How Congress ‘Learns’ About Russia

Hedge-fund operator William Browder helped plunder Russia’s riches – and renounced his U.S. citizenship – but is still treated as a great truth-teller by a credulous Congress, notes ex-CIA officer Philip Giraldi at The American Conservative.

By Philip Giraldi

A congressman once admitted to me that he and his colleagues know a lot of things, generally speaking, but their knowledge only “extends about one inch deep.” In other words, the briefings provided by staffers and in committees is intended to touch only on what is important to know to look well informed in front of the C-SPAN cameras without any unnecessary depth that would only create confusion.

Hedge-fund executive William Browder in a 2015 deposition.

And the information provided must generally conform to what the congressmen already believe to be true and want to hear so no one will be embarrassed.

That such ignorance would be particularly notable in the realm of foreign policy should surprise no one because congressmen as a group are no longer very well educated. Few speak foreign languages and no one any longer studies the history or culture of any country but the United States, and sometimes not even that.

Some Congressmen nevertheless boast about all the countries they have visited to “fact find.” They fail to recognize how they travel in a bubble, whisked to foreign lands via military aircraft on the virtually worthless congressional delegations known as CODELS. On these trips, spouses go shopping while American legislators are briefed by the ambassador’s staff and the CIA station, both of which, for budget reasons, are more interested in demonstrating what a wonderful job they are doing rather than explaining the complexity of the local situation.

And that is followed by the obligatory visit to listen to the local head of state lie about how everything is going just fine in his country. Given the reality of garbage in, garbage out, it is no wonder that buffoons like Senators John McCain and Lindsey Graham are lauded as foreign-policy experts in the Republican Party. It’s called setting the bar really low.

For a Congress intent on appearing to be doing something while doing nothing, one of the worst time wasters is the committee hearing, where the senators and congressmen call in “experts” to explain to them why a certain policy is either worthwhile or useless. Of course, it usually doesn’t exactly play out that way, as the committee generally wants to hear testimony that supports its preconceptions about whatever is being discussed, so it only invites those to the party who will say what it wants to hear.

One-sided Hearings

To cite only one of many examples of Congress’s unwillingness to listen to any opinion that might challenge the establishment view, a February 16 hearing by the House Foreign Affairs Committee entitled “Iran on Notice” featured four “experts,” all of whom were hostile to Iran and advocates of “solutions” ranging from actively encouraging regime change to using military force. No one knowledgeable enough to explain Iran’s behavior and/or offer non-confrontational approaches was invited or asked to participate.

Film director Andrei Nekrasov, who produced “The Magnitsky Act: Behind the Scenes.”

I have been closely following some recent hearings that relate to Russia, most particularly the Senate Judiciary session that was supposed to look into the issue of registry under the Foreign Agents Registration Act of 1938 for Russian agents. The hearing, which started on July 26, and was extended to the following day, was entitled “Oversight of the Foreign Agents Registration Act and Attempts to Influence U.S. Elections: Lessons Learned from Current and Prior Administrations.”

The first day’s session included statements by three Justice Department and FBI officials regarding how the FARA legislation is enforced and how presumed violations of it are investigated. There were some specific comments and questions from individual senators regarding Russian and Saudi government attempts to influence opinion in the United States, but little in the way of drama.

The second day was for additional “expert testimony.” It consisted of billionaire hedge-fund director William Browder, who read a prepared statement and then responded to questions. (Video of the statement and the following discussion are available here, with Browder beginning at minute 24.) Browder, who clearly has his own agenda to debunk a film made last year attacking him and a narrative about a former employee Sergei Magnitsky that he has been promoting, was embraced by the senators, who should have known better.

Veteran award-winning journalist Robert Parry describes what took place: “…last week, Senate Judiciary Committee members sat in rapt attention as hedge-fund operator William Browder wowed them with a reprise of his Magnitsky tale and suggested that people who have challenged the narrative and those who dared air the documentary one time at Washington’s Newseum last year should be prosecuted for violating the Foreign Agent Registration Act (FARA).”

Browder’s Tall Tales

Not even one senator challenged William Browder’s sometimes extraordinary claims about Russia’s government in general and its President Vladimir Putin in particular, including that Putin is the richest man in the world due to all the money that he has stolen.

Russian President Vladimir Putin addresses UN General Assembly on Sept. 28, 2015. (UN Photo)

As Browder appears to be seeking to use FARA to punish those who have criticized him or even watched a movie about him based on the assumption that they must be Russian agents, he might well be regarded as not exactly a disinterested source providing objective information about Russia and its government.

American-born British citizen Browder has been the principal promoter of a narrative about Russian government malfeasance relating to his former employee Sergei Magnitsky, who, Browder claims, was a courageous whistleblower who was falsely arrested after exposing corruption and eventually died in a Moscow prison after being tortured.

Browder’s energetic promotion of the Magnitsky story has poisoned relations with Moscow and led to the passage of the Magnitsky Act by Congress in 2012. Russia rightly has seen the legislation, which includes sanctions on some officials, as unwarranted interference in the operation of its judicial system.

Browder astutely portrays himself as a human-rights campaigner dedicated to promoting the legacy of Magnitsky, but his own biography is inevitably much more complicated than that. The grandson of Earl Browder, the former general secretary of the American Communist Party, William Browder studied economics at the University of Chicago, and obtained an MBA from Stanford.

From the beginning, Browder concentrated on Eastern Europe, which was beginning to open up to the west. In 1989 he took a position at highly respected Boston Consulting Group dealing with reviving failing Polish socialist enterprises. He then worked as an Eastern Europe analyst for Robert Maxwell, the unsavory British press magnate and Mossad spy, before joining the Russia team at Wall Street’s Salomon Brothers in 1992.

He left Salomon in 1996 and partnered with Edmond Safra, the controversial Lebanese-Brazilian-Jewish banker who died under mysterious circumstances in a fire in 1999, to set up Hermitage Capital Management Fund. Hermitage is registered in tax havens Guernsey and the Cayman Islands.

It is a hedge fund that was focused on “investing” in Russia, taking advantage initially of the loans-for-shares scheme under Boris Yeltsin, and then continuing to profit greatly during the early years of Vladimir Putin’s ascendancy. By 2005 Hermitage was the largest foreign investor in Russia.

Browder had renounced his U.S. citizenship in 1997 and became a British citizen apparently to avoid American taxes, which are levied on worldwide income.

In his book, Red Notice: A True Story of High Finance, Murder and One Man’s Fight for Justice, he depicts himself as an honest and honorable Western businessman attempting to function in a corrupt Russian business world. That may or may not be true, but the loans-for-shares scheme that made him his initial fortune has been correctly characterized as the epitome of corruption, an arrangement whereby foreign “investors” worked with local oligarchs to strip the former Soviet economy of its assets paying pennies on each dollar of value. Along the way, Browder was reportedly involved in making false representations on official documents and bribery.

As a consequence of what came to be known as the Magnitsky scandal, Browder was eventually charged by the Russian authorities for fraud and tax evasion. He was banned from reentering Russia in 2005, even before Magnitsky died, and began to withdraw his assets from the country. Three companies controlled by Hermitage were eventually seized by the authorities, though it is not clear if any of their assets remained in Russia. Browder himself was convicted of tax evasion in absentia in 2013 and sentenced to nine years in prison.

Browder has assiduously, and mostly successfully, made his case that he and Magnitsky have been the victims of Russian corruption both during and since that time, though there have been credible skeptics, including Israel Shamir, who have dissected the sordid side to his rise to power and wealth.

Wielding Influence

Browder has reportedly used political contributions and threats of lawsuits filed by his battery of lawyers to popularize and sell his tale to leading American politicians like Senators John McCain and Ben Cardin, ex-Senator Joe Lieberman, as well as to a number of European parliamentarians and media outlets.

Sen. John McCain, R-Arizona, and then-Sen. Joe Lieberman, I-Connecticut, at a Capitol Hill news conference.

But there is, inevitably, another side to the story, something quite different, which documentary filmmaker Andrei Nekrasov, an outspoken critic of Russian President Vladimir Putin, presented to the viewer in his film The Magnitsky Act: Behind the Scenes.

The film has only been shown publicly once, at the Newseum in Washington on June 13, 2016 — a viewing that I attended, and that proceeded in spite of threats from Browder and attempted disruption by his supporters. Browder has characteristically used lawsuits and threats of still more legal action to intimidate numerous television stations in Europe and prevent additional showings.

Nekrasov discovered what he believed to be holes in the narrative about Magnitsky that had been carefully constructed and nurtured by Browder. He provides documents and also an interview with Magnitsky’s mother maintaining that there is no clear evidence that he was beaten or tortured and that he died instead due to the failure to provide him with medicine while in prison or treatment shortly after he had a heart attack.

A subsequent investigation ordered by then Russian President Dimitri Medvedev in 2011 confirmed that Magnitsky had not received medical treatment, contributing to this death, but could not demonstrate that he had been beaten even though there was suspicion that that might have been the case.

Nekrasov also claimed that much of the case against the Russian authorities is derived from English language translations of relevant documents provided by Browder himself. The actual documents sometimes say something quite different, including that Magnitsky is consistently referred to as an accountant, which he was, not as a lawyer, which he wasn’t. Browder calls him a lawyer because it better fits into his preferred narrative.

