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Shouldn't they recuse themselves when dealing with the Middle East?

I spoke recently at a conference on America’s war party where afterwards an elderly gentleman came up to me and asked, “Why doesn’t anyone ever speak honestly about the six-hundred-pound gorilla in the room? Nobody has mentioned Israel in this conference and we all know it’s American Jews with all their money and power who are supporting every war in the Middle East for Netanyahu? Shouldn’t we start calling them out and not letting them get away with it?”

It was a question combined with a comment that I have heard many times before and my answer is always the same: any organization that aspires to be heard on foreign policy knows that to touch the live wire of Israel and American Jews guarantees a quick trip to obscurity. Jewish groups and deep pocket individual donors not only control the politicians, they own and run the media and entertainment industries, meaning that no one will hear about or from the offending party ever again. They are particularly sensitive on the issue of so-called “dual loyalty,” particularly as the expression itself is a bit of a sham since it is pretty clear that some of them only have real loyalty to Israel.

Most recently, some pundits, including myself, have been warning of an impending war with Iran. To be sure, the urging to strike Iran comes from many quarters, to include generals in the Administration who always think first in terms of settling problems through force, from a Saudi government obsessed with fear over Iranian hegemony, and, of course, from Israel itself. But what makes the war engine run is provided by American Jews who have taken upon themselves the onerous task of starting a war with a country that does not conceivably threaten the United States. They have been very successful at faking the Iranian threat, so much so that nearly all Republican and most Democratic congressmen as well as much of the media seem to be convinced that Iran needs to be dealt with firmly, most definitely by using the U.S. military, and the sooner the better.

And while they are doing it, the issue that nearly all the Iran haters are Jewish has somehow fallen out of sight, as if it does not matter. But it should matter. A recent article in the New Yorker on stopping the impending war with Iran strangely suggests that the current generation “Iran hawks” might be a force of moderation regarding policy options given the lessons learned from Iraq. The article cites as hardliners on Iran David Frum, Max Boot, Bill Kristol and Bret Stephens.

Daniel Larison over at The American Conservative has a good review of the New Yorker piece entitled “Yes, Iran Hawks Want Conflict with Iran,” which identifies the four above cited hawks by name before describing them as “…a Who’s Who of consistently lousy foreign policy thinking. If they have been right about any major foreign policy issue in the last twenty years, it would be news to the entire world. Every single one of them hates the nuclear deal with Iran with a passion, and they have argued in favor of military action against Iran at one point or another. There is zero evidence that any of them would oppose attacking Iran.”

And I would add a few more names, Mark Dubowitz, Michael Ledeen and Reuel Marc Gerecht of the Foundation for Defense of Democracies; Daniel Pipes of the Middle East Forum; John Podhoretz of Commentary magazine; Elliot Abrams of the Council on Foreign Relations; Meyrav Wurmser of the Middle East Media Research Institute; Kimberly Kagan of the Institute for the Study of War; and Frederick Kagan, Danielle Pletka and David Wurmser of the American Enterprise Institute. And you can also throw into the hopper entire organizations like The American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC), the Washington Institute for Near East Policy (WINEP) and the Hudson Institute. And yep, they’re all Jewish, plus most of them would self-describe as neo-conservatives. And I might add that only one of the named individuals has ever served in any branch of the American military – David Wurmser was once in the Navy reserve. These individuals largely constitute a cabal of sanctimonious chairborne warriors who prefer to do the heavy thinking while they let others do the fighting and dying.

So it is safe to say that much of the agitation to do something about Iran comes from Israel and from American Jews. Indeed, I would opine that most of the fury from Congress re Iran comes from the same source, with AIPAC showering our Solons on the Potomac with “fact sheets” explaining how Iran is worthy of annihilation because it has pledged to “destroy Israel,” which is both a lie and an impossibility as Tehran does not have the resources to carry out such a task. The AIPAC lies are then picked up and replayed by an obliging media, where nearly every “expert” who speaks about the Middle East on television and radio or who is interviewed for newspaper stories is Jewish.

One might also add that neocons as a group were founded by Jews and are largely Jewish, hence their universal attachment to the state of Israel. They first rose into prominence when they obtained a number of national security positions during the Reagan Administration and their ascendancy was completed when they staffed senior positions in the Pentagon and White House under George W. Bush. Recall for a moment Paul Wolfowitz, Doug Feith, and Scooter Libby. Yes, all Jewish and all conduits for the false information that led to a war that has spread and effectively destroyed much of the Middle East. Except for Israel, of course. Philip Zelikow, also Jewish, in a moment of candor, admitted that the Iraq War, in his opinion, was fought for Israel.

Add to the folly a Jewish U.S. Ambassador to Israel who identifies with the most right-wing Israeli settler elements, a White House appointed chief negotiator who is Jewish and a Jewish son-in-law who is also involved in formulating Middle East policy. Is anyone providing an alternative viewpoint to eternal and uncritical support for Benjamin Netanyahu and his kleptocratic regime of racist thugs? I think not.

There are a couple of simple fixes for the dominant involvement of American Jews in foreign policy issues where they have a personal interest due to their ethnicity or family ties. First of all, don’t put them into national security positions involving the Middle East, where they will potentially be conflicted. Let them worry instead about North Korea, which does not have a Jewish minority and which was not involved in the holocaust. This type of solution was, in fact, somewhat of a policy regarding the U.S. Ambassador position in Israel. No Jew was appointed to avoid any conflict of interest prior to 1995, an understanding that was violated by Bill Clinton (wouldn’t you know it!) who named Martin Indyk to the post. Indyk was not even an American citizen at the time and had to be naturalized quickly prior to being approved by congress.

 
The eyesore presidential libraries

The social justice warrior charge to purge the United States of all monuments relating in any way to the Confederacy has been rapidly expanding to include the scourge represented by all white people all through history. The Founding Fathers who owned slaves will undoubtedly be the next ones on the block and the list will certainly expand as other deviations from current sensibilities are elaborated. In Baltimore, the world’s oldest memorial to Christopher Columbus was vandalized and it is reported that the snowflake mayor of New York City Bill de Blasio has ordered an inquiry into whether Columbus Circle in Manhattan and its eponymous statue should remain in place. Los Angeles has renamed Columbus Day Indigenous Peoples Day.

When the Columbus statue was vandalized I posted the news story on Facebook with the comment “More sanctimonious leftists having fun, wrecking a historic monument to vent their hatred of everything and everyone that does not fit into their worldview.” It attracted some comments from the usual crowd, including these from two Brits, “So glad this disgusting monument of sick depravity is gone. It’s not ‘lefties’ it’s your white privilege that’s annoyed! I wish disgusting Churchill would get off my UK bank notes too,” and “Hmmm. Columbus was a psychopath who killed, enslaved and raped countless innocent people. He doesn’t deserve to be remembered as anything but a vile and disgusting creature, IMHO.”

