Yes, Virginia, There Is a Deep State and Bob Parry Exposed It

In his efforts to uncover the Iran-Contra plot and the machinations surrounding Russia-gate, Bob Parry was in the forefront of journalists exposing the inner workings of the Deep State, recalls Ray McGovern during our Winter Fund Drive.

By Ray McGovern
Special to Consortium News

A year ago yesterday, it became fully clear what was behind the feverish attempt by our intelligence agencies and their mainstream media accomplices to emasculate President Donald Trump with the Russia-gate trope. It turned out that the objective was not only to delegitimize Trump and make it impossible for him to move toward a more decent relationship with Russia.

On December 12, 2017, it became manifestly clear that it was not only the usual suspects — the Military-Industrial-Congressional-Intelligence-Media-Academia-Think-Tank Complex, namely, the Boeings, Lockheeds, and Raytheons profiteering on high tension with Russia; not only greedy members of Congress upon whom defense contractors lavish some of their profits; not only the TV corporations controlled by those same contractors; and not only the Democrats desperately searching for a way to explain how Hillary Clinton could have lost to the buffoon we now have in the White House.

No, it was deeper than that. It turns out a huge part of the motivation behind Russia-gate was to hide how the Department of Justice, FBI, and CIA (affectionately known as the Deep State) — with their co-opted “assets” in the media — interfered in the 2016 election in a gross attempt to make sure Trump did not win.

Russia-gate: Cui Bono?

This would become crystal clear, even to cub reporters, when the text exchanges between senior FBI officials Peter Strzok and girlfriend Lisa Page were released exactly a year ago. Typically, readers of The New York Times the following day would altogether miss the importance of the text-exchanges.

Readers of Robert Parry’s article on December 13, 2017, “The Foundering Russia-gate ‘Scandal,” would be gently led to understand the importance of this critical extra dimension explaining the the media-cum-anonymous-intelligence-sources frenzied effort to push the prevailing Russia-gate narrative, and — and how captivated and unprofessional the mainstream media had become.

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Bob Parry did not call me frequently to compare notes, but he did call on Dec. 12, 2017 for a sanity check on the release of the Strzok-Page texts. We agreed on their significance, and I was tempted to volunteer a draft to appear the next day. But it was clear that Bob wanted to take the lead, and it would turn out to be his last substantive piece. He had already laid the groundwork with three articles earlier that month. (All three are worth reading again. Here are the links.

Here’s how Bob began his article on the Strzok-Page bombshell. (Not a fragment of it seemed to impact mainstream media.):

The disclosure of fiercely anti-Trump text messages between two romantically involved senior FBI officials who played key roles in the early Russia-gate inquiry has turned the supposed Russian-election-meddling “scandal” into its own scandal, by providing evidence that some government investigators saw it as their duty to block or destroy Donald Trump’s presidency.

As much as the U.S. mainstream media has mocked the idea that an American ‘deep state’ exists and that it has maneuvered to remove Trump from office, the text messages between senior FBI counterintelligence official Peter Strzok and senior FBI lawyer Lisa Page reveal how two high-ranking members of the government’s intelligence/legal bureaucracy saw their role as protecting the United States from an election that might elevate to the presidency someone as unfit as Trump.”

Parry’s Cri de Coeur

Fast forwarding just two weeks, Bob had a stroke on Christmas Eve, which seriously affected his eyesight. By New Year’s Eve 2017, though, he was able to “apologize” (typical Bob) to Consortium News readers for not filing for two weeks.

In January, he had additional strokes. When I visited him in the hospital, he was not himself. What is indelible in my memory, though, is the way he kept repeating from his hospital bed: “It’s too much; it’s just too much, too much.”

What was too much?

Since Bob told me how hard he had to struggle, with impaired vision, to put together his Dec. 31 piece, and since what he wrote throws such light on Bob and the prostitution of the profession he loved so much, I include a few excerpts below. (Forgive me, but I cannot, for the life of me, pare them down further.)

These paragraphs from Bob are required reading for those who want to have a some clue as to what has been going on in Washington, and the Faustian bargain Strzok — sorry, I mean struck — between the media and the Deep State. Here’s what Bob, clear-eyed, despite fuzzy eyesight, wrote:

On Christmas Eve, I suffered a stroke that has affected my eyesight (especially my reading and thus my writing) although apparently not much else. The doctors have also been working to figure out exactly what happened since I have never had high blood pressure, I never smoked, and my recent physical found nothing out of the ordinary. Perhaps my personal slogan that ‘every day’s a work day’ had something to do with this.

Perhaps, too, the unrelenting ugliness that has become Official Washington and national journalism was a factor. It seems that since I arrived in Washington in 1977 as a correspondent for The Associated Press, the nastiness of American democracy and journalism has gone from bad to worse. …

“More and more I would encounter policymakers, activists and, yes, journalists who cared less about a careful evaluation of the facts and logic and more about achieving a pre-ordained geopolitical result –and this loss of objective standards reached deeply into the most prestigious halls of American media. This perversion of principles –twisting information to fit a desired conclusion – became the modus vivendi of American politics and journalism. And those of us who insisted on defending the journalistic principles of skepticism and
evenhandedness were increasingly shunned by our colleagues … Everything became ‘information warfare.’ …

The demonization of Russian President Vladimir Putin and Russia is just the most dangerous feature of this propaganda process – and this is where the neocons and the liberal interventionists most significantly come together. The U.S. media’s approach to Russia is now virtually 100 percent propaganda. Does any sentient human being read the New York Times’ or the Washington Post’s coverage of Russia and think that he or she is getting a neutral or unbiased treatment of the facts? … The American people and the West in general are carefully shielded from hearing the ‘other side of the story.’ Indeed to even suggest that there is another side to the story makes you a ‘Putin apologist’ or ‘Kremlin stooge.’

Western journalists now apparently see it as their patriotic duty to hide key facts that otherwise would undermine the demonizing of Putin and Russia. Ironically, many ‘liberals’ who cut their teeth on skepticism about the Cold War and the bogus justifications for the Vietnam War now insist that we must all accept whatever the U.S. intelligence community feeds us, even if we’re told to accept the assertions on faith. …

The hatred of Trump and Putin was so intense that old-fashioned rules of journalism and fairness were brushed aside. On a personal note, I faced harsh criticism even from friends of many years for refusing to enlist in the anti-Trump ‘Resistance.’ The argument was that Trump was such a unique threat to America and the world that I should join in finding any justification for his ouster. Some people saw my insistence on the same journalistic standards that I had always employed somehow a betrayal.

Other people, including senior editors across the mainstream media, began to treat the unproven Russia-gate allegations as flat fact. No skepticism was tolerated and mentioning the obvious bias among the never-Trumpers inside the FBI, Justice Department and intelligence community was decried as an attack on the integrity of the U.S. government’s institutions. Anti-Trump ‘progressives’ were posturing as the true patriots because of their now unquestioning acceptance of the evidence-free proclamations of the U.S. intelligence and law enforcement agencies.

Hatred of Trump had become like some invasion of the body snatchers –or perhaps many of my journalistic colleagues had never believed in the principles of journalism that I had embraced throughout my adult life. To me, journalism wasn’t just a cover for political activism; it was a commitment to the American people and the world to tell important news stories as fully and fairly as I could; not to slant the ‘facts’ to ‘get’ some ‘bad’ political leader or ‘guide’ the public
in some desired direction.”

Robert Parry died on January 27, 2018. Our corrupt media, though, live on in infamy. Strokes and pancreatic cancer were named as the cause. But I think Bob was also a casualty of the Faustian media/Deep State bargain. It was just “too much.”

Ray McGovern works with Tell the Word, a publishing arm of the ecumenical Church of the Saviour in inner-city Washington. Bob Parry was happily surprised when he learned that CIA and other intelligence analysts, as opposed to operations people, were as devoted as he was to spreading some truth around; he welcomed our input — in particular the corporate memos from Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity; the VIPS archive on CN appears at: https://consortiumnews.com/vips-memos/

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George H.W. Bush’s Bitter Legacy in the Middle East

The avalanche of funeral hagiography drowned any possible discussion of what Bush did to the Middle East. As’ad AbuKhalil writes that he rallied despots against Iraq and established a new, tyrannical security order in the region.  

Sequel to ‘British Betrayal’ of WWI

By As`ad AbuKhalil
Special to Consortium News

Any sober assessment of late President George H.W. Bush’s political legacy was drowned last week by the avalanche of hagiography by the mainstream media. This served, in part, the role of catharsis. The more loudly the members of the media praised Bush, whose family has testy relations with President Donald Trump, the more it helped them vent their animosity towards the current president.  

Lost in this anti-historical, fact-free binge was any possible discussion of Bush’s most important legacies, one of which is certainly his great fake-out of Arab interests in the Middle East. Almost every U.S. president since Harry S. Truman has been more pro-Israel than his predecessor. The sole exception to this was George H.W. Bush. But via the war against Iraq, his administration wound up embracing Israeli interests and regional hegemony to such a degree that it left lasting damage to peace and stability in the region. 

H.W. Bush was adept at changing ideologies to suit the venue. The man who emerged from the “moderate” wing of the East Coast Republican Party became the political heir of President Ronald Reagan, who wooed the Religious Right and made abortion a litmus test for all Supreme Court nominees. 

While Bush did not leave a presidential memoir, (he is the first since Franklin D. Roosevelt not to do so), he did coauthor a book with Brent Scowcroft, his national security advisor, “A World Transformed.”  This offers evidence of Bush’s close ties with Arab Gulf despots and the deposed Egyptian strongman Husni Mubarak, who served as his chief advisor on the region. 