No Whistleblower

Magnitsky the accountant appears in the document of his deposition which was apparently part of a criminal investigation of possible tax fraud, meaning that he was no whistleblower and was instead a suspected criminal.

Sergei Magnitsky

Other discrepancies are cited by Nekrasov, who concludes that there was indeed a huge fraud related to Russian taxes but that it was not carried out by corrupt officials. Instead, it was deliberately ordered and engineered by Browder with Magnitsky, the accountant, personally developing and implementing the scheme used to carry out the deception.

To be sure, Browder and his international legal team have presented documents in the case that contradict much of what Nekrasov has presented in his film. It might be that Browder and Magnitsky have been the victims of a corrupt and venal state, but it just might be the other way around.

Having a highly politicized Congress and a vengeful Browder lining up against a conveniently unpopular Russian government just might suggest that one is hearing a narrative that peddles lies as much as it tells the truth.

The Senate just might consider looking more deeply into Browder’s business activities while in Russia before jumping to conclusions and bringing him in as an “expert” on anything.  He should not be given a free pass because he is saying things about Russia and Putin that fit neatly into a Washington establishment profile and make Senators smile and nod their heads.

As soon as folks named McCain, Cardin and Lieberman jump on a cause, it should be time to step back a bit and reflect on what the consequences of proposed action might be.

One might also ask why anyone who has a great deal to gain by having a certain narrative accepted should be completely and unquestionably trusted, the venerable Cui bono? standard. And then there is a certain evasiveness on the part of Browder, who notably makes outrageous claims about the Russians but does not do so under oath, where he might be subject to legal consequences for perjury.

The film shows him huffing and puffing to explain himself at times and he has avoided being served with subpoenas on allegations connected to the Magnitsky fraud that are making their way through American courts. In one case, he can be seen on YouTube running away from a server, somewhat unusual behavior if he has nothing to hide.

So, if you wonder why the United States Congress makes such bad decisions, it just might be due to the kind of information that it gets when it travels the world and holds hearings. Inviting a man who has renounced his U.S. citizenship to avoid paying taxes, who likely engaged in questionable business practices, and who very definitely has his own agenda, which includes vilifying the Kremlin, is hardly the way to go if one truly wants to understand Russia, particularly as no one participated in the hearing to rebut his claims.

And if fining American citizens or forcing them to register as enemy agents because they may have supported or gone to see a movie is reflective of that gentleman’s mindset, there is even more good reason to reject the snake oil that he might be selling.

Philip Giraldi, a former CIA officer, is executive director of the Council for the National Interest. [This article previously appeared at The American Conservative at http://www.theamericanconservative.com/articles/the-new-know-nothings-in-congress/ .]

 

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88 comments for “How Congress ‘Learns’ About Russia

  1. MaDarby
    August 9, 2017 at 9:19 am

    Again and again we keep getting sucked into the Trump/Russia discussions. Those trying their best to control the narrative and deflect attention to import underlying realities like water is seeping into every crack – they are doing their job well.

    I want to try a different take on the Trump phenomenon, if I can call it that.

    Is it possible that focusing on Trump as the supposed savior of the “deplorables” that these uninformed people voted for an individual, Trump who represented their hopes and aspirations. This was Obama (Hope and Change) and it has been so for all previous presidents.

    I do not believe that people voted for Trump because they thought he was going to just “fix” it all. I think there is an insurgency in the US, I think that far from being deplorable people did not vote to “fix” they voted to tare down those institutions which have made their lives so miserable – all of them – the press, the parties, the civil government and especially the Imperial government operation behind the facade.

    Trump is no one’s hero and no one’s champion no one voted for him to be their leader – what is happening is the strongest, and in fact only insurgency against the government in US history (The south was not an insurgency) and it is quite leaderless. Well, it is leaderless for now maybe someone will emerge down the line – it will have to get more organized eventually but for now, in its current leaderless form it has the establishment flummoxed.

    As I have pointed out recently the United States of America dropped the atomic bombs on the two cities full of innocent people and to this day and for every single day of the past 72 years the United States of America has killed people in desperate locations around the globe – EVERY SINGLE DAY.

    This take over of the entire planet through the force of arms + starvation, disease and poverty by one ideology should never been allowed in a civilized world. But it has and it is long past time to take the steps necessary to stop this slaughter.

    Pathetic as it may be this leaderless insurgency produced Trump only as a poke in the eye not because anyone thought he was going to “serve their interests” may be our best hope.

    This is an exploration of ideas not some sort of pronouncement on my part of “the way it is.”

    • MaDarby
      August 9, 2017 at 9:28 am

      Sorry, I just want to add that the insurgency I speak of has nothing to do with our old and ineffective language of left/right. The insurgency is made of the politically unsatisfied of all previous views. The insurgency recognizes that there is common ground they don’t care about the other differences they all care about their well being first. The establishment is expert and divide and concur and will exploit every opportunity to create disunity. They are flummoxed because how do you fight against something which only exists in the zeitgeist?

      • BobS
        August 9, 2017 at 11:00 am

        Your so-called “insurgency” was, for the most part, people who always vote for the Republican candidate doing what they do- voting for the Republican candidate. While Trump may have picked up a few Democratic voters on the periphery, his core supporters consist of longtime members of the Republican ‘tribe’- that would be relatively affluent white people, for the information of the many political neophytes who seem to gather in the comment section here.
        To Mr. Parry, it might be helpful to some of the circle-jerkers who are responsible for many (most?) of the comments here if you gave just a little attention to the most underreported story of the 2016 election- the mostly successful efforts (through a variety of methods) of Republicans to suppress the votes of Democratic-leaning voters in 2016 (in states like Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, Michigan, North Carolina, etc) and the doubling-down on those efforts going forward, largely through the Orwellian named Commission on Election Integrity, headed by the execrable Kris Kobach.

        • ToivoS
          August 9, 2017 at 12:41 pm

          Nobody is questioning that the core Republican voters tea partyers supported Trump. That is his base support. I notice that the Dem establishment is continuing to push hard on this irrelevant point.. What is not in doubt however, is that many voters in Pennsylvania, Michigan, Iowa and Wisconsin that had voted for Obama voted for Trump this time around. Hillary lost this election, narrowly as it was, around the edges of the Dems traditional support. Then there was low voter turnout in many of the solid Dem precincts in the larger cities. Hillary lost this election fair and square and the blame lies with the establishment Democratic Party who pushed, wheedled and cheated to get that turkey the nomination.

          • BobS
            August 9, 2017 at 1:01 pm

            That Republicans vote for Republicans is an “irrelevant point” that seems beyond the grasp of the guy who labeled Trump’s election an “insurgency”.
            Most people would read “on the periphery” and “around the edges” as synonymous.
            While “low voter turnout” was partly a result of the lack of enthusiasm for Clinton, it was also a result of ongoing Republican efforts to suppress minority votes.

          • D5-5
            August 9, 2017 at 1:46 pm

            Bob S, MaDerby’s point deserves more thinking than this dismissal and your name-calling on this community. This is very old stuff you’re pushing, right in line with Clinton blame-shifting, along with your insults. Right on, ToivoS

          • BobS
            August 9, 2017 at 4:50 pm

            No, it really doesn’t deserve more thinking.
            Trump gained the Republican nomination by appealing to the most racist, misogynist, and xenophobic elements of a party that itself appeals to the most racist, misogynist, and xenophobic American voters. Then those less racist, misogynist, and xenophobic Republicans fell in line for the general election. That Trump skimmed a few disenchanted Obama voters from the “periphery” (or “edges”, if you will) does not constitute an “insurgency”.
            Meanwhile, no one addresses the important (at least important to voters of color, of which there seem to be a very few here) issue of voter suppression, which is certain to accelerate under Trump, Sessions, and Kobach while receiving the legal imprimatur of a Supreme Court for which the Voting Rights Act is an anachronism.
            But you purity ponies continue your ‘Deep State’ circle jerk- you’re gonna change the world with half-ass ideas like your 50 state third party. Meanwhile, the right (which for all their many sins at least understand that politics is about power, not purity) solidifies their hold on this country.

          • D5-5
            August 9, 2017 at 5:47 pm

            You’re right this is not further thinking. Why don’t you just shut yourself up in a dark closet and scream? You might feel better that way.

        • Leslie F
          August 9, 2017 at 8:22 pm

          “Your so-called “insurgency” was, for the most part, people who always vote for the Republican candidate doing what they do- voting for the Republican candidate. While Trump may have picked up a few Democratic voters on the periphery,”

          While this is true, it masks to importance of those formerly Democratic voters in the Rust Belt. Without them Trump would not have won the electoral college and would not be president now.

          And voter suppression was not new with this election. It has been occurring since at least 2000, but Obama managed to win twice even so. The Democrats should have tackled it while they held the presidency and both houses of congress. If they had done something about it when they were in a position to, it would not have been a factor this time.

          • Skip Scott
            August 10, 2017 at 5:32 am

            He also doesn’t address the horrors of Hillary, and how Trump’s stand for bi-lateral trade agreements and detente with Russia appealed to many independents and democrats, and basically anybody who isn’t a fellow globalizing warmonger.

