The Ugly View of Western Democracy

From flimsy false flags in the Gulf to the signing of Assange’s extradition warrant, Craig Murray reviews the abuses of power made  obvious in the past two weeks. 

By Craig Murray
CraigMurray.org.uk

Standing back a little and surveying the events of the last couple of weeks, gives a bleak view of the current state of Western democracy.

We have seen what appears to be the most unconvincing of false flags in the Gulf. I pointed out why it was improbable Iran would attack these particular ships. Since then we have had American military sources pointing to video evidence of a packed small Iranian boat allegedly removing a limpet mine from the ship the Iranians helped to rescue, which was somehow supposed to prove it was the Iranians who planted the alleged device. We also have had the Japanese owner specifically contradict the American account and say that the ship was hit by flying objects.

The Iranians certainly have a strange method of bomb disposal if they carry it out using unarmoured personnel, with as many as possible crammed into a small boat in immediate contact with the “mine.” It is also hard to understand why the alleged “limpet mines” would be four feet above the waterline.

Limpet mines are placed below the waterline. There are numerous reasons for this. Firstly, holes above the waterline will not sink a ship. Secondly, the weight of the water helps contain the blast against the ship. Thirdly, it is obviously harder to detect both the diver placing the mine and the mine once placed if it is below the water. In fact it would be very difficult for a diver to place a limpet mine four feet above the waterline, even if they wanted to.

There seems to be a remarkable disconnect between the widespread popular disdain at yet another fake western power casus belli in the Middle East, and the near universal complicity of the U.K. political and media class in promoting this transparent lie. It is as though even pretending to have any respect for truth and fact has simply been discarded within the U.K.’s governmental system. Which ought to worry us a lot.

US Versus Corbyn

The second development ought to have been the biggest media story of the decade in the UK, if we had anything like a free and honest media. Mike Pompeo, U.S. secretary of state, made plain the Trump administration’s intent to prevent the election of Jeremy Corbyn as prime minister. Pompeo told a meeting of Jewish leaders:

“It could be that Mr. Corbyn manages to run the gantlet and get elected. It’s possible. You should know, we won’t wait for him to do those things to begin to push back.”

This blatant interference by a foreign power in the U.K.’s democracy is an absolute scandal. Compare the lack of media outrage at Pompeo’s intervention with the ludicrous claims made about much less high profile Russian attempts at influence. This incident provides incontrovertible proof that the world does indeed operate in the way that I have been explaining here for a decade. It is not a “conspiracy theory” that democracy is manipulated by hidden powers, it is fact. Pompeo’s description of Corbyn’s route to election as “running the gauntlet” is particularly revealing. Even more so is the cursory coverage this story was given, and I have seen no evidence to date of any MSM “journalist” attempting any follow-up investigation on the methods the U.S. are planning to employ – or more likely already employing – against Corbyn.

Everybody should be incandescent at this, no matter who they vote for.

Stunning Revelation About the Guardian 

Something else which revealed the truth of the way the political world now operates, and which again did not get nearly the media attention it deserves, was Matt Kennard’s stunning revelation of the way The Guardian has been taken over by the security services. I have been explaining for years that The Guardian has become the security services’ news outlet of choice, and it is very helpful to have documentation to prove it. 

It is worth noting that The Guardian obeyed completely the DSMA committee ban on mentioning Pablo Miller in reporting the security service fantasy version of the Skripal story. As Kennard points out, it is also very interesting indeed that the Guardian published Luke Harding’s front page fabrication of Manafort/Assange meetings two weeks after MOD Director Dominic Wilson congratulated Guardian deputy editor Paul Johnson on “re-establishing links” with the security services. The Guardian is, like other British newspapers, as controlled by the military and security services just like in any other decent autocracy.

Incidentally, I cannot find Matt Kennard’s excellent work set out anywhere, except in that twitter stream. Surely there is an article on a website somewhere? I cannot find anything on Google, but as it is exactly the kind of information Google routinely suppresses, that does not mean it is not out there. Anyone seen it?

Assange’s Extradition Warrant

Finally, we have of course seen Home Secretary Sajid Javid sign the extradition warrant for Julian Assange to be sent to the United States for the “crime” of publishing truthful information about U.S. illegalities. Julian’s extradition hearing was, contrary to normal practice, held despite the fact he was too sick to attend in person. And it was presided over by Judge Emma Arbuthnot, despite the fact that her husband is a former Tory defense minister who started a “security consultancy” in partnership with a former head of MI6, the war criminal John Scarlett who oversaw the fabrication of the dossier of lies about Iraqi WMD, in order to launch an illegal war of aggression that killed and maimed millions. The Assange team had asked her to recuse herself on that pretty obvious basis, but she had refused. At an earlier hearing she taunted Assange with the observation that he could get adequate exercise in the embassy on a 1.5 meter Juliet balcony.

Just as The Guardian has never apologised for, nor withdrawn, the utter lie of the Assange/Manafort story, so the identity-politics-promoting, false “left” has never apologised for its pursuit of Assange over sexual allegations in Sweden, which were obvious on the slightest scrutiny to be only a fit-up designed to get him into custody. Those figures like David Allen Green, Joan Smith and David Aaronovitch, among scores of other pustulous hacks, who mocked and scorned those of us who always said that Assange faced not extradition to Sweden but to the United States for publishing, have been shown up as, at the very best, stupid naive and unwitting tools of the state, and more likely, insincere and vicious propagandists. 

This brief review of current issues reveal that not only do Western governments lie and fake, they have really given up on trying to pretend that they do not. The abuse of power is naked and the propaganda is revealed by the lightest effort to brush away the veneer of democracy. 

I find it hard to believe that I live in times where Assange suffers as he does for telling the truth, where a dedicated anti-racist like Corbyn is subjected to daily false accusations of racism and to U.S. and security service backed efforts to thwart his democratic prospects, where the most laughable false flag is paraded to move us towards war with Iran, and where there is no semblance of a genuinely independent media. But, starkly, that is where we are. This is not unrelated to the massive and fast-growing inequality of wealth; the erosion of freedom is the necessary precondition that allows the ultra-wealthy to loot the rest of us. It remains my hope there will eventually come a public reaction against the political classes as strong as the situation demands.

Craig Murray is an author, broadcaster and human rights activist. He was British ambassador to Uzbekistan from August 2002 to October 2004 and rector of the University of Dundee from 2007 to 2010. This article first appeared on his website.




FBI Never Saw CrowdStrike Unredacted or Final Report on Alleged Russian Hacking Because None was Produced

The FBI relied on CrowdStrike’s “conclusion” to blame Russia for hacking DNC servers, though the private firm never produced a final report and the FBI never asked them to, as Ray McGovern explains.

By Ray McGovern
Special to Consortium News

CrowdStrike, the controversial cybersecurity firm that the Democratic National Committee chose over the FBI in 2016 to examine its compromised computer servers, never produced an un-redacted or final forensic report for the government because the FBI never required it to, the Justice Department has admitted.

The revelation came in a court filing by the government in the pre-trial phase of Roger Stone, a long-time Republican operative who had an unofficial role in the campaign of candidate Donald Trump. Stone has been charged with misleading Congress, obstructing justice and intimidating a witness.

The filing was in response to a motion by Stone’s lawyers asking for “unredacted reports” from CrowdStrike in an effort to get the government to prove that Russia hacked the DNC server. “The government … does not possess the information the defandant seeks,” the filing says.

In his motion, Stone’s lawyers said he had only been given three redacted drafts. In a startling footnote in the government’s response, the DOJ admits the drafts are all that exist. “Although the reports produced to the defendant are marked ‘draft,’ counsel for the DNC and DCCC informed the government that they are the last version of the report produced,” the footnote says.

In other words CrowdStrike, upon which the FBI relied to conclude that Russia hacked the DNC, never completed a final report and only turned over three redacted drafts to the government.

These drafts were “voluntarily” given to the FBI by DNC lawyers, the filing says. “No redacted information concerned the attribution of the attack to Russian actors,” the filing quotes DNC lawyers as saying.

In Stone’s motion his lawyers argued: “If the Russian state did not hack the DNC, DCCC, or [Clinton campaign chairman John] Podesta’s servers, then Roger Stone was prosecuted for obstructing a congressional investigation into an unproven Russian state hacking conspiracy … The issue of whether or not the DNC was hacked is central to the Defendant’s defense.”

The DOJ responded: “The government does not need to prove at the defendant’s trial that the Russians hacked the DNC in order to prove the defendant made false statements, tampered with a witness, and obstructed justice into a congressional investigation regarding election interference.”

