The Fraud of the White Helmets

Hollywood buys into yet another lie

By Philip Giraldi

July 09, 2017 “Information Clearing House” – I actually forced myself to watch the documentary The White Helmets, which is available on Netflix. It is 40 minutes long, is of high quality cinematographically speaking, and tells a very convincing tale that was promoted as “the story of real-life heroes and impossible hope.” It is overall a very impressive piece of propaganda, so much so that it has won numerous awards including the Oscar for Best Documentary Short this year and the White Helmets themselves were nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize. More to the point, however, is the undeniable fact that the documentary has helped shape the public understanding of what is going on in Syria, delivering a Manichean tale that depicts the “rebels” as always good and Bashar al-Assad and his government as un-redeemably evil.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

So by all means let’s organize to revoke the White Helmets’ Oscar due to misrepresentation and fraud. It might even serve as a wake-up call to George Clooney and his fellow Hollywood snowflakes. But the bigger take-away from the tale of the White Helmets would appear to be how it is an unfortunate repeat of the bumbling by a gullible U.S. government that has wrecked the Middle East while making Americans poorer and less safe. A group of “moderates,” in this case their propagandists, is supported with weapons and money to overthrow a government with which Washington has no real quarrel but it turns out the moderates are really extremists. If they succeed in changing regime in Damascus, that is when the real nightmare will begin for minorities within Syria and for the entire region, including both Israel and Saudi Arabia, both of which seem intent on bringing Bashar al-Assad down. And the truly unfortunate fact is that the Israelis and Saudis apparently have convinced an ignorant Donald Trump that that is the way to go so the situation in Syria will only get worse and, unless there is a course correction, Washington will again richly deserve most of the blame.

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

This article was first published by Unz Review 

The views expressed in this article are solely those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Information Clearing House.

 

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israel’s Dirty Little Secret

 Source

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

By Philip Giraldi • Unz Review • June 20, 2017

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

And there’s still more. Bill HR 672 Combating European Anti-Semitism Act of 2017 was passed unanimously by the House of Representatives on June 14th. Yes, I said “unanimously.” The bill requires the State Department of monitor what European nations and their police forces are doing about anti-Semitism and encourages them to adopt “a uniform definition of anti-Semitism.” That means that criticism of Israel must be considered anti-Semitism and will therefore be a hate crime and prosecutable, a status that is already de facto true in Britain and France. If the Europeans don’t play ball, there is the possibility of repercussions in trade negotiations. The bill was co-sponsored by Ileana Ros-Lehtinen from Florida and Nita Lowey of New York, both of whom are Jewish.

There is also a Senate companion bill on offer in the Special Envoy to Monitor and Combat Anti-Semitism Act of 2017. The bill will make the Anti-Semitism Envoy a full American Ambassador and will empower him or her with a full staff and a budget permitting meddling worldwide. The bill is sponsored by Kirsten Gillibrand of New York and Marco Rubio of Florida. Gillibrand is unlikely to miss co-sponsoring anything relating to Israel due to her own self-interest and Rubio wants to be president real bad so he is following the money.

And finally, the U.S. Senate has also approved a resolution celebrating the 50th anniversary of Israel’s conquest of East Jerusalem. Again, the vote was unanimous. The resolution was co-sponsored by Senators Charles Schumer and Mitch McConnell, two reptiles who give snakes a bad name and about whom the less said the better. Schumer is Jewish and has described himself as the “shomer” or guardian of Israel in the Senate. That the resolution opposes long established U.S. government policy that the occupation of East Jerusalem and the West Bank by Israel is in contravention of international law and is an impediment to any peace process with the Palestinians apparently bothered not even one Senator.

I might note in passing that there has been no Senate resolution commemorating the 50th anniversary of the bravery exhibited by the officers and crew of the USS Liberty as they were being slaughtered by the Israelis at the same time as Jerusalem was being “liberated.” There is probably even more to say, to include secret agreements with the Pentagon and intelligence agencies, but I will stop at this point with one final observation. President Donald Trump traveled to the Middle East claiming to be desirous of starting serious negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians, but it was all a sham. Benjamin Netanyahu took him aside and came out with the usual Israeli bullshit about the Palestinians “inciting” violence and hatred of Jews and Trump bought into it. He then went to see Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and shouted at him for being a liar and opposed to peace based on what Netanyahu had told him. That is what passes for even-handed in the U.S. government, no matter who is president. A few days later the Israelis announced the building of the largest bloc of illegal new settlements on the West Bank since 1992, an action that they claim is being coordinated with Washington.

