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Did the US allow ISIS to escape to keep the fighting going?
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Americans have been living in a country that has not known peace since 9/11, when President George W. Bush and his posse of neoconservatives delivered the message to the world that “you are either with us or against us.” The threat was coupled with flurry of hastily conceived legislation that opened the door to the unconstitutional “war on terror” carried out at the whim of the Chief Executive, a conflict which was from the start conceived of as a global military engagement without end.

Bush and his handlers might not have realized it at the time but they were initiating a completely new type of warfare. To be sure, there would be fighting on the ground worldwide against an ideologically driven enemy somewhat reminiscent of communism, but there would also be included “regime change” of governments in countries that were not completely on board with the direction coming out of Washington. Instead of invading and occupying a country in the old-fashioned way, so the thinking went, far better to just knock off the top levels and let the natives sort things out while acting under direction from the pros in Washington.

Even though “regime change” in Iraq and Afghanistan did not work out very well, Bush saw himself as a triumphant war leader with his vainglorious “Mission Accomplished,” and he later dubbed himself the “decider.” He insisted that his reelection in 2004 when running against a weak John Kerry was a validation of his policies by the American people, but one has to wonder how many voters really understood that they were signing on for perpetual war that would of necessity also diminish their most cherished liberties.

Nobel Peace Prize winner and U.S. President Barack Obama followed Bush and made it clear that there would be no stepping back from a policy of proactively “protecting” the American people. Obama and his Secretary of State Hillary Clinton destroyed Libya, a disaster that is still playing out, increased involvement in Syria, and introduced death by drone for both American citizens who have transgressed and random foreigners who fit a profile. And to eliminate any pushback to what he was doing, Obama relied on invoking the state secrets privilege to block legal challenges more times than all his predecessors in office combined.

And now we have President Donald Trump, whose foreign policy is particularly unarticulated, though in many ways similar to that of his predecessors. The United States is increasing its involvement in Afghanistan, where it has been engaged for longer than in any previous war, is threatening both Iran and North Korea with annihilation, and is hopelessly entangled in Trump’s pledge to completely eliminate ISIS. Indeed, destroying ISIS (and al-Qaeda) has been the one clearly articulated part of the Trump foreign policy, though there are also occasional assertions that it should be accompanied by yet one more try at regime change in Damascus.

And the grand tradition of using military might to back up diplomacy has certainly found little favor, so much so that it is certainly clear even to the supine American public and a risk averse congress that there is something wrong in Foggy Bottom. It is astonishing to note the mainstream media, which reviled George W. Bush when he was in office, describing him currently as a voice of moderation and restraint due to his recent criticism of the White House. You can’t go wrong if you pile on Trump.

Even the U.S. media has been reluctantly reporting that ISIS has been rolled back in Syria by the joint efforts of the Syrian Army and the Russian air force with the United States and its allies playing very much secondary roles in the conflict. The Russians have, in fact, complained that Washington seemed just a tad disinterested in actually cooperating to destroy the last remnants of ISIS in the few areas that the group still controls, citing most recently an alleged incident during the Syrian government liberation of the town of Abu Kamal in which U.S. air assets on site appear to have allowed ISIS fighters to escape.

The shambles of American policy as it applies to the Middle East was highlighted by yet another similar and particularly bizarre episode that was revealed initially by the BBC on Monday of last week. In early October, when the Syrians and Russians were closing in from the west on Raqqa, the “capital” of the ISIS caliphate while the U.S supported Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), which predominantly consists of the Kurdish militias, was closing in from the east, a deal was reportedly struck to permit an evacuation of the remaining ISIS fighters and their families.

According to the BBC investigative report, the SDF and Kurds were wary of clearing out the remaining fighters from the ruins of the city and so negotiated an agreement whereby the ISIS fighters from Syria and Iraq and their families would be able to leave and be allowed to either go home and face the consequences or proceed to ISIS controlled areas about one hundred miles away. The objective was to avoid a final assault from the air and using artillery that would have produced a bloodbath killing thousands, including large numbers of civilians. The agreement stipulated that only ISIS fighters who were local would be allowed to leave. Others, referred to as “foreigners,” from Europe, Africa or Asia would have to surrender in order to avoid their going free and getting involved in new terrorist activity after returning home.

U.S. and British military advisers who were with the SDF and Kurds reported, somewhat improbably, that they had not been party to the negotiations, that it was “all-locals,” though they later admitted that there had been some involvement on their part. In the event, trucks and busses were assembled on October 14th, formed into a convoy, and were loaded with more than 4,000 fighters and families. More than 100 ISIS-owned vehicles also were allowed to leave and there were ten trucks filled with weapons. The convoy stretched for more than four miles and film footage shows trucks pulling trailers filled with militants brandishing their weapons. The fighters were not allowed to display flags or banners but they were not forced to disarm and in fact loaded all the vehicles with as many weapons as they could carry, so much so that one truck broke its axle from the weight. The BBC reported that “This wasn’t so much an evacuation – it was the exodus of so-called Islamic State.”

The drivers reported that they were abused by the ISIS fighters, many of whom were wearing explosive belts, and they also claimed that there was a large percentage of foreigners among those escaping. Various drivers told the BBC that there were French, Turkish, Azerbaijani, Pakistani, Yemeni, Saudi, Chinese, Tunisian and Egyptian nationals among their passengers. The evacuees made it safely to ISIS controlled territory and presumably will be ready, willing and able to fight again.

 
• Category: Foreign Policy • Tags: American Military, ISIS, James Mattis, Raqqa, Syria 
Jewish oligarchs fund crimes against humanity
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The stars came out in Hollywood on November 2nd, or at least some of them did. The gala event celebrated the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) and raised funds to support its mission in Israel itself and on the occupied West Bank. The organization being fêted was the Friends of the Israel Defense Forces (FIDF), which has fourteen regional offices in the United States and operates under the slogan “Their job is to look after Israel. Our job is to look after them.” In attendance were Arnold Schwarzenegger and actor Gerald Butler. Entertainment was provided by the singer Seal.

Hollywood Jewish royalty was thick on the ground, the grub was strictly kosher and billionaires competed to see who could give the most to such a worthy cause. The 1,200 attendees at the Beverly Hilton Hotel donated a record $53.8 million, with Oracle founder Larry Ellison leading the pack with a contribution of $16.6 million. Israeli media mogul Haim Saban, Hillary Clinton’s most generous supporter, served as host of the event and donated $5 million. Two weeks ago, a similar gathering of 1,200 in New York City dubbed “A Night of Heroes,” attended by GOP major donor casino magnate Sheldon Adelson, raised $35 million, $7 million coming from Adelson personally. FIDF reportedly was sitting on $190 million in contributions for the year before the Hollywood and New York events.

