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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.

 
The White House is targeting Iran but should instead focus on Saudi Arabia

It is one of the great ironies that the United States, a land mass protected by two broad oceans while also benefitting from the world’s largest economy and most powerful military, persists in viewing itself as a potential victim, vulnerable and surrounded by enemies. In reality, there are only two significant potential threats to the U.S. The first consists of the only two non-friendly countries – Russia and China – that have nuclear weapons and delivery systems that could hit the North American continent and the second is the somewhat more amorphous danger represented by international terrorism.

And even given that, I would have to qualify the nature of the threats. Russia and China are best described as adversaries or competitors rather than enemies as they have compelling interests to avoid war, even if Washington is doing its best to turn them hostile. Neither has anything to gain and much to lose by escalating a minor conflict into something that might well start World War 3. Indeed, both have strong incentives to avoid doing so, which makes the actual threat that they represent more speculative than real. And, on the plus side, both can be extremely useful in dealing with international issues where Washington has little or no leverage, to include resolving the North Korea problem and Syria, so they U.S. has considerable benefits to be gained by cultivating their cooperation.

Also, I would characterize international terrorism as a faux threat at a national level, though one that has been exaggerated through the media and fearmongering to such an extent that it appears much more dangerous than it actually is. It has been observed that more Americans are killed by falling furniture than by terrorists in a year but terrorism has a particularly potency due to its unpredictability and the fear that it creates. Due to that fear, American governments and businesses at all levels have been willing to spend a trillion dollars per annum to defeat what might rationally be regarded as a relatively minor problem.

So if the United States were serious about dealing with or deflecting the actual threats against the American people it could first of all reduce its defense expenditures to make them commensurate with the actual threat before concentrating on three things. First, would be to establish a solid modus vivendi with Russia and China to avoid conflicts of interest that could develop into actual tit-for-tat escalation. That would require an acceptance by Washington of the fact that both Moscow and Beijing have regional spheres of influence that are defined by their interests. You don’t have to like the governance of either country, but their national interests have to be appreciated and respected just as the United States has legitimate interests within its own hemisphere that must be respected by Russia and China.

Second, Washington must, unfortunately, continue to spend on the Missile Defense Agency, which supports anti-missile defenses if the search for a modus vivendi for some reason fails. Mutual assured destruction is not a desirable strategic doctrine but being able to intercept incoming missiles while also having some capability to strike back if attacked is a realistic deterrent given the proliferation of nations that have both ballistic missiles and nukes.

Third and finally, there would be a coordinated program aimed at international terrorism based equally on where the terror comes from and on physically preventing the terrorist attacks from taking place. This is the element in national defense that is least clear cut. Dealing with Russia and China involves working with mature regimes that have established diplomatic and military channels. Dealing with terrorist non-state players is completely different as there are generally speaking no such channels.

It should in theory be pretty simple to match threats and interests with actions since there are only a handful that really matter, but apparently it is not so in practice. What is Washington doing? First of all, the White House is deliberately turning its back on restoring a good working relationship with Russia by insisting that Crimea be returned to Kiev, by blaming Moscow for the continued unrest in Donbas, and by attacking Syrian military targets in spite of the fact that Russia is an ally of the legitimate government in Damascus and the United States is an interloper in the conflict. Meanwhile congress and the media are poisoning the waters through their dogged pursuit of Russiagate for political reasons even though nearly a year of investigation has produced no actual evidence of malfeasance on the part of U.S. officials and precious little in terms of Moscow’s alleged interference.

Playing tough to the international audience has unfortunately become part of the American Exceptionalism DNA. Upon his arrival in Warsaw last week, Donald Trump doubled down on the Russia-bashing, calling on Moscow to “cease its destabilizing activities in Ukraine and elsewhere and its support for hostile regimes including Syria and Iran.” He then recommended that Russia should “join the community of responsible nations in our fight against common enemies and in defense of civilization itself.”

The comments in Warsaw were unnecessary, even if the Poles wanted to hear them, and were both highly insulting and ignorant. It was not a good start for Donald’s second overseas trip, even though the speech has otherwise been interpreted as a welcome defense of Western civilization and European values. Trump also followed up with a two hour plus discussion with President Vladimir Putin in which the two apparently agreed to differ on the alleged Russian hacking of the American election. The Trump-Putin meeting indicated that restoring some kind of working relationship with Russia is still possible, as it is in everyone’s interest to do so.

Fighting terrorism is quite another matter and the United States approach is the reverse of what a rational player would be seeking to accomplish. The U.S. is rightly assisting in the bid to eradicate ISIS in Syria and Iraq but it is simultaneously attacking the most effective fighters against that group, namely the Syrian government armed forces and the Shi’ite militias being provided by Iran and Hezbollah. Indeed, it is becoming increasingly clear that at least some in the Trump Administration are seeking to use the Syrian engagement as a stepping stone to war with Iran.

As was the case in the months preceding the ill-fated invasion of Iraq in 2003, all buttons are being pushed to vilify Iran. Recent reports suggest that two individuals in the White House in particular have been pressuring the Trump administration’s generals to escalate U.S. involvement in Syria to bring about a war with Tehran sooner rather than later. They are Ezra Cohen-Watnick and Derek Harvey, reported to be holdovers from the team brought into the White House by the virulently anti-Iranian former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn.

Cohen-Watnick is thirty years old and has little relevant experience for the position he holds, senior director for intelligence on the National Security Council. But his inexperience counts for little as he is good friend of son-in-law Jared Kushner. He has told the New York Times that “wants to use American spies to help oust the Iranian government,” a comment that reflects complete ignorance, both regarding Iran and also concerning spy agency capabilities. His partner in crime Harvey, a former military officer who advised General David Petraeus when he was in Iraq, is the NSC advisor on the Middle East.