Former Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon once boasted about owning the United States. I guess he was right 

Trump Is Fighting For His Life

By Philip Giraldi

May 16, 2017 “Information Clearing House” –  President Donald Trump is not exactly known for his self-restraint. The recent firing of Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) Director James Comey was not handled with any delicacy and has unleashed a firestorm of criticism coming from across the political spectrum. And since Comey’s abrupt dismissal the backstabbing has become even worse, with many coming around to the view that Trump is actually crudely threatening Comey over the issue of what might or might not have been said at dinners and meetings between the two men.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Yes, the scheme is bizarre, but Parry carefully documents how Russiagate has developed and how the national security and intelligence organs have been key players as it moved along, often working by leaking classified information. And President Barack Obama was likely the initiator, notably so when he de facto authorized the wide distribution of raw intelligence on Trump and the Russians through executive order. Parry notes, as would I, that to date no actual evidence has been presented to support allegations that Russia sought to influence the U.S. election and/or that Trump associates were somehow coopted by Moscow’s intelligence services as part of the process. Nevertheless, anyone even vaguely connected with Trump who also had contact with Russia or Russians has been regarded as a potential traitor. Carter Page, for example, who was investigated under a Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act warrant, was under suspicion because he made a speech in Moscow which was mildly critical of the west’s interaction with Russia after the fall of communism.

Parry’s point is that there is a growing Washington consensus that consists of traditional liberals and progressives as well as Democratic globalist interventionists and neoconservatives who believe that Donald Trump must be removed from office no matter what it takes. The interventionists and neocons in particular already control most of the foreign policy mechanisms but they continue to see Trump as a possible impediment to their plans for aggressive action against a host of enemies, most particularly Russia. As they are desirous of bringing down Trump “legally” through either impeachment or Article 25 of the Constitution which permits removal for incapacity, it might be termed a constitutional coup, though the other labels cited above also fit.

The rationale Trump haters have fabricated is simple: the president and his team colluded with the Russians to rig the 2016 election in his favor, which, if true, would provide grounds for impeachment. The driving force, in terms of the argument being made, is that removing Trump must be done “for the good of the country” and to “correct a mistake made by the American voters.” The mainstream media is completely on board of the process, including the outlets that flatter themselves by describing their national stature, most notably the New York Times and Washington Post.

So what is to be done? For starters, until Donald Trump has unambiguously broken a law the critics should take a valium and relax. He is an elected president and his predecessors George W. Bush and Barack Obama certainly did plenty of things that in retrospect do not bear much scrutiny. Folks like Ray McGovern and Robert Parry should be listened to even when they are being provocative in their views. They are not, to be sure, friends of the White House in any conventional way and are not apologists for those in power, quite the contrary. Ray has been strongly critical of the current foreign policy, most particularly of the expansion of various wars, claims of Damascus’s use of chemical weapons, and the cruise missile attack on Syria. Robert in his latest article describes Trump as narcissistic and politically incompetent. But their legitimate concerns are that we are moving in a direction that is far more dangerous than Trump. A soft coup engineered by the national security and intelligence agencies would be far more dangerous to our democracy than anything Donald Trump can do.

Philip Giraldi is a former counter-terrorism specialist and military intelligence officer of the United States Central Intelligence Agency.

The views expressed in this article are solely those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Information Clearing House.

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Shambolic Doings in Washington: ‘The Israelis are no doubt particularly delighted’

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FBI Director James Comey, former CIA Director John Brennan, and James Clapper, former Director of National Intelligence.

By Philip Giraldi

There remains one good thing to say about Donald Trump: he is not Hillary. The boneheaded cruise missile attack in Syria would have occurred even earlier under President Rodham Clinton and there would undoubtedly be no-fly and safe zones already in place. Oh, and Ukraine and Georgia would be negotiating their entries into NATO to make sure that old Vlad Putin would be put on notice and understand that the days of namby-pamby jaw-jaw-jaw that characterized the Obama Administration are now ancient history.

Apart from that, I can only observe dumbstruck how yet again a candidate promising peace and dialogue could be flipped so quickly. Or maybe he never believed in anything he said, which is perhaps more to the point. Be that as it may, we now, after only ninety days in office, have a neo-neocon foreign policy and the folks clustered around their water coolers in the Washington think tanks are again smiling. And as the ruinous Syrian civil war continues thanks to American intervention, there are probably plenty of high fives within Israel’s Benjamin Netanyahu government. Bibi again rules the roost.