Thousands of emails from the DNC server were published by WikiLeaks in July 2016 revealing that the DNC interfered in the Democratic primary process to favor former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton over Senator Bernie Sanders for the party’s presidential nomination. The U.S. indicted 12 Russian military intelligence agents in 2018 for allegedly hacking the DNC server and giving the emails to WikiLeaks.

Comey Can’t Say Why

At a time of high tension in the 2016 presidential campaign, when the late Sen. John McCain and others were calling Russian “hacking” an “act of war,” the FBI settled for three redacted “draft reports” from CrowdStrike rather than investigate the alleged hacking itself, the court document shows.

Then FBI Director James Comey admitted in congressional testimony that he chose not to take control of the DNC’s “hacked” computers, and did not dispatch FBI computer experts to inspect them, but has had trouble explaining why.

In his testimony, he conceded that “best practices” would have dictated that forensic experts gain physical access to the computers. Nevertheless, the FBI decided to rely on forensics performed by a firm being paid for by the DNC.

Suspicions grew as Comey started referring to CrowdStrike as the “pros that they hired.” Doubts became more intense when he referred to CrowdStrike as “a high-class entity.” In fact the company had a tarnished reputation for reliability and objectivity well before it was hired by the DNC.

Dimitri Alperovitch, a CrowdStrike co-founder, is an opponent of Russian President Vladimir Putin and a senior fellow at the anti-Russian Atlantic Council think tank in Washington. CrowdStrike said it determined that Russia had hacked the DNC server because it found Cyrillic letters in the metadata, as well as the name of the first Soviet intelligence chief—clues an amateur might leave.

CrowdStrike was forced to “revise(d) and retract(ed) statements it used to buttress claims of Russian hacking during last year’s American presidential election campaign,” Voice of America reported in March 2017. 

CrowdStrike’s Early Role

In a Memorandum for the President on July 24, 2017, Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity referred prominently to this instructive time sequence:

June 12, 2016: Julian Assange announces WikiLeaks is about to publish ‘emails related to Hillary Clinton.’

June 14, 2016: DNC contractor CrowdStrike, (with a dubious professional record and multiple conflicts of interest) announces that malware has been found on the DNC server and claims there is evidence it was injected by Russians.

June 15, 2016: ‘Guccifer 2.0’ affirms the DNC statement; claims responsibility for the ‘hack;’ claims to be a WikiLeaks source; and posts a document that the forensics show was synthetically tainted with ‘Russian fingerprints.’

VIPS does not believe the June 12, 14, & 15 timing was pure coincidence. Rather, it suggests the start of a pre-emptive move to associate Russia with anything WikiLeaks might have been about to publish and to “show” that it came from a Russian hack.  

Bill Binney, a former NSA technical director and a VIPS member, filed an affidavit in Stone’s case. Binney said: “WikiLeaks did not receive stolen data from the Russian government. Intrinsic metadata in the publicly available files on WikiLeaks demonstrates that the files acquired by WikiLeaks were delivered in a medium such as a thumb drive.”

Preferring CrowdStrike; Splaining to Congress

Why did FBI Director James Comey not simply insist on access to the DNC computers? Surely he could have gotten the appropriate authorization. In early January 2017, reacting to media reports that the FBI never asked for access, Comey told the Senate Intelligence Committee there were “multiple requests at different levels” for access to the DNC servers.“Ultimately what was agreed to is the private company would share with us what they saw,” he said. Comey described CrowdStrike as a “highly respected” cybersecurity company.

Asked by committee Chairman Richard Burr (R-NC) whether direct access to the servers and devices would have helped the FBI in their investigation, Comey said it would have. “Our forensics folks would always prefer to get access to the original device or server that’s involved, so it’s the best evidence,” he said.

Five months later, after Comey had been fired, Burr gave him a Mulligan in the form of a few kid-gloves, clearly well-rehearsed, questions:

BURR:And the FBI, in this case, unlike other cases that you might investigate — did you ever have access to the actual hardware that was hacked? Or did you have to rely on a third party to provide you the data that they had collected?

COMEY:In the case of the DNC, … we did not have access to the devices themselves. We got relevant forensic information from a private party, a high-class entity, that had done the work. But we didn’t get direct access.

BURR:But no content?

COMEY:Correct.

BURR:Isn’t content an important part of the forensics from a counterintelligence standpoint?

COMEY:It is, although what was briefed to me by my folks — the people who were my folks at the time is that they had gotten the information from the private party that they needed to understand the intrusion by the spring of 2016.

More telling was earlier questioning by House Intelligence Committee member, Rep. Will Hurd (R-TX), who had been a CIA officer for a decade.On March 20, 2017 while he was still FBI director, Comey evidenced some considerable discomfort as he tried to explain to the committee why the FBI did not insist on getting physical access to the DNC computers and do its own forensics:

HURD:So there was about a year between the FBI’s first notification of some potential problems with the DNC network and then that information getting on — getting on Wikileaks.

COMEY:Yes, sir.

HURD:… when did the DNC provide access for — to the FBI for your technical folks to review what happened?

COMEY:Well we never got direct access to the machines themselves. The DNC in the spring of 2016 hired a firm that ultimately shared with us their forensics from their review of the system. …

HURD:… So, Director FBI notified the DNC early, before any information was put on Wikileaksand when — youhave still been — never been given access to any of the technical or the physical machines that were — that were hacked by the Russians.

COMEY: That’s correct although we got the forensics from the pros that they hired which — again, best practice is always to get access to the machines themselves, but this — my folks tell me was an appropriate substitute.

Comey Spikes Deal With Assange

Director Comey’s March 20, 2017 testimony to the House Intelligence Committee came at the same time he was scuttling months-long negotiations between Assange and lawyers representing the DOJ and CIA to grant some limited immunity for the WikiLeaks founder. In return, Assange offered to: (1) redact “some classified CIA information he might release in the future,” and (2) “provide technical evidence and discussion regarding who did not engage in the DNC releases.”

Investigative journalist John Solomon, quoting WikiLeaks’ intermediary with the government, broke this story, based on “interviews and a trove of internal DOJ documents turned over to Senate investigators.” It would be a safe assumption that Assange was offering to prove that Russia was not WikiLeaks’ source of the DNC emails, something Assange has repeatedly said.

That, of course, would have been the last thing Comey would have wanted.

On March 31, 2017 WikiLeaks released the most damaging disclosure up to that point from what it called “Vault 7” — a treasure trove of CIA cybertools leaked from CIA files. This disclosure featured the tool “Marble Framework,” which enabled the CIA to hack into computers, disguise who hacked in, and falsely attribute the hack to someone else by leaving so-called tell-tale signs — like Cyrillic, for example.

The CIA documents also showed that the “Marble” tool had been employed in 2016.

Two weeks later, then CIA Director Mike Pompeo branded WikiLeaks a “non-state hostile intelligence service,” and the U.S. put pressure on Ecuador, which had given Assange asylum, to expel him from its London embassy. He was on April 11 when British police arrested him. On the same day he was convicted of skipping bail on a Swedish investigation that had since been dropped. Assange was sentenced to 50 weeks in London’s max-security Belmarsh prison.

Comey, it seems a safe bet, still worries that Assange or one of his associates, will provide “technical evidence” enough to prove “who did not engage in the DNC releases.”

What Were They Thinking?

At the March 20, 2017 House Intelligence Committee hearing, Congressman Trey Gowdy heaped effusive praise on then-FBI Director Comey, calling him “incredibly respected.” At that early stage, no doubt Gowdy meant no double entendre. He might now.

As Russia-gate transmogrifies into Deep State-gate, the DOJ is launching a probe into the origins of Russia-gate and the intelligence agencies alleged role in it. It remains to be seen whether U.S. Attorney for the District of Connecticut John Durham, who is leading the probe, will interview Assange, unlike Special Counsel Robert Mueller, who did not. 

It is proving very difficult for some of my old FBI friends and others to believe that Comey and other justice, intelligence, and security officials at the very top could have played fast and loose with the Constitution and the law and lived a lie over the past few years.

How did they ever think they could get away with it?” they ask. The answer is deceivingly simple. Comey himself has explained it in a moment of seemingly unintentional candor in his pretentious book, “A Higher Loyalty.” He wrote, “I was making decisions in an environment where Hillary Clinton was sure to be the next president.”

There would be no problem, of course, if Mrs. Clinton had won the election. That’s what they all thought; and that probably explains their lack of care in keeping their activities off the written record and out of computers. Elementary tradecraft goes out the window with these upper-echelon, “high-class-entity” officials, when they are sure that she, and they, are going to be the inevitable winners — with promotions, not indictments in store for them.

