Lt. Col. Karen Kwiatkowski Wins 2018 Sam Adams Award

Karen Kwiatkowski has won the 2018 Sam Adams Associates for Integrity in Intelligence award for trying to stop the “shock and awe” attack on Iraq. Kwiatkowski is featured in the film “Shock and Awe” to be shown at an awards ceremony Saturday.

By Ray McGovern

Dishonest (not “mistaken”) intelligence greased the skids for the widespread killing and maiming in the Middle East that began with the Cheney/Bush “Shock and Awe” attack on Iraq. The media reveled in the unconscionable (but lucrative) buzzword “shock-and-awe” for the initial attack.  In retrospect, the real shock lies in the awe-some complicity of virtually all “mainstream media” in the leading false predicate for this war of aggression — weapons of mass destruction (WMD).

Only one major media group, Knight Ridder, avoided the presstitution, so to speak.  It faced into the headwinds blowing from the “acceptable” narrative, did the investigative spadework, and found patriotic insiders who told them the truth.  Karen Kwiatkowski, who had a front-row seat at the Pentagon, was one key source for the intrepid Knight Ridder journalists.  Karen tells us that her actual role is accurately portrayed by the professional actress in the Rob Reiner’s film “Shock and Awe.”

Other members of the Sam Adams Associates were involved as well, but we will leave it to them to share on Saturday evening how they helped Knight Ridder accurately depict the pre-war administration/intelligence/media fraud.

Intelligence Fraud

More recently, former National Intelligence Director James Clapper added a coda to pre-Iraq-War intelligence performance. Clapper was put in charge of imagery analysis before the Iraq war and was able to conceal the fact that there were were no weapons of mass destruction in Iraq. In his memoir, Clapper writes that Vice President Cheney “was pushing” for imagery analysis “to find (emphasis in original) the WMD sites.”

For the record, none were found because there were none, although Clapper — “eager to help” — gave it the old college try. Clapper proceeds, in a matter-of-fact way, to blame not only pressure from the Cheney/Bush administration, but also “the intelligence officers, including me, who were so eager to help that we found what wasn’t really there.”

Regarding those Clapper-produced “artist renderings” of “mobile production facilities for biological agents”? Those trucks “were in fact used to pasteurize and transport milk,” Clapper admits nonchalantly. When challenged on all this while promoting his memoir at the Carnegie Endowment in Washington, Clapper gave not the slightest hint that it occurred to him his performance was somewhat lacking.

Media: Consequential Malfeasance

As for the self-licking ice cream cone that “mainstream media” have become, and how they overlook little peccadillos like feeding at the government PR trough and helping Cheney and Bush attack Iraq, well — now, now — let’s not be nasty.  Here’s how Jill Abramson, The New York Times Washington Bureau Chief from 2000 to 2003, while the Times acted as drum major for the war, lets Bob Woodward off the hook for his own abysmal investigative performance.

Reviewing Woodward’s recent book on the Trump White House, Abramson praises his “dogged investigative reporting,” noting that he has won two Pulitzer Prizes, and adds: “His work has been factually unassailable.”  Then she (or perhaps an editor) adds in parenthesis: “(His judgment is certainly not perfect, and he has been self-critical about his belief, based on reporting before the Iraq War, that there were weapons of mass destruction.)”

Are we to believe that the Abramsons, Woodwards, et al. of the media elite simply missed the WMD deception?   (Hundreds of insiders knew of it, and some were willing to share the truth with Knight Ridder and some other reporters.)  Or did the media moguls simply hunker down and let themselves be co-opted into helping Cheney/Bush start a major war?  The latter seems much more likely: and transparent attempts to cover up for one another, still, is particularly sad — and consequential.  Having suffered no consequences (for example, in 2003 Abramson was promoted to Managing Editor of the NYT), the “mainstream media” appear just as likely to do a redux on Iran.

This is why there will be a premium on honest insider patriots, like Karen Kwiatkowski, to rise to the occasion and try to prevent the next war.  Bring along your insider friends on Saturday; they need to know about Karen and about Sam Adams Associates for Integrity in Intelligence.

Please do come and join us in congratulating Karen Kwiatkowski and the other SAAII members who also helped Knight Ridder get the story right.  (Those others shall remain unnamed until Saturday.)  And let insiders know this: they are not likely to hear about all this otherwise.

Samuel Alexander Adams (June 14, 1934 – October 10, 1988), known as Sam Adams, was an analyst for the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA). He is best known for his role in discovering that during the mid-1960s American military intelligence had underestimated the number of Viet Cong and North Vietnamese Army soldiers.

Date:  Saturday, December 8, 2018

Time:  6:30 PM Showing of film, “Shock and Awe”
             8:00 PM Presentation 17th annual Sam Adams Award
             Ceremony will include remarks by Larry Wilkerson, 7th SAAII awardee (in 2009)

Place: The Festival Center, 1640 Columbia Road, NW, Washington, DC 20009

FREE: But RSVP, if you can, to give us an idea of how many to expect; email: raylmcgovern@gmail.com

ALL WELCOME: Lots of space in main conference room




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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Judge Delays Decision Whether to Unseal Assange Criminal Complaint

A hearing was held in Alexandria, Virginia, on Tuesday on a motion to make public the sealed U.S. charges against Julian Assange.  Joe Lauria, editor of Consortium News, was in the courtroom and filed this report. 

By Joe Lauria
in Alexandria, Virginia
Special to Consortium News

A decision whether to unseal U.S. government charges against Julian Assange was delayed for a week by Judge Leonie Brinkema in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia on Tuesday.

In her comments to the court, Judge Brinkema appeared to be siding with the government’s argument that there is no legal precedent for a judge to order the release of a criminal complaint or indictment in a case before an arrest is made. 

However, Katie Townsend, a lawyer for the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press, which filed an application to “unseal criminal prosecution of Julian Assange,” told the court that the government’s inadvertent revelation of charges against the WikiLeaks publisher should prompt the court to release the complaint.

The government says it mistakenly included a passage referring to Assange in a totally unrelated case. The passage was reported this month in the press and was read in full by Judge Brinkema in court. It says the government considered alternatives to sealing, but that any procedure “short of sealing will not adequately protect the needs of law enforcement at this time because, due to the sophistication of the defendant and the publicity surrounding the case, no other procedure is likely to keep confidential the fact that Assange has been charged.”

The paragraph goes on to say that the “complaint, supporting affidavit, and arrest warrant, as well as this motion and proposed order would need to remain sealed until Assange is arrested in connection with the charges in the criminal complaint and can therefore no longer evade or avoid arrest and extradition in this matter.”