The Israelis are no doubt particularly delighted to hear Donald Trump’s latest factually exempt voyage into the outer reaches of the galaxy regarding Iran. Or perhaps The Donald is only having continuing digestive problems dealing with “most beautiful piece of chocolate cake that you’ve ever seen” when dining with mortified Chinese leader Xi Jinping while simultaneously launching cruise missiles intended to send a message to Beijing’s ally Russia. It is inevitably Iran’s turn for vilification, so Trump, while conceding that the Iranians have been compliant with the nuclear weapons agreement they signed, also felt compelled to add that they continue to be a threat and have not entered into the “spirit” of the pact. Apparently the spirit codicil was somehow left out of the final draft, an interpretation that will no doubt surprise the other signatories consisting of Russia, China and the European Union.

To make its point that Tehran is somehow a cheater, the White House has ordered a 90 day review of Iran policy which will empower hardliners in that country in upcoming elections as well as nut cases like Senators John McCain and Lindsey Graham on this side of the Atlantic. Iranian opposition groups like the terrorist Mujaheddin e Khalq (MEK) are already rising to the challenge by floating phony intelligence while Graham is currently advocating a preemptive attack on North Korea, conceding that it would be catastrophic for every country in the region while noting smugly that the carnage and destruction would not reach the United States. Too bad that Pyongyang’s fury cannot be directed straight to Graham’s house in South Carolina.

Graham is reportedly a good dancer and multitasker who can pivot back to Iran effortlessly as soon as Pyongyang is reduced to rubble, so those who want to deal with Iran sooner rather than later should not despair. As things continue to go south nearly everywhere, tension in the Middle East will no doubt lead to a rapidly deteriorating situation in the Persian Gulf that will require yet another ham-handed show of strength by the United States of Amnesia. There will be a war against Iran.

There have been a couple of other interesting stories circulating recently, all demonstrating that when Benjamin Franklin observed that we Americans had created a republic, “if we can keep it,” he was being particularly prescient. Robert Parry has observed that all the fuss about Russiagate is misleading as the only country that interferes with the political process in the U.S. persistently and successfully while also doing terrible damage to our national security is Israel. He wonders when we will have Congress convening investigative commissions to look into Israel-gate but then answers his own question by observing that it will never happen given who controls what in the United States. “No one dares suggest a probe of Israel-gate,” he concludes, but it is interesting and also encouraging to note that some Americans are actually starting to figure things out.

Continued here

The Global War on Terror…

…or is it a global war of terror?

[ Ed. note – Ron Paul and Daniel McAdams discuss the war on terror in the context of a recently-published article by former CIA officer Philip Giraldi. Each year the US State Department publishes a report on terrorism that is basically a country-by-country review of terrorist incidents and also of efforts being made to combat terrorism. But of course the State Department has its own political biases on this subject, and, rather pointedly, seems oblivious to the fact that the US itself is now widely regarded as the biggest state sponsor of terrorism in the world.

Giraldi gets into the nuts and bolts of this in his article (see below) while Paul and McAdams provide some interesting commentary on it all. You will also find a brief introduction written by McAdams. All of this comes one day after the assassination of Russian Ambassador to Turkey Andrey Karlov and the truck-ramming of a crowded market in Berlin. Astoundingly, it is being reported today that the German police have released the suspect they initially took into custody, citing insufficient evidence. According to RT, Berlin Police Chief Klaus Kandt said authorities simply aren’t sure if the Pakistani man they arrested shortly after the attack was actually the driver of the vehicle. “As far as I know it is in fact uncertain whether that really was the driver,” Kandt said–which of course begs the question: if they are “uncertain” whether the Pakistani man was or wasn’t the driver, which would suggest at least the possibility that he was the driver, then why did they let him go?

The insanity of the German government seems to know no bounds. The country’s predominantly open-door policy on immigration exacted a considerable toll, triggering an almost unprecedented crime wave, yet German politicians, at least within Angela Merkel’s own party, seem incapable of issuing anything more than tepid platitudes. In the wake of yesterday’s truck attack, Merkel ally Horst Seehofer said the country needs to “rethink and reshape” its immigration policy. In the wake of the killing of a dozen people–carefree holiday shoppers doing nothing more than browsing through a Christmas market–one would expect that perhaps Seehofer might wish to do more than simply “rethink” things, but apparently this is not the case. What is of course clear to most of us, if not the average German politician, is that the global “war on terrorism” is not exactly what it is purported to be–and that someone, or a group of someones, is waging a global war of terror, one that is aimed, ultimately, at us all. Giraldi doesn’t come right out and say this, but it can be inferred from the information he presents. The terrorists have been defeated in Aleppo. And Terrorism, Giraldi correctly points out, is a “dying” industry–yet clearly somebody is keeping it on life support, giving it blood transfusions, and pumping oxygen into it. ]

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Global War on Terrorism: Are We Winning?