Chris clearly did not know what he was getting into when he “discovered” the New World, and what should be done about fellow explorer Amerigo Vespucci, whose name was given to the two continents? What used to be called the Age of Exploration will no doubt be renamed the Age of Exploitation in the textbooks and the levelers will promote the viewpoint that everything indigenous was good and everything that came out of Europe was bad. In fact, they are already saying that at some of our leading universities.

Now, I would suggest that turnabout is fair play so if we are all agreeing that monuments must be destroyed to right historic wrongs, I am interested in making up my own little list based on the things that I disapprove of. As readers of this site are aware, I am a critic of illegal behavior by the United States government, to include torture, targeted assassinations by drone and starting wars without any reason to do so, so that would be a good place to start.

So how do you go after monuments that celebrate war crimes as such memorials don’t really exist in any unambiguous form except possibly hidden in a broom closet at CIA headquarters? Well, for starters, I would go after the presidents who authorized the misdeeds, since, as Harry Truman once put it, “the buck stops here” in the Oval Office. I would look first and foremost at Presidential Libraries and would suggest that all the recent ones be either demolished or shrouded in black tarps like the statue of good old Robert E. Lee in Charlottesville.

Recent Presidential Libraries represent an unhappy compromise where politics, personal commemoration and archival information that is presumed to be both reliable and comprehensive have to coexist. Most Americans would likely be surprised to learn that there are 13 presidential libraries, many of which are attached to museums and supporting foundations, all of which are now operated by public funding. The first such library was founded by Herbert Hoover, but a number of libraries preserving presidential papers were established privately prior to that administration for presidents Washington, the two Adams, Jefferson, Lincoln, Grant, Hayes, Wilson and Coolidge.

The libraries themselves are designed and built through private contributions. After construction, they are funded through the Presidential Libraries Act of 1955 and are managed by the National Archive and Records Administration (NARA), which provides them with much of their material and pays their actual operating costs, currently exceeding $100 million annually. Add-on institutes linked to the libraries are privately funded, normally by a foundation set up for that purpose.

Presidential libraries actually attract few visitors. The three most popular are those of JFK, Ronald Reagan and Bill Clinton. Others get by through hosting special events like book signings that might or might not be linked to the presidency or by featuring theme park like exhibits. Even the top ranked in popularity Reagan library has featured a display of Walt Disney treasures.

The older presidential libraries are essentially historical collections of presidential papers and are only to a limited extent partisan, as the contentious issues that might have divided the nation once upon a time have subsequently faded. That makes them a genuine resource for researchers, aided measurably by the declassification of many documents that were considered too sensitive when they first opened their doors.

The newer libraries have likewise been promoted as repositories for documentary evidence relating to a presidency but they are in fact much more self-absorbed, engaged in what one critic describes as “legacy polishing.” They include numerous unclassified documents that present a certain point of view, but most information that would be of interest to scholars does not begin to appear until more than a decade after the library opens, after it has been “processed.” Even then, it is reasonable to assume that many documents will take decades to be declassified or they might never appear at all on grounds of national security or even to prevent embarrassment.

I would save the taxpayer money and also send a message about the true legacies of some recent presidents by destroying their libraries after removing all the actual public records and putting them in the National Archive. We could recycle the land that the libraries stood on by turning it into parks that the public would be able to use.

The University of Chicago was chosen to become the home of the most recent library, the Barack Obama Presidential Center. Construction has started on the Center, which will include a library, museum, exhibit rooms and office space for the Barack Obama Foundation. The city of Chicago is donating the land while construction costs have been privately raised. The actual operation of the center will depend on both NARA funding and a private endowment. As hosting a presidential library is regarded as prestigious, the university has been boasting of the achievement, envisioning in the Center the creation of a “new global destination.”

 
The American Legion finally calls for a congressional inquiry

On June 8th 1967 the United States Navy intelligence ship the U.S.S. Liberty was attacked in international waters by aircraft and vessels belonging to Israel. Thirty-four sailors, Marines and civilians were killed in the attack. The deliberate Israeli air and sea onslaught sought to sink the clearly identified intelligence gathering ship and kill all its crew. It was in truth the worst attack ever carried out on a U.S. Naval vessel in peace time. In addition to the death toll, 171 more of the crew were wounded in the two-hour assault, which was clearly intended to destroy the intelligence gathering vessel operating in international waters collecting information on the ongoing fighting between Israel and its Arab neighbors. The Israelis, whose planes had their Star of David markings covered up so Egypt could be blamed, attacked the ship repeatedly from the air and with torpedo boats from the sea. When one Israeli pilot hesitated, refusing to attack what was clearly an American ship, he was instructed to proceed anyway.

Most Americans are completely unaware that a United States naval vessel was once deliberately targeted and nearly sunk by America’s “greatest friend and ally” Israel. The attack was followed by a comprehensive cover-up that demonstrated clearly that at least one president of the United States even back nearly fifty years ago valued his relationship with the state of Israel above his loyalty to his own country.

The most disgusting part of the tale relates to how U.S. warplanes sent to the Liberty’s aid from an aircraft carrier in the Mediterranean were called back by Defense Secretary Robert McNamara acting under orders from President Lyndon Baines Johnson, who declared that he would rather see the ship go to the bottom of the sea than embarrass his good friend Israel. Ironically, the first ship to reach the foundering Liberty and offer assistance was from the Soviet Union, an offer that was declined.

The incredible courage and determination of the surviving crew was the only thing that kept the Liberty from sinking. The ship’s commanding officer Captain William McGonagle was awarded a Congressional Medal of Honor for his heroic role in keeping the ship afloat, though President Lyndon Baines Johnson broke with tradition and refused to hold the medal ceremony in the White House, also declining to award it personally, delegating that task to the Secretary of the Navy in a closed to the public presentation made at the Washington Navy Yard. The additional medals given to other crew members in the aftermath of the attack made the U.S.S. Liberty the most decorated ship based on a single engagement with hostile forces in the history of the United States Navy.

The cover-up of the attack began immediately. The Liberty crew was sworn to secrecy over the incident, as were the Naval dockyard workers in Malta, and even the men of the U.S.S. Davis, which had assisted the badly damaged Liberty to port were ordered to be silent. A hastily convened and conducted court of inquiry ordered by Admiral John McCain interviewed only a few crewmen and did not seek to determine what had actually happened, instead, acting under orders from Washington, it moved quickly to declare the attack a case of mistaken identity. The inquiry’s senior legal counsel Captain Ward Boston, who subsequently declared the attack to be a “deliberate effort to sink an American ship and murder its entire crew,” also revealed that Admiral Isaac Kidd, who presided over the inquiry, had told him that “President Lyndon Johnson and Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara ordered him [Kidd] to conclude that the attack was a case of ‘mistaken identity’ despite overwhelming evidence to the contrary.” The court’s findings were rewritten and sections relating to Israeli war crimes, to include the machine gunning of life rafts, were excised.