Bush was obviously impressed by the fabulous wealth and hospitality of Arab potentates.  At one point in the book, during a stay in one of King Fahd’s marble guest palaces, he marvels at the chandeliers, the air conditioning and goes on at length about a lavish state dinner. “I had never seen so much—and of nearly every conceivable type of food.” 

Wealthy Arab Friends 

Bush’s ties with wealthy Arabs served him well. Lebanese businessman Najad Isam Faris and Syrian businessman Jamale Daniel helped the business career of Bush’s son, Neil. With his network of Gulf associates, Bush served as a prized advisor to the Carlyle Group, the global, private equity firm based in Washington, D.C., with a specialty of investing in companies that depend on government contracts.

Bush’s footprints in the region begin with his oil-business years in Texas. At that point, in the 1950s, oil companies often served as a chief lobbying force for Gulf regimes against the Israeli lobby. This was not due to any humanitarian concern for the plight of the Palestinian people. It was due to the usual financial motivation. The Israel lobby opposed closer ties between the U.S. and all Arab countries, which compelled oil businesses to defend their Gulf suppliers. Since the Israeli lobby opposed U.S. arms sales to Middle East regimes, it had other big-business opponents as well.

Later in his life, Bush also dealt with the Middle East as U.S. ambassador to the United Nations and as director of the CIA. (The deputy chief of Saudi intelligence during Bush’s time at the CIA, Prince Turki Al-Faisal, was one of the few foreign dignitaries invited to attend the funeral). 

When the Israeli prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, paid tribute last week to Bush  he concealed a long history of Israeli detestation for the man. 

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As Ronald Reagan’s vice president, Bush—along with James Baker, the White House chief of staff, and Caspar Weinberger, the secretary of defense—had the coolest attitudes towards Israel of any in the administration, which was otherwise loaded with ardent Zionists. Bush was vilified for his 1991 remark that he was a “one lonely guy” battling “a thousand lobbyists on the Hill.”

Nonetheless Bush toed the pro-Israeli line and championed the cause of Soviet Jewish dissidents and the sponsorship of the emigration of Jews from Ethiopia, Syria and the former Soviet Union to Israel.  He also recruited ardent Zionists (Jack Kemp, Condoleezza Rice and Dennis Ross) for his administration.

As president, Bush was branded an anti-Semite in 1991 for “deferring” for 120 days $10 billion in loan guarantees to Israel. He did this to prevent Israel from putting the money toward settlements in the occupied lands of 1967. Bush was also trying to persuade Israel to join the U.S.-sponsored peace process. 

Serious About Settlements

This was the only time the U.S. government treated the settlements and the Israeli role in the peace process as a serious matter. The Obama administration did voice mild protestations about the settlements, which violate international law. But after Bush, the settlements never again caused any serious irritation to U.S.-Israeli relations.

The Bush administration also, at one point, banned Ariel Sharon, the Israeli militarist and politician, from entering U.S. government buildings due to his statements against the U.S. role in the peace process. (When Jack Kemp, housing secretary at the time, wanted to meet with Sharon, James Baker instructed him to meet outside government offices). 

But in Iraq, the Bush administration began the process of removing a regime that the Israel government had been complaining about for years. This was before Israel discovered the Iranian danger. It was also many years after Israel rid itself of the Egyptian danger thanks to the Camp David Accords between the despotic Egyptian President Anwar Sadat and the Israeli government under the auspices of the American human rights president, Jimmy Carter. Going forward, the U.S. bombed everything on Israel’s bombing wish list in Iraq.

Bush was intent on going to war against Iraq in 1990. He sent Dick Cheney, then secretary of defense, and Colin Powell, then chairman of the joint chiefs of staff, to Riyadh to persuade the king that U.S. troops were needed on the ground in Saudi Arabia to protect the kingdom from an Iraqi invasion (U.S. ships had moved before Cheney stepped foot on Saudi soil). 

Rallying Against Iraq 

The H.W.Bush administration rallied Arab despots against Iraq and established a regional tyrannical order. Even the Syrian regime rose above its previous conflicts with the U.S. and got on board. Together, they denied Saddam Hussein, Iraq’s president, the one condition that he sought for withdrawal. As Bush admits in the book he coauthored, that sole condition was access to the Persian Gulf.

From 1991 on, most members of the U.S. armed forces—especially the Air Force—began to train over (or on) Arab lands.  Today that means bases and military activities in Iraq, Kuwait, Qatar, Libya, Saudi Arabia, Oman, UAE, Syria (illegally), not to mention other places where the U.S. maintains secret military and intelligence bases (it was leaked to the press a few years ago that Dubai hosts one of the largest CIA bases in the world). 

Bush exploited the Gulf War to impose a security regime where the U.S.—and not the local despotic clients—called the shots.  Furthermore, Bush introduced the misuse of the U.N. as “an added cloak of political cover for U.S. wars and actions,” as is described on page 416 of the book he coauthored.

In targeting Iraq, Bush begin to eliminate the biggest (albeit exaggerated) Arab military power. He also pushed Arab governments to sit face-to-face with Israel in Madrid without securing any concessions from Israel at all. 

The “peace process” under Bush was just as it had been under his predecessors and successors. It amounted to empty promises of U.S. rewards for Arab participation in the war on Iraq. It was a repeat of the “British betrayal” of World War I, when, in exchange for help fighting against the Ottoman Empire, Arabs thought they would earn  independence.

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

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Mexico’s Solution to the Border Crisis

López Obrador’s $20 billion development plan gives Washington a chance to help rectify the historic damage it’s done to the living conditions of people in Guatemala, Honduras, and El Salvador, writes Patrick Lawrence.

A Latin American Marshall Plan, at a Discount 

By Patrick Lawrence
Special to Consortium News

With President Donald Trump on Tuesday threatening to shut down the government if he doesn’t get his wall, it’s good that someone in a position of authority actually has a workable solution to the migrant crisis festering on the Mexican border with the U.S.

The day after Andrés Manuel López Obrador took office as Mexico’s president on Dec. 1, his foreign minister flew to Washington to propose a $20 billion development plan to make Central America a place for people to stay rather than flee. Three-quarters of the money would help create jobs and fight poverty. The rest would pay for border control and law enforcement.

The plan would be funded by Mexico, the U.S. and the three Central American that produce the most refugees and migrants, according to the size of their economies. The  U.S. would pay most, which seems just given the decades of support—including millions in military assistance and police training—that Washington offered corrupt, anti-democratic dictators who oversaw the impoverishment of Central America. In addition, the U.S. backed the 2009 coup in Honduras that has directly led to an influx of refugees streaming towards the U.S. border.

At last there is a plan that addresses the causes, and not just the symptoms of Central America’s migrant and refugee crisis: poverty, unemployment, drug trafficking, gang violence, police corruption, the world’s highest murder rates.  At last an implicit assertion that the U.S. bears some responsibility—and arguably the largest share—for the unlivable conditions of many Guatemalans, Hondurans and Salvadorans appears to be at hand. 

Marcelo Ebrard, Mexico’s new foreign minister, met with Secretary of State Mike Pompeo in Washington on Dec. 1 as thousands of migrants from Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador were marooned in Tijuana and other locations on the Mexican side of the border. Ebrard compared Mexico’s proposal with the Marshall Plan, the 1948–51 program to rebuild Europe. In this case, however, the U.S. would spend far less.  In today’s dollars, adjusted for inflation, the U.S. contributed nearly $100 billion to the Marshall Plan (an investment in both reconstruction and the advancement of U.S. business interests in Europe).

The State Department said little in its official response, merely acknowledging the two nations’ “shared commitment to address our common challenges and opportunities.” Ebrard said only, “I thank him [Pompeo] for his attitude and respect toward the new administration of President López Obrador.”

Translation: Ebrard seems to have gotten nowhere. No surprise since the Trump administration has threatened to cut aid to Central American nations that don’t stop the flow of migrants northward. But that flow won’t stop until the conditions causing it are alleviated.  But Central American nations need help to do that. 

Signal Test

This is a test for Trump, the right-wing populist, who said he could work with López Obrador, the left-wing populist. 

López Obrador’s commitment to alleviating poverty, crime and underdevelopment in Central America was the theme that won him the presidency last year. On his inauguration day he signed a comprehensive Central American development plan with the presidents of Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador. Their document earned U.N. backing.

The U.S. entertained a similar development program not long ago.

In 2000, Vicente Fox proposed an infrastructure development plan  for Central America soon after he was elected Mexican president. George W. Bush listened: When he was inaugurated a few months later, Bush declared Mexico Washington’s highest foreign policy and national security priority.

Then came  Sept. 11, 2001.  The wars in Afghanistan, Iraq and Syria followed at a cost of $5.6 trillion, according to a recent study by the Watson Institute at Brown University. That is 280 times the amount Marcelo Ebrard put on the table with Pompeo.

Would there be caravans of migrants heading north from Central America today had Washington partnered with Mexico to make relatively modest investments in regional development programs a couple of decades ago?

There is indeed a history to U.S. development aid to Latin America, and like the Marshall Plan, past efforts were centered on promoting U.S. business interests.  President John F. Kennedy launched the Alliance for Progress, which was criticized as being intended mostly to help U.S. business interests, including in this 1968 NBC News report (at 14:37).

Like the Marshall plan and the Alliance for Progress, any U.S. development deal today for Central America to keep Central Americans in Central America will likely have to provide an advantage for U.S. business interests there. With a businessman in the White House, it would be hard not to assume that Trump would use his leverage with Obrabor to push for this in any deal, if he engages Obrador’s proposal at all. 