By Daniel McAdams

The US State Department comes out yearly with its list of “state sponsors of terrorism,” but to many people overseas it is the US government itself that is a main sponsor of terrorism overseas. The US president claims the right to attack suspected terrorists in any corner of the globe at any time. The current US president has conducted thousands of drone strikes against countries with whom we are not at war, with an estimated 90 percent of strikes not hitting the intended target. The US government ships weapons to groups in places like Syria where it knows they will end up in the hands of al-Qaeda and ISIS. So perhaps US foreign policy is not tackling terrorism, but in fact perpetuating it. More in today’s Liberty Report (see video above).

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Some Perspectives on the War on Terror

By Philip Giraldi | The Unz Review

The twenty-first century, at least up until this point, might well be described as the age of the terrorist. Even though most Americans and Europeans rank terrorism as low among their concerns, the repercussions when a terrorist attack does take place are greatly magnified by the sheer horror associated with the mass killing of innocent people going about their daily lives.

There are a couple of annual reports that look at terrorism as a global phenomenon. The best known is the U.S. State Department’s Annual Country Reports on Terrorism that comes out in the Summer and covers the previous year. It is mandated by Congress and is largely based on Embassy and intelligence community sources.

The Country Reports purports to be an objective review of the year’s terrorist incidents as well as an overview of some of the players to include a discussion of “violent extremism” issues region by region and country by country. It is a valuable resource which provides considerable information on the various militant groups and the crimes attributed to them as well as their involvement globally. But it is nevertheless a government document. The Obama Administration definitely has had a point of view on what constitutes terrorism and how to deal with it based on how the White House would like to frame things from a political perspective. The section on Afghanistan, for example, implicitly makes a case for a more robust American role in the conflict engulfing that country.

I often find that how something is described or even ignored just as important as what is revealed. There is, for example, a section of the report identifying State Sponsors of Terrorism, a status that brings with it various sanctions. It would be difficult to find a section that is by definition more hypocritical as many would certainly consider Washington the leading practitioner of state sponsored terror with its claimed authority to go after militant targets anywhere at any time. The 2015 report names only Iran, Syria and Sudan as state sponsors even though Damascus and Tehran are more often than not on Washington’s side, heavily engaged in fighting ISIS, which the U.S. government in its own reporting clearly identifies as international enemy #1. Regarding Sudan, the report states that it is no longer in the supporting radicalism business while earlier annual reports actually commended it for helping international efforts against terrorists yet it remains on the list, apparently because several individuals close to the White House do not like its government very much and have written scholarly articles attacking its president.

The numbers in the Country Reports tell us something about the impact of terrorism. Deaths attributed to people who might be regarded as terrorists is certainly a huge global problem with the State Department report recording nearly 12,000 terrorist attacks producing 28,000 deaths worldwide in 2015. But the mayhem is very much concentrated in countries that are gripped by what might reasonably be termed civil war, to include Syria, Iraq, and Somalia. Several other countries with high levels of “terror” deaths, to include Nigeria and Pakistan, are engaged in bloody regional conflicts over economic issues fueled by anti-central government sentiment, not exactly civil war but something close to it.

American victims are a lot harder to find. The State Department report, which is only about acts of terrorism overseas, identifies 19 American citizens as victims of terror for the year 2015. Eight of the deaths were in Afghanistan, one in Syria and one in Somalia, all of which can be regarded as war zones. Three were in Jerusalem and on the Israeli occupied West Bank, a region also suffering from endemic violence, killing two American visitors plus a settler who held dual Israeli-U.S. citizenship.

Twenty-two more Americans were injured in terrorist incidents worldwide in 2015 and there were no reported kidnappings during the year. Though I in no way wish to minimize the killing of anyone in a criminal act, which terrorism is, the death and injury toll hardly constitutes a major international threat and I am sure that many more Americans are killed every year “overseas” in traffic accidents while vacationing. The report clearly suggests that international terrorism is an enemy that is largely ineffective at least in terms of being able to do direct damage to the United States, its citizens or its other interests.

