The Open Secret of Foreign Lobbying

Exclusive: Russia-gate has focused attention on requirements for U.S. citizens acting as “foreign agents” to register with the Justice Department, but these rules have been sporadically or selectively enforced for decades, Jonathan Marshall writes in the first of a series.

By Jonathan Marshall

The alleged hacking of the Hillary Clinton campaign’s emails and the numerous contacts of Donald Trump’s circle with Russian officials, oligarchs and mobsters have triggered any number of investigations into Moscow’s alleged efforts to influence the 2016 election and the new administration. With U.S.-Russian relations at their lowest point since the Cold War, however, it would be tough to argue that Moscow has achieved any leverage in Washington.

Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump speaking to the AIPAC conference in Washington D.C. on March 21, 2016. (Photo credit: AIPAC)

In contrast, as journalist Robert Parry recently noted, American politicians and the media have been notably silent about other examples of foreign interference in U.S. national politics. In part that’s because supporters of more successful foreign pressure groups have enough clout to downplay or deny their very existence. In part it’s also because America’s political system is so riddled with big money that jaded insiders rarely question the status quo of influence peddling by other nations.

That wasn’t the case a century ago. In the run-up to U.S. entry into World War I, millions of Americans became wildly alarmed by the potential influence of pro-German fifth columnists. The success of the Bolshevik revolution in 1917 shifted much of that paranoia toward the Soviet Union, prompting the infamous Red Scare.

Two decades later, Americans again became troubled by the growing influence of fascist and Communist propaganda in this country. In response, Congress in 1938 passed a law regulating “foreign agents” and requiring disclosure of their political and public relations activities and spending. Willful failure to register can be punished by up to five years in prison and a $10,000 fine.

Since the end of World War II, however, enforcement of the Foreign Agents Registration Act has been notably lax. Its effectiveness has been stymied by political resistance from lobby supporters as well as by the law’s many loopholes — including Justice Department’s admission that FARA “does not authorize the government to inspect records of those not registered under the Act.”

A 2016 audit by the inspector general of the Department of Justice determined that half of FARA registrations and 62 percent of initial registrations were filed late, and 15 percent of registrants simply stopped filing for periods of six months or more. It also determined that the Department of Justice brought only seven criminal cases under FARA from 1966 to 2015, and filed no civil injunctions since 1991.

“FARA is violated more or less daily in Washington and largely ignored by authorities unless it involves someone without political connections,” commented Matt Taibbi of Rolling Stone. “An awful lot of important people in Washington who appear to be making fortunes lobbying for foreign countries are merely engaged in ‘litigation support,’ if you ask them.”

In addition, foreign governments find it easy to circumvent the act by tactics such as investing in influential foreign policy think tanks like the Atlantic Council, Brookings Institution, and Center for Strategic and International Studies — buying credibility for their views without full disclosure.

In a rare exception to normal practice, the Atlantic Council’s foreign ties briefly came under close scrutiny in 2013, when its chairman, Chuck Hagel, was nominated to become President Obama’s Secretary of Defense. The Atlantic Council’s major funders include the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain, several Turkish entities, the Ukrainian World Congress, Kazakhstan, and several of the biggest U.S. defense corporations. Yet good luck finding any such disclosures at the end of the many op-ed columns its staff publish in the Washington Post and other outlets on relevant issues of U.S. foreign policy.

The combination of lax enforcement and tremendously high stakes — including billions of dollars in foreign aid, arms sales, and economic sanctions — has led to intense foreign lobbying in the United States, some of it financed with recycled U.S. aid. But there’s nothing new about this trend.

Forty years ago, in their book The Power Peddlers, Russell Warren Howe and Sarah Hays Trott reported that “the foreign lobby network is a high growth industry, both in terms of numbers and cash; there are at least fifteen thousand persons already engaged in foreign lobby activity . . . in Washington — thirty for every Member of Congress.”

Despite the serious implications for U.S. foreign policy and American democracy, such investigations of foreign lobbying have been few and far between. Perhaps the most far-reaching official probe was launched by Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman J. William Fulbright in 1963, led by special counsel Walter Pincus, who went on to a long career as an investigative reporter at the Washington Post. Among other things, the hearings exposed the lucrative, secretive work of lobbyists for various Caribbean nations to jack up U.S. purchases of their sugar exports at above-market prices. Their efforts put millions of dollars in the pockets of ruthless dictators like Rafael Trujillo of the Dominican Republic.

After Trujillo’s assassination in 1961, his former intelligence chief disclosed that Trujillo bought the votes of leading members of Congress for a bigger sugar quota with millions of dollars in bribes and the services of prostitutes. Those members of Congress went unprosecuted, but the Kennedy Justice Department nailed Hearst society columnist Igor Cassini — brother of the First Lady’s favorite dress designer — for acting as an unregistered agent of the Trujillo regime. Three years earlier, the head of the Mutual Broadcasting System pleaded no contest to charges of accepting $750,000 from Trujillo to act as another unregistered agent.