Following in his father’s footsteps, Senator John McCain of Arizona has used his position on the Senate Armed Services Committee to effectively block any reconvening of a board of inquiry to reexamine the evidence. The documents relating to the Liberty incident from the White House perspective of McNamara and Johnson, if they have not been destroyed, have never been released to the public in spite of the 50 years that have passed since the attack took place.

In retrospect, one might well have expected little better from the likes of Lyndon Johnson, Robert McNamara and either Admiral John McCain or his son, but the cover-up that has endured for fifty years involving the national media as well as politicians from both parties is perhaps even more disgraceful because it has established the principle that even when Israel targets and kills American military personnel it will never ever be held accountable. Such is the power of the Israel Lobby in the United States.

Even if one is not exactly surprised by the behavior of Washington’s own apparatchiks there has been one constituency that has been steadfast in its support of the U.S.S. Liberty and its surviving crew and that is America’s veterans. Or at least that has been true with one major exception, consisting of the largest veterans’ organization, the American Legion. The second largest veterans’ group the Veterans of Foreign War (VFW) has long demanded a proper investigation into what happened to the Liberty as have also the Military Order of the Purple Heart, Disabled Veterans of America, and the Retired Officers Association, but the Legion has long been actually hostile to any attempts to establish accountability for the Liberty survivors.

The Legion’s history of opposition to any examination of what happened to the U.S.S. Liberty is interesting in that it demonstrates how one or two individuals can work insidiously within a large organization to prevent the endorsement of policies overwhelmingly favored by most of its members. The American Legion did, in fact, decry the Israeli attack on the Liberty shortly after it occurred. In August 1967, after the conclusion of the flawed Admiral John McCain directed inquiry, the American Legion adopted Resolution 508 declaring that the published report “fails to provide the American public with a satisfactory answer as to the reason for the attack.” It asserted that “The American Legion denounces and condemns Israel’s irresponsible attack” and demanded “a complete and thorough investigation of the incident.” Immediately after the passage of the resolution there were complaints and pressure coming from Jewish groups and individuals, which is why the resolution was unfortunately never acted upon at a time when it might have had some impact on a congress that was not yet completely Israeli occupied territory. The 1967 resolution was rescinded by the Legion’s National Executive Committee in 1984.

There followed more than thirty years of futility as Liberty survivors and veterans groups sought to reintroduce their demand for a proper inquiry as an active American Legion resolution, but the group’s National Executive exploited a number of stratagems to block every attempt to introduce a new resolution, including rejecting proposals in committee, changing convention rules and physically confronting and expelling those who objected. Indeed, the Legion’s executive did its best to drop the U.S.S. Liberty story down a memory hole. An article written by James Ennes, an officer wounded in the attack, was commissioned for publication in the Legion magazine but was pulled at the last minute because it was “too controversial.”

 
Will Israel start a new war?

When politicians are feeling the heat, they start a war and their popularity goes up even if the war is unnecessary or completely ridiculous. Donald Trump, the presidential candidate who promised that he would not take the nation into another Middle Eastern war, did so when he launched a fifty-nine cruise missile barrage against a Syrian Air Base even before he knew for sure what had happened on the ground. It was totally stupid but proved to be popular, even among talking heads and Congressmen, some of whom described his action as “presidential” in the best sense of the word.

It’s the same in Israel. For those who have not been following developments there, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has been under pressure due to an ongoing investigation for corruption. One of the truly great things about Israel is that while they have a lot of corrupt politicians, just like everywhere else, they actually investigate, indict, prosecute, convict and send them to jail. The betting is that Netanyahu will soon be in prison, so he has been responding in the time-honored fashion by threatening his neighbors and hinting at the possibility of increased military action and even war. If there is a war going on, he believes, probably correctly, that no one will want to remove him.

In an amicable recent meeting with Russia’s Vladimir Putin, Netanyahu stressed that there are some red lines that Israel will not allow to be crossed, while also suggesting that some of them have already been violated, most notably through the alleged construction of an Iranian military base inside Syria. Netanyahu provided Putin with “top secret intelligence” to make his point and told the Russian premier that “Iran is making an accelerated effort to entrench itself militarily in Syria. This poses a danger to Israel, the Middle East and in my opinion the world itself.”

Netanyahu characteristically depicted himself as restrained in his responses, telling Putin that Israel had taken only limited action in Syria against Hezbollah supply lines, but that was a lie as Israel has also hit Syrian army positions. Netanyahu described an Iran that is largely a fantasy creation of his own Foreign Ministry, “We don’t for a second forget that Iran continues to threaten Israel’s destruction on a daily basis. It arms terrorist organizations and initiates terror itself. It is developing intercontinental ballistic missiles with the intention to equip them with nuclear warheads.” He went on to claim that his strategic objective was to prevent the development of an Iranian controlled land bridge, described as “territorial continuity,” that would extend through Iraq, Syria and Lebanon to the Mediterranean Sea.

The reality is, however, somewhat different, that Israel has long preferred chaos in Syria since it eliminates any threat from a unified and powerful government in Damascus. But just as nature abhors a vacuum that policy had a considerable downside with Iranian supported militias and Revolutionary Guard units increasingly become part of the conflict, picking up the slack where the Syrian Army has been too overstretched to operate. Iranian influence over Syria, both overtly and covertly, will continue after Damascus eliminates the last vestiges of al-Qaeda affiliates and ISIS, not to mention the rag-tag “moderate rebels.” And Iran will have standing behind it the Syrian Army, Iraqi Shi’a militias, and Russian firepower. This has meant that the Israeli plan to have a chronically weak state across its border has backfired, bringing into the fighting and post-war reconfiguration Iran, which Tel Aviv fears most as a regional adversary.

So Israel has two strong motives to begin a war with Iran, one political and the other ostensibly linked to national security. Ironically, however, it also knows, and has even admitted, that Iran does not actually pose any threat against a nuclear armed Israel that has complete air superiority over any or even all of its neighbors. The often-cited land bridge threat is also a bit of a chimera, as whether it could potentially exist or not depends on effective interaction with Lebanon, Syria, and Iraq, all of which have their own political dynamics and are somewhat wary of Iranian involvement. If there is any actual threat against Israel it comes from Hezbollah in Lebanon, which is an independent player even though it has strong ties to Tehran, but even in that case the threat is not as serious as fearmongering government leaders have claimed.

All of which is not to suggest that Iran is toothless if Israel were to get really aggressive. Hezbollah would undoubtedly unleash its missile arsenal against Israeli cities, some of which would get through, and any attack on Iran using aircraft would be confronted by formidable air defenses. Iran could also strike back against Israel using its ballistic missiles, all of which means that attacking Iran would be far from cost-free.