 
Hollywood buys into yet another lie

I actually forced myself to watch the documentary The White Helmets, which is available on Netflix. It is 40 minutes long, is of high quality cinematographically speaking, and tells a very convincing tale that was promoted as “the story of real-life heroes and impossible hope.” It is overall a very impressive piece of propaganda, so much so that it has won numerous awards including the Oscar for Best Documentary Short this year and the White Helmets themselves were nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize. More to the point, however, is the undeniable fact that the documentary has helped shape the public understanding of what is going on in Syria, delivering a Manichean tale that depicts the “rebels” as always good and Bashar al-Assad and his government as un-redeemably evil.

It has been reliably reported that celebrities like George Clooney, Justin Timberlake and Hillary Clinton really like the White Helmets documentary and have promoted it with the understanding that it represents the truth about Syria, but it is, of course, not the whole story. The film, which was made by the White Helmets themselves without any external verification of what it depicts, portrays the group as “heroic,” an “impartial, life-saving rescue organization” of first responders. Excluded from the scenes of heroism under fire is the White Helmets’ relationship with the al-Qaeda affiliated group Jabhat al-Nusra and its participation in the torture and execution of “rebel” opponents. Indeed, the White Helmets only operate in rebel held territory, which enables them to shape the narrative both regarding who they are and what is occurring on the ground. Because of increasing awareness of the back story, there is now a growing movement to petition the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences to revoke the Oscar based on the complete and deliberate misrepresentation of what the White Helmets are all about.

Exploiting their access to the western media, the White Helmets have de facto become a major source of “eyewitness” news regarding what has been going on in those many parts of Syria where European and American journalists are quite rightly afraid to go. It is all part of a broader largely successful “rebel” effort to manufacture fake news that depicts the Damascus government as engaging in war crimes directed against civilians.

The White Helmets have certainly saved some lives under dangerous circumstances but they have also exaggerated their humanitarian role as they travel to bombing sites with their film crews trailing behind them. Once at the sites, with no independent observers, they are able to arrange or even stage what is filmed to conform to their selected narrative. They have consistently promoted tales of government atrocities against civilians to encourage outside military intervention in Syria and bring about regime change in Damascus. The White Helmets were, for example, the propagators of the totally false but propagandistically effective claims regarding the government use of so-called “barrel bombs” against civilians.

The White Helmets were a largely foreign creation that came into prominence in the aftermath of the unrest in Syria that developed as a result of the Arab Spring in 2012. They are currently largely funded by a number of non-government organizations (NGOs) as well as governments, including Britain and some European Union member states. The United States has directly provided $23 million through the USAID (US Agency for International Development) as of 2016 and almost certainly considerably more indirectly. Max Blumenthal has explored in some detail the various funding resources and relationships that the organization draws on, mostly in Europe and the United States.

Former weapons inspector Scott Ritter has described how the White Helmets are not actually trained to do the complicated rescue work that they depict in their self-made videos, which have established their reputation by ostensibly showing them in action inside Syria, rescuing civilians from bombed out structures, and providing life-saving emergency medical care. As an expert in Hazardous Materials handling with New York Task Force 2 USAR team, Ritter reports that “these videos represent de facto evidence of dangerous incompetence or, worse, fraud… The bread and butter of the White Helmet’s self-made reputation is the rescue of a victim—usually a small child—from beneath a pile of rubble, usually heavy reinforced concrete… The techniques used by the White Helmets are not only technically wrong, but dangerous to anyone who might actually be trapped… In my opinion, the videos are pure theater, either staged to impress an unwitting audience, or actually conducted with total disregard for the wellbeing of any real victims.”

Ritter also cites the lack of training in hazardous chemicals, best observed in the videos provided by the White Helmets regarding their activity at Khan Sheikhun on April 4th. He notes “As was the case with their ‘rescues’ of victims in collapsed structures, I believe the rescue efforts of the White Helmets at Khan Sheikhun were a theatrical performance designed to impress the ignorant and ill-informed… Through their actions…the White Helmets were able to breathe life into the overall narrative of a chemical weapons attack, distracting from the fact that no actual weapon existed….”

But perhaps the most serious charge against the White Helmets consists of the evidence that they actively participated in the atrocities, to include torture and murder, carried out by their al-Nusra hosts. There have been numerous photos of the White Helmets operating directly with armed terrorists and also celebrating over the bodies of execution victims and murdered Iraqi soldiers. The group has an excellent working relationship with a number of jihadi affiliates and is regarded by them as fellow “mujahideen” and “soldiers of the revolution.”

 
A new app enables instant pushback

Those of us who are highly critical of Israel’s ability to manipulate U.S. foreign policy frequently note how sites that permit comments on our articles are almost immediately inundated with hostile postings that are remarkably similar in both tone and substance. Given that it is unlikely that large numbers of visitors to the sites read the offending piece more-or-less simultaneously, react similarly to its content, and then go on to express their disgust in very similar language, many of us have come to the conclusion that the Israeli government or some of the groups dedicated to advancing Israeli interests turn loose supporters who are dedicated to combating and refuting anything and everything that casts Israel in a negative light.

The fact is that Israel is extremely active in an enterprise that falls in the gray area between covert operations and overt governmental activity. Many governments seek to respond to negative commentary in the media, but they normally do it openly with an ambassador or press officer countering criticism by sending in a letter, writing an op-ed, or appearing on a talk show. Such activity is generally described as public diplomacy when it is done openly by a recognized government official and the information itself is both plausible and verifiable, at least within reasonable limits. Israel does indeed do that, but it also engages in other activities that are not so transparent and which are aimed at spreading false information.