A second terrorism report is prepared by the highly reputable Institute for Economics and Peace, which is based in Australia. It’s Global Terrorism Index, currently in its fourth edition, has just come out and it differs from the State Department report in that while it covers 2015 in some detail it is also progressive, meaning that it incorporates new information on terrorist activity into observations derived from reporting that covers 16 years, since 2000. Its overview information itself derives from a large terrorism data base, consisting currently of records relating to 150,000 incidents, maintained at the University of Maryland. As a result, the Global Terrorism Index (GTI) is sometimes more useful than the State Department if one is seeking to identify long term trends.

One might conclude that what we call terrorism is quite simply warfare by other means and it might not even be useful to try to define it in a distinctive fashion. The GTI report basically confirms the State Department Country Reports on numbers and places where terrorist attacks take place, adding that more than 93% of all reported incidents occur in countries that are already internally extremely repressive or unstable while more than 90% take place in countries engaged in external violent conflicts. Fewer than .5% of terror attacks are in countries that have neither internal or external issues. The most afflicted countries are Nigeria, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Iraq and Syria. Three out of the five have experienced direct U.S. military interventions while Pakistan has been under intense pressure from Washington to “do something.” In other words, terrorism deaths occur most often in places where a state of acute internal repression or even civil or external war exist and the role of the U.S. military as an accelerant for instability should be regarded as a given.

And then there is the global U.S. led war on terror, which costs upwards of hundreds of billions of dollars a year and has not actually eliminated any terrorist group while serving as a recruiting poster for assorted radical wannabes. It has also killed, by a very conservative estimate, 1.3 million people. Relying on overwhelming conventional military force and air power, the U.S. can always prevail either on the battlefield or against a radical group that seeks to hold on to territory that it is occupying, but unless Washington is prepared to remain indefinitely it cannot change the dynamic in a country or region that is unstable. Indeed, armed intervention itself followed by staying in place to nation build might actually be counterproductive if one looks at the examples of Afghanistan and Iraq as a U.S. presence frequently inhibits a possible political settlement. When the foreign security presence departs, sooner or later a dissident group will inevitably appear to fill the void. Based on the State Department and GTI reports one has to question a counter-terrorism strategy that has cost cumulatively trillions of dollars to combat an enemy that only rarely can project its power and that normally is only dangerous in the short term and in the immediate area in which it operates.

I have been reading various reports on terrorism for many years now and my firm impression is that the international terrorist threat, as poorly defined as it is, has actually been receding as more and more governments actively seek to eliminate militants in their midst even as fewer states are willing and able to provide them with either assistance or a safe haven. ISIS, the du jour terrorist threat, sought to establish a new territorial state, a Caliphate, but is currently facing complete defeat in Libya, Syria and Iraq. Terrorism is a “dying” industry in every sense of the word and while the U.S. government should take every reasonable step to protect American citizens the key word must be “reasonable.” A global anti-terror Crusade led by the United States is not a reasonable response, nor is it necessary as terrorist groups always eventually fade away due to their own internal contradictions and the intense hostility of the host country and neighbors. It is time to declare the war on terror finished, move on, and bring the troops home.

***

Update: For an additional perspective on this issue, people might want also to read “Welcome Home ISIS! The Obama Administration’s Plan to Reintegrate Foreign Terrorist Fighters.” The article, by Dr. John Andrew Morrow, cites a policy briefing entitled “Returning Foreign Fighters,” published by the Brookings Institute in August of 2015, that apparently now has been adopted as official US policy. In May of 2016, Morrow reports, the State Department and US AID published a “Joint Strategy on Countering Violent Extremism” which calls for “the rehabilitation and reintegration of individuals caught in the cycle of radicalization to violence…back into society.” Morrow’s commentary is available here.

Forget Russia — The Real Threat to America comes from israel and the israel Lobby

Forget Russia — The Real Threat to America comes from Israel and the Israel Lobby

How Russia is pilloried
while real news about Israel goes unreported

By Philip Giraldi

dees-netanyahu-holding-obama-dog-gaza

“We, the Jewish people, control America, and the Americans know it.”
— Israel Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, October 3, 2001


The drama surrounding allegations that the internet is awash with “fake news” is being promoted by the so-called mainstream media which certainly has a lot to answer for when it comes to producing material that does not pass the smell test.

Does the name Judith Miller ring any bells? And the squeaks of rage coming from the U.S. Congress over being lied to is also something to behold as the federal government has been acting in collusion with the media to dish up falsehoods designed to start wars since the time of the Spanish-American conflict in 1898, if not before.