          • BobS
            August 10, 2017 at 8:14 am

            “…the horrors of Hillary”

            Oooohhhh, she’s scary.

            “Trump’s stand for bi-lateral trade agreements and detente with Russia”

            Yeah, that’s going well.

            And who can complain about a Federalist Society appointment to the Supreme Court, a neo-Confederate running the Justice Department, Goldman Sachs at the Treasury, the SEC, and the National Economic Council, an opponent of net neutrality heading the FCC, climate change deniers running the EPA, Interior Department, and DoA, a former Alito clerk at the Department of Labor. etc.

            Quite an “insurgency” you guys have going here- if you’re fans of ALEC and Breitbart, I suppose.
            Putz.

          • Skip Scott
            August 10, 2017 at 3:08 pm

            BobS-

            Since you seem to think of yourself as a victim, I am surprised that you aren’t sympathetic to the very real victims of the policies that Hillary championed as Sec. of State. Perhaps if you had relatives drowning in the Mediterranean Sea trying to escape the utter devastation and mayhem she wrought with her warmongering you wouldn’t be so cynical about the “horrors of Hillary.” Maybe then you would see her as Ooohhh, scary indeed.

            Putz.

          • Joe Tedesky
            August 10, 2017 at 3:59 pm

            BobS I will admit that some of what you say has a lot of validity, but there again think of who you are accusing of being circle-jerkers. Us circle-jerkers are the ones that Hillary loss over her sabotaging Bernie Sanders. We didn’t all just up and decide to become Trump defenders over Russia-Gate, as much as we don’t want to join in on a bureaucracy/media government coup. This whole Russia-Gate thing is a Hillary creation, done with the intention of ignoring her lousy politicking.

            If I understand you correctly, we should have backed Clinton, because party unity leads to the Democrat’s gaining power. This would not be all that bad, for us voters to overlook a few party planks that we ordinarily would not be behind, because our candidate would be all that more important to us getting into the White House. Yet, this type of thinking always seems to in our modern day political climate to backfire on our own political ambitions in the long run. Where did the ‘hope and change’ go, is one way of explaining to what I am talking about.

            It’s time we stop arguing with each other, and we unit towards our bringing about the change we so well need. Let’s face it, Hillary just was not that good of a candidate. I thought this long before the election season of 2016 even began, but apparently the Democrat Party elites didn’t seem to think so. Us poor citizens shouldn’t be getting in each other’s face, as much as we should be moving on to letting these elites know just who we are, and why we won’t put up with us being forced to back a crummy candidate such as Hillary was any more.

            Lastly, yes Trump is a nightmare. Joe

          • Skip Scott
            August 10, 2017 at 5:54 pm

            Joe-

            Thanks for calling me out on my temper, and leading by example. It’s not the first time, and god’s honest truth, I’m trying to learn. BobS seems to think it’s either/or with Hillary/Trump. I have said from the very beginning that there was no “lesser of two evils”, just two different evils. I voted for Stein and have a clear conscience. I have voted consistently for the peace candidate (or at least who I thought was the peace candidate) my entire voting life, be it Ralph Nader, Ron Paul, Bernie Sanders or Jill Stein (as recent examples). That BobS seems to excuse Hillary’s warmongering gets my dander up.

      • Brad Owen
        August 9, 2017 at 12:20 pm

        I think you’re on to something. Among those who usually vote republican (including “Reagan Democrats” who saw their New Deal sensibilities being smacked away by the yuppy “Donor Class” of Democrats), they had, what, fifteen, sixteen typical candidates to choose from? And one Maverick who shot them all down, and even sounded somewhat “Rooseveltesque” in some of his speeches. I think you’re right, and if The Establishment dares to eject Trump in some kangaroo court proceeding, there will probably be talk of civil war and mustering of militias. I know these guys, since I’m also a blue-collar white guy myself (but stuck with Sanders, then Stein, in my quest to revive New Deal policies…didn’t manage to pull very many with me). They have been burning slowly for decades. It only takes one wrong move to explode their anger. And, as this article shows, The Establishment is rather self-blinded and stupidly ignorant to the coming storm. I’d say they’re over-ripe for collapse…and a country boy will survive, as the song goes.

        • MaDarby
          August 9, 2017 at 12:45 pm

          It is possible the establishment recognizes your observation or prediction about removing Trump, consequently I don’t think they will.. They have him by the balls now so they can just manage him for the 4 years. But let’s do hope that they are “self-blinded and stupidly ignorant.” And that the coming storm is a big one.

          • D5-5
            August 9, 2017 at 2:04 pm

            That Sanders and Trump pushed similar buttons in several ways is obviously part of it. The milennials are widely fed up, that is encouraging. Both Trump and Sanders have turned out inadequate. I just received an appeal from Sanders on “our revolution.” Not a word, not one word, about foreign policy underlying the malaise. IMV we need a widely sweeping third party movement, carrying to all 50 states, to put reps into Congress in 2018 and then, building on that, to a third party run at the presidency 2020, backed by elections in 2018. The reps need to be TOTALLY for the people, and out of them might rise somebody who could initiate change. This way we might avoid violence.

          • MaDarby
            August 9, 2017 at 4:51 pm

            More than one exchange is not allowed here I guess, I don’t see a reply button for BobS.

            So, to BobS: Most if not all of the people who voted for Trump are the insurgents – the no more of this lying slaughtering establishment enough people – they are not right or left now they are one insurgency. Trump is not the leader of this insurgency he is a proxy. What Trump call his political “base” do not see him as their leader they see him as their wrecking ball.

            Below D5-5 takes an equally valid perspective on this issue, some were Sanders, some were even Stein but they are all one in opposition now.

            It is no longer right/left it is are you with the insurgency or are you with the warmongers?

          • D5-5
            August 9, 2017 at 5:50 pm

            MaDerby when there is no reply button just hit the last reply button in the thread, and your comment will automatically fall into place.

          • BobS
            August 9, 2017 at 9:54 pm

            “Most if not all of the people who voted for Trump are the insurgents – the no more of this lying slaughtering establishment enough people – they are not right or left now they are one insurgency.”

            Bullshit.
            Most of the people who voted for Trump are Republicans. They’re the same people who heartily endorsed the Bush debacle in Iraq and Trump’s increase of the military budget. They support cops anytime they kill an unarmed citizen (especially if the unarmed citizen is black or Hispanic). They were against the ACA, not because it didn’t go far enough toward providing universal single-payer (like critics on the left), but because it was ‘socialized health care’.
            Some fucking “insurgency”.

          • Brad Owen
            August 10, 2017 at 4:44 am

            See what I mean, MaDarby. From Bob S statement; self-blinding and stupidly ignorant. The Establishment won’t see it coming. Trump was little more than a Molotov cocktail thrown into the middle of the Establishment, and believe me, these guys around me, when talking about politics, are ready to see destruction of what they consider to be an evil Establishment, and they’re not too picky about how that is accomplished, unfortunately. Those of a religious bent see these times as end times. I don’t want to antagonize them any further, so I hold my tongue and mind my own business.

          • BobS
            August 10, 2017 at 8:17 am

            “I don’t want to antagonize them any further, so I hold my tongue and mind my own business.”

            Generally, people are less sanguine about their lack of backbone.

    • Bob Van Noy
      August 9, 2017 at 10:47 am

      MaDarby, Thank You. There isn’t a single High Payed Pundit in All of America that can hold a candle to You…

      • MaDarby
        August 9, 2017 at 12:58 pm

        My honor is as big as all outdoors – thanks!

        I like agreement but I am trying to explore ideas, not to claim that what I write is “the way it is.” (but it might be)

        Not because of your complimentary remarks, although they are appreciated, but because the comments here are worth reading and when I post apparently people read them so some form of idea exchange is possible.

        I think we all have experienced the shallow thoughtless threads which seem to be everywhere even on so called “serious” sites.

    • Steve Naidamast
      August 9, 2017 at 1:41 pm

      Many historians in the mainstream like to call the War for Southern Independence an “insurgency” or civil war. It was neither of these but an all out conflict between two distinct political entities, both of which had governments, constitutions, and administrative infrastructure.

      This conflict was over the economic priorities to each of the regional opponents, North and South. For the North it was access to cheap and exploitative labor. For the South it was about both slavery, which was their underlying economic engine, as well as what they viewed as their way of life; the latter which could be seen as anti-industrial. Though I could never condone slavery, as Morris Berman noted in his books regarding the decline of America, retaining the South’s perceptions on a less modernized life in general would have probably done the United States a lot of good in the long-term…

      • Max Aubry Scoville
        August 9, 2017 at 7:14 pm

        Slavery had nothing to do with the war, which in French, German, Italian, Spanish and most other languages is called the War of Southern Secession.

        Slavery was enshirined in the constitution, and Lincoln blocked two attempts to push through Congress a thirteenth amendment to abolish slavery. In the end, the thirteenth amendment that was passed (AFTER the war) did not abolish slavery, but simply stated, vaguely, that it is “prohibited” except as punished for a crime. Currently, prison labor at eighty-five cents a day (yes, a DAY!) is intended to enable denial that it is not slavery. But under international law, contemporary forms of slavery are defined by a complete denial of the inalienable human rights that identify a being as human. These prison workers have NO rights and are subject to the whims of the prison guards and officials, including beatings, torture (solitary confinement intended to cause the “disintegration of the human personality” to make recalcitrant prisons docile) and death.