Additional reporting by Joe Lauria

Background Reading on Deep State-Gate

https://www.investmentwatchblog.com/doj-admits-fbi-never-saw-crowdstrike-report-on-dnc-russian-hacking-claim/

https://www.thegatewaypundit.com/2019/06/figures-fbi-doj-never-obtained-the-unredacted-crowdstrike-reports-on-russian-hack-of-dnc-server/

https://consortiumnews.com/2019/03/13/vips-muellers-forensics-free-findings/

https://consortiumnews.com/2019/04/16/vips-fault-mueller-probe-criticize-refusal-to-interview-assange/

https://consortiumnews.com/2019/05/03/orwellian-cloud-hovers-over-russia-gate/

https://consortiumnews.com/2017/07/24/intel-vets-challenge-russia-hack-evidence/

http://raymcgovern.com/2017/05/17/beneath-the-corporate-mediadeep-state-campaign-to-remove-trump-and-thwart-detente-with-russia/

https://consortiumnews.com/2019/06/13/ray-mcgovern-doj-bloodhounds-on-the-scent-of-john-brennan/

https://consortiumnews.com/2018/11/14/clappers-credibility-collapses/

https://raymcgovern.com/2019/01/06/transcript-when-clapper-was-asked-real-questions/

http://www.baltimoresun.com/news/opinion/oped/bs-ed-hacking-intelligence-20170105-story.html

http://www.baltimoresun.com/news/opinion/oped/bs-ed-trump-russia-phony-20170517-story.html

Ray McGovern works with Tell the Word, a publishing arm of the ecumenical Church of the Saviour in inner-city Washington. During his 27-year career as a CIA analyst, he led the Soviet Foreign Policy Branch and prepared the President’s Daily Brief for three presidents. He is co-founder of Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity.




The Danger of Leaving a President Out of the Loop

Donald Trump was kept in the dark about a possible U.S. nuclear response to a Russian cyber-weapon attack. The U.S. has now ramped up offensive cyber-warfare against Russia’s power grid, putting Trump in a deep bind, says Caitlin Johnstone.

By Caitlin Johnstone
CaitlinJohnstone.com

The New York Times has published an anonymously sourced report titledU.S. Escalates Online Attacks on Russia’s Power Grid about the “placement of potentially crippling malware inside the Russian system at a depth and with an aggressiveness that had never been tried before” which could potentially “plunge Russia into darkness or cripple its military,” with one anonymous official reporting that “We are doing things at a scale that we never contemplated a few years ago.”

Obviously this is yet another serious escalation in the continually mounting series of steps that have been taken into a new cold war between the planet’s two nuclear superpowers. Had a report been leaked to Russian media from anonymous Kremlin officials that Moscow was escalating its cyber-aggressions against America’s energy grid, this would doubtless be labeled an act of war by the political/media class of the US and its allies with demands for immediate retaliation.

To put this in perspective, The New York Times reported last year that the Pentagon was pushing for the U.S. Nuclear Posture Review to include the strategy of retaliating against serious Russian cyberattacks on American power grids with nuclear weapons.

So that’s scary enough. What’s even scarier is the information that the Times buried way down in the 21st to 23rd paragraphs of its report:

“Two administration officials said they believed Mr. Trump had not been briefed in any detail about the steps to place ‘implants’—software code that can be used for surveillance or attack—inside the Russian grid.

“Pentagon and intelligence officials described broad hesitation to go into detail with Mr. Trump about operations against Russia for concern over his reaction—and the possibility that he might countermand it or discuss it with foreign officials, as he did in 2017 when he mentioned a sensitive operation in Syria to the Russian foreign minister.

“Because the new law defines the actions in cyberspace as akin to traditional military activity on the ground, in the air or at sea, no such briefing would be necessary, they added.”

In an article titled “Pentagon Keeps Trump in the Dark About its Cyber Attacks on Russia”, Rolling Stone’s Peter Wade described this jarring revelation as follows:

“New laws, enacted by Congress last year, allow such ‘clandestine military activity’ in cyberspace to go ahead without the president’s approval. So, in this case, those new laws are protecting American interests… by keeping the sitting president out of the loop. What a (scary) time to be alive.”

So Trump is in a bit of a bind now. The escalation has already been put in place, which will likely see an equal response from Moscow if it isn’t scaled back. But scaling it back would mean a whole new wave of shrieking alarmism from the political/media class about the conspiracy theory that just won’t die no matter how much evidence is mounted against it: that Trump is a controlled puppet of the Kremlin. All as he’s working to build the case for re-election in 2020.

We Have Been Warned

Stephen F. Cohen, professor emeritus of Russian studies at New York University and Princeton University and one of America’s leading experts on U.S.-Russia relations, has been warning for years that exactly this would happen. In an April 2017 interview on Democracy Now, Cohen warned that placing political pressure on a U.S. president to never step back from escalations during a showdown between nuclear superpowers could have potentially world-ending consequences should mounting tensions see a situation similar to the Cuban missile crisis again.

“I think this is the most dangerous moment in American-Russian relations, at least since the Cuban missile crisis,” Cohen said. “And arguably, it’s more dangerous, because it’s more complex. Therefore, we—and then, meanwhile, we have in Washington these—and, in my judgment, factless accusations that Trump has somehow been compromised by the Kremlin. So, at this worst moment in American-Russian relations, we have an American president who’s being politically crippled by the worst imaginable—it’s unprecedented. Let’s stop and think. No American president has ever been accused, essentially, of treason. This is what we’re talking about here, or that his associates have committed treason.”

“Imagine, for example, John Kennedy during the Cuban missile crisis,” Cohen said. “Imagine if Kennedy had been accused of being a secret Soviet Kremlin agent. He would have been crippled. And the only way he could have proved he wasn’t was to have launched a war against the Soviet Union. And at that time, the option was nuclear war.”

People rarely take time to deeply reflect on the uniquely important fact that our species came within a hair’s breadth of total annihilation during the Cuban missile crisis. We learned long after it was all over that the only reason a nuclear-armed Soviet submarine didn’t discharge its payload on the U.S. Navy and set off a full-scale nuclear exchange between the U.S. and the USSR was because one of the three men in the sub needed to authorize the weapon’s use stood against the other two and refused. That man’s name was Vasili Arkhipov, and he’s responsible for the fact that you and everyone you love exists today. There’s a good PBS documentary about the event on YouTube if you’re curious.

Pre-Existing Agendas

President Kennedy was constantly going back and forth in communication with the Soviets during the Cuban missile crisis, and any number of things could have gone cataclysmically wrong during that exchange had Kennedy not made certain concessions at certain times and known when to hold back instead of pressing forward. He made a series of diplomatic moves that would not be possible in this current paranoid, leak-prone climate, including secretly recalling the USA’s Jupiter missiles from their position in Turkey at Khrushchev’s request.

For all the outrage that liberals display whenever a high-profile Republican utters the phrase “deep state”, it sure is interesting that the Commander-in-Chief has found himself in a situation where he is at the whim of a collective of warmongers who are advancing pre-existing agendas against a nation they perceive as a geostrategic threat to U.S. hegemony. It begs the question, who is really in charge?

The U.S. war machine is the most powerful military force in the history of civilization, and the alliance of nations that it upholds is functionally the most powerful empire that the world has ever seen. Because so much power depends on the behavior of this gargantuan war engine, it is seen by those with real power as too important to be left to the will of the electorate, and too important to be left to the will of the elected Commander-in-Chief. This is why Americans are the most propagandized people in the world, this is why Russia hysteria has been blasted into their psyches for three years, and this is why we are all at an ever-increasing risk of dying in a nuclear holocaust.

UPDATE: Trump now seems like he might be denying that what The New York Times’ sources said is happening is happening. It’s unlikely that the Times would fabricate a story whole cloth, so if Trump is in fact denying the story then either the sources are lying about what they’re doing in their own purported jobs, or Trump is still being kept in the dark, or Trump is just lying.

“Do you believe that the Failing New York Times just did a story stating that the United States is substantially increasing Cyber Attacks on Russia,” Trump tweeted. “This is a virtual act of Treason by a once great paper so desperate for a story, any story, even if bad for our Country. ALSO, NOT TRUE! Anything goes with our Corrupt News Media today. They will do, or say, whatever it takes, with not even the slightest thought of consequence! These are true cowards and without doubt, THE ENEMY OF THE PEOPLE!”

Curiouser and curiouser.

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.




7 Reasons to Doubt US Version of Gulf-of-Oman Incident

Given Pompeo’s regime-change agenda for Iran, Caitlin Johnstone pours cold water over his version of events. 

By Caitlin Johnstone
CaitlinJohnstone.com

In a move that surprised exactly zero people, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has wasted no time  scrambling to blame Iran for damage done to two sea vessels in the Gulf of Oman on Thursday, citing exactly zero evidence.

