion” with Trump. Maybe it was Smolenkov who saw an opportunity to win a big pay day from his CIA patrons by flogging them a blockbuster. Or maybe, Brennan and Clapper (known liars in the public record) dreamt up a scheme of Kremlin malignancy to benefit Trump, and if that could be tied to Trump then his election would be discredited and nullified. But what they needed was a “Kremlin source” to “corroborate” their readymade story of “Russian interference”. Step forward Oleg Smolenkov – fired and out of work – to do the needfed “corroboration” and in return he gets a new life for himself and family with a mansion in a leafy Virginian suburb.

CNN, NY Times, Washington Post, Brennan and Clapper are so much damaged goods from past failure of “Russiagate” fabrications, they find an opportunity to salvage their disgraced names by outing the hapless Smolenkov at this juncture.

That then raises the grave question of why he was permitted to live openly in his own name?

There is a sinister similarity here to the Sergei Skripal case in England. Is Smolenkov being set up for a hit which can then be conveniently blamed on Russia as “revenge” by the Russophobic, anti-Trump, deep state US media?

September 16, 2019 Posted by | Deception, Fake News, Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Russophobia | , , , , | Leave a comment

Moscow Mitch, Secret Russian Subs… and Russophobia Derangement

By Finian Cunningham | Strategic Culture Foundation | August 11, 2019

Arch Republican Senator Mitch McConnell is being taunted by major US media outlets and at political rallies as a “Russian asset”. Meanwhile, Britain’s Daily Telegraph reports on “super-secret” Russian submarines which are “operating unseen” in British territorial waters.

The collapse in rational thinking among American and British political mainstream circles is highlighted by the rampant Russophobia. Such thinking is delusional, paranoid and ultimately horrifying at a time of heightened international tensions between nuclear superpowers.

First, let’s deal with the farcical furore over Senator McConnell being labelled a Russian asset. The Senate majority leader has been dubbed by US news channel MSNBC and the Washington Post as “Moscow Mitch” and “doing Putin’s bidding”. The monikers followed McConnell’s blocking of legislation aimed at tightening security of electoral systems ostensibly to prevent “foreign meddling”.

It’s not clear why McConnell objected to the proposed legislation. It seems he doesn’t agree with extra federal controls over state-level electoral systems. Also, he claims that hundreds of millions of dollars have already been spent upgrading electoral systems, and therefore additional expenditure is not warranted. He is a fiscal hawk after all.

Nonetheless, it is a preposterous leave of senses when paranoid Russophobia in US politics and media are inferring that McConnell’s opposition to the proposed electoral legislation is “evidence” that he is a Russian agent, by allegedly enabling Russian hacking into US elections.

At a recent political event in his home state of Kentucky, McConnell was heckled and booed by Democrat supporters chanting “Moscow Mitch, Moscow Mitch!” The protesters were wearing T-shirts and brandishing placards with images of McConnell donning a Cossack hat with Soviet-era hammer and sickles.

Understandably, the 77-year-old senator has been aghast over the political attacks. He called it “modern-day McCarthyism” harking back to the Cold War years of Red Baiting. He even said it was worse than the past McCarthyism. And he has a point there.

McConnell’s exasperation is borne out of the complete irrational vacuousness of the accusations. The six-time elected lawmaker is the longest-serving Republican senator. He is a grandee of the traditionally rightwing party, with an “impeccable” record of being hawkish towards Russia and President Vladimir Putin.

How anyone can construe that good ole boy McConnell is a Russian stooge is too absurd for words. What the accusations do betray is the total derangement and politically illiterate condition of mainstream American political and media culture.

As Princeton Professor Stephen Cohen remarked in a recent interview Russophobia and paranoia over alleged interference in US politics has become a permanent mindset among too many American politicians, pundits, military-intelligence agencies and Democrat supporters. Cohen rightly deplores how the whole baseless narrative of “Russia-gate” continues with a life of its own, having not been finally made redundant after the two-year Mueller probe spectacularly failed to provide any substantive details or evidence.

Still, however, former FBI chief Robert Mueller in recent hearings before Congress was permitted to reiterate hollow accusations that Russia meddled in the 2016 presidential elections and, he asserted, Moscow will do so again in the 2020 elections. This is simply doctrinal thinking which is, in turn, accepted as “fact” that Russia’s President Putin ordered an “interference campaign” to subvert American democracy. (Moscow has always vehemently rejected that.)