From Netanyahu’s point of view, it is far better to stage an incident that brings in Washington and then allows Uncle Sam to do the heavy lifting. The U.S. has strategic military capabilities that Israel lacks, including heavy bombers and armaments that could penetrate Iranian defenses, but it also has vulnerabilities in terms of military bases within striking range and ships at sea that could be attacked by swarms of small boats and land launched missiles.

Israel believes that bringing Washington into the conflict is doable given that the U.S. media has heavily propagandized against Tehran and that inside-the-beltway groupthink largely perceives Iran as an enemy. Recently Henry Kissinger spelled out the new line of strategic thinking which Israel is already exploiting to make its case. Per Kissinger, the impending defeat of ISIS in Syria and Iraq will create a power vacuum which will open the door to the creation of an “Iranian radical empire,” a more evocative version of the “land bridge” warning, which he refers to as a “territorial belt reaching from Tehran to Beirut.” As Iran is also fighting ISIS, Kissinger warns against complacency, that “in the contemporary Middle East…the enemy of your enemy is also your enemy.”

Israel has been pushing hard on Washington, recently having sent a high-level combined intelligence and military delegation to confer with National Security Adviser H. R. McMaster and Special Mideast Envoy Jason Greenblatt to explain the alleged Iranian threat. And the neocon chorus is also signaling that it expects the Trump Administration to do something. Frederick Hof of the hardline Atlantic Council recently wrote that the fundamental mistake made by Washington consisted of not invading Syria and installing an acceptable government years ago, which would have kept Iran out.

 
• Category: Foreign Policy • Tags: Benjamin Netanyahu, Iran, Israel 
Who did what to whom?

The hysteria unfolding regarding events in Charlottesville reminds me of the anti-Russia madness that has made front page news ever since Hillary Clinton discovered that she had lost the presidential election to Vladimir Putin. The media train is again rushing headlong into a terra incognita with its only goal being to bring down President Donald Trump by riding a wave of anti-right wing extremist revulsion. The establishment press is essentially enforcing its own code of ethics, insisting that just because what the mainstream characterizes as morally repugnant “Nazi-scum” and white nationalists exist they are ultimately fully responsible for any violence that is required to defeat them and disrupt their activities. For the ubiquitous talking heads like Wolf Blitzer and Rachel Maddow to believe otherwise is to posit moral equivalency between the good guys and bad guys, something that cannot be tolerated.

As far as I can determine, almost no one knows much about the specific agendas of the various parties that were involved in last week’s fracas in Charlottesville. My own viewpoint extends only as far as a strong belief that the deconstruction of this nation through the elimination of select historical monuments is wrong, particularly when said monuments commemorate people who fought and died for their country. As I am a Vietnam-era army veteran I would concede that my judgment in that regard is somewhat skewed.

That aside, there are several other issues that should be of general interest that have been largely obscured by the violence that erupted and the media interpretation of the event to fit in with its own preferred narrative.

First and foremost is the free speech issue which is being conveniently ignored by a media and political class intent on punishing the white nationalist protesters no matter what rights have to be trampled along the way. As far as I can determine, the primary objective of the Unite-the-Right gathering was to protest against removing a statue, so one has to at least assume that some demonstrators were there in good faith based on that issue. And surely many of the counter-demonstrators were there to protest peacefully against some of the admittedly extremist groups marching under the Unite umbrella.

If President Donald Trump chooses to describe those individuals as good people, that is up to him to make that assessment based on what he was witnessing and hearing, but that is not what is really important. As far as I am concerned it matters not a whit whether some of the Unite marchers call themselves neo-Nazis or alt-Right because they had a permit to march and had a perfect right to gather, speak out and demonstrate. No one has a right to attack someone else or silence them because you disapprove of them. That is what the First Amendment is all about, the protection of every individual’s right to speak his or her own mind, particularly important if one is expressing unpopular or unorthodox views. It matters not at all if the speaker is a Communist, Fascist, a Green or a Libertarian, he or she has the same right. If that speaking-out morphs into threats of violence or degenerates into actual violence there are laws to deal with that, so free speech is not and should not be construed as a license to run amok.

Likewise, the so-called Antifa protesters had a right to demonstrate and deliver their message, though it is somewhat troubling that they appear not to have had a permit to gather and the police allowed them to effectively take control of the streets. One might also note that it is the political left, so called progressives, that have been in the forefront of using violence, particularly on college campuses, to shut down debate on issues they object to. They have successfully denied access to speakers who are routinely vilified as “racists” or “Nazi-scum,” including Ann Coulter, Milo Yiannopoulos, Charles Murray and Ben Shapiro, and have “shut down” pro-Donald Trump rallies. They push their agenda while simultaneously ignoring the racism and domestic terror agenda of groups that they approve of like Black Lives Matter. This counter-demonstration in Charlottesville might easily be seen as the latest manifestation of that particular form of left-wing self-righteous bigotry, to shut down by violence a group that hard core leftists are not willing to tolerate.

It is important to bear in mind that there is great danger in selectively endorsing politically correct Free Speech. If either the left or right is successful and we lose our First Amendment rights through “hate speech” legislation or other forms of state censorship such as have been introduced in Europe it is safe to say that we will have lost our republic.

A second major issue is the role of local, state and federal government in what both did and did not happen. I have looked at a lot of footage of the rioting and have also spoken to several people who were there as observers. I wanted to know just how big the alleged Nazi and Klan contingents were, – 100, 500, a 1,000? – which would seem to me to be essential to understanding what took place. When I sought to discover more about the size of the groups that demonstrated and counter-demonstrated I learned that there was nothing definitive in the media on the issue.

I had been told by one of the witnesses that the so-called white nationalists were greatly outnumbered and had not initiated the violence, which would certainly alter the narrative, so I picked up the phone and eventually got through to the Charlottesville police department only to be told that there had been no public declaration of the numbers involved or sequence of events but someone would call me back. No one has returned the call and I find it very odd that those in authority have not even bothered to describe the event and how it developed from an official point of view, if only for “lessons learned” to correct the procedures in place that led to the violence.

There was in fact a considerable police presence in the area, even accounting for bathroom breaks and donut runs, but it was invisible where it needed to be, i.e. keeping the two groups separated, which it had apparently agreed to do after meeting with the organizers of Unite-the-Right. Both right-wing and left-wing participants in the protests have described how the police closed the park with the Lee statue before standing around and only “looking on” when the fighting started. It is difficult to describe this failure to separate the groups and clear the streets as an oversight, so it must have been deliberate.