Unmasking the Pro-Israel Lobby

In 1962, the Justice Department also took rare aim at the pro-Israel lobby by forcing the American Zionist Council, formed in 1949 as a tax-exempt umbrella of American Jewish groups, to register as a foreign agent. Weeks later, supporters did an end run by folding AZC and incorporating the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) to continue acting as a de facto lobby — but without Israeli money and without filing as a foreign agent.

Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton addressing the AIPAC conference in Washington D.C. on March 21, 2016. (Photo credit: AIPAC)

The Fulbright committee did not drop the case, however. It subpoenaed records of the AZC and determined that it had been “ostensibly controlled by American citizens but had its budget approved in Jerusalem.” Over a period of eight years, the committee learned, AZC took more than $5 million from the Jewish Agency, a semi-official arm of the Israeli government, to disseminate pro-Israeli propaganda in the United States.

Grant Smith, a pioneering researcher on the origins of the pro-Israel lobby, has asked “what might be different today if AIPAC in particular had been properly registered under the Act.”

“When AIPAC director Morris Amitay was caught red-handed mishandling classified missile secrets in 1975, he could have been prosecuted under FARA. When AIPAC and an Israeli diplomat purloined the entire 300-page book of classified trade secrets compiled from 70 U.S. industry groups opposed to unilateral trade concessions for Israel in 1984, they could have been prosecuted for failing to report their clandestine subversion of due process. When in 2005 [AIPAC officials] Steven J. Rosen and Keith Weissman met with Israeli diplomats during efforts to pass classified information to the press they thought could trigger a U.S attack on Iran, FARA consequences would have awaited them all.

“However, because the U.S. Department of Justice has unilaterally abrogated its responsibility to enforce FARA, people, ideas, money and propaganda campaigns continue to secretly slosh freely between Tel Aviv and Israeli fronts in America with taxpayer funds thrown into the toxic brew.”

The issue of foreign agents and their role in U.S. politics resurfaced as a major issue in 2016, with speculation about Russian connections to the Trump campaign and reports of possible FARA violations by Trump’s campaign manager and chief foreign policy adviser. The American people are long overdue for another Fulbright-style investigation into foreign lobbies and the adequacy of current enforcement measures. To highlight some of the critical issues at stake, over the next few days will publish a series of articles on some of the workings of lobbyists, pressure groups and agents working on behalf of Taiwan, Israel, Saudi Arabia, Turkey, and Ukraine.

Next: The China Lobby

Jonathan Marshall is a regular contributor to

49 comments for “The Open Secret of Foreign Lobbying

  1. bluto
    May 20, 2017 at 23:12

    ‘The American people are long overdue for another Fulbright-style investigation into foreign lobbies and … the workings of lobbyists, pressure groups and agents working on behalf of Taiwan, Israel, Saudi Arabia, Turkey, and Ukraine’

    fantastic work! go get em Grant Smith


  2. backwardsevolution
    May 20, 2017 at 04:18

    Interesting interview of Alan Dershowitz by Tucker Carlson. Dershowitz (who voted for Hillary) says: “I just don’t see a crime here.” Have a listen to this five-minute video:

  3. Bubba O'Hara
    May 20, 2017 at 00:00

    Russia-gate has focused attention on requirements for U.S. citizens acting as “foreign agents” to register with the Justice Department, but these rules have been sporadically or selectively enforced for decades


    The Zionist, Charles “Chuck” Schumer, never fails to note his last name means Shomer — “Guardian” in Hebrew. He repeatedly states his main priority is advancing Israel’s interests.

    The Zionist, Mark Kirk, goes even further. He states his entire reason for being in Congress is to advance the cause of Israel.

    • backwardsevolution
      May 20, 2017 at 02:17

      Bubba – I keep saying that the Zionists in the U.S. are a country within a country. They control the U.S. and yet their allegiance is to another country. When you’ve got a wife in one country and a mistress in another, that never makes for a strong bond because it’s based on a lie. Old Confucius saying: you can’t have a foot in both doors.

  4. CitizenOne
    May 19, 2017 at 22:55

    Note to Moderator: You can delete the duplicate post in “How NSA Can Secretly Aid Criminal Cases”. I was posting to the wrong article.

    Regarding foreign lobbying and open secrets which deals with the narrative placed in front of our faces by the media about how the Russians influenced the election and how that is not unique to the Russians or this election, I have a thought we may be having the wool pulled over our eyes by the “Russia thing”

    While we are all being led by the nose and pushed into looking at foreign sources of election influence there are sources of domestic election influence that are not being talked about by the main stream press. Something is gaining wings to limit free speech and grant the wealthy the ability to influence unduly elections and other laws right here at home. No foreign enemy required.

    We are being misled on a mission to go find the foreign bad guys that stole the election but this also has the effect of providing a convenient excuse for the media to ignore other stories about things that are happening right now to give domestic sources of election influencing power even greater power

    For example:
    Has anyone considered the effect of ending Net Neutrality will have on the ability of wealthy domestic entities to influence elections will have?