As additional evidence that the government was pursuing WikiLeaks, Townsend also cited the Jan. 2017 intelligence “assessment” that Russia had interfered in the 2016 election in which WikiLeaks is blamed for playing a role; congressional testimony from former FBI Director James Comey that the bureau had an “intense focus” on WikiLeaks; then CIA Director Mike Pompeo’s claim that WikiLeaks was a “hostile, non-state intelligence service;” and the naming of WikiLeaks as “Organization 1” in the government’s indictment of Russian intelligence agents for allegedly interfering in the election.

Government Calls Charges ‘Speculation’

But Assistant U.S. Attorney Gordon Kromberg argued that the government has never said it was investigating Assange, only WikiLeaks and those leaking to it. He said further that it was “speculation” that there are already charges against Assange based on anonymous press sources, even though the mistakenly published paragraph clearly speaks of the “fact that Assange has been charged.”

Kromberg told the court that the government could neither confirm nor deny that the passage relates to Julian Assange, nor could confirm or deny that he has been charged because to do so would admit Assange’s status, which the state contends must remain secret.

Judge Brinkema, who called the case “interesting, to say the least,” agreed that it was an “assumption” and “hypothetical” that the WikiLeaks founder has already been charged. But she asked Kromberg in court what “compelling” rationale there was to keep Assange’s status secret after the government’s inadvertent release.

Kromberg said he could not discuss in public the specifics in this case regarding sealing.  

Judge Brinkema then listed the general reasons why indictments and complaints remain sealed before an arrest is made:  to prevent a suspect from fleeing, from destroying or tampering with evidence, from pressuring potential witnesses, from being prepared to harm arresting officers and also to protect against alerting other defendants that might be named in a complaint or indictment.

Assange, however, is purposely not fleeing from the Ecuador Embassy in London as he fears he will be arrested by British authorities and extradited to the United States. It is highly unlikely he is armed and could harm arresting officers, who could enter the sovereign territory of Ecuador only with that government’s permission. Assange could possibly have alleged evidence on a laptop and others could be named in the complaint.

The judge then asked Townsend to name any case in which a judge had ordered the government to release criminal charges before an arrest was made. Kromberg had argued that there were none. Townsend requested a few days to respond.

Judge Brinkema gave both parties a week to make further submissions to the court.

Joe Lauria is editor-in-chief of Consortium News and a former correspondent for The Wall Street Journal, Boston GlobeSunday Times of London and numerous other newspapers. He can be reached at joelauria@consortiumnews.com and followed on Twitter @unjoe .




The Fate of Julian Assange: Chris Hedges Interviews Consortium News Editor-in-Chief Joe Lauria

On his program “On Contact,” journalist and author Chris Hedges interviews Joe Lauria, CN editor, on the moves to prosecute Julian Assange using the Espionage Act; the media’s cravenness and the latest on Assange’s condition in London.




How the US Creates ‘Sh*thole’ Countries

A new collection of essays, edited by former Congresswoman Cynthia McKinney, clearly shows that it is the U.S. that is largely responsible for the poverty and suffering in these very nations, says Robert Fantina.

By Robert Fantina

In two years, the world has become accustomed to being shocked by the words and actions of United States President Donald Trump. In January of this year, he again showed his lack of diplomacy, tack and common decency, when he referred to many poorer countries as “sh*ithole countries”, asking, “Why do we want all these people from sh*thole countries coming here?” Former member of the House of Representatives Cynthia McKinney, in the new book she has edited, How the US Creates ‘Sh*thole’ Countries, (Clarity Press) has gathered a collection of essays, including one of her own, that clearly shows that it is the U.S. that is largely responsible for the poverty and suffering in these very nations.

The first series of essays describes U.S. foreign policy, and its true motives. In the essay, The End of Washington’s ‘Wars on the Cheap’, The Saker sums up U.S. foreign policy as follows: “Here’s the template for typical Empire action: find some weak country, subvert it, accuse it of human right violations, slap economic sanctions, trigger riots and intervene militarily in ‘defense’ of ‘democracy’, ‘freedom’ and ‘self-determination’ (or some other combo of equally pious and meaningless concepts).” The hypocrisy of such a policy is obvious. A weak and vulnerable nation is victimized by a far more powerful one. The U.S. has done this countless times in its history, and there appears to be no appetite in the government to change.

This introduction and explanation of U.S. foreign policy is followed by essays on some, but certainly not all, of the countries that have been victimized by the United States, usually following this template. As McKinney says in her essay, Somalia: Is Somalia the U.S. Template for All of Africa, “…while mouthing freedom, democracy, and liberty, the United States has denied these very aspirations to others, especially when it inconvenienced the US or its allies. In Mozambique and Angola, the US stood with Portugal until it was the Portuguese people, themselves, who threw off their government and voted in a socialist government that vowed to free Portugal of its colonies.”

In the essay, How the U.S. Perpetuates the Palestinian Tragedy’, Sami Al-Arian writes:

It might be understandable, if detestable, for Israel and its Zionist defenders to circulate false characterizations of history and myths to advance their political agenda. But it is incomprehensible, indeed reprehensible, for those who claim to advocate the rule of law, believe in the principle of self-determination, and call for freedom and justice to fall for this propaganda or to become its willing accomplices. In following much of American political leaders’ rhetoric or media coverage of the conflict, one is struck by the lack of historical context, the deliberate disregard of empirical facts, and the contempt for established legal constructs and precedents.”

The U.S. leads in these distortions, with its officials proclaiming, each time that Israel bombs Gaza, that “Israel has a right to defend itself”. There is hardly mention of the brutal, illegal occupation and blockade; never a discussion of the fact that Palestine has no army, navy or air force, and Israel’s military is one of the world’s most powerful thanks to the U.S. It is never stated that international law allows an occupied people to resist the occupation in any way possible, including armed struggle. The countless United Nations resolutions condemning Israeli actions in Palestine are ignored by U.S. officials.

Once again, U.S. hypocrisy is on very public display.

The third section of this informative book describes the United States’ mostly-successful efforts to camouflage its vile intentions and international crimes. Christopher Black, in his essay Western Imperialism and the Use of Propaganda”, clearly articulates how this is done:

The primary concern they [U.S. government officials] have, in order to preserve their control, is for the preservation of the new feudal mythology that they have created: that the world is a dangerous place, that they are the protectors, that the danger is omnipresent, eternal, and omnidirectional, comes from without, and comes from within. The mythology is constructed and presented through all media; journals, films, television, radio, music, advertising, books, the internet in all its variety. All available information systems are used to create and maintain scenarios and dramas to convince the people that they, the protectors, are the good and all others are the bad. We are bombarded with this message incessantly.”