Charlottesville has a liberal Democratic mayor named Mike Signer who quickly climbed on the bandwagon to condemn the Unite-the-Right protesters before, during and after the events of Friday night and Saturday. He appeared on national television in an interview with Jake Tapper on the morning after the Saturday riot to lay the blame for the unrest on Donald Trump. One wonders what orders the Charlottesville police had received, not to mention the numerous state troopers present who were under the control of Governor Terry McAuliffe, another liberal Democratic stalwart. Who attacked whom? Why did no one intervene until the fighting was well under way? Was the official indifference just dumb or deliberate?

 
Less than total loyalty to Israel is un-American

Congress is on a one-month summer recess. You would think that given the recent turmoil over the bill to eliminate Obamacare and the upcoming debate over tax policy the nation’s legislators would be back in their home districts talking to the voters. Some are, but many are not. “More than fifty” Congressmen are off on an all-expenses paid trip to Israel to demonstrate that “there is no stronger bond with any ally we have.” Yes indeed, a congress which cannot pass legislation to benefit the American people finds that it has only one voice when it comes to our troublesome little client state that also doubles as the leading recipient of U.S. tax dollars in the world.

How do they do it? They do it by relentless courting of the congress critters and media talking heads, all of whom know how to repay a favor. Some readers might be asking how Congress (spouses included) can accept these free trips from a foreign government? The current trip is estimated to be costing $10,000 per person. Well, the answer is that they can’t do it directly, which would be illegal, so the clever rascals at the American Israel Political Affairs Committee (AIPAC) have created an “charitable” foundation that pays the bills. It’s called the American Israel Education Foundation (AIEF). AIEF is a tax exempt 501(c)3 foundation that had income of more than $80 million in 2015. As it is tax exempt that means that its activities are, in effect, being subsidized by the U.S. Treasury so the congressmen are being “charitably educated” while they are also being wined and dined and propagandized in part on the taxpayers’ dime. A couple of the congress critters hardly hit the ground before they were singing the praises of their hosts, Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy crooning “We have shared values! Shared security interests! No stronger bond!” And plenty of feel-good all around as Israel is “The Only Democracy in the Middle East!”

Democratic House Whip Steny Hoyer of Maryland, who has had his head up the Israeli derriere for decades, was also quick on the uptake, enthusing how support for Israel is completely bipartisan, “We are not here as Democrats and Republicans, we are here as Americans who support Israel’s security, its sovereignty and the safety of its people.” And as if it is not enough to go around bragging how one is subordinating U.S. sovereignty to that of Israel, the gnomes are hard at work back at home preparing to pass into law the Israel Anti-Boycott Act, which will criminalize for many Americans their First Amendment right to criticize Israel, and a completely bipartisan bit of new legislation being pushed by the Israeli government that will take away aid currently given to the Palestinians as long as the Palestinian Authority continues to provide subsidies to help support the families of those individuals being held prisoner by the Israelis. As most aid actually goes towards training Palestinian security forces that are intended to prevent terror attacks against Israelis, the bill is as wrong-headed as can be, but it just goes to show how far Congress will go to punish Arabs on behalf of Israel.

And finally there has been a series of Israel-centric attacks on leading members of the Trump Administration. A month ago, the State Department released its annual Country Reports on Terrorism for 2016. The report, as always, describes threats of violence in the Middle East from an Israeli perspective, but it was honest enough to also include two sentences that state that “Continued drivers of violence included a lack of hope in achieving Palestinian statehood, Israeli settlement construction in the West Bank, settler violence against Palestinians…and IDF tactics that the Palestinians considered overly aggressive. The PA has [also] taken significant steps…to not create or disseminate content that incites violence.”

B’nai B’rith immediately blasted the report for “parroting the false Palestinian narrative” and the Zionist Organization of America (ZOA) demanded that Secretary of State Rex Tillerson resign because the report was “bigoted, biased, anti-Semitic, Israel hating, error ridden.” ZOA went on to praise the co-chairman of the Republican Israel Caucus, Congressman Peter Roskam for demanding that the State Department correct the “numerous mischaracterizations” in the report.

Tillerson has long been a target of the American-Jewish media because of the perception that oil company executives are traditionally not friendly to Israel. There have also been claims that he is “less hard” on Iran than the Israel Lobby would like. But what Tillerson is really experiencing is the hard truth regarding Israel: that its Lobby and friends in congress are both unrelenting and unforgiving. Even when they get 90% of the pie they are furious over someone else getting 10%.

Donald Trump’s National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster has also been under siege for the past several weeks and his “loyalty” to Israel is now under the microscope. McMaster made the mistake of firing three National Security Council officials that were brought in by his predecessor Michael Flynn. The three – Ezra Cohen-Watnick, Rich Higgins, and Derek Harvey – are all regarded by the Israel Lobby as passionately pro-Israel and virulently anti-Iran. It was therefore inevitable that McMaster would take some heat, but the “speed and intensity” of the attacks has surprised even The Atlantic, which failed to note in its thorough examination of the development that while much of the anger flows from extreme right-wing sources there is also considerable pressure coming directly from friends of Israel.

It is interesting to note just how and by whom the argument against McMaster is being framed. Caroline Glick, an American-born Israeli journalist who might reasonably be described as extreme right wing, has led the charge in a posting that described McMaster as “deeply hostile to Israel.” She cites anonymous sources to claim that he refers to Israel as an occupying power and also has the audacity to claim that there once existed a place called Palestine. Oh, and he apparently also supports the nuclear agreement with Iran, as does Tillerson.

McMaster’s other crimes consist of allegedly altering the agenda of Donald Trump’s recent trip to Israel in ways that are somewhat arcane but which no doubt contributed to Glick’s sense of grievance. What is most interesting, however, is the unstated premise supporting Glick’s point of view, which is that the United States national security team should be subject to approval by Israel. Her view is not dissimilar to what lies behind the attacks on Tillerson and the real irony is that neither Tillerson nor McMaster has actually demonstrated any genuine animosity towards Israel, so the whole process is part of a perverse mindset that inevitably sees nearly everything as a threat.

 
Debbie Wasserman-Schultz in the middle of a new scandal

There has been surprisingly little media follow-up on the story about the July 25th Dulles Airport arrest of House of Representatives’ employed Pakistani-American IT specialist Imran Awan, who was detained for bank fraud while he was allegedly fleeing to Pakistan. The mainstream media somewhat predictably produced minimal press coverage before the story died. The speed at which the news vanished has prompted some observers, including Breitbart, to sound the alarm over a suspected cover-up of possible exposure of classified information or even espionage that just might be part of the story that we are now calling Russiagate.