Donations to FIDF are tax deductible as the organization is registered with the U.S. Treasury as a 501(c)3 educational and charitable non-profit foundation. One might well ask how it is possible that the American taxpayer should subsidize a foreign military organization that is regularly accused of war crimes in its ongoing brutal and genocidal occupation of the Palestinian West Bank and East Jerusalem? One might also wonder how an organization that continues a military occupation in opposition to multiple United Nations resolutions that have been endorsed by Washington gets any kind of tax break at all? And finally, one might reasonably ask why an organization that already gets in excess of $3.8 billion annually directly from the U.S. Treasury needs more money to allegedly provide creature comforts for its soldiers?

The answer to all of the above would be that Jewish power in the United States makes it happen. But more particularly, it is Jewish money that does the trick since cash on the table provides access both to the media and to the people that matter in Washington. A tight circle of billionaire oligarchs, including Saban, Ellison and Adelson as well as Paul Singer and Bernard Marcus directly support organizations like FIDF as well as major pro-Israel groups like the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, the America Israel Public Affairs Committee, the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, the Anti-Defamation League and the Jewish Institute for National Security of America. The billionaires are not shy about where their loyalty lies, boasting as does Saban, that he is a one issue guy and that issue is Israel. Adelson has stated that he wishes that he had served in the Israeli army instead of the U.S. military and wants his son to grow up to “be a sniper for the IDF.” Both have publicly advocated bombing Iran. In Adelson’s case, the bomb would be nuclear.

Sometimes both the Israel agenda and the financial support is deliberately hidden, as in the case of the recently launched “Christian engagement in the Middle East” anti-Iran Philos Project, which was funded by Singer. The billionaires also directly donate to the campaigns of politicians and support projects that engage in the message management that is used to justify pro-Israel policies in Congress and the media.

Much of the current agitation to “do something” about Iran comes, for example, from these groups and media assets. In truth, American aid to Israel has become virtually untouchable and is something like a goose that keeps on laying golden eggs. The operation of “The Lobby,” generally regarded as the most powerful voice on foreign policy in Washington, led Professors Stephen Walt and John Mearsheimer to ask, “Why has the U.S. been willing to set aside its own security … in order to advance the interests of another state? [No] explanation can account for the remarkable level of material and diplomatic support that the U.S. provides.” They observed that “Other special interest groups have managed to skew foreign policy, but no lobby has managed to divert it as far from what the national interest would suggest, while simultaneously convincing Americans that U.S. interests and those of the other country—in this case, Israel—are essentially identical.”

The money committed by the Jewish oligarchs on behalf of Israel has turned out to be a good investment, returning billions for millions spent. Since the foundation of the state of Israel in 1948, it has been “the largest cumulative recipient of U.S. foreign assistance since World War II,” according to the Congressional Research Service. The United States has provided Israel with $233.7 billion in adjusted for inflation aid between 1948 through the end of 2012, reports Haaretz.

The $38 billion over ten years in military assistance that the Obama recently promised to Israel is far less than what will actually be received from the United States Treasury and from other American sources, including handouts from Congress. To cite only one recent example, in September Congressman Alcee Hastings proposed a legislative amendment that would give $12 million to help settle Israel’s Ethiopian community. Senator Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), speaking in the most recent legislative discussion over Israeli aid, stated that the $38 billion should be regarded as a minimum amount, and that Congress should approve additional funds for Israeli defense as needed.

 
Top officials sell out to anyone for anything
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One of the interesting side benefits, if one might call it that, of the everlasting investigation into Russiagate is the window provided on the extreme corruption of U.S. politicians and government officials. It has become evident that anyone can seemingly buy political and media support for nearly anything as long as enough money is put on the table. And worse, the sell-out has clearly been going on for some time, with the disease disproportionately afflicting former senior officials that have been engaged in national security.

If this corruption from the top down does not constitute a crisis that directly challenges the credibility of the entire U.S. political system, it is not clear what more would be needed to make the case. And it was not carried out by the Russians or anyone else seeking to bring down our so-called democracy. We Americans appear to have done it all to ourselves through inexplicable tolerance for a combination of greed and fundamental dishonesty on the part of our elected and appointed government officials.

A recent story that received remarkably little play in the media provides some insight into how it all works, driven by a money-fueled corruption that sells out American interests by those who once had sworn to protect them.

The several articles that covered the story described how some prominent figures in the U.S. national security community actively sought a Turkish government sourced contract to use their resources to bring about the character assassination and eventual extradition of American green card holder Fetullah Gülen from Pennsylvania. Gülen is, to be sure, a controversial figure who is the founder in his native Turkey of a movement called Hizmet, which is in turn linked to hundreds of schools worldwide that claim to teach a curriculum that fuses a moderate and tolerant form of Islam with high academic achievement in traditional courses of study, including the sciences.

Critics of Gülen claim that his movement is a cult and that the schools are used to brainwash students, who continue to do Hizmet’s bidding after they obtain positions in government, the military or within the educational system. The current president of Turkey Recep Tayyip Erdogan blames Gülen for the attempted coup that took place last July and has sought his extradition. Erdogan has a strong motive for finding a scapegoat as he has sought to aggrandize his power in the wake of the coup, which has resulted in the imprisonment of tens of thousands of Turks while hundreds of thousands more have lost their jobs.

That Gülen is actually guilty of initiating the coup attempt has not been demonstrated by any reasonable standard. An extradition request submitted to the U.S. government by Ankara was reported to be not very convincing. There have also been suggestions, by me among others, that Erdogan knew about the coup in advance and let it happen so he could crackdown on opponents, which is certainly what has happened. Erdogan has, since the coup, frequently expressed his frustration with the U.S. Department of Justice extradition process, claiming that he has been betrayed by Washington. He has more generally speaking behaved like a madman, antagonizing all his former friends in Europe while also unnecessarily complicating relations with the United States over the two countries’ roles in Syria.

Enter former General Michael Flynn and former Bill Clinton CIA Director James Woolsey, both of whom were national security advisers to candidate Donald Trump during his campaign when they competed for contracts with Turkish businessmen linked to the Erdogan government to discredit Gülen and possibly even enable his abduction and illegal transfer to Turkey. If, as a consequence of their labors, Gülen were to be somehow returned home he would potentially be tried on treason charges, which might in the near future carry the death penalty in Turkey.