“This assessment is based on intelligence, the weapons used, the level of expertise needed to execute the operation, recent similar Iranian attacks on shipping, and the fact that no proxy group operating in the area has the resources and proficiency to act with such a high-degree of sophistication,” Pompeo told the press in a statement.

“The United States will defend its forces, interests, and stand with our partners and allies to safeguard global commerce and regional stability. And we call upon all nations threatened by Iran’s provocative acts to join us in that endeavor,” Pompeo concluded before hastily shambling off, taking exactly zero questions.

Here are seven reasons to be extremely skeptical of everything Pompeo said:

No. 1: Pompeo is a known liar, especially when it comes to Iran.

Pompeo has a well-established history of circulating blatant lies about Iran. He recently told an audience at Texas A&M University that when he was leading the CIA, “We lied, we cheated, we stole. We had entire training courses.”

No. 2: The US empire is known to use lies and false flags to start wars.

The U.S.-centralized power alliance has an extensive and well-documented history of advancing preexisting military agendas using lies, false flags and psyops to make targeted governments appear to be the aggressors. This is such a well-established pattern that “Gulf of Tonkin” briefly trended on Twitter after the Gulf of Oman incident. Any number of government agencies could have been involved from any number of the nations in this alliance, including the U.S., the U.K., Saudi Arabia, the UAE or Israel.

No. 3: John Bolton has openly endorsed lying to advance military agendas.

wrote an article about this last month because the Trump administration had already begun rapidly escalating against Iran in ways that happen to align perfectly with the longtime agendas of Trump’s psychopathic Iran hawk National security adviser. At that time people were so aware of the possibility that Bolton might involve himself in staging yet another Middle Eastern war based on lies that The Onion was already spoofing it.

On a December 2010 episode of Fox News’ Freedom Watch,” Bolton and the show’s host Andrew Napolitano were debating about recent WikiLeaks publications, and naturally the subject of government secrecy came up.

“Now I want to make the case for secrecy in government when it comes to the conduct of national security affairs, and possibly for deception where that’s appropriate,” Bolton said. “You know Winston Churchill said during World War Two that in wartime truth is so important it should be surrounded by a bodyguard of lies.”

“Do you really believe that?” asked an incredulous Napolitano.

“Absolutely,” Bolton replied.

“You would lie in order to preserve the truth?”

“If I had to say something I knew was false to protect American national security, I would do it,” Bolton answered.

This would be the same John Bolton who has been paid exorbitant speaking fees by the pro-regime change MEK terror cult, promising the cult in a 2017 speech that they’d be celebrating regime change in Tehran together before 2019. This would also be the same John Bolton who once threatened to murder an OPCW official’s children if he didn’t stop getting in the way of his Iraq war agenda.

No. 4: Using false flags to start a war with Iran is already an established idea in the DC swamp.

Back in 2012 at a forum for the Washington Institute of Near East Policy think tank, the group’s Director of Research Patrick Clawson openly talked about the possibility of using a false flag to provoke a war with Iran, citing the various ways the U.S. has done exactly that with its previous wars.

“I frankly think that crisis initiation is really tough, and it’s very hard for me to see how the United States president can get us to war with Iran,” Clawson began.

“Which leads me to conclude that if in fact compromise is not coming, that the traditional way that America gets to war is what would be best for U.S. interests,” Clawson added. “Some people might think that Mr. Roosevelt wanted to get us into the war… you may recall we had to wait for Pearl Harbor. Some people might think that Mr. Wilson wanted to get us into World War One; you may recall we had to wait for the Lusitania episode. Some people might think that Mr. Johnson wanted to get us into Vietnam; you may recall we had to wait for the Gulf of Tonkin episode. We didn’t go to war with Spain until the USS Maine exploded. And may I point out that Mr. Lincoln did not feel that he could call out the Army until Fort Sumter was attacked, which is why he ordered the commander at Fort Sumter to do exactly that thing which the South Carolinians said would cause an attack.”

“So if, in fact, the Iranians aren’t going to compromise, it would be best if somebody else started the war,” Clawson continued. “One can combine other means of pressure with sanctions. I mentioned that explosion on August 17th. We could step up the pressure. I mean look people, Iranian submarines periodically go down. Some day, one of them might not come up. Who would know why? [Smattering of sociopathic laughter from the crowd.] We can do a variety of things, if we wish to increase the pressure (I’m not advocating that) but I’m just suggesting that this is not an either/or proposition  —  just sanctions have to succeed or other things. We are in the game of using covert means against the Iranians. We could get nastier at that.”

No. 5: The US State Department has already been running psyops to manipulate the public Iran narrative.

State Department officials admitted to congressional staff at a closed-door meeting on Monday that a $1.5 million troll farm had gone “beyond the scope of its mandate” by aggressively smearing American critics of the Trump administration’s Iran policy as propagandists for the Iranian government, according to a new report from The Independent. That “mandate” had reportedly consisted of “countering propaganda from Iran,” also known as conducting anti-Iran propaganda.

“Critics in Washington have gone further, saying that the programme resembled the type of troll farms used by autocratic regimes abroad,” says The Independent.

“One woman behind the harassment campaign, a longtime Iranian-American activist, has received hundreds of thousands of dollars from the State Department over the years to promote ‘freedom of expression and free access to information,’” the report reads.

No. 6: The Gulf of Oman narrative makes no sense.

One of the ships damaged in the attacks was Japanese-owned, and the other was bound for Japan. This happened just as Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe was in Tehran attempting to negotiate a de-escalation between the U.S. and Iran with Trump’s blessing, and just after Iran had released a prisoner accused of conducting espionage for the U.S. in what many took to be a gesture of good faith.

Iran has been conducting itself with remarkable restraint in the face of relentless sanctions and provocations from the U.S. and its allies. It wouldn’t make much sense for it to suddenly abandon that restraint with attacks on sea vessels, then rescue their crew, then deny perpetrating the attacks, during a time of diplomatic exchanges and while trying to preserve the nuclear deal with Europe. If Tehran did perpetrate the attacks in order to send a strong message to the Americans, it would have been a very mixed message sent in a very weird way with very odd timing.

No. 7: Even if Iran did perpetrate the attack, Pompeo would still be lying.

Pompeo’s statement uses the words “unprovoked” twice and “Iran’s provocative acts” once, explicitly claiming that the U.S. empire was just minding its own business leaving Iran alone when it was attacked out of the blue by a violent aggressor. Sometimes the things put out by the U.S. State Department feel like they’re conducting experiments on us, just to test the limits of our stupidity.

As noted in this article by Moon of Alabama and this discussion on the Ron Paul Liberty Report, the U.S. has been provoking Iran with extremely aggressive and steadily tightening sanctions, which means that even if Tehran is behind the attacks, it would not be the aggressor and the attacks would most certainly not have been “unprovoked.” Economic sanctions are an act of war; if China were to do to America’s economy what America is doing to Iran’s, the U.S. would be in a hot war with China immediately. It could technically be possible that Iran is pushing back on U.S. aggressions and provocations, albeit in a strange and neoconservatively convenient fashion.

Either way, we have seen exactly zero evidence supporting Pompeo’s claims, so anyone you see hastening to blame Iran for the Gulf of Oman incident is either a war whore or a slobbering moron, or both. Knowing what we know about the U.S.-centralized empire and its pre-existing regime change agenda against Iran, there is no reason to believe Pompeo and many reasons not to.

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.




Propaganda Prospering Far and Wide

Human minds are very hackable, writes Caitlin Johnstone, and that causes a major problem for democracy.  

By Caitlin Johnstone
CaitlinJohnstone.com

Forbes reports that the CEO of Crowdstrike, the extremely shady cybersecurity corporation which was foundational in the construction of the official CIA/CNN Russian hacking narrative, is now a billionaire.

George Kurtz ascended to the billionaire rankings on the back of soaring stocks immediately after the company went public, carried no doubt on the winds of the international fame it gained from its role as a central protagonist in the most well-known hacking news story of all time. A loyal servant of empire well-rewarded.

Never mind that U.S. insiders such as Hillary Clinton had been prepping for escalations against Russia well in advance of the 2016 elections, and that their preexisting agendas to shove a geostrategic obstacle off the world stage benefitted from the hacking narrative as much as George Kurtz did.

Never mind that Crowdstrike is tied to the NATO narrative management firm known as the Atlantic Council, which receives funding from the U.S., the EU, NATO, Gulf states and powerful international oligarchs. Never mind, either, that Crowdstrike was financed with a whopping $100 million from Google, which has had a cozy relationship with U.S. intelligence agencies since its very inception.