The fake news saga is intended to discredit Donald Trump, whom the media hates mostly because they failed to understand either him or the Americans who voted for him in the recent election. You have to blame somebody when you are wrong so you invent “fake news” as the game changer that explains your failure to comprehend simple truths. To accomplish that, the clearly observable evidence that the media was piling on Donald Trump at every opportunity has somehow been deliberately morphed into a narrative that it is Trump who was attacking the media, suggesting that it was all self-defense on the part of the Rachel Maddows of this world, but anyone who viewed even a small portion of the farrago surely will have noted that it was the Republican candidate who was continuously coming under attack from both the right and left of the political-media spectrum.

There are also some secondary narratives being promoted, including a pervasive argument that Hillary Clinton was somehow the victim of the news reporting due specifically to fake stories emanating largely from Moscow in an attempt to not only influence the election but also to subvert America’s democratic institutions.

have observed that if such a truly ridiculous objective were President Vladimir Putin’s desired goal he might as well relax. Our own Democratic and Republican duopoly has already been doing a fine job at subverting democracy by assiduously separating the American people from the elite Establishment that theoretically represents and serves them.

Another side of the mainstream media lament that has been relatively unexplored is what the media chooses not to report. At the present moment, it is practically obligatory to slam Russia and Putin at every opportunity even though Moscow is too militarily weak and poor to fancy itself a global adversary of the U.S. Instead of seeking a new Cold War, Washington should instead focus on working with Russia to make sure that disagreements over policies in relatively unimportant parts of the world do not escalate into nuclear exchanges.

Russian actions on its own doorstep in Eastern Europe do not in fact threaten the United States or any actual vital interest. Nor does Moscow threaten the U.S. through its intervention on behalf of the Syrian government in the Middle East. That Russia is described incessantly as a threat in those areas is largely a contrivance arranged by the media, the Democratic and Republican National Committees and by the White House. Candidate Donald Trump appeared to recognize that fact before he began listening to Michael Flynn, who has a rather different view. Hopefully the old Trump will prevail.

Blaming Russia, which has good reasons to be suspicious of Washington’s intentions, is particularly convenient for those many diverse inside the Beltway interests that require a significant enemy to keep the cash flowing out of the pockets of taxpayers and into the bank accounts of the useless grifters who inhabit K-Street and Capitol Hill. Neoconservatives are frequently described as ideologues, but the truth is that they are more interested in gaining increased access to money and power than they are in promulgating their own brand of global regime change.

There is, however, another country that has interfered in U.S. elections, has endangered Americans living or working overseas and has corrupted America’s legislative and executive branches. It has exploited that corruption to initiate legislation favorable to itself, has promoted unnecessary and unwinnable wars and has stolen American technology and military secrets. Its ready access to the mainstream media to spread its own propaganda provides it with cover for its actions and it accomplishes all that and more through the agency of a powerful and well-funded domestic lobby that oddly is not subject to the accountability afforded by the Foreign Agents Registration Act (FARA) of 1938 even though it manifestly works on behalf of a foreign government. That country is, of course, Israel.

And that assessment of Israel and what damage it does regarding what most Americans would regard as genuine national interests is most definitely not reported, revealing once again that what is not written is every bit as important as what is. I would note how what has recently happened right in front of us relating to Israel is apparently not considered fit to print and will never appear on any disapproving editorial page. Just this week the Senate unanimously passed an Anti-Semitism Awareness bill and also by a 99 to zero vote renewed and strengthened sanctions against Iran, which could wreck the one year old anti-nuclear weapon proliferation agreement with that country.

The Anti-Semitism Awareness Act is intended to give the Department of Education investigatory authority over “anti-Jewish incidents” on America’s college campuses. Such “incidents” are not limited to religious bigotry, with the examples cited in the bill’s text including criticism of Israel and claiming that the holocaust was “exaggerated.” It is a thinly disguised assault on the Boycott Divest and Sanction (BDS) movement, which is non-violent, does not criticize Jews as a religion or ethnicity, and is actually supported by many Jewish Americans who are concerned about Israel’s apartheid regime.

The Anti-Semitism bill makes Jews and Jewish interests a legally protected class, immune from any criticism. “Free speech” means in practice that you can burn an American flag, sell pornography, attack Christianity in the vilest terms or castigate the government in Washington all you want but criticizing Israel is off limits if you want to avoid falling into the clutches of the legal system. The Act is a major step forward in effectively making any expressed opposition to Israeli actions a hate crime.

And it is similar to punitive legislation that has been enacted in twenty-two states as well as in Canada. It is strongly supported by the Israel Lobby, which quite likely drafted it, and is seeking to use legal challenges to delegitimize and eliminate any opposition to the policies of the state of Israel.