Global Context

The Mexico proposal has a global context, given that continental Europe and the U.S. share variants of the same problem. Both face unmanageable waves of migrants and refugeesfrom their underdeveloped and war-tornperipheries. Regrettably, both also focus on walls, fences, and other kinds of border security to the neglect of root causes.

U.S.–led interventions in Libya and Syria have driven Europe’s refugee crisis.  Continuing Western exploitation of African resources also contributes to the migrant crisis.

At a four-sided summit in Istanbul last month, the leaders of Germany, France, Turkey and Russia presented blueprints to restore Syria to a livable nation to which refugees and migrants could return. The U.S, the major foreign contributor to the Syrian tragedy, did not attend. 

For those nations that did, the Istanbul gathering can be counted as no more than a first step. But it suggests how developed Western nations should respond to crises in underdeveloped and non–Western nations that they helped create and now amount to a global security problem. Climate change, which Trump denies, and two decades of neoliberal economic policies, are also among the reasons caravans of Central Americans stream northward.

The West’s role in creating many of the planet’s migration and refugee crises—maybe  the majority—needs to be acknowledged and policies should reflect this responsibility. The attendance by France and Germany at the Istanbul gathering gives the U.S. an example to follow towards Mexico and Central America.  

Patrick Lawrence, a correspondent abroad for many years, chiefly for the International Herald Tribune, is a columnist, essayist, author, and lecturer. His most recent book is Time No Longer: Americans After the American Century (Yale). Follow him @thefloutist. His web site is www.patricklawrence.us. Support his work viwww.patreon.com/thefloutist.

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Alexis Tsipras’ Failed Attempt at Democratic Socialism

The prime minister who lost his bluff with international creditors in 2015 is now striking another radical pose by giving holidays to assassins, writes John Kiriakou. 

Tsipras Has Betrayed the Greek People

By John Kiriakou
Special to Consortium News

The Greek word “syriza” means radical or from the grass roots.  That, however, does not describe the man who leads Syriza, Greece’s ruling party of the same name. 

Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras mishandled the dramatic standoff with the EU and international creditors three years ago. He is now meddling with the country’s anti-terrorism laws concerning the Revolutionary Organization 17 November, a far-left group formed in 1975 that has carried out numerous assassinations.

I am not unbiased on this issue.  I was a CIA officer in Athens from 1998-2000 working against 17 November, which has killed 23 people, including foreign diplomats, a Greek publisher of a right-wing newspaper, a member of parliament, a CIA station chief in Athens, two U.S. defense attaches, and a U.S. Air Force sergeant. 

I left Greece abruptly in August 2000 after 17 November assassinated my neighbor, British Defense Attache Stephen Saunders.  The group said in a subsequent communique that they had set out to kill me that morning, but they saw that I was driving an armored car and they knew that I was armed.  I was evacuated two hours after the communique was published.

Under Tsipras’ reforms, any prisoner who has significant physical disabilities and who is serving a life sentence may be released unconditionally.  That law affects only one person, Savvas Xiros, the 17 November assassin whose bomb went off in his hands as he was positioning it to kill a shipowner in the port city of Pireaus.  Xiros lost his hands and an eye.  He thought he would die from his injuries, so he confessed everything to the police.  Then he lived. So far he’s still in prison.

Another provision gave furloughs to all of the 17 November terrorists serving life terms for murder, including the group’s founder Alexandros Yiotopoulos and its two lead assassins, Christodoulos Xiros and Dimitris Koufondinas. They are all serving terms of more than 1,600 years each.  Two years ago, while on a two-week Christmas furlough, Christodoulos Xiros simply walked free. He was caught a year later.  But instead of being punished with a longer sentence, he is scheduled for another furlough this Christmas.

Tsipras’ Betrayal

After becoming prime minister in January 2015, Tsipras, then 44, almost immediately began hinting that Greece would exit the Eurozone and return to the drachma as its national currency unless the “evil troika”— the European Central Bank, the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund—eased demands to slash government spending, primarily on pensions. 

He sent his finance minister at the time, Giannis Varoufakis, who is now working with Sen. Bernie Sanders to form an international progressive movement, to Berlin and London to hold the Greek position as forcefully as possible. Varoufakis did as he was asked. He made it clear that Syriza was willing to leave the European Union and default on its loans to defend Greek citizens from hardship. His comments rattled foreign exchange markets and weakened the euro against the dollar.

As part of these hardline and high-stakes negotiation, Greece missed a payment deadline of its international creditors by 24 hours, further escalating tensions. Tsipras then pulled an infamous publicity stunt. He called for a national referendum on withdrawing from the Eurozone, calculating that it would fail. He had no intention of dropping the euro and returning to the drachma. But voters approved the referendum.

Varoufakis, who is a personal friend, told me that he was with the prime minister the night of the referendum. When it was clear it would pass, he said, Tsipras looked at him and said, “Shit.  We’re going to actually win this.”

Tsipras decided to ignore the voters. Instead of fulfilling his party’s essential, opening promise—to resist demands for massive budget cuts and layoffs from the public sector for Greece—Tsipras capitulated.

Varoufakis Takes the Fall

Tsipras also threw Varoufakis to the wolves. Varoufakis was forced to resign and the country’s chief prosecutor wound up charging him with “undermining the national currency” by weakening the euro against the dollar with his threat to withdraw from the Eurozone in meetings with the Germans. 

Varoufakis was arraigned on a charge of treason and still faces trial, although he may not see the inside of a courtroom for another 20 years.  That’s the Greek justice system, where treason cases typically drag on for decades and then fizzle out. The last treason conviction was in the 1970s, when the leaders of the 1967-74 military junta were convicted and sentenced to life in prison.  They all died there.

In the years since Greece’s drastic face-off with the EU, unemployment has fallen to 19 percent from 30 percent to.  Tourism is way up.  And the country is no longer on the brink of insolvency. But none of that has anything to do with the Syriza Party, its platform or its leader. The economy is turning around because it has finally found a natural equilibrium, albeit at a much-reduced size from before the crisis, and in spite of Syriza’s policies.

Syriza is a comparatively new party in Greece, founded in 2001 after the socialist PASOK party collapsed under the weight of its own corruption.  It’s a coalition of stragglers from PASOK and five small Eurocommunist parties.  Its platform is socialist and nationalist at the same time:  oppose neoliberal economic policies, protect Greek workers, clean up the environment, provide for the elderly, maintain good relations with neighbors, oppose counterterrorism laws and welcome refugees. 

Capitalist Moves

But in accordance with the EU’s bailout conditions, Tsipras wound up firing thousands of government workers, taking 10,000 priests off the government payroll and selling state monopolies to foreign investors. Thousands of Greeks either lost their pensions or had them slashed. For the first time in generations, many Greeks went hungry and became homeless. 

None of that was socialist. It was capitalist. A truly socialist leader would have increased spending to stimulate the economy, while allowing public ownership of key industries.  He would have increased exports from already socialized sectors, such as concrete and olive oil production.

Another notable failure of Tsipras concerns the Skouries mine in northern Greece, which is operated by the Canadian Eldorado Gold Corporation. Greece is a rather important producer of gold, but Eldorado’s operation has stirred intense demonstrations to protect the local water supply. Stridently anti-Eldorado graffiti in the northern part of the country expresses some of the local outrageInstead of taking over the mine, cleaning it up, and selling mining rights to any number of “green” gold mining companies, Tsipras did nothing.  As a result, miners went on strike last year and the company has announced layoffs.

On the heels of these failures, Tsipras looked for ways to recover his credentials as a “democratic socialist,” bringing him to his current debacle.

Tsipras’s predecessors, prime ministers from both the conservative New Democracy and socialist PASOK parties, all asked U.S., British and Israeli intelligence services for help against 17 November. Flouting that precedent, Tsipras decided to weakened the country’s anti-terrorism laws. Since many of these laws were pushed by the United States, he saw it as a way to set himself apart from Greek conservatives.

I’ve been a Greek citizen since 2008. The Tsipras government hired me to help it write a new whistleblower protection law, enacted in April.  But Tsipras has turned his back on democratic socialism.  He’s turned his back on the poor, the elderly, the environment, and even the victims of terrorism for no good reason.  Tsipras has set back his professed democratic socialism by a generation.

John Kiriakou is a former CIA counterterrorism officer and a former senior investigator with the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. John became the sixth whistleblower indicted by the Obama administration under the Espionage Act—a law designed to punish spies. He served 23 months in prison as a result of his attempts to oppose the Bush administration’s torture program.

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Trump’s Timidity is Letting Comey Off the Hook

With just a few days left before Congress adjourns, House Republicans, like their President, have pretty much let the clock run out. There’s little chance now in “taking on the intelligence community,” says Ray McGovern.

By Ray McGovern
Special to Consortium
Because President Donald Trump has again pulled the rug out from under them, House Republicans face Mission Impossible on Friday when they try to hold ex-FBI Director James Comey accountable for his highly dubious authorization of surveillance on erstwhile Trump campaign adviser Carter Page.

Comey let go his unprecedented legal maneuver to have a court quash a subpoena for him to appear behind closed doors before the Republican-led House Judiciary Committee before the Democrats take over the committee in January. The current committee chair, Rep. Bob Goodlatte (R-VA), decried Comey’s use of “baseless litigation” in an “attempt to run out the clock on this Congress.”

