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The Jewish state is no friend
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I am often asked why I have this “thing” about Israel, with friends suggesting that I would be much more respected as a pundit if I were to instead concentrate on national security and political corruption. The problem with that formulation is that the so-called “special relationship” with Israel is itself the result of terrible national security and foreign policy choices that is sustained by pervasive political and media corruption, so any honest attempt to examine the one inevitably leads to the other. Most talking heads in the media avoid that dilemma by choosing to completely ignore the dark side of Israel.

Israel – not Russia – is the one foreign country that can interfere with impunity with the political processes in the United States yet it is immune from criticism. It is also the single most significant threat to genuine national security as it and its powerful domestic lobby have been major advocates for the continuation of America’s interventionist warfare state. The decision to go to war on false pretenses against Iraq, largely promoted by a cabal of prominent American Jews in the Pentagon and in the media, killed 4,424 Americans as well as hundreds of thousands Iraqis and will wind up costing the American taxpayer $7 trillion dollars when all the bills are paid. That same group of mostly Jewish neocons more-or-less is now agitating to go to war with Iran using a game plan for escalation prepared by Israel which will, if anything, prove even more catastrophic.

And I can go on from there. According to the FBI, Israel runs the most aggressive spying operations against the U.S. among ostensibly “friendly” nations, frequently stealing our military technology for resale by its own arms merchants. Its notable successes in espionage have included the most devastating spy in U.S. history Jonathan Pollard, while it has also penetrated American communications systems and illegally obtained both the fuel and the triggers for its own secret nuclear weapons arsenal.

Israel cares little for American sovereignty. It’s prime ministers Ariel Sharon and Benjamin Netanyahu have both boasted how they control the United States. In 2001, Israel was running a massive secret spying operation directed against Arabs in the U.S. Many in the intelligence and law enforcement communities suspect that it had considerable prior intelligence regarding the 9/11 plot but did not share it with Washington. There was the spectacle of the “dancing Shlomos,” Israeli “movers” from a company in New Jersey who apparently had advanced knowledge of the terrorist attack and danced and celebrated as they watched the Twin Towers go down.

Jewish power, both in terms of money and of access to people and mechanisms that really matter, is what allows Israel to act with impunity, making the United States both poorer and more insecure. A well-funded massive lobbying effort involving hundreds of groups and thousands of individuals in the U.S. has worked to the detriment of actual American interests, in part by creating a permanent annual gift of billions of dollars to Israel for no other reason but that it is Israel and can get anything it wants from a servile Congress and White House without any objection from a controlled media.

Israel has also obtained carte blanche political protection from the U.S. in fora like the United Nations, which is damaging to America’s reputation and its actual interests. This protection now extends to the basing of U.S. troops in Israel to serve as a tripwire, guaranteeing that Washington will become involved if Israel is ever attacked or even if Israel itself starts a war. The current U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. Nikki Haley is little more than a shill for Israel while America’s Ambassador in Israel David Friedman is an open supporter of Israel’s illegal settlements, which the U.S. opposes, who spends much of his time defending Israeli war crimes.

And here on the home front Israel is doing damage that might be viewed as even more grave in Senator Ben Cardin’s attempt to destroy First Amendment rights by making any criticism of Israel illegal. The non-violent Israel Boycott movement (BDS) has already been sanctioned in many states, the result of intensive and successful lobbying by the Israeli government and its powerful friends.

So if there is a real enemy of the United States in terms of the actual damage being inflicted by a foreign power, it is Israel. In the recent Russiagate investigations it was revealed that it was Israel, not Russia, that sought favors from Michael Flynn and the incoming Trump Administration yet Special Counsel Robert Mueller has evidently not chosen to go down that road with his investigations, which should surprise no one.

Noam Chomsky, iconic progressive intellectual, has finally come around on the issue of Israel and what it means. He has always argued somewhat incoherently that Israeli misbehavior has been due to its role as a tool of American imperialism and capitalism. At age 89, he has finally figured out that it is actually all about what a parasitic Israel wants without any regard for its American host, observing on “Democracy Now” that

..take, say, the huge issue of interference in our pristine elections. Did the Russians interfere in our elections? An issue of overwhelming concern in the media. I mean, in most of the world, that’s almost a joke. First of all, if you’re interested in foreign interference in our elections, whatever the Russians may have done barely counts or weighs in the balance as compared with what another state does, openly, brazenly and with enormous support. Israeli intervention in U.S. elections vastly overwhelms anything the Russians may have done… I mean, even to the point where the prime minister of Israel, Netanyahu, goes directly to Congress, without even informing the president, and speaks to Congress, with overwhelming applause, to try to undermine the president’s policies – what happened with Obama and Netanyahu in 2015….

Politicians are terrified of crossing the Jewish lobby by saying anything negative about Israel, which means that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu always gets a pass from the American government, even when he starves civilians and bombs hospitals and schools. Netanyahu uses snipers to shoot dead scores of unarmed demonstrators and the snipers themselves joke about their kills without a peep from Washington, which styles itself the “leader of the free world.”

Just recently, Israel has declared itself a Jewish State with all that implies. To be sure, Israeli Christians and Muslims were already subject to a battery of laws and regulations that empowered Jews at their expense but now it is the guiding principle that Israel will be run for the benefit of Jews and Jews alone. And it still likes to call itself a “democracy.”

 
Is resettling a terrorist front group in the West a good idea?
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When is a terrorist group not a terrorist group? Apparently the answer is that it ceases to be terrorist when it terrorizes someone who is an enemy of the United States. The most prominent recent example is the Mujaheddin e Khalq (MEK), a murderous Iranian Marxist cult which assassinated five Americans in the 1970s as part of its campaign against the Shah’s government. It was removed from the State Department terrorist list in 2012 by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton after it had promised not to kill any more Americans but really because it had bought the support of prominent politicians to include Elaine Chao, Rudy Giuliani, Newt Gingrich, and John Bolton. It also had the behind the scenes endorsement of both the Israeli Mossad and CIA, both of whom have been using it in their operations to kill Iranians and damage the country’s infrastructure. Someone high up in the federal government, perhaps Hillary or even President Obama himself, must have decided that terrorists who kill only Iranians deserve a get out of jail free card from the State Department.