    The FCC voted on 5/18/2017 (this Thursday) to begin the process of ending Net Neutrality which prohibits ISPs (Internet Service Providers) from deciding what content they will and will not provide. If you think that the media is complicit in failing to inform us all about real news and has abandoned the fifth estate in favor of commercial self censorship to please their customers which by the way are not citizens but are big corporate advertisers then you should be concerned about the real possibility that the internet will turn into the same self censored source of only the information which the current major players in the mass media control.

    FCC Commissioner Ajit Pai who was a former Verizon Lawyer has released a new regulatory proposal called “Restoring Internet Freedom” which critics have renamed “Destroying Internet Freedom”. It argues the preventing internet service providers like Verizon from being able to charge for admission to the information superhighway the ISPs free speech rights are being violated.

    This is a very popular theme and every major sector of industry has proponents in Washington all crying out that their corporate sponsors are being denied free speech rights.

    Mitch McConnell has argued that Humana Healthcare should not be denied their free speech rights to call up senior citizens and tell them the government is trying to take their healthcare away in an effort to gin up a grass roots revolt against the governments decision to reduce the block grants that the government gives healthcare insurance companies which are allowed to provide disbursements for medicare but at twice the average profit that were traditionally realized by private non government funded insurance companies.

    Obama lashed out and threatened to cut the government contracts for block grants arguing that by signing onto government subsidies, healthcare insurance providers were essentially employees of the government and could not legally wage a propaganda war against their employer any more than an employee who sets up a Facebook page with all kinds of derogatory stuff about their employer can be fired by their employer. Your employer basically pays you not only to do work but to be a representative of the company.

    Free speech was also at the heart of the Citizens United vs. the FEC and McCutcheon vs. FEC Supreme Court rulings which decided that limits on campaign donations by corporations and wealthy individuals violated their free speech rights.

    These initiatives serve to enable the wealthiest people and corporations to have the greatest impact on elections based on the principle that money is equivalent to speech. The first deconstruction part is the deconstruction of democracy and its replacement with an oligarchy and the second is gutting internet regulations which prohibit ISPs from charging for access to have your voice heard.

    Self Censorship of Free Speech guaranteed by the Constitution for all citizens will allow only wealthy individuals and corporations to have it.

    Your Congress “Representatives” are representing the lobbyists and not you. No foreign Coup required. Our Supreme Court and Congress and now our President (who hired Ajit Pai) are conspiring to deny citizens the right to freely express their voice while ensuring that an unlimited bank roll will guarantee that the richest entities will have the greatest effect on elections.

    If you are upset about the prospect, there are a number of petitions you can send to the FCC. It is not likely to have any effect on Ajit Pai who describes his role to defend the public interest as head of the Federal Communications Commission as a fight that he is “in it to win it” for the ISPs. Such a nakedly pro corporate stance coming from an appointee of Trump should not be surprising and the ramifications of it for free speech on the internet by folks like us are real and serious.

    We are all, including this website, being funneled into a narrative which pre-concludes that the only investigation worth investigating is the Russians which has fairly well been covered.

    What I am suggesting is that perhaps the Russian stuff is all just a rouse to distract us away from what just happened and is about to happen right here at home which will make Russia look like the Land of the Free compared to the USA.

    Self Censorship of the internet by the giant corporations that grant us access to it is right around the corner. Better wake up and check it out.

  5. Abe
    May 19, 2017 at 22:10

    After Trump’s controversial firing of FBI Director James Comey in May 2017, former Senator Joseph Lieberman, regarded as the “Republicans’ favorite Democrat” because of his neoconservative foreign affairs agenda, was identified as a leading candidate for the post. Lieberman currently works for an American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) affiliated lobbying organization.

    Right Web, a site that tracks militarists’ efforts to influence U.S. foreign policy, recently updated its entry on Lieberman:

    Lieberman—who promised during his Senate career that he would never become a lobbyist – has worked as a lobbyist since retiring fro the Senate. Lieberman’s lobbying efforts form part of his work as senior counsel for Kasowitz Benson Torres & Friedman, a national law firm Lieberman joined in June 2013 and whose lobbying operation is headed by Lieberman’s former chief of staff. As of 2017, Lieberman was listed as being “senior counsel” at the law firm.

    Opposition to Iran Diplomacy

    Lieberman actively advocated against the nuclear negotiations between Iran and six world powers, which led to the historic July 2015 agreement between Tehran and the P5+1 group of nations. He argued that “no deal” with Iran would have been a better option for the United States than a “bad deal.” He wrote in a July 2014 op-ed: “Rather than being a defeat for the United States, a refusal to accept a bad deal in Vienna could strengthen the Obama administration at home and abroad. It would help rebuild its bruised credibility and influence in the Middle East and hopefully increase the odds that the administration can ultimately achieve the goal of peacefully, verifiably bolting the door on Iran’s illicit nuclear ambitions.”