The Judiciary Committee has jurisdiction over the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA); so the still secret FISA application “justifying” surveillance of Page is almost sure to come up.

Comey had wanted a public hearing so he could pull the ruse of refusing to respond because his answers would be classified. He has now agreed to a closed-door meeting on Friday, with a transcript, likely to be redacted, to appear soon after. 

In an interview with The New York Post last Wednesday, Trump acknowledged that he could declassify Comey’s damning Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act warrant request to show how devastating those pages likely are, but said he would not do so “until they were needed,” namely, if a Democratic House starts going after him. “If they go down the presidential harassment track, if they want go and harass the president and the administration, I think that would be the best thing that would happen to me. I’m a counter-puncher and I will hit them so hard they’d never been hit like that,” Trump told the paper. He added:  “It’s much more powerful if I do it then, because if we had done it already, it would already be yesterday’s news.”

But they are needed before Comey’s hearing on Friday. Barely a week will remain before Congress adjourns. Four weeks later Democrats take over the oversight committees.

Cowardice Deja Vu

This is not the first time Trump has flinched. On September 17 he ordered “immediate declassification” of Russia-gate documents, including FISA-related material. Four days later he backed down, explaining that he would leave it to the Justice Department’s inspector general to review the material, rather than release it publicly.

What exactly is in the FISA application, and why had House Intelligence Committee chair Devin Nunes, for example, kept pleading with Trump to declassify it? In July Nunes expressed hedged confidence “that once the American people see these 20 pages, at least for those that will get real reporting on this issue, they will be shocked by what’s in that FISA application” to surveil Page, a U.S. citizen.

Oddly, Trump echoed Nunes, telling The New York Post that, were he to declassify FISA warrant applications and other documents, all would “see how devastating those pages are.” But Trump blamed his reluctance to declassify on one of his lawyers, Emmet Flood, who thought it would be better politically to wait. “He didn’t want me to do it yet, because I can save it. … I think [eventual release] might help my campaign.” So Nunes et al. find themselves thrown under the bus, again.

Worse still, according to Comey’s attorney, the “accommodation” worked out with House Judiciary Committee includes a proviso that a representative of the FBI will be present on Friday to advise on any issues of confidentiality and legal privilege. Do not be surprised to see many Peter-Strzok-type responses: “I would really like to answer that question, but the FBI won’t let me.”

Afraid?

In an insightful posting, David Stockman, budget director for President Ronald Reagan, was puzzled about why Trump doesn’t seem to get what’s going on. I think, rather, that Trump does get it, and that Stockman’s puzzlement may be due mostly to his specific experience as budget director. In that role, Stockman did not have to pay much heed to the Deep State, so long as he did not demur about the obscenely excessive budgets automatically given to the FBI, DOJ, CIA, NSA, and the Pentagon.

With Trump it’s a different kettle of fish — and they are piranhas. Trump has ample reason to fear the Deep State is out to get him because it is. And by this point he seems to have internalized quite enough fear that it would be too dangerous to take on the the FBI and intelligence community. Needless to say, the stakes are exceedingly high — for both sides. As president-elect, Trump dismissed the usual warnings as to how things work in Washington. But he could hardly have missed Sen. Minority Leader Chuck Schumer’s attempt to ensure that Trump knows what he should be afraid of.

Not Afraid? Then ‘Really Dumb’

On Jan. 3, 2017, three weeks before Trump took office, Schumer told MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow, that President-elect Trump was “being really dumb” by taking on the intelligence community and doubting its assessments on Russia’s cyber activities: “Let me tell you, you take on the intelligence community, they have six ways from Sunday at getting back at you. So even for a practical, supposedly hard-nosed businessman, he’s being really dumb to do this.”

Schumer’s words came just three days before then-National Intelligence Director James Clapper and the heads of the FBI, CIA, and NSA descended upon the president-elect with the misnomered “Intelligence Community Assessment” — a rump, evidence-free embarrassment to serious practitioners of intelligence analysis, published that same day, alleging that Russian President Vladimir Putin had done what he could to get Trump elected.

Adding insult to injury, after the January 6, 2017 briefing of the president-elect by the Gang of Four, Comey asked the others to leave, and proceeded to brief Trump on the dubious findings of the so-called “Steele dossier” — opposition research paid for by the Democrats (and, according to some reports, by the FBI as well) — with unconfirmed but scurrilous stories about Trump cavorting with prostitutes in Moscow, etc., etc. (And according to The Washington Post, that incident with hookers was written by a Clinton operative.) That opposition research was apparently used in the FISA warrant request, without revealing its provenance to the judge.

This Russia Thing’

It seems to have taken Trump a few months to appreciate fully that he was being subjected to the classic blackmail-type advisory previously used with presidents-elect by the likes of J. Edgar Hoover. Indeed, this may be what Trump had in mind when he told Lester Holt in May 2017 that he had fired Comey over “this Russia thing.” (Trump can be his worst enemy when he opens his mouth.)

Comey’s closed-door deposition is now scheduled for the 77th anniversary of the Japanese surprise attack on Pearl Harbor. But don’t look for any surprise attack on Comey this December 7 from Judiciary Committee members, highly vulnerable though he is.

With just a few days left before Congress adjourns, House Republicans, like their President, have pretty much let the clock run out on them. Few will see much percentage at this late date in “taking on the intelligence community.” Trump has already pretty much thrown them under the bus.

The leadership of the three House committees with purview over Russia-gate matters — Judiciary, Intelligence, and Government Operations — changes next month. So while Friday had seemed to be shaping up as a key day for confronting Comey — and for getting answers to questions on Russia-gate — the day will likely land with an anticlimactic thud. Even if the committee is able to expose additional misdeeds not already known, nothing much is likely to happen before Christmas.

After that, the three committees and their aborted work will be history.

The dominant mainstream media narrative about Russia-gate — ignoring FBI-gate — will hop happily into the new year. And no congressional “oversight” committee will dare step up to its constitutional duty, despite a plethora of documentary evidence on FBI-gate. And why? Largely because “they” of the Deep State “have six ways from Sunday at getting back at you.”

Most consequential of all, any significant improvement in relations with Russia will remain stymied. And the MICIMATT (Military-Industrial-Congressional-Intelligence-Media-Academia-Think Tank) complex, with its Deep-State enforcer, will have won yet another round. Merry Christmas.

Ray McGovern works with Tell the Word, a publishing arm of the ecumenical Church of the Saviour in inner-city Washington. He worked for the senior Bush when he was director of the CIA and then briefed him mornings, one-on-one, with the President’s Daily Brief during the first Reagan administration. In Jan. 2003, Ray co-founded Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity (VIPS) and still serves on its Steering Group.

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The Guardian’s Vilification of Julian Assange

The Guardian did not make a mistake in vilifying Assange without a shred of evidence. It did what it is designed to do, says Jonathan Cook. 

By Jonathan Cook
Johanthan-Cook.net

It is welcome that finally there has been a little pushback, including from leading journalists, to The Guardian’s long-running vilification of Julian Assange, the founder of Wikileaks.

Reporter Luke Harding’s latest article, claiming that Donald Trump’s disgraced former campaign manager Paul Manafort secretly visited Assange in Ecuador’s embassy in London on three occasions, is so full of holes that even hardened opponents of Assange in the corporate media are struggling to stand by it.

Faced with the backlash, The Guardian quickly – and very quietly – rowed back its initial certainty that its story was based on verified facts. Instead, it amended the text, without acknowledging it had done so, to attribute the claims to unnamed, and uncheckable, “sources”.

The propaganda function of the piece is patent. It is intended to provide evidence for long-standing allegations that Assange conspired with Trump, and Trump’s supposed backers in the Kremlin, to damage Hillary Clinton during the 2016 presidential race.

The Guardian’s latest story provides a supposedly stronger foundation for an existing narrative: that Assange and Wikileaks knowingly published emails hacked by Russia from the Democratic party’s servers. In truth, there is no public evidence that the emails were hacked, or that Russia was involved. Central actors have suggested instead that the emails were leaked from within the Democratic party.

Nonetheless, this unverified allegation has been aggressively exploited by the Democratic leadership because it shifts attention away both from its failure to mount an effective electoral challenge to Trump and from the damaging contents of the emails. These show that party bureaucrats sought to rig the primaries to make sure Clinton’s challenger for the Democratic nomination, Bernie Sanders, lost.

To underscore the intended effect of the Guardian’s new claims, Harding even throws in a casual and unsubstantiated reference to “Russians” joining Manafort in supposedly meeting Assange.

Manafort has denied the Guardian’s claims, while Assange has threatened to sue The Guardian for libel.

Responsible for Trump’

The emotional impact ofThe Guardian is to suggest that Assange is responsible for four years or more of Trump rule. But more significantly, it bolsters the otherwise risible claim that Assange is not a publisher – and thereby entitled to the protections of a free press, as enjoyed by The Guardian or The New York Times – but the head of an organization engaged in espionage for a foreign power.

The intention is to deeply discredit Assange, and by extension the Wikileaks organization, in the eyes of right-thinking liberals. That, in turn, will make it much easier to silence Assange and the vital cause he represents: the use of new media to hold to account the old, corporate media and political elites through the imposition of far greater transparency.

The Guardian story will prepare public opinion for the moment when Ecuador’s rightwing government under President Lenin Moreno forces Assange out of the embassy, having already withdrawn most of his rights to use digital media.

It will soften opposition when the UK moves to arrest Assange on self-serving bail violation charges and extradites him to the US. And it will pave the way for the US legal system to lock Assange up for a very long time.