To be sure, the tale is a strange one with plenty of unsavory links. Thirty-seven year old Awan, his wife, sister-in-law and two brothers Abid and Jamal worked as IT administrators, full and part-time, for between 30 and 80 congressmen, all Democrats, including former Democratic National Committee (DNC) chairman Debbie Wasserman-Schultz. They did not have security clearances and it is not even certain that they were in any way checked out before being hired. Nor were their claimed skills at IT administration confirmed as their work pattern reportedly turned out to consist more of absences than time spent in the House offices. One congressional IT staffer described them as “ghost employees.”

At one point, Imran brought into the House as a colleague one Rao Abbas, someone to whom he owed money, best distinguished by his being recently fired by McDonald’s. Abbas lived in the basement of a house owned by Imran’s wife as a rental property. He may have had no qualifications at all to perform IT but the congressmen in question did not seem to notice. Abbas wound up working, on the rare occasions that he went into the building, in the office of Congressman Patrick Murphy, who was at the time a member of the House Intelligence Committee as well as for Florida Congressman Theo Deutch. He was paid $250,000.

To cover for all the non-working but on the payroll employees, Imran also hired a high school friend Haseeb Rana, who actually did know something about computers. Rana reportedly did “all the work” and kept wanting to quit for that reason. It was also against House rules for an IT administrator to fill in for someone else, as Rana routinely did, since each such employee had be personally registered by the congressman.

The Awans and their two friends were all taken on as salaried employees of the House of Representatives at senior civil service level paygrades of ca. $165,000 annually, which normally is what is paid to highly experienced senior managers or chiefs of staff. Imran’s younger brother Jamal was only twenty years old when he was hired at that level in 2014.

The process of granting security clearances to Congressional staff is not exactly transparent, but it is not unlike the procedures for other government agencies. The office seeking the clearance for a staff member must put in a request, some kind of investigation follows, and the applicant must then sign a non-disclosure agreement before the authorization is granted. Sometimes Congress pushes the process by demanding that its staff have access above and beyond the normal “need to know.” In March 2016, for example, eight Democrats on the House Intelligence Committee requested that their staffs be given access to top secret sensitive compartmented information.

It is not known if the Awans, who were working for several Intelligence Committee members simultaneously, would have been involved or had access to the computers able to pull up classified material being used by those staffers, but Buzzfeed, in its initial reporting on the investigation of the Awans family, repeated the concerns of a Congressman that the suspects might have “had access to the House of Representatives’ entire computer network.” Indeed, it is difficult to imagine that that was not the case. In office environments, the IT administrators routinely ask for passwords if they are checking out the system. WikiLeaks emails confirm that Imran certainly had passwords relating to Congressman Debbie Wasserman-Schultz as well as to others on her staff.

Congress paid the Awans more than $4 million between 2004 and 2016 at their $165,000 salary level, a sum that some sources suggest to be three or four times higher than the norm for government contractor IT specialists performing similar work at the same level of alleged competency. Four of the Awans were among the 500 highest paid of the 15,000 congressional staffers. The considerable and consistent level of overpayment has not been explained by the congressmen involved. In spite of all that income being generated, Imran Awan declared bankruptcy in 2010 claiming losses of $1 million on a car business that he owned in Falls Church Virginia that ran up debts and borrowed money that it failed to repay. The business was named Cars International A, abbreviated on its business cards as CIA.

The Awans family also was noted for its brushes with the law and internal discord, though it is doubtful if the congressional employers were aware of their outside-of-the-office behavior. The brothers were on the receiving end of a number of traffic citations, including DUI, and were constantly scheming to generate income, including what must have been a hilarious phone conversation to their credit union in which Imran pretended to be his own wife in order to wire money to Pakistan. They were on bad terms with their father and step-mother, including forging a document to cheat their step-mother of an insurance payment and even holding her “captive” so she could not see their dying father. Their father even changed his last name to dissociate himself from them.

 
Hating Russia and Trump is de rigueur

Long ago, when I was a spear carrying middle ranker at CIA, a colleague took me aside and said that he had something to tell me “as a friend,” that was very important. He told me that his wife had worked for years in the Agency’s Administrative Directorate, as it was then called, where she had noticed that some new officers coming out of the Career Trainee program had red tags on their personnel files. She eventually learned from her boss that the tags represented assessments that those officers had exceptional potential as senior managers. He added, however, that the reverse appeared to be true in practice as they were generally speaking serial failures as they ascended the bureaucratic ladder, even though their careers continued to be onward and upward on paper. My friend’s wife concluded, not unreasonably, that only genuine a-holes had what it took to get promoted to the most senior ranks.

I was admittedly skeptical but some recent activity by former and current Directors and Acting Directors of CIA has me wondering if something like my friend’s wife’s observation about senior management might indeed be true. But it would have to be something other than tagging files, as many of the directors and their deputies did not come up through the ranks and there seems to be a similar strain of lunacy at other U.S. government intelligence agencies. It might be time to check the water supply in the Washington area as there is very definitely something in the kool-aid that is producing odd behavior.

Now I should pause for a moment and accept that the role of intelligence services is to identify potential threats before they become active, so a certain level of acute paranoia goes with the job. But at the same time, one would expect a level of professionalism which would mandate accuracy rather than emotion in assessments coupled with an eschewing of any involvement in the politics of foreign and national security policy formulation. The enthusiasm with which a number of senior CIA personnel have waded into the Trump swamp and have staked out positions that contradict genuine national interests suggests that little has been learned since CIA Director George Tenet sat behind Secretary of State Colin Powell in the UN and nodded sagaciously as Saddam Hussein’s high crimes and misdemeanors were falsely enumerated.

Indeed, one can start with Tenet if one wants to create a roster of recent CIA Directors who have lied to permit the White House to engage in a war crime. Tenet and his staff knew better than anyone that the case against Saddam did not hold water, but President George W. Bush wanted his war and, by gum, he was going to get it if the CIA had any say in the matter.

Back then as now, international Islamic terrorism was the name of the game. It kept the money flowing to the national security establishment in the false belief that America was somehow being made “safe.” But today the terror narrative has been somewhat supplanted by Russia, which is headed by a contemporary Saddam Hussein in the form of Vladimir Putin. If one believes the media and a majority of congressmen, evil manifest lurks in the gilded halls of the Kremlin. Russia has recently been sanctioned (again) for crimes that are more alleged than demonstrated and President Putin has been selected by the Establishment as the wedge issue that will be used to end President Donald Trump’s defiance of the Deep State and all that pertains to it. The intelligence community at its top level would appear to be fully on board with that effort.

The most recent inexplicable comments come from the current CIA Director Mike Pompeo, speaking at the Aspen Institute Security Forum. He began by asserting that Russia had interfered in the U.S. election before saying that the logic behind Russia’s Middle Eastern strategy is to stay in place in Syria so Moscow can “stick it to America.” He didn’t define the “it” so one must assume that “it” stands for any utensil available, ranging from cruise missiles to dinner forks. He then elaborated, somewhat obscurely, that “I think they find anyplace that they can make our lives more difficult, I think they find that something that’s useful.”