    Lieberman also strongly defended Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s controversial March 2015 speech to Congress criticizing the Obama administration’s negotiations with Iran. Leading up to the speech, Lieberman urged Democratic members of Congress to not skip Netanyahu’s address, saying: “Go because you know that Israel is one of our closest and most steadfast allies and you feel a responsibility to listen to its leader speak about developments that he believes could threaten the safety, independence and even existence of his country.”

    In a March 2015 interview shortly before Netanyahu’s speech, Lieberman argued that Netanyahu wished to address Congress because he saw “echoes” of British Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain in President Obama’s approach to Iran. “I think there are echoes of this that I think Netanyahu hears and we ought to all hear so that we don’t repeat the worst experiences of history,” Lieberman opined.

    After the comprehensive nuclear deal was reached with Iran in July 2015, Lieberman claimed that the United States had “conceded and conceded and conceded” to Iran and urged members of Congress to revoke the agreement. “I can’t think of a vote that I cast, apart from the ones deploying American troops into combat, that was as important as this agreement is to the future security of the United States,” Lieberman declared.

    Shortly after the deal was announced, Lieberman joined the advisory board of a new AIPAC-backed lobbying organization, Citizens for a Nuclear Free Iran (CNFI). CNFI launched a multi-million dollar ad campaign against the Iran deal that was primarily aimed at Democratic constituencies in an effort to get Democratic votes in Congress to reject the deal. CNFI’s board of advisors has included several former Democratic members of Congress, including former Sens. Evan Bayh (IN), Mark Begich (AK), Mary Landrieu (LA), and former Rep. Shelley Berkley (NV). CNFI’s TV ads released after the July 2015 accords were described by prominent nuclear experts as “very misleading.”

    After he became chairman of UANI in August 2015, Lieberman was appointed the chairman of the Sheldon Adelson-backed United Against Nuclear Iran (UANI), a UANI press release said that “Senator Lieberman will play a key leadership role throughout UANI’s efforts to educate and inform the American public regarding the serious shortcomings of the Iran nuclear deal.” Commented one writer: “For those who are noting the overlap between Iraq war promoters and Iran deal saboteurs, Lieberman is your man.”

    • susan sunflower
      May 19, 2017 at 22:55

      I wonder if Lieberman can get confirmed …. my memory of his (aside from policy) is that he’s SUCH a sanctimonious hardliner — and believes himself and his example are beyond reproach — that I’m guessing there are few who will bother to claim to “like” him personally … leaving Comey in the shade wrt sanctimony …. Apparently Trump has some ties to the firm Leiberman works for now which may disqualify Lieberman on predictable “conflict” grounds (without the drama and time waste of confirmation hearings)

      • Bill Bodden
        May 20, 2017 at 11:58

        I wonder if Lieberman can get confirmed …. my memory of his (aside from policy) is that he’s SUCH a sanctimonious hardliner —

        Lieberman in charge of the FBI would thrill the Israelis and take some pressure of their spies in Washington. As for getting Lieberman confirmed the Israel lobby will give a majority of senators instructions to guarantee Lieberman’s appointment – and their betrayal.

      • Gregory Herr
        May 20, 2017 at 13:28

        Your use of “sanctimonious” as a descriptor for Lieberman reminds me his “scolding” of Bill Clinton in 1998 from the floor of the Senate. One of the reasons I was turned off by the Gore campaign in 2000 was his choice of running mate.
        John McCain and his boyfriend like Lieberman. That tells me something.

    • Zachary Smith
      May 20, 2017 at 00:05

      I remarked to a friend earlier today that if Trump nominates Lieberman that I’m going to have to deduce he (Trump) has some undiagnosed mental illness.

      Speaking of fake Democrats, I’m getting to be more and more disgusted with the whole bunch of them. During the Bush era I really did believe that the Dems were a cut above in terms of morality and intelligence, and the fact neither of these is true is becoming more and more apparent. Republican politicians are still scum, but they’re just a slightly different shade of color than their Democratic counterparts.

      Lobbying may not be the same as buying influence, but foreign governments were paying boatloads of money to the Clinton Foundation to curry favor with the corrupt *****.

      Finally, I liked the focus on Israel in this piece. That little cesspool of a nation has been getting away with metaphorical murder of the US electoral system in the US in the same way as it has gotten a pass on its physical murders in the stolen “Holy” lands.

      • mike k
        May 20, 2017 at 07:08

        If extreme stupidity qualifies one as mentally ill, Trump certainly fits the bill. How he can constantly shoot himself in the foot and other parts, and still be standing, makes me believe he has a strong zombie aspect to his bizarre makeup.

      • Bill Bodden
        May 20, 2017 at 12:12

        That little cesspool of a nation has been getting away with metaphorical murder …

        That little cesspool of a nation has also been getting away with real murder with the United States Congress approving Operation Cast Lead and Operation Protective Edge that resulted in two more mass slaughters of Palestinians.

        It is an interesting sign of moral decadence and mind-boggling hypocrisy on the part of the United States that Anthony Wiener could get ten years in the slammer for sending sex-oriented texts to a teenager (fair enough), but we have hundreds of politicians in Congress that approved illegal wars that resulted in the deaths, maiming and displacement of millions of people and they keep getting reelected to their offices where they can continue their barbarism. Much the same can be said of former presidents and leading members of their administrations and the mainstream media.

