Where was Osama bin Laden on September 11, 2001?

By Prof Michel Chossudovsky

Global Research, September 05, 2020

9 September 2006

Osama bin Laden

Author’s note

The following article was first published 14 years ago on the 9th of September 2006, in the context of the 2006 commemoration of the tragic event of September 2001.  

***

“Going after bin Laden” has served  to sustain the legend of the “world’s most wanted terrorist”, who  “haunts Americans and millions of others around the world.”

Donald Rumsfeld has repeatedly claimed that the whereabouts of Osama bin Laden remain unknown:  “It is like looking for a needle in a stack of hay”.

In November 2001, US B-52 bombers carpet bombed a network of caves in the Tora Bora mountains of eastern Afghanistan, where Osama bin Laden and his followers were allegedly hiding. These caves were described as “Osama’s last stronghold”.

CIA “intelligence analysts” subsequently concluded that Osama had escaped from his Tora Bora cave in the first week of December 2001. And in January 2002, the Pentagon launched a Worldwide search for Osama and his top lieutenants, beyond the borders of Afghanistan. This operation, referred to by Secretary of State Colin Powell as a “hot pursuit”, was carried out with the support of the “international community” and America’s European allies. US intelligence authorities confirmed, in this regard, that

“while al Qaeda has been significantly shattered, … the most wanted man – bin Laden himself remains one step ahead of the United States, with the core of his worldwide terror network still in place. (Global News Wire – Asia Africa Intelligence Wire, InfoProd, January 20, 2002)

For the last five years, the US military and intelligence apparatus (at considerable expense to US taxpayers) has been “searching for Osama”.

A CIA unit with a multimillion dollar budget was set up, with a mandate to find Osama. This unit was apparently disbanded in 2005. “Intelligence experts agree”, he is hiding in a remote area of Pakistan, but “we cannot find him”:

“Most intelligence analysts are convinced that Osama bin Laden is somewhere on the Afghan-Pakistan border. Lately, it has been said that he’s probably in the vicinity of the a 7700m Hindu Kush peak Tirich Mir in the tribal Chitral area of northwest Pakistan.” Hobart Mercury (Australia), September  9, 2006)

President Bush has repeatedly promised to “smoke him out” of his cave, capture him dead or alive, if necessary through ground assaults or missile strikes. According to a recent statement by president Bush, Osama is hiding in a remote area of Pakistan which “is extremely mountainous and very inaccessible, … with high mountains between 9,000 to 15,000 feet high….”. We cannot get him, because, according to the president, there is no communications infrastructure, which would enable us to effectively go after him. (quoted in Balochistan Times, 23 April 2006)

The pursuit of Osama has become a highly ritualized process which feeds the news chain on a daily basis. It is not only part of the media disinformation campaign, it also provides a justification for the arbitrary arrest, detention and torture of numerous “suspects”, “enemy combatants” and “accomplices”, who allegedly might be aware of Osama’s whereabouts. And that information is of course vital to “the security of Americans”.

The search for Osama serves both military and political objectives. The Democrats and Republicans compete in their resolve to weed out “islamic terrorism”.

The Path to 9/11, a five-hour ABC series on “the search for Osama” –which makes its debut on the 10th and 11th of September to marks the fifth anniversary of the attacks– casually accuses Bill Clinton of having been  “too busy with the Monica Lewinsky scandal to fight terrorism.” The message of the movie is that the Democrats neglected the “war on terrorism”.

The fact of the matter is that every single administration, since Jimmy Carter have supported and financed the “Islamic terror” network, created during the Carter administration at the outset of the Soviet-Afghan war. (See Michel Chossudovsky, Who is Osama bin Laden, 12 September 2001). al Qaeda is a instrument of US intelligence: a US sponsored intelligence asset.

Where was Osama on Septembers 11? 

There is evidence that the whereabouts of Osama are known to the Bush Administration.

On September 10. 2001, “Enemy Number One” was in a Pakistani military hospital in Rawalpindi, courtesy of America’s indefectible ally Pakistan, as confirmed by a report of Dan Rather, CBS News. (See our October 2003 article on this issue)

He could have been arrested at short notice which would have “saved us a lot of trouble”, but then we would not have had an Osama Legend, which has fed the news chain as well as George W’s speeches in the course of the last five years.

According to Dan Rather, CBS, Bin Laden was hospitalized in Rawalpindi. one day before the 9/11 attacks, on September 10, 2001.
https://www.youtube.com/embed/dUj2905unnw

“Pakistan. Pakistan’s Military Intelligence (ISI) told CBS that bin Laden had received dialysis treatment in Rawalpindi, at Pak Army’s headquarters.

DAN RATHER, CBS ANCHOR: As the United states and its allies in the war on terrorism press the hunt for Osama bin Laden, CBS News has exclusive information tonight about where bin Laden was and what he was doing in the last hours before his followers struck the United States September 11.

This is the result of hard-nosed investigative reporting by a team of CBS news journalists, and by one of the best foreign correspondents in the business, CBS`s Barry Petersen. Here is his report.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) BARRY PETERSEN, CBS CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Everyone remembers what happened on September 11. Here`s the story of what may have happened the night before. It is a tale as twisted as the hunt for Osama bin Laden.