Both Flynn and Woolsey are highly controversial figures. Woolsey, in spite of having no intelligence experience, was notoriously appointed CIA Director by Bill Clinton to reward the neoconservatives for their support of his candidacy. But Woolsey never met privately with the president during his two years in office. He is regarded as an ardent neocon and Islamophobe affiliated with the Foundation for Defense of Democracies (FDD), the Jewish Institute for National Security of America (JINSA) and the AIPAC-founded Washington Institute for Near East Policy (WINEP). I once debated him on NPR where he asserted that Israel does not spy on the United States, a delusional viewpoint to be sure. Former CIA Senior analyst Mel Goodman, recalling Woolsey’s tenure at the Agency, commented in 2003 that “[he] was a disaster as CIA director in the 90s and is now running around this country calling for a World War IV to deal with the Islamic problem. This is a dangerous individual…”

Flynn, is, of course, better known, and not for any good qualities that he might possess. He is, like Woolsey, an ardent hawk on Iran and other related issues but is also ready to make a buck through his company The Flynn Intel Group, where Woolsey served as an unpaid adviser. In the summer of 2016 Flynn had obtained a three-month contract for $530,000 to “research” Gülen and produce a short documentary film discrediting him, an arrangement that should have been reported under the Foreign Agents Registration Act of 1938, but the big prize was a possible contract in the millions of dollars to create a negative narrative on the Hizmet founder and put pressure on the U.S. government to bring about his extradition.

Woolsey and Flynn, both Trump advisers at the time, found themselves in competition for the money. Flynn had a New York meeting at the Essex House with the businessmen accompanied by the Turkish Foreign and Energy Ministers as well as Erdogan’s son-in-law on September 19th 2016 where, inter alia, the possibility of kidnapping Gülen and flying him to Turkey was discussed. Flynn has denied that the possibility of kidnapping was ever raised, but Woolsey, who was at the meeting for a brief time, insists that “whisking away” Gülen in the dead of night was on the agenda, though he concedes that the discussion was “hypothetical.”

On the next day, Woolsey and his wife met separately with the same two Turkish businessmen at the Peninsula Hotel in New York City and discussed with them a more general but broadly based $10 million plan of their own that would combine lobbying with public relations to discredit Gülen both in the press and in congress. Woolsey stressed that he had the kind of contacts in government and the media to make the plan work.

 
Pledges of loyalty to Israel are un-American
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Most Americans have no idea of just how powerful Israeli and Jewish interests are. Two recent stories out of Kansas and Texas illustrate exactly how supporters of Israel in the United States are ready, willing and able to subvert the existing constitutional and legal protections that uphold the right to fair and impartial treatment for all American citizens.

The friends of Israel appear to believe that anyone who is unwilling to do business with Israel or even with the territories that it has illegally occupied should not be allowed to do business in any capacity with federal, state or even local governments. Constitutional guarantees of freedom of association for every American are apparently not valid if one particular highly favored foreign country is involved.

Maryland became the most recent state to jump on the Israel bandwagon last week. Currently twenty-two state legislatures have passed various laws confronting boycotts of Israel because of its human rights abuses, in many cases initiating economic penalties on those organizations and individuals or denying state funds to colleges and universities that allow boycott advocates to operate freely on campus.

When governor of South Carolina, current United Nations Ambassador Nikki Haley, an ardent supporter of Israel, signed the first state law attacking those who support boycotting or sanctioning the Israeli government, the country’s state institutions and its businesses. Haley, who is supposed to be defending American interests, has also stated her priority focus will be opposing “the UN’s…bias against our close ally Israel.”

Both the recent cases in Kansas and Texas involve state mandates regarding Israel. Both states are, one might note, part of the Bible belt. The anti-boycott legislation was sponsored by powerful Christian Zionist constituencies and passed through the respective legislatures with little debate. In Kansas, Esther Koontz, a Mennonite curriculum coach was fired by the State Department of Education as a teacher trainer because she would not certify in writing that she does not boycott Israel. Koontz’s church had passed a resolution in July seeking peace in the Middle East which specifically opposed purchasing products associated with Israel’s “military occupation” of Palestine. With the assistance of the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), Koontz is contesting the Kansas government position.

In Dickinson, Texas, in a case which actually made national news, if only briefly, the city is requiring anyone who applies for disaster relief to sign a document that reads “Verification not to Boycott Israel: By executing this Agreement below, the Applicant verifies that the Applicant: (1) does not boycott Israel; and (2) will not boycott Israel during the term of this Agreement.” Dickinson was half destroyed by hurricane Harvey last month and urgently needs assistance, but, in the opinion of Texas lawmakers and local officials, deference to Israel comes first. The ACLU is also contesting the Texas legislation.

The Texas law was signed earlier this year and took effect on September 1st. In January 2016, Governor Greg Abbott met with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who urged Texas to push through the legislation. Abbott responded, and, when signing the bill, commented that “any anti-Israel policy is an ‘anti-Texas policy.’” Abbot is reportedly also considering Israeli endorsed legislation that would ban all business dealings on the part of Texas companies with Iran.

One particular pending piece of federal legislation that is also currently making its way through the Senate would far exceed what is happening at the state level and would set a new standard for deference to Israeli interests on the part of the national government. It would criminalize any U.S. citizen “engaged in interstate or foreign commerce” who supports a boycott of Israel or who even goes about “requesting the furnishing of information” regarding it, with penalties enforced through amendments of two existing laws, the Export Administration Act of 1979 and the Export-Import Act of 1945, that include potential fines of between $250,000 and $1 million and up to 20 years in prison

According to the Jewish Telegraph Agency, the Senate bill was drafted with the assistance of AIPAC. The legislation, which would almost certainly be overturned as unconstitutional if it ever does in fact become law, is particularly dangerous and goes well beyond any previous pro-Israeli legislation as it essentially denies free of expression when the subject is Israel.

The movement that is being particularly targeted by the bills at both the state level and also within the federal government is referred to by its acronym as BDS, which is an acronym for Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions. It is a non-violent reaction to the Israeli military occupation of Palestinian land on the West Bank and the continued building of Jewish-only settlements. BDS has been targeted both by the Israeli government and by the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC). The AIPAC website under its lobbying agenda includes the promotion of the Israel Anti-Boycott Act as a top priority.