That’s why when someone as antipathetic towards Russia as Senate leader Mitch McConnell exercises relative sanity by rejecting the alleged need for more electoral security systems to “prevent foreign meddling” he is then assailed with hysterical accusations of being a “Russian asset”. The utter irrationality is self-reinforcing because of unhinged delusions about Russian malignancy. No evidence is required. It’s “true” because “we believe it is true”.

McConnell has hit back at his detractors by calling them “leftwing hacks” and “communists”. He made that conclusion by referring to the Democrats’ policy of seeking to expand free healthcare for American citizens. He proudly called himself the “Grim Reaper” who would protect America from a “socialist agenda”.

This inane back and forth demonstrates how dumbed down American political culture is. Increasingly bitter partisan accusations and slander are flying around based on no facts, no evidence, no reason, nor any intelligent understanding about policy, history or political philosophy.

But, lamentably, at bottom the crazed political discourse relies on an embedded Russophobia. Russia is viewed as evil and malicious, by both sides of the political coin. Rather than addressing inherent problems in American society, the discourse finds a common false explanation – blame it on Russia or association with presumed communism. The Cold War nihilism of American politics and propaganda has never stopped. It’s just become more delusional and divorced from any semblance of reality. In this context, the modern-day Russophobia is perhaps more dangerous because of its irrationality and evidence-free doctrinal thinking.

Which brings us to the “super-secret” Russian submarines that are stalking Britain, according to the Daily Telegraph. The so-called report (more accurately, psy-ops piece) is a must-read for exposing the delusional anti-Russia paranoia that the British political class have in common with the Americans.

“A new breed of super quiet Russian submarines are feared [sic] to be operating unseen [sic] in British territorial waters, according to military sources [sic],” the Telegraph claimed.

The sources were, as usual, anonymous, betraying that the Telegraph was being used, as it often is, as a conduit for British intelligence propaganda.

Not one scrap of evidence was presented to substantiate these “fears” of “unseen” Russian submarines. Supposedly, the “unseen” vessels are “proof” of how dastardly and stealthy those damn Russians are. The point of the article was to deliver a public message for more military spending on Britain’s Royal Navy.

What makes it possible for the Daily Telegraph to publish such bogeyman rubbish is the systematic inculcation of Russophobia among many, but not all, Britons.

As with its American counterpart, British political culture has become degenerate and depraved. It is the equivalent of medieval sorcery and “magical thinking”. Standards of proof, reason and due process have been abandoned. It’s like a regression to pre-Enlightenment times. The fact that the US and Britain possess nuclear arsenals aimed at Russia makes the deranged thinking of their political class a truly frightening prospect for the entire world.

August 11, 2019 Posted by | Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Russophobia | , , , | 1 Comment

WaPo Publishes Gabbard Smear Piece Filled With Blatant Lies

By Caitlin Johnstone | August 4, 2019

The Washington Post, which is wholly owned by a CIA contractor who is reportedly working to control the underlying infrastructure of the global economy, has published a shockingly deceitful smear piece about Democratic presidential candidate Tulsi Gabbard in the wake of her criticisms of her opponent Kamala Harris’ prosecutorial record during the last Democratic debate.

The article’s author, Josh Rogin, has been a cheerleader for US regime change interventionism in Syria since the very beginning of the conflict in that nation. It is unsurprising, then, that he reacted with orgasmic exuberance when Harris retaliated against Gabbard’s devastating attack by smearing the Hawaii congresswoman as an “Assad apologist”, since Gabbard has been arguably the most consistent and high-profile critic of Rogin’s pet war agenda. His article, titled “Tulsi Gabbard’s Syria record shows why she can’t be president”, is one of the most dishonest articles that I have ever read in a mainstream publication, and the fact that it made it through the Washington Posts editors is enough to fully discredit that outlet.

You can read Rogin’s smear piece without giving Jeff Bezos more money by clicking here for an archive. There’s so much dishonesty packed into this one that all I can do is go through it lie-by-lie until I either finish or get tired, so let’s begin:

“Gabbard asserts that the United States (not Assad) is responsible for the death and destruction in Syria, that the Russian airstrikes on civilians are to be praised

This is just a complete, brazen, whole-cloth lie from Rogin. If you click the hyperlink he alleges supports his claim that Gabbard asserts “Russian airstrikes on civilians are to be praised,” you come to a 2015 tweet by the congresswoman which reads, “Bad enough US has not been bombing al-Qaeda/al-Nusra in Syria. But it’s mind-boggling that we protest Russia’s bombing of these terrorists.”