For the best part of a decade, any claims by Assange’s supporters that avoiding this fate was the reason Assange originally sought asylum in the embassy was ridiculed by corporate journalists, not least at the Guardian.

Even when a United Nations panel of experts in international law ruled in 2016 that Assange was being arbitrarily – and unlawfully – detained by the UK, Guardian writers led efforts to discredit the UN report. See here and here.

Now Assange and his supporters have been proved right once again. An administrative error this month revealed that the US justice department had secretly filed criminal charges against Assange.

Heavy Surveillance

The problem forThe Guardian, which should have been obvious to its editors from the outset, is that any visits by Manafort would be easily verifiable without relying on unnamed “sources”.

Glenn Greenwald is far from alone in noting that London is possibly the most surveilled city in the world, with CCTV cameras everywhere. The environs of the Ecuadorian embassy are monitored especially heavily, with continuous filming by the UK and Ecuadorian authorities and most likely by the US and other actors with an interest in Assange’s fate.

The idea that Manafort or “Russians” could have wandered into the embassy to meet Assange even once without their trail, entry and meeting being intimately scrutinized and recorded is simply preposterous.

According to Greenwald: “If Paul Manafort … visited Assange at the Embassy, there would be ample amounts of video and other photographic proof demonstrating that this happened. The Guardian provides none of that.”

Former British ambassador Craig Murray also points out the extensive security checks insisted on by the embassy to which any visitor to Assange must submit. Any visits by Manafort would have been logged.

In fact, The Guardian obtained the embassy’s logs in May, and has never made any mention of either Manafort or “Russians” being identified in them. It did not refer to the logs in its latest story.

Murray:

The problem with this latest fabrication is that [Ecuador’s President] Moreno had already released the visitor logs to the Mueller inquiry. Neither Manafort nor these “Russians” are in the visitor logs … What possible motive would the Ecuadorean government have for facilitating secret unrecorded visits by Paul Manafort? Furthermore it is impossible that the intelligence agency – who were in charge of the security – would not know the identity of these alleged “Russians”.

No Fact-Checking

It is worth noting it should be vitally important for a serious publication like The Guardian to ensure its claims are unassailably true – both because Assange’s personal fate rests on their veracity, and because, even more importantly, a fundamental right, the freedom of the press, is at stake.

Given this, one would have expected The Guardian’s editors to have insisted on the most stringent checks imaginable before going to press with Harding’s story. At a very minimum, they should have sought out a response from Assange and Manafort before publication. Neither precaution was taken.

I worked for The Guardian for a number of years, and know well the layers of checks that any highly sensitive story has to go through before publication. In that lengthy process, a variety of commissioning editors, lawyers, backbench editors and the editor herself, Kath Viner, would normally insist on cuts to anything that could not be rigorously defended and corroborated.

And yet this piece seems to have been casually waved through, given a green light even though its profound shortcomings were evident to a range of well-placed analysts and journalists from the outset.

That at the very least hints that The Guardian thought they had “insurance” on this story. And the only people who could have promised that kind of insurance are the security and intelligence services – presumably of Britain, the United States and / or Ecuador.

It appears The Guardian has simply taken this story, provided by spooks, at face value. Even if it later turns out that Manafort did visit Assange, The Guardian clearly had no compelling evidence for its claims when it published them. That is profoundly irresponsible journalism – fake news – that should be of the gravest concern to readers.

A Pattern, Not an Aberration

Despite all this, even analysts critical of The Guardian’s behavior have shown a glaring failure to understand that its latest coverage represents not an aberration by the paper but decisively fits with a pattern.

Glenn Greenwald, who once had an influential column in The Guardian until an apparent, though unacknowledged, falling out with his employer over the Edward Snowden revelations, wrote a series of baffling observations about The Guardian’s latest story.

First, he suggested it was simply evidence of The Guardian’s long-standing (and well-documented) hostility towards Assange.

The Guardian, an otherwise solid and reliable paper, has such a pervasive and unprofessionally personal hatred for Julian Assange that it has frequently dispensed with all journalistic standards in order to malign him.”

It was also apparently evidence of the paper’s clickbait tendencies:

They [Guardian editors] knew that publishing this story would cause partisan warriors to excitedly spread the story, and that cable news outlets would hyperventilate over it, and that they’d reap the rewards regardless of whether the story turned out to be true or false.”

And finally, in a bizarre tweet, Greenwald opined, “I hope the story [maligning Assange] turns out true” – apparently because maintenance of The Guardian’s reputation is more important than Assange’s fate and the right of journalists to dig up embarrassing secrets without fear of being imprisoned.

Deeper Malaise

What this misses is that The Guardian’s attacks on Assange are not exceptional or motivated solely by personal animosity. They are entirely predictable and systematic. Rather than being the reason for The Guardian violating basic journalistic standards and ethics, the paper’s hatred of Assange is a symptom of a deeper malaise in The Guardian and the wider corporate media.

Even aside from its decade-long campaign against Assange, The Guardian is far from “solid and reliable”, as Greenwald claims. It has been at the forefront of the relentless, and unhinged, attacks on Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn for prioritizing the rights of Palestinians over Israel’s right to continue its belligerent occupation. Over the past three years, The Guardian has injected credibility into the Israel lobby’s desperate efforts to tar Corbyn as an anti-semite. See herehere and here.

Similarly, The Guardian worked tirelessly to promote Clinton and undermine Sanders in the 2016 Democratic nomination process – another reason the paper has been so assiduous in promoting the idea that Assange, aided by Russia, was determined to promote Trump over Clinton for the presidency.

The Guardian’s coverage of Latin America, especially of populist leftwing governments that have rebelled against traditional and oppressive U.S. hegemony in the region, has long grated with analysts and experts. Its especial venom has been reserved for leftwing figures like Venezuela’s Hugo Chavez, democratically elected but official enemies of the U.S., rather than the region’s rightwing authoritarians beloved of Washington.

The Guardian has been vocal in the so-called “fake news” hysteria, decrying the influence of social media, the only place where leftwing dissidents have managed to find a small foothold to promote their politics and counter the corporate media narrative.

The Guardian has painted social media chiefly as a platform overrun by Russian trolls, arguing that this should justify ever-tighter restrictions that have so far curbed critical voices of the dissident left more than the right.

Heroes of the Neoliberal Order

Equally,  The Guardian has made clear who its true heroes are. Certainly not Corbyn or Assange, who threaten to disrupt the entrenched neoliberal order that is hurtling us towards climate breakdown and economic collapse.

Its pages, however, are readily available to the latest effort to prop up the status quo from Tony Blair, the man who led Britain, on false pretenses, into the largest crime against humanity in living memory – the attack on Iraq.

That “humanitarian intervention” cost the lives of many hundreds of thousands of Iraqis and created a vacuum that destabilized much of the Middle East, sucked in Islamic jihadists like al-Qaeda and ISIS, and contributed to the migrant crisis in Europe that has fueled the resurgence of the far-right. None of that is discussed in The Guardian or considered grounds for disqualifying Blair as an arbiter of what is good for Britain and the world’s future.

The Guardian also has an especial soft spot for blogger Elliot Higgins, who, aided by The Guardian, has shot to unlikely prominence as a self-styled “weapons expert”. Like Luke Harding, Higgins invariably seems ready to echo whatever the British and American security services need verifying “independently”.

Higgins and his well-staffed website Bellingcat have taken on for themselves the role of arbiters of truth on many foreign affairs issues, taking a prominent role in advocating for narratives that promote U.S. and NATO hegemony while demonizing Russia, especially in highly contested arenas such as Syria.

That clear partisanship should be no surprise, given that Higgins now enjoys an “academic” position at, and funding from, the Atlantic Council:  a high-level, Washington-based think-tank founded to drum up support for NATO and justify its imperialist agenda.

Improbably, The Guardian has adopted Higgins as the poster-boy for a supposed citizen journalism it has sought to undermine as “fake news” whenever it occurs on social media without the endorsement of state-backed organizations.

The truth is The Guardian has not erred in this latest story attacking Assange, or in its much longer-running campaign to vilify him. With this story, it has done what it regularly does when supposedly vital western foreign policy interests are at stake – it simply regurgitates an elite-serving, western narrative.

Its job is to shore up a consensus on the left for attacks on leading threats to the existing, neoliberal order: whether they are a platform like WikiLeaks promoting whistle-blowing against a corrupt western elite; or a politician like Corbyn seeking to break apart the status quo on the rapacious financial industries or Israel-Palestine; a radical leader like Hugo Chavez who threatened to overturn damaging and exploitative U.S. dominance of “America’s backyard”; or social media dissidents, who’ve started to chip away at the elite-friendly narratives of corporate media, including The Guardian itself.

The Guardian did not make a mistake in vilifying Assange without a shred of evidence. It did what it is designed to do.

This article originally appeared on jonathan-cook.net. Republished with permission from the author.

Jonathan Cook is a freelance journalist based in Nazareth. He blogs at https://www.jonathan-cook.net/blog/.




The Guardian/Politico Psyop Against WikiLeaks

The claims made by Luke Harding and The Guardian that Assange met Manafort will never be proven true, and they know it. And we should never let them forget it, says Caitlin Johnstone.

By Caitlin Johnstone
Caitlinjohnstone.com

For the first few hours after any new “bombshell” Russia-gate story comes out, my social media notifications always light up with poorly written posts by liberal establishment loyalists saying things like “HAHAHA @caitoz this proves you wrong now will you FINALLY stop denying Russian collusion???” Then, when people start actually analyzing that story and noting that it comes nowhere remotely close to proving that Donald Trump colluded with the Russian government to steal the 2016 election, those same people always forget to come back afterward and admit to me that they were wrong again.