When an intelligence organization seeks to influence opinion by creating and deliberately circulating “false news,” it is referred to as a “disinformation operation.” But Israel has refined the art of something that expands upon that, what might be referred to more accurately as “perception management” or “influence operations” in which it only very rarely shows its hand overtly, in many cases paying students as part-time bloggers or exploiting diaspora Jews as volunteers to get its message out. The practice is so systemic, involving recruitment, training, Foreign Ministry-prepared information sheets, and internet alerts to potential targets, that it is frequently described by its Hebrew name, hasbara, which means literally “public explanation.” It is essentially an internet-focused “information war” that parallels and supports the military action whenever Israel enters into conflict with any of its neighbors or seeks to influence public opinion in the United States and Europe.

The hasbara onslaught inevitably cranks up when Israel is being strongly criticized. There were notable surges in activity when Israel attacked Gaza in 2009 and 2012, as well as when it hijacked the Turkish humanitarian relief ship the Mavi Marmara in 2011. The devastating 2014 Gaza fighting inevitably followed suit, producing a perfect storm of pro-Israel commentary contesting any published piece that in any way sympathized with the Palestinians. The comments tend to appear in large numbers on websites where moderation and registration requirements are minimal, including Yahoo! News, or Facebook and Twitter.

The hasbara comments are noticeable as they tend to sound like boilerplate, and run contrary to or even ignore what other contributors to the site are writing. They often include spelling and syntactical hints that the writer is not natively fluent in English. As is the practice at corporate customer support call centers in Asia, the commenters generally go by American-sounding names and use fake email addresses. They never indicate that they are Israelis or working on behalf of the Israeli government and they tend to repeat over and over again sound bites of pseudo-information, as when they falsely insist that Hamas was solely responsible for the recent Gazan wars and that Israel was only defending itself. The commenters operate in the belief that if something is repeated often enough in many different places it will ipso facto gain some credibility and create doubts regarding contrary points of view.

That Israel is engaged in perception management on a large scale has more-or-less been admitted by the Israeli government, and some of its mechanisms have been identified, to include the Strategic Affairs Ministry headed by Gilad Erdan. The most recent wrinkle, focused on countering the nonviolent Boycott, Divest and Sanction (BDS) movement, is an app called ACT.IL, that was developed by Israel’s Interdisciplinary Center Herzliya (IDC) in collaboration with the Israeli American Council, which can be downloaded at iTunes, Apple app store and Google Play. The app enables one to tap into “the collective knowledge of IDC students who together speak 35 languages hail from 86 countries and have connections to the pro-Israel community all over the world.” The Jerusalem Post, in an article praising the new initiative, describes how, “in this virtual situation room of experts, they detect instances where Israel is being assailed online and they program the app to find missions that can be carried out with a push of a button.” What does it do? In a trial run, an Australian business that allegedly refused to serve Israelis was bombarded with negative Facebook comments that reduced its rating from a 4.6 to a 1.4.

The Israeli Foreign Ministry has sent a letter out to a number of pro-Israel organizations emphasizing the “importance of the internet as the new battleground for Israel’s image.” Haaretz reported in 2013 how Prime Minister Netanyahu’s office collaborated with the National Union of Israeli Students to establish “covert units” at the seven national universities to be structured in a “semi-military” fashion and organized in situation rooms. Students are paid as much as $2,000 monthly to work the online targets.

The serious collaboration between government and volunteers actually began with Operation Cast Lead in early 2009, an incursion into Gaza that killed more than 1,800 Palestinians, when the Foreign Ministry pulled together a group of mostly young computer savvy soldiers supplemented by students both overseas and within Israel to post a number of government-crafted responses to international criticism.

Many of the initial volunteers worked through a website giyus.org (an acronym for Give Israel Your United Support). The website included a desktop tool called Megaphone that provided daily updates on articles appearing on the internet that had to be challenged or attacked. There were once believed to be 50,000 activists receiving the now-inactive Megaphone’s alerts.

 
How it drives US policies exploiting a spineless Congress and White House

At a recent panel discussion in Washington, screenwriter, film director and producer Oliver Stone briefly addressed the issue of alleged Russian interference in the recent national election, observing that “Israel interfered in the U.S. election far more than Russia and nobody is investigating them.” A few days later, in an interview with Stephen Colbert on the Late Show, Stone returned to the theme, responding to an aggressive claim that Russia had interfered in the election by challenging Colbert with “Israel had far more involvement in the U.S. election than Russia. Why don’t you ask me about that?”

Don’t look for the exchange with Colbert on YouTube. CBS deleted it from its broadcast and website, demonstrating once again that the “I” word cannot be disparaged on national television. Stone was, of course, referring to the fact that the Israel Lobby, most notably acting through its American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC), is undeniably a foreign lobby, no less so than anyone representing the presumed interests of Russia or China. It operates with complete impunity on Capitol Hill and also at state and local levels and no one dares to require it to register under the Foreign Agents Registration Act of 1938, which would permit scrutiny of its finances and also end its tax-exempt “educational” status. Nor does Congress or the media see fit to inquire into AIPAC’s empowerment of candidates based on their fidelity to Israel, not to mention the direct interference in the American electoral process which surfaced most visibly in its support of candidate Mitt Romney in 2012.