There are other examples of cynical doublespeak from the Syrian conflict, including labeling rebels against the Damascus government “freedom fighters” when in reality they were as often as not allied with the al-Qaeda affiliated group Al-Nusra or even with ISIS. Frequently they received training and weapons from Washington only to turn around and either join Al-Nusra and ISIS as volunteers or surrender their weapons to them.

But perhaps there is no bigger fraud making the rounds than the so-called White Helmets. The recent media coverage derives from the documentary The White Helmets, which was produced by the group itself and tells a very convincing tale promoted as “the story of real-life heroes and impossible hope.” It is a very impressive piece of propaganda, so much so that it has won numerous awards including the Oscar for Best Documentary Short last 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, describing the government in Damascus in purely negative terms.

The fawning Hollywood and Congressional depictions of the group go something like this: “the White Helmets are an ‘heroic’ impartial non-government humanitarian volunteer group that engages in ‘first response’ emergency rescue and medical treatment for all those who have been impacted by the fighting in Syria. The Syrian government hates the group because it assists victims of the fighting who are either rebels or living in rebel held areas. Recently, with the Syrian Army closing in on the last White Helmet affiliates still operating in the country, the Israeli government, assisted by the United States, staged an emergency humanitarian evacuation of the group’s members and their families to Israel and then on to Jordan.”

Virtually all the mainstream media coverage of the White Helmets is bogus, but by far the most ridiculous account of the Exodus from Syria came from the BBC. For those who are not familiar with it, the BBC, which once upon a time had a reputation for journalistic integrity, has become one of the worst pro-government propaganda shills of all time. Reading its articles is even worse that having a similar go at The Washington Post, which is the prime newspaper exemplar of fake news and phony journalism pretending to be a respectable news source in the United States. Let’s face it, Donald Trump has a point. Nearly all of the mainstream media lies persistently these days but some sources are worse than others. People complain about Fox, and rightly so, but CNN is the absolute pits when it comes to slanting its coverage, as is MSNBC.

BBC’s article is entitled Syria conflict: White Helmets evacuated by Israel. It makes the following statements, many coming directly from Israeli official sources, regarding the White Helmets, its activities and the group’s relationship to some governments, to include Britain:

  • “The IDF said they had ‘completed a humanitarian effort to rescue members of a Syrian civil organization and their families’, saying there was an ‘immediate threat to their lives.’ The transfer of the displaced Syrians through Israel was an exceptional humanitarian gesture.”
  • “Although Israel is not directly involved in the Syria conflict, the two countries have been in a state of war for decades. Despite the intervention, the IDF said that ‘Israel continues to maintain a non-intervention policy regarding the Syrian conflict.’”
  • “A statement from Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt and International Development Secretary Penny Mordaunt said: ‘White Helmets have been the target of attacks and, due to their high profile, we judged that, in these particular circumstances, the volunteers required immediate protection. We pay tribute to the brave and selfless work that White Helmet volunteers have done to save Syrians on all sides of the conflict.’”
  • “Their official name is the Syrian Civil Defense and it began in early 2013 as an organization of volunteers from all walks of life, including electricians and builders. Its main task soon became to rescue civilians in war zones in the immediate aftermath of air strikes, and it says its volunteers have saved the lives of more than 100,000 people during the civil war.”

The BBC story could have been written by the White Helmets themselves or by their press department. Or alternatively by the Israeli Foreign Ministry. First of all, the Israelis do not do humanitarian gestures. They helped bail out the White Helmets at the request of the U.S. because capture by the Syrians would have produced embarrassing revelations about how the group was funded and what its affiliation with terrorists was all about. And Israel’s denial of involvement in Syria is nonsense, unless one considers demonstrated collaboration with the terrorist groups punctuated by nearly weekly bombing and missile attacks to be non-involvement.

The British too are into the deception up to their eyeballs. The comment by Hunt and Mordaunt is complete fabrication regarding what the White Helmets represent. The same goes for the BBC account of how the group developed, which comes directly from the White Helmet’s own propaganda division as amplified by Hollywood and the U.S. and U.K. governments.

Just as important as what is said about the White Helmets’ activities is the exclusion of a great deal of credible negative reporting on the group. The carefully edited scenes of heroism under fire that have been filmed and released worldwide conceal 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.

 
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Sometimes what comes out of Congress is so revolting that it begs for a response. Here is a link to Congressman Ron DeSantis of Florida, currently running for state governor, taking down Democratic candidate for Congress Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, whom he refers to “this girl Ocasio-Cortez or whatever she is.” You note that it is all about Israel when he whines that “She was actually complaining about the occupation of Palestine by Is rael.” He goes on to say that Palestine never existed and that Israel is “one of our best allies.” No Ron, Israel is actually one of your best allies as it has never done anything for the United States but take our money, steal our technology and start wars that we get sucked into. It is always all about Israel for ambitious clowns like DeSantis.

Ron has hitched his wagon to the Israeli star. Here is what Wikipedia has to say about him: “DeSantis accused President Barack Obama of giving better treatment of Cuba’s Raul Castro and Iran’s Ayatollah Ali Khamenei than of Israel’s Benjamin Netanyahu. In 2013, DeSantis introduced the Palestinian Accountability Act, which would halt U.S. aid to the Palestinian Authority until it formally recognizes Israel’s right to exist as a Jewish state and cuts off all ties with the terror group Hamas. In 2016, DeSantis co-introduced the Non-Discrimination of Israel in Labeling Act, which will defend the right of Israeli producers to label products manufactured in the West Bank as ‘Israel’, ‘Made in Israel’, or ‘Product of Israel’.”

Good to hear that Ron is actively protecting Israel. Several survivors of the USS Liberty, attacked by Israel in 1967, live in Ron’s congressional district. They report that he has been completely unsympathetic to their efforts to finally have a genuine board of inquiry look into the Israeli attack, which killed 34 Americans and wounded 171 more. No surprise there. Ron knows who owns him.