        Perhaps Einstein’s definition of insanity applies.

      • Realist
        May 21, 2017 at 03:34

        The Democrats in congress are just a token opposition to the hard line crazies in the GOP. They fight to win about as hard as the Washington Generals did against the Harlem Globetrotters. When one gets elected president, he immediately adopts all the conservative Republican policy he had campaigned against. It’s a quaint system of de-facto one party rule. I think the Commies in the Soviet Union were less blatant about it.

    • mike k
      May 20, 2017 at 07:03

      Lieberman (the love part of his name is such a misnomer) is one of the most disgusting beings on this planet.

  6. CitizenOne
    May 19, 2017 at 20:18

    There are lots of open secrets. Open secrets are things like Dick Cheney fretting about how unless there was a new Pearl Harbor to galvanize support for his plan for preemptive war in PNACs 1997 Plan for a 21st Century Military called:

    Strategy, Forces and Resources
    For a New Century”

    On page 51 of the document it states:

    “Further, the process of transformation,
    even if it brings revolutionary change, is
    likely to be a long one, absent some
    catastrophic and catalyzing event – like a
    new Pearl Harbor.”
    That was in 1997 one year after the “inspirational” first bombing of the twin towers which obviously got got some psychopaths imagination going.
    Even though they openly advocated for preemptive war in Iraq, this angle was never explored.
    PNAC like the Carlyle Group are never mentioned at all in the MSM. It is an open secret.
    Those who stood the most to profit and gain from allowing a bunch of terrorists with no interest in learning how to land to learn how to fly jumbo jets while frantic FAA trainers notified the FBI which was told by CIA to just let it go were never even hinted at from the press. Absolute silence. Open secrets abound all over the place. They are like holes in the Matrix. Places where there should be something there but there is nothing. PBS did a Frontline Documentary about how the 9/11 plot was uncovered by a relentless FBI Agent but was rebuffed and ultimately sacrificed at his new job as head of security at the twin towers. He died there.

    George Bush sat there looking frozen in front of a kindergarten class like he was thinking “holy crap. Dick was right. I’m gonna be a War president”

    Open secrets are all around us.

    The medias biggest sin is the sin of omission. They just won’t talk about what they don’t want you to know and they blather endlessly on about fake news.

    Hopefully we are seeing that a whole bunch of folks just checked out over the FBI/Russia thing. Vast swaths of Americans are just turning off the TV and walking away.

    Liberals are betraying their own prime complaints against the Clinton’s by trying to hop onto the fake news train and ride it to Hell and back. With astonishingly revealing and insightful headlines such as ” FBI and DOJ now looking at a person inside the White House” as though the mere presence of an individual in the disgraced lodging of the President is corrupting in and of itself.

    No shit Sherlock. Would you expect them to explore the craters on the Moon instead? Let me know when you have something and until that point STFU.

    I really hope that America just turns out the lights on the media. Sure Trump has so many issues it would take an army of psychologists to decipher him he is the President.

    Who has done more to risk war with Russia? Shouldn’t that be looked at? I would say Obama and the Media before I would say Trump. Does that count for nothing? Is doing business with Russians illegal?

    Are the Saudis really our friends and are the Russians really our enemies? The media will tell you what to think and you will think it so hard you will go and die for it and send your kids to go and die for it. What is wrong with us? The media. Duh?

    • BannanaBoat
      May 19, 2017 at 21:33

      Saudi government , ( as H acknowledged to Podesta in Phished, not hacked email, before she sold billions of arms to Saudis to destroy Yemen and get $50 million dollar kickback from Saudis for Clinton Foundation) finances Da-esh , whereas Russia destroys Da-esh.

    • mike k
      May 20, 2017 at 07:16

      Right on. Beautifully expressed. When will these sleepers awaken? Probably never. The silent majority leads us by not leading to our doom….. “But the TV is so soothing….”

    • Gregory Herr
      May 21, 2017 at 08:12

      The flight school training was for single-engine planes, and a couple of the supposed hijackers could barely fly those.

  7. backwardsevolution
    May 19, 2017 at 18:33

    Jonathan Marshall – good article.

    “The Atlantic Council’s major funders include the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain, several Turkish entities, the Ukrainian World Congress, Kazakhstan, and several of the biggest U.S. defense corporations. Yet good luck finding any such disclosures at the end of the many op-ed columns its staff publish in the Washington Post and other outlets on relevant issues of U.S. foreign policy.”

    Good point. There absolutely should be disclosure.

  8. turk151
    May 19, 2017 at 18:13

    Blaming Turkey for lobbying the US, is like blaming the shop keeper for paying for Al Capone’s protection services.

  9. Drew Hunkins
    May 19, 2017 at 17:32

    Sorry to be off topic, but yesterday the US military directly attacked Syrian soldiers in Syria. It was the first time Washington ever deliberately targeted and killed Syrian soldiers in Syria.