As the Act is clearly intended to restrict First Amendment rights if they are perceived as impacting on broadly defined Jewish sensitivities, it should be opposed on that basis alone, but it is very popular in Congress, which is de facto owned by the Israel Lobby. That the legislation is not being condemned or even discussed in the generally liberal media tells you everything you need to know about the amazing power of one particular unelected and unaccountable lobby in the U.S.

And there is always Iran to worry about.

If the United States can successfully avoid a war with Russia, a conflict with the Mullahs could have major consequences even if the all-powerful U.S. military successfully rolls over its Iranian counterpart in less than a week. Iran is physically and in terms of population much larger than Iraq and it has a strong national identity. An attack by Washington would produce a powerful reaction, unleashing terrorist resources and destabilizing an economically and politically important region of the world for years to come. Currently, the nuclear agreement with Iran provides some measure of stability and also pushes backwards any possible program by Tehran to build a weapon. Iran does not threaten the United States, so why walk away from the agreement as some of Trump’s advisors urge? Or violate the agreement’s terms as the U.S. Congress seems to be doing by extending and tightening the sanctions regime with its just passed Iran Sanctions Extension Act?

Look no further than the Israel Lobby. Hobbling Iran, a regional competitor, is a possible Israeli interest that should have nothing to do with the United States but yet again the United States government carries the water for the extreme right wing Netanyahu regime.

Israel for its part has welcomed the Trump election by building 500 new and completely illegal settler homes in what was once Arab East Jerusalem. Trump has surrounded himself with advocates for Israel and Prime Minister Netanyahu’s expectation that he will have a free hand in dealing with those pesky Palestinians is probably correct. I would like to think that Donald Trump will unpleasantly surprise him based on actual American rather than Israeli interests but am not optimistic.

Indeed, deference to perceived Israeli interests enforced by the Israel Lobby and media permeates the entire American foreign policy and national security structure. Congressman Keith Ellison who is seeking to become Democratic National Committee Chairman is being called an anti-Semite for “implying U.S. policy in the region [the Middle East] favored Israel at the expense of Muslim-majority countries, remarks ADL’s CEO Jonathan Greenblatt described as ‘deeply disturbing and disqualifying.’” Donald Trump and his senior counselor Steve Bannon have also both been called anti-Semites and several other potential GOP appointees have been subjected to the media’s fidelity-to-Israel litmus test.

The recently nominated Secretary of Defense James Mattis, who can hardly be called a moderate when it comes to Iran, has also been labeled an anti-Semite by the usual players. Why? Because in 2013 he told Wolf Blitzer “So we’ve got to work on [peace talks] with a sense of urgency. I paid a military security price every day as a commander of CENTCOM because the Americans were seen as biased in support of Israel, and [because of this] moderate Arabs couldn’t be with us because they couldn’t publicly support those who don’t show respect for Arab Palestinians.”

Mattis continued, referring directly to Israeli apartheid: “I’ll tell you, the current situation is unsustainable … We’ve got to find a way to make work the two-state solution that both Democrat and Republican administrations have supported, and the chances are starting to ebb because of the settlements. For example, if I’m Jerusalem and I put 500 Jewish settlers to the east and there’s ten-thousand Arabs already there, and if we draw the border to include them, either [Israel] ceases to be a Jewish state or you say the Arabs don’t get to vote — apartheid. That didn’t work too well the last time I saw that practiced in a country.”

Mattis will no doubt be reminded of his remarks when he is up for Senate confirmation. A predecessor Chuck Hagel was mercilessly grilled by Senators over his reported comment that the “Jewish lobby” intimidates congressmen. But ironically nearly everyone who is not an Israel-firster who is involved in U.S. foreign and security policy knows that aggressive Israeli colonization of the Palestinian West Bank and its siege of Gaza contribute greatly to terrorism against the United States, since Washington is regularly blamed for enabling Netanyahu. When General David Petraeus said pretty much the same thing as Mattis back in 2010 he was forced to “explain” his comments, retract them and then grovel before he was eventually given a pass by the Lobby.

And there is considerable self-censorship related to the alleged sensitivity of “Jewish issues,” not only in the media. I recently attended a conference on the Iraq invasion of 2003 at which the role of Israel manifested through its controlled gaggle of American legislators and bureaucrats as a factor in going to war was not even mentioned. It was as if it would be impolite or, dare I say, anti-Semitic, to do so even though the Israeli role was hardly hidden.