        Thus, the United States is the ONLY country in today’s world where slavery is enshrined in its constitution as legal, hence legitimate.

        Regarding cheap labor, it was chattel slavery in the South versus wage slavery in the North. Industry in the North was constantly threated by wildcat strikes by workers walking off the job to demand a twelve-hour day because they could not stand the fifteen- and sixteen-hour shifts they were subjected to, often seven days a week. (Industry could not shut down to allow workers a free day on Sunday — “If you don’t come in on Sunday, don’t come in on Monday,” they were warned — for the results would be such a major disruption of the productive process that the economy would collapse, causing mass starvation…)

        As for the war, the initial call-up for men yielded little, for the vast majority of the Northen population was willing to let the South go its own way, especially since the South thus gave up all claim to the western territories. Lincoln then announced a crusade to free the slaves, which aroused support for his splendid little war. The Emancipation Proclamation was illegal (and applied only to the states that Lincoln had unilaterally declared were “in rebellion” — hence Johnny Rebel or Johnny Reb). Lincoln had no authority to contradict the Constitution on that or any other matter.

        As for the rivalry between North and South, the Northerns were capitalists who wanted a vast open domestic market across the territories, regulated in favor of big business from Washington. The Southerners wanted their latifundian society (vast land holdings) that would support home rule in the state capitals. The open market sought by the capitalists meant a renouncing of state autonomy, but the Northern oligarchs had far more to gain by creating a strong central government than to lose. The 1860 Republican platform spells out this centralization program. And remember, Lincoln was a corpoate lawyer, working for the biggest corporations in the world at the time (railroads) before becoming president. It was upon publication of the that platform that talk of secession in case of a Republican victory started. Once the Southern representatives were absent from the Congress, the Republicans were able to push through their agenda. I defy anybody to find a history book that deals comprehensiverly with their legislative program, much less analyses the transformation it effected in the country overall.

        And as for secession, the United States, until the Lincoln Adminstration and its Republican revolution, was a confederacy, a much tighter union than the previous confederation, but a union — not a “country” — where power was vested in the states’ governments for the most part. The Constitution makes no provision for a central government, only an “administration” (the word we still use today): no ministers who could formulate and implement policies, only an executive with very little power in practice to coordinate the decisions made by the states in the Congress. The Southern states seceded in order to preserve the confederacy. They lost and were brought to heel by the destruction of the South (before the war, between two thirds and three quarters of the Union’s wealth — depending one whose statistics you want to believe — was in the South; after the war the South was a backwater, and much of it remains so, even today) and by over twelve years of military occupation. And Washington had become the seat of a highly centralized corporate welfare state.

        • BobS
          August 9, 2017 at 9:45 pm

          “…before the war, between two thirds and three quarters of the Union’s wealth — depending one whose statistics you want to believe — was in the South”
          Most southern “wealth” was the value of their slaves. You know, human beings who could be torn from their families, sold, worked 18 hours a day, beaten, raped, and murdered with impunity.

          • MEexpert
            August 10, 2017 at 9:41 am

            BobS….Why don’t you stop playing the victim card and living in the past. If you and your people want to move up in this world, you need to get education. Why is it that Spanish speaking, Orientals, and Indians can come in this country and move up the leader to become chief executives or other high positions? While American people of color just want to become millionaires overnight, so they drop out of school and go into sports. They can’t speak one coherent sentence but they want to be in high positions. If they don’t get it, they scream discrimination. It is time to stop it.

            Before you start accusing me of racism or something similar, I am not a WASP. I am one of the most discriminated minority you will ever come across. But I have education and no one can take that away from me. My answer to whoever discriminates against me is, “it is your loss, not mine.” In stead of blaming every body else for your short comings, look at improving your lot. I don’t want to get more graphic in describing the African American people’s situation (I hope the term is not on the banned list) but the answer to your bitterness is education.

            I apologize for digressing from the main line of discussion but it had to be said. BobS doesn’t want to let it go. He needs to look at himself.

          • BobS
            August 10, 2017 at 11:58 am

            “If you and your people…”

            Middle-aged white professional men?

          • Joe Tedesky
            August 10, 2017 at 4:10 pm

            Your words MEexpert reminds me of my Italian immigrant Grandma. Laura use to say the type of stuff you just said in your comment here. Grandma Laura never strayed away from her Italian heritage, but she made damn well sure her children, and grandchildren went to school, to learn English, and later with that knowledge her offspring would do well in this land called America. So I agree MEexpert with you.

            BobS just got to settle down, and appreciate all of us for what we are, and not be so critical of all of our opinions, as this past election wasn’t our opinions fault, as much as it was that Hillary just flat out made a bad candidate…why can’t people see this, well because their too wrapped up in Trump’s awful bombastic rants, but Trump’s terrible performances doesn’t make Hillary any better of a person, and it certainly doesn’t qualify her to be a respected politician.

        • Sam F
          August 10, 2017 at 8:14 am

          The Civil War issues are an unfair diversion, as MaDarby merely stated as an aside that the US Civil War was not an insurgency. So I will not respond beyond these corrections to your arguments.

          Certainly the South had legitimate economic interests that were disregarded by the North in the run-up to the Civil War, the prevention of which would have been easy by modern standards. Because no plantation owner could unilaterally convert to free labor because the market price would not cover wages, the South saw no path and the North failed to provide the path, and both retreated into self-righteousness. But in fact the North and England were the purchasers of slave cotton as well as the centers of abolitionism, and would therefore ultimately pay the wages of former slaves anyway. All that was needed was a federal transition plan, a cotton tax to cover wages subsidies and social workers and village builders.

          Unfortunately most of your points are incorrect and weaken your argument with emotionalism. You would be more persuasive if you reconsider these and switch to the better arguments that exist.

          1. Incorrect that “slavery had nothing to do with” the US Civil War as secession was entirely based upon fear of abolition, the failure of the North to recognize the economic reality that wage labor required government action across the market for slave products.
          2. Slavery is not “enshrined” in the US Constitution beyond the 3/5 clause nullified after the civil war.
          3. Incorrect that the Constitution makes no provision for a central government. You should read it without emotion, and the Federalist Papers that argued for it. The term “administration” refers to the President and appointed officials of the executive branch.
          4. Incorrect that the US was a confederacy until the Civil War – the Constitution was ratified in 1787.
          5. Incorrect that the US was a “much tighter union” under the Articles of Confederation; it was so loose that the Constitution was needed to provide for common defense and regulate interstate commerce.
          6. The exploitation of prisoners is unrelated to the slavery issue, and unsupported in the Constitution.

  2. Herman
    August 9, 2017 at 9:29 am

    I have always found Giraldi one of the most astute analysts of how things work in Washington. His description of how Congress holds hearings and how it educates itself is very true, and it relates the Browder story in a very objective, telling way. He is careful as always in what he has to say, trying to help open the door to an objective look at Browder. Unfortunately, that runs up against a Washington, particularly Congress, which only goes after “truths” which are politically expedient.

    In addition, Giraldi is a great and courageous writer and a joy to read.

    • Kiza
      August 9, 2017 at 11:51 pm

      Personally, I have a strong preference for Giraldi over McGovern, especially in meaningful writing.

      Regarding Browder, being English speaking and brought up in the Anglo-world but with good understanding of Russia through Jewish Communism, made this Jewish Godfather (and psychopat) much more damaging to Russia than the other forced Jewish godfather emigres: Berezovsky, Gusinsky and Khodorovsky.

      Browder’s ties with Mossad and CIA make him a prototypical Deep-Stater, spreading Anglo-Zionist dominance of the World (Globalism) and getting personally rich in the process. If the Anglo-Zionists manage to bring down Russia (say, kill Putin) then Browder could become the Paul Bremer III of Russia, perhaps titled king William Browder I.

      • Skip Scott
        August 10, 2017 at 5:39 am

        That’s about it in a nutshell Kiza. I also find it amusing in the MSM how they gloss over his renouncing of his US citizenship to avoid taxes. I guess citizenship isn’t very important in their minds, as long as your not an evil Ruskie.

  3. Mike Morrison
    August 9, 2017 at 9:40 am

    The situation today in the Donbass, Ukraine. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QG_ULp6JOCk

    • Joe Tedesky
      August 9, 2017 at 4:31 pm

      Mike that was a very informative video. I about cried myself when the war worn farmer said, that his dog Gerka had died in this senseless war. Seeing this Donbass resident cry over the loss of his dog, did me in a little too. Isn’t it funny how sometimes it takes the death of an animal, like the family dog or cat to die, and then we break down. Animals are the true innocents of this planet, I guess that’s why we love them so.

      I wish that 60 Minutes would air something such as this video. Or better yet, let’s force the Kagan’s, the McCain’s, and the rest of these warmongers, and make them live in the Donbass region for a month, and then let’s see just how much they will still endorse these fascist policies.