 
Following the Israeli model?
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So President Donald Trump reckoned on Monday that the United States Intelligence Community (IC) just might be wrong in its assessment that Russia had sought to interfere in the 2016 U.S. election but then decided on Tuesday that he misspoke and had the greatest confidence in the IC and now agrees that they were correct in their judgment. But Donald Trump, interestingly, added something about there being “others” that also had been involved in the election in an attempt to subvert it, though he was not specific and the national media has chosen not to pursue the admittedly cryptic comment. He was almost certainly referring to China both due to possible motive and the possession of the necessary resources to carry out such an operation. Indeed, there are reports that China hacked the 30,000 Hillary Clinton emails that are apparently still missing.

Just how one interferes in an election in a large country with diverse sources of information and numerous polling stations located in different states using different systems is, of course, problematical. The United States has interfered in elections everywhere, including in Russia under Boris Yeltsin. It engaged in regime change in Iran, Chile, and Guatemala by supporting conservative elements in the military which obligingly staged coups. In Iraq and Afghanistan, U.S. forces invaded and overthrew the governments while in Libya the change in regime was largely brought about by encouraging rebels while bombing government forces. The same model has been applied in Syria, though without much success because Damascus actually was bold enough to resist.

So how do the Chinese “others” bring about “change” short of a full-scale invasion by the People’s Liberation Army? I do not know anything about actual Chinese plans to interfere in future American elections and gain influence over the resulting newly elected government but would like to speculate on just how they might go about that onerous task.

First, I would build up an infrastructure in the United States that would have access to the media and be able to lobby and corrupt the political class. That would be kind of tricky as it would require getting around the Foreign Agent Registration Act of 1938 (FARA), which requires representatives of foreign governments operating in the United States to register and have their finances subject to review by the Department of the Treasury. Most recently, several Russian news agencies that are funded by the Putin government have been required to do so, including RT International and Sputnik radio and television.

The way to avoid the FARA registration requirement is to have all funding come through Chinese-American sources that are not directly connected with the government in Beijing. Further, the foundations and other organizations should be set up as having an educational purpose rather than a political agenda. You might want to call your principal lobbying group something like the American Chinese Political Action Committee or ACPAC as an acronym when one is referring to it shorthand.

Once established, ACPAC will hire and send hundreds of Chinese-American lobbyists to Capitol Hill when Congress is in session. They will be carefully selected to come from as many states and congressional districts as possible to maximize access to legislative offices. They will have with them position papers prepared by the ACPAC central office that explain why a close and uncritical relationship with Beijing is not only the right thing to do, it is also a good thing for the United States.

As part of the process, new Congressmen will benefit from free trips to China paid for by an educational foundation set up for that purpose. They will be able to walk on the Great Wall and speak to genuine representative Chinese who will tell them how wonderful everything is in the People’s Republic.

Congressmen who nevertheless appear to be resistant to the lobbying and the emoluments will be confronted with a whole battery of alternative reasons why they should be filo-Chinese, including the thinly veiled threat that to behave otherwise could be construed as politically damaging anti-Orientalist racism. For those who persist in their obduracy, the ultimate weapon will be citation of the horrors of the Second World War Rape of Nanking. No one wants to be accused of being a Rape of Nanking denier.

The second phase of converting Congress is to set up a bunch of Political Action Committees (PACs). They will have innocuous names like Rocky Mountain Sheep Herders Association, but they will all really be about China. When the money begins to flow into the campaign coffers of legislators any concerns about what China is doing in the world will cease. The same PACs can be use to fund billboards and voter outreach in some districts, allowing China to have a say in the elections without actually having to surface or be explicit about whom it supports. Other PACs can work hard at inserting material into social websites, similar to what the Russians have been accused of doing.

And then there is the mass media. Using the same Chinese-American conduit, you would simply buy up controlling interests in newspapers and other media outlets. And you would begin staffing those outlets with earnest young Chinese-Americans who will be highly protective of Chinese interests and never write a story critical of the government in Beijing or the Chinese people. That way the American public will eventually become so heavily propagandized by the prevailing narrative that they will never question anything that China does, ideally beginning to refer to it as the “only democracy in Asia” and “America’s best friend in the whole wide world.” Once the indoctrination process is completed, the Chinese leadership might even crush demonstrators with tanks in Tiananmen Square or line up snipers to pick off protest leaders and no congressman or newspaper would dare say nay.

When the political classes and media are sufficiently under control, it would then be time to move to the final objective: the dismantling of the United States Constitution. In particularly, there is that pesky Bill of Rights and the First Amendment guaranteeing Free Speech. That would definitely have to go, so you round up your tame Congress critters and you elect a president who is also in your pocket, putting everything in place for the “slam-dunk.” You pass a battery of laws making any criticism of China both racist and felonious, with punitive fines and prison sentences attached. After that success, you can begin to dismantle the rest of the Bill of Rights and no one will be able to say a word against what you are doing because the First Amendment will by then be a dead duck. When the Constitution is in shreds and Chinese lobbyists are firmly in control of corrupted legislators, Beijing will have won a bloodless victory against the United States and it all began with just a little interference in America’s politics alluded to by Donald Trump.

 
The darling of the war party needs to answer some questions
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At the press conference following their summit meeting in Helsinki, Russian President Vladimir Putin and American President Donald Trump discussed the possibility of resolving potential criminal cases involving citizens of the two countries by permitting interrogators from Washington and Moscow to participate in joint questioning of the individuals named in indictments prepared by the respective judiciaries. The predictable response by the American nomenklatura was that it was a horrible idea as it would potentially require U.S. officials to answer questions from Russians about their activities.

Putin argued, not unreasonably, that if Washington wants to extradite and talk to any of the twelve recently indicted GRU officers the Justice Department has named then reciprocity is in order for Americans and other identified individuals who are wanted by the Russian authorities for illegal activity while in Russia. And if Russian officials are fair game, so are American officials.