CBS News has been told that the night before the September 11 terrorist attack, Osama bin Laden was in Pakistan. He was getting medical treatment with the support of the very military that days later pledged its backing for the U.S. war on terror in Afghanistan.

Pakistan intelligence sources tell CBS News that bin Laden was spirited into this military hospital in Rawalpindi for kidney dialysis treatment. On that night, says this medical worker who wanted her identity protected, they moved out all the regular staff in the urology department and sent in a secret team to replace them. She says it was treatment for a very special person. The special team was obviously up to no good.

“The military had him surrounded,” says this hospital employee who also wanted his identity masked, “and I saw the mysterious patient helped out of a car. Since that time,” he says, “I have seen many pictures of the man. He is the man we know as Osama bin Laden. I also heard two army officers talking to each other. They were saying that Osama bin Laden had to be watched carefully and looked after.” Those who know bin Laden say he suffers from numerous ailments, back and stomach problems. Ahmed Rashid, who has written extensively on the Taliban, says the military was often there to help before 9/11.

(…)

PETERSEN (on camera): Doctors at the hospital told CBS News there was nothing special about that night, but they refused our request to see any records. Government officials tonight denied that bin Laden had any medical treatment on that night.

(voice-over): But it was Pakistan’s President Musharraf who said in public what many suspected, that bin Laden suffers from kidney disease, saying he thinks bin Laden may be near death. His evidence, watching this most recent video, showing a pale and haggard bin Laden, his left hand never moving. Bush administration officials admit they don`t know if bin Laden is sick or even dead.

DONALD RUMSFELD, DEFENSE SECRETARY: With respect to the issue of Osama bin Laden`s health, I just am — don`t have any knowledge.

PETERSEN: The United States has no way of knowing who in Pakistan`s military or intelligence supported the Taliban or Osama bin Laden maybe up to the night before 9/11 by arranging dialysis to keep him alive. So the United States may not know if those same people might help him again perhaps to freedom.

Barry Petersen, CBS News, Islamabad.

(END VIDEOTAPE) END

(CBS News,  28 January 2002 emphasis added, the complete transcript of CBS report sis contained in annex to this article)

It should be noted, that the hospital is directly under the jurisdiction of the Pakistani Armed Forces, which has close links to the Pentagon. U.S. military advisers based in Rawalpindi. work closely with the Pakistani Armed Forces. Again, no attempt was made to arrest America’s best known fugitive, but then maybe bin Laden was serving another “better purpose”. Rumsfeld claimed at the time that he had no knowledge regarding Osama’s health. (CBS News, 28 January 2002)

The CBS report is a crucial piece of information in our understanding of 9/11.

It refutes the administration’s claim that the whereabouts of bin Laden are unknown. It points to a Pakistan connection, it suggests a cover-up at the highest levels of the Bush administration.

Dan Rather and Barry Petersen fail to draw the implications of their January 2002 report.  They suggest that the US had been deliberately misled by Pakistani intelligence officials. They fail to ask the question:

Why does the US administration state that they cannot find Osama?

If they are to stand by their report, the conclusion is obvious. The administration is lying. Osama bin Laden’s whereabouts were known.

If the CBS report is accurate and Osama had indeed been admitted to the Pakistani military hospital on September 10, courtesy of America’s ally, he was either still in hospital in Rawalpindi on the 11th of September, when the attacks occurred or had been released from the hospital within the last hours before the attacks.

In other words, Osama’s whereabouts were known to US officials on the morning of September 12, when Secretary of State Colin Powell initiated negotiations with Pakistan, with a view to arresting and extraditing bin Laden. These negotiations, led by General Mahmoud Ahmad, head of Pakistan’s military intelligence, on behalf of the government of President Pervez Musharraf,  took place on the 12th and 13th  of September in Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage’s office.

He could have been arrested at short notice on September 10th, 2001. But then we would not have been privileged to five years of Osama related media stories. The Bush administration desperately needs the fiction of an “outside enemy of America”.

Known and documented Osama bin Laden’s al Qaeda is a construct of the US intelligence apparatus. His essential function is to give a face to the “war on terrorism”. The image must be vivid.

According to the White house, “The greatest threat to us is this ideology of violent extremism, and its greatest public proponent is Osama bin Laden. Bin Laden remains the number one target, in terms of our efforts, but he’s not the only target.” Recent Statement of White House Assistant for Homeland Security Frances Townsend, 5 September 2006).

The national security doctrine rests on the fiction of Islamic terrorists, led by Osama who are portrayed as a “threat to the civilized World”. In the words of President Bush, “Bin Laden and his terrorist allies have made their intentions as clear as Lenin and Hitler before them. The question is will we listen? Will we pay attention to what these evil men say? We are on the offensive. We will not rest. We will not retreat. And we will not withdraw from the fight until this threat to civilization has been removed.” (quoted by CNN, September 5, 2006)

The “hot pursuit” of Osama in the rugged mountainous areas of Pakistan must continue, because without Osama, referred to ad nauseam in news reports and official statements, the fragile legitimacy of the Bush administration collapses like a deck of cards.