The Israeli government and its American supporters particularly fear BDS because it has become quite popular, particularly on university campuses, where administrative steps have frequently been taken to suppress it. The denial of free speech on campus when it relates to Israel has sometimes been referred to as the “Palestinian exception.” Nevertheless, the message continues to resonate, due both to its non- violence its and human rights appeal. It challenges Israel’s arbitrary military rule over three million Palestinians on the West Bank who have onerous restrictions placed on nearly every aspect of their daily lives. And its underlying message is that Israel is a rogue state engaging in actions that are widely considered to be both illegal and immoral, which the Israeli government rightly sees as potentially delegitimizing.

It is disheartening to realize that a clear majority of state legislators and congressmen thinks it is perfectly acceptable to deny all Americans the right to free political expression in order to defend an internationally acknowledged illegal occupation being carried out by a foreign country. Those co-sponsoring the bills include Democrats, Republicans, progressives and conservatives. Deference to Israeli interests is bi-partisan and crosses ideological lines. Glenn Greenwald and Ryan Grim, writing at The Intercept, observe that “…the very mention of the word ‘Israel’ causes most members of both parties to quickly snap into line in a show of unanimity that would make the regime of North Korea blush with envy.”

 
Missile defense might be a lie
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Sometimes it is possible to read or view something that completely changes the way one looks at things. I had that experience last week when I read an article at Lobelog entitled “A Plea for Common Sense on Missile Defense,” written by Joe Cirincione, a former staffer on the House Armed Services Committee who now heads the Ploughshares Fund, which is a Washington DC based global foundation that seeks to stop the spread of nuclear, chemical and biological weapons.

The article debunks much of the narrative being put out by the White House and Pentagon regarding missile defense. To be sure, it is perfectly reasonable to mistrust anything that comes out of the federal government justifying war given its track record going back to the War of 1812. And the belligerent posture of the United States towards Iran and North Korea can well be condemned based on its own merits, threatening war where there are either no real interests at stake or where a diplomatic solution has for various reasons been eschewed.

But the real reason why the White House gets away with saber rattling is historical, that the continental United States has not experienced the consequences of war since Pancho Villa invaded in 1916. This is a reality that administration after administration has exploited to do what they want when dealing with foreign nations: whatever happens “over there” will stay “over there.”

Americans consequently do not know war except as something that happens elsewhere and to foreigners, requiring only that the U.S. step in on occasion and bail things out, or screw things up depending on one’s point of view. This is why hawks like John McCain, while receiving a “Liberty” award from Joe Biden, can, with a straight face, get away with denouncing those Americans who have become tired of playing at being the world’s policeman. He describes them as fearful of “the world we have organized and led for three-quarters of a century, [abandoning] the ideals we have advanced around the globe, [refusing] the obligations of international leadership and our duty to remain ‘the last best hope of earth’ for the sake of some half-baked, spurious nationalism.”

McCain’s completely fatuous account of recent world history befits a Navy pilot who was adept at crashing his planes and almost sank his own aircraft carrier. He also made propaganda radio broadcasts for the North Vietnamese after he was captured. The McCain globalist-American Exceptionalism narrative is also, unfortunately, echoed by the media. The steady ingestion of lies and half-truths is why the public puts up with unending demands for increased defense spending, accepting that the world outside is a dangerous place that must be kept in line by force majeure. Yes, we are the good guys.

But underlying the citizenry’s willingness to accept that the military establishment should encircle the globe with foreign bases to keep the world “safe” is the assumption that the 48 States are invulnerable, isolated by broad oceans and friendly nations to the north and south. And protected from far distant threats by technology, interceptor systems developed and maintained at enormous expense to intercept and shoot down incoming ballistic missiles launched by enemies overseas.

In a recent speech, relating to the North Korean threat, President Donald Trump boasted that the United States anti-missile defenses are 97% effective, meaning that they can intercept and destroy incoming projectiles 97 times out of a 100. Trump was seeking to assure the public that whatever happens over in Korea, it cannot have an undesirable outcome over here in the continental United States nor, apparently, in Hawaii, Alaska and overseas possessions like Guam, all of which are shielded under the anti-missile defense umbrella. Trump was undoubtedly referring to, even if he was ignorant of many of the specifics, the Ground Based Midcourse Defense (GMD) installations in Alaska and Hawaii, which are part of the existing $330 billion missile defense system.

It is certainly comforting to learn that the United States cannot be physically attacked with either nuclear or conventional weapons no matter what our government does overseas, but is it true? What if the countermeasures were somewhat closer to 0% effective? Would that change the thinking about going to war in Korea? Or about confronting Russia in Eastern Europe? And for those who think that a nuclear exchange is unthinkable it would be wise to consider the recent comments by Jack Keane of the aptly named Institute for the Study of War, a leading neoconservative former general who reportedly has the ear of the White House and reflects its thinking on the matter. Keane is not hesitant to employ the military option against Pyongyang and he describes a likely trigger for a U.S. attack to take out its nuclear facilities or remove “leadership targets” as the setting up of a ballistic missile in North Korea with a nuclear warhead mounted on top “aimed at America.” Some observers believe that North Korea is close to having the ability to reduce the size of its nukes to make that possible and, if Keane is to be believed, it would be considered an “act of war” which would trigger an immediate attack by Washington. And a counter attack by Pyongyang.

The claim of 97% reliability for the U.S.’s anti-missile defenses is being challenged by Cirincione and others, who argue that the United States can only “shoot down some…missiles some of the time.” They make a number of arguments that are quite convincing, even to a layman who has no understanding of the physics involved. I will try to keep it simple. First of all, an anti-missile interceptor must hit its target head on or nearly so and it must either actually strike the target or explode its own warhead at a close enough distance to be effective. Both objectives are difficult to achieve. An Intercontinental Ballistic Missile (ICBM) travels at 5,000 meters per second. By way of comparison a bullet fired from a rifle travels at about one fifth that speed. Imagine two men with rifles standing a mile apart and firing their weapons in an attempt to have the bullets meet head on. Multiply the speed by five if one is referring to missiles, not bullets. Even using the finest radars and sensors as well as the most advanced guidance technologies, the variables involved make it much more likely that there will be a miss than a hit. Cirincione observes that “…the only way to hit a bullet is if the bullet cooperates.”

Second, the tests carried out by the Pentagon to determine reliability are essentially fraudulent. Contrary to the Donald Trump comment, the 97% accuracy is an extrapolation based on firing four anti-missile missiles at a target to make up for the fact that in the rigged tests a single interceptor has proven to be closer to only 56% accurate, and that under ideal conditions. This statistic is based on the actual tests performed since 1999 in which interceptors were able to shoot down 10 of 18 targets. The conclusion that four would result in 97% derives from the assumption that multiple interceptors increases the accuracy but most engineers would argue that if one missile cannot hit the target for any number of technical shortcomings it is equally likely that all four will miss for the same reason.