      I’m afraid though, that with the Google blocking efforts, that the truth will be harder than ever in order to reveal such atrocities, which are always the result of such waged wars by the empire. I must urge you all to go to Paul Craig Roberts site today, and read what he has to say about this censorship effort, and see the chart where Roberts shows to how much this Google blocking has already decreased the hits to these targeted sites, who the MSM calls ‘fake news’ sites. (consortiumnews.com fell by 47 percent) Like the Donbass farmer in the video when asked if he had any message he wanted to tell people, and he said, ‘don’t let fascist into your country’. Victoria is that you?

      • Dave P.
        August 10, 2017 at 1:01 pm

        Joe, The Neo-Nazies who rule in Kiev are of the same mold, and as vicious as Zio-NeoCons who run the country here. It is all there for us to see what is happening in ME and Afghanistan – all this death and destruction they have visited on those people.

        • Joe Tedesky
          August 10, 2017 at 4:13 pm

          Yeah Dave, you are right. I guess that’s why the U.S. is considered a global power.

  4. Sam F
    August 9, 2017 at 9:40 am

    The US Congress (and perhaps Parliament) is poorly organized for debate: too small, too little knowledge of the issues, too little time to debate every aspect of policy everywhere. To improve the quality of public debate, we need an independent federal college of policy analysis constituted to protect all points of view, and textually debate among university experts of all disciplines the status and policy options of each world region, without pressure toward consensus. It would produce debate summaries commented by all sides and available to the public for comment. The ability to see all sides challenged and responding in an orderly manner is essential to public understanding.

    Congress, the Executive branch, the Judiciary, and the mass media are utterly corrupt, a groupthink of bullies who tyrannize each other and compete for the most radical propositions of nonexistent foreign threats. They fully well know that they are lying to the people to serve a factional agenda that involves the murder of millions of innocents, the diversion of nations’ budgets from essential needs, and they have not an ounce of humanity among them. Those who waver are cast aside, and the worst of the bullies rise to the top.

    Restoration of democracy requires amendments to protect elections and mass media debate from economic power, better checks and balances within the government branches, purging the corrupt judiciary and Congress, monitoring of government officials for corruption, and regulation of business so that bullies and scammers do not rise to control economic power. We cannot do that by public debate because oligarchy controls the tools of democracy, elections and mass media.

    We cannot begin to stop the wars, establish a humanitarian democracy, nor achieve benefits for the people, until the oligarchy is deposed; this is the greatest problem of civilization. Apart from the revolutions of the largest present democracies (US and India), where the colonial power was small and remote, every solution in history has involved external conquest (e.g. Rome) or violent revolution (e.g. Russia, China, and Cuba). Unfortunately the US is now in the latter category. We may seek and hope for some new solution, but it is unlikely to be peaceful. We must see and resolve that this is the only historical meaning of our lives.

    • Bob Van Noy
      August 9, 2017 at 11:56 am

      Sam F, we’re on the same page here. I constantly imagine a deliberative, unfettered, educational environment of broad dialogue, probably on-line that accepts outside input freely for consideration. We’ve probably never had that. Years ago I read “The Metaphysical Club” I think by Demby, that told the story of several renowned late 1800 intellects who met regularly to deeply hash over their most serious thoughts.
      Also, as you know, this is what is so sorely missing in our War Talk environment…

      • Sam F
        August 10, 2017 at 10:02 am

        Possibly The Metaphysical Club by Louis Menand (2002 Pulitzer Prize in History) referring to the 1872 discussions of Holmes jr, Wm. James, and C.S. Pierce on the group origins of ideas (e..g. pragmatism, evolution, statistics), that ideas spread among groups from originators to useful carriers.

        The online College would indeed be seminal as a major repository of policy thinking challenged by the alternatives. This is far more the digital university than the mere presentation of lectures and scoring of exams. It would be the primary reference for citizens, difficult for oligarchy to control.

        Of course (Eric Hoffer) “Every great cause begins as a movement, becomes a business, and eventually degenerates into a racket.” So the problem is designing an incorruptible administration monitoring the moderators and debaters. Who shall oversee the overseers? Perhaps the answer is rotating duties and internal minotoring.

    • Realist
      August 9, 2017 at 5:55 pm

      Excellent analysis of congress, especially the bit about competing for “the most radical propositions of nonexistent foreign threats.” To open a gap between them, the Republicans drive ever rightward, which, in turn, pulls the Democrats hard to the right to not fall behind. It’s been a race to see who achieves full blown fascism first. Why does fascism, hard right militaristic and nationalistic policy driven by corporate interests, appeal to so many citizens? Why, after a run of about half a century, was any hint of socialism so completely squelched, not only in this country but globally? I’m guessing that allowing the media to become the private toy of only half a dozen corporations under the sway of a tiny group of super wealthy oligarchs had a lot to do with what Americans believe and how they respond to purported “news” and ultimately how they vote (as if voting will soon matter at all when the right to vote is systematically suppressed under laws pushed by factions in government at all levels).

      • Skip Scott
        August 10, 2017 at 5:49 am

        It has been a truly Orwellian achievement. I think back to the Vietnam days when I was a kid, and how the MSM started to show cracks in the propaganda line by actually covering the atrocities of that war. I think that and the Pentagon Papers were a major factor in ending the war. There is not a snowball’s chance in hell of that ever happening again with the consolidation of control over the MSM. Now we get power point presentations by generals, and never-ending blather about “babies tossed from incubators” or “rapist troops on Viagra”.

      • Sam F
        August 10, 2017 at 8:47 am

        Fascism has appeal to the people
        1. when they are suffering and need a quick solution,
        2. when they are angry and want to punish the first easy victim as a symbol of their oppressors, and
        3. to young men and bullies seeking to prove masculinity (vs. football, soccer, and noisy engines).

        The economic powers that control our former democracy, by controlling the mass media and elections, use primitive tyrants in the military, intel agencies, administration, Congress, and mass media, to seize domestic power. Tyrants must invent foreign monsters so as to pose falsely as protectors, and to accuse their moral superiors of disloyalty, as Aristotle and Plato warned.

        I agree that their gradual dominance of the mass media was the turning point. The print media are largely controlled by zionists, and apparently other media as well, which directs most warmongering to the Mideast.

        • D5-5
          August 10, 2017 at 10:38 am

          This has been an interesting discussion kicked off by MaDerby. His “insurgency” is perhaps language to suggest what he senses (and many of us sense) is happening in a widespread way in this country to respond to the Oligarchism we know too well. Versus “insurgency” perhaps “massive discontent and unease” is more accurate language for the condition. Much of what has been said about the MSM and the current system suggests the people generally are completely dominated by a soft totalitarian system. On the other hand over the past months various polls, as with the Quinnipiac University surveys, point to the massive discontent. On the one hand we have a view of the sleeping masses totally dumbed down and controlled by MSM; on the other dark warnings (as recently from Michael Savage on any removal of Trump) and the glint of automatic weapons and militias. It would seem a very serious challenge right now is how to direct this discontent nonviolently–IF that is possible. Probably most of us would rather not accept the inevitability of the society in chaos and violence, despite its historical precedence. We are left in the what to do quandary, and that basically is the nature of these discussions repeatedly.

          • Sam F
            August 10, 2017 at 1:10 pm

            Yes, persons of good will do not prefer a violent solution where there may be unexplored alternatives. But sometimes it is not best to direct discontent nonviolently, as in the 1960s Civil Rights era, when rioting was probably the only force that persuaded the many selfish hypocrites in media and the judiciary to pretend to have been “persuaded” that discrimination was wrong. Oligarchy in general will not surrender to any fear when it can send in the troops where propaganda does not work. Without demonstrations of potential force. nothing at all will be done.

            Meanwhile, the advocates of reform must be available to negotiate with oligarchy when it sees the necessity of pretending to be persuaded.

    • Herman
      August 10, 2017 at 10:27 am

      Sam, I think George Kennan had very much the same thoughts expressed in what I think was his last book. The problem is how to make the elected officials look at issues in a non-partisan way. So far, it doesn’t work that way because the guy whispering in the Congressman’s ear now has more to do with what he does than all the intelligent advice from wise and impartial men. Until something changes in how we elect our representatives, things are unlikely to change.

      • Sam F
        August 10, 2017 at 1:26 pm

        Interesting lead. Perhaps Kennan’s last work was Around the Cragged Hill (1993) which appears to recommend an advisory board rather than a diverse society of debate. From a review:

        “Neither the legislature, responsive to the interests of a narrow constituency, nor the executive branch, swamped by urgent problems at home and abroad, has the time or inclination to look far beyond the next election. Lost entirely is a vital element in any democracy: deliberation based upon study, review, and judgment. To address problems that defy quick political solutions, Mr. Kennan here boldly lays down a blueprint for a Council of State, a nonpolitical, permanent advisory board that would stand alongside yet apart from government policy makers, with the prestige to be heard…”

        Such councils of wise men would have the problems of the NSC, already inflated to over 2000 staff, a permanent warmongering influence. The problem is that their small debates cannot be extensive, controlled, or public, so its only advantage over Congress is to those who already agree with them. We need a much broader, more diverse, more detailed, and more available public debate.