Moreover, the search for Osama protects the real architects of the 911 attacks. While there is no evidence that Al Qaeda was behind the 911 attacks, as revealed by nuerous studies and documents, there is mounting evidence of complicity and coverup at the highest levels of the State, Military and intelligence apparatus.

The continued arrest of alleged 911 accomplices and suspects has nothing to do with “national security”. It creates the illusion that Arabs and Muslims are behind the terror plots, while shunting the conduct of a real criminal investigation into the 911 attacks. And what were dealing with is the criminalization of the upper echelons of State.

Michel Chossudovsky is the author of the international best America’s “War on Terrorism”  Global Research, 2005. He is Professor of Economics at the University of Ottawa and Director of the Center for Research on Globalization. 

To order Chossudovsky’s book  America’s “War on Terrorism”, click here

Note: Readers are welcome to cross-post this article with a view to spreading the word and warning people of the dangers of a broader Middle East war. Please indicate the source and copyright note.

media inquiries crgeditor@yahoo.com

CBS Evening News with Dan Rather;

Author: Dan Rather, Barry Petersen

CBS, 28 January 2002

DAN RATHER, CBS ANCHOR: As the United states and its allies in the war on terrorism press the hunt for Osama bin Laden, CBS News has exclusive information tonight about where bin Laden was and what he was doing in the last hours before his followers struck the United States September 11.

This is the result of hard-nosed investigative reporting by a team of CBS news journalists, and by one of the best foreign correspondents in the business, CBS`s Barry Petersen. Here is his report.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) BARRY PETERSEN, CBS CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Everyone remembers what happened on September 11. Here`s the story of what may have happened the night before. It is a tale as twisted as the hunt for Osama bin Laden.

CBS News has been told that the night before the September 11 terrorist attack, Osama bin Laden was in Pakistan. He was getting medical treatment with the support of the very military that days later pledged its backing for the U.S. war on terror in Afghanistan.

Pakistan intelligence sources tell CBS News that bin Laden was spirited into this military hospital in Rawalpindi for kidney dialysis treatment. On that night, says this medical worker who wanted her identity protected, they moved out all the regular staff in the urology department and sent in a secret team to replace them. She says it was treatment for a very special person. The special team was obviously up to no good.

“The military had him surrounded,” says this hospital employee who also wanted his identity masked, “and I saw the mysterious patient helped out of a car. Since that time,” he says, “I have seen many pictures of the man. He is the man we know as Osama bin Laden. I also heard two army officers talking to each other. They were saying that Osama bin Laden had to be watched carefully and looked after.” Those who know bin Laden say he suffers from numerous ailments, back and stomach problems. Ahmed Rashid, who has written extensively on the Taliban, says the military was often there to help before 9/11.

AHMED RASHID, TALIBAN EXPERT: There were reports that Pakistani intelligence had helped the Taliban buy dialysis machines. And the rumor was that these were wanted for Osama bin Laden.

PETERSEN (on camera): Doctors at the hospital told CBS News there was nothing special about that night, but they refused our request to see any records. Government officials tonight denied that bin Laden had any medical treatment on that night.

(voice-over): But it was Pakistan`s President Musharraf who said in public what many suspected, that bin Laden suffers from kidney disease, saying he thinks bin Laden may be near death. His evidence, watching this most recent video, showing a pale and haggard bin Laden, his left hand never moving. Bush administration officials admit they don`t know if bin Laden is sick or even dead.

DONALD RUMSFELD, DEFENSE SECRETARY: With respect to the issue of Osama bin Laden`s health, I just am — don`t have any knowledge.

PETERSEN: The United States has no way of knowing who in Pakistan`s military or intelligence supported the Taliban or Osama bin Laden maybe up to the night before 9/11 by arranging dialysis to keep him alive. So the United States may not know if those same people might help him again perhaps to freedom.

Barry Petersen, CBS News, Islamabad.

(END VIDEOTAPE) END

Copyright CBS News 2002

http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2002/01/28/eveningnews/main325887.shtml

Hospital Worker: I Saw Osama

Jan. 28, 2002

Quote

“They military had him surrounded. I have seen many pictures of the man. He is the man we know as Osama bin Laden.” Hospital employee

(CBS) Everyone remembers what happened on Sept. 11 and, reports CBS News Correspondent Barry Petersen, here’s the story of what may have happened the night before.

In a tale as twisted as the hunt for Osama bin Laden, CBS Evening News has been told that the night before the Sept. 11 terrorists attack, Osama bin Laden was in Pakistan. He was getting medical treatment with the support of the very military that days later pledged its backing for the U.S. war on terror in Afghanistan.

Pakistan intelligence sources tell CBS News that bin Laden was spirited into a military hospital in Rawalpindi for kidney dialysis treatment.

“On that night,” said a medical worker who wanted her identity protected, “they moved out all the regular staff in the urology department and sent in a secret team to replace them.” She said it was treatment for a very special person and “the special team was obviously up to no good.”