 
An undercover reporter secretly records how the Israeli Embassy directs local groups
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One month ago, I initiated here at Unz.com a discussion of the role of American Jews in the crafting of United States foreign policy. I observed that a politically powerful and well-funded cabal consisting of both Jewish individuals and organizations has been effective at engaging the U.S. in a series of wars in the Middle East and North Africa that benefit only Israel and are, in fact, damaging to actual American interests. This misdirection of policy has not taken place because of some misguided belief that Israeli and U.S. national security interests are identical, which is a canard that is frequently floated in the mainstream media. It is instead a deliberate program that studiously misrepresents facts-on-the ground relating to Israel and its neighbors and creates casus belli involving the United States even when no threat to American vital interests exists. It punishes critics by damaging both their careers and reputations while its cynical manipulation of the media and gross corruption of the national political process has already produced the disastrous war against Iraq, the destruction of Libya and the ongoing chaos in Syria. It now threatens to initiate a catastrophic war with Iran.

To be sure, my observations are neither new nor unique. Former Congressmen Paul Findley indicted the careful crafting of a pro-Israel narrative by American Jews in his seminal book They Dare to Speak Out: People and Institutions Confront Israel’s Lobby, written in 1989. Professors John Mearsheimer and Stephen Walt’s groundbreaking book The Israel Lobby and U.S. Foreign Policy said much the same thing nine years ago and discussions of Jewish power do emerge occasionally, even in the mainstream media. In the Jewish media Jewish power is openly discussed and is generally applauded as a well-deserved reward bestowed both by God and by mankind due to the significant accomplishments attributed to Jews throughout history.

There is undeniably a complicated web of relationships and networks that define Israel’s friends. The expression “Israel Lobby” itself has considerable currency, so much so that the expression “The Lobby” is widely used and understood to represent the most powerful foreign policy advocacy group in Washington without needing to include the “Israel” part. That the monstrous Benjamin Netanyahu receives 26 standing ovations from Congress and a wealthy Israel has a guaranteed income from the U.S. Treasury derives directly from the power and money of an easily identifiable cluster of groups and oligarchs – Paul Singer, Sheldon Adelson, Bernard Marcus, Haim Saban – who in turn fund a plethora of foundations and institutes whose principal function is to keep the cash and political support flowing in Israel’s direction. No American national interest, apart from the completely phony contention that Israel is some kind of valuable ally, would justify the taxpayers’ largesse. In reality, Israel is a liability to the United States and always has been.

And I do understand at the same time that a clear majority of American Jews, leaning strongly towards the liberal side of the political spectrum, are supportive of the nuclear agreement with Iran and do not favor a new Middle Eastern war involving that country. I also believe that many American Jews are likely appalled by Israeli behavior, but, unfortunately, there is a tendency on their part to look the other way and neither protest such actions nor support groups like Jewish Voice for Peace that are themselves openly critical of Israel. This de facto gives Israel a free pass and validates its assertion that it represents all Jews since no one important in the diaspora community apart from minority groups which can safely be ignored is pushing back against that claim.

That many groups and well-positioned individuals work hand-in-hand with the Israeli government to advance Israeli interests should not be in dispute after all these years of watching it in action. Several high level Jewish officials, including Richard Perle, associated with the George W. Bush Pentagon, had questionable relationships with Israeli Embassy officials and were only able to receive security clearances after political pressure was applied to “godfather” approvals for them. Former Congressman Tom Lantos and Senator Frank Lautenberg were, respectively, referred to as Israel’s Congressman and Senator, while current Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer has described himself as Israel’s “shomer” or guardian in the U.S. Senate.

A recent regulatory decision from the United Kingdom relates to a bit of investigative journalism that sought to reveal precisely how the promotion of Israel by some local diaspora Jews operates, to include how critics are targeted and criticized as well as what is done to destroy their careers and reputations.

Last year, al-Jazeera Media Network used an undercover reporter to infiltrate some U.K. pro-Israel groups that were working closely with the Israeli Embassy to counter criticisms coming from British citizens regarding the treatment of the Palestinians. In particular, the Embassy and its friends were seeking to counter the growing Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement (BDS), which has become increasingly effective in Europe. The four-part documentary released late in 2016 that al-Jazeera produced is well worth watching as it consists mostly of secretly filmed meetings and discussions.

The documentary reveals that local Jewish groups, particularly at universities and within the political parties, do indeed work closely with the Israeli Embassy to promote policies supported by the government of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. It also confirms that tagging someone as an anti-Semite has become the principal offensive weapon used to stifle any discussion, particularly in a country like Britain which embraces concepts like the criminalization of “hate speech.” At one point, two British Jews discussed whether “being made to feel uncomfortable” by people asking what Israel intends to do with the Palestinians is anti-Semitic. They agreed that it might be.

The documentary also describes how the Embassy and local groups working together targeted government officials who were not considered to be friendly to Israel to “be taken down,” removed from office or otherwise discredited. One government official in particular who was to be attacked was Foreign Office Minister Sir Alan Duncan.

 
• Category: Foreign Policy, Ideology • Tags: Al Jazeera, Israel Lobby, Shai Masot 
Is it news or propaganda? And what about the First Amendment?
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Somehow everything keeps coming back around to Russia. In one of its recent initiatives, the Justice Department (DOJ) appears to be attacking the First Amendment as part of the apparent bipartisan program to make Vladimir Putin the fall guy for everything that goes wrong in Washington. In the past month, the DOJ has revealed that the FBI is investigating Russian owned news outlets Sputnik News and RT International and has sent letters to the latter demanding that one of its business affiliates register as a foreign agent by October 17th. The apparent line of inquiry that the Bureau is pursuing is that both are agencies of the Russian government and that both have been spreading disinformation that is intended to discredit the United States government and its institutions. This alleged action would make them, in the DOJ view, a propaganda arm of a foreign government rather than a news service. It also makes them subject to Department of the Treasury oversight under the Foreign Agents Registration Act of 1938.

Sputnik, which is owned by a Russian government media group headed by Putin consigliere Dimitri Kiselyov, has been under investigation due to the accusations made by a fired broadcaster named Andrew Feinberg. Feinberg, the former Sputnik White House correspondent, reportedly took with him a thumb drive containing some thousands of internal business files when he left his office. He has been interviewed by the FBI, has turned over his documents, and has claimed that much of the direction over what the network covered came from Moscow.