  5. Michael Kenny
    August 9, 2017 at 10:05 am

    How could Congress judge Browder’s credibility if they didn’t let him say his piece? It’s precisely because Mr Giraldi has been allowed to express his views in numerous articles that we know that he systematically favours Vladimir Putin and can judge the credibility of his articles accordingly. I commented on Robert Parry’s article and pointed out several errors, which Mr Giraldi repeats. The real point, though, is why is Mr Giraldi getting so worked up about all this? The American internet is brimming over with articles promoting Putin’s cause and Mr Giraldi himself, and Robert Parry, have contributed quite a few of them. Indeed, there seems to be practically nothing else on the American internet these days! Thus, nobody is forced to take William Browder at his word. There is “no evidence”, to use a favourite phrase of the pro-Putin camp, that members of Congress are unaware of the views expressed by people like Mr Giraldi and Mr Parry and if they find Mr Browder’s version more convincing, that doesn’t mean that the members of Congress are stupid. It just means that Mr Giraldi and Mr Parry are unconvincing.

    • Realist
      August 9, 2017 at 10:31 am

      Or it could simply mean that a biased congress has decided to use Browder’s assertions as a convenient prop to support their virulently anti-Russian agenda. American pols pay good money to creative types to generate useful bullshit, like the Trump dossier. Why would they look a gift horse in the mouth if it furthers their goals, in this case to destabilise Russia? Based on the dysfunctional careers of John McCain and Joe Lieberman, this seems like the simpler explanation rather than some specious quest to assist an expatriot tax cheat who renounced his American citizenship.

      • Brad Owen
        August 9, 2017 at 2:48 pm

        It could also mean that Browder, the oligarchs of Wall Street/City-of-London/Trans-Atlantic Community, and the oligarchs in Russia, whom Putin has check-mated for now, are all on the same team that comprises the REAL constituency of Congress; this constituency whom OWS called the 1%ers. And We the people (the 99%ers) of USA, Britain, Europe and Russia are being railroaded into “divide & conquer” conflicts, all to safeguard the oligarchy’s precious money-power and reign over the 99%ers.

        • Brad Owen
          August 9, 2017 at 2:51 pm

          Think about just how big and empty Russia is: only 146 million people on the biggest Country in the World. I can almost hear the Oligarchy salivating over those resources, if only they can find a way to break & subjugate the Russians.

          • Realist
            August 9, 2017 at 6:09 pm

            There is no way that Russia would not have developed its resources and freely sold them to the West, with whom they identify as fellow Christians and Europeans. The brainiacs in Washington, in trying to seize those resources rather than bargain for them, have pushed the Russians into the arms of the Chinese who will now be the big beneficiaries of those resources for their immense population. Moreover, if the West weakens Russia enough, the Chinese will be the society that seizes those resources by force, as they are there, sharing Eurasia with Russia, India and sundry other countries, not the US and not the EU. The neocons are surely on hallucinogens if they some day envisage winning a land war against Eurasian forces on Eurasian turf.

          • Brad Owen
            August 10, 2017 at 4:58 am

            But that is indeed where the neocons are, Realist. That is their endgame, and PanEuropa was only ever discussed as “from the Urals to the sea”, I guess knowing they can only go so far in stopping the “Mongol Hordes”, and no further. As for the neocons themselves, their “religion” is permanent war and the “martial virtues” developed thereby. When The Oligarchs have established their territory, they’ll no doubt discard the neocons, probably even using the “Jew” card. I never bought into the “Jews are behind it all” canard. They’re just useful tools (like SA and USA) for an Oligarchy that traces its roots to gentile/pagan Ancient Rome ( lesson to be learned from Gibbons Decline and Fall: the Christian religion softened the Oligarchy. Don’t repeat that mistake).

          • Brad Owen
            August 10, 2017 at 5:10 am

            I say these things only as a reading of the mind of the enemy of all humanity, NOT as a proponent. Most of my insights I’ve gained from EIR and Webster G Tarpley

    • JoeD
      August 9, 2017 at 10:44 am

      “there seems to be practically nothing else on the American internet these days!”

      And with that statement a troll is born.

    • Adrian Engler
      August 9, 2017 at 11:03 am

      “if they find Mr Browder’s version more convincing, that doesn’t mean that the members of Congress are stupid”

      Has Congress listened to both versions and invited both Browder and representatives of the Russian police to present their position?

      No. There is no point in claiming that members of Congress found one version more convincing when this was the only version they heard about.

      Did Congress use independent translations of important documents?

      No, as a member of Congress clearly states in Nekrasov’s film, they exclusively relied on documents and translations provided to them by Browder.

    • Abe
      August 9, 2017 at 2:13 pm

      “Michael Kelly” seems convinced that members of Congress merely “find Mr Browder’s version more convincing”. Surely all that AIPAC money has nuthin’ to do with it. Nuthin’ at all.

    • Gregory Herr
      August 10, 2017 at 7:13 pm

      The American internet is just brimming over with articles promoting Putin’s cause…there seems to be practically nothing else! Congratulations Kenny…you have succeeded in pulling a yet bigger rabbit out of your nether region.
      Of course Congressional members read widely and are exposed to divergent views…it’s obvious every time one of them opens their mouth, right Kenny? You’re a real treat there cowboy.
      By the way..and of course you won’t respond…because you’re not here to engage and reflect…you’re here to pull rabbits out of your ***….. but it might be edifying to hear from you regarding just what it is exactly that you think of as Putin’s cause? From there, how is it that the internet is brimming with “promotion” of that cause. Examples please. But you don’t get paid for, or aren’t up to the challenge of “backing up” your b.s., are you?

  6. LudaM
    August 9, 2017 at 10:07 am

    Hi, I have managed to watch Nekrasov’s documentary thanks to the fact that Russian is my native tong. Although undoubtedly educational and sincere, I regret it’s limited in its scope as to the truth uncovering. I have a nasty feeling that there is more to it than just Mr/ Browder ‘s machinations . The crime of such scale – having nearly a quarter of a $1B stolen form Russian state coffers as a “tax refund” transferred to the corporate bank accounts and then abroad and all in a matter of days – is not possible without collusion in the high-ranks of Russian financial bureaucracy whose names are still in the dark. Just try to get your tax refund the same way and see who long it takes you to have it on your account. Now, to get a tax refund in Russia is practically impossible as one will be inundated with requests for more documentation and with certainty call a more-than-thorough tax audit upon herself.
    That said, I have no doubt whatsoever that Mr/ Browder was up to no-good in Russia and do not believe any of his narrative. Still, for Mr. Magnitsky to spend over a year in jail and prefer to die but not to “spill the beans” so to speak, if he is a criminal as follows from the sequence of events as presented in the movie, is very unusual. My take on this is that he was a pawn in a big game who knew little if anything at all and was “sacrificed” along with the other “pawns” who were out of jail and, therefore, easier to reach and remove.
    Sad story for certain. I feel for the two boys Magnitsky left in this world who bear his name and, in all probability, will have carry on his uncertain legacy.

    • Max Aubry Scoville
      August 9, 2017 at 7:23 pm

      Excellent remarks and insight. Thanks, LudaM!

    • Skip Scott
      August 10, 2017 at 5:55 am

      I began to watch a version that had Russian overdubs that were all but drowning out the English. I wonder if there is any high-tech method for somebody to use that version and somehow remove the Russian overdubs, and then release it on youtube. If they did it right, Browder wouldn’t even know who to sue!

      • LudaM
        August 10, 2017 at 7:46 pm

        It has been uploaded to Youtube twice as far as I know and both uploads have been not only removed but substituted with something promising the documentary yet collecting the data including credit cards information. I preferred not to follow those and advise anyone trying to do the same.

        • Skip Scott
          August 11, 2017 at 6:39 am

          I doubt that youtube would be the right venue. I’m pretty sure they have been co-opted. It might have to get out by some less popular vehicle. I too have come upon sites promising the film but wanting credit card info for a “free trial”. There are many complaints of charging the card once they have the info.

  7. Realist
    August 9, 2017 at 10:15 am

    When John McCain and Joe Lieberman embrace the cause of a known tax dodger and traitor to his native country (he renounced his U.S. citizenship; he wants nothing to do with us, except for the favors he can cadge from congress), even a fool must realise there is something other than “justice” at issue. This jackass Browder and his lies are just a convenient club that those two Russophobic warmongers in the senate could use against Putin, never mind that charges against Putin or Russia ever have to been substantiated in this country or its congress. We will even declare economic war against the country based on mere assertion and wild speculation. We, in fact, HAVE done so just a few days ago, a decision that will significantly impact the economies of half the developed world. What’s to stop us from engaging in a hot war against them on the same dearth of evidence? When that comes, we won’t even “declare” the conflict, we will just strike unannounced like assassins. How many people have to suffer and die because of Browder’s greed and your exploitation of it in your lust for power, Mr. McCain? How else are you going to make the world take note of your unfortunate existence before your imminent demise, Mr. McCain? You could have opted to try to help the people of Arizona during your senate career, but you chose most unwisely. Too bad for the world, eh?

  8. Bill
    August 9, 2017 at 10:25 am

    Browder has been accused by the Russians of being a CIA agent. You don’t get around to mentioning that.