This happens every single time, including this past Tuesday when The Guardian published a new “bombshell” report saying that former Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort had had secret meetings with WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange. When experts all across the political spectrum began pointing out that the story contained no evidence for its nonsensical claims and was entirely anonymously sourced, nobody ever came back and said “Hey sorry for calling you a Russian propagandist, Caitlin; turns out that story wasn’t as fact-based as I’d thought!” When evidence for a single one of the article’s claims failed to turn up for a day, then two days, then three days, nobody came back and said “Gosh Caitlin, I owe you an apology for mocking you and calling you Assange’s bitch; turns out WikiLeaks and Manafort are suing that publication and its claims remain completely unproven.”

And of course they didn’t. They weren’t meant to. They were meant to absorb The Guardian’s false claims as fact, add it to their Gish gallop mountain of false evidence for Trump-Russia-WikiLeaks collusion, and then be shuffled onward by the relentless news churn of the corporate propaganda matrix like always. But I’m never going to let them forget that this happened, and neither should you.

Desperate Overreach

If it wasn’t obvious to you last week that there is an unelected power establishment which needs above all else to control the public narrative about what’s going on in the world, it should certainly be obvious to you this week. The Guardian hit piece was so spectacularly desperate in its over-reaching to advance a narrative which has been used to manufacture support for longtime CIA/MI6 agendas like arresting Julian Assange, stopping WikiLeaks, censoring the internet and subverting Russia that it completely exposed itself as the establishment psyop firm that it is.

If that wasn’t evidence enough, in the wake of the Guardian controversy, Politico took the downright shocking step of allowing an anonymous former CIA officer to publish a lie-filled article speculating, on no evidence whatsoever, that if the story proves untrue it will be because false information was fed to the Guardian by Russia-linked operatives. The article’s anonymous author claims that there are exactly two main possibilities here: (1) that the article is 100% true and will be vindicated, or (2) that the article is based on disinformation which was planted in “an attempt to make [Guardian author Luke] Harding look bad.”

This is obviously absurd for two reasons. The first reason is because no Kremlin operative could possibly make Luke Harding look worse than Luke Harding already did in his pathetic, fumbling attempts to argue his case for collusion while promoting his book Collusion to a less-than-sycophantic interviewer in December of last year, in which Harding grew frustrated and hung up on his own interview. The second reason is that there is another far more likely possibility than the two offered by Politico’s anonymous spook.

Former Guardian employee Jonathan Cook explains that from what he learned while working at the outlet, the most likely explanation is that the editors permitted the article to be published because its anonymous sources came from within an intelligence or defense agency. As we’ve seen time and time again, from the Iraq WMD narrative to the Russian hacking narrative, western mass media outlets have a ubiquitous standing policy of printing assertions by opaque, dishonest, unaccountable government agencies as objective fact. When asked why she unquestioningly printed a false assertion that real social media users who deny any connection to Russia were Russian “bots”, the Guardian’s own political editor Heather Stewart unapologetically stated, “It’s not my analysis?—?as the piece makes quite clear?—?it’s the government’s.” As long as it comes from the government, the mass media stenographers will print what they’re told to print. But tell me more about how awful RT is because it’s “state media”.

Cook writes as follows:

I worked for The Guardian for a number of years, and know well the layers of checks that any highly sensitive story has to go through before publication. In that lengthy process, a variety of commissioning editors, lawyers, backbench editors and the editor herself, Kath Viner, would normally insist on cuts to anything that could not be rigorously defended and corroborated.

And yet this piece seems to have been casually waved through, given a green light even though its profound shortcomings were evident to a range of well-placed analysts and journalists from the outset.

That at the very least hints that the Guardian thought they had ‘insurance’ on this story. And the only people who could have promised that kind of insurance are the security and intelligence services?—?presumably of Britain, the United States and / or Ecuador.

It appears the Guardian has simply taken this story, provided by spooks, at face value.”

A Glimpse Behind the Curtain

The claims made by Luke Harding and The Guardian will never be proven true, and they know it. They knowingly printed claims that they were one hundred percent aware they’d never be able to provide proof of, and the clicks their viral story generated rewarded them with a shower of cash. Their fake story was then passed along by news outlets everywhere, including an MSNBC panel which hilariously kept informing its readers that if this Guardian report is confirmed it would be the first ever actual evidence linking Trump to WikiLeaks in a meaningful way.

We must never forget that this was done. We must keep bringing up the undeniable fact that  The Guardian published false claims about a longtime target of western intelligence and defense agencies, then was backed up by a longtime insider from one of those agencies who was permitted to publish anonymously in an ostensibly unrelated outlet. This is one of those jaw-dropping glimpses behind the puppet stage we must never permit the world to forget, much like the time CNN knowingly staged a fake interview with a Syrian girl reciting scripted war propaganda. We must keep bringing this up at every opportunity in our efforts to give people glimpses behind the propaganda curtain, continuing to remind them next week, next month, next year, and ten years from now.

Forgiveness is overrated. Forgiveness is a key foundational element in most abusive relationships, wherein the abusee is manipulated or bullied into forgiving the abuser again and again, without ever holding a grudge. This is true of a battered spouse, and it is true of an oppressed populace. The ability to hold a grudge is therefore of paramount importance in fighting the propaganda machine on which our rulers have built their oppressive empire. Otherwise we will be shuffled forward in the news churn, just like the goldfish-brained Russia-gaters who are moved along from one false story to the next into the amnesia of the endlessly spewing news churn.

Don’t forget. Remember this one. Remember it, and keep bringing it up.

This article originally appeared on caitlinjohnstone.com

Caitlin Johnstone is a rogue journalist, poet, and utopia prepper who publishes regularly at Medium. Follow her work on FacebookTwitter, or her website. She has a podcast and a new book Woke: A Field Guide for Utopia Preppers. This article was re-published with permission.




Pence’s Attacks on China Won’t Help Trump at G-20

Beijing wants to avoid an all-out trade war with Washington. That is what will count at the G-20 summit later this week, writes Patrick Lawrence, not the U.S. vice president’s hostility in Asia earlier this month.

Trying to Isolate China is a Failing U.S. Strategy

By Patrick Lawrence
Special to Consortium News

After Vice President Mike Pence’s poor reception in Asia a couple of weeks ago one shouldn’t expect a great outcome for President Donald Trump when he meets China’s President Xi Jinping at the Group of 20 summit in Buenos Aires on Friday.

Trump sent Pence to Asia earlier this month to deliver two bluntly hostile attacks on the Chinese and to insist that the rest of Asia choose:  You’re with us or you’re with them.

U.S. officials have delivered many obtuse performances in Asia over the years, but Pence bested them when he spoke in Singapore at an annual summit of Southeast Asian nations and, two days later, at the Asia–Pacific Economic Cooperation session in Papua New Guinea.

In Singapore he cast China’s presence in the region as an “empire of aggression”—skipping the fact that China has no recent record of aggression. He then turned the 21–nation APEC session into a direct face-off with Xi, who was also present.  

The U.S. vice president’s over-the-top performances were probably a case of  calculated pugnacity; a softening-up exercise. But if they have any effect at all on Xi it will be to stiffen his position when he meets Trump later this week. Washington does not yet realize that challenging China’s place as an Asian power is a losing proposition.

The incipient trade war between the U.S. and China was one of Pence’s prominent themes. He threatened to more than double the tariffs the Trump administration has already imposed on $250 billion worth of Chinese exports if China fails to fulfill Washington’s long list of market-opening measures. “The United States,” Pence said, “will not change course until China changes its ways.”

Attacks on ‘Belt and Road’

Pence’s most vituperative remarks at APEC concerned China’s immensely ambitious Belt and Road Initiative, intended to connect the Eurasian landmass from Shanghai to Lisbon via ports, power grids, rail lines and other infrastructure projects. Pence asserted the multi-trillion-dollar effort is nothing more than a debt trap structured to China’s advantage.

He then presented Asians with their neatly packaged us-or-them choice. “We don’t coerce or compromise your independence,” Pence said. “We do not offer a constricting belt or a one-way road,” he taunted. “When you partner with us, we partner with you, and we all prosper.”

It takes a lot of nerve, ignorance of history, or both, for an American official to make such assertions. U.S. banks and Western-controlled financial institutions such as the International Monetary Fund have made an art of saddling developing nations with debt—and dictating economic policies along with it—since the Bretton Woods system was negotiated in 1944. Remember the Third World debt crisis of the 1970s and 1980s? More than a few developing-nation officials listening to Pence likely recalled it all too well. 

Xi seems to have anticipated the U.S. broadside. Before Pence spoke he said Belt and Road was not for geopolitical purposes. “It is not the so-called trap, as some people say. It is the sunshine avenue where China shares opportunities with the world to seek common development.”

The White House’s strategy here looks like the Dealmaker at work once again: Give the other side a thorough working over, then proceed to the mahogany table and negotiate an agreement to maximum advantage.

Those were the features of the Trump administration’s “maximum pressure” campaigns against North Korea and (as we speak) Iran. Trump’s deal of the century in the Mideast, still in development, is another example.

Two Key Flaws

Trump’s brand of diplomacy is flawed in two key ways.

No. 1: It’s foolish to apply what works in the Manhattan real estate market to global strategy. There is little-to-no chance that Trump’s style will deliver the intended results in Iran, North Korea or in the Israeli–Palestinian conflict. Trump may win further concessions on trade when he meets Xi in Argentina later this week, but this will have nothing to do with Pence’s disgracefully bellicose speeches at the two back-to-back gatherings of Asia–Pacific nations.