RT America, more television oriented than Sputnik, operates through two business entities: RTTV America and RTTV Studios. The Department of Justice has refused to identify which of the businesses has been targeted by a letter calling for registration under FARA, but it is believed to be RTTV America, which provides both operational support of the broadcasting as well as the production facilities. Both companies are actually owned by Russian-American businessman Alex Yazlovsky, though the funding for them presumably comes from the Russian government.

I have noticed very little pushback in the U.S. mainstream and alternative media regarding the Department of Justice moves, presumably because there is a broad consensus that the Russians have been interfering in our “democracy” and have had it coming. If that assumption on my part is correct, the silence over the issue reflects a certain naïvete while also constituting a near perfect example of a pervasive tunnel vision that obscures the significant collateral damage that might be forthcoming.

News organizations are normally considered to be exempt from the requirements of FARA. The Department of Justice action against the two Russian major media outlets is unprecedented insofar as I could determine. Even Qatar owned al-Jazeera, which was so vilified during the early stages of the Afghan War that it had its Kabul offices bombed by the U.S., did not have to register under FARA, was permitted to operate freely, and was even allowed to buy a television channel license for its American operations.

The DOJ is in effect saying that RT and Sputnik are nothing more than propaganda organs and do not qualify as journalism. I would have to disagree if one goes by the standards of contemporary journalism in the United States. America’s self-described “newspapers of record” the New York Times and the Washington Post pretend that they have a lock on stories that are “true.” The Post has adopted the slogan “Democracy Dies in Darkness” while the Times proclaims “The truth is more important now than ever,” but anyone who has read either paper regularly for the past year knows perfectly well that they have been as often as not leading propaganda organs for Hillary Clinton and the Democratic Party, pushing a particular agenda and denigrating Donald Trump. They differ little from the admittedly biased television news reporting provided by Fox News and MSNBC.

What exactly did the Russians do? According to last January’s report signed off on by the FBI, CIA and NSA, which may have motivated the DOJ to take action, RT and Sputnik “consistently cast President-elect Trump as the target of unfair coverage from traditional U.S. media outlets that they claimed were subservient to a corrupt political establishment.” Well, they certainly got that one right and did better in their reporting of what was going on among the American public than either the Washington Post or New York Times.

Regarding Sputnik, Feinberg claimed inter alia that he was “pushed” to ask questions at White House press briefings suggesting that Syria’s Bashar al-Assad was not responsible for some of the chemical attacks that had taken place. One wonders at Feinberg’s reluctance as Sputnik and RT were not the only ones expressing skepticism over the claims of Syrian involvement, which have been widely debunked. And why is expressing a credible alternative view on an event in Syria even regarded as propaganda damaging to the American public?

There is a difficult to distinguish line between FARA restricted “trying to influence opinion” using what is regarded a fake news and propaganda and legitimate journalism reporting stories where the “facts” have been challenged. Even real journalists choose to cover stories selectively, inevitably producing a certain narrative for the viewer, listener or reader. All news services do that to a greater or lesser extent.

I have considerable personal experience of RT in particular and, to a lesser extent, with Sputnik. I also know many others who have been interviewed by one or both. No one who has done so has ever been coached or urged to follow a particular line or support a specific position insofar as I know. Nor do I know anyone who has actually been paid to appear. Most of us who are interviewed are appreciative of the fact that we are allowed to air views that are essentially banned on the mainstream media to include critique of maladroit policies in places like Syria and Afghanistan and biting critiques of the war on terror.

Sputnik, in my opinion, does, however, lean heavily towards stories that are critical of the United States and its policies, while RT has a global reach and is much more balanced in what it covers. For sure, it too criticizes U.S. policies and is protective of the Russian government, but it does not substantially differ from other national news services that I have had done interviews for. I find as much uniquely generated negative reporting about the U.S. (usually linked to violence or guns) on BBC World News, France24 and Deutsche Welle as I do on RT International. To describe it as part of an “influence campaign” driven by a “state-run propaganda machine” has a kernel of truth but it is nevertheless a bit of a stretch since one could make the same claims about any government financed news service, including Voice of America. Governments only get into broadcasting to promote their points of view, not to inform the public.

 
Exposing Jewish power in America has real consequences
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Two weeks ago, I wrote for Unz.com an article entitled “America’s Jews Are Driving America’s Wars.” It sought to make several points concerning the consequences of Jewish political power vis-à-vis some aspects of U.S. foreign policy. It noted that some individual American Jews and organizations with close ties to Israel, whom I named and identified, are greatly disproportionately represented in the government, media, foundations, think tanks and lobbying that is part and parcel of the deliberations that lead to formulation of U.S. foreign policy in the Middle East. Inevitably, those policies are skewed to represent Israeli interests and do serious damage to genuine American equities in the region. This tilt should not necessarily surprise anyone who has been paying attention and was noted by Nathan Glazer, among others, as long ago as 1976.

The end result of Israel centric policymaking in Washington is to produce negotiators like Dennis Ross, who consistently supported Israeli positions in peace talks, so much so that he was referred to as “Israel’s lawyer.” It also can result in wars, which is of particular concern given the current level of hostility being generated by these same individuals and organizations relating to Iran. This group of Israel advocates is as responsible as any other body in the United States for the deaths of thousands of Americans and literally millions of mostly Muslim foreigners in unnecessary wars in Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya and Syria. It has also turned the U.S. into an active accomplice in the brutal suppression of the Palestinians. That they have never expressed any remorse or regret and the fact that the deaths and suffering don’t seem to matter to them are clear indictments of the sheer inhumanity of the positions they embrace.

The claims that America’s Middle Eastern wars have been fought for Israel are not an anti-Semitic delusion. Some observers, including former high government official Philip Zelikow, believe that Iraq was attacked by the U.S. in 2003 to protect Israel. On April 3rd, just as the war was starting, the Israeli newspaper Haaretz headlined “The war in Iraq was conceived by 25 neoconservative intellectuals, most of them Jewish, who are pushing President Bush to change the course of history.” It then went on to describe how “In the course of the past year, a new belief has emerged in [Washington]: the belief in war against Iraq. That ardent faith was disseminated by a small group of 25 or 30 neoconservatives, almost all of them Jewish, almost all of them intellectuals (a partial list: Richard Perle, Paul Wolfowitz, Douglas Feith, William Kristol, Eliot Abrams, Charles Krauthammer), people who are mutual friends and cultivate one another.”