Our memories are short, indeed, if we have forgotten both President George W. Bush and his Secretary of State, Colin Powell, telling the world from the United Nations the blatant lie that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction, threatening civilization. We are not paying attention if we are unaware of the many innuendos given of the ‘dangers’ of all Muslims. Yes, the government fosters fear, proclaiming subtly and not so subtly that there is danger everywhere, and it is the role of the mighty United States to protect the world, whether or not such protection is wanted or needed.

Lastly, the U.S. Itself can be described as a ‘sh*thole’ country. Its many violations of international law, and crimes against humanity, are summarized by Richard Falk, in his essay The Sh*thole Phenomenon at Home and Abroad:

This kind of nationalist pride covered up and blindsided crimes of the greatest severity that were being committed from the time of the earliest settlements: genocide against native Americans, reliance on the barbarism of slavery to facilitate profitable cotton production and the supposedly genteel life style of the Southern plantations. This unflattering national picture should be enlarged to include the exploitation of the resources and good will of peoples throughout Latin America, who, once freed from Spanish colonial rule, quickly found themselves victimized by American gunboat diplomacy that paved the way for American investors or joined in crushing those bold and brave enough to engage in national resistance against the abuse of their homelands.”

The final essay is the Report of the Special Rapporteur on Extreme Poverty and Human Rights on his Mission to the United States of America, authored by Philip Alston. While Trump decries “sh*thole” countries, the conditions that the U.S. put those countries in are not unknown in the U.S. A few facts from Alston’s report will suffice:

  • The U.S.’s “…immense wealth and expertise stand in shocking contrast with the conditions in which vast numbers of its citizens live. About 40 million live in poverty, 18.5 million in extreme poverty, and 5.3 million live in Third World conditions of absolute poverty. It has the highest youth poverty rate in the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), and the highest infant mortality rates among comparable OECD States. Its citizens live shorter and sicker lives compared to those living in all other rich democracies, eradicable tropical diseases are increasingly prevalent, and it has the world’s highest incarceration rate, one of the lowest levels of voter registrations in among OECD countries and the highest obesity levels in the developed world.”
  • The United States has the highest rate of income inequality among Western countries. The $1.5 trillion in tax cuts in December 2017 overwhelmingly benefited the wealthy and worsened inequality.”
  • For almost five decades the overall policy response has been neglectful at best, but the policies pursued over the past year seem deliberately designed to remove basic protections from the poorest, punish those who are not in employment and make even basic health care into a privilege to be earned rather than a right of citizenship.”

The information in these essays is all rigorously documented with extensive footnotes. The writing is clear and the facts are presented in a concise manner that is highly beneficial for the average reader or academic.

For anyone who questions U.S. policies, at home or abroad, and who has perhaps become more aware of such issues since Trump’s election,

How the US Creates ‘Sh*thole’ Countries is an indispensable read.

Robert Fantina is a journalist and the author of Essays on Palestine.




US-Funded Neo-Nazis in Ukraine Mentor US White Supremacists

Short-sighted U.S. foreign policy that backs jihadists in the Middle East and neo-Nazis in Ukraine is once again blowing back on the United States, as Max Blumenthal explains.

FBI: Azov Battalion Trained Rise Above Movement

By Max Blumenthal

Last month, an unsealed FBI indictment of four American white supremacists from the Rise Above Movement (RAM) declared that the defendants had trained with Ukraine’s Azov Battalion, a neo-Nazi militia officially incorporated into the country’s national guard. The training took place after the white supremacist gang participated in violent riots in Huntington Beach and Berkeley, California and Charlottesville, Virginia in 2017.

The indictment stated that the Azov Battalion “is believed to have participated in training and radicalizing United States-based white supremacy organizations.”

After a wave of racist violence across America that culminated in the massacre of twelve Jewish worshippers at a Pittsburgh synagogue, the revelation that violent white supremacists have been traveling abroad for training and ideological indoctrination with a well-armed neo-Nazi militia should cause extreme alarm.

Not only are white supremacists from across the West flocking to Ukraine to learn from the combat experience of their fascist brothers-in-arms, they are doing so openly — chronicling their experiences on social media before they bring their lessons back home. But U.S. law enforcement has done nothing so far to restrict the flow of right-wing American extremists to Azov’s bases.

There is one likely explanation for the U.S. government’s hands-off approach to Azov recruitment: the extremist militia is fighting pro-Russian separatists as a front-line proxy of Washington. In fact, the United States has directly armed the Azov Battalion, forking over anti-tank rocket launchers and even sending a team of Army officers to meet in the field with Azov commanders in 2017.

Though Congress passed legislation this year forbidding military aid to Azov on the grounds of its white supremacist ideology, the Trump administration’s authorization of $200 million in offensive weaponry and aid to the Ukrainian military makes it likely new stores of weapons will wind up the extremist regiment’s hands. When queried by reporters about evidence of American military training of Azov personnel, multiple U.S. army spokespersons admitted there was no mechanism in place to prevent that from happening.

Today, Azov boasts combat experience, unlimited access to light weapons, and supporters honeycombed throughout the upper echelons of Ukraine’s military and government. No longer just a militia, the organization has developed into a political juggernaut that can overpower Ukraine’s government. Two years ago, the group flexed its muscle on the streets of Kiev, bringing out 10,000 supporters to demand that the government bend to their will or face a coup.

With its military experience and weapons, Azov has the ability to blackmail the government and defend themselves politically against any opposition. They openly say that if the government will not advance an ideology similar to theirs, they will overthrow it,” Ivan Katchanovski, a professor of political science at the University of Ottawa and leading expert on Ukraine’s far-right, commented to me. He continued, explaining:

Currently the organizations that are fascist are stronger in Ukraine than in any other country in the world. But this fact is not reported by Western media because they see these organizations as supportive of the geopolitical agenda against Russia. So condemnations are limited to violence or human rights abuses.”

The revelations of collaboration between violent American white supremacists and a neo-Nazi militia armed by the Pentagon add another scandalous chapter to a long history of blowback that dates back to the 1950’s, when the CIA rehabilitated several Ukrainian Nazi collaborators as anti-communist assets in the Cold War.

The almost unbelievable story exposes an axis of fascism that stretches across the Atlantic, from the Ukrainian capital of Kiev to the sun-washed suburbs of Southern California, where some of the most rabid modern white supremacist gangs were born.