Remarkably, he also said that there is only “minimal evidence” that Russia is even fighting ISIS. The statement is astonishing as Moscow has most definitely been seriously and directly engaged in support of the Syrian Arab Army. Is it possible that the head of the CIA is unaware of that? It just might be that Pompeo is disparaging the effort because the Russians and Syrians have also been fighting against the U.S. backed “moderate rebels.” That the moderate rebels are hardly moderate has been known for years and they are also renowned for their ineffectiveness combined with a tendency to defect to more radical groups taking their U.S. provided weapons with them, a combination of factors which led to their being denied any further American support by a presidential decision that was revealed in the press two weeks ago.

Pompeo’s predecessor John Brennan is, however, my favorite Agency leader in the category of totally bereft of his senses. In testimony before the House Intelligence Committee back in May, he suggested that some Trump associates might have been recruited by the Russian intelligence service. He testified that “I encountered and am aware of information and intelligence that revealed contacts and interactions between Russian officials and US persons involved in the Trump campaign that I was concerned about because of known Russian efforts to suborn such individuals. It raised questions in my mind whether or not Russia was able to gain the co-operation of those individuals.”

In his testimony, Brennan apparently forgot to mention that the CIA is not supposed to keep tabs on American citizens. Nor did he explain how he had come upon the information in the first place as it had been handed over by foreign intelligence services, including the British, Dutch and Estonians, and at least some of it had been sought or possibly inspired by Brennan unofficially in the first place. Brennan then used that information to request an FBI investigation into a possible Russian operation directed against potential key advisers if Trump were to somehow get nominated and elected, which admittedly was a longshot at the time. That is how Russiagate started.

Brennan is certainly loyal to his cause, whatever that might be. At the same Aspen meeting attended by Pompeo, he told Wolf Blitzer that if Trump were to fire special counsel Robert Mueller government officials should “refuse to carry out” his orders. In other words, they should begin a coup, admittedly non-violent (one presumes), but nevertheless including federal employees uniting to shut the government down.

A lesser known former CIA senior official is John McLaughlin, who briefly served as acting Director in 2004. McLaughlin was particularly outraged by Trump’s recent speech to the Boy Scouts, which he described as having the feel “of a third world authoritarian’s youth rally.” He added that “It gave me the creeps…it was like watching the late Venezuelan [President Hugo] Chavez.”

 
Made in Israel?

The horrific execution by police of an Australian woman in her pajamas that took place last week in Minneapolis has again produced a torrent of criticism over killings initiated by law enforcement in situations in which the officers are in no way threatened. America has always been a violent place relative to much of the rest of the world, but even so there has been a noticeable shift in how, since the trauma of 9/11, some policemen believe themselves to be superior to and detached from the society they are supposed to be protecting. And the public is reciprocating, seeing the police frequently as a force that is no longer there to serve the people and instead something that should be feared. Even in the upper middle class predominantly white county that I live in, residents not infrequently discuss the increasingly visible and aggressive police presence. It is widely believed that arguing with cops or showing even the slightest attitude in contacts with them is done at one’s peril.

Even in low crime parts of the country, the police are able to deploy fully armed and equipped swat teams that are more military than civilian in their threatening demeanor as well in the body armor and weapons they carry. Many cities and counties now have surplus military armored vans for crowd control even if they have no crowds. Armed drones are increasingly becoming part of the law enforcement arsenal and it sometimes appears as if the police are copying the military as a model of “how to do it.”

The various levels of government that make up the United States seem to be preparing for some kind of insurrection, which may indeed be the case somewhere down the road if the frustrations of the public are not somehow dealt with. But there is another factor that has, in my opinion, become a key element in the militarization of the police in the United States. That would be the role of the security organs of the state of Israel in training American cops, a lucrative business that has developed since 9/11 and which inter alia gives the “students” a whole different perspective on the connection of the police with those who are being policed, making the relationship much more one of an occupier and the occupied.

The engagement of American police forces with Israeli security services began modestly enough in the wake of 9/11. The panic response in the United States to a major terrorist act led to a search for resources to confront what was perceived as a new type of threat that normal law-and-order training did not address.

Israel, which, in its current occupation of much of Palestine and the Golan Heights as well as former stints in Gaza, southern Lebanon and Sinai, admittedly has considerable experience in dealing with the resistance to its expansion manifested as what it describes as terrorism. Jewish organizations in the United States dedicated to providing cover for Israeli’s bad behavior, saw an opportunity to get their hooks into a sizable and respected community within the U.S. that was ripe for conversion to the Israeli point of view, so they began funding “exchanges.”

Since 2002 there have been hundreds of all-expenses-paid trips including officers from every major American city as well as state and local police departments. Some have been sponsored by the American Jewish Committee (AJC) and the Jewish Institute for National Security Affairs (JINSA). The Anti-Defamation League (ADL) has also been directly funding trips since 2008, explaining that “As a people living under constant threat of attack, the Israelis are leading experts in security enforcement and response strategies.” The intent? To “learn” and “draw from the latest developments” so the American cops can “bring these methods back home to implement in their communities.”

AIPAC has several pages in its website dedicated to security cooperation between the two countries. It asks “Did you know? In May 2010, 50 retired Generals and Admirals wrote to President Obama, highlighting the value of U.S. Israeli cooperation.” It goes on to cite an Alabama sheriff who enthuses that “There is no other country [Israel] that shares the same values and overarching goal to allow others to live in peace.” Regarding airport security, it also quotes a U.S. “security expert” who states “We should move even closer to an Israeli model where there’s more engagement with passengers…We’ve just stated to do that at TSA…” Indeed. That’s called profiling and pre-boarding interrogations.

Even the federal government has gotten onto the Israel bandwagon, perhaps not a surprise given the number of Israel Firsters in Congress. In 2003, the Department of Homeland Security established a special Office of International Affairs to “institutionalize the relationship between Israeli and American security officials.” The New York City Police Department has a branch in Israel and carries out frequent exchanges.

It should be noted from the git-go that Israel is no more knowledgeable about possible responses to acts of terror than is anyone else. The techniques employed to create physical barriers, to develop sources for intelligence gathering, and to train in tactical responses are quite familiar to anyone who has studied modern-style terrorism since it emerged in Western Europe in the 1970s.

Most countries that have a high or even moderate risk level deriving from terrorists, either domestic or foreign, have recruited and trained special police and paramilitary forces that are familiar with the basic techniques and are quite capable of responding. Ironically, even though the United States government and local police forces have tended to look at the “real pro” Israelis for guidance, state of the art resources for learning about how to deal with terror are available right here at home. JSOC has teams that are every bit as effective – and lethal – as anything the Israelis can muster and the CIA and FBI together know far more about terrorists and how they behave than do the ideologically driven Mossad and Shin Beth.