    • David Smith
      August 9, 2017 at 12:35 pm

      Or that his dad worked for the FBI…..

  9. Another Putin Apologist
    August 9, 2017 at 11:08 am

    Senator Ben Cardin, ex-Senator Joe Lieberman, William Browder, Sergei Magnitsky and throw in Boris Nemtsov and Vladimir Kara-Murza, all Jews. Jews not only have us destroying Muslim countries in the MENA but now they pushed us into another cold war with Russia.

  10. Hank
    August 9, 2017 at 12:18 pm

    Excellent article dealing with the absence of “fair and balanced/ most trusted news,blah,blah,blah of MSM. This new Push to make Russia the “new” Enemy is just a scheme by the neocons to push their agenda of full spectrum dominance. Who is actually pulling the strings may be a bit complicated but we have “inkings” of who is involved through various whistleblowers and others who have come out after being hoodwinked & betrayed by the deep state. I especially like the Aaron Russo interview where he exposes his buddy Laurence Rockefeller and knowing about a “big event” around a year before it happened and which was going to allow a “war on terror”. Yet the vast majority fall for the propaganda meme and the latest patriotic push to honor veterans seems to reinforce an infatuation with war. Do not misunderstand me: I truly feel sorry for those who have been killed and wounded Needlessly in unjustified wars. But Country Joe’s song in the 60’s with the line: “be the first one on the block to have your kid come home in a box, and its 1 2 3 what are we fighting for…” has become naming segments of roads for fallen soldiers. Finally, I believe Phillip’s explanation of the depth of knowledge of our congressmen is spot on. When you write them they have staff research and reply but if they are asked on the fly well the answers are not so well framed.

  11. Virginia
    August 9, 2017 at 1:05 pm

    Thanks for walking us through the Magnitsky / Browder / Congress events again and showing how this plot has been so successful in harming the US-Russia relationship. There should be a way to see Nekrosov’s film.

    I highly recommend an excellent article by Robert Bridge that appears on RT’s Op-Edge today titled, I believe, Three Lies that served to Ruin US-Russia Relations.

    • Dave P.
      August 10, 2017 at 2:54 am

      Virginia – Yes, it is an excellent article.

      From the article:

      “When Barack Obama was sworn in as the 44th President in 2009, it was hard not to get infected by the “Hope & Change” hysteria that was sweeping a shell-shocked planet. Even before he got elected, Obama was greeted by thousands of Germans who gathered in the center of Berlin to hear the Democrat cast aspersions on his predecessor, the self-declared ‘war president’ George W. Bush, whose presidency, we desperately wanted to believe, was some sort of weird anomaly. Americans, we told ourselves, would never lie to invade sovereign states for global advantage, not to mention torture prisoners of war. Why, we even awarded Obama the Nobel Peace Prize while the US was still at war on two fronts. That, dear reader, underscores the power of the media.

      It is my personal opinion this Obama charm offensive was a carefully orchestrated charade to cause Moscow to drop its guard. It is important to keep in mind what the Russians were most concerned about – as Obama was being feted as something akin to the second coming of Christ himself – and that was the missile defense shield that Bush had planned for Eastern Europe.”

      Very astute analysis by Robert bridge.

      • Virginia
        August 11, 2017 at 1:11 pm

        Yes, Dave — It appears that the US is always trying to get countries’ whose regime they wish to overthrow to “drop their guard”! Take Lybia, for example, and apparently that’s why Kim Jong Un says he’s not about to stop North Korea’s military/weapons program. He uses Lybia as an example; Quaddafi was promised friendship but look what they got! Russia and China (and I, too) are looking for a diplomatic peaceful solution with North Korea. It will come when the US realizes it can’t be the world-bully anymore. Why is that taking so long?

  12. Joe Tedesky
    August 9, 2017 at 1:16 pm

    I guess it has now become common practice in the U.S. to warmly accept Putin’s rejects.

  13. rosemerry
    August 9, 2017 at 1:37 pm

    Thank you Philip!

  14. Abe
    August 9, 2017 at 1:45 pm

    “As far as the US position is concerned, it continues to move in-between co-ordination and confrontation with Russia on the one hand, and confrontation with Iran, Russia’s key ally, on the other. A number of reports in the American mainstream media, known as the mouthpiece of American defence establishment and security agencies such as the CIA, can clearly be seen advocating a’tough approach’ to Iran to checkmate its increasing influence in the Middle East. For instance, in an editorial board report of The Washington Post, the paper argued that countering Russia and Iran in the post-war Syria would ‘require a broader strategy to create a security order in the region acceptable to the United States and its allies. To achieve that, the administration may need to raise the military or economic pressures on Iran, Russia and the Syrian government while pressing for negotiations on a new Syrian political order.’

    “Within the US’ official circles, there is considerable anti-Russia and anti-Iran feeling and this faction, which is particularly based in the US Congress, has hardened its approach to shrink the role Russia and Iran can play. Their obvious—and the quite well known—tool is yet again economic sanctions in the hope of putting economic pressure on them. Already the House and the Senate have reached a deal on a bill that would not only impose fresh sanctions but also prevent the US president from easing old sanctions imposed on Russia, thus indicating its intention to desist the executive branch from engaging in any positive co-operation with Russia over creating a stable political order in the Middle East.

    “The hope that such a policy will work to force Russia to succumb to the US demands is absolutely misplaced. What is even more important to recognize is the fact that the American policy makers perfectly know that this policy wouldn’t work in this regard. However, what they also know is that absence of co-operation between the US and Russia due to the US imposed sanctions will certainly prevent the establishment of peace and stable political and security order in Syria and Iraq, an order of a kind that may see a reduced US role in the regional geo-politics.

    “By keeping the region internally divided and deeply polarized on sectarian and ethnic basis and by putting unwarranted economic pressure on Russia and Iran, the US-Saudi nexus is clearly poised to preventing both Russia and Iran from creating peace out of chaos that the nexus has caused in last 6 years or so. For them, this is part of the strategy.”

    The US-Saudia Nexus is Poised to Prevent Peace in the Middle East
    By Salman Rafi Sheikh
    https://journal-neo.org/2017/08/09/the-us-saudia-nexus-is-poised-to-prevent-peace-in-the-middle-east/

    • backwardsevolution
      August 10, 2017 at 1:04 am

      Abe – “By keeping the region internally divided and deeply polarized on sectarian and ethnic basis and by putting unwarranted economic pressure on Russia and Iran, the US-Saudi nexus is clearly poised to preventing both Russia and Iran from creating peace out of chaos that the nexus has caused in last 6 years or so. For them, this is part of the strategy.”

      Sounds like the strategy they’ve used against Trump and the U.S. Deeply divided, polarized, preventing Trump from creating peace out of chaos, not allowing anything to get done.

      Bastards, all of them.

  15. August 9, 2017 at 2:57 pm

    Giraldi deftly brings the crux of the argument back to where it belongs…CUI BONO?…and that applies not only to Browder but also to those members of congress that have accepted generous contributions from his hedge fund. He didn’t say they were stupid(as Michael Kenny infers), just less educated in global matters and remiss in their own civic responsibility. If their priorities are for their own image or benefit, that’s not stupidity, that’s corruption!

    • Skip Scott
      August 10, 2017 at 6:02 am

      I think it’s a little bit of both stupidity and corruption. They are sheep-dipped in propaganda, and too lazy to look for facts.

      • August 10, 2017 at 11:03 am

        Skip…in as much as they are blinded by their ego and greed…I agree

  16. August 9, 2017 at 3:07 pm

    The bar’s so low, even a limbo dancer couldn’t bend far enough to get under it. I envy you having seen this film Phil. In the interest of free enquiry and free speech, it ought to be easily available. That a western oligarch could effectively ban it in the United States from being seen by Americans, shows how powerful these international banksters have become, in hijacking the democratic direction of our country. Clearly, they represent a threat to the sovereignty of all peoples.

  17. August 9, 2017 at 11:24 pm

    So this man is a grandson of Earl Browder who was a leading member of the US Communist Party? The poor grandfather must be rolling over in his grave if he knew what a corrupt person his grandchild turned out to be.

  18. August 9, 2017 at 11:47 pm

    It seems that one way Congress does not learn about Russia or anything else is to listen to the likes of Bill Binney and Ray McGovern. Instead it seems they will hold a seance to channel Nancy Reagan’s astrologer during a conference in Colorado where they all may obtain HIGH confidence.

  19. backwardsevolution
    August 10, 2017 at 5:45 am

    Philip Giraldi – excellent report. Very well written and interesting. Committee hearings should always have a “dissenting” opinion. Having four “expert” witnesses who all agree is beyond useless.

  20. Evangelista
    August 10, 2017 at 8:42 pm

    In this comment thread the first commentor, “MaDarby” hijacks off, apparently without having read enough of Philip Giraldi’s article to know its subject, on an irrelevant prattle of reminiscence about the 2016 election, over and done with nine months ago.

    There follows thirty-odd comments by further prattlers on that irrelevant subject, with one change, when “Steve Naidmast” hijacks off from “MaDarby”‘s hijack to blow about slavery and the U.S. Civil War, further ago, but equally irrelevant..