And the deference to a Jewish proprietary interest in Middle Eastern policy produces U.S. Ambassadors to Israel who are more comfortable explaining Israeli positions than in supporting American interests. David Friedman, the current Ambassador, spoke last week defending illegal Israeli settlements, which are contrary to official U.S. policy, arguing that they represented only 2% of the West Bank. He did not mention that the land controlled by Israel, to include a security zone, actually represents 60% of the total area.

My suggestion for countering the overrepresentation of a special interest in policy formulation was to avoid putting Jewish government officials in that position by, insofar as possible, not giving them assignments relating to policy in the Middle East. As I noted in my article, that was, in fact, the norm regarding Ambassadors and senior foreign service assignments to Israel prior to 1995, when Bill Clinton broke precedent by appointing Australian citizen Martin Indyk to the position. I think, on balance, it is eminently sensible to avoid putting people in jobs where they will likely have conflicts of interest.

Another solution that I suggested for American Jews who are strongly attached to Israel and find themselves in a position that considers policy for that country and its neighbors would be to recuse themselves from the deliberations, just as a judge who finds himself personally involved in a judicial proceeding might withdraw. It would seem to me that, depending on the official’s actual relationship with Israel, it would be a clear conflict of interest to do otherwise.

The argument that such an individual could protect American interests while also having a high level of concern for a foreign nation with contrary interests is at best questionable. As George Washington observed in his farewell address,

  • “…a passionate attachment of one nation for another produces a variety of evils. Sympathy for the favorite nation, facilitating the illusion of an imaginary common interest in cases where no real common interest exists, and infusing into one the enmities of the other, betrays the former into a participation in the quarrels and wars of the latter without adequate inducement or justification…”

My article proved to be quite popular, particularly after former CIA officer Valerie Plame tweeted her approval of it and was viciously and repeatedly attacked, resulting in a string of abject apologies on her part. As a reasonably well-known public figure, Plame attracted a torrent of negative press, in which I, as the author of the piece being tweeted, was also identified and excoriated. In every corner of the mainstream media I was called “a well-known anti-Semite,” “a long time anti-Israel fanatic,” and, ironically, “a somewhat obscure character.”

The widespread criticism actually proved to be excellent in terms of generating real interest in my article. Many people apparently wanted to read it even though some of the attacks against me and Plame deliberately did not provide a link to it to discourage such activity. As of this writing, it has been opened and viewed 130,000 times and commented on 1,250 times. Most of the comments were favorable. Some of my older pieces, including The Dancing Israelis and Why I Still Dislike Israel have also found a new and significant readership as a result of the furor.

 
Where are all those congressional emails?
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I wrote an article on the strange case of Imran Awan about two months ago. To summarize it briefly, Awan, his two brothers and wife, naturalized U.S. citizens born in Pakistan living in the Washington DC area, found employment as IT administrators in the House of Representatives working for as many as 80 Democratic Party congressmen. Even though they may have had little actual training in IT, they insinuated themselves into the system and were paid in excess of $5 million over the course of ten years, chief-of-staff level pay, while frequently not even showing up for work. They even brought into the arrangement a frequent no-show Pakistani friend whose prior work history consisted of getting recently fired by McDonald’s.

Along the way, their security files were never reviewed. They were involved in bankruptcies, bank fraud and other criminal activity, but their troublesome behavior was never noticed. They were on bad terms with their father and step-mother, which 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.

Imran Awan, the leader of the group, worked particularly for Congresswoman Debbie Wasserman-Schultz, who was, at the time, also the Chairman of the Democratic National Committee. Though he had no clearance and was not supposed to work with classified material, he and his family obtained password access to congressional files and Imran himself was able to enter Wasserman-Schultz’s own personal iPad computer which linked to the server used by the Democratic National Committee.

As of February 2016, the Awans came under suspicion by the Capitol Hill Police for having set up an operation involving double billing as well as the possible theft and reselling of government owned computer equipment. It was also believed that they had somehow obtained entry to much of the House of Representatives’ computer network as well as to other information in the individual offices’ separate computer systems that they were in theory not allowed to access. It was also believed that Imran sent “massive” quantities of stolen government files to a remote personal server. It may have been located in his former residence in Lorton, Virginia. The police began an investigation and quietly alerted the congressmen involved that there might be a problem. Most stopped employing the Awan family members and associates, but Wasserman-Schultz kept Imran on the payroll until the day after he was actually arrested.

Imran was arrested on July 25th at Dulles Airport as he was flying to Pakistan to join his wife Alvi, who had left the country with their children and many of their possessions in March. In January, they had also wired to Pakistan $283,000 that they had obtained fraudulently from the Congressional credit union. After his arrest, Imran was defended by lawyer Chris Gowen, a high-priced $1,000 an hour Washington attorney who has worked for the Clintons personally, the Clinton Foundation and the Clinton Global Initiative.

There are many questions regarding the Awan case. One might reasonably ask how foreign-born IT specialists are selected and vetted prior to being significantly overpaid and allowed to work on computers in congressional offices. And the ability of those same individuals to keep working even after the relevant congressmen have been warned that their employee was under investigation has to be explained beyond Wasserman-Schultz’s comment that Awan had not committed any crime, which may have been true but one would expect congressmen to err on the side of caution over an issue that could easily have national security ramifications. And how does a recently bankrupt and unemployed Imran Awan wind up with a high-priced Clinton-connected lawyer to defend himself?

As the story involves possible espionage, fraud and even something new to consider regarding the theft of information from the DNC server, one might have expected the Fourth Estate to wake from its slumber and take notice. But perhaps not surprisingly there has been astonishingly little follow-up in the mainstream media about the Awan family, possibly because it involves some leading Democrats, though the Daily Caller and some other conservative sites have stayed on top of developments.

Since his arrest Imran Awan has had his passports confiscated by the court and has been released on bail on condition that he wear an ankle monitor at all times and not travel more than 50 miles from the Virginia home where he is staying with a relative. In early September, he sought to have the monitor removed and his passports returned so he could travel to Pakistan and visit his children. His plea was rejected. He is not yet scheduled for trial on the allegations of bank fraud and is apparently still under investigation by the Bureau relating to other possible charges, including possible espionage. His four accomplices are also still under investigation but have not been charged. They are on a watch list and will not be allowed to leave the United States while the inquiry is continuing.

It has also been learned that Imran had been on the receiving end of complaints filed with the Fairfax County Virginia police in 2015-6 by two women who resided in separate apartments in Alexandria that are reportedly paid for by Imran Awan. Both of the women complained of abuse and one is believed to be a “second wife” for Imran Awan, legal in Pakistan but illegal in the United States. Imran reportedly divorced his second wife shortly after his arrest.