The American policemen who go on the “exchanges” are probably only dimly aware that what they are being shown is part of Israel’s military justice system, which has nothing to do with Israeli criminals, but instead is designed to keep the lid on the millions of Palestinians who live in what has become a virtual outdoor prison camp. It is an apartheid police state that uses deadly force as a form of crowd control. And the Palestinian former residents of the lands Israel now holds are the “terrorists” that Israel is protecting itself against.

You can bet that the American guests for their part clearly do not realize that they are being trained as prison guards and you also can be sure that they never catch so much as a glimpse of the 300 child prisoners that Israel continues to hold without charges.

 
What will those rascals in Moscow do next?

It has been another week full of news about Russia. Americans might be surprised to learn that nearly every aspect of their lives has been somehow impacted by the insidious covert activity of a former global enemy that now has an economy the size of Spain or Italy. One of the latest claims is that Moscow has been covertly funding some environmental groups, most particularly those opposed to the use of fracking technologies. The allegations, which have recently surfaced in Congress, conceded that the Russians allegedly moved forward with their strategy to damage America’s energy independence without leaving behind “a paper trail,” thus there appears to actually be little or no supporting evidence for what is little more than a series of claims, which have been denied by the groups in question, including the highly respectable Sierra Club. Moscow has not commented.

To be sure, there is a certain logic inherent in assertions that Russia might be behind such a development as Moscow’s economy runs on energy exports and high prices are good for it. Consequently, it ought not surprise anyone that Russia would seek to discredit competitive technologies that work to increase the supply of energy and thereby cause prices to fall. It’s simple math, but is it true given the fact that environmental groups are widely popular due to the appeal of the product they are promoting and have their own reliable sources of income?

Now the irony in all this is that a major producer of relatively dirty oil is being accused of targeting an even dirtier and environmentally destructive energy resource, which is fracking, in collusion with organizations that are seeking to encourage the production of much cleaner power. And, of course, cleaner energy is a global interest whether one believes in climate change or not, which underlines the essential hypocrisy of the U.S. media in denouncing something that just might be good for the planet purely because Russia is allegedly involved.

And, of course, the congressmen involved in the revelation come from fracking states. If Moscow is for something then surely Washington must be against it, ignoring the fact that many genuinely patriotic Americans who care about such matters support more strict environmental regulations, no matter what the Wall Street Journal, the White House and the loony tunes in congress are saying.

There was a lot more anti-Russian agitprop in the U.S. media during the week, part of an endless stream of titillation provided free of charge to the American public in an effort to remind everyone that Russia is the enemy and will always be the enemy. Even Donald Trump’s milquetoast initiative to mend fences with Vladimir Putin cobbled together during their meeting in Hamburg has been assailed from all sides, most particularly by the usual parties who seem to be locked into an anti-Trump non-détente mindset come what may.

I was particularly bemused by the comment by former CIA Chief John Brennan who denounced Trump’s performance during the Group of 20 summit in Hamburg over the lack of a hard line against Putin and his failure to support the “word of the U.S. intelligence community” about Russian interference in the recent election. In an interview Brennan complained “He said it’s an honor to meet President Putin. An honor to meet the individual who carried out the assault against our election? To me, it was a dishonorable thing to say.”

Former weapons inspector Scott Ritter has demonstrated how the “word” of U.S. intel is not exactly what it might seem to be. And Brennan is not exactly a tabula rasa. As he observed in his comment, his ire derives from the claims over Russian alleged interference in the U.S. election, a narrative that Brennan himself has helped to create, to include his shady and possibly illegal contacting of foreign intelligence services to dig up dirt on the GOP presidential candidate and his associates. The dirt was dutifully provided by several European intelligence services which produced a report claiming, inter alia, that Donald Trump had urinated on a Russian prostitute in a bed previously slept in by Barack and Michelle Obama.

And along the way I have been assiduously trying to figure out the meaning of last week’s reports regarding the contacts of Trump Jr., Jared Kushner and Paul Manafort with two alleged Russian agents while reportedly seeking the dirt on Hillary. As it turns out, there may not have been any discussion of Hillary, though possibly something having to do with irregularities in DNC fundraising surfaced, and there may have been a bit more about the Magnitsky Act and adopting Russian babies.

Barring any new revelations backed up by actual facts revealing that something substantive like a quid pro quo actually took place, the whole affair appears to be yet another example of a politically inspired fishing expedition. This observation is not necessarily naivete on my part nor a denial that it all might have been an intelligence operation, but it is an acceptance of the fact that probing and maneuvering is all part and parcel of what intelligence agencies do when they are dealing with adversaries and very often even with friends. It does not necessarily imply that Moscow was seeking to overthrow American democracy even if it was trying to advance its own interests.

Assuming even the worst case scenario that the media has been promoting, the Trump Tower meeting appears to have involved three political aspirants who were a bit on the novice side and a Russian lawyer and lobbyist who might have been intelligence cut-outs. What did happen anyway? Apart from not reporting the encounter by the three apparent victims of the planned corruption of America’s democratic process, nothing apparently happened except that the event itself has now given the esteemed Senator Charles Schumer and the Honorable Adam Schiff something new to mouth off about. Oh, and it keeps Rachel Maddow and Stephen Colbert, who is celebrating Russia Week on his program, employed.

Politics is a dirty business, based on power and money in these United States. Presumably back in mid-June there was enough salacious information floating around emanating from both parties to provide employment for plenty of individuals who were prepared to do whatever it would take to dig up something damaging up from any source available, including foreigners. That game was played by both sides and anyone who does not think that is so is avoiding the hard edge of the pervasive political corruption that greases the wheels in the United States.

So maybe Russia is funding some environmental groups or maybe not. And if it is, so what? I would welcome anyone who challenges fracking. And so what if a cluster of political tyros met with a couple of Russians who may or may not have been sent by Putin. Clearly, nothing came of it and meeting with a Russian and talking is not yet ipso facto a crime in this country.

 
Philip Giraldi
About Philip Giraldi

Phil Giraldi is a former CIA Case Officer and Army Intelligence Officer who spent twenty years overseas in Europe and the Middle East working terrorism cases. He holds a BA with honors from the University of Chicago and an MA and PhD in Modern History from the University of London. In addition to TAC, where he has been a contributing editor for nine years, he writes regularly for Antiwar.com. He is currently Executive Director of the Council for the National Interest and resides with his wife of 32 years in Virginia horse country close to his daughters and grandchildren.


Personal Classics
A Modern Guernica Enabled by Washington
Pressuring Candidates Even Before They Are Nominated
But is it even a friend?
The gagged whistleblower goes on the record.
Today’s CIA serves contractors and bureaucrats—not the nation.
Pay no mind to the Mossad agent on the line.