The last president that sought to compel the predecessor organization of AIPAC to register was John F. Kennedy, who also was about to take steps to rein in Israel’s secret nuclear weapons program when he was assassinated, which was a lucky break for Israel, particularly as Kennedy was replaced by the passionate Zionist Lyndon Baines Johnson. Funny how things sometimes work out. The Warren Commission looked deeply into a possible Cuban connection in the shooting and came up with nothing but one has to wonder if they also investigated the possible roles of other countries. Likewise, the 9/11 Commission Report failed to examine the possible involvement of Israel in the terrorist attack in spite of a considerable body of evidence suggesting that there were a number of Israeli-sourced covert operations running in the U.S. at that time.

Looking back from the perspective of his more than 40 years of military service, former Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Admiral Thomas Moorer described the consequences of Jewish power vis-à-vis U.S. policy towards Israel, stating that “I’ve never seen a president – I don’t care who he is – stand up to them [the Israelis]. It just boggles your mind. They always get what they want. The Israelis know what is going on all the time. I got to the point where I wasn’t writing anything down. If the American people understood what a grip those people have got on our government, they would rise up in arms. Our citizens don’t have any idea what goes on.”

He also addressed the 1967 Israeli assault on the USS Liberty, saying “Israel attempted to prevent the Liberty’s radio operators from sending a call for help by jamming American emergency radio channels. [And that] Israeli torpedo boats machine-gunned lifeboats at close range that had been lowered to rescue the most-seriously wounded.” He concluded with “our government put Israel’s interests ahead of our own? If so, Why? Does our government continue to subordinate American interests to Israeli interests?”

It is a question that might well be asked today, as the subservience to Israeli interests is, if anything, more pervasive in 2017 Washington than it was in 2002 when Moorer spoke up. And, as in Moorer’s day, much of the partiality towards Israel makes its way through congress with little or no media coverage lest anyone begin to wonder whose tail is wagging which dog. To put it succinctly, there is an Israeli hand in much of what the United States does internationally, and the involvement is not intended to do anything good for the American people.

During the past several weeks alone there has been a flurry of legislation backed by Israel and its Lobby. One bill might actually have been written by AIPAC. It is called Senate 722, Countering Iran’s Destabilizing Activities Act of 2017. The bill has 63 co-sponsors, most of whom are the usual suspects, but it also included an astonishingly large number of Democrats who describe themselves as progressive, including Corey Booker and Kamila Harris, both of whom are apparently terrified lest they say “no” to Israel. With 63 co-sponsors out of 100 senators the bill was certain to pass overwhelmingly, and it was indeed approved 98 to 2, with only Rand Paul and Bernie Sanders voting “no.”

And there’s more to S.722 than Iran – it’s subtitle is “An act to provide congressional review and to counter Iranian and Russian governments’ aggression.” Much of it is designed to increase sanctions on both Iran and Russia while also limiting the White House’s ability to relieve any sanctions without approval by congress. Regarding Iran, the bill mandates that “Not later than 180 days after the date of the enactment of this Act, and every 2 years thereafter, the Secretary of State, the Secretary of Defense, the Secretary of the Treasury, and the Director of National Intelligence shall jointly develop and submit to the appropriate congressional committees a strategy for deterring conventional and asymmetric Iranian activities and threats that directly threaten the United States and key allies in the Middle East, North Africa, and beyond.”

The premise is of course nonsensical as Iran’s ability to threaten anyone, least of all the United States, is limited. It is far outgunned by its neighbors and even more so by the U.S., but it has become the enemy of choice for congress as well as for the former generals who serve as White House advisers. The animus against Iran comes directly from Israel and from the Saudi Arabians, who have managed to sell their version of developments in their part of the world through a completely acquiescent and heavily Jewish influenced western media.

And there’s more. A bill has surfaced in the House of Representatives that will require the United States to “consult” with Israel regarding any prospective arms sales to Arab countries in the Middle East. In other words, Israel will have a say, backed up undoubtedly by Congress and the media, over what the United States does in terms of its weapons sales abroad. The sponsors of the bill, one Brad Schneider of Illinois, and Claudia Tenney of New York, want “closer scrutiny of future military arms sales” to maintain the “qualitative military edge” that Israel currently enjoys.

Schneider is, of course, Jewish and a life member of AIPAC, so it is hardly as if he is a disinterested party. Tenny runs for office in New York State, so it is hardly as if she is disinterested either, but the net result of all this is that American jobs and U.S. international security arrangements through weapons sales will be at least in part subject to Israeli veto. And you know that is precisely what will happen as Israel could give a damn what happens to the struggling American entity that it so successfully feeds off of.

 
Terrorism supporters in Washington and Riyadh close ranks against Qatar

The United States has been using lies to go to war since 1846, when Americans who believed in manifest destiny sought to expand to the Pacific Ocean at the expense of Mexico, acquiring by force of arms California and what were to become the southwestern states. In 1898 the U.S. picked up the pieces of a dying Spanish Empire in a war that was driven by American imperialists and the yellow dog reporting of the Hearst Newspaper chain. And then came World War 1, World War 2, and Korea, all avoidable and all enabled by deliberate lying coming out of Washington.

More recently, we have seen Vietnam with its Gulf of Tonkin fabrication, Granada and Panama with palpably ridiculous pretexts for war, Iraq with its nonexistent weapons of mass destruction, Afghanistan with its lies about bin Laden, Libya and its false claims about Gaddafi, and most recently Syria and Iran with allegations of an Iranian threat to the United States and lies about Syrian use of barrel bombs and chemical weapons. And if one adds in the warnings to Russia over Ukraine, a conflict generated by Washington when it brought about regime change in Kiev, you have a tissue of lies that span the globe and bring with them never-ending conflict to advance the American imperium.