No. 2: Obsessed with its decades of primacy in the Pacific, the U.S. simply cannot accept China’s inevitable emergence as a regional and global power. This second problem is the larger and more worrisome, driving one mistake after another in Washington’s trans–Pacific strategies. So long as members of U.S. policy cliques see everything Beijing does as a threat, they will fail to grasp the many opportunities for cooperation that a stronger and more prosperous China makes possible. This is more than merely a shame: it is causing a self-inflicted decline.

Washington would do well to learn that it’s futile to try to isolate mainland China from the rest of Asia. It’s like trying to isolate most of a hemisphere from the rest of the planet. And no Asian nation—not even the ever-loyal Japanese—shows any interest in choosing a side in a confrontation that is more or less of Washington’s making.

No undertaking of the magnitude of Belt and Road—which now involves more than 70 nations—will be without its problems, especially at the front end. But Xi’s description of it seems closer than Pence’s. Of the roughly 1,700 projects now in progress, only one—a port that Chinese firms constructed in Sri Lanka—has run into major financing problems, and these appear to reflect Sri Lanka’s misjudgments more than China’s.

To be fair to Pence and his boss, the Trump administration is not the first to confront Asians with an us-or-them choice between the U.S. and China. That error goes to the administration of Barack Obama when it was negotiating the Trans–Pacific Partnership. By pointedly not inviting China to join the TPP, it treated the deal, primarily, as a device to isolate China.

The U.S. has not had a coherent approach to China at least since the first Bush presidency back in the early 1990s, when there was at least some acceptance of China as a rising power.  

Beijing eagerly wants to avoid an all-out trade war with the U.S. And this is what will count in Buenos Aires, not Pence’s chest-out posturing. Absent an agreement, the 10 percent tariffs now in place will go to 25 percent in January, and the United States will impose new tariffs on an additional $267 billion worth of Chinese exports. These numbers are what will motivate Xi. 

The Chinese recently sent the White House a list 140 concessions they are willing to make, which Trump called insufficient.  “Some things were left off,” Trump said breezily after reviewing it. We will probably get them, too.”

If the Dealmaker really wants a deal, he would have to negotiate with an important trading partner, not an adversary, and drop all suggestions that U.S. primacy in the Pacific remains intact. China has already retaliated with tariffs on $60 billion worth of U.S. products. There is plenty more where that came from if Trump misreads Xi as badly as his vice-president has done. 

Patrick Lawrence, a correspondent abroad for many years, chiefly for the International Herald Tribune, is a columnist, essayist, author, and lecturer. His most recent book is Time No Longer: Americans After the American Century (Yale). Follow him @thefloutist. His web site is www.patricklawrence.us. Support his work via www.patreon.com/thefloutist.

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Et Tu, RT? Amplifying Western Disinformation on Rwanda

The great lie about the Rwandan bloodbath opened the door to a far larger genocide in Congo and helped justify U.S. military interventions in Libya and Syria, argues Ann Garrison.

By Ann Garrison
Black Agenda Report

During a recent campaign event, Florida Senator Bill Nelson said, “That story of Rwanda is very instructive to us because when a place gets so tribal that the two tribes won’t have anything to do with each other, and that jealousy turns into hate—we saw what happened to the Hutus and the Tutsis in Rwanda, it turned into a genocide. A million people hacked to death within a few months. And we have got to watch what’s happening here.”

That got a lot of headlines even though U.S. ethnicity is binary only if seen as white vs. everybody else. Whatever Sen. Nelson meant, those who do see it that way have certainly gained prominence since Trump took the White House.

That was a newly minted reference to the Rwandan genocide in U.S. discourse, however. Rwanda is most often remembered in urgent calls for “humanitarian intervention,” a.k.a. war, to stop another genocide. We’re told that the U.S. failed to stop Rwanda’s 1994 genocide, so we’re now obliged to “intervene” anytime and anywhere another genocide is underway. That’s why, we’re falsely told, the U.S. and its NATO allies had to bomb Libya into ongoing chaos in 2011. That’s why Lockheed Martin had to step up production of cruise missiles to drop on Syria. That’s why Sens. Cory Booker and Elizabeth Warren, both 2020 Democratic presidential hopefuls, became initial co-sponsors of an Orwellian bill to “enhance” our government’s ability to “prevent genocide and mass atrocities” with military force: Senate Bill 1158, the Elie Wiesel Genocide and Atrocities Prevention Act of 2018.

More soberly, given the lies we’ve all been told in order to start wars, doesn’t it seem likely that this story—that the U.S. failed to stop the Rwandan genocide—is one more? Not that the genocide didn’t happen and not that it wasn’t a terrible tragedy, but the story we were all told and Bill Clinton’s crocodile tears about his “worst mistake” are a lie. In fact, the U.S. and United Kingdom backed Gen. Paul Kagame’s invasion of Rwanda from Uganda on Oct. 1, 1990, and prevented a United Nations intervention until he and his army had massacred their way to Rwanda’s capital, Kigali, to seize power on July 4, 1994.

Just over three weeks later, on July 28, The New York Times reported that the “U.S. Is Considering a Base in Rwanda for Relief Teams.” Kagame has been a key U.S. ally and “military partner” ever since. He not only collaborated with the U.S. Africa Command (AFRICOM) but also invaded the Democratic Republic of the Congo, left millions dead, and thus created new opportunities for U.S. mining corporations.

Professor Edward S. Herman and researcher and author David Peterson deconstructed the propaganda about Rwanda in The Politics of Genocide and Enduring Lies: The Rwandan Genocide 20 Years On.” In “Enduring Lies,” they wrote:

“The institutionalization of the ‘Rwandan genocide’ has been the remarkable achievement of a propaganda system sustained by both public and private power, with the crucial assistance of a related cadre of intellectual enforcers. The favorite weapons of these enforcers are reciting the institutionalized untruths as gospel while portraying critics of the standard model as ‘genocide deniers,’ dark figures who lurk at the same moral level as child molesters, to be condemned and even outlawed.”

Ed Herman and I had many conversations about this before his death in November 2017, including one on KPFA Radio’s “Project Censored Show” on New Year’s Day 2016. The transcript was published by the San Francisco Bay View, Black Agenda Report and Global Research.

More recently, former Agence France Presse and Radio France International journalist Judi Rever broke down the simple story of Tutsi victims, Hutu perpetrators in her book In Praise of Blood: Crimes of the Rwandan Patriotic Front.” Here’s some of what she told the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation after the book’s publication:

Judi Rever: He [Kagame] did not stop the genocide because at the same time that ethnic Tutsis were being killed in Hutu-controlled zones, his Tutsi troops were killing with equal zeal and organization. And in every zone that the Rwandan Patriotic Front and its army entered, they killed massively and in an organized way.

CBC: Killed Hutus?

Judi Rever: Killed Hutus. They also fueled the genocide against the Tutsis. They infiltrated the Hutu militias very successfully, and they baited the violence. They egged on the violence, but they also—some of their commandos—participated in the slaughter of Tutsis at roadblocks.

Kagame knowingly ordered and encouraged Tutsi massacres to build a storyline that would justify his Tutsi minority dictatorship after he’d seized power and control of the country’s electoral apparatus. Had he proceeded to real elections, as mandated by the Arusha Accords signed to end the war, the Hutu majority would have elected a Hutu president. Former Rwandan Foreign Minister Jean-Marie Ndagijimana tells the same story from a different standpoint in How Paul Kagame Deliberately Sacrificed the Tutsi.” Most of these victims were poor Tutsis who had been left behind when the wealthy and aristocratic Tutsis fled to Uganda during the Hutu Peasant Revolution of 1959-1961.

Rever’s conclusions are based on years of research and interviews, many of them with RPF troops who were tormented by memories of what they had done and felt compelled to confess. Her book also includes accounts of how she, her husband, and even her children were threatened while she was researching it, and how Belgian security operatives accompanied her everywhere during a research trip to Brussels to interview political exiles and refugees.

In an email released by WikiLeaks, a Stratfor intelligence analyst said thatRwandans are cold ass mofos and detailed Rwandan operatives’ transnational assassinations and assassination attempts. Their targets are almost always high-profile figures who, like Rever, challenge the story of Tutsi victims and Hutu perpetrators that is so essential to Kagame’s survival and international stature.

I myself haven’t feared for my life at the hands of Rwandan operatives, but I did file an assault complaint after a dustup with Kagame’s contingent at Sacramento State University’s 2011 Third International Genocide Conference.

Et Tu, RT?

Despite all this, the propaganda has been so effective that the standard story of Tutsi victims, Hutu perpetrators, and Bill Clinton’s failure remains all but unassailable in mainstream media. It’s in the Wikipedia, where a host of “edit alerts” assure that any attempt to change it starts a tireless “editing war” that Wikipedia moderators will finally shut down with no changes made. It’s at the heart of former U.N. Ambassador Samantha Power’s interventionist bible, “A Problem from Hell: America and the Age of Genocide.” It’s in Obama’s 2011 Presidential Study Directive on Mass Atrocities and “Mass Atrocities Response Operations: A Military Handbook,” which was produced by the Pentagon and Harvard’s Carr Center for Human Rights with help from Pierre Omidyar’s Humanity United Foundation. And it’s in the template of every Reuters and AP newswire that ever touches on the subject.