“They military had him surrounded,” said a hospital employee who also wanted his identity masked, “and I saw the mysterious patient helped out of a car. Since that time,” he said, “I have seen many pictures of the man. He is the man we know as Osama bin Laden. I also heard two army officers talking to each other. They were saying that Osama bin Laden had to be watched carefully and looked after.”

Those who know bin Laden say he suffers from numerous ailments — back and stomach problems.

Ahmed Rashid, who has written extensively on the Taliban, said the military was often there to help before Sept. 11.

“There were reports that Pakistan intelligence had helped the Taliban buy dialysis machines and the rumor was that these were for wanted for Osama bin Laden,” said Rashid.

Doctors at the hospital told CBS News there was nothing special about that night, but they declined our request to see any records. Government officials reached Monday night denied that bin Laden received any medical treatment that night.

A U.S. official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said Tuesday the United States has seen nothing to substantiate the report.

It was Pakistan’s President Pervez Musharraf who said in public what many suspected: that bin Laden suffers from kidney disease, saying he thinks bin Laden may be near death.

His evidence — watching the most recent video, showing a pale and haggard bin Laden, his left hand never moving. Bush administration officials admit they don’t know if bin Laden is sick or even dead.

“With respect to the issue of Osama bin Laden’s health, I just am…don’t have any knowledge,” said Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld.

The U.S. has no way of knowing who in Pakistan’s military or intelligence supported the Taliban or Osama bin Lade, maybe up to the night before Sept. 11 by arranging dialysis to keep him alive. So the U.S. may not know if those same people might help him again — perhaps to freedom.

Copyright CBS News 20029/11 ANALYSIS: Where was Osama bin Laden on September 11, 2001.The original source of this article is Global ResearchCopyright © Prof Michel Chossudovsky, Global Research, 2020

International Tribune: A non-closed chapter

By Abir Bassam

August 20, 2020 – 0:16

Fifteen years, the Lebanese people have been waiting for fifteen years for the alleged justice that should be brought by the International Tribune. The tribune was commissioned to investigate the assassination of the Lebanese Prime Minister Rafic Hariri.

But, after the long waiting for the indefinite results, the indictment list on the 18th of August was clearly a “U” turn back to the starting point. The declaration was internationally needed as a damned sword on the necks of Syria and Hezbollah.

However, it is difficult to trust the results of the international investigations because it was doubted from the start by judges and investigators who were directly involved in it.  

According to an article published by the Lebanese newspaper al-Akhbar, the president of the International Tribune, Sir David Baragwanath, forced the vice president of the tribune Robert Roth to resign because his wife was working with an editor to unspecified Israeli newsletter. And Mrs. Roth was accused of tampering with the evidence.

Former UN investigator Bo Astrom announced another accusation of deliberately dropping crucial evidence. In a recorded interview, he said many facts involved the inquiry was totally ignored by the investigators, especially the facts related to the Wissam al-Hassan assassination in 2012. Al-Hassan was the only person who had information about the road or roads Hariri parade was supposed to take.

In addition, the tribune announcement was politically manipulated. Judge David Ray revealed on the 18th of August, as he was reciting the verdict that most of the evidence depended on telephone communication data.  Telephones were used to orchestrate the assassinator(s). However, the investigations could not link the numbers to its users.

Furthermore, the persons who were charged with the assassination were all Shiites.  As if Hezbollah was foolishly pointing the fingers towards him. In fact, the accusations were pointed to freedom fighters, who were preparing exploding charges that allegedly targeted the Israelis in South Lebanon.
The final investigation revealed that three of the accused persons were discharged. Hezbollah and Syria are the main parties that benefited from the assassination of Hariri; however, there are no proofs to support the accusations. Hence, the carefully planned assassination was declared as an act of political vendetta. And it took the stupid tribune fifteen years to announce these results.

It is important to dissect the political gain, especially the one that was achieved by Syria and Hezbollah from the assassination! Before the assassination, Hezbollah was leading fruitful talks with Hariri, relations with the late prime minister were about to become at its best since 1991. Total coordination in the next elections was about to be reached.

Secondly, Hezbollah, before the 14th of February 2005, did not aim to be part of the Lebanese political maze.

Meanwhile, the Syrians, with their presence in Lebanon, protected his back. The Hezbollah was indeed presented in the Lebanese Parliament, but it was not among its plans to be part of Lebanon’s corrupt governments since the Taif Agreement in 1989. Hezbollah’s main focus was on protecting the South, liberating the Shebaa and Kafer-Shoba farms, and liberating the Lebanese war prisoners in the Israeli dungeons. Three aims were not to be granted to Lebanon on a silver plate, and the Israeli knew that if it were accomplished, they would distort his image as the ultimate power in the region.

On the other hand, the Syrians were perfectly aware of the winds of international political changes accompanied by electing George Bush junior.

The Syrians were alerted by U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell about the consequences of their continuous support for the resistance against Israel in Lebanon.
They urged the Syrians to disarm Hezbollah military wing. Nonetheless, the Syrians refused American demands. Resolution 1559 appeared on the horizon, and the Syrians refused to leave Lebanon unless the Lebanese government asked them. It seemed that the situation was still water running deep. When Hariri was assassinated, it was the huge eruption that made it possible for the Americans to fulfill at least one part of their demands: the Syrian Army withdrew from Lebanon.