So lies go with the American Way of War, but the latest twist and turns in the Middle East are bizarre even by Washington’s admittedly low standards of rectitude. On the 5th of June, Saudi Arabia led a gaggle of Arab and Muslim nations that included the United Arab Emirates, Egypt and Bahrain to cut off all diplomatic, commercial and transport links with Qatar, effectively blockading it. Qatar is currently isolated from its neighbors, subject to sanctions, and there have even been Saudi threats of going to war against its tiny neighbor. Salman al-Ansari, the president of the Saudi American Public Relation Affairs Committee, even tweeted: “To the emir of Qatar, regarding your alignment with the extremist government of Iran and your abuse of the Custodian of the two sacred mosques, I would like to remind you that Mohammed Morsi [of Egypt] did exactly the same and was then toppled and imprisoned.”

It is the second time the Saudis have moved against Qatar. Two years ago, there was a break in diplomatic relations, but they were eventually restored. This time, the principal allegation being directed against Qatar by Riyadh is that it supports terrorism. The terrorist groups that it allegedly embraces are Hamas, Hezbollah and the Muslim Brotherhood, Morsi’s affiliation. Hezbollah and Hamas are close to Iran which is perhaps the real reason for their being singled out as many would call them resistance movements or even legitimate political parties rather than terrorists. And the Iran connection is critical as Qatar has been under fire for allegedly saying nice things about trying to respect and get along with Tehran, undoubtedly somewhat motivated by its joint exploitation with Iran of a vast gas field in the Persian Gulf.

Qatar’s ownership of al-Jazeera also has been a sore point with the Saudis and other Gulf states as its reporting has often been critical of developments in the region, criticisms that have often rankled the Saudi monarchy and the Egyptians. It has been accused of spreading propaganda for “militant groups.” One of the Saudi demands to permit Qatar to again become a “normal” Arab Gulf state would be to close down the network.

The terrorism claims by the Saudis are, of course, hypocritical. Both Qatar and Saudi Arabia are well known as sponsors of Salafist terrorism, including the funding and arming of groups like ISIS and the various al-Qaeda franchises, to include al-Nusra. Much of the money admittedly comes from private individuals and is often channeled through Islamic charities, but both Qatar and Saudi Arabia have been extremely lax in their enforcement of anti-terror and money laundering regulations. In a 2009 State Department memo signed off on by Hillary Clinton it was stated that “donors in Saudi Arabia constitute the most significant source of funding to Sunni terrorist groups worldwide.” Qatar, meanwhile, has been described as a “permissive environment for terrorist financing.”

The Saudis also have considerable blood on their hands by way of their genocidal assault on neighboring Yemen. In addition, the Saudi Royal House has served as the principal propagator of Wahhabism, the virulently fundamentalist version of Islam that provides a form of religious legitimacy to terror while also motivating many young Muslims to join radical groups.

The falling out of two Gulf Arab regimes might be a matter of relatively little importance but for the unnecessary intervention of President Donald Trump in the quarrel. He has taken credit for the burgeoning conflict, implying that his recent visit to the region set the stage for the ostracizing of Qatar. His twitter on the affair, posted on June 6th, read ““So good to see the Saudi Arabia visit with the King and 50 countries already paying off. They said they would take a hard line on funding extremism, and all reference was pointing to Qatar. Perhaps this will be the beginning of the end to the horror of terrorism!” And he again came down on Qatar on June 9th during a press conference.

Trump’s tweets might well be regarded as simply maladroit, driven by ignorance, but they could also provide a glimpse of a broader agenda. While in the Middle East, Trump was bombarded with anti-Iranian propaganda coming from both Israel and the Saudis. An escalation of hostilities with the intention of starting an actual war involving the United States to take down Iran is not unimaginable, particularly as the Israelis, who have already endorsed the Saudi moves, have been arguing that option and lying about the threat posed by Tehran for a number of years.

A war against Iran would be very popular both with the U.S. congress and the mainstream media, so it would be easy to sell to the American public. The terrorist attack in Tehran on June 6th that killed 17 is being blamed in some Iranian circles on the Saudis, a not unreasonable assumption. ISIS has claimed responsibility for the attack but it must also be observed that both the Saudis and Israelis have good connections with the terrorist group. But if the possibility of a possible Saudi hand is true or even plausibly so, it guarantees a rise in tension and an incident at sea could easily be contrived by either side to escalate into a shooting war. The United States would almost inevitably be drawn in, particularly in light of Trump’s ridiculous comment on the tragedy, tweeting that Iran is“falling victim to the evil they promote.”

 
• Category: Foreign Policy • Tags: Donald Trump, Qatar, Saudi Arabia 
The 50 year cover-up of a mass murder of U.S. servicemen orchestrated by Israel and its friends

There has been a lot of media coverage mostly written by Israelis or American Jews regarding Israel’s “victory” fifty years ago during the so-called Six Days War directed against its Arab neighbors but I have yet to see an account that mentions the fate of the U.S.S. Liberty. Nevertheless, the Liberty is not forgotten. This Thursday at noon at Arlington National Cemetery there will be a small gathering for the annual coming together with the survivors and friends of the most decorated ship in the history of the U.S. Navy, a victim of a particularly brutal and unprovoked attack by Israel that has been covered up for half a century by the powers that be in Washington. The moving service will include reminiscences by surviving crew members plus the ringing of a ship’s bell for each one of the thirty-four American sailors, Marines and civilians that were killed in the deliberate Israeli air and sea onslaught that sought to sink the intelligence gathering ship and kill all its crew. Present will be a number of veterans like myself and other Americans who are committed to ensuring that the story of the Liberty will not die in hopes that someday the United States government will have the courage to acknowledge what actually happened on that fateful day.