A prime target for such an interrogation would be President Barack Obama’s Ambassador to Russia Michael McFaul, who was widely criticized while in Moscow for being on an apparent mission to cultivate ties with the Russian political opposition and other “pro-democracy” groups. But McFaul was not specifically identified in the press conference, though Russian prosecutors have asked him to answer questions related to the ongoing investigation of another leading critic, Bill Browder, who was named by Putin during the question and answer session. Browder is a major hedge fund figure who, inter alia, is an American by birth. He renounced his U.S. citizenship in 1997 in exchange for British citizenship to avoid paying federal taxes on his worldwide income.

Bill Browder is what used to be referred to as an oligarch, having set up shop in 1999 as Hermitage Capital Management Fund, a hedge fund registered in tax havens Guernsey and the Cayman Islands. It focused on “investing” in Russia, taking advantage initially of the loans-for-shares scheme under Russia’s drunkard President Boris Yeltsin, and then continuing to profit greatly during the early years of Vladimir Putin. By 2005 Hermitage was the largest foreign investor in Russia.

Yeltsin had won a fraudulent election in 1996 supported by the oligarch-controlled media and by President Bill Clinton, who secured a $20.2 billion IMF loan that enabled him to buy support. Today we would refer to Clinton’s action as “interference in the 1996 election,” but at that time a helpless and bankrupt Russia was not well placed to object to what was being done to it. Yeltsin proved keen to follow oligarchical advice regarding how to strip the former Soviet Union of its vast state-owned assets. Browder’s Hermitage Investments profited hugely from the commodities deals that were struck at that time.

Browder and his apologists portray him as an honest and honorable Western businessman attempting to operate in a corrupt Russian business world. Nevertheless, the loans-for-shares scheme that made him his initial fortune has been correctly characterized as the epitome of corruption by all parties involved, an arrangement whereby foreign investors worked with local oligarchs to strip the former Soviet economy of its assets paying pennies on each dollar of value. Along the way, Browder was reportedly involved in money laundering, making false representations on official documents and bribery.

Browder was eventually charged by the Russian authorities for fraud and tax evasion. He was banned from re-entering Russia in 2005 and began to withdraw his assets from the country, but three companies controlled by Hermitage were eventually seized by the authorities. Browder himself was convicted of tax evasion in absentia in 2013 and sentenced to nine years in prison.

Browder, who refers to himself as Putin’s “public enemy #1,” has notably been able to sell his tale of innocence to leading American politicians like Senators John McCain, Lindsay Graham, Ben Cardin and ex-Senator Joe Lieberman, all of whom are always receptive when criticizing Russia, as well as to a number of European parliamentarians and media outlets. In the wake of the Helsinki press conference he has, for example, claimed that Putin named him personally because he is a threat to continue to expose the crimes of the mafia that he claims is currently running Russia, but there is, inevitably, another less discussed alternative view of his self-serving narrative.

Central to the tale of what Browder really represents is the Magnitsky Act, which the U.S. Congress passed into law to sanction individual Kremlin officials for their treatment of alleged whistleblower Sergei Magnitsky, arrested and imprisoned in Russia. Browder has sold a narrative which basically says that he and his “lawyer” Sergei Magnitsky uncovered massive tax fraud and, when they attempted to report it, were punished by a corrupt police force and magistracy, which had actually stolen the money. Magnitsky was arrested and died in prison, allegedly murdered by the police to silence him.

The Magnitsky case is of particular importance because both the European Union and the United States have initiated sanctions against the identified Russian officials who were allegedly involved. In the Magnitsky Act, sponsored by Russia-phobic Senator Ben Cardin and signed by President Barack Obama in 2012, the U.S. asserted its willingness to punish foreign governments for human rights abuses. The Act, initially limited to Russia, has now been expanded by virtue of 2016’s Global Magnitsky Act, which enabled U.S. sanctions worldwide.

Russia reacted angrily to the first iteration of the Act, noting that the actions taken by its government internally, notably the operation of its judiciary, were being subjected to outside interference, while other judicial authorities also questioned Washington’s claimed right to respond to criminal acts committed outside the United States. Moscow reciprocated with sanctions against U.S. officials as well as by increasing pressure on foreign non-governmental pro-democracy groups operating in Russia. Some have referred to the Magnitsky Act as the start of the new Cold War.

The contrary narrative to that provided by Browder concedes that there was indeed a huge fraud related to as much as $230 million in unpaid Russian taxes on an estimated $1.5 billion of income, but that it was not carried out by corrupt officials. Instead, it was deliberately ordered and engineered by Browder with Magnitsky, who was actually an accountant, personally developing and implementing the scheme, using multiple companies and tax avoidance schemes to carry out the deception. Magnitsky, who was on cardiac medication, was indeed arrested and convicted, but he, according to his own family, reportedly died due to his heart condition, possibly exacerbated by negligent authorities who failed to medicate him adequately when he became ill.

 
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There are a number of elements in the recent release of an indictment of twelve named alleged Russian military intelligence GRU officers by Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein looking into possible ties between Moscow and the Trump Administration that I find either implausible or even incoherent. But before considering that, it is necessary to consider the context of the announcement.

The Department of Justice, which had, based on evidence already revealed, actually interfered in the 2016 election more that Moscow could possibly have done, continued in that proud tradition by releasing the indictment three days before President Donald Trump was due to meet with Russian President Vladimir Putin. The Helsinki Summit between the two leaders was critically important to anyone interested in preserving the planet Earth as we know it and there was no reason at all to release a non-time sensitive document that was clearly intended to cast a shadow over the proceedings. In fact, the surfacing of the indictment might easily be explained as a deliberate attempt by a politicized Justice Department and Special Counsel Robert Mueller to torpedo President Trump over concerns that he might actually come to some understanding with Putin.

The 30-page long indictment is full of painstaking details about alleged Russian involvement but it makes numerous assertions that the reader is required to accept on faith because there is little or no evidence provided to back up the claims and the claims themselves could be false trails set up by any number of hostile intelligence services to implicate Moscow. From an intelligence officer’s point of view, there are even some significant areas where operational implausibility completely undermines the case being made.