Now, you can agree or disagree with Gabbard’s position that the US should be participating in airstrikes against al-Qaeda affiliates in Syria, but there’s no way you can possibly interpret her acceptance of Russia doing so to be anywhere remotely like “praise” for “airstrikes on civilians”. There is simply no way to represent the content of her tweet that way without knowingly lying about what you think it says. The only way Rogin’s claim could be anything resembling truthful would be if “al-Qaeda” and “civilians” meant the same thing. Obviously this is not the case, so Rogin can only be knowingly lying.

“That bias, combined with her long record of defending the Assad regime and parroting its propaganda, form the basis for the assertion Gabbard has ‘embraced and been an apologist for’ Assad, as Sen. Kamala D. Harris (D-Calif.) said Wednesday post-debate on CNN.”

Gabbard has no record whatsoever of “defending the Assad regime”. This is a lie. There exist copious amounts of quotes by Gabbard opposing US regime change interventionism in Syria and voicing skepticism of the narratives used to promote said interventionism, but there are no quotes anywhere in which she claims Assad is a nice person or that he hasn’t done bad things. If such quotes existed, Rogin would have included them in his smear piece. He did not. All he can do is lie about their existence.

“To repeat: There is no quote in which Tulsi praises, supports, or otherwise ‘apologies for’ Assad,” journalist Michael Tracey recently tweeted with a link to his January article on the subject. “I checked the record a long time ago, and it doesn’t exist. This is just a smear intended to delegitimize diplomatic engagement”

“Claiming that politicians are ‘defending’ objectionable rulers they meet with, in pursuit of achieving some alternative to war, is a tired trope that has been frequently used throughout history to discredit diplomatic engagement,” Tracey wrote. “As Gabbard told me in an interview shortly after returning from Syria: ‘The reason why I decided to take this meeting on this trip was because if we profess to care about the Syrian people — if we really truly care about ending their suffering and ending this war — then we should be ready to meet with anyone if there is a chance that that meeting and that conversation could help to bring about an end to this war.’”

Gabbard has been remarkably consistent in explaining her position that she opposes US regime change interventionism in Syria because US regime change interventionism is reliably disastrous. This isn’t “defending” anyone, nor is it “parroting propaganda”. It’s an indisputable, thoroughly established fact.

“Other Democratic candidates have promised to end U.S. military adventurism without making excuses for a mass murderer. It’s neither progressive nor liberal to defend Assad, a fascist, totalitarian psychopath who can never peacefully preside over Syria after what he has done.”

Again, claiming that Gabbard has done anything at all to “defend Assad” is a lie. If anything Gabbard has been too uncritical of establishment war propaganda narratives, calling Assad “a brutal dictator” who has “used chemical weapons and other weapons against his people.” Gabbard’s sole arguments on the matter have been in opposition to US military interventionism and skepticism of narratives used to support such interventionism, which only an idiot would object to in a post-Iraq invasion world.

Rogin argues that it’s possible to end US military adventurism without defending and making excuses for Assad, yet this is exactly the thing that Tulsi Gabbard has been doing since day one. Which means Rogin doesn’t actually believe it’s ever okay for any presidential candidate to want to end US military adventurism under any circumstances. Which is of course the real driving motivation behind his deceitful smear piece against Gabbard.

“Gabbard never talks about her other trip — to the Turkish-Syrian border with a group of lawmakers in June 2015, when she met with authentic opposition leaders, victims of Assad’s barrel bombs and members of the volunteer rescue brigade known as the White Helmets. Their stories, which don’t support Assad’s narrative, never make it into Gabbard’s speeches on the campaign trail.”

This one is bizarre. Rogin says this as though Gabbard’s meeting with Assad is something that she brings up “on the campaign trail” rather than something war propagandists like himself bring up and force her to respond to. The fact that those propagandists never bring up Gabbard’s meetings with the Syrian opposition is an indictment of their bias, not hers. The mental gymnastics required to make Gabbard’s meetings with all sides of the Syrian conflict feel more pro-Assad rather than less deserve an Olympic gold medal.

Obviously Gabbard having met with all sides is indicative of an absence of favoritism, not the presence of it. The fact that she didn’t come away from her meetings with empire-allied opposition forces with the opinion that the US should help storm Damascus doesn’t mean she supports any particular side.