    Utter. Madness.

    A thought experiment that any literate 5th grader could conduct: imagine for a moment if, say, the Iranian air force decided to fly over to rural Kansas and deliberately target and liquidate a handful of U.S. soldiers who happened to be stationed in Kansas, or some other Great Plains state. Of course we’d be on the verge of nuclear war by tonight.

    It’s mind blowing how many Americans simply cannot apply Kant’s categorical imperative to all sorts of issues involving Washington’s empire and military killing machine.

    • mike k
      May 19, 2017 at 18:34

      The ‘Golden Rule’ (in its positive form) says: “Treat others how you wish to be treated”. Kant’s first formulation of his Categorical Imperative says: “Act only in accordance with that maxim through which you can at the same time will that it become a universal law.” (google0

      This maxim is like Augustine’s “Love and do as you will.” If more of us would try to follow these suggestions, it would result in an entirely different world. How to effect this change of heart in more people is actually our most pressing, and yet most difficult challenge. Reminds me of Fermat’s last theorem: easy to state but almost impossible to prove.

    • BannanaBoat
      May 19, 2017 at 21:25

      May have been Syrian militia as opposed to regular Syrian army. Not first time, USA broke the cease fire a few months ago by bombing ( lyingly claiming they were unaware) regular Syrian troops and possibly Russian advisors ( Russians may have destroyed coalition intell position with 30 coalition intell officiers in retaliation) . The USA air attack coordinated and facilitated jihadis capturing a strategic airfield. But you are correct to be extremely alarmed.

    • Gregory Herr
      May 20, 2017 at 13:16

      Last September the U.S. military itself directly targeted Syrian soldiers. They lied, of course, and called it a “mistake”. And since Washington supports the mercenaries who have been killing Syrian soldiers for six years, one could say that a deliberate war against the Syrian government and against the Syrian people is not new. But yes, more direct involvement by U.S. military is bad news.
      Many people wouldn’t know a moral imperative if it struck them in the face.

      • Realist
        May 20, 2017 at 15:24

        The major significance of this act is that we violated a prime precept of the United Nations to which we gave our oath to abide when we joined that organisation, namely, not to invade and commit unprovoked military aggression against another country, certainly not against its legitimately-recognised government. The United States just committed an act of unprovoked war.

        “The UN Charter reads in article 2(4):
        All members shall refrain in their international relations from the threat or use of force against the territorial integrity or political independence of any state, or in any other manner inconsistent with the purposes of the United Nations.

        Although some commentators interpret Article 2(4) as banning only the use of force directed at the territorial integrity or political independence of a state, the more widely held opinion is that these are merely intensifiers, and that the article constitutes a general prohibition, subject only to the exceptions stated in the Charter (self-defence and Chapter VII action by the Security Council). The latter interpretation is also supported by the historic context in which the Charter was drafted, the preamble specifically states that “to save succeeding generations from the scourge of war, which twice in our lifetime has brought untold sorrow to mankind” is a principal aim of the UN as such. This principle is now considered to be a part of customary international law, and has the effect of banning the use of armed force except for two situations authorized by the UN Charter.[2] Firstly, the Security Council, under powers granted in articles 24 and 25, and Chapter VII of the Charter, may authorize collective action to maintain or enforce international peace and security. Secondly, Article 51 also states that: “Nothing in the present Charter shall impair the inherent right to individual or collective self-defence if an armed attack occurs against a state.” There are also more controversial claims by some states of a right of humanitarian intervention, reprisals and the protection of nationals abroad.”

        Chapter VII of the founding charter of the United Nations (long):

        The bottom line is that the premeditated aerial attack by US forces on Syrian government forces was neither i) self defence or ii) authorised by the UN Security Council under Chapter VII of the UN charter. Hence, it was an illegitimate use of force, or what the world commonly calls “war.” Of course, the launching of 59 tomahawk missiles against the Syrian aerodrome several days earlier was also a technical act of war against the Syrian state by US military forces. If the UN takes no action to uphold the tenets of its charter, the document and the organisation will formally cease to have any relevance, even as it already de-facto has no powers. It might as well just fold its tent and go home if it will not even use words to defend its principles and raison d’etre.

        • Gregory Herr
          May 20, 2017 at 20:36

          So even the mere fact of U.S. forces operating on Syrian soil without Syrian permission (invasion, the threat of force) is a violation of the Charter. I agree that this direct, unprovoked act of war is a significant violation of an important principle….and I trust the Bolivians and a few others to point to this fact…but you are right, the U.N. as a whole needs to firm up or pack up.

  10. mike k
    May 19, 2017 at 17:28

    These are the times that try men’s souls. Too bad so many in DC come up empty in that department. Isn’t that the definition of a zombie?

  11. Mark Thomason
    May 19, 2017 at 16:54

    They may not have been registered, but those allowed to go unregistered were known. They were excused as a matter of policy from the requirements of law, as with all things Israel.