Never mind that to this day the DNC servers have not been examined by the FBI, nor indeed were they examined by the Special Counsel of Robert “Iraq has WMD” Mueller, preferring instead to go with the analyses of this extremely shady outfit with extensive and well-documented ties with the oligarchic leaders of the U.S.-centralized empire. Also never mind that the Crowdstrike analyst who led forensics on those DNC servers had in fact worked for and was promoted by Robert Mueller while the two were in the FBI.

 

The Real Currency 

As I never tire of saying, the real underlying currency in our world is not gold, nor bureaucratic fiat, nor even raw military might. The real underlying currency of our world is narrative, and the ability to control it.

As soon as you really grok this dynamic, you start noticing it everywhere. George Kurtz is one clear example today of narrative control’s central role in the maintenance and expansion of existing power structures, as well as an illustration of how the empire is wired to reward those who advance pro-empire narratives and punish those who damage them; just compare how he’s doing to how Julian Assange is doing, for example.

But you see examples pop up every day:

  • The U.S. State Department just got busted using a $1.5 million troll farm to manipulate public discourse on social media about Iran.
  • Video footage has just surfaced of the director general of the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weaponsadmitting that the OPCW did indeed deliberately omit any mention in its official findings of a report from its own investigation which contradicts the establishment narrative about a chemical strike in Douma, Syria, an admission which answers controversial questions asked by critics of western imperialism like myself, and which the mainstream media have not so much as touched.
  • Mintpress News broke a story the other day about a new narrative management operation known as “The Trust Project,” a coordinated campaign by establishment-friendly mass media outlets for “gaming search-engine and social-media algorithms in collusion with major tech companies like Google and Twitter.”
  • In an interview with The Canary, UN Special Rapporteur on torture Nils Melzer explicitly named the mass media as largely responsible for Assange’s psychological torture, excoriating them for the way that they “have shown a remarkable lack of critical independence and have contributed significantly to spreading abusive and deliberately distorted narratives about Mr. Assange.”
  • In a new essay, Freeing Julian Assange,” journalist Suzie Dawson reports that “Countless articles appear to have been obliterated from the internet” about Assange and WikiLeaks, amounting to some 90 percent of the links Dawson examined which were shared in tweets by or about WikiLeaksand Assange since 2010.
  • I just finished reading this excellent Swiss Propaganda Research essay about the little-known fact that “most of the international news coverage in Western media is provided by only three global news agencies based in New York, London and Paris.”

I write about this stuff for a living, and even I don’t have the time or energy to write full articles about every single narrative control tool that the U.S.-centralized empire has been implementing into its arsenal. There are too damn many of them emerging too damn fast, because they’re just that damn crucial for maintaining existing power structures.

Because whoever controls the narrative controls the world.

 

Power used to be much easier to identify in our society: just look for the fellow with the sparkly hat made of gold sitting in a really big chair and bossing everyone around. As our society advanced philosophically, however, people started fighting for ideals called “freedom” and “democracy” in their respective nations. And, as far as our parents and teachers have taught us, freedom and democracy are exactly what we have now.

Except that’s all crap. Freedom and democracy only exist within the Western empire to the extent that it keeps up appearances. Because the trouble with democracy, it turns out, is that human minds are very hackable, when they are pursued with enough resources. Wealthy and powerful people do have the resources, which means that it’s very possible for wealthy and powerful people to manipulate the masses into voting in a way that consistently benefits the wealthy and powerful. This is why billionaires and narrative control consistently go hand-in-hand.

This dynamic has allowed for western power structures to operate in a way that western democracy was explicitly designed to prevent: for the benefit of the powerful instead of for the benefit of the voting populace. So now we’ve got people in so-called liberal democracies voting to maintain governments which advance wars which don’t benefit them, to advance intrusive surveillance and police state policies which oppress them, to advance austerity policies which harm them, to advance labor policies which exploit them, and to maintain eco-cidal environmental policies which threaten the very survival of our species. All because the wealthy and powerful are able to use their wealth and power to manipulate the way people think and vote.

This is why I pay far more attention to narrative control than to politics. Politics is downstream from narrative control, which is why the 2020 U.S. presidential race is already a contest to see what level of Democratic corporatist warmonger will be running against the incumbent Republican corporatist warmonger. The narrative-controlling class does its level best to hide the fact that anything’s fundamentally wrong with the system, then when people notice it’s deeply broken they encourage them to use completely impotent tools to fix it. “Don’t like how things are run? Here, vote for our other puppet!”

The root of all our problems right now is the fact that human minds are very hackable with enough resources, combined with the fact that war, oppression, exploitation and ecocide are highly profitable. This dynamic has caused human collective consciousness to generally dead-end into a kind of propagandized, zombified state in which all our knowledge and all our thinking moves in alignment with the agendas of existing power structures. It’s much easier to continue believing the official narratives than to sort through everything you’ve been told about your society, your nation and your world since grade school and work out what’s true and what’s false. Many don’t have the time. Many more don’t have the courage.

We will remain in this collective dead-end, hurtling toward either Orwellian dystopia or extinction via climate collapse or nuclear Armageddon, until we find a way out of it. It won’t come from the tools our rulers have given us, and it won’t come from repeating any of the old patterns which got us here. In order to escape from the increasingly adept narrative control matrix that is being built around our collective mind by the powerful, we’re going to have to change our relationship with narrative altogether. We will either pass this great test or we will fail it, and we absolutely have the freedom to go either way.

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.




RAY McGOVERN: DOJ Bloodhounds on the Scent of John Brennan

With Justice Department investigators’ noses to the ground, it should be just a matter of time before they identify Brennan as fabricator-in-chief of the Russiagate story, says Ray McGovern.

By Ray McGovern
Special to Consortium News

The New York Times Thursday morning has bad news for one of its favorite anonymous sources, former CIA Director John Brennan.

The Times reports that the Justice Department plans to interview senior CIA officers to focus on the allegation that Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered Russian intelligence to intervene in the 2016 election to help Donald J. Trump. DOJ investigators will be looking for evidence to support that remarkable claim that Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s final report failed to establish.

Despite the collusion conspiracy theory having been put to rest, many Americans, including members of Congress, right and left, continue to accept the evidence-impoverished, media-cum-“former-intelligence-officer” meme that the Kremlin interfered massively in the 2016 presidential election.

One cannot escape the analogy with the fraudulent evidence of weapons of mass destruction in Iraq. As in 2002 and 2003, when the mania for the invasion of Iraq mounted, Establishment media have simply regurgitated what intelligence sources like Brennan told them about Russia-gate.

No one batted an eye when Brennan told a House committee in May 2017, “I don’t do evidence.”

Leak Not Hack

As we Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity have warned numerous times over the past two plus years, there is no reliable forensic evidence to support the story that Russia hacked into the DNC. Moreover, in a piece I wrote in May, “Orwellian Cloud Hovers Over Russia-gate,” I again noted that accumulating forensic evidence from metadata clearly points to an inside DNC job — a leak, not a hack, by Russia or anyone else.

So Brennan and his partners, FBI Director James Comey and National Intelligence Director James Clapper were making stuff up and feeding thin but explosive gruel to the hungry stenographers that pass today for Russiagate obsessed journalists.

Is the Jig Up?

With Justice Department investigators’ noses to the ground, it should be just a matter of time before they identify Brennan conclusively as fabricator-in-chief of the Russiagate story. Evidence, real evidence in this case, abounds, since the Brennan-Comey-Clapper gang of three were sure Hillary Clinton would become president. Consequently, they did not perform due diligence to hide their tracks.

Worse still, intelligence analysts tend to hang onto instructions and terms of reference handed down to them by people like Brennan and his top lieutenants. It will not be difficult for CIA analysts to come up with documents to support the excuse: “Brennan made me do it.”

The Times article today betrays some sympathy and worry over what may be in store for Brennan, one of its favorite sons and (anonymous) sources, as well as for those he suborned into making up stuff about the Russians.

The DOJ inquiry, says the Times, “has provoked anxiety in the ranks of the C.I.A., according to former officials. Senior agency officials have questioned why the C.I.A.’s analytical work should be subjected to a federal prosecutor’s scrutiny.” Attorney General William Barr is overseeing the review but has assigned the U.S. attorney in Connecticut, John Durham, to conduct it.

No Holds Barred

Barr is approaching this challenge with a resoluteness and a calm candor rarely seen in Washington — particularly when it comes to challenging those who run the intelligence agencies.

The big question, once again, is whether President Donald Trump will follow his customary practice of reining in subordinates at the last minute, lest they cross the vindictive and still powerful members of the Deep State.

Happily, at least for those interested in the truth, some of the authors of the rump, misnomered “Intelligence Community Assessment” commissioned by Obama, orchestrated by Brennan-Clapper-Comey, and published on January 6, 2017 will now be interviewed. The ICA is the document still widely cited as showing that the “entire intelligence community agreed” on the Russia-gate story, but this is far from the case. As Clapper has admitted, that “assessment” was drafted by “handpicked analysts” from just three of the 17 intelligence agencies — CIA, FBI, and NSA.