White Nationalist Fight Club

This October, four members of the RAM gang — Robert Rundo, Benjamin Drake Daley, Michael Paul Mirelis, and Aaron Eason — were arrested by FBI agents. They were accused of “using the internet to encourage, promote, participate in, and carry out riots” from Huntington Beach to Berkeley, California. Four other members had been arrested in connection with their participation in the white supremacist riot in Charlottesville, Virginia, where a counter-protester, Heather Heyer, was killed in a vehicular homicide by a white supremacist.

RAM first appeared in the national limelight during a celebration of Donald Trump’s election victory in Huntington Beach in March 2017. As about one hundred far-right activists marched along the beach donned in red “Make America Great Again” caps and waving Trump flags, they were confronted by a small group of masked anti-racist counter-demonstrators. When a melee ensued, RAM members assaulted their outnumbered opponents, pummeling them into submission and even attacking a local reporter. Afterwards, Orange County police arrested several anti-racist demonstrators, but the RAM gang walked free.

RAM markets itself as a self-defense organization that protects the free speech of white Americans against an onslaught of “Cultural Marxism,”  a classic anti-Semitic trope. Its founders emphasize a vaguely anti-consumerist Fight Club mentality along with a rigorous dedication to mixed martial arts. Its co-founder, Rundo, operates an online clothing and apparel company, Right Brand Clothing, that hawks slickly designed t-shirts promoting “European Brotherhood,” stickers emphasizing a straight-edge “nationalist lifestyle,” and ethically sourced designer “Demagogue pants” (yes, white supremacists apparently care about sweatshops). RAM members can be seen at the site modeling their gear with a clean-cut “fashy” look that contrasts sharply with the stereotypical image of skinheads in jackboots.

RAM’s careful attention to its public image has not stopped its members from putting their crude neo-Nazi ideology on display at rallies, however. During the Huntington Beach riot, for example, RAM’s Robert Boman was seen waving a sign reading “Da Goyim Know.” This alt-right slogan refers to the white nationalist understanding of the supposed Jewish plot to dominate the world.

I’m a big supporter of the Fourteen, I’ll say that,” RAM’s Rundo proclaimed into a camera in Huntington Beach. The gang leader was referring to the notorious 14-word slogan coined by convicted white supremacist terrorist David Lane, which has become a rallying cry for fascists across the globe: “We must secure the existence of our people and a future for white children.”

Two months after the violence in Huntington Beach, two RAM members were photographed in the same spot dousing literature they dubbed as “Cultural Marxist” with lighter fluid and setting it ablaze. Among the volumes they torched were “The Diary of Anne Frank,” “The 9/11 Commission Report,” and “Schindler’s List.” Besides evoking memories of the early days of Nazi Germany, the spectacle cast the group’s purported devotion to free speech in an extremely ironic light.

Following RAM’s highly publicized street battles, the group became the subject of intense media scrutiny. In October 2017, the investigative outlet ProPublica produced a video that exposed the identities of RAM’s core membership and wondered why they had not been investigated by law enforcement for their violent actions in Huntington Beach and elsewhere.

But the media coverage of RAM glossed over the group’s attraction to a burgeoning trans-Atlantic conglomeration of white supremacists that centered on U.S.-allied Ukraine as the base for a fascist reconquest of Europe. By the Spring of 2018, RAM leadership was barnstorming through Germany and Italy and heading east to meet fascist cohorts from across the West at a conference in Kiev.

RAM’s Ukrainian Hate-cation

Buried in the FBI indictment of RAM members are details of their meetings with one of the key figures in Ukraine’s neo-Nazi Azov Battalion militia.

In August, according to the indictment, RAM members published photos on Instagram showing themselves meeting with Olena Semanyaka, the leader of the international department of the Ukrainian National Corps, which functions as a civilian arm of the Azov Battalion:

The indictment also referenced a video of RAM co-founder Benjamin Drake Daley performing a crossed-forearm salute to the Southern California-based white supremacist Hammerskin gang while in Ukraine:

 

RAM’s Gab account provides additional details of the group’s foray through Ukraine this May. The trip centered around the Paneuropa conference, an event that brings together fascists from across the West to encourage international collaboration. It is hosted at the Reconquista Club in Kiev, and included an a mixed martial arts competition.

One of our guys has had the honor to be the first American to compete in the pan european organization Reconquista in Ukraine!” RAM declared on its Gab account. “This was a great experience meeting nationalist[s] that came [sic] as far as Portugal and Switzerland to take part.”

The visit, which followed on the heels of meetings with white supremacists in Germany and with Italy’s fascist CasaPound party, highlighted the centrality of Ukraine to international fascist organizing. Further, the Paneuropa conference, where fascists build connections across national borders, revealed the Azov Battalion as much more than a militia fighting for control of a sliver of contested territory in eastern Ukraine.

Semanyaka did not respond to an interview request delivered through Facebook messenger; however, she told Radio Free Europe’s Christopher Miller that RAM “came to learn our ways” and showed interest in learning how to create youth forces in the way Azov has.

Today, Azov leaders openly acknowledge that were it not for the U.S.-backed coup that unfolded in Kiev’s Maidan Square in 2014, their organization would never have developed into the powerhouse it is. As Semanyaka said this year, according to a summary:

The Ukrainian nationalist movement would have never reached such a level of development unless the war with Russia had begun. For the first time since the Second World War, nationalist formations have managed to create their own military wings, the brightest example being the Azov regime of the National Guard of Ukraine.”

Right-wing Maidan Revolution

The 2013-14 Maidan revolt was the cataclysmic event that Ukraine’s already potent ultra-nationalist camp had been waiting for. The protests erupted in Kiev’s Maidan Square after the democratically elected President Viktor Yanukovych refused to sign an economic association agreement with the EU. Celebrated in the West as a pro-Western movement guided by tech-savvy middle-class youth, EuroMaidan depended heavily for its success on phalanxes of black-masked hardmen from Right Sector (see appendix at bottom), an ultra-nationalist party that did battle with the government’s Berkut riot police.

Along with Right Sector, the leadership of the far-right Svoboda Party assumed a prominent role at the Maidan, dubbing the protests a “Revolution of Dignity.” Svoboda co-founder Oleh Tyahnybok — who had once demanded an investigation of the “Jewish-Muscovite mafia” that he saw controlling Ukraine — appeared on stage at the square beside U.S. Senators John McCain and Chris Murphy when they arrived to encourage the protesters.