The Syrian departure resulted in non-humanitarian results. Syrian workers were attacked in the streets, more than 100 were killed, and no official investigations were seriously held. Until today no indictments were directed to anyone. This, for sure, created sentiments of fear and hatred among the Syrians towards the Lebanese. Even Syrian businesspeople were kidnapped in several areas of Lebanon. The same was about to happen in Syria; however, the Syrian police arrested several attackers, and restrictive rules were issued in 2005 to control such irregularities. It was the Israeli war in 2006 that could bring back the Syrians and the Lebanese sentiments of pride.

The Americans thought they had created a deep ditch of hate among the brothers; nonetheless, it was in vain.

It is important to study the atmosphere that prevailed after 2005, on the political and social level, to understand who benefited from the assassination. The ridiculous legal pleading of Judge David Ray was totally dependent on the testimonies given by the same people and parties that have benefited from Hariri’s assassination, which paved the way for a golden era for all the parties who became fully in control.

Walid Jumblatt became the defender of Hariri. He took the family and the country under his “wings.” Fouad Siniora was nominated to be the next prime minister after the resignation of Omar Karami. The main beneficiary was Samir Geagea, the murderer of Lebanese politicians, and the executor of massacres in Lebanon was given a full pardon.

The previous group worked closely with the Americans to disarm Hezbollah during the 2006 war and later in 2007 during the attempt to control Hezbollah’s communication sector, which provided protection for the secret telephone lines among the freedom fighters and with their commandants.

There was a far greater conspiracy to displace the Shiites in South Lebanon if Israel had won the war in 2006. This was the end means of the assassination of an important man as much as Hariri was. The International Tribune has failed to read in politics these facts, as much as it was able to read the other version.

When Marwan Hamadeh’s attempt of assassination took place in 2005, Syria, without a certified investigation, was directly accused. In a paradox, the same technique of detonation was used in the attempt to kill Hamadeh was used to kill Harir; and before that was executed in Damascus in 1981. The French blamed the Syrians for the killing of their ambassador in Beirut and revenged it by blasting 500 kg of TNT in al-Azbakia neighborhood using almost the same technique. However, in Syria, it was a time bomb, while in other two it was remotely activated.

Bernard Emie, the French ambassador, was the first to go around giving consultation and provoking the different parties after the attempt to end Hamadeh’s life. Judge Ray called it a Syrian warning.

However, it can be easily called as the first attempt to threaten the Syrians. In case they failed to comply with the American demands in disarming Hezbollah.
It seems that we need to wait another month before the date of the sentence on the 21st of September. Nothing is special about the date. Salim Ayyash is going to be sentenced after declaring the innocence of the three other suspects. The next month, Ayyash, a simple man, will be accused of plotting, preparing, and killing a state’s man for personal vengeance. And that is why the Lebanese taxpayers paid 800 million American dollars so that an American cliche verdict is achieved.

RELATED NEWS

EMPEROR TRUMP NOW STANDS PARTIALLY NAKED

Source

 A

A child exposing the nakedness of the emperor by speaking truth to power?

Not these days.

More than half of the United States — not just liberals and the left but also the mainstream media and some Republicans — has been shouting at Emperor Trump for months on end that he has no clothes. These declarations have fallen on deaf ears, for Donald Trump is constitutionally incapable of acknowledging his own flaws.

Also, there are still plenty of people telling Trump what he wants to hear. The president is surrounded by family members, advisors, and careerists who have refused to acknowledge the simple truth that the White House has been occupied for more than three years by a person that former Secretary of State Rex Tillerson once called King Moron (oops, I misquote: he actually said a “f**king moron”).

In the last week, however, this picture has begun to change. Three important clothiers of the president have said that maybe the commander-in-chief has been experiencing a wardrobe malfunction all along.

Twitter, Justin Trudeau, and James Mattis all took their turns in the spotlight recently to challenge the American president. Representing three important constituencies — social media, the Pentagon, and the international community — all three in their own way have chipped away at Trump’s power.

True, they have all provided important cover for the naked leader in the past. Also, their statements could have been clearer calls to arms. But now, all three can help precipitate the “run for the exit” moment that will spell Trump’s downfall.

We’ll have to wait until November to be sure, but the president might have effectively lost his reelection bid this month, well before Election Day.

Social Media

Donald Trump once wooed the mainstream media. He chatted up gossip columnists. He pretended over the phone that he was his own publicist, singing the praises of his boss. He so desperately wanted to be on the cover of Time that he created dummy versions of the magazine proclaiming that “Trump is hitting on all fronts” and hung them in at least five of his golf clubs. Throughout, he groused that the media was not sufficiently flattering.

Twitter provided Trump with the ideal solution to his chronic need for attention. He no longer had to rely on the media and instead could communicate directly to his followers. He could simultaneously disparage the mainstream media as “fake news” and dispense his own fake news by tweet.

In the first three years of his presidency, Trump fired off more than 11,000 tweets. Many of them were rambling attacks on his opponents (somehow Trump manages to be rambling in under 280 characters). But some of them were actual policy announcements or served some other tactical purpose.