Former Bush administration senior official Philip Zelikow has admitted that protecting Israel was the principal reason why the U.S. invaded Iraq and others have speculated that without the persistent neocons’ and Israel’s prodding Washington might not have gone to war at all. That is apparently what then Secretary of State Colin Powell also eventually came around to believe.

So let’s stop talking about what Russia is doing to the United States, which is relatively speaking very little, and start admitting that the lopsided and completely deferential relationship with Israel is the actual central problem in America’s foreign policy. Will the media do that? Not a chance. They would rather obsess about fake news and blame Putin.

Source

Russia urges ‘caution’ on UN’s Syria chemical weapons report, will talk to US

RT

Published time: 25 Aug, 2016 16:17

Residents flee after an attack on the eastern Damascus suburb of Ghouta, Syria August 20, 2016. © Bassam Khabieh / Reuters


Russia’s UN envoy has called on the international community not to draw “hasty conclusions” from a year-long UN investigation that blames the Syrian government for carrying out two chemical weapons attacks in the past two years, and Islamic State for one.

“We shouldn’t come to hasty conclusions. We need to step very carefully here,” Vitaly Churkin told the Russian media in New York, saying Russia needs more time to study the 95-page report.

The UN Security Council-backed investigation was conducted by the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) and the UN’s Joint Investigative Mechanism, a body known as JIM that investigated nine separate chemical weapons attacks that had been previously verified by the OPCW.

 

© Stringer


All incidents occurred after 2013, when Syria handed over its chemical weapons arsenal to international monitors. In six instances, JIM was not able to definitively apportion blame, in two cases, in Idlib in 2014 and 2015, the report said that government forces had used chlorine gas – which was not removed in 2013 due to its civilian uses, but is forbidden on the battlefield. In one case, Islamic State appeared to have used mustard gas in Marea in August of 2015.

Churkin said that the findings were notable, as “usually all blame gets assigned to the Syrian government.”

He also said that Russia will discuss the findings with the US at the next United Nations session in September.

“JIM was jointly set up by Russia and the US. It was a very complex process, and I have already spoken to [United States UN envoy] Samantha Power, who is currently on vacation. We agreed that as soon as she gets back, we will sit down and decide what we can do on the basis of this report.”

Samantha Power (R), the American ambassador to the United Nations talks to Russia's ambassador to the United Nations, Vitaly Churkin. File photo. © Andrew Kelly

Samantha Power (R), the American ambassador to the United Nations talks to Russia’s ambassador to the United Nations, Vitaly Churkin. File photo. © Andrew Kelly / Reuters

‘Look in the mirror,’ Moscow tells Washington

In a related statement, Russia has bristled at a US call for it to step in and prevent the future use of chemical weapons.

“We condemn in the strongest possible terms the Assad regime’s use of chlorine [gas] against its own people,” said a statement released on Wednesday evening by Ned Price, Spokesperson for the National Security Council.

“The United States will work with our international partners to seek accountability through appropriate diplomatic mechanisms, including through the United Nations Security Council and the OPCW. We urge all UN member states and parties to the Chemical Weapons Convention, including Russia and Iran, to participate in this effort.”

Read more

An Islamist Syrian rebel group Jabhat al-Nusra fighter. © Hamid Khatib

In response, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said that the US“should concentrate on its own problems” before making any international appeals.

“They should take a look in the mirror, and do what they promised to do back in January: to separate the ‘loyal’ opposition from the terrorists. They are currently unable or unwilling to do so,” Lavrov said in a statement published on his ministry’s website.

Former CIA officer Philip Giraldi also urged refraining from harsh statements and waiting for the full report, which is to be released next week.

“I’d be very interested in seeing the sourcing of the information [in the full report] because too often in the past it turned out that the opposition sources have contrived information to make it look like the government was responsible for the attack and it turned out that this wasn’t the case,” Giraldi told RT.

Despite the US willing to put the blame for all chemical attacks on the Syrian authorities, the “relatively simple” chemicals used in the attacks are “as likely to be sourced to the opposition as they are to the government.”

There has been no let-up in fighting in Syria, where over 400,000 people have died as a result of the fighting since the conflict broke out in 2011.

The Russia-backed Syrian government, NATO and Saudi-supported “moderate” rebels, and radical Islamists are fighting for supremacy in the city of Aleppo, where up to 300,000 civilians remain trapped.

The UN has pushed for a weekly 48-hour truce in the fighting that would allow it to provide humanitarian relief, which has just been endorsed by Russia. According to the plan, food and supplies would be delivered simultaneously by internationally monitored vehicles to rebel and government-controlled areas.

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