Another key figure in Ukraine’s neo-Nazi scene was Andriy Biletsky. A university Ph.D. who stressed physical violence as a means to revolutionary change, Biletsky led the Patriot of Ukraine militia, an early forerunner of Azov that attacked migrant camps and menaced foreigners. In a manifesto published during the height of the Maidan clashes, Biletsky outlined his post-revolutionary agenda: “The historic mission of our nation in this critical moment is to lead the White Races of the world in a final crusade for their survival,” he wrote. “A crusade against the Semite-led Untermenschen.”

In May 2014, Right Sector and an assortment of far-right forces banded together to massacre their opponents in Odessa, attacking a pro-separatist protest camp with iron pipes then burning the fleeing protesters alive after they took shelter in a local trade union building. Over 40 pro-separatist Ukrainian citizens were consumed in the flames. The U.S. and EU studiously looked the other way, legitimizing the violence and setting the stage for more.

Behind the scenes, U.S. Assistant Secretary of State Victoria Nuland and Ambassador Geoffrey Pyatt were carefully stage managing the opposition, positioning the pliable Arseniy Yatsenyuk as the future leader of a U.S. client-state. Meanwhile, billionaire-backed U.S. soft-power entities like the Omidyar Network and Open Society Foundation plowed money into the opposition, providing it with high-tech organizing capacity and establishing new media outlet Hromadske overnight.

Given the amount of U.S. investment in regime change in Ukraine, it was necessary for American pundits who cheered on the operation to downplay or simply deny the central role neo-Nazi forces played in making it all possible. In perhaps the most absurd attempt at whitewashing the fascist presence, the neoconservative pundit James Kirchick described Right Sector in an article for Foreign Affairs as “Putin’s imaginary Nazis.” Meanwhile, groups like the Anti-Defamation League — which supposedly exist to battle anti-Semitism — refused to support a congressional effort to ban arms to groups affiliated with Right Sector, because “the focus should be on Russia.”

With all the cover he needed from Washington, Biletsky organized the “imaginary Nazis” of Patriot of Ukraine, Right Sector, and assorted football ultras into a real militia called the Azov Battalion. Together, they fought under the neo-Nazi Wolfsangel symbol, which also happens to be incorporated into the logo of the U.S.-based Aryan Nations.

On the frontlines of eastern Ukrainian flashpoints, Azov did battle with Russian-speaking separatists and set up government-sponsored indoctrination camps for children and teens closer to the country’s interior, instructing ten year olds on marksmanship and the evils of foreigners. Azan was subsequently absorbed into Ukraine’s military as a national guard unit, and began appearing in the field with PSRL-1 rocket launchers supplied under the watch of the U.S. Department of Defense. In November 2017, Azov leadership received a team of U.S. Army officers for training and logistical discussions (see photo below and to the right).

By the time Congress approved a ban on arms to Azov this year, the Trump administration had already authorized a new shipment of offensive weapons to the Ukrainian military, including advanced Javelin anti-tank missiles. As in Syria — where the CIA-backed Free Syrian Army functioned as a de facto “weapons farm” for jihadist groups, including Jabhat al-Nusra and ISIS — any new U.S. arms are likely to wind up in the possession of Azov, the congressional ban notwithstanding.

It’s very corrupt in Ukraine and money can be stolen — the same as in Syria where extremist fighters got guns from U.S.-backed units,” said Katchanovski. “Azov can just establish new political fronts so they can circumvent the U.S. prohibitions.”

Foreign Fighters for Fascism

The Azov Battalion has received not only U.S. weapons, but also volunteer American military veterans like Brian Boyenger. “It’s not illegal,” Boyenger told a Ukraine Today interviewer of his presence in an Azov camp. “From a U.S. perspective, as long as you’re not fighting with a terrorist group or committing war crimes or things like that. It is legal — mostly I’ve been serving as kind of like an advisor.”

Azov has also welcomed Islamist fighters from Chechnya to continue their long war against Russia in a new theater. A sniper from Sweden with “typical neo-Nazi views,” Mikael Skillt, has been assigned to oversee an entire Azov regiment. And neo-Nazis from as far away as Brazil have flocked to Ukraine to join the fascist crusade. One foreign fighter from France, a young anti-Semite named Gregoire Moutaux, returned from a Ukrainian militia camp in 2016 “armed to the teeth and ready to strike” synagogues, mosques and the 2016 soccer championships when he was arrested on the Ukrainian border by national police.

To consolidate its political influence over the country, the Azov Battalion established a National Druzhina, or street patrol unit. A slickly produced recruitment video released in 2017 featured drone footage of National Druzhina members marching in formation into Kiev as Biletsky, their ideological guide, impelled them to “restore Ukrainian order” to a corrupted society. The street patrol was openly backed by Interior Minister Arsen Avakov, a powerful patron of Azov who belongs to the ruling party of Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko.

This year, the National Druzhina and state-funded neo-Nazi militias like C14 (the “14” represents the notorious “fourteen words” mantra) staged a series of lethal pogroms against the local Roma population, vandalized the offices of insufficiently pliant politicians, stormed city council meetings, and even sued the Hromadske station that was established with U.S. funding for describing their members as neo-Nazis.

Their connection to power is why they can commit any crime and they will never be punished,” Katchanovski said of Azov and its various street-muscle brigades. “Because they have the police and senior police members like [Vadym] Troyan, they can intimidate people and intimidate politicians with impunity.” (Once a member of Azov, Troyan now serves as Ukraine’s Deputy Minister of Interior).

The U.S. has not only kept silent about the wave of ultra-nationalist violence sweeping across Ukraine, it has been complicit in legitimizing the perpetrators. This November, America House Kyiv — a U.S. government-funded cultural center — hosted a speech by a uniformed leader of the neo-Nazi C14 gang, Serhiy Bondar. Months earlier, Republican House Majority Leader Paul Ryan and the NATO-funded Atlantic Council hosted Andriy Parubiy, the speaker of the Ukrainian parliament and co-founder of the fascist Social-National party, for a friendly exchange on Capitol Hill.Given the free rein and open acceptance right-wing extremists enjoy in post-Maidan Ukraine, it is no wonder the country has become a haven for fascists from across the West.

Grand Reconquista Strategy

As the international secretary of Azov’s National Corps, Olena Semanyaka has emerged as one of the most prolific publicists of Eastern European fascism. With jet black hair and a faintly gothic look, she brands herself as a “traditionalist,” emulating her hero, Julius Evola, the late Italian occultist philosopher who espoused a “racism of the spirit.” Though she has been photographed bearing a Nazi flag and throwing up a sieg heil salute, Semanyaka has also been a welcome guest on Ukrainian nationalist TV to promote her campaign for the release of Ukrainian nationalist activists held by Russia.