The indictment identifies by name and position the twelve alleged GRU officers who “knowingly and intentionally conspired with each other, and with persons known and unknown to the Grand Jury (collectively the ‘Conspirators’), to gain unauthorized access (to ‘hack’) into the computers of US persons and entities involved in the 2016 US presidential election, steal documents from those computers, and stage releases of the stolen documents to interfere with the 2016 US presidential election.”

All twelve alleged GRU officers are described in detail, together with the cover mechanisms they reportedly used and the targets they pursued. But they are all in Russia and there is virtually no chance that they will be extradited to stand trial in Washington, which was certainly understood when the indictment was prepared. That means the “facts” as stated in the document will never be subjected to the normal judicial review process or discovery that takes place whenever someone is accused of a crime, which in turn means that information contained in the indictment will never be challenged.

The document itself also provides no information on how the Russian officers and their positions were identified, which suggests that it could have been a US hack or agent in place, either run by CIA or NSA, that came up with a list of those individuals connected to GRU cyber operations. That would be information involving sources and methods, codeword protected material beyond Top Secret.

If the GRU list is authentic, it would expose US ability to penetrate that organization, leading to Moscow tightening up security to the detriment of American intelligence. But it might alternatively be suggested that the drafters needed a group of plausible Russians and used a generic list provided by either CIA or NSA to come up with the culprits and then used those identities and the detailed information regarding them to provide credibility to their account. What they did not do, however, is provide the actual evidence connecting the individuals to the “hack/interference” or to connect the same to the Russian government. If the information in the indictment is completely accurate, which may not be the case, there is some suggestion that alleged Moscow linked proxies may have deliberately sought to undermine the campaign of Hillary Clinton to favor Bernie Sanders, but absolutely no evidence that they did anything to help Donald Trump.

Beyond what is or is not contained in the document itself, there is a clear misunderstanding regarding how a sophisticated intelligence organization, which certainly includes the GRU, operates. If there had been a large-scale Kremlin sanctioned plan to disrupt the US election, it would not be run by twelve identifiable GRU officers working with what appears to be only limited cover and resources. If the facts are correct, the activity might have been a routine probing, collecting and selective dissemination of information effort that all intelligence agencies engage in. The United States does so routinely in many countries, interfering in elections worldwide, far more than Russia with its limited resources, and even carrying out regime change.

If the Kremlin’s objective were truly to undermine American democracy, a task that is already being undertaken very ably by the GOP and Democrats, hundreds of officers would be involved, all working under deep cover and operating securely out of dispersed sites. And no one involved would be using computers connected to networks that could be penetrated to enable personal identification or discovery of the ultimate source of the activity. Everyone would be working in alias on stand-alone machines and the transmission of information would be done using cut-outs to break any chain of custody. A cut-out might consist of using thumb drives to transmit information from one computer to another, for example. There would be no sending or receiving of information by channels that could be identified by NSA or CIA and compromised.

So the idea that the United States government identified twelve culprits who were responsible for trying to overthrow American democracy is by any measure ludicrous, if indeed there was a major plan to disrupt the election at all. The indictment is little more than a political document seeking to undermine any effort by Donald Trump to establish rapprochement with Vladimir Putin. It will also serve to give fuel to the Democrats, who are still at a loss to understand what happened to Hillary Clinton, and Republican hawks like John McCain, Lindsay Graham, Jeff Flake and Ben Sasse who persist in seeking to refight the Cold War. As Donald Trump and Vladimir Putin said in their Helsinki press conference, the coming together of the leaders of the world’s two most powerful nuclear armed countries is too important an opportunity to let pass. Cold Warriors in Washington should take note.

 
• Category: Foreign Policy • Tags: Deep State, Donald Trump, Neocons, Russia 
Shaping a story to fit the agenda
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Poisoning enemies has a long history with Augustus Caesar’s wife Livia allegedly a master of the art, as were the Borgias in Renaissance Italy. Lately there has been a resurgence in allegations regarding the use of poisons of various types by several governments. The claims are particularly damaging both morally and legally as international conventions regard the use of poisonous chemical compounds as particularly heinous, condemning their use because they, when employed in quantity, become “weapons of mass destruction,” killing indiscriminately and horribly, making no distinction between combatants and civilians. Their use is considered to be a “war crime” and the government officials who ordered their deployment are “war criminals,” subject to prosecution by the International Criminal Court in The Hague.

There are two important poisoning stories that have made the news recently. Both are follow-ups to reporting that has appeared in the news over the past few months and both are particularly interesting because they tend to repudiate earlier coverage that had been largely accepted by several governments as well as the media and the chattering class of paid experts that appears on television.

The first story relates to the poisoning of former Russian intelligence agent Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia in March. There was quite a bit that was odd about the Skripal case, which relied from the start “…on circumstantial evidence and secret intelligence.” And there was inevitably a rush to judgment. British Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson blamed Russia less than forty-eight hours after the Skripals were found unconscious on a bench in Salisbury England, too soon for any chemical analysis of the alleged poisoning to have taken place.

British Prime Minister Theresa May threw gasoline on the fire when she addressed Parliament shortly thereafter to blame the Kremlin and demand a Russian official response to the event in 36 hours, declaring that the apparent poisoning was “very likely” caused by a made-in-Russia nerve agent referred to by its generic name novichok. The British media was soon on board with a vengeance, spreading the government line that such a highly sensitive operation would require the approval of President Vladimir Putin himself. The expulsion of Russian diplomats soon followed with the United States and other countries following suit.

Repeated requests by Russia to obtain a sample of the alleged nerve agent for testing were rejected by the British government in spite of the fact that a military grade nerve agent would have surely killed both the Skripals as well as anyone else within 100 yards. As the latest British account of the location of the alleged poison places it on the door handle of the Scripals’ residence, the timetable element was also unconvincing. That meant that the two would have spent three hours, including a stop at a pub and lunch, before succumbing on a park bench. Military grade nerve agents kill instantly.

The head of Britain’s own chemical weapons facility Porton Down even contradicted claims made by May, Foreign Minister Boris Johnson, and British Ambassador in Moscow Laurie Bristow. The lab’s Chief Executive Gary Aitkenhead testified that he did not know if the nerve agent was actually produced in Russia, a not surprising observation as the chemical formula was revealed to the public in a scientific paper in 1992 and there are an estimated twenty countries capable of producing it. There are also presumed stocks of novichok remaining in independent countries that once were part of the Soviet Union, to include Russia’s enemy du jour Ukraine, while a false flag operation by the British themselves, the CIA or Mossad, is not unthinkable.