U.S. Attorney Durham would do well to also check with analysts in agencies — like the Defense Intelligence Agency and State Department Intelligence, as to why they believe they were excluded. The ICA on Russian interference is as inferior an example of intelligence analysis as I have ever seen. Since virtually all of the hoi aristoi and the media swear by it, I did an assessment of the Assessment on its second anniversary. I wrote:

“Under a media drumbeat of anti-Russian hysteria, credulous Americans were led to believe that Donald Trump owed his election victory to the president of Russia, whose “influence campaign” according to theTimesquoting the intelligence report,helped “President-elect Trump’s election chances when possible by discrediting Secretary Clinton.”

Hard evidence supporting the media and political rhetoric has been as elusive as proof of weapons of mass destruction in Iraq in 2002-2003. This time, though, an alarming increase in the possibility of war with nuclear-armed Russia has ensued — whether by design, hubris, or rank stupidity. The possible consequences for the world are even more dire than 16 years of war and destruction in the Middle East. …

The Defense Intelligence Agency should have been included, particularly since it has considerable expertise on the G.R.U., the Russian military intelligence agency, which has been blamed for Russian hacking of the DNC emails. But DIA, too, has an independent streak and, in fact, is capable of reaching judgments Clapper would reject as anathema. Just one year before Clapper decided to do the rump “Intelligence Community Assessment,” DIA had formally blessed the following heterodox idea in its “December 2015 National Security Strategy”:

“The Kremlin is convinced the United States is laying the groundwork for regime change in Russia, a conviction further reinforced by the events in Ukraine. Moscow views the United States as the critical driver behind the crisis in Ukraine and believes that the overthrow of former Ukrainian President Yanukovych is the latest move in a long-established pattern of U.S.-orchestrated regime change efforts.”

Any further questions as to why the Defense Intelligence Agency was kept away from the ICA drafting table?

Ray McGovern works with Tell the Word, a publishing arm of the ecumenical Church of the Saviour in inner-city Washington. During his 27 years as a CIA analyst, he was Chief of the Soviet Foreign Policy Branch, and preparer/briefer of the President’s Daily Brief. He is co-founder of Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity (VIPS).




Cover-Ups and Truth Tellers

Lawrence Davidson finds a reversal of values — in who gets punished and who does not — when whistleblowers and publishers expose immoral behavior by governments.

By Lawrence Davidson 
Tothe PointAnalysis.com

In a May, 22, 2019 appearance in the White House Rose Garden, President Donald Trump declared that “I don’t do cover-ups.” Various news outlets immediately started to enumerate a long list of bona fide cover-ups associated with the president.

What can one say about this bit of Trumpian nonsense? Can you accuse a person of lying who actually seems not to know the difference between truth and untruth? Trump’s inability in this regard is demonstrated daily, and The Washington Post fact checker puts the running count of presidential lies at 10,111, with no end in sight. When it comes to reality, the president appears to be a malignant version of Walter Mitty

Unfortunately, Trump’s behavior is but the tip of the iceberg when it comes to cover-ups. One can surmise that just by virtue of being the head of the U.S. government, the president — any president — must be directly or indirectly associated with hundreds of such evasions. That is because, it can be argued without much paranoia, that every major division of the government is hiding something —particularly when it comes to foreign activities.

Of course, being cover-ups by the government may make them appear acceptable, at least to a naive public. Many of them are rationalized as necessary for the sake of national “security.” And, of course, everyone wants to be “secure,” accepting the notion that “people sleep peaceably in their beds at night only because rough men stand ready to do violence on their behalf.”

The fact that much of this violence is done to other innocent people trying to get a peaceful night’s rest is “classified” information. So woe be it to the truth tellers who defy these rationalizations and sound off. For they shall be cast out of our democratic heaven into one of the pits of hell that pass for a U.S. prison—or, if they are fleet-footed, chased into exile.  

Melodramatic, Except … Assange and Manning

Well, that sounds a bit melodramatic — unless you happen to be Julian Assange, the publisher of WikiLeaks, or his notable informant, Chelsea Manning, or, taking one step back from the firing line, the Freedom of the Press Foundation. 

The Trump administration is now seeking, via the “Justice” Department, to destroy Assange and Manning. Both are truth tellers or, if you want, whistleblowers who, by revealing the truth about government behavior during the Iraq War, badly embarrassed Washington. The rush to punishment is being carried out with a maliciousness for which this president and his bureaucratic minions seem temperamentally well-suited. Always keep in mind that there are plenty of unethical professionals, in this case operating in the guise of government lawyers, available to serve the disreputable purposes of disreputable bosses. 

Julian Assange has been charged with an 18-count indictment alleging that he “unlawfully obtained and disclosed classified documents related to national defense.” It goes on to allege that Assange accomplished this when he “conspired with Manning and aided and abetted her in obtaining classified information … to be used to the injury of the United States or to the advantage of a foreign nation.” Manning’s sentence for these “offenses” was subsequently commuted by President Barack Obama, but she is now in jail for refusing to testify before a grand jury investigating Assange.

The attack on Assange and Manning has brought into question the viability of the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution and the notion of a free press — seminally important matters. Here is how the Freedom of the Press Foundation describes the implications of the indictment against Julian Assange:

“Put simply, these unprecedented charges against Julian Assange and WikiLeaks are the most significant and terrifying threat to the First Amendment in the 21st century. The Trump administration is moving to explicitly criminalize national security journalism, and if this prosecution proceeds, dozens of reporters at The New York Times, The Washington Post and elsewhere would also be in danger. The ability of the press to publish facts the government would prefer remain secret is both critical to an informed public and a fundamental right. … Anyone who cares about press freedom should immediately and wholeheartedly condemn these charges.” 

Given these circumstances, one might be surprised, and very disappointed as well, to know that a concerted opposition to this threat from the so-called Fourth Estate (the press and news media) has yet to materialize. 

Too Few Protecting Journalism 

The truth is that, beyond fact-checking the statements of a pathological president, too few journalists are willing to go out on a limb on the issue of a “free press,” or, if you will, for the integrity of their own profession. As it is, most of the American mass media more or less toes a government line and has done so for a very long time. They do this because their owners and editors are either in agreement with the government, see it as economically necessary to appear as traditionally loyal Americans to their readership, or have selectively hired reporters and other staff who are too passive to resist government pressure. Thus, episodes such as the 1972 reporting about the Nixon-inspired break-in at the Watergate and the revelation of the Pentagon Papers in 1971, along with the occasional local investigative expose, are exceptions rather than the rule of journalistic behavior. At best, if a newspaper or TV station wants to appear politically risqué they will confine the effort to a supposed “balanced” editorial page or segment. 

If the journalistic establishment appears hesitant, civil liberties organizations such as the ACLU readily agree with the Freedom of the Press Foundation. The ACLU Director, Ben Wisner, notes that “For the first time in the history of our country, the government has brought criminal charges against a publisher for the publication of truthful information.” The key words here are “publisher” and “truthful information.” Wisner goes on to say that “It establishes a dangerous precedent that can be used to target all news organizations that hold the government accountable by publishing its secrets.” In other words, Trump and his minions are taking a step in the direction of dictatorial censorship. 

Two Opposing Issues

Wisner’s comment suggests that there is often a real tension between what the government wishes to keep secret and issues of public morality and common decency. Indeed, Manning’s stated motive in dealing with WikiLeakswas to “remove the fog of war and reveal the true nature of 21st century asymmetric warfare.” Hence, in 2010, Manning, after being rebuffed by The New York Times and The Washington Post, sent WikiLeaks some 750,000 classified or otherwise “sensitive” military and diplomatic documents. Much of this material showed the U.S. waging a cruel and lawless operation in Iraq that any normal American should find troubling. This is probably part of the reason why this revelation was judged by Washington to be injurious to the U.S.

We have two issues here and they are in opposition.

First, there is the formal issue of the government (actually all governments) having made it illegal to acquire and make public, in an unauthorized fashion, classified information. However, it is clear that information is often classified not only because it might be militarily or diplomatically harmful but because it is likely to be found repulsive by a government’s own citizens. This proved to be the case with at least some of Manning’s revelations.

That brings us to the second issue — what are the proper behavioral standards to which we want to hold our government, our military, and our diplomatic corps? How are we to know if they are meeting those standards when they have the advantage of legally keeping official behavior secret? 

So it is a conundrum. As libertarians like to put it, “all that which is immoral for men acting individually is equally immoral for men acting in association.”