In her role with Azov, Semanyaka organizes conferences aimed at popularizing the concept of “the great European Reconquista” — a pan-European fascist-nationalist takeover that begins in the former Soviet satellite states and ultimately sweeps through Western Europe on the strength of anti-foreigner resentment.

Semanyaka laid out the fascist grand strategy in Kiev at a December 2016 gathering of Black Metal fans from across Europe called the “Pact of Steel:”

For the first time [in] a long period, the success of the Right in Western Europe — the rise of the Right because of refugee influx and terror — gives the chance for the realization of our ‘pact of steel’ between East and West, between Western and Eastern European nationalists.”

She continued:

Our main task today is to show to Western nationalists, to inform them that Putin’s Russia is no alternative to the EU of the West and that the only ally for them is an alternative axis of European integration which is being formed now in Kiev, Central and Eastern Europe, as a springboard for the all-European reconquest, for the new Europe between the EU and neo-Soviet neo-Bolshevik Putin’s Russia.”

Semanyaka and other Ukrainian fascist ideologues refer to the regional springboard for the European reconquest as the “Intermarium.” This is a concept originally envisioned after World War One by Polish military leader Jozef Pilsudski, who imagined a confederation of countries from the Baltic to the Black Sea as a counter-weight to German and Russian aggression. Though his idea never materialized, Russia’s annexation of Crimea in 2014 and the failure of the EU and NATO to prevent it revived interest in the Intermarium. One of the biggest boosters of the alliance, the right-wing Polish President Andrzej Duda, saw it primarily through the prism of regional security. The extreme right in Ukraine, however, understood the Intermarium as an ethnically pure base for exporting their revolution to the rest of Europe.

The first Intermarium conference was held in Kiev in January 2016 under the banner of Azov’s National Corps. Semanyaka headlined the event alongside Biletsky, the Azov founder, welcoming far-right activists from Poland and the Baltic States. Within a year, the concept was promoted at an officially sanctioned event at the Latvian embassy in Kiev. There, the Latvian ambassador welcomed a who’s who of the Ukrainian fascist scene, from Svoboda to National Corps representatives like Semanyaka, for a ceremony honoring Peter Radzins, a Latvian general who advocated for the Intermarium.

Organized by Latvia’s far-right National Alliance party, a member of the country’s governing coalition, the spectacle provided Azov leaders with the sheen of international legitimacy. As Matthew Kott, an academic expert on the European far-right, argued, Latvia’s “membership in the EU and NATO allows it to act as a Trojan horse for increasing the clout of the far-right in the Euro-Atlantic community.”

While historical tensions between the Intermarium nations are still simmering, Semanyaka has pleaded with her international allies to heed the call of the late pro-Hitler British Blackshirt leader Oswald Mosley for a “great act of oblivion…of all our former struggles, conflicts, historical enmity. What we need,” she argued, “is the revival of a sense of the new European aristocracy, a new European unity as a real basis for the union I am talking about.”

There are no historical grievances between American white supremacists and their cohorts in Ukraine. After all, the U.S. government has made itself the main guarantor of Ukraine’s security, going as far as directly arming Azov in its bid to bleed Russia. And decades before the U.S. backed extremists in contemporary Ukraine, the CIA ran a program to rehabilitate former Nazi collaborators from the country as anti-communist intelligence assets. Backing Ukrainian fascists is a grand American tradition, indeed.

This November, during the latest Paneuropa conference organized by Semanyaka as a safe space for fascists from across the West, she played host to one of the most prominent self-styled intellectuals of America’s white nationalist movement, Greg Johnson.

I think that what’s happening in Ukraine is a model and an inspiration for nationalists of all white nations and I wanted to learn as much as possible about what you’re doing here and see as much as possible,” Johnson told his rapt audience. “And I’m enormously impressed and I’m taking notes.”  Johnson is a highbrow racist who publishes a journal, Counter-Currents, that advances what he calls “white identity politics.” Like the Rise Above Movement leaders before him, he was clearly inspired by his visit to Kiev. “I’m already planning to come back,” Johnson exclaimed during a break-out session. “I’m very impressed with what I’ve seen here. I want to come back and learn more.”

__________________

Svoboda Party: Originally called the Social-National Party of Ukraine, a Ukrainian political party with long history of anti-Semitism. Led by Oleh Tyahnybok, Svoboda played a prominent role in the 2013-2014 Maidan uprising, where Tyahnybok shared the stage with U.S. Senators John McCain (R-AZ) and Chris Murphy (D-CT). Andriy Parubiy, who had co-founded the Social-National Party of Ukraine, is now Speaker of Parliament.  

Azov Battalion: 3,000-member neo-Nazi formation in Ukraine’s National Guard. Azov began as a paramilitary, originally formed out of the Patriot of Ukraine neo-Nazi gang led by Andriy Biletsky, and is now a Ukrainian National Guard unit. The battalion’s logo incorporates the neo-Nazi Wolfsangel and black sun symbols. Biletsky is now a member of Ukrainian Parliament. Vadim Troyan, another  Azov veteran, is now Deputy Interior Minister.  

Ukrainian National Corps: Azov’s civilian arm, responsible, among other things, for coordinating with and recruiting neo-Nazis and white supremacists from around the world. The international outreach is led by Olena Semanyka, who’s been photographed with a swastika flag.  

National Druzhina: Azov’s street patrol organization, established in January 2018 with the aim of “restoring Ukrainian order” to the streets. The National Druzhina — whose members pledge personal loyalty to Biletsky — has been involved in pogroms against the Roma, LGBT, and other activists.  

Right Sector: Loose formation of neo-Nazis and football ultras, which supplied street muscle to the 2013-2014 Maidan uprising. Later involved in lethal suppression of anti-Maidan movements in places like Odessa.  

C14: Ukrainian neo-Nazi gang that receives government funding and has been responsible for some of the lethal Roma pogroms as well as anti-LGBT violence. The 14 is a reference to the Fourteen Word slogan of white supremacy. Led by Serhiy Bondar, who spoke at America House, a cultural center funded by the U.S. government.

This article was originally published on Mint Press News.

Max Blumenthal is the founder and editor of GrayzoneProject.com, the co-host of the podcast Moderate Rebels, the author of several books, and producer of full-length documentaries including the recently released Killing Gaza. Follow him on Twitter at @MaxBlumenthal.

 

 




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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Clapper’s Credibility

Former DNI James Clapper had his own words read back to him by Ray McGovern, exposing his role in justifying the Iraq invasion based on fraudulent intelligence.