Nevertheless, the politically weak May government, desperately seeking a formidable foreign enemy to rally around against, insisted that Russia, almost certainly acting under orders from Vladimir Putin himself, carried out the killing of a former British double agent who had been released from a Kremlin prison in a spy swap and who was no longer capable of doing any damage to Russia. Putin apparently did all that in spite of the fact that he had an election coming up and would be the host of the World Cup in the summer, an event that would be an absolute top priority to have go smoothly.

Now there has been an actual death in Amesbury near Salisbury that has been attributed to novichok. On June 30th, Charlie Rowley and Dawn Sturgess were admitted to hospital after being found unconscious. Sturgess died eight days later. The May government has not yet blamed it on Putin or even on a clumsy Russian operative that might have inadvertently left behind a vial of poison or a used syringe, though Home Secretary Sajid Javid came close to that when he suggested that Russia was using Britain as a “dumping ground for poisons.” Police suggestions that the poisoned couple appear to have handled novichok infused material of some kind before succumbing appears to be contradicted by inability to find the actual source of the alleged exposure.

British government dancing around the issue notwithstanding, there have been suggestions that the closest source of more novichok might well be the U.K. government labs at nearby Porton Down, only seven miles from Salisbury and Amesbury, which increases suspicion about the original story promulgated by Downing Street. Would the British government actually poison an expendable ex-Russian spy and his daughter to divert attention from a domestic political problem at home? It’s worth considering as the “blame it all on Putin narrative” becomes even less credible.

The second story comes from Syria, where there is also a Russian hand as Moscow is aiding the government of Bashar al-Assad. The by now notorious April 7, 2018 alleged chemical attack on the rebel-held Syrian city of Douma was widely blamed by Western countries and the mainstream media on Assad’s forces. This resulted in a decision by U.S. President Donald Trump to order massive U.S.-led retaliatory airstrikes against targets reportedly involved in chemical production in and around Damascus.

Trump blamed “animal Assad” for “using nerve agents” and both the media and most European governments followed that line, concluding that Damascus had ordered the chemical attacks a mere moments after videos purporting to show scores of chemical attack victims first surfaced from rebel sources, long before U.S. intelligence could have made its own assessment. A 5-page White House assessment released on April 13th, just days after the alleged attack asserted that sarin was used at Douma, claiming that “A significant body of information points to the regime using chlorine in its bombardment of Duma, while some additional information points to the regime also using the nerve agent sarin.”

 
No understanding in the White House of what might come next
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President Donald Trump makes a point of insisting that he has nothing against the Iranian people and is only interested in opposing what he regards as the dangerous activities of their government, but his own record in office belies that claim. It is clear that what he is trying to do is put pressure on the people of Iran to rise up and force a change in government, a process otherwise referred to as regime change. Indeed, if one is to believe Trump confidant Rudy Giuliani, the White House is now committed to “bring down the Iranian regime.” He added that “The collapse of the Islamic Republic of Iran is around the corner.”

Giuliani was addressing a Paris meeting of the National Council of Resistance of Iran at the end of June, the political front group for the terrorist Mujahideen-e-Khalq, for which he has been a frequent paid speaker. This dream of an abrupt transition in government is a fantasy project that is widely held within neoconservative and pro-Israel circles in Washington, to include Giuliani, and it very often is invoked as part of what is sometimes referred to as the “Obama betrayal,” which posits that if President Barack Obama had actively supported so-called “green” reformers in the Iranian election of 2013, they might have actually won. That supposition greatly inflates the actual support for the reformers at that time and also currently, confusing a largely civil rights movement with a unified political party.

Obama then went on to sign the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) nuclear agreement with Iran, which has been a target of joint Israeli and neocon wrath ever since. Trump, of course, has risen to the bait and has withdrawn the United States from the deal, also reintroducing both general and targeted sanctions as well as seeking to ban the sale of Iranian oil worldwide.

Unfortunately, as is so often the case, Trump and his advisers, certainly to include National Security Adviser John Bolton, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley and Senior Adviser for Policy Stephen Miller, are engaging in the wrong tactics to bring about any what might reasonably be regarded positive changes to moderate the grip of Iran’s Supreme Religious Council and are instead hardening domestic popular support for the government through the threats and sanctions which ultimately accomplish little more than punishing the Iranian people.

Oddly, the White House seems unaware of the fact that Iran is neither Libya nor Iraq. It has a strong and historic national identity that means that it does and will resist being bullied by outside powers, including the “leader of the free world” United States. The neocon and pro-Israel script that has evidently taken control of Trump pushes all the wrong buttons as it basically employs an increasing number and severity of sanctions to seek to wreck the economy and create discord in Iran that will eventually bring people out into the streets in large numbers. That means in practice using not only sanctions that selectively targeting “bad guys” like the Revolutionary Guards but also benign institutions that exist to maintain social stability inside the country.

Reports from inside Iran suggest that the renewed and additional sanctions are already hurting the Iranian people while at the same time having little impact on the government commitment to remain in Syria, which is the principal bone of contention at the moment vis-à-vis the joint U.S./Israeli/Saudi grossly exaggerated and self-serving assessment of what Iran may or may not be doing to destabilize the Middle East.

Two organizations which have recently come under sustained attack by the neocons and their allies are the “Execution of Imam Khomeini’s Order” (EIKO) and its associated Barakat Foundation. The EIKO’s principal mission is to help poor families in Iran and to perform other charitable works, but it has been assailed as a major economic resource controlled by the Supreme Religious Leader Ayatollah Khamenei’s office, which misrepresents how the foundation is organized and functions.

Leading the charge against EIKO, inevitably, has been renowned neocon Canadian import and Iranophobe Mark Dubowitz, Chief Executive of the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies (FDD), who has described how the Iranian leadership controls a vast business empire which must be targeted with U.S. sanctions to punish the government and strip it of the resources available to make mischief.