Twitter wasn’t simply a tool of the presidency. It became the presidency.

According to this New York Times analysis of this incessant Twitterstorm:

Early on, top aides wanted to restrain the president’s Twitter habit, even considering asking the company to impose a 15-minute delay on Mr. Trump’s messages. But 11,390 presidential tweets later, many administration officials and lawmakers embrace his Twitter obsession, flocking to his social media chief with suggestions. Policy meetings are hijacked when Mr. Trump gets an idea for a tweet, drawing in cabinet members and others for wordsmithing. And as a president often at war with his own bureaucracy, he deploys Twitter to break through logjams, overrule, or humiliate recalcitrant advisers and pre-empt his staff.

Twitter has helped Trump. And Trump has helped poison Twitter.

Although the social media giant has had no problem deleting praise for the Islamic State, it hasn’t shown comparable due diligence toward white nationalism. According to an account of a discussion at a Twitter staff meeting, a technical employee explained that “on a technical level, content from Republican politicians could get swept up by algorithms aggressively removing white supremacist material. Banning politicians wouldn’t be accepted by society as a trade-off for flagging all of the white supremacist propaganda.”

With the compliance of social media platforms, Trump and his coterie of Republican extremists have helped to mainstream otherwise marginal content.

But that tide might be turning. At the end of May, Twitter took the unprecedented step of labeling two of Trump’s tweets, directing readers to accurate sources of information on mail-in balloting and announcing that Trump had violated its policies on glorifying violence. Then, last week, Twitter took down an account that retweeted all of Trump’s utterances, again for violating its policies.

Trump, predictably, went ballistic. He lashed out on Twitter (the man is impervious to irony). He retaliated with an executive order to lift some of the liability protections on social media companies.

It’s not as if Trump is going to abandon his principle mode of communication. This last weekend, after all, he broke his own Twitter record by sending out 200 Tweets in a 24-hour period, including 74 in one hour. By increasing the outflow of his firehose, Trump seems to be daring Twitter to keep up with its labels.

Twitter hasn’t deplatformed Trump, as it has some other darlings of the alt-right. It let slide Trump’s latest Twitter outrage — promoting a conspiracy theory about a Buffalo protestor injured by the police — because the use of a question mark marked it as “speculative” (Really? Really??).

But with its labels, Twitter is finally saying that no one is above the law — the admittedly loose laws of the internet — not even the president of the United States.

Justin Trudeau

In the United States, we are still talking about the 8 minutes and 46 seconds that a cop knelt on George Floyd’s neck, killing him.

In Canada, they’re talking about 21 seconds.

That’s the pause that Prime Minister Justin Trudeau took to answer a question on Trump’s threat to use the military against those protesting Floyd’s death. Trudeau could have used that time to criticize Trump directly. Instead, after his long pause, he chose to speak of the problems facing people of color in his own country. “There is systemic racism in Canada,” he said.

Trump has never hesitated to lambaste other heads of state. He called Trudeau “two-faced” as well as “very dishonest and weak.” He labeled comments by Emanuel Macron “very, very nasty.” He criticized comments of Danish Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen as “nasty and inappropriate.” With comments about friends like these, you can imagine how Trump tongue-lashes his enemies.

For the most part, the international community has quietly tolerated Trump. They’ve delivered tersely worded rebuttals. They’ve made fun of him behind his back. But they haven’t directly or personally criticized him.

Given the power of the United States, it’s unlikely that the leader of an allied country will take the president to task. So, perhaps the best we can hope for is 21 seconds of silence, during which the rest of us can voice the thoughts we think are going through Justin Trudeau’s mind.

Maybe it’s because I worked for a Quaker organization for many years, but I think that sometimes silence can speak volumes.

James Mattis

Former Pentagon chief Jim “Mad Dog” Mattis was one of the more prominent “adults in the room” who were supposed to rein in Trump. He failed. He resigned in December 2018 after disagreeing with Trump’s push to withdraw U.S. troops from Syria. When he resigned and later when he published his memoir the following year, Mattis kept his thoughts on Trump to himself.

Last week, Mattis broke his silence with a remarkable statement in The Atlantic criticizing the president’s threatened use of the military against protesters. He said, in part:

Donald Trump is the first president in my lifetime who does not try to unite the American people — does not even pretend to try. Instead he tries to divide us. We are witnessing the consequences of three years of this deliberate effort. We are witnessing the consequences of three years without mature leadership. We can unite without him, drawing on the strengths inherent in our civil society.

In all my years as a protester, I have never witnessed someone of Mattis’s background and standing actually side with folks on the street. “The protests are defined by tens of thousands of people of conscience who are insisting that we live up to our values — our values as people and our values as a nation,” he said.

It wasn’t just Mattis. Former chair of the joint chiefs of staff Mike Mullen wrote a similar condemnation of Trump as did former commander of U.S. forces in Afghanistan John Allen. It was the journalistic equivalent of D-Day, with the generals landing their forces on Omaha Beach in the hopes of dethroning their adversary several months hence.