    Finally, after thirty-two blathers of irrelevant social-mediating, “Herman” provides the first comment with relevance to the article, but not with content, his comment being only an accolade to Giraldi.

    “Mike Morrison” then hijacks off to advertise an article-irrelevant puppy-dying-in-Donbass youtube video.

    “Sam F” brings the thread back to Giraldi’s topic, and instigates some general grousing about congress that evades, if not avoids, the problems and points Giraldi’s article put forward, and dribbles off into metaphysical discussion of irrelevant pseudo-academiate and pseudo-philosophisty blah-blah.

    No real substance appears until neighborhood Troll “Michael Kenny” pops in some gratuitous ad hominem attack against Giraldi and Parry, and apologia for congress, with paean for congressional credulity for Browderian bullshitting. In responses to “Michael Kenny”‘s pundit-style preaching some actual discussion of points of the article commence.

    It is a hell of a note when it takes a troll almost fifty comments down in a thread to bring more than blather discussion to the subject matter of an article. Far worse, however, is that one must read over thirty comments down before one finds the subject of the article even adressed. Most serious readers will not read that far down in social-media hijack to look for substance. They will switch to ignoring comments altogether: Read the articles, ignore the comment section; let the socializers have the field.

    That is what I would have done in this case, were it not that the degeneration of the U.S. ‘s congress to what it has become, that the article presents well with its Browder example presenting a criminal-class gangster con-artist manipulating a major-nation national government to provide him essentially private legislation that he might use to aid in his efforts to steal from another major nation, making the government of manipulatable idiot toadies that the divide-and-conquer and political-machine-political manipulations that are hallmark of “Democracy”, the aberrant government form the United States today showcases the worst features of, and classic late-stage degeneration manifestations for. The United States today, in large part for its own self-advertising, is the show-case example of “Democracy”, and what “Democracy” can, and will, do to a national government, turning one onto a frivolous and factious agglomeration of the lowest order kinds of imbeciles self-aggrandized to imagine themselves leaders, and capable of leading. An order of government below the “mob rule” academic studies of “Democracy” have envisioned, those studies having not taken into account the “mobs” being ‘Mobs”, gangsters, selectively selecting the lowest of the low, the most maleable and manipulable to provide the least difficulty in handling.

    Wading through the social-media to the blah-blah and on was not fun, but it was, after all, when I reached the end, I found, to topic: The Mobs have to manipulate mobs to install the imbeciles, after all.

    I had not come, in my study, to the question where, and how, the installing Mobs get their installers, and get them to filling their “Democratic” governments with garbage, and sloshing the garbage they install each election cycle, slopping some out and other in, all the same cess, and I avoid social-media. So it is only by these kinds of accidental exposures that I am introduced to this aspect of “The Democratic Process”.

    It is, of course, why the founders of the Constitutional United States founded the nation as a Republic. They were intellectuals. They recognized there would be a need for Principles to be ensconced as ideals and respected as examples. But, being intellectuals, not idiots, they were unfamiliar with the power and popularity of idiocy,

    • Skip Scott
      August 11, 2017 at 12:00 pm

      One of the things I like most about CN are the commenters, and that they are a bit free-wheeling, and often go into side issues. If you follow the reply threads you can easily skip down the parts that don’t interest you, or that you feel are too off-topic.
      To the topic at hand, Giraldi is quite correct that Congress, just like the rest of the American public, is fed mostly one-sided propaganda. The censoring of the Nekrosov film, and how nonUS-citizen Browder has been able to sell his side exclusively, is typical of the kind of information exposure most congress-critters get on most topics of the day. They know who butters their bread, and what kind of questions not to ask.

    • Sam F
      August 11, 2017 at 12:48 pm

      Hi Evangelista, I really don’t mind your intelligent and well-motivated criticism, but upon checking my comment and the article, could not find where it evaded the points of Mr. Giraldi’s article, nor where it ” dribbles off into metaphysical discussion.” Perhaps you wanted to focus on the Browder business, which I consider just a good new example of corrupted debate. I quite agree that the US is governed by warring gangs. Feel free to criticize in detail or focus discussion where you prefer.

      • Evangelista
        August 15, 2017 at 7:19 pm

        Sam F,

        In my comment regarding ConsortiumNews Comments appearing to be treated as a social-media forum, where if, for example, Mr. Giraldi were to look for meaningful feedback to his article, positive, negative, picking up a thread and running off, or on, topic, providing him a feel for reception, comprehension of his points, or missing of same, new takes, new thoughts, new directions he might look for additional depth, breadth, etc. and so on, he would, from top, find comments suggesting no one reading what he wrote, and then, if he waded down thirty or forty comments, finally a start of some things relevant, but those petering out a couple times, and finally, way down (if he had not given up) discussion of what he wrote picking up, I meantioned your comment one bringing the thread back to, or near to, topic. I noted the comments generated by your near point comment beginning with ‘grousing’ and then ‘dribbling off’ into metaphysics. You commented on the Metaphysical Club, referred to by another commentor, but I did not refer to either of your comments as ‘dribbling off’. The reference was to comments between your two referenced, and did not include the one that referenced the Metaphysical Club, or your clarification. Both those were in reference to your conception of an elite group able to monitor Congress and the government, which, being a grope for a solution to the cess-pool of self-interest and self-aggrandizement Congress has decomposed to, is on topic where congressional degeneration to legislating to private interests is topic.

        It doesn’t matter that the “solution” you hopefully advocate is no solution, or that it is one of the oldest in history and consequently most often demonstrated to degenerate into corruption: The U.S. Congress is an example, having been devised to provide as near as possible such a body of responsible elites self-guiding by commitment to higher purpose, with the known difficulties hoped mitigated by short term elections coercing regular reviews by the people. Right out of the gate the bulk of those the system mad ‘politically elite’ aggrandized themselves to superior for the position, and to abusing it for their assurances of continuities in power, leading to the infamous Sedition Laws, public response to which got them kicked out of office next elections (from which they learned nothing). When they got back into office the self-styled able-guides elilte promptly went back to self-aggrandizing, and brought the two dirtiest political campaigns to date, the first of which radicalized the electorate, and their political opponents to force “democracy” on the nation and reject all contrarial intellectual guidance. The result was, of course, a ‘democracy empowered’ “democratic elite”, who were as authoritarian as the Constitutional frame permitted them to get away with, and anything but legitimately democratic. Their authoritarianism did, however, provide frame for debates, and produced the loggerheads debate form that led to sectarian stand-off and the Civil War, with the Abolition issue an auxiliary radicalizing one (the Civil War was not fought about slavery; both sides championed slavery, the Planter South only the more humanitarian form where the slaves owners, having economic interests tied to those they slaved, had incentive to tend them and care for them, and look after them in the off-season, when Northern slavers, whose slaves cost them nothing, cut theirs loose [and pushed for more immigration to provide replacements for the losses]). After the war the degeneration continued, financed by robbery and mortgaging of the Occupied South Reconstruction legislatures selling bonds against property and future tax revenues that could not be collected, producing waves of market crashes through the “Gilded Age” the scamming and Ponzi-ing financed). The ‘safety-valve’ was The West, which provided escape and opportunity until the last indigenous were displaced and the finitey of exploitable natural resources began to barrier the nation.

        “Democracy” is a form of government that permits manipulation, divide-to-conquer and machine-politics, the machinery being manipulated by an elite empowered by their political machine, dividing to conquer, or keep suppressed, their oppositions, while they, the elite, themselves degenerate, skimming more, becoming more insular, suppressing the ‘masses’ more and more, instigating revolt, turmoil, revolution.

        The United States’ history, since its political elites’ throwing over of Republican Principles (that the Constitution was constructed to found on, and depend on) to reform the nation’s political and judiciary forms to “Democratic”, making the United States a “Democracy”, is a textbook of “Democratic Degeneration”, the inevitable course democracy takes any nation on, with more and more ‘special interest’ empowering more and more special interest, with the masses being manipulated to divide them to fight amongst themselves, instead of against their exploiting elites. At the ends of democracies is complete instability, with every decision based on current whim and current popularity, each decision of today being changeable, not foundationed on anything stable (like principles), likely to, if not inevitably to, be changed tomorrow. When wars become the next whim and enthusiasm, wars are declared, and the instabilities government is supposed to iron out and ameliorate become the new order. An order that cannot be altered by whim, want, wish or even heartfelt yearning. Wars, of course, also arise out of divisions fostered to divide oppositions to gain advantages; a situation we see in the Middle-East, and are seeing today in the U.S.A.

  21. JayHobeSound
    August 11, 2017 at 11:20 pm

    The video of Browder being served a subpoena was hilarious! A woman yelped as Browder roughly pushed her aside so he could climb in the right side door of a waiting car. He crawled thru to exit the left side and scurry up the street! LoL

    I went to a gathering a few years back at which Browder’s former Moscow lawyer, Jamie Firestone, an American, gave a talk re: the elaborate scheme some Russians pulled by raiding his law offices to steal business stamps for corporation documents to usurp control of the companies. Returning from a trip to the US, he was blocked from reentering Russia and never saw his offices again. It struck me he was young – mid to late 20s – to be proficient in Russian law handling Browder’s business.

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