I was nevertheless surprised when RT repeated the standard propaganda as well. Mightn’t one expect RT to dig a little deeper into a narrative used to justify the U.S. war in Syria among others? RT asked me to comment on a news story about the recent appeal of a French court’s ruling that French soldiers were not criminally complicit for failing to protect Tutsis massacred at Bisisero, Rwanda, in 1994. I agreed, so they called me on Skype, but the host and I proceeded to frustrate one another, and most of what I said was left on the cutting room floor. CIUT 89.5 FM-Toronto host and former ICTR investigator Phil Taylor sent me a consolation note saying, “I felt for you, Ann. I saw the item in real time and slapped my forehead. The cutting was done with shears.”

Basic journalistic ethnics and not wanting to be misrepresented compelled me to write about why this interview turned into such a hot mess after beginning with the usual false recitation:

“The genocide in Rwanda lasted just over three months and left nearly a million people dead. . . . The genocide was committed mainly by the Hutu government and its backers against the ethnic minority Tutsi tribe. Allegations of the French government’s support for the Hutus, who carried out most of the slaughter in the genocide, have been rough on the French government’s relations with the Rwandan government for years. But the French, although they admit that they’ve made mistakes, they say they have no complicity in the genocide that took place there.”

I told RT that the context of the 1994 Bisesero massacre was a four-year war that began on Oct. 1, 1990, when a detachment of the Ugandan Army led by then General, now President, Paul Kagame invaded Rwanda from Uganda. I said that those Ugandan troops were Rwandan Tutsis or the children of Rwandan Tutsis  who had fled to Uganda between 1959 and 1961, when the Hutu majority finally liberated themselves from centuries-long domination by the Tutsi minority.

I said that focusing on this single tragic incident, the Tutsi massacres at Bisesero, imposed the propaganda narrative about the Rwandan genocide on their story.

I said that France’s Operation Turquoise had created a humanitarian corridor for civilians fleeing to Congo in terror of Kagame’s advancing army, so it was a distortion to discredit the French troops over this one incident in which they were accused of failing to act even though it wasn’t clear they had a mandate. (UN Security Council Resolution 929 (1994) gave the operation the aim of “contributing, in an impartial way, to the security and protection of displaced persons, refugees, and civilians at risk in Rwanda.”)

I considered quoting Ed Herman, David Peterson, and Judi Rever, but ran out of time. That was more complexity than RT appeared to want added to their news story. They had already built it on the widely received account of what happened in Rwanda before calling me. Having produced radio news, I know the show must go on at the scheduled hour even if it could be improved. Had they nevertheless considered that there might be something wrong with their premises? I’m only encouraging them to review this Western narrative as they do so many others. 

This article was originally published on Black Agenda Report.

Ann Garrison is an independent journalist based in the San Francisco Bay Area. In 2014, she received the Victoire Ingabire Umuhoza Democracy and Peace Prize for her reporting on conflict in the African Great Lakes region. She can be reached at ann@anngarrison.com.




Newly Elected Progressives Face Palestine Taboo

After they won their primaries, some young progressives curbed their pro-Palestine rhetoric.  Now they are in Washington getting oriented. Next up: early test votes in the new year sponsored by the pro-Israel lobby, writes As`ad AbuKhalil.

Newly-Elected Progressives
Confront 
AIPAC Test

By As`ad AbuKhalil
Special to Consortium News

People in the pro-Palestinian community worldwide will be watching to see if any of the new left-wing progressives elected in the midterms will dare speak out—and vote against—the wishes of the Israel lobby.

The answer will likely come early next year, in test votes sponsored by the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, or AIPAC, after the 116thCongress convenes. If the past is any guide, Democratic leaders will insist on strict subservience from newcomers to the party’s foreign policy priorities, which include U.S. sponsorship and defense of the Israeli occupation and war crimes.

Some members-elect voiced remarkable criticism of Israel in the primaries. Rashida Tlaib, from Michigan, may have gone the furthest, by calling for one state in Palestine. Ilhan Omar, from Minnesota, referred to Israel’s “evil doings” and condemned apartheid in Israel.  Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, from New York, spoke against the occupation of Palestine.

After the primaries, however, Tlaib, Omar and Ocasio-Cortez softened their rhetoric. In a post-victory interview, Tlaib said that both sides (occupiers and occupied?) have “so much more in common.” Ocasio-Cortez was quoted as favoring a two-state solution and believing “absolutely in Israel’s right to exist” (as an apartheid occupation state?). She has expressed faith in U.S. legitimacy as “a force of good” in the world and shrugged off any serious understanding of the Middle East.

Antonio Delgado, who upset a GOP incumbent in upstate New York, caught heat during the general campaign for his positions on Israel. When he rejected the “democratic” label for Israel, his comment was widely described by news media as a regrettable gaffe.   

The one Palestinian-American male candidate, Ammar Campa-Najjar, a Democrat who campaigned in San Diego, was the least critical of Israel and the only one who lost. He went to lengths to ingratiate himself with the Israel lobby, having changed his religion and name in the past. He even condemned his grandfather, Abu Yusuf An-Najjar, a PLO diplomat killed by Israeli terrorists in Beirut in 1973, as a “murderer.”

The nature of U.S. public attitude towards Israel is changing. A few decades ago, isolationist conservative Republicans were the most likely to be detractors. That role has shifted to liberals in big cities. These days, southern Baptists  and conservative Republicans in rural America are providing Israel some of the staunchest support.

Automatic Support for Israel

But this change doesn’t mean much in Congress. On Middle East issues, Democrats and Republicans remain ardent and automatic supporters of Israel.

Despite the War Powers Act of 1973, designed to check the president’s power to commit the country to an armed conflict, the president retains quasi-imperial powers of foreign policy making. Given voters’ worship of the military, representatives are often afraid to reject wars and interventions that presidents seek. To be accused of “failing to support the troops” is fatal to candidates from both parties. California Rep. Barbara Lee famously cast the lone vote against the authorization of military force following Sept. 11, 2001.

The two ruling parties, meanwhile, muzzle democratic discussion of their foreign policy agenda. Through the nominating process, the big wigs of the Democratic Party are able to sideline dissent. The Republican primaries, meanwhile, can seem like contests for the greatest show of fanaticism in supporting Israel. Even in local elections–for mayors and city council—defiance of AIPAC can kill off contenders’ chances. Some members of the Congressional Black Caucus, dominated by Democrats, break with AIPAC influence on votes, but the caucus leadership is closely aligned with the pro-Israel lobby.

The internal Democratic split (between its leadership and the liberal base) on Israel is comparable with that of liberal European political parties. The Socialist Party of France, for instance, pursues a traditional pro-Israeli agenda despite pro-Palestine sympathy within its ranks. The same had been true of the Labour Party in the U.K., until the rise of Jeremy Corbyn as leader. The United States has come to insist on a pro-Israeli plank from its European allies. In the 1970s, European nations often held positions on the PLO and on Palestinian self-determination that broke with U.S. doctrine. Since then, however, European disagreement with the U.S. on the Arab-Israeli question has diminished.

AIPAC, and its unofficial research arm, the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, have managed to establish themselves as the moral and authoritative sources of legislation and information on all matters related to the Arab-Israeli conflict and the Middle East.  The lobby has succeeded through intimidation, as detailed in “They Dare to Speak Out,” a book by former Illinois Rep. Paul Findley, a Republican. One successful method has been conflating any criticism of Israel with anti-Semitism. This tactic has been most effective in discouraging U.S. politicians from opposing Israel.

Not a ‘Jewish Lobby’

It must be stressed that AIPAC is not a “Jewish lobby,” but a pro-Israel lobby. Its champions are not exclusively Jewish.  Anti-Semites wish to portray the lobby in classically bigoted terms, as a Jewish conspiracy. But some of its most ardent adherents have been non-Jewish U.S. presidents, members of Congress and administration officials. 

On Palestine, Congress has changed substantially over the years.  In the early 1980s, a few lawmakers, from both parties, still dared to challenge AIPAC, which was founded in 1963. In his 1985 book, former Congressman Paul Findley, now 97, describes some of them. Back then, a wing of the Republican Party even stood for “even-handedness” in the Middle East.

By the end of the 1980s, few of these moderating voices on Israel were left. They’d either retired or lost their seats. 

Since the 1990s, dissent on Israel is virtually absent in the upper house of Congress. The late Robert Byrd, from West Virginia, who died in 2010, was the last senator who dared to vote against legislation favored by AIPAC.

Sens. Patrick Leahy of Vermont and Diane Feinstein of California, both in their 80s, are mildly critical of Israel, but still vote with AIPAC most of the time. (Feinstein only recently started criticizing Israel perhaps because support in her state is secure). “Social Democrat” Sen. Bernie Sanders gets heralded for challenging Israel. But that only shows the depth of the general silence. In fact, Sanders usually criticizes Israel in the most restricted terms: (“I am not a fan of Netanyahu.”)

In the House, in recent years the number of members who–on rare occasions–vote to defy the Israeli agenda, has risen. But unlike in previous years, little is ever said about the rights of Palestinians or directly against AIPAC.

Dennis Kucinich, former member of Congress from Cleveland, and a former presidential candidate, may have been the last member to publicly champion the Palestinians. (He once told me that he made it a point to speak about Palestine weekly.) He lost his seat after redistricting in 2012. 

The question now is whether some of those new faces in Congress, who carried the progressive torch in the campaigns, have the courage of a Kucinich on Israeli matters. Will any of them break the taboo against speaking for Palestine or against AIPAC? Their silence regarding the on-going Israeli assault on Gaza so far is deafening.  

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

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