“Gabbard’s candidacy should be taken very seriously — not because she has a significant chance of being president, but because her narrative on Syria is deeply incorrect, immoral and un-American. If it were adopted by her party and the country, it would lead the United States down a perilous moral and strategic path.”

Saying a “narrative” can be “un-American” is a fairly straightforward admission that you are authoring propaganda. Unless you believe your nation has one authorized set of narratives, a narrative can’t be “un-American”. This is as close as you’ll ever get to an admission from Rogin that US power structures work to control the dominant narratives about world events, and that he helps them do it. To such a person, opposition to your narrative control agendas would be seen as the antithesis of the group you identify with.

The US empire has an extensive and well-documented history of using lies, propaganda and false flags to initiate military conflicts which advantage it. To continue to deny this after Iraq is either willful ignorance or propaganda.

The fact that Rogin adds “strategic path” to his argument nullifies his claim that his position has anything to do with morality. If your foreign policy concern is with strategic leverage, you will naturally try to interpret anything which advances that strategic path as the moral choice.

“Listening to Gabbard, one might think the United States initiated the Syrian conflict by arming terrorists for a regime-change war that has resulted in untold suffering.”

This is exactly what happened. The US armed extremist militants with the goal of effecting regime change, and before Russia intervened they almost succeeded. According to the former Prime Minister of Qatar, the US and its allies were involved in this behavior from the very beginning of the conflict in 2011. Here is a link to an article full of primary source documents showing that the US and its allies had been scheming since well before 2011 to provoke a civil war in Syria with the goal of regime change. They did exactly what they planned to do, which is exactly the thing Rogin claims they did not do.

But Gabbard never even takes her analysis this far. She simply says the US should not get involved in another US regime change war, because it shouldn’t.

“Responding to Harris, Gabbard called Assad’s atrocities ‘detractions,’[sic] before eventually saying she doesn’t dispute that he’s guilty of torture and murder. That’s a slight improvement from her previous protestations that there was not enough evidence.”

Rogin falsely implies here that Gabbard only just began accusing Assad of war crimes, and that she only did so in response to new pressure resulting from Harris’ criticism. As noted earlier, this is false; Gabbard has been harshly critical of Assad.

“Gabbard then quickly accused President Trump of aiding al-Qaeda in Idlib. ‘That does sound like a talking point of the Assad regime,’ CNN’s Anderson Cooper said. He could have just said she is wrong.”

Even the US State Department has acknowledged that Idlib is an al-Qaeda stronghold, and the Trump administration has taken aggressive moves to prevent the Assad coalition from launching a full-scale campaign to reclaim the territory. Claiming that this did not happen is a lie per even the accepted narratives of the US political/media class.

“Gabbard’s 2017 trip was financed and run by members of a Lebanesesocialist-nationalist party that works closely with the Assad regime.”

Former US Congressman Dennis Kucinich, who accompanied Gabbard on this trip, dismissed this accusation as “so much horseshit I can’t believe it.” All parties involved have denied this narrative, which Rogin has played a pivotal role in promoting from the very beginning and to which he has been forced to make multiple embarrassing corrections.

“Gabbard’s plan to overtly side with Assad and Russia while they commit crimes against humanity would be a strategic disaster, a gift to the extremists and a betrayal of decades of U.S. commitments to stand up to mass atrocities. Democratic voters who believe in liberalism and truth must reject not only her candidacy but also her attempt to disguise moral bankruptcy as a progressive value.”

Another lie; Gabbard has no such plan. Opposing US regime change interventionism isn’t “siding” with anybody, it’s just not supporting a thing that is literally always disastrous and literally never helpful.

Rogin’s closing admonishment to reject not just Gabbard but her skepticism of US war narratives is yet another admission that he’s concerned with narrative control here, not with truth and not even really with a US presidential candidate.

Whoever controls the narrative controls the world, and shameless war propagandists like Josh Rogin are the attack dogs of establishment narrative control.

August 4, 2019 Posted by | Fake News, Mainstream Media, Warmongering | , , | 5 Comments

Study finds 50-year history of anti-Palestinian bias in mainstream news reporting

CONTEXT matters, and CONTEXT is often missing in news reports about Israel-Palestine
CONTEXT matters, and CONTEXT is often missing in news reports about Israel-Palestine
By Kathryn Shihadah – If Americans Knew – January 19, 2019

A recent media study based on analysis of 50 years of data found that major U.S. newspapers have provided consistently skewed, pro-Israel reporting on Israel-Palestine.