    That is not the same as secret. Open secret is not secret, it is just privilege.

    • backwardsevolution
      May 19, 2017 at 18:55

      Mark – yes, privilege. Good point.

  12. Kalen
    May 19, 2017 at 16:14

    Lobbying is de-facto collusion and the unchallenged leader of massive collusion of US government is AIPAC for decades now, even Obama had to submit even if he hated Netanyahu and feeling was mutual still money poured to Israel and Palestinians were murdered, maimed and robbed and instead two state solution at borders of before1967 June 6, Obama acquiesced to neo-colonial solution of Transjordan colony with Gaza bantustan.

  13. MrK
    May 19, 2017 at 16:13

    The National Endowment for Democracy is famous for “doing overtly what the CIA used to do covertly”, which is fund foreign political parties and magazines, etc.

    Nowadays George Soros’ Open Society is even more anti-democratic, overruling existing government institutions and subverting popular protests.

  14. Joe Tedesky
    May 19, 2017 at 16:12

    Thank you Jonathan Marshall for this article. There are times when people here on this comment board, because they criticize the charges made against Trump for his Russian connections or his having no connections to the Kremlin, are interpreted as being Trump supporters. Although some comments may favor Trump I think more so the comments are meant to be critical of the Russian interference charges, and the comments are only asking why only be critical of Russia for putting in it’s two cents worth of influence?

    I say there should be no foreign influence into our government politics, but then there could be another way of we were to make it a must where the influences should be in clear sight. In other words make it legal, but make it where authors, and columnist, need to post a disclaimer to who they represent.

    In our U.S. Government it is more than amazing to how much influence Israel has. I know that in America’s past other nations have had a lot of influence, but I can’t think of a time when that outside influence benefited the American people in any way. The U.S. should have never fought in WWI, and possibly not in WWII. George Washington warned against these foreign entanglements, and he stood by his ideology on this subject, as he refused to get involved on the French side against the English.

    Until this outside influence is gone out of our American political scene nothing of any good will happen. So be gone outside influences, and take the Military/Security Industrial Complex with you…oh and would somebody please get us Americans a responsible and objective news media?

    Here is a article by Mike Whitney who quotes Robert Parry a lot about the Seth Rich investigation:

    • mike k
      May 19, 2017 at 17:26

      Thanks for the link Joe. Mike Whitney’s article is a real eye opener. He is one of my favorite investigative journalists.

    • Realist
      May 20, 2017 at 03:26

      I dunno, Joe. I might argue that, since America sticks its snoot into the affairs and governance of every other country on the planet, to the point of even using or threatening to use military force against those poor saps, every and any other country should have the right to express its political opinions both outside and within the borders of the United States. Let the Russians, the Iranians, the Chinese and even the most radical Islamists like ISIS take out full page ads in American newspapers or two-minute commercial segments on network television and attempt to make their case. Sadly, they would never be sold the space or the time by the media which are just propaganda tools of the corporatist state. Why is it that “freedom” loving America is so afraid of mere words and ideas? Is it because the powers that control the place know that it is basically a fraud, propped up by lies that become quite transparent when people are actually exposed to them?

      Russia would never do so, because they are smart enough to know that the attempt would backfire on them–essentially because no one likes to take advice, especially not Americans; but why should they not be allowed to publicly state in an ad or commercial, for example, “we prefer Donald Trump for president because he wants to make peace, not war, with our country?” Obviously, that would alienate Hillary voters (and Hillary), so they’d never do it (and yet they are accused of it). But, if they wanted to, why should it be a crime?

      Obama could waltz into Britain and tell the people there not to vote for Brexit. Later he could stick his face into France and tell the folks to make sure that Marine LePenn does not win the election. Of course, he could also go waltzing all around Europe squealing that Russia is trying to steal the election in Germany, in France, in the country of the month club! They are trying to destroy NATO and the EU, then on to Washington itself! All masterminded by that insufferable tyrant Vladimir Putin! It would be terrible if America’s loyal vassals lost the tiniest bit of influence. What absolute unvarnished insanity. How ever do Americans manage to keep the plots straight in their high-minded intellectually-challenging television sit-coms and action movies (now spiced throughout with George Carlin’s seven forbidden words)?

      • Joe Tedesky
        May 20, 2017 at 10:31

        Yeah, just post a disclaimer to identify to who is advocating for whom.

      • Gregory Herr
        May 20, 2017 at 12:59

        An acquaintance with history, current events, and that faculty of mind known as “reason” would do a people some good. But absorption with the inanities of television and consumerism seems to be far too enticing for many, and no “thirst” for knowledge or understanding that does not reinforce self-serving or “comfortable” views is allowed to crack the nut open to see what’s really there.
        I suppose I should never have hoped or expected more from a society that produces cheerleading for “shock and awe”, for the idea that another’s society must be destroyed in order to “save” it…or that produces people who implore the government to “keep their hands off my Medicare”.