The Liberty survivors who will be present in Arlington on Thursday will be fewer than usual because the crew is having its own 50th anniversary commemoration in Norfolk, Virginia, home of the U.S. Atlantic fleet. In truth the attack on the U.S.S. Liberty by Israeli warplanes and torpedo boats on June 8, 1967, has almost faded from memory, with a younger generation 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 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.

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 gunboats from the sea. When one Israeli pilot hesitated, refusing to attack what was clearly an American ship, he was instructed to proceed anyway.

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 Liberty and offer assistance was from the Soviet Union, an offer that was declined.

Johnson reportedly feared Jewish influence over Congress and in the media, which might work together to block his “Great Society” legislative initiatives, not to mention his expected reelection bid in 1968. It was an early manifestation of the power of the Jewish lobby in American politics and foreign relations. One has to hope that both LBJ and McNamara are currently burning in hell.

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 headed by Admiral John McCain acted under orders from Washington 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 described how “President Lyndon Johnson and Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara ordered him 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. Most of the documents relating to the Liberty incident have never been released to the public in spite of the 50 years that have passed since the attack took place.

The faux court of inquiry and the medals awarded in secret were only the first steps in the cover-up, which has persisted to this day, orchestrated by politicians and a media that seem to place Israel’s interests ahead of those of the United States. Liberty survivors have been finding it difficult even to make their case in public. In April 2016 a billboard that read “Help the USS Liberty Survivors – Attacked by Israel” was taken down in New Bedford Massachusetts. The billboard had been placed by the Honor Liberty Vets Organization and, as is normal practice, was paid for through a contractual arrangement that would require the billboard company to post the image for a fixed length of time. It was one of a number of billboards placed in different states. Inevitably, Israel’s well connected friends began to complain. One Jewish businessman threatened to take his business elsewhere, so the advertising company obligingly removed the billboard two weeks early.

After fifty years, the dwindling number of survivors of the Liberty are not looking for punishment or revenge. When asked, they will tell you that they only ask for accountability, that an impartial inquiry into the attack be convened and that the true story of what took place finally be revealed to the public.

 
Speaking to a Russian becomes treasonous

The Washington Post and a number of other mainstream media outlets are sensing blood in the water in the wake of former CIA Director John Brennan’s public testimony before the House Intelligence Committee. The Post headlined a front page featured article with Brennan’s explosive testimony just made it harder for the GOP to protect Trump. The article states that Brennan during the 2016 campaign “reviewed intelligence that showed ‘contacts and interaction’ between Russian actors and people associated with the Trump campaign.” Politico was also in on the chase in an article entitled Brennan: Russia may have successfully recruited Trump campaign aides.

The precise money quote by Brennan that the two articles chiefly rely on is “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.”

Now first of all, the CIA is not supposed to keep tabs on American citizens and tracking the activities of known associates of a presidential candidate should have sent warning bells off, yet Brennan clearly persisted in following the trail. What Brennan did not describe, because it was “classified,” was how he came upon the information in the first place. We know from the New York Times and other sources that it came from foreign intelligence services, including the British, Dutch and Estonians, and there has to be a strong suspicion that the forwarding of at least some of that information might have been sought or possibly inspired by Brennan unofficially in the first place. But whatever the provenance of the intelligence, it is clear that 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 began.

But where the information ultimately came from as well as its reliability is just speculation as the source documents have not been made public. What is not speculative is what Brennan actually said in his testimony. He said that Americans associated with Trump and his campaign had met with Russians. He was “concerned” because of known Russian efforts to “suborn such individuals.” Note that Brennan, presumably deliberately, did not say “suborn those individuals.” Sure, Russian intelligence (and CIA, MI-6, and Mossad as well as a host of others) seek to recruit people with access to politically useful information. That is what they do for a living, but Brennan is not saying that he has or saw any evidence that that was the case with the Trump associates. He is speaking generically of “such individuals” because he knows that spies, inter alia, recruit politicians and the Russians presumably, like the Americans and British, do so aggressively.

At a later point in his testimony Brennan also said that “I had unresolved questions in my mind about whether or not the Russians had been successful in getting U.S. persons, involved in the campaign or not, to work on their behalf, again, either in a witting or unwitting fashion,” clearly meant to imply that some friends of Trump might have become Russian agents voluntarily but others might have cooperated without knowing it. It is a line that has surfaced elsewhere previously, most notably in the demented meanderings of former acting Director of Central Intelligence Michael Morell. As the purpose of recruiting an intelligence agent is to have a resource that can be directed to do things for you, the statement is an absurdity and Brennan and Morell, as a former Director and acting Director of the CIA, should know better. That they don’t explains a lot of things about today’s CIA.

Brennan confirms his lack of any hard evidence when he also poses the question “whether or not Russia was able to gain the co-operation of those individuals.” He doesn’t know whether the Americans were approached and asked to cooperate by Russian intelligence officers and, even if they were, he does not know whether they agreed to do so. That means that the Americans in question were guilty only of meeting and talking to Russians, which was presumably enough to open an FBI investigation. One might well consider that at the time and even to this day Russia was not and is not a declared enemy of the United States and meeting Russians is not a criminal offense.

In his testimony, Brennan also hit the main theme that appears to be accepted by nearly everyone inside the beltway, namely that Russian sought to influence and even pervert the outcome of the 2016 election. Interpreting his testimony, the Post article asserts that “Russia was engaged in an ‘aggressive’ and ‘multifaceted ‘effort to interfere in our election.” As has been noted frequently before, even though this assertion has apparently been endorsed by nearly everyone in the power structure AKA (also known as) “those who matter,” it is singularly lacking in any actual evidence.