Clapper Admits Gross Intelligence Failure
on Iraq WMDs But Still Escapes Justice

By Ray McGovern
Special to Consortium News

Former National Intelligence Director James Clapper’s key role in helping the Cheney/Bush administration “justify” war on Iraq with fraudulent intelligence was exposed on Tuesday at the Carnegie Endowment in Washington. His own words were quoted back to him from his memoir “Facts and Fears: Hard Truths From a Life in Intelligence.” Hard truths, indeed.

Clapper was appointed Director of National Intelligence by President Barack Obama in June 2010, almost certainly at the prompting of Obama’s intelligence confidant and Clapper friend John Brennan, later director of the CIA. Despite Clapper’s performance on Iraq, he was confirmed unanimously by the Senate. Obama even allowed Clapper to keep his job for three and a half more years after he admitted that he had lied under oath to that same Senate about the extent of eavesdropping on Americans by the National Security Agency (NSA). He is now a security analyst for CNN.

In his book, Clapper finally places the blame for the consequential fraud (he calls it “the failure”) to find the (non-existent) WMD “where it belongs — squarely on the shoulders of the administration members who were pushing a narrative of a rogue WMD program in Iraq and on the intelligence officers, including me, who were so eager to help that we found what wasn’t really there.” (emphasis added) . 

So at the event on Tuesday I stood up and asked him about that. It was easy, given the background Clapper himself provides in his book, such as:

“The White House aimed to justify why an invasion of and regime change in Iraq were necessary, with a public narrative that condemned its continued development of weapons of mass destruction [and] its support to al-Qaida (for which the Intelligence Community had no evidence).”

What Clapper chokes on — and avoids saying — is that U.S. intelligence had no evidence of WMD either. Indeed, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld had put him in charge of the agency responsible for analyzing imagery of all kinds — photographic, radar, infrared, and multispectral — precisely so that the absence of evidence from our multi-billion-dollar intelligence collection satellites could be hidden, in order not to impede the planned attack on Iraq. That’s why, as Clapper now admits, he had to find “what wasn’t really there.”

Members of Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity (VIPS) who have employed Clapper under contract, or otherwise known his work, caution that he is not the sharpest knife in the drawer. So, to be fair, there is an outside chance that Rumsfeld persuaded him to be guided by the (in)famous Rumsfeld dictum: “The absence of evidence is not evidence of absence.”

But the consequences are the same: a war of aggression with millions dead and wounded; continuing bedlam in the area; and no one — high or low — held accountable. Hold your breath and add Joe Biden awarding the “Liberty Medal” to George W. Bush on Veteran’s Day.

Shocked’

Clapper writes:

“… we heard that Vice President Cheney was pushing the Pentagon for intelligence on Iraqi weapons of mass destruction, and then the order came down to NIMA [the National Imagery and Mapping Agency] to find (emphasis in original) the WMD sites. We set to work, analyzing imagery to eventually identify, with varying degrees of confidence, more than 950 sites where we assessed there might be WMDs or a WMD connection. We drew on all of NIMA’s skill sets … and it was all wrong.”

“To support his [Secretary of State Colin Powell’s February 5, 2003] speech, NIMA (which Clapper headed) had gone through the difficult process of declassifying satellite images of trucks arriving at WMD sites just ahead of the weapons inspectors to move materials before they could be found, and my team also produced computer-generated images of trucks fitted out as ‘mobile production facilities used to make biological agents.’ Those images, possibly more than any other substantiation he presented, carried the day with the international community and Americans alike.”

“[For] the invasion of Iraq on March 20, six weeks after Powell’s speech, NIMA … prepared a prioritized list of our suspect [WMD] sites with specific locations. … Using this information, they [the fourteen-hundred-member international Iraq Survey Group] went from site to site but found almost nothing. We were shocked. … The trucks we had identified as “mobile production facilities for biological agents” were in fact used to pasteurize and transport milk.”

As for those mischievous trucks allegedly used “to move materials before they could be found,” as Scott Ritter, former chief UN weapons inspector for Iraq, has pointed out, they were clearly decontamination vehicles. UN inspectors had visited the site in question. It was an ammunition bunker, and the decontamination vehicle was a water truck used to keep the dust levels down because of the sensitive fuses located in the bunker. These were known facts but Clapper chose to ignore them.

Nor did he give up easily, before he could resist no longer and admit, as he writes, that “it was all wrong.” In late October 2003, Clapper briefed Washington media on his latest guesses as to what really happened to the (notional) WMD. The Washington Times’s Bill Getz wrote a long article replete with detailed quotes from Clapper, starting with: “Iraqi military officers destroyed or hid chemical, biological and nuclear weapons goods in the weeks before the war, the nation’s top satellite spy director said yesterday. Retired Air Force Lt. Gen. James Clapper, head of the National Imagery and Mapping Agency, said vehicle traffic photographed by U.S. spy satellites indicated that material and documents related to the arms programs were shipped to Syria.”

In his book, Clapper refers to that briefing and says he conceded “we’d made some assumptions we shouldn’t have … “ and admitted that “I was still baffled that no WMD sites had been discovered. I mentioned that in the days before the invasion started, we saw a lot of cars and trucks fleeing the country into Syria. … I probably should have clarified what a stretch it would be” to suggest the WMD had been transported to Syria.” Well, yes, that would have prevented further embarrassment.

During the Q and A I was sorely tempted to quote Hans Blix, the then head of the United Nations Monitoring, Verification and Inspection Commission, who on June 23, 2003 quipped to the Council on Foreign Relations, “It’s sort of puzzling that you can have 100 percent confidence about WMD existence, but zero certainty about where they are.” But that would have brought loud boos from the docile audience at Carnegie, and gotten me off on the wrong foot.

Instead, I cited to Clapper his most grievous offense against the profession of intelligence analysis — his inordinate eagerness to please whatever superiors he was working for at the time, and give them the information they lusted after to “justify” things like war.

I observed that exactly two years ago, the Obamas and Clintons were desperate to blame Trump’s victory on Russian interference. And so, I asked, was this a repeat performance? Had Clapper snapped to and again “found what really wasn’t there?” This, I emphasized, was the conclusion of VIPS, including two former Technical Directors at NSA. 

From ‘WMD” to ‘Russian Hacking’

I noted that after Clapper had briefed President Obama on January 5, 2017 on the evidence-impoverished “Intelligence Community Assessment” alleging that Russian President Putin had personally ordered the “Russian hacking,” Obama seems not to have been persuaded. I asked Clapper why the President told a press conference on January 18, 2017 that the conclusions of the intelligence community regarding how “Russian hacking” of Democratic National Committee emails had gotten to WikiLeaks were “inconclusive.” Clapper said he could not explain why the President said that. 