  15. susan sunflower
    May 19, 2017 at 14:18

    Thanks! for this and, in advance, for the series… much needed.
    I have wondered how and even if Manafort’s apparent financial (if not ideological) trangressions compare to the number big name other high level lobbyists of his caliber and connections. The peculiarities and timing of Panama Papers coming to mind … so hard to know if it’s “chickens coming home to roost” or some insanely clever other-adendaed network of influence (e.g. internecine warfare of one team against the other) … There so much evidence of such poor communications and planning (and so much competition) some diabolical organized plot seems unlikely to me (and “obvious” to others)

  16. mike k
    May 19, 2017 at 13:57

    Did anyone ever seriously believe that the criminal money/power addicts of the world would respect national boundaries or the flimsy laws supposed to restrain their activities, but actually designed to afford no problem for those interested in bypassing them? Global capitalism laughs at these futile fig leaves….

  17. May 19, 2017 at 13:52

    “ Foreign Lobbying” could be just another part of, or name for the New World Order. It is no secret that the so-called “elites” have a plan for the world. See link below with much info.
    “Is there an open conspiracy to control the world’?

  18. Cal
    May 19, 2017 at 13:45

    ‘ The American people are long overdue for another Fulbright-style investigation into foreign lobbies and the adequacy of current enforcement measures.”

    Damn right !!!

    “” To highlight some of the critical issues at stake, over the next few days will publish a series of articles on some of the workings of lobbyists, pressure groups and agents working on behalf of Taiwan, Israel, Saudi Arabia, Turkey, and Ukraine.’


    ps –don’t forget to add India’s lobby and how AIPAC helped set it up in return for the India-Isr alliance.

    • Peter Loeb
      May 21, 2017 at 11:25

      REALLY CAL…???

      “…‘The American people are long overdue for another Fulbright-style investigation
      into foreign lobbies and the adequacy of current enforcement measures.”

      The minority Leader of the Senate, Chuck Schumer (D-NY) supports AIPAC in
      all its endeavors.One hundred US Senators voted to support Israel in
      everything.(A total. Bar none!)

      When Fullbright mentioned that it was an issue as to AIPAC’s lobbying,
      he mysteriously lost his bid for re-election to the Senate to a candidate
      with heavy support from…?? Fullbright was beaten.

      The same electoral story is repeated over and over, regardless
      of party.

      That is the way lobbying is done in both houses of Congress. It
      is effective. A serving member sometimes questions a lobby but
      when that happens it is at his/her own peril. Providing the lobby
      has the financial resources to remove opponents from office.

      Other means of pressure can be effective. I have myself sparked
      these in the past. Such campaigns —emails, telephone calls,
      letters etc.—are often extremely effective but are not as absolutely
      determinant as the threat of non-election.

      —-Peter Loeb, Boston, MA, USA

  19. Tom Welsh
    May 19, 2017 at 13:10

    “… investigations into Moscow’s alleged efforts to influence the 2016 election and the new administration”.

    Has anyone asked any questions about Washington’s “efforts” to influence elections and administrations in other countries? Or even the number of foreign national leaders who have been murdered by, or at the behest, of Washington?

    “Americans have invaded nearly half the world’s countries and been militarily involved with all the rest, except Andorra, Bhutan and Liechtenstein. Christopher Kelly and Stuart Laycock take you on a global tour of America’s military activity around the world from the halls of Montezuma to the shores of Tripoli and everywhere in-between”.

    For a more detailed (and stomach-turning) account, try

    • Sam F
      May 19, 2017 at 18:15

      It is significant that the US has such an extensive worldwide history of assassinations and revolutions based upon ill-considered speculation on its own security, with many such efforts in progress. No wonder that it fears that others might do the same, and hopes to distract the public from its own crimes. Despite the Constitution permitting no foreign wars, the US has such a deep and abiding concern for self-determination that it is the only nation to threaten to militarily attack the Hague if its personnel are prosecuted by the ICC for war crimes.

      If we restricted funding of elections and mass media to limited individual contributions, and required all political party communications to be done via public servers, monitored all federal officials and their relatives and associates for corruption, and made any attempt to buy or accept influence a life-sentence felony, democracy could be restored.

      • BannanaBoat
        May 19, 2017 at 21:11

        Most USA attacks are for materil gain, security or humanitarianism are used as excuses.

      • Greg
        May 20, 2017 at 03:52

        That makes entirely too much sense!

    • May 19, 2017 at 19:51

      Two wrongs don’t make a right.

      • BannanaBoat
        May 19, 2017 at 21:14

        Is there proof of Russian intervention in the H disaater? If so what is it?

        • glitch
          May 20, 2017 at 11:51

          Proof! They haven’t even provided any evidence.

    • Bill Bodden
      May 19, 2017 at 19:56

      Has anyone asked any questions about Washington’s “efforts” to influence elections and administrations in other countries? Or even the number of foreign national leaders who have been murdered by, or at the behest, of Washington?

      This is what makes the Russia-interfered-with-our-election canard so mind-boggling. Only a national leadership and corporate media as hypocritical as what we have could rant on this topic as we have witnessed in the recent past.

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