In a surprise development, investigative journalists have also determined that Imran Awan retained as of the end of August a still-active secret, numeric email account on the House of Representatives server. E-mail accounts in Congress normally are labeled using the holder’s name, so all active accounts are identity-linked as a security measure. In this case the numeric account was linked to the actual account of a House staffer who works on national security issues for Andre Carson, a Democrat from Indiana. Imran Awan clearly has been using the anonymous House of Representatives address as it was cited in a suit filed by a landlord seeking unpaid rent on an apartment rented for his second wife in Alexandria.

 
Trump may have been right about Obama efforts to derail campaign
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President Donald Trump, who is noted for his frequent exaggerations, just might have been right about the Obama administration’s attempts to derail his campaign. CNN, a hostile news source that had previously denounced Trump’s claims that he had been wiretapped at Trump Tower, reported late on Monday that former Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort was in fact tapped by the Federal Bureau of Investigation. Depending on the political inclinations of the journalists covering the story, the tale has either been framed as a vindication of Trump’s generally derided claims about the Obama administration or yet another bit of evidence demonstrating that Team Trump colluded with the Russians in an effort to influence the results of the 2016 presidential election.

Despite the lack of information provided by the government, the narrative surrounding Manafort appears to go something like this: Manafort is a long time political consultant. Beginning in 2004 and continuing for a decade, Manafort served as a top adviser to former pro-Russian Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovich, and worked together with a number of other Washington based consultants. His involvement somehow came to the attention of the FBI in 2014, possibly due to allegations that Yanukovich had stolen millions of dollars and hidden it somewhere, perhaps with the help of foreign associates. As a consequence, a secret Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) warrant was sought by the Bureau which was then issued to permit tel-tapping and other forms of investigation to determine if U.S. foreign lobbying and money laundering laws had been broken. The initial inquiry was eventually allowed to lapse “for lack of evidence.”

According to apparently new information obtained by the Bureau, a second warrant was obtained in the summer of 2016, presumably when Manafort was Trump’s campaign manager. However, the timeline is not completely clear. Manafort was wiretapped, presumably to include his residence in Trump Tower, and the eavesdropping continued until early 2017, even after Trump was inaugurated. Manafort reportedly spoke with Trump throughout that period, although it has not been revealed whether Trump—as president-elect or president—was personally recorded as a result.

Investigation into the so-called Russiagate has sped up since the appointment of Robert Mueller as special counsel in May, with some of the ongoing investigation focused on Manafort, and whether his relationship with Ukraine violated the Foreign Agents Registration Act (FARA) of 1938. It is suspected that Manafort may have been acting on behalf of the government in Kiev, requiring registration, or was somehow possibly involved in money laundering or tax irregularities. The principal focus, however, has been on the possibility that Manafort actively colluded with the Russian government to influence the U.S. election. To that end, Manafort has been questioned by a grand jury, and his home in Alexandria was raided by FBI agents in the early morning of July 26 as he and his family were sleeping. The lock on the door to his house was picked to enable entry. His computer drives were copied, hard files were taken, and even his suits were photographed to provide evidence that his attire was “expensive.” Prosecutors subsequently told Manafort that they were planning to indict him.

Based on what has been reported as well as on scanty available evidence, one can pick through the various media accounts and eventually select the “meaning” of the Manafort affair. Either Trump is vindicated or he and his election team colluded with the Russians. Those who are more cautious might be inclined to hedge their bets, positing that both interpretations are partially correct. Trump Tower might not have been the target of wiretapping, and Manafort might have behaved indiscreetly and in violation of FARA—but he would never have attempted to interfere with the election. So everyone could be somewhat wrong and somewhat right and the investigation continues.

Sifting through what might have happened is interesting, but we will never know the truth until the federal government releases more evidence regarding what prompted the two FBI inquiries in the first place. And the analysis at this point is lacking some important considerations. First of all, someone in the Obama administration had to make the extremely politically sensitive decision to secretly investigate the campaign manager of the Republican Party’s nominee when the surveillance was renewed in summer 2016. Obama has denied that he did any such thing and a Justice Department investigation has asserted that there was no evidence of any Trump Tower surveillance. But put aside the lawyerly language, and it becomes clear that while Obama might not have personally approved the eavesdropping, someone in his White House surely did. And as for the Justice Department, evidence can easily be destroyed or erased or never recorded in the first place.

It has also been claimed that FISA warrants are only issued when there is significant probable cause that a crime has been committed, meaning that Manafort “must have done something,” but the fact is that nearly all FISA requests are approved and few of them result in actual prosecution. FISA warrants are also top secret and exposing them is a felony. The fact that the details of FISA involvement with Manafort vis-à-vis Ukraine leaked to the media shortly after the investigation was reopened in 2016 is suggestive. It eventually forced Manafort to resign, embarrassing Trump. And the fact that stories damaging to Trump based on classified information are continuing to appear in the media is yet another indication that the war of the leaks against the current administration is continuing. Since the leakers and other government officials cited in the media coverage are anonymous, allegations of guilt or innocence should be considered with some skepticism.

Finally, and possibly most important, the Manafort case from start to finish demonstrates once again that the unitary executive concept that has prevailed in the White House since 2001 is alive and well. A White House team dedicated to getting its candidate elected can and will use all the mechanisms of power that are at hand to achieve that goal, including surveilling and digging up dirt on a political opponent. The possible misuse of the FBI and the FISA court is in some ways even worse that Richard Nixon’s Watergate, since Nixon mostly used non-government resources to corrupt the process while the Manafort investigation has taken corruption up a notch, employing federal agencies acting in secret during a hotly contested electoral campaign.

The corruption of the American political process is obvious if assumptions about a White House role in wiretapping Manafort turn out to be true. Will anyone who runs for higher office in the future want to be confronted by executive power acting secretly through the law enforcement and intelligence services to discredit him or her, as well as a large and widening group of family and associates? It is a hostile winnowing process that many potentially good candidates would not want to endure. It is also manifestly an abuse of power. Some believe that Mueller is conducting something a witch hunt that is at its heart politically motivated. If true, it will eventually become clear. Meanwhile Manafort, who has fully cooperated with the investigations into his involvement in Russiagate, is innocent until proven guilty.

Philip Giraldi, a former CIA officer, is executive director of the Council for the National Interest.

(Republished from The American Conservative by permission of author or representative)
 
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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.


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