This campaign, spearheaded by Dubowitz and his associate Saeed Ghasseminejad, has been going on since Trump was elected, with the folks at FDD confident they had a friend in the White House.

Other outlets in the pro-neocon-inclined and friendly to Israel media have also picked up on the theme that Iran must be the target of what amounts to economic warfare. The National Interest recently ran an article advocating the imposition of oil sanctions on Iran in general while also targeting EIKO in particular in order to “change Iran’s behavior,” which is presumed by the authors to be very bad though without any real explanation of why that is so.

And the U.S. Congress is also in on the act. As is nearly always the case, the U.S. House of Representative’s Oversight and Government Reform Committee’s subcommittee on National Security sought expert testimony on how to punish Iran but only looked for speakers who were inclined to take a hard line. They received that kind of enlightenment from the FDD’s own Richard Goldberg, who is hardly a disinterested observer on the subject.

Goldberg begins by making his case for bipartisan ire directed against Tehran, gushing about how “[he] had the privilege to work with many talented people – Democrats and Republicans – who shared a passion for keeping America and our allies safe from the long list of threats posed by the Islamic Republic of Iran. Together, we put forward numerous bipartisan bills to increase the pressure on Iran. …It is my sincere hope that we can find a way to resuscitate the bipartisan spirit that once infused this important national security issue.”

Goldberg, who is a bit vague on exactly what kind of “long list of threats” Iran represents, was senior foreign policy adviser to Israel-firster hawk former Senator Mark Kirk of Illinois. He celebrates in his FDD bio how “[he] was instrumental in the deployment of a U.S. missile defense radar to the Negev Desert – the first-ever full-time deployment of U.S. forces in Israel. In the Senate, Rich emerged as a leading architect of the toughest sanctions imposed on the Islamic Republic of Iran. He was the lead Republican negotiator for three rounds of sanctions targeting the Central Bank of Iran, the SWIFT financial messaging service and entire sectors of the Iranian economy.”

 
Washington's spinelessness enables Israeli brutality
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I have just spent a couple of days in New York City. Returning to Virginia on Wednesday morning, I had a somewhat strange experience. I cleared through my emails before leaving the hotel and also read through a number of the featured news articles. One, in particular, caught my eye. It described how the Democratic Party primary in Queens New York had returned a startling result. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez won over mainstream incumbent Joe Crowley, signaling that not everyone in the Democratic Party is buying into the Clinton model of good governance by big donors and powerful interest groups. Many want change and even a radical departure from the political game whereby media savvy pressure groups and narrow constituencies are pandered to to create a governing majority.

One paragraph in particular in the article I read was highly suggestive, the claim that Ocasio-Cortez had been strongly opposed to the Israelis’ routine slaughter of Palestinians in Gaza, which has by now become of such little import that it is not even reported any more in the U.S. media. She is also allegedly a supporter of the Boycott, Divestment and Sanction movement (BDS), which pressures Israel to end its theft and occupation of Palestinian land. The article expressed some surprise that anyone in New York City would dare to say anything unpleasant about Israel and still expect to get elected.

This is what Ocasio-Cortez, who called the shooting of more than 130 Gazans a “massacre,” actually said and wrote:

“No state or entity is absolved of mass shootings of protesters. There is no justification. Palestinian people deserve basic human dignity, as anyone else. Democrats can’t be silent about this anymore. I think I was primarily compelled [to speak out] on moral grounds because I could only imagine if 60 people were shot and killed in Ferguson. Or if 60 people were shot and killed in the West Virginia teachers’ strikes. The idea that we are not supposed to talk about people dying when they are engaging in political expression just really moved me.”

Five hours later, when I arrived home in Virginia I went to pull up the article I had read in the morning to possibly use it in a piece of my own and was somewhat surprised to discover that the bit about Israel had been excised from the text. It was clearly yet another example of how the media self-censors when there is anything negative to say about Israel and it underlines the significance of the emergence of recent international media reporting in The Guardian and elsewhere regarding how Jewish billionaire Sheldon Adelson largely dictates U.S. foreign policy in the Middle East. That means that the conspiracy of silence over Israel’s manipulation of the United States government is beginning to break down and journalists have become bold enough to challenge what occurs when pro-Israel Jews obtain real power over the political process. Adelson, for what it’s worth, wants war with Iran and has even suggested detonating a nuclear device on its soil to “send a message.”

I personally would have liked to see Ocasio-Cortez go farther, a lot farther. Israel is a place where conventional morality has been replaced by a theocratically and culturally driven sense of entitlement which has meant that anything goes when it comes to the treatment of inferior Christian and Muslim Arabs. It also means that the United States is being played for a patsy by people who believe themselves to be superior in every way to Americans.

The question of the relationship with Israel comes at a time when everyone in America, so it seems, is concerned about children being separated from their parents who have illegally crossed the border from Mexico into the United States. The concern is legitimate given the coarse and sometimes violent justifications coming out of the White House, but it’s a funny thing that Israeli abuse and even killing of Arab children is not met with the same opprobrium. When a Jewish fanatic/Israel settler kills Palestinian children and is protected by his government in so doing, where is the outrage in the U.S. media? Settlers and soldiers kill Palestinians, young and old, with impunity and are almost never punished. They destroy their orchards and livestock to eliminate their livelihoods to drive them out. They bulldoze their homes and villages. The Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency does none of that and is yet subject to nonstop abuse in the mainstream media, so what about Israel?

A recent story illustrates just how horrible the Israelis can be without any pushback whatsoever coming from Washington objecting to their behavior. As the United States is the only force that can in any way compel Israel to come to its senses and chooses not to do so, that makes U.S. policymakers and by extension the American people complicit in Israel’s crimes.

The particularly horrible recent account that I am referring to describes how fanatical Jewish settlers burned alive a Palestinian family on the West Bank, including a baby, and then celebrated the deaths while taunting the victims’ surviving family when they subsequently appeared in court. The story was covered in Israel and Europe but insofar as I could determine did not appear in any detail in the U.S. mainstream media.