Yes, yes, I know: Mattis, Mullen, and Allen are no leftists. You can’t even call them liberals or moderates. Andy Kroll is right to point out in Rolling Stone that these are “the same military leaders who endorsed and defended a policy of forever war that has led to tens of thousands of American deaths, hundreds of thousands of dead Iraqis and Afghans and Syrians and Yemenis and Pakistanis, hundreds of thousands of injuries physical and mental suffered by U.S. service members, and many billions of taxpayer dollars poured into endless conflict.”

Kroll is both right and spectacularly off the mark. After all, Donald Trump similarly dismissed Colin Powell’s endorsement of Joe Biden by linking him to America’s failed wars.

The fact that these old establishment figures have blood on their hands is precisely the point. Noam Chomsky denouncing Donald Trump is not news. Everyone expects the leaders of the #BlackLivesMatter movement to criticize the president. I’ve been slamming Trump from day one of his presidency (and many months before), but I doubt my preaching goes very far beyond the choir.

All the attacks on Trump from left and center are what journalists call “dog bites man.” It’s no surprise. But “Mad Dog bites man”? That’s a different story altogether.

The military has been the most trusted institution in U.S. society for decades. According to Gallup, it enjoyed a 73 percent approval rating in 2019 — compared to 38 percent for both the presidency and the Supreme Court, 36 percent for organized religion, and 11 percent for Congress.

People listen to the military. And by people, here I mean folks who voted for Donald Trump, continue to support the president, and are still thinking about voting for him in November.

As importantly, these generals are willing to take enemy fire — from Fox News, from crazy Internet trolls, from the president himself—so that other former Trump enablers might be more willing to stand up and speak their minds.

Immediately after Mattis waded into the debate, Senator Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) confessed her concerns about Trump and said that she hasn’t made up her mind about who to support in November. Francis Rooney, a Republican member of Congress from Florida, is now leaning toward Biden. A number of prominent Republicans won’t vote for Trump, but they also are reluctant to say so in public.

This doesn’t exactly constitute a surge. A solid core of the party remains firmly behind the president. The more telegenic version of Trump, Tom Cotton (R-AR), is enjoying a swell of support after The New York Times criticized its own handling of the senator’s incendiary and inaccurate piece, “Send in the Military.” So far, Mattis has not played the role of the journalist Edward R. Murrow taking down the demagogue Joe McCarthy.

But you have to believe that statements from Mattis and others are at least going to introduce an element of doubt into the minds of some true believers. Active duty soldiers and veterans who voted for Trump — he received 61 percent of the veteran vote compared to Hillary Clinton’s 34 percent — might just heed the generals. And the latest polls suggest that both older Americans and white Americans are starting to abandon Trump.

I don’t expect Mitch McConnell or Tom Cotton to denounce Trump. Much of the Republican Party will loyally follow the president into his White House bunker. But thanks to the truth-telling of Mattis and others, everyone else will be laughing all the way to the polls at the emperor stripped bare by his enablers.


By John Feffer
Source: Foreign Policy In Focus

SYRIA: RUSSIA CHALLENGES THE US THROUGH THE LEVANT GATE.

By Elijah J. Magnier@ejmalrai

In 2011, a significant Western-Arab coalition joined together and invested huge finance, media support and military resources in attempting to topple the Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. For this purpose, the alliance had established military operating rooms where US, British, Turkish and Arab intelligence services were established in northern Syria, Jordan and Turkey to prepare for the post-Assad stage. But this President had already refused any concessions to US Secretary of State Colin Powell when he visited him in 2003 after the occupation of Iraq. Two years after the beginning of the war, the Syrian President asked his allies in Iran and Lebanon (and then later on Russia) for help for each of them to preserve their interests, strategic goals and obligations with their Syrian partner. The Russian military intervention came in September 2015. It was due to several factors: while the Iranian and allied forces dominated the ground, the troops of Moscow were needed to dominate Syrian airspace, and this turned the tables on the Arab – international coalition. Has the situation changed today for President Assad, now that most parts of Syria have been liberated? What does Russia want: control of the Levant and the removal of Assad?

President Hafez al-Assad and his son Bashar did not offer concessions on the Golan Heights, and refused to reconcile with Israel: they would not give up Syrian territory in return for a peace deal. Many years later, President Bashar al-Assad refused to hand over the head of Hamas and “Hezbollah” as he was requested to do by the US in 2003, 2008 and even 2018. During the Syrian war, the United Arab Emirates mediated for a US delegation to visit Damascus in a proposal to end the war and rebuild what was destroyed in Syria in exchange for expelling Hezbollah, Iran and Russia from the Levant.

At the outbreak of the Syrian war in 2011, Russia was not ready to emerge from its self-imposed hibernation and kept on ice its international and Middle Eastern role. The then Russian President Dmitry Medvedev allowed NATO to destroy Libya in 2011. However, in 2015 when President Vladimir Putin was in power, the screws were tightened on Syria’s allies in the vast Syrian countryside with the deployment of tens of thousands of jihadists and militants financed and trained by dozens of western and Arab countries. The Iranian Major General Qassem Soleimani travelled to Moscow and was able to persuade President Putin to send his planes to the Levant to defend Russia’s interests (naval base in Tartous that the jihadists threateneded to remove) and its Syrian ally.