However, no one seems to have both the legal clout and the courage to demand moral standards for the government, at least not when it comes to foreign policy. Oddly enough, there are domestic laws that make it a criminal offense to withhold incriminating information from the police. But those laws have no application here, though they really should. So the entire situation is managed for the sake of one side of the dilemma — the government. On the other side, the casualties continue to pile up. 

Most of us are told that our government is the best, most progressive one in existence — a model for all the world. And, if you go along with the likes of Vice President Mike Pence and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, the U.S. government takes a seat at the right hand of God.

However, what happens when truth tellers who notice starkly immoral U.S. government behavior reveal that fact to the public? With but rare exception, what happens is that you get a reversal of values. To name the operatives of the U.S. government as criminals, you often must reveal “classified” evidence. It is that revelation that instantly becomes the primary offense. What the revealed information might say about government wrongdoing recedes into the shadows, and it is the truth teller who becomes the primary criminal. 

Lawrence Davidson is professor of history emeritus at West Chester University in Pennsylvania. He has been publishing his analyses of topics in U.S. domestic and foreign policy, international and humanitarian law and Israel/Zionist practices and policies since 2010.




Pompeo’s Vow to ‘Push Back’ Against Corbyn

Caitlin Johnstone responds to comments by the U.S. secretary of state that sound like a threat to interfere in the U.K.’s democratic process. 

By Caitlin Johnstone
CaitlinJohnstone.com

An audio recording from a private meeting that was leaked to The Washington Post reportedly features U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo vowing to “push back” against surging British Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn, and many are concerned that what he said sounds an awful lot like a top U.S. official promising to interfere in the UK’s democratic process.

At a closed-door meeting with Jewish leaders earlier this month, one of the attendees asked Pompeo if Corbyn becomes prime minister, “would you be willing to work with us to take on actions if life becomes very difficult for Jews in the U.K.?”

Before I get to Pompeo’s response, I should interrupt myself to note that nobody actually believes that Corbyn would make life difficult for Jews in the U.K. Anyone who claims to believe this is lying. Usually when you hear people regurgitating such establishment lines they’re people who are acting basically in good faith, but have been propagandized.

Not so in this case. The idea that a man with a lifelong history of opposing bigotry is a secret anti-Semite who will facilitate the persecution of Jews if given the opportunity is a completely baseless smear campaign, and everyone knows it, including those who advance it.

Smear Gibberish

The notion that Jeremy Corbyn advances anti-Semitism is literally just some gibberish the smear merchants made up to prevent the rise of a politician who threatens to upset existing power structures. It’s exactly as believable and exactly as legitimate as if British newspapers were constantly running headlines claiming that Corbyn is actually three children standing on each other’s shoulders inside grown-up’s clothes; the one and only difference is that they were able to make the anti-Semitism smear stick. Anyone who pretends to believe that Corbyn is a closet anti-Semite is exactly as honest and credible as someone who solemnly tells you, “I am very concerned about the fact that the Labour Party is led by a man who is secretly a cartoon mascot for a children’s breakfast cereal.”

So anyway, Pompeo is asked what he’s going to do in the event of a Corbyn-led Kristallnacht, and WaPo reports on his response as follows:

Pompeo said: “It could be that Mr. Corbyn manages to run the gauntlet and get elected. It’s possible. You should know, we won’t wait for him to do those things to begin to push back. We will do our level best,” he said to fervent applause from attendees.

 “It’s too risky and too important and too hard once it’s already happened,” he said.

This revelation, understandably, has kicked up a fair bit of chatter in merry old England.

“President Trump and his officials’ attempts to decide who will be Britain’s next prime minister are an entirely unacceptable interference in the UK’s democracy,” The Guardian quotes a Labour spokesperson as saying in response to the revelation.

“STOP: The Secretary of State Mike Pompeo just promised ‘Jewish leaders’ in the United States that he would stop Jeremy Corbyn coming to power here,” tweeted former British MP George Galloway. “Is this normal now? Is this what we’ve been led to? Is this good for Jews? For Britain? Really?”

“They did it in Latin America, Africa and Asia. Now the US government wants to overthrow democracy in Britain,” tweeted The Guardian‘s George Monbiot. “Still waiting for a UK government spokesperson to express their outrage. Hello???”

“Hmm. Hard to spin this any other way: the US secretary of state secretly promises US Jewish leaders to prevent Corbyn from becoming UK prime minister,” tweeted British journalist Jonathan Cook. “Hard too not to suspect that the US is *already* helping to ensure Corbyn doesn’t become PM. Because the obvious implication of Pompeo’s comment is that the US knows it can damage Corbyn without leaving fingerprints at the crime scene – presumably through black ops, image management etc. The elephant in the room: Why assume the US isn’t already using those techniques?”

It is no secret that the D.C. establishment considers other nations to be its personal property and has no qualms about openly working to topple the governments of nations like Venezuela and Iran, but people aren’t accustomed to hearing this sort of language directed at white, English-speaking liberal democracies. Add in the fact that this is coming from a particularly reviled administration in terms of international optics and the likely public revulsion increases. The thought that this administration may decide the direction of U.K. politics would be all kinds of infuriating to the average pom.

So many questions need to be answered. Was Pompeo in fact saying that the U.S. is intending to prevent Corbyn from becoming prime minister? And if so, how? What exactly does “push back” entail? Are we talking psyops and smear campaigns? Or something more? And whatever they intend to do, have they started doing it already?

These are all questions that we should be intensely curious about. If Corbyn is able to continue to rise, we may begin seeing some increasingly overt manipulations from many places we’re not meant to be seeing them as an ailing empire fights to hold itself together in the face of increasing public discontent. The more overt the guardians of the empire are forced to be, the more they expose themselves, and the greater that public discontent may become. Our rulers are in a very complex balancing act right now, and we’d all do well to pay attention.

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.




Extending the US Embargo on Cuba & Hurting the People

Marjorie Cohn calls out the hypocrisy of the U.S. hitting Cuba with new travel restrictions in reprisal for “destabilizing the region.”

By Marjorie Cohn
Truthout

Escalating his policy to economically strangle Cuba, President Donald Trump has imposed new restrictions on travel to Cuba by U.S. persons. The Office of Foreign Assets Control will no longer allow the popular “people-to-people” educational travel and they will deny licenses to cruise ships, the most common way people visit Cuba.

“While this further escalation of the Trump administration’s economic war on Cuba is very harmful to the people of Cuba and its private sector, it also directly impacts U.S. people,” Art Heitzer, chairperson of the National Lawyers Guild Cuba Subcommittee, told Truthout. “It will limit their freedom to travel, disrupting the lives and jobs of many Cuban-Americans in south Florida.”

Ironically, it is the voters in south Florida — many of them expatriated Cubans — whom Trump seeks to please with his shameful Cuba policy. Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Florida) has long been angling for regime change in Cuba. The New York Times called Rubio “a virtual secretary of state for Latin America.” Early in his presidency, Trump told administration officials that his strategy on Cuba was to “Make Rubio happy.”

In an unprecedented move last month, Trump, egged on by Rubio, decided to allow potentially thousands of lawsuits that will depress tourism and investment in Cuba.

When announcing the administration’s new restrictions on travel to Cuba, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said, “This administration has made a strategic decision to reverse the loosening of sanctions and other restrictions on the Cuban regime. These actions will help to keep U.S. dollars out of the hands of Cuban military, intelligence, and security services.”

Extension of Embargo 

But it is the Cuban people who will suffer from restrictions on tourism, which is critical to Cuba’s economy. This is an extension of the economic embargo the United States has maintained against Cuba since the Cuban Revolution. A secret State Department memo written in 1960 proposed making life so miserable for the Cuban people, they would overthrow the new Castro government. The memo advocated “a line of action which, while as adroit and inconspicuous as possible, makes the greatest inroads in denying money and supplies to Cuba, to decrease monetary and real wages, to bring about hunger, desperation and overthrow of government.” The economic blockade continues to hurt the Cuban people although it has failed in its goal to overthrow the Cuban government.

Mnuchin also claimed, “Cuba continues to play a destabilizing role in the Western Hemisphere, providing a communist foothold in the region and propping up U.S. adversaries in places like Venezuela and Nicaragua by fomenting instability, undermining the rule of law, and suppressing democratic processes.”

In fact, it is the U.S. government that is fomenting instability in Latin America. Team Trump is trying to illegally change Venezuela’s regime. The U.S. blames Cuba for its  own failed attempts to overthrow the Nicolás Maduro government in Venezuela.

Trump threatened Cuba with “a full and complete” embargo if it didn’t “immediately” stop supporting the Maduro government. But Cuban Foreign Minister Bruno Rodriguez stated at a news conference, “This is vulgar calumny. Cuba does not have troops nor military forces nor does it participate in military or security operations of the sister Republic of Venezuela.” Rodriguez’s denial was confirmed by the CIA, which concluded that Cuba’s assistance is much less critical to Venezuela than U.S. officials had claimed, according to The New York Times.