Travel tip for Clapper: do not travel abroad to any country bold enough to invoke the principle of universal jurisdiction which includes the duty to arrest those suspected of war crimes when their home country fails to do so. Your mentor Donald Rumsfeld had a close brush with this international form of Lady Justice in October 2007, when he abruptly fled Paris upon learning that the Paris Prosecutor had been served a formal complaint against him for authorizing torture.  The complaint noted that authorities in the U.S. and Iraq had failed to launch any independent investigation into Rumsfeld’s responsibility, and also noted that the U.S. had refused to join the International Criminal Court, which might have had more routine jurisdiction.

Former President George W. Bush, too, had a close call in February 2011. When Bush heard that criminal complaints had been lodged against him in Switzerland, he decided not to take any chances and abruptly nixed longstanding plans to address a Jewish charity dinner in Geneva. Thus, both Rumsfeld and Bush were spared the humiliation that befell Gen. Augusto Pinochet, who had been head of Chile’s military dictatorship from 1973 to 1990. While on a trip to the United Kingdom in 1998, Pinochet was arrested on a Spanish judicial warrant and was held under house arrest until 2000.

Ray McGovern works with Tell the Word, a publishing arm of the ecumenical Church of the Saviour in inner-city Washington. Among his duties as a CIA analyst was chairing National Intelligence Estimates and preparing/briefing the President’s Daily Brief. He is a member of Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity (VIPS).




COMMENTARY: US Intel Will Bring Assange to US in Chains

It appears increasingly likely Wikileaks founder and publisher Julian Assange will wind up in the clutches of the U.S. government, says Ann Garrison.

United States Will Bring
Assange to US in Chains

By Ann Garrison

It appears increasingly likely Wikileaks founder and publisher Julian Assange will wind up in the clutches of the U.S. government.

It’s hardly surprising, given that in ten years’ time, Wikileaks published more classified information than all other media combined. It exposed human rights abuses, government spying, torture, and war crimes on an unprecedented scale.

WikiLeaks put government, corporations and even the Pentagon, the FBI, the CIA and other intel agencies on notice that they could no longer count on operating in secret.

It created a trove of primary source material that serious journalists and researchers will mine for years to come. Its publications are accessible to readers who prefer primary sources to mostly mediated news.

Wikileaks so infuriates the USA’s most violent, corrupt, and criminal institutions that Hillary Clinton half-jokingly suggested drone-bombing Assange. Other U.S. politicians called for his execution by other means.

California’s 28th District Congressman Adam Schiff, who became the chair of the House Intelligence Committee when Democrats reclaimed the House, said he would speak to Assange “when he is in U.S. custody, not before.”

Schiff is a vociferous and supremely self-righteous leader of the Democratic Party’s “Resistance,” which sullies the name of the underground movement formed in France during World War II to fight Nazi Germany’s occupying forces and the collaborationist Vichy government.

The “Resistance” tolerates only one truth and one loyalty: Russia is the enemy, interfering in Syria, the Ukraine and even U.S. elections. Russia elected Trump with Wikileaks’ help, it says. Russia dares to position missiles on its own borders, it says, to respond to NATO’s missiles on the other side. The U.S. must build more missiles, more drones, more nuclear weapons, and every other sort of weapon to defend the European world against Russia and its ally China.

Moral and Racial Superiority

Moral and racial superiority entitles the U.S. to occupy the world with military bases, ringing any nation that challenges its hegemony with military aircraft, battleships, assault vehicles, and military surveillance. Moral and racial superiority entitles its spy state agencies to shut down access to information deviating from its narratives and therefore to arrest and extradite Julian Assange.

The Republican Party shares the same supremely intolerant nature as the Democrats, but differentiates itself by insisting that, although Russia is the enemy, Donald Trump did not collude with Russia to steal the 2016 presidential election.

The Republicans also want to silence the founder of Wikileaks and find a way to shut the organization down. Trump’s former CIA director, and now Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, has called Wikileaks a “non-state hostile intelligence service often abetted by state actors like Russia” and vowed to hunt Assange down.

Has Time Run Out?

Assange has been an asylee in Ecuador’s London Embassy for more than six years—since August 2012. Ecuador and the UK, however, are no closer to an agreement that would allow him safe passage out of the embassy. In a recent video conference, #Unity4J organizer Suzie Dawson said she fears Assange and those working to free him are running out of time:

“Right now time is not on our side. And I had someone today complaining because they want us to do a big, big action day march. When you do those types of actions it takes two or three months to organize. You need to have an organizing committee, you need to wallpaper the town, you need to have one date that you do it on, you need to do a ton of advertising. You need to get all the unions and various other organizations to sign on board, and then you have this one action day.

“Well, there’s a couple of problems with that. First of all, I don’t think we have three months right now. If we schedule a February giant march in support of Julian, I honestly don’t think we have until February. I hope I’m wrong. I hope that the actions we take in the short term, in the next days and weeks, will buy us that much time for Julian, but I don’t see it.”

CIA whistleblower John Kiriakou, who spent two years in prison for exposing the agency’s official use of torture, said if Assange walks out of the embassy without a guarantee of safe passage, he will be extradited to the U.S. in chains:

“We all know why the British have that embassy ringed. It’s to snatch him and to turn him over to the United States. If that happens, the CIA and the FBI are both going to be on that plane and they’re both going to be at least attempting to interrogate him all the way back home. They will bring him back to the United States in chains because that’s what they do.“

Dawson feels the FBI and CIA will interrogate and torture Assange to try to obtain information that would allow them to bring Wikileaks down. She has no doubt he’s been preparing for this eventuality for years. She believes he will have made sure the organization has adopted security codes and measures he himself doesn’t know and therefore can’t reveal—even if he’s tortured.

“They want to know about security files for example. They want to know about the inner processes and workings of Wikileaks. They want access to the knowledge that’s inside Julian’s brain. And they will torture him. And they will interrogate him in order to attempt to get that.

“Now I trust Julian to be smart enough to have made sure that even he doesn’t possess a lot of that knowledge. In my personal opinion, Julian has spent years planning for these various eventualities, but it won’t stop them from trying.”

Dawson aded intelligence agencies are eager to punish him: “At the end of the day they want to punish him for outing their corruption and their crimes. They’ve been waiting eight years to do it, and they will be rubbing their hands together with glee at the prospect of the UK detaining him and extraditing him to the USA.”

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.

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