Since that date, Western and Arab media have not stopped mocking Russia’s military capabilities. Western think tanks hoped that Russia would fail, and predicted its descent into the Syrian quagmire. When Russia proved its efficient air superiority (Iran was committed to securing ground forces to follow through the Russian airstrikes), reckless analysts claimed, in a mirror image of the US intentions, strategy and wishful thinking that Russia wanted to remove President Assad and impose whoever it wanted because Moscow has become the dominant force in the Levant. 

And when this theory is exhausted, another naive approach begins, that there is an American-Russian understanding in Syria to displace or marginalise President Assad. Naturally, those – who have spent nine years believing, promoting and foretelling the fall of President al-Assad and the government of Damascus every month or every year – are in a permanent state of wishful thinking. They ignore what the former Qatari Prime Minister Hamad bin Jassem said when he bravely admitted defeat: “the [quarry] has escaped the trap, and the time has come to acknowledge the reality of our defeat”, he said.

Leading sources within the “Axis of the Resistance” in Syria said “there is no Russian-US understanding, but a clear challenge to Washington’s influence in the Middle East. Russia is harassing US planes, approaching these at a critical distance. Russia aims to be granted Assad’s approval of expanding Hmeimim airport, its Tartous naval base and to create more static bases in northern Syria. Russia has decided that the Middle East is part of its strategic interests for confronting the US forces that are based in the Middle East and Europe. It is only possible for Russia to survive in the Levant if it establishes a strategic relationship with President Assad, Iran and its allies. Iran’s allies take every opportunity to challenge the authority of the US in the Middle Eastern region, which falls perfectly well within Russia’s objectives. “

Since Russia decided to engage within the Syrian arena, its leadership was nevertheless concerned about falling into the Middle East quagmire. Thus, it has depended on Iran and its allies to restore power to President Assad over all the Syrian occupied territories. Therefore, Russia has no intention to earn the hostilities of the Sunni jihadists as well as confronting Shia and Alawites in an unpredictable war of attrition. If this happened, Russia would be facing another 1981-Afghanistan war, an “objective” contrary  to Putin’s plan to establish himself in the Middle East. It is essential to add that Russia does not control the land or need an army to spread, protect, or even start a new costly war, after seeing the confirmed capabilities of Syria and its allies in the battlefield throughout the years of the Syrian conflict.

“Russia has promised to modernise the Syrian air fleet and the defensive-offensive missile capability of the Syrian army. Furthermore, Moscow will invest in rebuilding part of the Syrian infrastructure projects, mainly in the field of energy. In exchange, Russia will expand its combat capability to confront the US and NATO. The Syrian President is dealing with the Russian President as a strategic ally even if Russia has allies – such as Israel – that are the enemies of Syria. Russia has decided to cooperate with several Middle Eastern countries, and this means that it wants strong allies in Syria, Lebanon and Iraq. That could only be possible through its relationship with President Assad and with Iran, a strong and influential position in their respective countries,” explained the source.

President Putin has assigned the Ministries of Foreign Affairs and Defence to negotiate with the Syrian state on expanding the military presence and deployment in other bases because Russia certainly does not wish to move away from the Middle East. American unilateralism has ended its era, and Russia’s new robust position in Syria and Libya has created a gap in ​​the NATO area of influence. Russia is no longer passive but, with its positioning, has moved to the confrontation phase. Hence, the expansion of the Russian strategic positioning has little to do with the continuity of President Bashar al-Assad in power. And Assad has decided to hold the forthcoming presidential elections notwithstanding the international attempt, which includes the United Nations, to prevent the return and vote of the Syrian refugees from nearby countries. 

Russia believes the US is weak now. Therefore, it should take advantage of President Donald Trump’s domestic struggle and the challenge he is facing in the coming months when the elections will be knocking on US doors. Russia would like to take advantage of this opportunity to progress on the Middle Eastern front, and thus establish a robust position in the warm waters of the Mediterranean. 

President Trump is struggling domestically due to the mismanagement of the “Coronavirus” pandemic and the large number of Americans finding themselves jobless. Furthermore, for more than a week, he is facing a real challenge to his ruling based on his provocative response to state-sponsored racial discrimination. He is in crisis with China and Russia. He has to swallow Iran’s challenges: not only has it bombed the largest US base in Iraq, but also violated the US sanctions on Venezuela by sending five oil tankers and spare parts to repair the refineries. The US president is showing severe weakness on several fronts and has managed to draw together both the Russian bear and the Chinese dragon to confront him. A new and solid strategic alliance – not a blind alliance – between Russia, China, Iran, Syria, and its allies in the Middle East is picking up and is challenging the US hegemony.

President Putin has appointed a special envoy as a go-between him and President Bashar al-Assad so that there is no hindrance between messages, agreements, and quick decisions that must be taken or to remove any obstacles as quickly as possible. It is the era of partnership between allies, not the age of domination and bullying or dominance, in contrast with the style of America’s usual dealings with the Middle East. The Middle East is living a new era: a balance has been created which was missing for decades.

Proofread by:   C.G.B. and Maurice Brasher

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