Nor has any evidence been produced to support the claim that it was Russia that hacked the Democratic National Committee (DNC) server, which now is accepted as Gospel, but that is just one side to the story being promoted. Last Wednesday, the New York Times led off its front page with a piece entitled Top Russian Officials Discussed How to Influence Trump Aides Last Summer. Based, as always, on anonymous sources citing “highly classified” intelligence, the article claimed that “American spies collected information last summer revealing that senior Russian intelligence and political officials were discussing how to exert influence over Donald J. Trump through his advisers…” The “discussions,” which are presumably NSA intercepts of phone calls, reportedly focused on two aides in particular, Paul Manafort and Michael Flynn, both of whom had established relationships with Russian businessmen and government officials.

The article goes on to concede that “It is unclear, however, whether Russian officials actually tried to directly influence Mr. Manafort and Mr. Flynn…,” and that’s about all there is to the tale, though the Times wanders on for another three pages, recapping Brennan and the Flynn saga lest anyone has forgotten. So what do we have? Russians were talking on the phone about the possibility of influencing an American’s presidential candidate’s advisers, an observation alluded to by Brennan and also revealed in somewhat more detail by anonymous sources. Pretty thin gruel, isn’t it? Isn’t that what diplomats and intelligence officers do?

 
Take the Salt Water Challenge

Marwan Barghouti has stopped drinking water. He started his hunger strike thirty-six days ago, together with 1,500 other Palestinians who are being held in Israeli prisons. Each day the strikers have been drinking water mixed with salt, the salt needed to keep their electrolytes functioning to stay alive, but their health has reached a critical phase in which they are experiencing vomiting, fainting and loss of vision. Barghouti, who has been in Israeli prisons for 15 years, is wagering with his own life in a bid to obtain better conditions for the 6,500 Palestinians in Israeli detention, most of whom have been imprisoned on faux terrorism related charges by military tribunals that have a 90% conviction rate. Nearly 500 children are among the prisoners, some of whom are only 12 years old, and there are also an estimated 500 Palestinians held in administrative detention, which permits the Israeli authorities to confine them indefinitely without any charges or any trial.

The Israeli authorities describe the hunger strike as a “violation of prison rules.” In the past, they have responded to such protests by bringing in doctors to help restrain and supervise force feeding of the strikers, but the practice proved very controversial among members of the medical profession and has been suspended, though there have been suggestions that “foreign” doctors might be brought in to do the dirty work. So it is to be presumed that the strike will continue until the protesters either win, begin to die or choose to cease and desist.

I have had the pleasure of speaking recently with Marwan’s youngest son Aarab, a graduate of St. Mary’s College of California with a master’s degree in financial analysis, who has begun a campaign to publicize his father’s resistance against the Israeli prison authorities. He has been asking supporters to themselves drink salt water as a sign of solidarity with the hunger strikers. Many prominent Palestinians have done so publicly and the practice has become widespread both in Gaza and on the West Bank as well as among activists in Europe and the United States. It is also gaining strength on the social media, most particularly on Facebook, with videos of supporters of the Salt Water Challenge Salt Water Challenge inviting their friends to join the movement. Hunger striking is the ultimate personal statement, a peaceful form of protest that can only be effective if it helps to mobilize other forces to bring about change. With that in mind, the account of the suffering of Marwan Barghouti and his comrades in prison deserves the widest possible dissemination worldwide.

Marwan Barghouti is, not surprisingly, a controversial figure. His resistance to the Israeli occupation of his homeland began early at age 15 when he joined Fatah and eventually went on to co-found the organization’s youth movement. He later assumed leadership of its paramilitary wing Tanzim, though he eventually distanced himself from Fatah due to its corruption and for a short time headed his own reform party. He subsequently rejoined Fatah in 2006 and is now a member of the Palestinian Parliament. He is widely regarded as the most popular of Palestinian leaders even though he is in prison, or perhaps in part because of that.

Barghouti’s biography reads like a work of fiction. One of seven children, his father was a migrant worker. He completed high school while in an Israeli prison, where he learned Hebrew, and then went on to complete a BA in history and political science followed by an MA in international relations, both at the Palestinian Birzeit University. It required 15 years to complete his degrees because he was exiled to Jordan by the Israelis from 1987 to 1994 for his involvement in the First Intifada after being charged with “incitement,” a favorite catch-all phrase frequently used by Israel to indict anyone who is perceived as an opponent or critic when no actual charges can be plausibly supported by evidence.

Marwan Barghouti was indeed prominent in both the First and Second Intifadas due to his undoubtedly correct belief that a powerful Israel had no interest in any peaceful accommodation with the beleaguered Palestinians. He supported sometimes violent resistance and provocations directed at Israeli soldiers and settlers on the West Bank, though he did not consider Israeli citizens inside Israel legitimate targets. In 2002, he was arrested in Ramallah by the Israelis during the Second Intifada and eventually convicted of five counts of murder plus additional charges. He was given the maximum sentence of five cumulative life sentences for the alleged murders plus forty additional years for attempted murder and membership in an illegal organization.

In his trial Barghouti denied everything but refused to defend himself, claiming that the court had no jurisdiction and that he was legitimately resisting the Israeli occupation of his home. No one was able to demonstrate that he had actually killed anyone but the prosecution insisted that he had given the orders to do so. It should be noted that it was a political rather than a criminal event and completely illegal as he was a Palestinian living in Ramallah who was being tried in an Israeli court and sentenced to prison in Israel. The Inter-Parliamentary union subsequently reviewed the case and found that it had violated the accused’s rights and that numerous international legal agreements and norms were contravened.