Nevertheless, the Trump administration continues to escalate its economic warfare against Cuba. Now it has eliminated the people-to-people travel license, and prohibited cruise ships and private aircraft from traveling to Cuba, effective June 5, 2019.

New Rules

Congress has established 12 categories of people who can lawfully travel to Cuba under a general license. They include the following:

  • Family visits;
  • Official U.S. business, foreign governments and certain intergovernmental organizations;
  • Journalistic activity;
  • Professional research and professional meetings;
  • Educational activities;
  • Religious activities;
  • Public performances, clinics, workshops, athletic and other competitions, and exhibitions;
  • Support for the Cuban people;
  • Humanitarian projects;
  • Activities of private foundations or research or educational institutes;
  • Exportation, importation, or transmission of information or information materials;
  • Certain authorized export transactions.

Only Congress can omit or add to any of these 12 categories. But different presidential administrations redefine what is permitted under each category. Trump’s newly announced policy narrows the purview of one of these categories. Now “people-to-people” travel will not be licensed under the category of “educational activities.”

General licenses had been allowed for travel that facilitated “people-to-people” contact. The Treasury Department defines a “people-to-people” license as “an authorization, subject to conditions, for persons subject to U.S. jurisdiction to engage in certain educational exchanges in Cuba on an individual basis or under the auspices of an organization that is a person subject to U.S. jurisdiction and sponsors such exchanges to promote people-to-people contact.”

Trump’s new policy “kills the people-to people category, which is the most common way for the average American to travel to Cuba,” according to Collin Laverty, head of Cuba Educational Travel, one of the biggest companies in the United States that handles travel to Cuba.

Blocking Boats and Planes

Under the new rules, passenger and recreational vessels (including cruises ships, fishing boats, sailboats and yachts) and private and corporate aircraft will no longer be licensed to visit Cuba. Most people who travel to Cuba arrive on cruise ships.

From January to April of 2019, 142,000 Americans stopped in Cuba while on cruises, compared to 114,000 who traveled by airplane. The ban on cruises will be “devastating to the travel industry and the Cuban people,” said Tom Popper, president of the travel company insightCuba. Cruise Lines International Association, a cruise industry group, estimates that the new prohibition will affect approximately 800,000 passenger bookings.

Private and corporate aircraft will not be permitted to travel from the U.S. to Cuba. But commercial flights will still be allowed.

The Trump regime has threatened more sanctions against Cuba. It is not clear whether they will impose additional travel restrictions.

Marjorie Cohn is professor emerita at Thomas Jefferson School of Law, former president of the National Lawyers Guild, deputy secretary general of the International Association of Democratic Lawyers and a member of the advisory board of Veterans for Peace. Her most recent book is Drones and Targeted Killing: Legal, Moral, and Geopolitical Issues.”

This article is from Truthout and is reprinted with permission.




PEPE ESCOBAR: The Unipolar Moment is Over

The Russia-China strategic partnership, consolidated last week in Russia, has thrown U.S. elites into Supreme Paranoia mode, which is holding the whole world hostage.

By Pepe Escobar
Special to Consortium News

Something extraordinary began with a short walk in St. Petersburg last Friday.

After a stroll, they took a boat on the Neva River, visited the legendary Aurora cruiser, and dropped in to examine the Renaissance masterpieces at the Hermitage. Cool, calm, collected, all the while it felt like they were mapping the ins and outs of a new, emerging, multipolar world.

Chinese President Xi Jinping was the guest of honor of Russian President Vladimir Putin. It was Xi’s eighth trip to Russia since 2013, when he announced the New Silk Roads, or Belt and Road Initiative (BRI).

First they met in Moscow, signing multiple deals. The most important is a bombshell: a commitment to develop bilateral trade and cross-border payments using the ruble and the yuan, bypassing the U.S. dollar.

Then Xi visited the St. Petersburg International Economic Forum (SPIEF), Russia’s premier business gathering, absolutely essential for anyone to understand the hyper-complex mechanisms inherent in the construction of Eurasian integration. I addressed some of SPIEF’s foremost discussions and round tables here.

In Moscow, Putin and Xi signed two joint statements – whose key concepts, crucially, are “comprehensive partnership”, “strategic interaction” and “global strategic stability.”

In his St. Petersburg speech, Xi outlined the “comprehensive strategic partnership”. He stressed that China and Russia were both committed to green, low carbon sustainable development. He linked the expansion of BRI as “consistent with the UN agenda of sustainable development” and praised the interconnection of BRI projects with the Eurasia Economic Union (EAEU). He emphasized how all that was consistent with Putin’s idea of a Great Eurasian Partnership. He praised the “synergetic effect” of BRI linked to South-South cooperation.

And crucially, Xi stressed that China “won’t seek development to the expense of environment”; China “will implement the Paris climate agreement”; and China is “ready to share 5G technology with all partners” on the way towards a pivotal change in the model of economic growth.

So what about Cold War 2.0?

It was obvious this was slowly brewing for the past five to six years. Now the deal is in the open. The Russia-China comprehensive strategic partnership is thriving; not as an allied treaty, but as a consistent road map towards Eurasia integration and the consolidation of the multipolar world.

Unipolarism – via its demonization matrix – had first accelerated Russia’s pivot to Asia. Now, the U.S.-driven trade war has facilitated the consolidation of Russia as China’s top strategic partner.

Russia’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs better get ready to dismiss virtually everyday statementscoming, for instance, from the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Gen. Joseph Dunford, when he alleges that Moscow aims to use non-strategic nuclear weapons in the European theater. It’s part of a non-stop process – now in high gear – of manufacturing hysteria by frightening NATO allies with the Russian “threat.”

Moscow better get ready to dodge and counteract reams of reports such as the latest from the RAND corporation, which outlines – what else? – Cold War 2.0 against Russia.

In 2014, Russia did not react to sanctions imposed by Washington. Then, it would have sufficed to merely brandish the threat of default on $700 billion in external debt. That would have killed the sanctions.

Now, there’s ample debate inside Russian intelligence circles on what to do in case Moscow faces the prospect of being cut off the CHIPS-SWIFT financial clearing system. 

With few illusions about what may pass at the G20 in Osaka later this month, in terms of a breakthrough in U.S.-Russia relations, intel sources told me Rosneft’s CEO Igor Sechin is prepared to send a more “realistic” message— if push eventually comes to shove.

His message to the EU, in this case, would be to cut them off, and link with China for good. That way, Russian oil would be completely redirected from the EU to China, making the EU completely dependent on the Strait of Hormuz.

Beijing for its part seems to have finally absorbed that the current Trump administration offensive is not a mere trade war, but a full fledged attack on its economic miracle, including a concerted drive to cut China off from large swathes of the world economy.

The war on Huawei – the Rosebud of China’s 5G supremacy – has been identified as an attack on the dragon’s head. The attack on Huawei means an attack not only on tech, mega-hub Shenzhen, but the whole Pearl River Delta: a $3 trillion yuan ecosystem, which supplies the nuts and bolts of the Chinese supply chain for high-tech manufacturers.

Enter the Golden Ring

Neither China’s technological rise, nor Russia’s unmatched hypersonic know-how have caused America’s structural malaise. If there are answers they should come from the Exceptionalist elites.

The problem for the U.S. is the emergence of a formidable peer competitor in Eurasia – and worse still, a strategic partnership. It has thrown these elites into Supreme Paranoia mode, which is holding the whole world hostage.

By contrast, the concept of the Golden Ring of Multipolar Great Powers has been floated, by which Turkey, Iraq, Iran, Pakistan, Russia and China might provide a “stability belt” along the South Asia Rimland.

I have discussed variations of this idea with Russian, Iranian, Pakistani and Turkish analysts – but it sounds like wishful thinking. Admittedly all these nations would welcome establishing the Golden Ring; but no one knows which way Modi’s India would lean – intoxicated as it is with dreams of Big Power status as the crux of America’s “Indo-Pacific” concoction.

It might be more realistic to assume that if Washington does not go to war with Iran – because Pentagon gaming has established this would be a nightmare – all options are on the table ranging from the South China Sea to the larger Indo-Pacific.

The Deep State will not flinch to unleash concentric havoc on the periphery of both Russia and China and then try to advance to destabilize the heartland from the inside. The Russia-China strategic partnership has generated a sore wound: it hurts – so bad – to be a Eurasia outsider.

Pepe Escobar, a veteran Brazilian journalist, is the correspondent-at-large for Hong Kong-based Asia Times. His latest book is 2030.” Follow him on Facebook.