The study, conducted by 416Labs, a Toronto-based consulting and research firm, is the largest of its kind.

Using computer analysis, researchers evaluated the headlines of five influential U.S. newspapers: the Chicago Tribune, Los Angeles Times, New York Times, Washington Post, and Wall Street Journal from 1967 to 2017.

The study period begins in June 1967, the date when Israel began its military occupation of the West Bank and Gaza Strip – now officially termed the Occupied Palestinian Territories – following its Six Day War against Jordan, Egypt and Syria.

Methodology involved the use of Natural Language Processing (NLP), a type of computer analysis that sifts through large amounts of natural language data and investigates the vocabulary. NLP tabulated the most commonly used words and word pairs, as well as the positive or negative sentiment associated with the headlines.

Using NLP to analyze 100,000 headlines, the study revealed that the coverage favored Israel in the “sheer quantity of stories covered,” by presenting Palestinian-centric stories from a more negative point of view, as well as by grossly under-representing the Palestinian narrative, and by omitting or downplaying “key topics that help to identify the conflict in all its significance.”

Four times more headlines mentioned Israel than Palestine

The Fifty Years of Occupation study reveals a clear media bias first in the quantity of headlines: over the half-century period in question, headlines mentioned Israel 4 times more frequently than Palestine.

The study revealed other discrepancies in coverage of Israel and Palestine/Palestinians as well.

Sentiment

For all 5 newspapers studied, Israel-centric headlines were on average more positive than the Palestinian-centric headlines.

Sentiment analysis measures “the degree to which ideological loyalty colors analysis.”

In order to measure sentiment, the study employed a “dictionary” of words classified as either positive or negative; each headline was scored based on its use of these words.

The report explains that journalistic standards require news stories to be “neutral, objective, and derived from facts,” but the reports on Israel-Palestine “exhibit some form of institutionalized ideological posturing and reflect a slant.” [See graphs below post]

Under-representation of the Palestinian voice

The study also found Palestinians marginalized as sources of news and information.

A simple case in point: The fact-checking organization Pundit Fact examined CNN guests during a segment of the 2014 Israeli incursion into Gaza, Operation Protective Edge. Pundit Fact reported that during this time, 20 Israeli officials were interviewed, compared to only 4 Palestinians, although Palestinians were overwhelmingly victims of the incursion with 2,251 deaths vs. 73 Israeli deaths.

The study’s data reveal what it calls “the privileging of Israeli voices and, invariably, Israeli narratives”: the phrases “Israel Says” and “Says Israel” occurred at a higher frequency than any other bigram (2-word phrase) throughout the 50 years of headlines – in fact, at a rate 250% higher than “Palestinian Says” and similar phrases. This indicates that not only are Israeli perspectives covered more often, but Palestinians rarely have an opportunity to defend or explain their actions.

The report explains the significance of such asymmetry:

This imbalance matters, as official Israeli government policy is effectively made an intrinsic part of the discussion of the conflict, while the views of Palestinians living under occupation are subordinated to the margins.

Sins of omission and de-emphasis

The analysis turned up yet another significant problem with the newspapers’ coverage: failure to report, or to report adequately, on important aspects of the Palestine-Israel conflict.

The study found several critical topics that the 5 newspapers failed to cover adequately, resulting in reader misperceptions.

Peace process?

One misperception revolves around the alleged existence of an ongoing “peace process.”

The study points out the consistent use of bigrams such as “peace talks,” in spite of the fact that since 1993, peace talks have been essentially nonexistent. And,

A hallmark of the conflict has been the perception that there is an ongoing peace process which, from time to time, breaks down, thereby delaying resolution of the conflict…the dispute is effectively portrayed as being one between two equal warring sides, not one where one group is an occupier and the other the occupied.

Occupation

The researchers emphasize the fact that as the occupation of the West Bank (and de facto occupation of Gaza) drags on past 50 years, the brutality of the Israeli occupation is becoming normalized and its illegality forgotten.

They draw this conclusion from their analysis of the unigram “occupation,” which has appeared in headlines less and less frequently, dropping by 85% in Israel-centric headlines, and by 65% in Palestinian-centric headlines over the 50-year period.

Gaza

The blockade of Gaza, and the economic hardships of Gazans under the blockade, were mentioned in Palestine-centric headlines just 30 and 63 times respectively, in the 11 years since the blockade began.