Israeli Jewish settlers carried out their shameful deed outside a court in the city of Lod, chanting “’Ali was burned, where is Ali? There is no Ali. Ali is burned. On the fire. Ali is on the grill!” referring to the 18-month old baby Ali Dawabsheh, who was burnt alive in 2015 by Jewish settlers hurling Molotov cocktails into a house in the West Bank town of Duma. Ali’s mother Riham and father Saad also died of their burns and were included in the chanting “Where is Ali? Where is Riham? Where is Saad? It’s too bad Ahmed didn’t burn as well.” Five year-old Ahmed, who alone survived the attack with severe burns, will have scars for the rest of his life.

The settlers were taunting Ali’s grandfather Hussein Dawabsheh, who accompanied Ahmed, at a preliminary hearing where the court indicted a man who confessed to the murders and a minor who acted as an accomplice. A video of the chanting shows Israeli policemen standing by and doing nothing. The court appearance also revealed that there have been another Molotov cocktail attack by settlers on another Dawabsheh family house in May that may have been an attempt to silence testimony relating to the first attack. Fortunately, the family managed to escape.

 
Beam me up, Scotty!
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I thought that perhaps I had tuned into John Oliver or to Saturday Night Live in error, but no doubt about it, there was an unmistakable President Donald Trump speaking before an audience at the National Space Council. He was saying that on his own presidential authority “I’m hereby directing the Department of Defense and Pentagon to immediately begin the process necessary to establish a space force as the sixth branch of the armed forces. … We are going to have the Air Force, and we are going to have the Space Force, separate but equal.”

Before signing Space Policy Directive 3 mandating the change and abruptly departing, Trump went on to explain that “My administration is reclaiming America’s heritage as the world’s greatest space-faring nation. The essence of the American character is to explore new horizons and to tame new frontiers. But our destiny, beyond the Earth, is not only a matter of national identity, but a matter of national security. It is not enough to merely have an American presence in space. We must have American dominance in space.”

The Air Force, which already has a Space Command, will no doubt object to the new arrangement, preferring instead to roll the expanded responsibilities and money into its already existing framework. Secretary of Defense James Mattis is also reported to be against the expansion, explaining in a speech last year that “The creation of an independent Space Corps, with the corresponding institutional growth and budget implications, does not address…our nation’s fiscal problems in a responsive manner.”

And Donald Trump will have to get over a couple of bureaucratic hurdles to get his nifty new interstellar command up and running. First of all, it will require an Act of Congress to create a new branch of the military. That might not be difficult to do as the expansion is being packaged as “national security,” which Republicans will support reflexively and Democrats will also get behind not wanting to appear weak before the elections in November. And both parties will also be willing to line up to benefit from the political contributions coming from defense contractors as well as the creation of new military support facilities providing jobs in congressional districts.

And then there is the money, alluded to by Mattis. Start-up funding a new, coequal military branch would mean a huge increase in the defense budget. As long as the dollar remains the world’s reserve currency and the treasury can print money without any real backing it is possible to ride the wave, but there are currently significant challenges to the dollars survival in that role. If its supremacy ends, there goes the economy taking the unrestrained government spending with it and sinking the Space Command together with much, much more.

Major defense contractors, all of whom were present to hear Trump’s speech, were immediately seen to be drooling over the prospect of a new cash cow. And at the Pentagon champagne corks were popping at the thought of a couple of hundred new flag officer positions that will have to be invented and filled as well as the full complement of civilians to staff the bureaucracy. And think of the uniforms that will have to be distinct from those used by the other branches of the service, maybe copying those formerly in vogue on the Starship Enterprise or as seen in the movie Starship Troopers.

The reality is that the United States does indeed have a major national security interest in protecting its network of satellites in orbit as well as related infrastructure, but there is still quite a lot in the Trump remarks that is disturbing. Trump is basically saying two things. The first is that he will be weaponizing outer space and the second is that he is doing so because he intends for the United States to become dominant in that domain. It is a complete ass-backwards approach to the problem of potential development of threats coming from beyond the atmosphere. Instead of arming outer space, Washington should be working with other countries that have capabilities in that region to demilitarize exploration and both commercial and government exploitation. Everyone has an interest in not allowing outer space to become the next site for an arms race, though admittedly working with other countries does not appear to be something that the Trump Administration enters into lightly. Or at all.

And Trump should also abandon his insistence that the United States develop “dominance” in space. The use of such language is a red flag that will make any agreement with countries like Russia and China impossible to achieve. It virtually guarantees that there will be a competition among a number of nations to develop and deploy killer satellites employing lasers and other advanced electronic jamming technologies to protect their own outer space infrastructure.

Trump appears to have internalized a viewpoint that sees the United States as surrounded by threats but able to emerge victorious by being hyper-aggressive on all fronts. It is a posture that might unnerve opponents and bring some success in the short term but which ultimately will create a genuine threat as the rest of the world lines up against Washington. That day might be coming if one goes by the reaction to recent U.S. votes in the United Nations and Trump’s behavior at G-7 are anything to go by.

No one in his right mind would allow Trump to dominate outer space based on Washington’s track record of irresponsible leadership since 9/11. It has wrecked the Middle East, South Asia and North Africa, killing possibly as many as 4 million Muslims in so doing. It has bullied allies into joining its projects in places like Iraq, Afghanistan and Syria while also disparaging foreign governments and entering into trade wars. It has bankrupted itself in all but name, systematically dismantled the rights of its own citizens, and has become a rogue nation by virtually every measure.

And when you have firmly established the principle that might makes right and all the universe is at the disposal of Washington, what comes next? Antarctica and the arctic region are by some accounts rich in natural resources. Will we Americans be seeing an Antarctic Command with a mandate to dominate the polar regions to enhance national security? Stay tuned.

Philip M. Giraldi, Ph.D., is Executive Director of the Council for the National Interest, a 501(c)3 tax deductible educational foundation that seeks a more interests-based U.S. foreign policy in the Middle East. Website is www.councilforthenationalinterest.org, address is P.O. Box 2157, Purcellville VA 20134 and its email is [email protected]

 
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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