Since 2002, there have been growing demands for Marwan Barghouti’s release, including from some Israeli politicians and peace groups, based on his relative moderation and desire to see a peaceful transition into a two-state solution for Israel and Palestine. He has sometimes been likened to Nelson Mandela as someone who could potentially bring order and justice to an apparently intractable situation. Barghouti is undeniably more popular than either Mahmoud Abbas of Fatah or Ismail Haniya of Hamas. If he were free and an election were held today, he would undoubtedly be elected Palestinian president.

 
Sometimes paranoia is justified

President Donald Trump is not exactly known for his self-restraint. The recent firing of Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) Director James Comey was not handled with any delicacy and has unleashed a firestorm of criticism coming from across the political spectrum. And since Comey’s abrupt dismissal the backstabbing has become even worse, with many coming around to the view that Trump is actually crudely threatening Comey over the issue of what might or might not have been said at dinners and meetings between the two men.

What exactly drove the firing at this time remains somewhat of a mystery though the media has been quick to link it directly to Trump’s reported anger at the seemingly endless investigation into his Administration’s possible ties to Russia, an investigation that nominally Comey headed as FBI Director. But that explanation somehow makes no sense as even a white-hot Trump would have realized that getting rid of Comey would only make the Russiagate problem worse as everyone would assume cover-up and would come after the White House with even greater intensity, which is precisely what has happened. Was Trump dumb enough to dig himself into a deeper hole? Possibly, but it seems unlikely.

What is real, however, is that constant innuendo means that anti-Russian hysteria has been mounting, including completely speculative pieces wondering whether the entourage of Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov had sought to sneak a recording device into the White House during last week’s visit.

And what if there really is a conspiracy against Donald Trump being orchestrated within the various national security agencies that are part of the United States government? The president has been complaining for months about damaging leaks emanating from the intelligence community and the failure of Congress to pay any attention to the illegal dissemination of classified information. It is quite possible that Trump has become aware that there is actually something going on and that something just might be a conspiracy to delegitimize and somehow remove him from office.

President Trump has also been insisting that the “Russian thing” is a made-up story, a view that I happen to agree with. I recently produced my own analysis of the possibility that there is in progress a soft, or stealth or silent coup, call it what you will, underway directed against the president and that, if it exists, it is being directed by former senior officials from the Obama White House. Indeed, it is quite plausible to suggest that it was orchestrated within the Obama White House itself before the government changed hands at the inauguration on January 20th. In line with that thinking, some observers are now suggesting that Comey might well have been party to the conspiracy and his dismissal would have been perfectly justified based on his demonstrated interference in both the electoral process and in his broadening of the acceptable role of his own Bureau, which Trump has described as “showboating.”

Two well-informed observers of the situation have recently joined in the discussion, Robert Parry of Consortiumnews and former CIA senior analyst Ray McGovern of the Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity. McGovern has noted, as have I, that there is one individual who has been curiously absent from the list of former officials who have been called in to testify before the Senate Intelligence Committee. That is ex-CIA Director John Brennan, who many have long considered an extreme Obama/Hillary Clinton loyalist long rumored to be at the center of the information damaging to Team Trump sent to Washington by friendly intelligence services, including the British.

Ray suggests that Brennan and also Comey may been at the center of a “Deep State” combined CIA-NSA-FBI cabal working to discredit the Trump candidacy and delegitimize his presidency. Brennan in particular was uniquely well placed to fabricate the Russian hacker narrative that has been fully embraced by Congress and the media even though no actual evidence supporting that claim has yet been produced. As WikiLeaks has now revealed that the CIA had the technical ability to hack into sites surreptitiously while leaving behind footprints that would attribute the hack to someone else, including the Russians, it does not take much imagination to consider that the alleged trail to Moscow might have been fabricated. If that is so, this false intelligence has in turn proven to be of immense value to those seeking to present “proof” that the Russian government handed the presidency to Donald Trump.

Robert Parry asked in an article on May 10th whether we are seeing is “Watergate redux or ‘Deep State’ coup?” and then followed up with a second Piece “The ‘Soft Coup’ of Russia-gate” on the 13th. In other words, is this all a cover-up of wrongdoing by the White House akin to President Richard Nixon’s firing of Watergate independent special prosecutor Archibald Cox and the resignations of both the Attorney General and Deputy Attorney General or is it something quite different, an undermining of an elected president who has not actually committed any “high crimes and misdemeanors” to force his removal from office. Like Parry, I am reluctant to embrace conspiracy theories, in my case largely because I believe a conspiracy is awfully hard to sustain. The federal government leaks like a sieve and if more than two conspirators ever meet in the CIA basement it would seem to me their discussion would become public knowledge within forty-eight hours, but perhaps what we are seeing here is less a formal arrangement than a group of individuals who are loosely connected while driven by a common objective.

Parry sees the three key players in the scheme as John Brennan of CIA, Director of National Intelligence James Clapper and James Comey of the FBI. Comey’s role in the “coup” was key as it consisted of using his office to undercut both Hillary Clinton and Trump, neither of whom was seen as a truly suitable candidate by the Deep State. He speculates that a broken election might well have resulted in a vote in the House of Representatives to elect the new president, a process that might have produced a Colin Powell presidency as Powell actually received three votes in the Electoral College and therefore was an acceptable candidate under the rules governing the electoral process.

 
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.