In Covering Gaza: is the mainstream media discourse changing on Palestine-Israel?, Tamara Kharroub of the Arab Center in Washington DC censures mainstream media coverage of the Great Return March – a nonviolent demonstration by Palestinian Gazans for justice and the end of the blockade – for failing to report the names of Gazan civilians killed by Israeli snipers, “in stark contrast to the usual reporting on Israeli victims, in which their pictures, lives, and grieving families are repeatedly shown and discussed.”

… and more

As another example, Palestinian refugees – still waiting to be repatriated according to UN Resolution 242 of 1949 – have been forgotten as a group: the words “Palestine Refugee(s)” in headlines has declined by 93% over the last 50 years, reflecting a decline in concern from media.

The study reveals similar underreporting on topics including the illegality of Israeli settlements and Palestinians’ designation of East Jerusalem as the future capital of the future Palestinian state.

According to Siham Rashid, formerly of the Palestinian Counseling Center, these accumulated flaws characterize the Israel-Palestine issue as

a conflict revolving around security and terrorism, with Israel being the victim…So, for many people, the conflict is understood as a conflict of land and borders between two peoples who have equal claims, not as a conflict between an oppressed and oppressor and colonized and colonizer.

International consensus

As cited by the researchers, Marda Dunsky’s  2008 book, Pens and Swords: How the American Mainstream Media Report the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict, analyzed US media over a 4-year period. One of her most significant findings was the lack of coverage of the international consensus on important issues, for example the almost-universal conclusions that Israeli settlements are illegal, and that Palestinian refugees should be allowed to return to their homes.

Greg Shupak’s The Wrong Story: Palestine, Israel, and the Media offers an example from Operation Protective Edge, the Israeli aggression of 2014 into Gaza. He points out that the blockade of Gaza, a key antecedent to the violence, was mentioned only once in the many New York Times editorials on the conflict published just before and during the war.

Shupak’s work shows how NYT “frequently omits important details that would better contextualize the conflict.”

In More Bad News From IsraelGlasgow University researchers Greg Philo and Mike Berry examined British mainstream media coverage of Israel-Palestine. In a study of BBC coverage, the lack of adequate context resulted in

the failure to convey adequately the disparity in the Israeli and Palestinian experience, reflecting the fact that one side is in control and the other lives under occupation…BBC output does not consistently give a full and fair account of the conflict. In some ways the picture is incomplete and, in that sense, misleading.

Alison Weir of If Americans Knew has published extensive studies of American media coverage of Israel-Palestine which reveal “daily reporting [that is] profoundly skewed” and a “pervasive pattern of distortion” in which “[t]he favored population was the Israeli one.”

If Americans Knew has conducted six major studies and one shorter study on coverage of Israel-Palestine news and found that media had reported on Israeli deaths at far greater rates than they reported on Palestinian deaths. The studies also revealed the palpable pro-Israel bias, under-representation of the Palestinian voice and the omission or downplaying of critical topics.

The American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) is a lobbying group that advocates pro-Israel policies to the Congress and Executive Branch of the United States.

Causation?

The Canadian researchers found a “systemic problem in coverage,” but did not study the causation. Nevertheless, they excluded the possibility of “deliberate planned bias,” attributing the biased coverage to “the U.S. media’s affinity to broadly align and support their government’s foreign policy objectives.”

Some other researchers, however, report a wider range of factors, many connected to the pro-Israel lobby in the United States. For example, Alison Weir discovered deep links between US media and Israel (e.g. hereherehere, and here). Mearsheimer and Walt reported on the power of pro-Israel pressure in their book The Israel Lobby; Paul Findley in his book They Dare to Speak Out, and others report a wider range of factors, many connected to the pro-Israel lobby in the United States. In many cases, pressure from pro-Israel groups in the Israel lobby, contributed significantly to the consistent slant in mainstream media.

Conclusion

As the authors point out:

Whether online, television, or print, the mainstream media serves to provide most Americans with their daily news. How the media frames the news and presents it to viewers can profoundly shape their perception of current events.

Yet numerous analysts, across time and region, have established that this media consistently skews the news when it comes to Israel-Palestine. This results in nations and their governments upholding Israeli priorities rather than those of their own people, and perpetuating injustice toward Palestinians.


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July 29, 2019 Posted by | Deception, Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Mainstream Media, Warmongering | , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment