Biden’s Journey: Change Is Imperceptible

Ph.D., Executive Director of the Council for the National Interest.

Philip Giraldi

February 25, 2021

Biden has been a major disappointment for those who hoped that he’d change course regarding America’s pathological involvement in overseas conflicts.

The new White House Team has been in place for more than a month and it is perhaps time to consider where it is going with America’s fractured foreign policy. To be sure, when a new administration brings in a bunch of “old hands” who made their bones by attacking Syria and Libya while also assassinating American citizens by drone one might hope that those mistakes might have served as valuable “lessons learned.” Or maybe not, since no one in the Democratic Party ever mentions the Libya fiasco and President Joe Biden has already made it clear that Syria will continue to be targeted with sanctions as well as with American soldiers based on its soil. And no one will be leaving Afghanistan any time soon. The Biden team will only let up when Afghanistan is “secure” and there is regime change in Damascus.

A big part of the problem is that the personnel moves mean that the poison from the Barack Obama years has now been reintroduced into the tottering edifice that Donald Trump left behind. Obama’s United Nations Ambassador Susan Rice once made the case for attacking the Libyans by explaining how Libyan leader Moammar Gaddafi provided his soldiers with Viagra so they could more readily engage in mass rapes of presumably innocent civilians. Unfortunately, Sue is back with the new administration as the Director of the Domestic Policy Council where she will no doubt again wreak havoc in her own inimitable fashion. She is joined at the top level of the administration by Tony Blinken as Secretary of State, Avril Haines as Director of National Intelligence, Jake Sullivan as National Security Advisor, Samantha Power as head of USAID and retired General Lloyd J. Austin as Secretary of Defense. All of the appointees are regarded as “hawks” and have personal history working with Biden when he was in Congress and as Vice President, while most of them also served in the Obama administration.

Be that as it may, Joe Biden and whoever is pulling his strings have assembled a group of establishment warmongers and aspirant social justice engineers that is second to none. Those who expected something different than the usual Democratic Party template have definitely been disappointed. Hostility towards China continues with warships being sent to the South China Sea and the president is seeking to create a new Trans-Atlantic alliance directed against both Beijing and Moscow. The Europeans are reportedly not enthusiastic about remaining under Washington’s thumb and would like some breathing room.

In a phone conversation where it would have been interesting to be a fly on the wall, Biden warned Russian President Vladimir Putin that the United States would no longer ignore his bad behavior. The official White House account of the call included the following pithy summary: “President Biden reaffirmed the United States’ firm support for Ukraine’s sovereignty. He also raised other matters of concern, including the SolarWinds hack, reports of Russia placing bounties on United States soldiers in Afghanistan, interference in the 2020 United States election, and the poisoning of Aleksey Navalny.”

And to be sure, there have already been a number of issues that Biden might have dealt with by executive order, like lifting the illegal and unjustified blockade of Cuba, that could have inspired some hope that the new administration would not be just another bit of old wine in new bottles. Alas, that has not taken place but for a series of moves to unleash another wave of illegal immigration and to “protect LGBTQ rights globally.” Biden has also retained a heavy military presence in Washington itself, possibly as part of a Constitution-wrecking plan to tackle what he is referring to as “domestic terrorism.” The domestic terrorists being targeted appear to largely consist of people who are white working and middle class and voted for Trump.

In some ways, foreign policy might have been the easiest fix if the new administration were really seeking to correct the misadventures of the past twenty years. Quite the contrary, Biden and his associates have actually reversed the sensible and long overdue policies initiated by Donald Trump to reduce troop strength in Germany and bring the soldiers home from Syria and Afghanistan. Biden has already committed to an indefinite stay in Afghanistan, America’s longest “lost” war, and has covertly sent more soldiers into Syria as well as Iraq.

As regards Latin America, the U.S. clearly is prepared to double down on regime change in Venezuela, continuing its Quixotic support of Juan Guaido as president. Meanwhile, the new Secretary of State Tony Blinken has clearly indicated that there will be no end to deference to Israeli interests in the Middle East. Under questioning by Congress, he has insisted that Israel will be “consulted” on U.S. policy to include arms sales in the region, which has been interpreted to mean that Jerusalem will have a veto, and has confirmed that his view on Iran is identical to that of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. Both are apparently promoting the view that Iran will have enough enriched uranium to construct a weapon within a few weeks, though they have not addressed other technical aspects of what would actually be required to build one. Netanyahu has been making the claim about the Iranian threat since the 1980s and now it is also an element of U.S. policy.

Biden and Blinken have also moved forward slowly on a campaign commitment to attempt renegotiation of the 2015 JCPOA nuclear agreement with Iran that President Trump withdrew from in 2017. As a condition to re-start discussions, the Iranian leadership has demanded a return to the status quo ante, meaning that the punitive sanctions initiated by Trump would have to be canceled and Iran would in return cease all enrichment activities. Biden and Blinken, which admittedly sounds a bit like a vaudeville comedy duo, have reportedly agreed to withdraw the Trump sanctions but have also suggested that Iran will have to make other concessions, to include ending its ballistic missile development program and ceasing its “meddling” in the Middle East. Iran will refuse to agree to that, which means that the bid to renegotiate could turn out to be nothing more than a bit of theater involving multilateral “discussions” hosted by the European Union and the pointless hostility between Washington and Tehran will continue.

And speaking again of Israel, there have been concerns expressed by the usual suspects because Biden had not called telephoned Netanyahu immediately after the inauguration. It may be true that the president was sending a somewhat less than subtle message signaling that he was in charge, but the call has now taken place and everything is hunky-dory. As a separate issue, the Jewish state has, of course, the world’s only secret nuclear arsenal, estimated to consist of at least 200 bombs, and it also has several systems available to deliver them on target. For no reasons that make any sense, the United States since the time of President Richard Nixon has never publicly confirmed the existence of the weapons, preferring to maintain “nuclear ambiguity” that allows Israel to have the weapons without any demands for inspections or constraints on their use. The most recent four presidents have, in fact, signed secret agreements with Israel not to expose the nuclear arsenal. Biden has apparently not done so yet, but appeals by international figures, including most recently South African Desmond Tutu, had produced some expectations that the new administration might break with precedent.

Giving aid to Israel is, in fact, illegal due to the Symington Amendment to the Foreign Assistance Act, which bans U.S. economic and military assistance to nuclear proliferators and countries that seek to acquire nuclear weapons. But Biden has already indicated that he would not under any circumstances cut aid to Israel, so the matter would appear to be closed. In any event the Symington Amendment includes an exemption clause that would allow the funding to continue as long as the president certifies to Congress that continued aid to the proliferator would be a vital U.S. interest. Given Israel’s power in both Congress and the White House it is not imaginable that its aid would be affected no matter what Netanyahu and his band of criminals choose to do.

So, it would seem that Biden is unprepared to either pressure or pursue any distancing from Israel and its policies, not a good sign for those of us who have encouraged some disengagement from the Middle East quagmire. And one final issue where some of us have hoped to see some movement from Biden has also been a disappointment. That is Julian Assange, who is fighting against efforts to have him extradited from England to face trial and imprisonment in the U.S. under the Espionage Act. Many observers believe that Assange is a legitimate journalist who is being set up for a show trial with only one possible outcome. The entire process is to a large extent being driven by a desire for revenge coming largely from the Democratic Party since Assange was responsible for publishing the Hillary Clinton emails as well as other party documents. Biden has already indicated that the process of extraditing Assange will continue.

So, Biden has been a major disappointment for those who expected that he might change course regarding America’s pathological involvement in overseas conflicts while also having the good sense and courage to make relations with countries like Iran and Israel responsive to actual U.S. interests. Finally, it would be a good sign if Assange were to be released from the threat of trial and prison, if only to recognize that free speech and a free press benefit everyone, but that is perhaps a bridge too far as the United States moves inexorably towards a totalitarian state intolerant of dissent.

What to Expect in 2021: Madness, Mayhem, Manipulation and More Tyranny

John Whitehead
ABOUT JOHN W. WHITEHEAD. Constitutional attorney and author John W. Whitehead is founder and president of The Rutherford Institute. His new book Battlefield America: The War on the American People  is available at www.amazon.com. Whitehead can be contacted at johnw@rutherford.org.

Global Research,

January 06, 2021

By John W. Whitehead

“Twelve voices were shouting in anger, and they were all alike. No question, now, what had happened to the faces of the pigs. The creatures outside looked from pig to man, and from man to pig, and from pig to man again; but already it was impossible to say which was which.”―George Orwell, Animal Farm

What should we expect in 2021?

So far, it looks like this year is going to be plagued by more of the same brand of madness, mayhem, manipulation and tyranny that dominated 2020.

Frankly, I’m sick of it: the hypocrisy, the double standards, the delusional belief by Americans at every point along the political spectrum that politics and politicians are the answer to what ails the country, when for most of our nation’s history, politics and politicians have been the cause of our woes.

Consider: for years now, Americans, with sheeplike placidity, have tolerated all manner of injustices and abuses meted out upon them by the government (police shootings of unarmed individuals, brutality, corruption, graft, outright theft, occupations and invasions of their homes by militarized police, roadside strip searches, profit-driven incarcerations, profit-driven wars, egregious surveillance, taxation without any real representation, a nanny state that dictates every aspect of their lives, lockdowns, overcriminalization, etc.) without ever saying “enough is enough.”

Only now do Americans seem righteously indignant enough to mobilize and get active, and for what purpose? Politics. They’re ready to go to the mat over which corporate puppet will get the honor to serve as the smiling face on the pig for the next four years.

Talk about delusion.

It’s so ludicrous as to be Kafkaesque.

A perfect example of how farcical, topsy-turvy, and downright perverse life has become in the America: while President Trump doles out medals of commendation and presidential pardons to political cronies who have done little to nothing to advance the cause of freedom, Julian Assange rots in prison for daring to blow the whistle on the U.S. government’s war crimes

You’d think that Americans would be outraged over such abject pandering to the very swamp that Trump pledged to drain, but that’s not what has the Right and the Left so worked up. No, they’re still arguing over whether dead men voted in the last presidential election.

Either way, no matter which candidate lost to the other, it was always going to be the Deep State that won.

And so you have it: reduced to technicalities, distracted by magician’s con games, and caught up in the manufactured, highly scripted contest over which beauty contestant wears the crown, we have failed to do anything about the world falling apart around us.

Literally.

Our economy—at least as it impacts the vast majority of Americans as opposed to the economic elite—is in a shambles. Our infrastructure is falling apart. Our government has been overtaken by power-hungry predators and parasites. And our ability—and fundamental right—to govern our own lives is being usurped by greedy government operatives who care nothing for our lives or our freedoms.

Our ship of state is being transformed into a ship of fools.

We stand utterly defenseless in the face of a technological revolution brought about by artificial intelligence and wall-to-wall surveillance that is re-orienting the world as we know it. Despite the mounting high-tech encroachments on our rights, we have been afforded a paltry amount of legislative and judicial protections. Indeed, Corporate America has more rights than we do.

We stand utterly powerless in the face of government bureaucrats and elected officials who dance to the tune of corporate overlords and do what they want, when they want, with whomever they want at taxpayer expense, with no thought or concern for the plight of those they are supposed to represent. To this power elite, “we the people” are good for only two things: our tax dollars and our votes. In other words, they just want our money.

We stand utterly helpless in the face of government violence that is meted out, both at home and abroad. Indeed, the systemic violence being perpetrated by agents of the government—inflicted on unarmed individuals by battlefield-trained SWAT teams, militarized police, and bureaucratic government agents trained to shoot first and ask questions later—has done more collective harm to the American people and their liberties than any single act of terror or mass shooting.

We stand utterly silenced in the face of government and corporate censors and a cancel culture that, in their quest to not offend certain viewpoints, are all too willing to eradicate views that do not conform. In this way, political correctness has given way to a more insidious form of group think and mob rule.

We stand utterly locked down in the face of COVID-19 mandates, restrictions, travel bans and penalties that are acclimating the populace to unquestioningly accede to the government’s dictates, whatever they might be (as long as they are issued in the name of national security), no matter how extreme or unreasonable.

We stand utterly intimidated in the face of red flag laws, terrorism watch lists, contact tracing programs, zero tolerance policies, and all other manner of police state tactics that aim to keep us fearful and compliant.

We stand utterly indoctrinated in the collective belief that the government—despite its longstanding pattern and practice of corruption, collusion, dysfunction, immorality and incompetence—somehow represents “we the people.”

Despite all of this, despite how evident it is that we are mere tools to be used and abused and manipulated for the power elite’s own diabolical purposes, we somehow fail to see their machinations for what they truly are: thinly veiled attempts to overthrow our republic and enslave the citizenry in order to expand their power and wealth.

It is a grim outlook for a new year, but it is not completely hopeless.

If hope is to be found, it will be found with those of us who do not rely on politicians that promise to fix what is wrong but instead do their part, at their local levels, to right the wrongs and fix what is broken. I am referring to the builders, the thinkers, the helpers, the healers, the educators, the creators, the artists, the activists, the technicians, the food gatherers and distributors, and every other person who does their part to build up rather than destroy.

As I make clear in my book Battlefield America: The War on the American People, “we the people” are the hope for a better year. Not Trump. Not Biden. And not the architects and enablers of the American Police State.

Until we can own that truth, until we can forge our own path back to a world in which freedom means something again, we’re going to be stuck in this wormhole of populist anger, petty politics and destruction that is pitting us one against the other.

In that scenario, no one wins.

There’s a meme circulating on social media that goes like this:

If you catch 100 red fire ants as well as 100 large black ants, and put them in a jar, at first, nothing will happen. However, if you violently shake the jar and dump them back on the ground the ants will fight until they eventually kill each other. The thing is, the red ants think the black ants are the enemy and vice versa, when in reality, the real enemy is the person who shook the jar. This is exactly what’s happening in society today. Liberal vs. Conservative. Black vs. White. Pro Mask vs. Anti Mask. The real question we need to be asking ourselves is who’s shaking the jar … and why?

Whether red ants will really fight black ants to the death is a question for the biologists, but it’s an apt analogy of what’s playing out before us on the political scene and a chilling lesson in social engineering. So before you get too caught up in the circus politics and conveniently timed spectacles that keep us distracted from focusing too closely on the government’s power grabs, first ask yourself: who’s really shaking the jar?

WC: 1347

Publication Guidelines / Reprint Permission

John W. Whitehead’s weekly commentaries are available for publication to newspapers and web publications at no charge. Please contact staff@rutherford.org to obtain reprint permission.

How the Left is being Manipulated into Colluding in its own Character Assassination

Jonathan Cook won the Martha Gellhorn Special Prize for Journalism. His books include “Israel and the Clash of Civilisations: Iraq, Iran and the Plan to Remake the Middle East” (Pluto Press) and “Disappearing Palestine: Israel’s Experiments in Human Despair” (Zed Books). His website is www.jonathan-cook.net.  He is a frequent contributor to Global Research

By Jonathan Cook

Global Research, January 09, 2021

There was a fascinating online panel discussion on Wednesday night on the Julian Assange case that I recommend everyone watch. The video is at the bottom of the page.  

But from all the outstanding contributions, I want to highlight a very important point made by Yanis Varoufakis that has significance for understanding current events well beyond the Assange case. 

Varoufakis is an academic who was savaged by the western political and media establishments when he served as Greece’s finance minister. Back in 2015 a popular leftwing Greek government was trying to oppose the imposition of severe loan conditions on Greece by European and international financial institutions that risked tipping the Greek economy into deeper bankruptcy and seemed chiefly intended to upend its socialist programme. The government Varoufakis served was effectively crushed into obedience through a campaign of economic intimidation by these institutions.

 Varoufakis describes here the way that leftwing dissidents who challenge or disrupt western establishment narratives – whether it be himself, Assange or Jeremy Corbyn – end up not only being subjected to character assassination, as was always the case, but nowadays find themselves being manipulated into colluding in their own character assassination.

 Here is a short transcript of Varoufakis’ much fuller comments – about 48 minutes in – highlighting his point about co-option:

 “The establishment, the Deep State, call it whatever you want, the oligarchy, they’ve become much, much better at it [character assassination] than they used to be. Because back in the 1960s and 1970s, you know, they would accuse you of being a Communist. They would accuse me of being a Marxist. Well, I am a Marxist. I’m really not going to suffer that much if you accuse me of being a left-winger. I am a left-winger!

 “Now what they do is something far worse. They accuse you of something that really hurts you. Calling somebody like us a racist, a bigot, an antisemite, a rapist. This is what really hurts because if anybody calls me a rapist today, right, even if it’s complete baloney, I feel as a feminist I have the need to give the woman, implied or involved somehow in this accusation, the opportunity to speak against me. Because that is what we left-wingers do.”

Varoufakis’ point is that when Assange was accused of being a rapist, as he was before the US made clear the real case against him – by trying to extradite him from the UK for exposing its war crimes in Iraq and Afghanistan – he could not defend himself without alienating a significant constituency of his natural supporters, those on the left who identify as feminists. Which is exactly what happened.

 Similarly, as Varoufakis notes from earlier conversations he had with Assange, the Wikileaks founder was in no position to properly defend himself against accusations that he colluded with Russia and Donald Trump to help Trump win the 2016 US presidential election against Hillary Clinton and the Democrats.

 At the time, Assange’s supporters were able to point out that the leaked emails were true and that they were in the public interest because they showed deep corruption in the Democratic party establishment. But those arguments were drowned out by a narrative confected by the US media and security establishments that Wikileaks’ publication of the emails was political interference because the emails had supposedly been hacked by Russia to sway the election result.

 Because Assange was absolutely committed to the principle of non-disclosure of sources, he refused to defend himself in public by confirming that the emails had been leaked to him by a Democratic party insider, not the “Russians”. His silence allowed his vilification to go largely unchallenged. Having already been stripped of support from much of the feminist left, particularly in Europe, Assange now lost the support of a sizeable chunk of the left in the US too.

In these cases, the one who stands accused has to defend themselves with one hand tied behind their back. They cannot hit back without further antagonising a substantial section of their supporters, deepening divisions within the left’s ranks. The victim of this kind of character assassination is caught in the equivalent of reputational quicksand. The more they fight, the deeper they sink.

Which is, of course, exactly what happened to the UK’s former Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn when he was accused of being a racist. If he or his supporters tried to challenge the claim that the party had become antisemitic overnight under his leadership – even if only by citing statistics that showed the party hadn’t – they were immediately denounced for supposed “antisemitism denial”, posited as the modern equivalent of Holocaust denial.

Notice Ken Loach, who was also on the panel, nodding in agreement as Varoufakis speaks. Because Loach, the noted leftwing, anti-racist film-maker who came to Corbyn’s defence against the confected media campaign smearing him as an antisemite, soon found himself similarly accused.

Jonathan Freedland, a senior columnist at the liberal Guardian, was among those using precisely the tactic described by Varoufakis. He tried to discredit Loach by accusing him of denying Jews the right to define their own experience of antisemitism.   

Freedland sought to manipulate Loach’s anti-racist credentials against him. Either agree with us that Corbyn is an antisemite, and that most of his supporters are too, or you are a hypocrite, disowning your own anti-racist principles – and solely in the case of antisemitism. And that, QED, would prove you too are motivated by antisemitism.

Loach found himself with a terrible binary choice: either he must collude with Freedland and the corporate media in smearing Corbyn, a long-standing political ally, or else he would be forced to collude in his own smearing as an antisemite.

It’s a deeply ugly, deeply illiberal, deeply manipulative, deeply dishonest tactic. But it is also brilliantly effective. Which is why nowadays rightists and centrists use it at every opportunity. The left, given its principles, rarely resorts to this kind of deceit. Which means it can only bring a peashooter to a gun fight.

https://twitter.com/Jonathan_K_Cook/status/131348440736224870

This is the left’s dilemma. It’s why we struggle to win the argument in a corporate media environment that not only denies us a hearing but also promotes the voices of those like Freedland trying to destroy us from the centre and those supposedly on the left like George Monbiot and Owen Jones who are too often destroying us from within.

As Varoufakis also says, the left needs urgently to go on the offensive.

We need to find ways to turn the tables on the war criminals who have been gaslighting us in demanding that Assange, who exposed their crimes, is the one who needs to be locked up.

We need to make clear that it is those who are so ready to smear anti-racists as antisemites – as Corbyn’s successor, Sir Keir Starmer, has done to swaths of Labour party members – who are the real racists.

And we need to unmask as war hawks those who accuse the anti-war left of serving as apologists for dictators when we try to stop western states conducting more illegal, resource-grab wars with such devastating results for local populations.

We must get much more sophisticated in our thinking and our strategies. There is no time to lose.

This essay first appeared on Jonathan Cook’s blog: https://www.jonathan-cook.net/blog/ 

For Years, Journalists Cheered Assange’s Abuse. Now They’ve Paved His Path to a US Gulag

Richard Medhurst: “BBC ATTACKS JOURNALISTS CHALLENGING NARRATIVE ON SYRIA AND WHITE HELMETS”

Richard Medhurst 🇸🇾🇵🇸 (@richimedhurst) | Twitter

By Richard Medhurst 

December 4, 2020

The BBC has released a new radio podcast titled Mayday: Investigating The Life And Death Of James LeMesurier. It attempts to tell the story behind former British army and intelligence officer James LeMesurier, co-founder of the “White Helmets” in Syria. While the BBC claims that its new Radio 4 series seeks to “explore the true story” behind the so called “Syria Civil Defence”, its correspondence with journalists critical of the group shows this wasn’t the case.

The BBC contacted Canadian journalist Eva Bartlett and British journalist Vanessa Beeley. In emails provided to me last month, we can see how the BBC in its attempt to reach out to them, prepared a list of smears and allegations. The state funded broadcaster accused them of being conspiracy theorists, called them “tools” of the Syrian and Russian governments and refuted their reporting which implicates the White Helmets and its founder James LeMesurier as working on behalf of Western governments seeking regime change in Syria.

BBC's Chloe Hadjimatheou writes to Eva Bartlett about the White Helmets.

The e-mail sent to Beeley even included a chilling, veiled threat of legal action by the British government.

BBC's veiled threat of legal action towards Vanessa Beeley and her comments on the White Helmets.

Following this correspondence, I interviewed Vanessa Beeley. You can watch the interview here on YouTube. I also spoke with Eva Bartlett via e-mail. You can read her answers to my questions below.

Because their reporting differs so drastically from the official Western narrative– exposing a grim and dark reality about the White Helmets—Bartlett and Beeley have been the targets of various hit pieces, smears and accusations. Both journalists spent time living in Syria, reporting extensively on the group’s activities. Owing to their expertise on the matter, they have also given testimony at the United Nations on several occasions.
Chloe Hadjimatheou, the BBC journalist who contacted Bartlett and Beeley, has never been to Syria.

The White Helmets claim to be an impartial civil defense organization, manned by volunteers who film themselves rescuing victims from the rubble. The group has played a substantial role in shaping the Western media’s narrative on the war in Syria, accusing the Syrian and Russian governments of indiscriminately bombing civilians and hospitals, as well as chemical gas attacks like the one in Douma in 2018 – which was later proven to be staged and part of a cover up by the OPCW.

The White Helmets have received international praise and accolades. The group was nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize, Netflix produced an Oscar-winning documentary about them and the organization has received millions in funding from Western governments, including the United States and United Kingdom.

While the above makes the organization sound like an accomplished and noble endeavor, the reality on the ground is quite different. The White Helmets have been found to operate in areas controlled by Al Qaeda and other jihadist elements, sharing offices in the same building, and videos implicating its members in executions and war crimes.

Leaked documents in September reveal how the White Helmets and its contractor ARK, founded by Alistair Harris, a former British diplomat, were part of an elaborate slush fund and propaganda network run by Western governments. Not only were these contractors bankrolled by nations openly seeking regime change in Syria and working closely with mainstream media to paint the Syrian and Russian governments as evil— but also to rebrand the Syrian opposition as more “moderate” and the White Helmets as impartial, humanitarian actors, while whitewashing their close collaboration with ISIS and Al Qaeda groups in opposition-held territory.

White Helmets founder James LeMesurier is himself a former British army and intelligence officer. Through a non-profit that he established called Mayday Rescue, he secured funding for the White Helmets funneling millions from international donors. In 2016, LeMesurier was awarded an OBE (Officer of the Order of the British Empire) by the Queen. Despite the widespread coverage and portrayal of the White Helmets as a grassroots volunteer group—the fact it was created, run and funded by the same countries bombing Syria and seeking to overthrow its government is rarely reported, if ever, in mainstream media.

In November 2019, LeMesurier was found dead in Istanbul after apparently falling out of a window, which Turkish authorities ruled a suicide. This came just a few days after LeMesurier admitted to donors via email that he had defrauded them and was scared of further audits—after a Dutch auditor was flown in to examine financial records. LeMesurier was paying himself and his wife (also a British diplomat) enormous cash bonuses on top of their monthly salary of €24,000 each. LeMesurier even used money from the organization to pay for his own wedding. Following these revelations and his death, the Guardian and other Western outlets blamed a “war of disinformation” as having contributed to his apparent suicide.

When one realizes how much money and effort has gone towards promoting the White Helmets, it becomes apparent why Western governments, and their media outlets are so protective of their propaganda tool – viciously attacking anyone who counters their narrative or exposes their inner workings.

The BBC’s claims about Beeley and Bartlett are laden with smears, wild accusations and personal attacks. The majority of the questions do not even reference their reporting or make any attempt to verify and scrutinize their coverage. The veiled threat of legal action is of particular concern, especially when the United Kingdom is detaining journalist Julian Assange for publishing documents revealing major war crimes by the United States.


Interview with Eva Bartlett

Richard Medhurst: What’s the first thing that went through your mind when you read this e-mail from the BBC?

Eva Bartlett: Oh how original, British state-owned media want to repeat character assassination smears which other corporate media already did years ago.

It also occurred to me that the BBC has the time/resources to re-hash an old slander theme, but not to cover the Julian Assange hearings, and that this new slander is a new and dangerous attack on press freedom.
The timing of this pending smear coincides with continued backlash against the whistleblower experts of the OPCW who spoke out against the OPCW report on whether a chemical attack occurred in Douma in 2018. I suspect that this is one reason for the new smear on those of us who reported from on the ground in Douma, collecting testimonies from medical professionals and from civilians. These testimonies contradict the claims of the West about a chemical attack being perpetrated by the Syrian government.

RM: Is this the first time Chloe Hadjimatheou contacts you?

EB: Yes.

RM: Did you reply directly to her e-mail or any of the allegations she presented?

EB: Initially I didn’t replay to her email, as experience has taught me these sorts of predetermined character assault email queries don’t intend to fairly air my side of the argument, but are more about being able to say they reached out to me before publishing their smear. In late 2016, I was targeted by a number of Western media and “fact-checking” type sites at a time when I was doing a speaking tour in the US and had very limited access to net. At the same time, my email and messenger inboxes were flooded with around 1000 messages (most of them supportive), including some from Channel 4 News and Snopes, which I didn’t see until some weeks after the fact. However, given the nature of how these corporate entities run their smear campaigns, I believe that even had I seen their messages/emails and replied, they would not have fairly published my replies.

That belief is based on the nature of the smears that ensued, which frequently made use of logical fallacies/strawmen argument to incriminate me in whatever slurs they were making. You can find examples which I pointed out when making a collective rebuttal to Snopes, Channel 4 and Canadian media.
Based on the knowledge that these state-funded entities don’t play fair, I didn’t intend on replying. However, prior to the Monday deadline for Chloe’s story I will send the following:

Chloe,

You asked for a clarification or comment to your hostile email to me, yet you did not make clear whether you would publish in full my reply. Will you? If you do not do this as requested, I will say I attempted to meet your request for replies but you declined to publish in full. Kindly let me know whether you intend to follow professional standards and include my full reply, which I will send depending on your reply.

For the record: my travels to and around Syria, and elsewhere, are at my expense and supported by those who have followed my journalism for years, or even more than a decade. I am not funded by any government (but you are, aren’t you, working for British state-funded media). If you or the BBC publish anything insinuating that I receive funding from any government, I will seek legal counsel.

My writings for RT are mine alone: I pitch opinion articles to them on a per piece basis as an independent freelancer.However, you seem to be unaware that I, as a freelancer, contribute to/have contributed to a number of other platforms, including Mint Press News, Oriental Review, Dissident Voice, Inter Press Services, and a host of others all detailed on my blog.

It is completely disingenuous of you to imply my writing is anything other than my own views, and it is libellous of you.

In the mean time, feel free to peruse my bio, it is quite extensive, with on the ground experience from Palestine to Syria, to eastern Ukraine. And in fact, my journalism has not only won the support of countless readers online, but also merited being awarded by the Mexican Press Club in 2017 and being shortlisted for the Martha Gellhorn Prize for Journalism that same year.

By the way, my support has increased exponentially even prior to you/the BBC running a character assassination piece on me, as people became aware of your intentions.

I have my own questions for you: Have you ever entered Syria illegally? If so, how many times? Who did you pay for protection from terrorist factions while in Syria (it is well known, well-admitted, by corporate journalists who have entered Syria illegally that they must pay a protection fee in order to avoid abduction by one of the terrorist factions)?

How can you justify turning a blind eye to the fact that countless White Helmets members have openly expressed support to terrorist groups in Syria, let alone been members of said groups, holding weapons, standing on the bodies of dead Syrians? Can you honestly claim you were unaware of these facts?

How do you explain the presence, throughout Syria, of White Helmets headquarters next to or in close proximity to headquarters of al-Qaeda in Syria, Faylaq al-Rahman, Nour al-Din al-Zenki, and other terrorist groups? How can the White Helmets be deemed as neutral when working side by side these terrorist factions?

P.S. Why does a prominent and published journalist with the BBC feel the need to hide her tweets? What are you afraid of the public seeing? Do you feel this is professional of a journalist to hide their Twitter output, and indeed much of their identity?

Regards,Eva

RM: Do you know of anyone else besides you and Vanessa who were contacted by BBC?

EB: The Working Group on Syria have had a series of exchanges with Chloe/the BBC.

RM: What do you make of this assertion that you and Vanessa are somehow not journalists? What’s the point of that statement?

EB: That is a clear attempt to discredit our work and credibility, which is ironic as it comes from one of the least credible media institutions existing.

My journalism has been crafted by going to the place in question and speaking with the people in question, something I began doing in occupied Palestine in 2007, where I stayed for 8 months (see my bio for more on that), then Gaza for 3 years (and two wars) collectively, from 2008-2013, Syria 14 times since 2014, Venezuela, Donbass, and elsewhere.

If journalist credentials are established by going to journalism school and joining one of the corporate owned institutions, then this speaks volumes as to just why the media these institutions produce is inevitably riddled with lies and war propaganda, or is copy-paste media.

My articles are as often as possible supported with videos, which I myself subtitle.

I don’t need to tell you, a journalist and researcher yourself, the difference between researching a subject intensively on your own (and also gathering information from primary sources on the ground) and the kind of journalism that these corporate hacks do. It’s night and day. I had just left Aleppo in late 2016, having already been there three times prior, at great personal risk and meeting Syrians bombarded and starved by terrorists occupying parts of their city, and returned to North America to see media reporting Aleppo had “fallen” to the “regime”.

The use of such lexicon like “fallen” for a city whose people that had known endless suffering, starvation, executions, imprisonment, and torture precisely due to and by the occupation of parts of the city by terrorist groups shows just how manipulative corporate media has been in their reporting on Syria.

I do not strive to be equated with the “credentials” of Western corporate and state funded media. My credentials lie in the years of on the ground reporting I’ve done from the places I mentioned.

I can give countless examples of how the media reported falsely that something had occurred in Syria, and how I reported honestly on what really transpired. One example is that of Omran Daqneesh, whose face was splashed across the front pages of international media in 2016, said to be the face of human suffering in Syria.

In June 2017, before any Western media reported the truth (not that many other than my colleague Vanessa did), I met Omran and interviewed his father on the allegations that his son had been injured by a Russian or Syrian airstrike. Mr. Daqneesh stated definitively there had been no airstrike and that the media had exploited his son.

A last point: while the BBC and others before them strive to imply Vanessa and myself are not journalists, the bulk of the work we have done over the years is to give voice to Syrians who the same corporate and state-backed Western media has rendered voiceless.

RM: Do you believe this is a targeted smear campaign against you, Vanessa and anyone who challenges the official narrative on the White Helmets? Why now in 2020?

EB: It is definitely a targeted smear. That much is evident from the tone of the questions the BBC hack sent to both Vanessa and myself, questions full of negative and misleading insinuations about our funding, affiliations and intentions.

Russia’s Ministry of Defence has periodically reported in recent years of having intelligence information that terrorist groups in Syria, and the White Helmets, are preparing to stage another fake chemical attack. The MOD did so anew, on October 14.

I believe this new round of smears against not only Vanessa and myself but against prominent and credible voices who have spoken out about the crimes of the White Helmets is intended to discredit us prior to a new staged chemical attack which will then predictably be blamed on the Syrian government.

RM: When the BBC writes that you are “pro-Assad” and “Russia state funded media promotes your conspiracy theories” they’re accusing you of essentially being in the pockets of these governments. Where is the proof for any this? Are you surprised at all that they are attacking you?

EB: I’ll answer that with a question: would the same media write “pro-Obama”, “pro-Clinton” about journalists? Unlikely? Would journalists be lambasted for noting that Obama was the president of the US, as Assad is of Syria? Unlikely, and in fact I’m sure you are aware that prior to 2011, there was positive media reporting on President Assad.

Using terms like “pro-Assad”, “Assadist”, “conspiracy theorist”, etc, are all old means of attempting to blanket discredit the person in question. I feel no need to defend my position which is that after 14 visits, some quite lengthy, to Syria since 2014, and speaking colloquial Arabic, I am confident in stating the president has considerable, if not massive, support.

That said, that recognition has absolutely nothing to do with my writing. My focuses have been on giving voice to Syrians disappeared by corporate media, highlighting the terrorism they endured by groups the West dubs “rebels”, and calling out war propaganda. Very little has focused on the president.

As for “Russian state-funded media”, whereas that is true of RT, it is also true of the BBC. But here’s a major difference: unlike BBC journalists who go to Syria, I pay all of my own expenses; I do not have a state-funded translator or research team at hand; I do my own video editing and subtitling. Vanessa and myself are one-women teams, self-funded.

Journalists of the BBC and other such corporate/state-funded media who bother going to Syria inevitably, in my experience, have a massive support team to do all of which Vanessa and I do ourselves. And yet their reports are factually incorrect and ignore civilians’ voices.

In April 2014, I was in Syria for my first time. Terrorists in eastern Ghouta shelled Damascus, as they did all of the time, for years. One child was killed and over 60 injured. I saw BBC journalist Lyse Doucet in the French Hospital just outside of old Damascus. She was asked whether she would convey the truth. She nodded yes (I filmed this conversation). In an article she later wrote, Doucet wrote, “the government is also accused of launching them into neighborhoods under its control.

As I noted in an article: On a recent social media post, I noted this deceitful journalism, and the BBC could have easily learned about the trajectory of mortars and from where the mortar in question could only have come: the “moderates” east of Damascus.

That’s just one example. If I go through my writings from Homs, Aleppo, Madaya, al-Waer, eastern Ghouta, Idlib…I could almost certainly find a BBC propaganda report stating the opposite of the realities I heard/experienced.

At the bottom of each RT opinion article there is a disclaimer that the opinions don’t represent those of RT. And it works both ways: not every article published on RT reflects my opinions. But RT remains one of the few platforms which will publish my views without censorship. Find me one example of Western corporate media which would do the same.

RM: Isn’t it ironic the BBC accuse you and Vanessa of partiality, refuting your research on the White Helmets, yet they can’t provide any evidence that the things you reported are false?

EB: This is unsurprising. Their mode of operation is clearly character assassinations, strawmen arguments, lexicon to denigrate, and an avoidance of the facts which are easily accessible.

Their interest isn’t in purveying truth, it is in burying it, and burying their own culpability, for they are guilty many time over of war propaganda, meaning they have the blood of Syrian civilians on their hands.

In 2019, I interviewed internally displaced Syrians who had languished in the Rukban camp for years and were being transported to a temporary shelter in Homs. When researching for my article, I came across numerous Western media reports relying on “unnamed activists” for their information on conditions in Rukban. Dig a little deeper and you find those activists had terrorist affiliations or were supportive of terrorists.

This is something I found time and time again. For example, when eastern Ghouta was being liberated, NY Times and other Western media relied on sources clearly supportive of Jaysh al-Islam and al-Nusra.
The BBC have had access to government-controlled areas of Syria, on many occasions. Yet they consistently choose not to report narratives that would counter the war propaganda. Talk about partiality.

RELATED:

On the British State-Funded BBC’s Pending Smear

The Assange saga: Practicing real journalism is criminally insane

The Assange saga: Practicing real journalism is criminally insane

January 07, 2021

By Pepe Escobar with permission and first posted at Asia Times

Synchronicity is definitely fond of mirror wonderwalls. The Julian Assange saga seemed to have entered a new chapter as he was, in thesis, on his way to – conditional – freedom this past Monday, only one day after the first anniversary of the start of the Raging Twenties: the assassination of Maj Gen Qassem Soleimani.

The fate of the journalist the Empire seeks to terminate was just juxtaposed to the fate of the warrior/diplomat the empire already terminated.

Two days later, Julian Assange was de facto re-incarcerated exactly as the Empire was hit by an “insurrection” which, whenever instigated in that distant “Third World”, is celebrated in Exceptionalistan as “people power”.

The invaluable Craig Murray, from inside Westminster Magistrates Court No. 1 in London, meticulously presented the full contours  of the insanity this Wednesday.

Read it in conjunction with the positively terrifying judgment delivered on Monday in the United States government case against Julian Assange.

The defining issue, for all those who practice real journalism all across the world, is that the judgment affirms, conclusively, that any journalist can be prosecuted under the US Espionage Act. Since a 1961 amendment, the Espionage Act carries universal jurisdiction.

The great John Pilger memorably describes “judge” Vanessa Baraitser as “that Gothic woman”. She is in fact an obscure public servant, not a jurist. Her judgment walks and talks like it was written by a mediocre rookie hack. Or, better yet, entirely lifted from the US Department of Justice indictment.

Julian Assange was – at the last minute – discharged on theoretically humanitarian grounds. So the case had, in effect, ended. Not really. Two days later, he was sent back to Belmarsh, a squalid maximum security prison rife with Covid-19. So the case is ongoing.

WikiLeaks editor Kristinn Hrafnnson correctly noted, “It is unjust and unfair and illogical when you consider her ruling of two days ago about Julian’s health in large part because he is in Belmarsh prison (…) To send him back there doesn’t make any sense.”

It does when one considers the real role of Baraitser – at a loss to juggle between the imperatives of the imperial agenda and the necessity of saving the face of British justice.

Baraitser is a mere, lowly foot soldier punching way above her weight. The real power in the Assange case is Lady Emma Arbuthnot, forced out of a visible role because of very compromising, direct ties she and her husband Lord Arbuthnot maintain with British intelligence and military, first revealed by – who else – WikiLeaks.

It was Arbuthnot who picked up obscure Baraitser – who dutifully follows her road map. In court, as Murray has detailed in a series of searing reports, Baraitser essentially covers her incompetence with glaring vindictiveness.

Baraitser discharged Julian Assange, according to her own reasoning, because she was not convinced the appalling American gulag would prevent him from committing suicide.

But the key issue is that before reaching this conclusion, she agreed and reinforced virtually every point of the US indictment.

So at this point, on Monday, the “Gothic woman” was performing a contortion to save the US from the profound global embarrassment of prosecuting a de facto journalist and publisher for revealing imperial war crimes, not United States government secrets.

Two days later, the full picture became crystal clear. There was nothing “humanitarian” about that judgment. Political dissent was equaled with mental illness. Julian Assange was branded as criminally insane. Once again, practicing journalism was criminalized.

There are reasons to believe though, that a United States government appeal may fail. A British High Court would be reluctant to overturn a judgment where Baraitser actually established findings of fact: a direct correlation between the state of the American gulag, and the extreme danger to Assange’s health if he’s thrown inside this system.

As it stands, it didn’t even matter that Assange’s defense offered a full package to obtain bail, from home arrest to the use of an ankle bracelet. Baraitser’s notion that the British security state would not be able to prevent his “escape” wearing an ankle bracelet in the middle of a total, police state-style lockdown does not even qualify as a joke.

So Julian Assange is back to suffering a perverse, interminable rewrite of Poe’s The Pit and the Pendulum.

The US government’s legal strategy before the High Court convenes in April is basically to try to prove its American gulag is competent enough to prevent a suicide – even though the ultimate aim of this post-truth Inquisition seems to be the termination of Julian Assange inside the penal system. That goal doesn’t even require a supermax prison in Colorado. Belmarsh will do.

This week in the US: The ‘model nation’ for no nation anymore

Thursday, 07 January 2021 7:57 AM  [ Last Update: Thursday, 07 January 2021 8:07 AM ]

US Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) (L) talks with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) during a rally with fellow Democrats before voting on H.R. 1, or the People Act, on the East Steps of the US Capitol on March 08, 2019 in Washington, DC. (AFP photo)
Supporters of US President Donald Trump walk on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC, the US, on January 5, 2021, one day ahead of a joint session of the US Congress to certify the Electoral College vote that confirmed Joe Biden as the presidential winner. (Photo by AFP)
This week in the US: The ‘model nation’ for no nation anymore
Ramin Mazaheri is currently covering the US election. He is the chief correspondent in Paris for Press TV and has lived in France since 2009. He has been a daily newspaper reporter in the US, and has reported from Iran, Cuba, Egypt, Tunisia, South Korea, and elsewhere. He is the author of ‘Socialism’s Ignored Success: Iranian Islamic Socialism’ as well as ‘I’ll Ruin Everything You Are: Ending Western Propaganda on Red China,’ which is also available in simplified and traditional Chinese.

By Ramin Mazaheri and cross-posted with The Saker

As this article is on the verge of publication, the United States Capitol has been occupied by protesters on the day of Electoral College’s presidential vote. It’s very exciting stuff, certainly, but an insatiable craving for excitement seems to have long been a major flaw of Western culture.

Few people are as guilty of greedily loving the short-term sugar high of daily news as I am — being a longtime hack reporter — but whether the immediate outcomes of this historic election week in the United States give you rushes or drops, it’s important to remember that what’s really historic is just how far the US has truly fallen and will keep falling.

We all agree America on January 6, 2020 is certainly not at an apex, but it’s only via constant spin, rationalization, and deflection that one cannot see that the US has so very far to go — this is not the nadir.

No matter what happens, this is not even really over.

In my reporting from here, it turns out the wisest and most pleasant of the “never Trumpers” — normally a very disagreeable lot — were right to say that they are not assuming anything about Joe Biden’s projected victory until after inauguration day, January 20. Maybe the Proud Boys are going to blow up the Washington Monument next week — who really knows what will happen over here?

I have to add a last-minute modification to that hyperbolic exaggeration: Maybe a peaceful “Occupy Capitol Hill” is a real thing?

If you want to read more Trump-obsessed hysteria, you can always go to Politico’s “Trumpology” section, where everything before 2016 never was, but this column is trying to establish exactly where America as a whole really is: What should the globe’s global assessment be of the country which in 1991 seemed poised for a century of global superiority?

There is no doubt that there was a time when the US was really at the forefront of global political thought; when they were successfully enjoining many people to do good and forbidding a lot of bad — I am referring to 1776, the birth year of modern anti-imperialism.

The calendar has just turned to 2021. You would have to be so jacked up on Western Mainstream Media sugar spin to believe that — whatever happens this week — the US is somehow doing well, or looking well, or acting well, or was anything else but a society in decline, dispute, degradation, and maybe even dissolution.

I think the latter goes too far, but I include it to point out: this is not a country like France or Iran or China in that it’s still debatable whether the US has enough years under its belt to really consider that they have a unified sense of nationhood/culture given that this was never really a country but a unity of separate, self-involved, self-serving states inside America (which used to be the term used for the entire Western Hemisphere). This is the United States of America, after all, and Scotland is awfully close to breaking up the United Kingdom — so why couldn’t their over-the-sea brethren go in the same direction?

A short but exciting list of things US media would like you to ignore this week.

Their United Kingdom brethren/clients finally admitted they cannot hand over Julian Assange, the greatest journalist of my generation, not because the US will execute him but because they essentially fear that American prisons are so atrocious that he won’t be killed but that he will be tortured without end.

(Things like this are, of course, why the US and UK are the unquestionable arbiters of what “human rights” and “political prisoners” are.)

Have money, join the duopoly, you will get elected: The Georgia elections were the most expensive congressional seats in history — they spent an estimated 900 million dollars, say the early returns. The only presidential candidate who ever exceeded that in their campaign was brand change golden boy Barack Obama, in a testament to what a huge role the rich, the 1% and corporations play in manipulating American elections.

(You have to have rocks in your head the size of Gibraltar if you are an average American and you give a single greenback to either of the duopoly — just so people Kamala Harris and the Clintons can fund their lavish lifestyles.)

The Electoral College emphatically does not have majority democratic support, as years of polls have shown that 60% of the US wants it abolished. Is it so shocking that as I type this, the voting of this body has been stopped by upset Americans?

Pro-Trump protesters breach US Capitol as Congress holds session to certify Biden victory
Pro-Trump protesters breach US Capitol as Congress holds session to certify Biden victoryProtesters supporting
US President Donald Trump have stormed the US Capitol where the lawmakers were engaged in the process to certify the victory of President-elect Joe Biden.

The American intelligentsia is so unpersuasive, so ineffective, so overpaid and so distrusted that even if Democrats do capture both Georgia Senate seats — and thus the Senate — the anti-Trump “Blue Wave” they almost universally rammed down American throats for four years merely goes from a total failure to a major failure: In this decentralized country local states control local matters and conservatives captured the local legislative, executive, and judicial branches. In a redistricting year, no less. The reason it was rejected, of course: the “Blue Wave” was fake-leftism and not real leftism — why would American lower classes get excited about that?

(And how many Congressional Democrats are so right-leaning and so desirous only of winning their own re-election that Republicans won’t be able to swing this very definition of “tenuous majority” by buying Democrat Congressmen off on countless key votes via things like promising to build more B-2 bombers in their home state?)

The (apparent) demise of Trump actually does not totally destroy Trumpism, even though the chattering classes promised that voting him out for president is all it would take to end what they insisted was merely a Russian-orchestrated cult of personality.

(Four years ago, the US chattering classes certainly didn’t have to accept Trumpism, but they could have at least taken Trumpism seriously. By refusing to have that honest and open conversation, the US has wasted four years. The US has not progressed in this sense since 2016’s inauguration day — and now Capitol Hill is occupied by angry citizens who likely feel they have been unfairly ignored and demonized.)

It was just announced that the cops who shockingly shot Jacob Blake in Wisconsin in the back seven times will not even face a trial. Last night, protests in Kenosha were calm, but what about tonight?

(My bosses have a tough decision to make soon, perhaps: Do I cover the political rebellion in Washington or the possible racial rebellions if they break out again?)

A short, healthy conclusion to balance out this sugar high.

That was not a difficult list to compile, nor an exhaustive one. I’m sure everyone wants to read about Capitol Hill but the short-term question (how much violence will they use to clear out this protest?) is not as vital as the long-term questions (how did we get here, how does the US heal from this), nor is it as vital for the world as the global question of America’s longstanding claim to global leadership.

Both sides of America have disgraced themselves in the eyes of the world since 2016, with their only-low-blows cultural civil war, and it’s not as if the world wasn’t already quite, quite appalled at American behavior since 2003.

2020 was indeed a woeful and unfortunate low point, but the consequences of 2020 are so very, very bad that who can say that it is over? Things were so bad a brand change or calendar change can’t fix things.

Who would say that America’s political cultural civil war is over? Who can say the dispute over electoral integrity is over? Who can say that 1%-rewarding, inequality-creating Quantitive Easing/Austerity is over? Who can say the endless foreign wars are over? Who can say the healthcare crisis is over? Or the unemployment crisis, or the famine crisis, or the housing crisis, etc., etc.?

Who is the nation which is modeling themselves on the United States and why on earth are they doing that?

Gerald Ford famously said as Richard Nixon left that, “America’s long national nightmare is over.” Less than a week into 2021 it should be dawning on the world that the American model produces an endless bad dream not only for their colonies and their clients but even for their own people. That makes sense because that is precisely the goal of Western neo-imperialism and neo-liberalism.

Whoever is the accepted winner of the Electoral College — assuming they ever meet again — is not likely to change that trajectory because American problems were not caused, and cannot be fixed, by just one man.

(The views expressed in this article do not necessarily reflect those of Press TV.)


Press TV’s website can also be accessed at the following alternate addresses:

www.presstv.ir

www.presstv.co.uk

www.presstv.tv

Yellow, yellow, yellow – Russian English Media – Case in point – Julian Assange

Yellow, yellow, yellow – Russian English Media – Case in point – Julian Assange

January 04, 2021

By Chris Faure for the Saker Blog

Recently on the Saker blog, we had these two articles:

http://thesaker.is/russia-vs-a-biden-administration/http://thesaker.is/not-a-step-back/

Whether you are in agreement with the representations in those articles or not, the fact is that they were better than the Russian English media. Yes, I am talking about RT, Sputnik, and even TASS English.

Russia, you need an English hard news outlet and an English hard news channel because you are not doing this sympathetic westerner any favors. I can see half-arsed half-naked girls and boxers and wrestlers with blood from broken noses, anywhere. Good media does not routinely feature this mishmash front and center on home pages.

I ask you Russian media: Where are the Russian journalists? If I think of good western journalists, I can come up with many names, but as a westerner reading Russian English media, I can come up with one name only. (Of course! We do know the name of the Editor of RT and Sputnik).

We need some Russian ‘propaganda’ done right. The standards of the English media coming out of Russia are yellow and dropping by the week.

Let’s start with RT and we have to say, what is this? They ‘question more’ but cannot decide if they are a magazine, a hard news outlet, or a tabloid in the style that one used to be able to buy at the supermarket checkout with vague pixellated pictures of aliens on the front page. Take your sports section off the middle of your home page. Put the girls somewhere else. Sport is traditionally back page content. Replace the surfeit of western correspondents with good Russian correspondents. And now you’ve changed your headers to be true clickbait with screaming words in capitals in the middle of the headline.

Let’s follow today’s Assange story through RT, Sputnik and TASS, as a case in point.

Today the news broke that Julian Assange will not be extradited to the US. Your headline states: Assange WON’T be extradited to US on spying charges in shock decision at London’s Old Bailey

Is it a shock decision, or is it a welcome decision? Or are the supporters jubilant as stated in your first sentence on this report?  Or can you not figure it out?   Between ‘jubilant’ and ‘shocking’, there is a loose and unfocused article repeating old information.

The 2nd article on RT Breaking News on the topic of the court ruling on Julian Assange is an English columnist as Op-Ed correspondent.

What do the Russians think about this? What is the Russian view? Where is your categorization – for example, ‘All Assange Reporting’? And then, your 3rd article tells us what China Daily says, for heaven’s sake. Have you no Russian view?

Where is your very own Russian George Galloway, RT?

The Iranian media is better than this, as they report about Iran. I find more hard news on Russia in the Chinese media than on Russian English media.

RT, you have good documentaries and this one I found exceptionally good. But it is about Japan. At the beginning of last year, Mr.Putin announced the opening of extensive 2ndWW archives. And so far RT, I have seen nothing; no follow through on this important statement that is clearly one of Mr.Putin’s major objectives and projects. Whose side are you on?

Sputnik oh Sputnik. You seem to be wanting to take off to some ‘Sputnik space’ by repeating tweets. You don’t report, you repeat tweets and fill in fluff between the tweets and tell us what others tweet.

Let’s continue following the Assange story as a case in point. Sputnik had both a timeline of 4 or 5 events and a live stream of Assange supporters outside of the court. Their first report, replete with tweets is by Mohamed Elmaazi

Thank you Mohamed – The first reporter that actually works for Sputnik and was present at the court hearing. But he sure ‘aint Russian and so far, does not represent a Russian view. The report however is thorough, unless you count the speculative and meandering aspects. Does nobody have anything to say from Russia about this travesty of justice? Blind and boring repetitive historical aspects to fill the page with not a smidgen of actual personality, spice, or interest. There is not even a mention of the journalists that followed this case in its smallest detail and know it backward. Even the tweets are from non-entities. Did nobody in Russia follow this in order to quickly and accurately sum up the court proceedings on this morning of January 4th?

Sputnik oh Sputnik! Russia, where is your AMLO?

Let’s take a quick look at TASS English.

So TASS English has taken to summarizing major news in one page with 3 paragraph descriptions. This is what TASS has to say on their summary page: https://tass.com/world/1242191

No, not much; Not one word on journalistic freedoms or the real kernel of the Julian Assange case which is that the trial itself is a political show trial, the fact that this judge, in reality, found Assange guilty, and that the legal precedent set here will haunt every journalist across the world. There is no word that Julian Assange was released by the judge, but after US State stated their intention to appeal the ruling, Assange is again sleeping in jail tonight and his attorneys need to plead for bail this coming Wednesday – Bail for a man that has just been released?.

I guess we have to be somewhat thankful that the rest of this TASS English summary page contains some Russian news in English, all of the ‘3 paragraph’ nature.

Again, Russia, your English media is failing dismally. Are there no journalists there? In repetition, Russia, you need an English hard news outlet and an English hard news channel because you are not doing this sympathetic westerner any favors and the more I read, the more yellow I see.

The Vesti News channel that is now defunct was a good start with a wide line-up of Russian content. Nobody has picked it up again.  The material from the Valdai Club should be widely disseminated.

The treasure trove of WWII information now declassified is an opportunity to make a name for any investigative journalist that is not following the yellow path in journalism. Yet, short snippets of short fluff pieces are the norm, no matter what it is.  It takes the meaning right out of it and there is no context.  They need media figures such as Chris Hedges, Matt Taibbi, even a Pepe Escobar or a Ramin Mazaheri, to continually and in-depth tell the world what is happening in Russia, and mainly, what and who is up against Russia.

Do you know where I get my Russian hard news? I get Russian formal news by scouring the Twitter feeds of the various ambassadors, the Permanent Secretariat to the UN, the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the formal Kremlin site. This is because there is no hard Russian news in the English Russian news.

In fact, the Russian Ministry of Foreign affairs are better journalists than anything else in English coming out of Russia. Take a look at this. Mike Pompeo opened his mouth with Russia, Russia, Russia and how tough this US administration is on Russia. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Russia soon responded with Pompeo’s tweet superimposed on a gif of a painting of Napoleon’s retreat from Moscow. Now this makes a clear statement and is journalistic gold.

There is no shortage of hard news out of Russia. There is a sad shortage of journalists that are doing their jobs, or perhaps that are allowed to do their jobs and build their names. We may say that we know the name of the Editor of RT and Sputnik, but we do not know the journalists. Does this not seem strange to you as well, dear reader?

A Pardoning Time of Year

By Philip Giraldi

Source

Will the president do the right thing?
Julian Assange Pardon 89b36

The resistance to the apparent election of Joe Biden as President of the United States is continuing to play out. Current President Donald Trump is continuing to fight against the presumed results of the November national election with his final card appearing to be a vote in Congress when it reconvenes on January 6th to throw out the results due to fraud in certain key states. Many have noted how the registration and electoral processes in the United States, varying as they do from state to state, were and are vulnerable to fraud. That, plus some eyewitness testimony and technical analysis, suggests that possibly systematic fraud did take place but it is far from clear whether it was decisive. This is particularly true of the vote by mail option, which was promoted by leading Democrats and which empowered literally millions of new voters with only limited attempts made to validate whether citizens or even real people were voting.

Vote by mail is now one of several options that are appearing to be weaponized by the cash-rich Democrats in the state of Georgia, where two Senate races will be up for grabs in runoff elections on January 5th. If the Democrats obtain both, they will control the Senate through the Vice President’s role in presiding over the upper chamber where she has the tie breaking vote. That will mean that we the voters can expect some dramatic changes as the Democrats respond to their various constituencies with their well enunciated grievances.

In what may be its last weeks in office, the Trump Administration is also exploiting its executive power to pardon to reverse perceived injustices and to protect remaining allies, to include some family members. Trump is already on track to pardon more individuals than any preceding president with 90 pardons issued as of Christmas Eve and many more expected. One of his initial pardons was a notable example of a miscarriage of justice in the case of presidential national security advisor designate Michael Flynn, who was wrongly accused of collaborating with Russia. If anything, he was actually cooperating with a request that came from Israel, which Congress and the media apparently do not regard as wrongdoing.

Trump’s pardon of his daughter Ivanka’s father-in-law Charles Kushner is particularly controversial, as Kushner was a multimillionaire real estate developer and a leading Democratic Party donor when he was convicted in 2005 to two years in federal prison after he pleaded guilty to 18 counts, which included both tax evasion and making illegal campaign contributions. The tale of Charles Kushner is particularly unsavory because he reportedly sought revenge after he learned that his brother-in-law and former business partner was aiding federal authorities. Charles hired a prostitute to seduce his brother-in-law in a New Jersey motel room, making a recording of the encounter using a hidden camera that he then showed to his brother-in-law’s wife, who was, of course, Kushner’s own sister.

Kushner’s prosecution was directed by then-U.S. Attorney Chris Christie, who afterwards became a prominent Trump supporter and head of his transition team before being fired in 2016, apparently per orders originating with Jared Kushner. In a 2019 interview Christie explained “Mr. Kushner pled guilty. He admitted the crimes. And so what am I supposed to do as a prosecutor? I mean, if a guy hires a prostitute to seduce his brother-in-law, and videotapes it, and then sends the videotape to his sister to attempt to intimidate her from testifying before a grand jury, do I really need any more justification than that? I mean, it’s one of the most loathsome, disgusting crimes that I prosecuted. And I was U.S. attorney in New Jersey, so we had some loathsome and disgusting crime going on there.”

Charles Kushner is also a close friend and supporter of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, which might also be relevant to his pardon and I will leave any assessment of the ethics of the Kushner clan up to the reader. Nevertheless, the consequence of Jared’s ability to influence the president could be politically damaging as he reportedly has been responsible for many of the pardons that have already taken place and is now the conduit for new petitioners.

Another highly criticized Trump pardon has involved the four Blackwater mercenaries who massacred 19 Iraqis including 2 children firing from a helicopter into a crowded Nisour Square Baghdad in 2007. The president is reportedly very friendly with Blackwater founder and former president Erik Prince, whose sister Betsy DeVos is Education Secretary and also close to the president. But in any event Trump’s pardon record is different only in terms of magnitude from those of some of his predecessors as there have been some highly questionable pardons in the past, to include Marc Rich under Bill Clinton and Elliot Abrams under George W. Bush.

There remains a long list of possible candidates for Trump to sign off on, to include a possible self-pardon, and more pardons for family members Ivanka, Jared and two of his sons as well as his lawyer Rudy Giuliani. Other current and impending pardon recipients have been individuals who were involved in the Trump campaigns, to include Paul Manafort and Roger Stone. Pardons are a particularly attractive pre-emptive option currently as a number of leading Democrats have been calling for “truth commissions” and other forms of punishment of Trump supporters and officials.

The process of issuing presidential pardons will undoubtedly continue up until Inauguration Day on January 20th, but sources are uncertain whether Trump will be courageous enough to pardon the two individuals whose freedom would most definitely be sending a powerful message for integrity in government. They are Julian Assange and Edward Snowden. Both men’s names have been coming up frequently in the alternative media, together with the development of active lobbying groups that are seeking their freedom.

Assange, a journalist and founder of WikiLeaks, is currently languishing in a British prison, where he has been for twenty-one months, awaiting a decision on whether he will be extradited to the United States or not which will reportedly be decided on January 4th. The Department of Justice has claimed that he violated the Espionage Act of 1917 by receiving classified information from Chelsea Manning. Reportedly, Assange’s mental and physical health have deteriorated sharply as he is being held in solitary confinement with only short periods of exercise and without access to reading or writing material to occupy his time. The British judge appears to be completely unsympathetic to Assange and it is generally believed that she will order his extradition if he does not fortuitously die in prison before that could take place.

Snowden, meanwhile, is living in Russia and has been granted citizenship, a country to which he fled by way of Hong Kong in 2013, after revealing to journalists details of a vast and illegal surveillance program run by the National Security Agency (NSA) against American citizens, something he discovered while he was employed as a NSA contractor. He had attempted to raise his concerns with supervisors but was rebuffed and he eventually became a self-declared whistleblower and fled the country. He has repeatedly offered to return to the United States to face trial, but has also insisted that a fair hearing would be impossible under the current circumstances.

It should be observed that Snowden is absolutely correct to assume that he would be convicted both on grounds of espionage and of compromise of classified information. The federal court in Alexandria, where national security cases are usually tried, always finds for the government even if evidence is questionable or even non-existent. A recent conviction involved ex-CIA officer Jeffrey Sterling, who was sent to prison for 42 months even though it could not be demonstrated that he had actually done anything. The court concluded that “it had to be him.”

To be sure, revealing classified information is a serious matter, even though many former government employees would agree that much material that is classified does not actually damage national security if it is revealed. Frequently, classification is used to keep the government from being embarrassed or to shut down any revelation that it has acted illegally. Both Assange and Snowden would argue that they had acted appropriately in revealing war crimes, illegal acts and even violations of the Constitution as consequences of the so-called “global war on terror.” Assange, who regards himself as a journalist, published details of the Blackwater massacre of civilians committed by the crew of a helicopter gunship in Iraq and also was involved in the exposure of the Hillary Clinton emails. Snowden, as noted above, claims to be a whistle-blower and has sought protection under relevant laws in the United States, so far to no avail.

The illegal and otherwise unconscionable acts by various elements in the U.S. government that were exposed by Assange and Snowden include war crimes, so they are not trivial. Trump, having already done a “favor” to Blackwater, might be disinclined to pardon someone who exposed its mercenaries’ crimes. But there is nevertheless, as is often the case, an interesting aspect to the story that is worth paying attention to. Trump, as is widely conceded even by some Democrats, was targeted by the Deep State even before he was nominated, an effort to destroy his presidency that persisted for years through the completely contrived mechanism of Russiagate. Given that, it would behoove Trump to strike back in his waning days in office. Both Assange and Snowden exposed illegal activities and cover-ups by the Deep State, almost certainly to include the active participation of some of the very people who have sought to bring the president down. And they both may have more to say. If Donald Trump seriously seeks to strike a blow against his enemies, it would be both fitting and just to pardon both men on that basis alone. Let us hope that President Trump has both the wisdom and fortitude to take that step in his last days in office.

After Trump the flood:

After Trump the flood:

December 08, 2020

by Ghassan and Intibah Kadi for the Saker Blog

Whether there was indeed voter fraud and rigging, and I personally believe there was and at a huge scale, it seems that, by hook or by crook, Joe Biden will become the next President of the United States of America; and we should prepare ourselves for this, regardless of our political points of view and inclinations.

The presence of Biden in the Whitehouse will definitely change course on a number of issues, both domestically within the USA and overseas, but the objective of this article is to shed a bit of light on what is likely to happen to the current pro-Biden camp and the diverse array of supporters who have helped elevate him to this position.

In more ways than one, I have always seen in Syria a microcosm of world politics and conflicts. Long before the enemies of Syria decided to launch their attack in March 2011, the masterminds of the conspiracy put the most unlikely allies together, only united by their hatred of Syria. Back then I called them the ‘Anti-Syrian Cocktail’. Those allies each had their own agenda regarding Syria and had nothing in common other than their desire to remove President Bashar Al-Assad from office. Among the issues they disagreed on was his replacement, how to share the spoils, not to mention the alternative political system to install, Syria’s future position in the region, international alliances, and so forth.

With a whole array of enemies, Trump inadvertently caused a rounding up of a very loosely-united anti-Trump-cocktail; only united by their hatred of him. So, let’s face it and acknowledge it; they will never let him win the November 2020 elections. Though only united by their hatred of Trump, there are too many of them, they are powerful; extremely powerful, and they are very determined to get rid of him by any means possible, legal, illegal, using tactics like bribery, intimidation, threats, thuggery, and they have no one to fear because, collectively they have given each other impunity, covering each other’s backs and producing a culture where criticizing them is taboo. Crucially, the ‘law’ and the media are on their side.

With the exception of the Clintons and Bidens perhaps, the other Democrats have their traditional political opposition to Trump, even when they see and know he is making good decisions. This is the golden rule of political duopoly. But the Clintons and the Bidens have personal dirt on them and even blood on their hands that they want to keep the lid on in order to avoid prosecution and possibly even jail. They are likely to remain united after a Trump loss, but the same cannot be said about other odd couples.

Most of the other November 2020 Biden supporters are destined to be on a collision course, and they will soon enough realize that their differences are much stronger than what united them and that they were taken for fools. None will be disappointed more than the so-called ‘Progressives’.

The definition of the term progressive has morphed quite significantly over the last decade or so. Currently, it seems to include any one who stands up against Trump; and this is the primordial cause of the confusion and reason for future conflict between them. In reality, what defines the term ‘progressive’ in any existing progressive movement can be totally different from that of another movement; and the difference is not necessarily marginal. Being ‘progressive’ in the 21st Century implies the presence of a very specific agenda or slogan that may or may not be compatible with other ‘progressive’ agendas.

Take the Assange supporters for example. The moment they wake up from their deep slumber, they will realize that the man they supported to become President is actually the leader of the political party that has put Assange in jail for exposing his party’s dirt. I hope that Trump pulls the rug from underneath their feet and pardons Assange before the 20th of January 2021. But will this show the Assange supporters who is who? Not necessarily because if they wanted to open up their eyes and see, they would have seen from day one that Assange’s biggest enemy is none but Hillary Clinton and that she is the one responsible for his demise; not Trump.

But the Assange supporters did not play a major role in the elections; at least not directly, and at least not as much as their closest ‘progressives’; the peace activists.

The Democrats and their cohorts have portrayed Trump as a warmonger. When peace activists eventually see that Biden will have to serve his warlord masters and start new wars across the globe, they will have to think again. He is already touting hiring well known hawks in key positions in his forthcoming cabinet and team of advisors, with his Defense Secretary reportedly selected.

When it comes to street power however, none has been more powerful and effective as the combination of BLM and the environmentalists.

BLM activists have just fallen a tad short of blaming Trump for an American five-century long history of racism. But how much do BLM activists really care about Climate Change and specifically about Greta-type environmental vision of how the world should run? Moreover, most environmentalists, if not all of them, are anti-vaxxers. When they see that Biden is the trump card for the vaccine empire, they may wish they didn’t take to the streets to unseat the Trump card they had in the Whitehouse. If there is/was one person standing up against the malevolent “Gates vaccine”, it has to be Trump, and the single-issue anti-vaxxers are against Trump. Try to make sense of this.

This is not to forget and ignore that the Climate Change activists will soon find out, the hard way, that Biden will not come clean on the zero-emission promise; not only because he doesn’t want to, not only because he goes to bed with the petro-dollar lobby, but also because he does not have the alternative technology to replace fossil fuel with.

In and out and in between the BLM and Climate Change activists, what do the Climate Change activists have in common ideologically with BLM and at what stage will they break ranks and decide to go against one another? What will happen after either one of them accuses the other, rightfully I must say, that they have been used as pawns by the ‘Deep State’?

And who said that the BLM has more in common with the LBGTI community and activists than it does with the gun lobby? Sections of the BLM likely also love guns.

And speaking of Greta, for how much longer will she able to keep up the fallacy that her agenda and those of her friends Soros and the World Economic Forum (WEF), and its members that include Monsanto, are actually compatible?

And for the right or wrong reasons, who is to guarantee that the tens of millions of Trump supporters are going to sit and accept that the election win of Biden is legitimate and that they have to swallow it? Will this cause social strife, violence on the streets, even worse perhaps civil war and much more? We don’t know. What we do know is that a controversy about election results should have been dealt with in total transparency in order to put all concerns to rest. But this is not happening, and it is not going to happen because a decision has been made against Trump dictating that he must lose.

But the after-Trump-effect is not necessarily going to affect only America. Right-wing politics, including the extreme version of it, have been on the rise in the world, and especially in Western Europe. And if the Neo-Nazis look threatening because their ideology is based on a very dark chapter in human history, what do we really know is on the agenda of the forces that have combined the very diverse elements of the anti-Trump cocktail in order to serve its objective(s)? What is it really that they want?

Hitler was at least clear about his mission statement. He wanted an Aryan Third Reich to rule the world for a thousand years. The rest of the world did not have to wonder and ponder about his intentions. He sent a very clear message to rest of the world, a message clear enough to unite the West with the Bolsheviks against him.

But today, we have an invisible driving force that has managed to put together an array of the most unlikely partners in order to fight a common cause. Do we not at least ask the question ‘why?’

In the case of Syria, the answer to the ‘why’ question was to topple Assad, albeit without having a plan that went further, at least as a united coalition. It would have been impossible for the plotters and planners to each disclose what they had in mind. In reality, they did not have any plan at all other than replacing him with a void. Fast-forward; the get-rid-of-Trump plan is very similar; get rid of him without having a plan so as to ensure all participants are pleased and appeased, because the plan seems to also be based on replacing Trump with chaos and anarchy.

The irony here is that the anti-Trump-cocktail is not only comprised of his political opponents, mainstream media, social media, but also includes government agencies such as the DOJ, the CIA, the FBI and even some American Republicans.

Briefly put, Trump has been chosen to lose, but after him, the flood is imminent. The current allies who lobbied against him will very shortly come to the realization that they are no longer united, and some will even turn into enemies fighting over the spoils of the win.

In more ways than one, they will harvest the fruit of the seeds they planted, and they will rightfully deserve all consequences. A Biden win is the most befitting ‘punishment’ of the anti-Trump cocktail.

Apart from the hapless American populace, the biggest loser of this all is the international stature of America as the leader of the so-called Democratic Free World. In a fitting blowback for these pernicious actors, Trump would have proven without a shadow of doubt, that the Deep State is so deep and powerful, powerful enough to mobilize its own enemies to serve it. At that point, to quote the rhetoric of the “Great Reset” agenda, but again, as blowback, things will never be the same again for these dangerous characters.

The Google Archipelago

The Google Archipelago

November 20, 2020

By Jimmie Moglia for the Saker Blog

During the cold war the West called dissenters those Russians in the USSR who voiced their complaints against the system. A definition – ‘dissenter’ – which, processed through the lexical grinding machine of the CIA and associates, was actually stripped of its original meaning to become a weapon of trivial instrumental imperialist propaganda. Said it another way, it was the dissenters who gave the pigs of the animal farm the tools for the pigs’ full spectrum propaganda.

But none can halt the inaudible and noiseless foot of time. And with the fall of the Berlin Wall it has come to pass that Western propaganda itself has created the dissenters. Meaning people who have been persecuted or even tortured, as is the case of Julian Assange or Chelsea Manning. Plus a hefty list of others – uncomfortable men, daring an escape from the Twilight Zone, thus dangerous by definition, and therefore marginalized or branded as traitors, maladapted or plainly mad, for to define true madness what is it but to be nothing else but mad.

However, increasingly, such criminalizing or demonizing measures appear inadequate – notably in the current phase of the ‘great reset’, meaning a global theft of freedom in exchange of a pseudo-security or pseudo-salvation from system-fostered terrors, dangers and apocalyptic ills.

And yet it is not enough. Unlike with dictatorships, Western pseudo-democracies have established a soft and practically invisible censorship consisting of the concentration in a few power groups of all main sources of communication and information, so as to drown any dissenting voice into the bottomless ocean of silence.

It may help that our Zionist “elder brothers in the Abrahamic faith” (that’s how the current Vatican calls them, reversing 1000 years of Catholic theology and practice), own and control 90% or thereabouts of all communication media, printed, Hollywood, academia, radio-TV and Internet.

Still, he who does not submit is jailed, or simply marginalized, rendered irrelevant in the Google archipelago, a wondering atom among the million molecules of deplorables.

Yet the strategy is increasingly proving inadequate, while freedom is hijacked in exchange for a pseudo-security that is fake, proclaimed and accompanied by threats. Nevertheless it is a pseudo-security made inevitable, following the train of provoked and questionable epidemic threats, possibly set up by the very security-providing system. 9/11 may serve as the master key or copy.

Therefore sundry ‘free’ countries have passed or are passing legislation involving punishment for the crime of opinion. This is inevitable for the greater the enforcement of the official ministerial truth, the more likely are desertions of the ministry by the unbelievers. So far, desertions are limited and rendered noiseless by a thousand-eyed censorship. And yet they risk to garnish attention and rip the curtain cloth that shelters fiction from fact.

For example, Germany has pending laws to prevent the questioning of vaccine(s), a remarkable instance of a new medical theology. And with the spirit of rebellion growing at large, so grows the violence of repression, even though the ‘elder-brothers’ owned media waters down the reports to dampen or hide their impact.

Much as, in another continent and settings, the same media all but ignored Trump’s mass rallies, while extolling Biden’s, often attended by eight people and a dog.

Massive censorship is justified on the ground that social media companies are private, therefore entitled to establish what is and isn’t true. What more evidence is needed to demonstrate the ethical and intellectual rotting decline of the West.

Clearly the escalation of threats and repressions is a sign of weakness among the globalist masters. For to establish their own truth they need to cast off the mask of liberty. Though given the flow and development of pandemic-related events even that mask may be redundant.

The legitimation of what is but an influenza wave, branded as a bubonic plague, falsified in the numbers and yet lethal for the cure of other illnesses. The imposed obedience clearly inconsistent, contradictory, ridicule in scope and medieval in appearance, should open the eyes of those who like to use them.

That may not be the case. Hence the path is open for the cashiering of constitutions and the introduction of freedom-killing legislation.

It is questionable whether generations educated to passiveness and in love with the ephemeral, may attempt a defense. They have but a rudimental notion of liberty, mainly associated with the liberty to purchase and consume. It is equally questionable whether their defense may trespass the borders of disillusionment. And even disillusionment is uncertain, as for many belonging to the herd can overcome the fear of being led to slaughter.

Therefore it is not with a large mass of inert followers of the mainstream media from hell that the West can defend its position of some kind of leadership.

In my archive, there is a video snippet where the ‘spokesman’ for a band of Pakistani migrant hooligans in the North of England says, “In 20 years we will take over f—ing England.”

I know I am but one of many living in the Google archipelago, where the godfathers of globalism reign supreme.

It seems we cannot bring light to darkness or call forth the mutinous winds of rebellion. As rhetorical as it may sound, we may as well dispel the illusion of redemption, bury it in the earth and, deeper than did ever plummet sound, drown the book that extols the values and worth of European civilization.

PS. For this article I relied on material provided by an anonymous European writer whom I would gladly cite if only I knew his name.

As His Extradition Trial Drags on, Media and Rights Groups Are Still Ignoring Julian Assange

By Alan Macleod

Source

Many mainstream rights groups and media organizations have a mixed history when it comes to opposing Washington’s agenda. The case of Julian Assange has been no exception.

The extradition case of Wikileaks founder Julian Assange continues in London. The U.S. government is indicting the Australian living on the other side of the world under its own Espionage Act, with the case widely seen as setting an important precedent for freedom of speech and of the media worldwide.

Yet as the case reaches its pinnacle, a number of press freedom groups have gone silent on the matter. The Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) has not mentioned Assange in months, on either its website or its Twitter account. London-based PEN International has only one article this year on the Australian and appears to have gone quiet since July. The CPJ has also refused to include him among its list of jailed journalists, arguing that Wikileaks’ role is more that of a publisher. While this could be debatable, the omission of by far the most famous and influential of the world’s 248 imprisoned media figures could be seen as a politically calculated decision.

Big media outlets seem just as uninterested in the U.S. government’s attempts to capture the man who released hundreds of thousands of documents detailing American war crimes, including the deliberate killing of two Reuters journalists. The New York Times, for instance, has published only two articles on the subject, and nothing in eleven days. But the Times’ coverage is better than most outlets, with nothing whatsoever in CNN, and MSNBC’s entire coverage amounting to one sentence, which discussed the DNC hacks, but not the hearing.

To be fair to the media, the conditions the U.K. government has set for the case make it absurdly difficult for journalists to follow. The COVID-19 pandemic has meant that public access is highly restricted, while only a small handful of journalists are allowed into the courtroom every day. Journalists wishing to watch live proceedings must register as journalists and log in between exactly 9:30 and 9:40 a.m. If they miss the time, they cannot access the session, and if they disconnect at any time, even because of a momentary lapse in wifi, they are shut out of the system. Journalists have complained throughout Assange’s cases of poor connections and an inability to hear anything during proceedings. That has not stopped the committed, however, with smaller organizations continuing to report the proceedings live.

In recent days the argument between the prosecution and the defense has revolved around Assange’s mental state. A psychiatrist on the U.S.’ government’s side told the Old Bailey yesterday that he believes Assange to be a “resilient” character with only “mild clinical depression” and would therefore be able to “resist any suicidal impulse” were he to be sent to the U.S. Assange is facing up to 175 years in a Colorado supermax jail, sometimes described as one of the few blacksites on American soil. Inmates at the center are regularly force fed and are barred from sharing their stories.

On the other hand, a doctor who treated him while he was forced to live in the Ecuadorian embassy in London stressed her dismay at his deterioration while being held in Belmarsh Prison. “I think Mr. Assange is at very high risk of completing a suicide if he were to be extradited,” she told the judge.

FILE – In this Sunday, June 16, 2013 file photo, WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, left, appears with Ecuador’s Foreign Minister Ricardo Patino on the balcony of the Ecuadorian Embassy in London. (AP Photo/Frank Augstein, file)

The Assange case has enormous ramifications for the future of press freedom. The government has included a great many standard journalistic procedures — such as protecting sources’ names, using encrypted files, and encouraging sources to leak more to them — among its reasons for indictment. This, many have argued, would essentially criminalize investigative journalism. Trevor Timm, a co-founder of the Freedom of the Press Foundation, told the courtroom that if Assange is prosecuted, then every journalist who has possessed a secret or leaked file — the lifeblood of the industry — could be charged.

Speaking to German filmmakers, ex-CIA Director Leon Panetta was remarkably blunt about the U.S.’ goal: “All you can do is hope you can ultimately take action against those that were involved in revealing that information so you can send a message to others not to do the same thing,” he said, strongly implying that the indictment is politically motivated and a warning to others who might challenge the empire.The Cost of ResistanceWhere will Julian Assange end up if his extradition is successful and Roger Hallam and the end of the revolutionary initiative.

Unfortunately, many of the mainstream rights groups that the world relies on to lead on matters of importance have a mixed history when it comes to directly opposing Washington’s agenda. Human Rights Watch (HRW), for instance, carried water for the U.S.-backed coup in Bolivia last year, its director, Kenneth Roth, describing it as a “transitional moment” and an “uprising,” rather than the manifestly more appropriate word, “coup.” HRW also described the new military government’s law giving all security forces complete immunity from prosecution merely a “problematic decree,” rather than a license to massacre, which is exactly what they did immediately.

HRW has not discussed Assange for nearly 18 months, the most recent result on its website dated May 2019 (although this was a clear defense of his rights). Amnesty International, on the other hand, has forcefully condemned the U.S. attempt and has been repeatedly blocked in its attempts to have its fair trial monitors enter the courtroom. “This hearing is the latest worrying salvo in a full-scale assault on the right to freedom of expression,” said Amnesty’s Europe Director, Nils Muižnieks.

Julian Assange trial: the mask of Empire has fallen

Julian Assange trial: the mask of Empire has fallen

Source

September 18, 2020

By Pepe Escobar with permission from the author and first posted at Asia Times

The concept of “History in the making” has been pushed to extremes when it comes to the extraordinary public service being performed by historian, former UK diplomat and human rights activist Craig Murray.

Murray – literally, and on a global level – is now positioned as our man in the public gallery, as he painstakingly documents in vivid detail what could be defined as the trial of the century as far as the practice of journalism is concerned: the kangaroo court judging Julian Assange in Old Bailey, London.

Let’s focus on three of Murray’s reports this week – with an emphasis on two intertwined themes: what the US is really prosecuting, and how Western corporate media is ignoring the court proceedings.

Here, Murray reports the exact moment when the mask of Empire fell, not with a bang, but a whimper:

“The gloves were off on Tuesday as the US Government explicitly argued that all journalists are liable to prosecution under the Espionage Act (1917) for publishing classified information.” (italics mine).

“All journalists” means every legitimate journalist, from every nationality, operating in any jurisdiction.

Interpreting the argument, Murray added, “the US government is now saying, completely explicitly, in court, those reporters could and should have gone to jail and that is how we will act in future. The Washington Post, the New York Times, and all the “great liberal media” of the US are not in court to hear it and do not report it (italics mine), because of their active complicity in the “othering” of Julian Assange as something sub-human whose fate can be ignored. Are they really so stupid as not to understand that they are next?

Err, yes.”

The point is not that self-described paladins of “great liberal media” are stupid. They are not covering the charade in Old Bailey because they are cowards. They must keep their fabled “access” to the bowels of Empire – the kind of “access” that allowed Judith Miller to “sell” the illegal war on Iraq in countless front pages, and allows CIA asset and uber-opportunist Bob Woodward to write his “insider” books.

Nothing to see here

Previously, Murray had already detailed how “the mainstream media are turning a blind eye. There were three reporters in the press gallery, one of them an intern and one representing the NUJ. Public access continues to be restricted and major NGOs, including Amnesty, PEN and Reporters Without Borders, continue to be excluded both physically and from watching online.”

Murray also detailed how “the six of us allowed in the public gallery, incidentally, have to climb 132 steps to get there, several times a day. As you know, I have a very dodgy ticker; I am with Julian’s dad John who is 78; and another of us has a pacemaker.”

So why is he “the man in the public gallery”? “I do not in the least discount the gallant efforts of others when I explain that I feel obliged to write this up, and in this detail, because otherwise the vital basic facts of the most important trial this century, and how it is being conducted, would pass almost completely unknown to the public. If it were a genuine process, they would want people to see it, not completely minimize attendance both physically and online.”

Unless people around the world are reading Murray’s reports – and very few others with much less detail – they will ignore immensely important aspects plus the overall appalling context of what’s really happening in the heart of London. The main fact, as far as journalism is concerned, is that Western corporate media is completely ignoring it.

Let’s check the UK coverage on Day 9, for instance.

There was no article in The Guardian – which cannot possibly cover the trial because the paper, for years, was deep into no holds barred smearing and total demonization of Julian Assange.

There was nothing on The Telegraph – very close to MI6 – and only a brief AP story on the Daily Mail.

There was a brief article in The Independent only because one of the witnesses, Eric Lewis, is one of the directors of the Independent Digital News and Media Ltd which publishes the paper.

For years, the process of degrading Julian Assange to sub-human level was based on repeating a bunch of lies so often they become truth. Now, the conspiracy of silence about the trial does wonders to expose the true face of Western liberal “values” and liberal “democracy”.

Daniel Ellsberg speaks

Murray provided absolutely essential context for what Daniel “Pentagon Papers” Ellsberg made it very clear in the witness stand.

The Afghan War logs published by WikiLeaks were quite similar to low-level reports Ellsberg himself had written about Vietnam. The geopolitical framework is the same: invasion and occupation, against the interests of the absolute majority of the invaded and occupied.

Murray, illustrating Ellsberg, writes that “the war logs had exposed a pattern of war crimes: torture, assassination and death squads. The one thing that had changed since Vietnam was that these things were now so normalized they were classified below Top Secret.”

This is a very important point. All the Pentagon Papers were in fact Top Secret. But crucially, the WikiLeaks papers were not Top Secret: in fact they were below Top Secret, not subject to restricted distribution. So they were not really sensitive – as the United States government now alleges.

On the by now legendary Collateral Murder video, Murray details Ellsberg’s argument: “Ellsberg stated that it definitely showed murder, including the deliberate machine gunning of a wounded and unarmed civilian. That it was murder was undoubted. The dubious word was “collateral”, which implies accidental. What was truly shocking about it was the Pentagon reaction that these war crimes were within the Rules of Engagement. Which permitted murder.”

The prosecution cannot explain why Julian Assange withheld no less than 15,000 files; how he took a lot of time to redact the ones that were published; and why both the Pentagon and the State Dept. refused to collaborate with WikiLeaks. Murray: “Ten years later, the US Government has still not been able to name one single individual who was actually harmed by the WikiLeaks releases.”

Prometheus Bound 2.0

President Trump has made two notorious references to WikiLeaks on the record: “I love WikiLeaks” and “I know nothing about WikiLeaks”. That may reveal nothing on how a hypothetical Trump 2.0 administration would act if Julian Assange was extradited to the US. What we do now is that the most powerful Deep State factions want him “neutralized”. Forever.

I felt compelled to portray Julian Assange’s plight as Prometheus Bound 2.0. In this poignant post-modern tragedy, the key subplot centers on a deadly blow to true journalism, in the sense of speaking truth to power.

Julian Assange continues to be treated as an extremely dangerous criminal, as his partner Stella Moris describes it in a tweet.

Craig Murray will arguably enter History as the central character in a very small chorus warning us all about the tragedy’s ramifications.

It’s also quite fitting that the tragedy is also a commentary on a previous era that featured, unlike Blake’s poem, a Marriage of Hell and Hell: GWOT and OCO (Global War on Terror, under George W. Bush, and Overseas Contingency Operations under Barack Obama).

Julian Assange is being condemned for revealing imperial war crimes in Iraq and Afghanistan. Yet in the end all that post-9/11 sound and fury signified nothing.

It actually metastasized into the worst imperial nightmare: the emergence of a prime, compounded peer competitor, the Russia-China strategic partnership.

“Not here the darkness, in this twittering world” (T.S. Eliot, Burnt Norton). An army of future Assanges awaits.

Why The ‘Journalists’ Don’t Like Julian

By Jeremy Salt

Source

Assange secrets 9b5de

Why is it that so many journalists have turned their backs on Julian Assange? Why do so many abuse him instead of defending him?  He is, after all, a world historic figure who will be remembered centuries from now in the same way we remember Voltaire, Victor Hugo and Thomas Paine.  Thanks to technology, Assange has been able to do far more than they could ever imagine in advancing the ‘right to know’ component of human rights.  He has broken more real news than all the journalists who sneer at him put together,  so resentment could be one explanation.   They say Assange is ‘not a journalist’ when what they mean is that he is not a journalist like them.

The keywords here are mediation and control. ‘What lies behind the headlines’ has another meaning beyond what is really going on in politics. ‘What lies behind the headlines’ is also what goes on in newsrooms before you read your morning paper or watch the evening news bulletin.  

News is a product, like anything that comes off the factory floor.  The raw material comes in, is processed,  refined and polished before being placed on the sales shelf called ‘news.’   Millions of pieces of news flow into editorial rooms every day.  What you read or watch is only the tiniest fraction of this flood.  

What you read or see is what someone is choosing for you,  what someone thinks is ‘news’ compared to all the other items that never see the light of day,  what someone thinks you should know as opposed to what you might like to know.    

News in the mainstream is mediated from start to finish.  The reporter produces the raw product.  Whether it is a car crash or civil war, someone else will always see it differently but his or her particular version is the raw material submitted for processing.  Editors at the daily news conference decide if it deserves a place and where it should be placed, on page one, three or five,  at the top of the page or lower done,  under a one column or three column heading,  at the top of the nightly news bulletin or closer to the bottom.  

The editor has the final say.  He or she is the link between the board and the advertisers and has to deal with the pressure that might come from their direction when the story is a sensitive one.  Thus,  depending on the relationship between editor and the board/proprietor, an important story might not be published at all or might be shriveled to the point where it no longer seems important.

The decision made, an editor gets to work,  cutting,  reshaping, honing and polishing the story, maybe moving paragraphs around if he or she thinks they are not in the right order, until the product is ready to attract the attention of the reader/viewer, much as the male jackdaw lines the nest with silver paper to attract the attention of the female. There can be differences of opinion between the reporter and the editor along the way but in essence they are egotistical, not over truth or untruth or the public’s right to know, but over how the story should be written and presented.  

There is no unmediated news in the mainstream media.  It is the news as decided by reporters and editors,  from the choice of story to report in the first place to the end of the production line. There could be thousands of other news items you the reader or viewer might think are worthier of space and time that never see the light of day. 

What is happening around the world, therefore, is only what is reported as happening,  before being processed to meet editorial requirements.  If it is not reported it might as well not have happened,  beyond the impact within the immediate circle of where it did happen. Thus the media can make something happen or unhappen, according to the choices made in editorial rooms.

Control relates to control as exerted vertically,  from the board or proprietor down to the editor and then to the very bottom of the editorial chain.  Apart from the car crash, the rape or the robbery, there is a line that has to be protected when it comes to important political stories or stories that affect advertisers and the particular media outlet’s commercial interests.  There is always some flexibility,  depending on how tightly controlled the editorial line is from the top,  but the general political/social profile of the organization always has to be protected.  

If ‘news’ is to be defined as something we don’t know,  we could spend our entire lives reading books (and might be better off for it).  Much of the ‘news’ that is printed falls into the same category of what we don’t know but whether we really need or want to know it is another question. 

The endless goings-on of the Kardashian family might be a good example.   The definition of news has swung in the direction of ‘celebrity gossip’ and the celebrities have responded by providing editors with all the ‘news’ they might want to print,  but ‘news’ that many of ‘us’ (readers and viewers) would regard as trash. Of course, for the media to remain viable, the product has to sell and amidst all the Kardashian bottoms, that is the bottom line.

So mediation and control are two reasons the journalists abuse Assange.  Given the massive volume of material Wikipedia receives, he or his team have to exert some control and make decisions about how much they can upload within their technical capacity but what they do post is unmediated.  There are no cuts, no editing no polishing: the news comes to you in its raw state and you the reader can decide what to make of it, instead of someone telling you what to make of it. 

Another reason for disliking Assange is jealousy.  He has scooped all of these journalists who abuse him thousand times over,  by releasing sensational material that exposes the dirty secrets they would love to get their hands on.

In recent history only one reporter,  Seymour Hersh, without the technical ability to penetrate government vaults that Wikipedia’s sources have and relying entirely on his human sources,  has come anywhere close to what Assange has achieved.  Hersh is the greatest reporter of this age, or just about any age, a model of courage and the determination to dig for the truth, whatever the obstacles.

His fate is instructive. He broke the My Lai massacre in 1968, he exposed the Abu Ghraib prison torture in 2004  and he broke many other stories in between,  yet when he crossed the government-media line on Syria by exposing the falsity of the claim that the Syrian government was responsible for an alleged chemical weapons attack close to Damascus in 2013 his usual outlet, the New Yorker,  refused to publish. The story was handed to the Washington Post, which also turned it down.   The arguments that it did not meet their standards don’t deserve to be taken seriously.

Eventually, the  London Review of Books took the story on but when Hersh followed up with an account questioning the trans-Atlantic government and media line on the alleged role of the Syrian government in the alleged chemical weapons attack at Khan Sheikhun in April, 2017, the LRB declined to publish even though it had paid for the story. 

Subsequently,  Hersh had to publish in Germany (‘Khan Sheikhun Trump’s Red Line,’ Welt am Sonntag, June 25, 2017) and he now has no place anywhere in the mainstream print media of his own country.

Another reason for journalists disliking Assange is that in one way or another,  they are not free to write what they want.  They belong to institutions, ‘belonging’ defined as owned by them. They depend on them for their salaries and their careers.  Basically they are correct when they say ‘No-one tells me what to write.’  No one has to tell them because they already know what to write if they want to keep their jobs,  wherever they happen to work. 

Self-censorship is central to the practice of journalism in the mainstream.  No-one with an eye on their best interests is going to write something they know editors will throw in their face, not because it is badly written but because it goes against the editorial line.  They might be lucky enough to agree with the editorial line anyway but if they don’t they have to adjust, or look for a future in journalism elsewhere.

Thus, journalists have power,  the power and the money of the institution behind them.  Assange has no institution behind him.  Indeed, the institutions are all against him. A media which used him up has abandoned him.  The government of his own country, Australia, has not lifted a finger in his defense.

What Assange does have behind him is the power of the truth-telling that should be the core of journalism,  not the truth-tailoring and the acceptance of downright lies that characterizes much of mainstream journalism today.   So of course the journalists don’t like him, or should we say ‘journalists’, because who is doing the real work of journalism today,  they or Julian Assange?

Julian Assange, Prometheus Bound

Julian Assange, Prometheus Bound

By Pepe Escobar

Cross-posted with Consortium News

He is being punished not for stealing fire – but for exposing power under the light of truth and provoking the god of Exceptionalism. 

Police ejecting Assange from embassy, April 11, 2019. (YouTube)

Police ejecting Julian Assange from Ecuadorian embassy in London, April 11, 2019. (YouTube)


This is the tale of an Ancient Greek tragedy reenacted in AngloAmerica.

Amid thundering silence and nearly universal indifference, chained, immobile, invisible, a squalid Prometheus was transferred from the gallows for a show trial in a faux Gothic court built on the site of a medieval prison.

Kratos, impersonating Strength, and Bia, impersonating Violence, had duly chained Prometheus, not to a mountain in the Caucasus, but to solitary confinement in a high-security prison, subject to relentless psychological torture. All along the Western watchtowers, no Hephaestus volunteered to forge in his smithy a degree of reluctance or even a sliver of pity.

Prometheus is being punished not for stealing fire – but for exposing power under the light of truth, thus provoking the unbounded ire of  Zeus The Exceptionalist, who’s only able to stage his crimes under multiple veils of secrecy.

Prometheus pierced the myth of secrecy – which envelops Zeus’s ability to control the human spectrum. And that is anathema.

“Prometheus Being Chained by Vulcan,” 1623 oil painting by Dirck van Baburen. (Vulcan Rijksmuseum, Wikimedia Commons)

For years, debased, hack stenographers worked relentlessly to depict Prometheus as a lowly trickster and inconsequential forger.

Abandoned, smeared, demonized, Prometheus was comforted by only a small chorus of Oceanids – Craig Murray, John Pilger, Daniel Ellsberg, Wiki warriors, Consortium writers. Prometheus was denied even the basic tools to organize a defense that might at least rattle Zeus’s cognitive dissonant narrative.

Oceanus, the Titan father of the Oceanids, could not possibly urge Prometheus to appease Zeus.

Fleetingly, Prometheus might have revealed to the chorus that exposing secrecy was not what best suited his heart’s content. His plight might also, in the long run, revive popular attachment to the civilizing arts.

One day, Prometheus was visited by Io, a human maiden. He may have forecasted she would engage in no future travels, and she would bear him two offspring. And he may have foreseen that one of their descendants – an unnamed epigone of Heracles – many generations hence, would release him, figuratively, from his torment.

Zeus and his prosecutorial minions don’t have much of a case against Prometheus, apart from possession and dissemination of classified Exceptional information.

Still it was eventually up to Hermes — the messenger of the Gods, and significantly, the conduit of News — to be sent down by Zeus in uncontrollable anger to demand that Prometheus admits he was guilty of trying to overthrow the rules-based order established by the Supreme Exceptional.

CBC TV covering Assange expulsion. (YouTube)

CBC TV covering Assange expulsion from Ecuadorian embassy in London. (YouTube)

This is what’s being ritualized at the current show trial, which was never about Justice.

Prometheus won’t be tamed. In his mind, he will be relieving Tennyson’s Ulysses: “to strive, to seek, to find, and not to yield.”

So Zeus may finally strike him with the thunderbolt of Exceptionalism, and Prometheus will be hurled into the abyss.

Prometheus’s theft of the secrecy of power, though, is irreversible. His fate will certainly prompt the late entrance of Pandora and her jar of evils – complete with unforeseen consequences.

Whatever the verdict reached in that 17th century court, it’s far from certain that Prometheus will enter History just as a mere object of blame for human folly.

Because now the heart of the matter is that the mask of Zeus has fallen.

Discussion of Wikileaks or any “Hacked Information” Banned Under New YouTube Rules

Snowden Assange

By Alan Macleod

Source

YouTube’s decision to ban discussion of hacked information on its platform is unlikely to improve election integrity in the US, it will, however, continue to tilt the balance in favor of established corporate-funded outlets like Fox News and CNN.

Social media giant YouTube announced yesterday a host of new measures it says are aimed at preventing any interference in the upcoming presidential elections. Chief among the list it wrote on its blog, is “removing content that contains hacked information, the disclosure of which may interfere with democratic processes, such as elections and censuses.” An example it gives, would be deleting “videos that contain hacked information about a political candidate.”

It also promised to “raise up authoritative voices” when it comes to current events and politics by changing its algorithm to show users more credible channels and “reduce the spread of harmful misinformation and borderline content.” Example channels that produce authoritative content, it tells readers, includes Fox News and CNN. It also noted it would expand information panels underneath videos.

There are a number of reasons this new policy could concern users of its platform. Firstly, the great majority of leaked information — the lifeblood of investigative journalism — is anonymous. Often, like in the cases of Edward Snowden, Chelsea Manning or Reality Winner, whistleblowers face serious consequences if their names become attached to documents exposing government or corporate malfeasance. But without a name to go with a document, the difference between leaked data and hacked data is impossible to define. Thus, powerful people and organizations could claim data was hacked, rather than leaked, and simply block all discussion of the matter on the platform. Hearing the news, some feared already existing content from investigative journalists would be subject to removal under the new guidelines.

YouTube’s choice of Fox News and CNN as reliable sources might also raise eyebrows in some quarters. According to the latest Reuters Institute Digital News Report, fewer than half of all Americans trust the two networks (Fox at 42 percent and CNN at 47 percent). And a new study from Gallup/Knight Foundation finds that fewer than a third of the country has a favorable view of the media more generally, including only 19 percent of those under thirty (YouTube’s prime demographic). Many go to the platform precisely because it offers alternative and more diverse opinions to corporate-dominated radio, print and television. But YouTube is now funneling them back towards those same sources.

The 2016 presidential election was colored by Wikileaks’ release of the Podesta emails, discussion of which would be banned under YouTube’s new rules. The Hillary Clinton campaign alleges the emails were hacked from Podesta’s computer. The published communications, the authenticity of which is not in doubt, informed the country of the machinations of the Democratic Party, how it tipped the electoral scales in favor of Clinton and against Bernie Sanders in the primary, how Clinton stated to Wall Street that she had a “public” and a “private” position on regulation, insinuating she was lying to the nation, how representatives of Qatar wanted to meet with her husband Bill for “five minutes” to present him with a $1 million check for his birthday, and how her own staff held her in contempt. The emails, Clinton contends, swung the election from her to Trump. If this is the case, the decision to ban all discussion of them would have fundamentally altered the democratic process.

If YouTube’s actions seem drastic, the Australian state of Queensland introduced laws yesterday that made it illegal to publish allegations of corruption against any politician during election season. Those found guilty would be punished with a six-month jail sentence and a fine of nearly U.S.$5,000. After a public outcry, the law was overturned after only 24 hours.

While misinformation online is a problem, there exist other, more serious threats to electoral integrity. President Trump, who said that Republicans would never get into power again if everybody voted, told Fox Business this week that he is actively withholding funds from the U.S. Postal Service in order to undermine the election to his benefit. “They need that money in order to make the Post Office work so it can take all of these millions and millions of ballots,” he said. “But if they don’t get those two items, that means you can’t have universal mail-in voting, because they’re not equipped to have it.” Add decades of gerrymandering and a campaign of voter suppression that has seen over 1,200 polling stations across the South, primarily in black neighborhoods, and Trump might be able to overcome his polling deficit and beat Biden.

YouTube’s decision to ban discussion of hacked information on its platform is unlikely to significantly improve political discourse or election integrity in the United States. It will, however, continue to tilt the balance in favor of established corporate-funded outlets, to the detriment of new, alternative voices.

Doctors “Strongly Condemn” UK Decision to Keep Assange Imprisoned During COVID-19 Pandemic

By Alan Macleod

Source

Doctors4Assange, a group of 195 medical professionals from 30 countries, released a statement today “strongly condemning” a British court decision to keep Wikileaks co-founder Julian Assange incarcerated, despite a possible outbreak of COVID-19 at Belmarsh Prison in London where Assange is being held. The group argued that, due to his history of medical neglect, extremely fragile health, and his chronic lung condition, he was at particular risk of both contracting and dying from the virus.

Despite acknowledging he was at increased risk, District Judge Vanessa Baraitser denied him bail because she considered him a flight risk. “There are substantial grounds to believe if I released him today he would not return to face his extradition hearing,” Baraitser said. Assange previously sought refuge in the embassy of Ecuador in London.

The Australian publisher’s hearing played out in bizarre circumstances on Wednesday. The court, like the rest of the United Kingdom, was on lockdown, meaning only 15 people were in attendance. One of his lawyers, Edward Fitzgerald QC, wore a large facemask, while the other, Mark Summers QC, participated remotely via audio, as did the American government attorneys seeking his extradition. Not only was Assange not physically present, but his video connection was also terminated early meaning he was not even able to follow proceedings, let alone participate in them. He was also unable to communicate with his legal team.

Mrs Christine Assange@MrsC_Assange

ASSANGE DEATH RISK RISES in US/UK political persecution

*2 UK prisoners now dead from

*19 inmates/4 prison officers/3 staff test positive

*100 staff/ Belmarsh Prison in isolation

My ill son detained w/out charge in Belmarsh

Doctors warn he’ll die https://twitter.com/DEAcampaign/status/1242844608289099776 

Don’t Extradite Assange@DEAcampaign

@wikileaks editor-in-chief @khrafnsson condemns the decision not to release Julian #Assange on bail in light of the #Coronavirus crisis. More than 100 staff from Belmarsh are off sick.

Embedded video

Baraitser also claimed that Belmarsh Prison was a safe place for Assange to be kept, as no one had yet tested positive for COVID-19. But testing kits are notoriously hard to come by in the United Kingdom, with only 113,777 people tested across the entire country by Friday (less than 0.2 percent of the population). Worse still, over 100 Belmarsh employees are currently off work after self-isolating with coronavirus symptoms or coming into contact with a confirmed case. Two British prisoners have already died from the virus, with 19 more testing positive.

Thus, Doctors4Assange argues, it is more a question of when, rather than if, Belmarsh is infected. “Julian Assange is just such an unsentenced prisoner with significant health vulnerability. He is being held on remand, with no custodial sentence or UK charge in place, let alone conviction,” they wrote, pointing to the United Nations Human Rights Council’s pronouncement on prison clemency.

“With outbreaks of the disease, and an increasing number of deaths, already reported in prisons and other institutions in an expanding number of countries, authorities should act now to prevent further loss of life among detainees and staff,” UN Human Rights High Commissioner Michelle Bachelet said. “Now, more than ever, governments should release every person detained without sufficient legal basis, including political prisoners and others detained simply for expressing critical or dissenting views,” she added.

All prisons in England are now indefinitely closed to visitors. Iran, in an effort to stem the spread of coronavirus, has released tens of thousands of prisoners from its jails. Poland is expected to follow suit and send up 12,000 prisoners home early. Yet the United Kingdom has yet to follow suit, despite the pleas, even from its own prison governors. Andrea Albutt, the head of the Prison Governors Association, warned of an “unprecedented risk” to the overcrowded prison system, recommending the immediate release of many inmates. Meanwhile, in the U.S., there is growing concern that “a storm is coming” – that prisons will be hotbeds of contagion. Disgraced media mogul Harvey Weinstein has already contracted COVID–19 while in Rikers Island jail.

Assange’s extradition trial began in late February. He faces 18 U.S. charges of hacking and breaches of the Espionage Act, specifically for the publication of evidence leaked by Pvt. Chelsea Manning that detailed evidence of American war crimes in the Middle East. If found guilty, he faces up to 175 years in prison. He had been granted asylum by the progressive Ecuadorian administration of Rafael Correa. However, after Correa was replaced by the pro-American administration of Lenin Moreno in 2017, his welcome in the Ecuadorian embassy in London waned.  ince his removal from the building in 2019 he has been held at Belmarsh Prison, a high-security penitentiary, often in solitary confinement. His treatment was so poor that convicted murderers and other high-security inmates staged a mass protest, managing to secure his transfer to the hospital wing.

Current Wikileaks boss Kristinn Hrafnsson also “condemned in the strongest possible terms” Judge Baraitser’s decision. “COVID-19 is bringing forth the best in people and the worst in people. Today’s decision by the judge was an example of the latter,” he said.

INTERNATIONAL COURT APPROVES PROBE OF US WAR CRIMES IN AFGHANISTAN

INTERNATIONAL COURT APPROVES PROBE OF US WAR CRIMES IN AFGHANISTAN

An appellate panel of the International Criminal Court (ICC) ruled Thursday that an investigation leading to the potential prosecution of US officials for war crimes during Washington’s nearly two-decade-old war in Afghanistan can move forward.

Fatou Bensouda, the court’s Gambian-born chief prosecutor, whose US visa was revoked for her pursuit of the probe, praised Thursday’s ruling, stating, “Today is an important day for the cause of justice in Afghanistan.”

The ruling overturned a decision by ICC pretrial judges last year that a case involving crimes by the US and its puppet regime in Afghanistan “would not serve the interests of justice” because of the abject refusal of Washington and Kabul to cooperate. This decision was taken in the context of US threats of retaliation against the court, including economic sanctions and even the arrest of its members if the investigation was allowed to move forward.

The appeals judges ruled that last year’s decision was in contradiction to the ICC’s own statutes, holding that “It is for the prosecutor to determine whether there is a reasonable basis to initiate an investigation.” The appeals judges said that the pretrial panel had no business deciding whether the case served the “interests of justice,” but only whether there were grounds to believe that crimes had been committed and that they fell under the court’s jurisdiction.

The investigation is one of the first to be launched against a major imperialist power by the ICC, whose prosecutions have largely been limited to crimes committed by regimes and leaders in impoverished African countries. A preliminary investigation has also been launched into war crimes carried out by British forces in the US-led 2003 invasion of Iraq. Unlike the US, the UK is a signatory to the agreement establishing the international court.

The ICC’s prosecutors first opened a preliminary probe into crimes against humanity and war crimes in Afghanistan nearly 14 years ago.

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo responded to Thursday’s ruling with the bellicose threats that have been the trademark of Washington toward the ICC since its founding by a decision of the United Nations in 2002. Describing the investigation as a “political vendetta” by an “unaccountable political institution masquerading as a legal body,” the secretary of state vowed that Washington would “take all necessary measures to protect our citizens from this renegade, unlawful so-called court.”

He characterized the ICC appeals judges’ ruling as “reckless” because it was issued after Washington had signed a so-called “peace deal” with the Taliban five days earlier. That agreement has already begun to unravel, with the US military carrying out air strikes against the Taliban after the Islamist movement launched multiple attacks on forces of Afghanistan’s US-backed puppet regime. The unstated assumption in Pompeo’s remarks is that “peace” in Afghanistan can be achieved only based on a cover-up of Washington’s crimes.

Asked whether the Trump administration would retaliate against the court, the secretary of state said that measures would be announced within “a couple of weeks about the path that we’re going to take to ensure that we protect American soldiers, sailors, airmen, Marines, our intelligence warriors, the diplomats that have worked for the State Department over the years to ensure that the ICC doesn’t impose… pressure on them in a way that doesn’t reflect the noble nature of the undertakings of every one of those Americans.”

The concern in Washington is not for the troops, but rather that the real authors of the crimes in Afghanistan will someday be held to account: the presidents and their cabinets along with the top generals, the leading politicians of both major parties, the big business interests that supported the war and the media pundits who promoted it.

Pompeo went on to insist, “We have a solid system here in the United States. When there’s wrongdoing by an American, we have a process by which that is redressed.” The character of this “solid system” was made clear last year with Trump’s pardon of convicted war criminals, including two US Army officers convicted and jailed for illegal killings in Afghanistan.

The ICC prosecutor Bensouda requested the investigation of war crimes in 2017, saying there was evidence that US military and intelligence agencies had “committed acts of torture, cruel treatment, outrages upon personal dignity, rape and sexual violence” against detainees in Afghanistan.

In its ruling Thursday, the ICC Appeals Chamber declared it “appropriate to amend the appealed decision to the effect that the prosecutor is authorized to commence an investigation into alleged crimes committed on the territory of Afghanistan since May 1, 2003, as well as other alleged crimes that have a nexus to the armed conflict in Afghanistan.”

The prosecutor has already indicated that this extension of the investigation involves the “nexus” between the torture centers set up at Bagram Air Base and other US installations in Afghanistan to so-called “black sites” run by the CIA in countries like Poland, Lithuania and Romania. It could as well link to the infamous Abu Ghraib detention and torture facility in Iraq, where US military interrogators were sent after torturing prisoners in Afghanistan. It could also potentially encompass the drone assassinations and massacres of thousands carried out by successive US administrations in neighboring Pakistan.

The war crimes carried out by US imperialism since it invaded Afghanistan in October 2001 are innumerable. They began at the outset with massacres of unarmed detainees, including hundreds, if not thousands, of prisoners of war who were asphyxiated and shot to death in sealed metal shipping containers after the siege of Kunduz.

Among the most infamous crimes were those exposed in an investigation into a so-called “Kill Team” formed by a unit of the US Army’s 5th Stryker Brigade sent into Kandahar Province as part of the Obama administration’s 2009–2010 “surge,” which brought the number of troops in Afghanistan to roughly 100,000. As members of the team themselves acknowledged—and documented in grisly photographs—they set out to systematically murder civilians and mutilate their bodies, taking fingers and pieces of skulls as trophies.

They lured one of their victims, a 15-year-old boy named Gul Mudin, toward them before throwing a grenade at him and repeatedly shooting him at close range. After bringing his father to identify the body, they took turns posing and playing with the corpse, before cutting off one of the boy’s fingers. Members of the team also described throwing candy from their Stryker armored vehicle while driving through villages and then shooting children who ran to pick it up.

While the Pentagon sought to pass off these atrocities as the work of a few “bad apples,” the killings were known to their commanders and other units that participated in similar acts. They were the product of a criminal colonial occupation in which troops were taught to regard the entire civilian population as potential enemies and less than human.

The number of Afghans killed in the conflict is estimated at over 175,000, with many more indirect victims of the war’s destruction. Nearly 2,400 US troops have been killed, along with tens of thousands more wounded. US crimes include indiscriminate air strikes that wiped out wedding parties, village meetings and hospital patients and staff.

Among the most extensive exposures of US war crimes were those contained in the so-called “Afghan War Diaries,” some 91,000 documents given by the courageous US Army whistleblower Chelsea Manning to WikiLeaks in 2010. In retaliation, WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange is now imprisoned in the UK facing extradition to the US on Espionage Act charges that carry a 175-year prison sentence, or worse. For her part, Manning is being held in indefinite detention in a US federal detention center in Virginia for refusing to testify against Assange.

Washington’s virulent hostility to any international investigation into its crimes was clear as soon as the ICC was founded in 2002. The Bush administration repudiated it from the outset, and the US Congress followed suit through its passage by an overwhelming bipartisan majority of a law protecting all US personnel from “criminal prosecution by an international criminal court to which the United States is not a party.” The same year, Bush issued a memorandum declaring that the US would not be bound by the Geneva Conventions in its war in Afghanistan.

US officials have sardonically referred to the anti-ICC law passed by Congress as the “Hague Invasion Authorization Act,” as it provides for the use of military force to free any US citizens facing charges before the ICC, which sits in The Hague, Netherlands.

The US reaction to the ICC’s Afghanistan investigation is an explicit repudiation of international law and the abandonment of any pretense that Washington is guided by anything other than the predatory interests of US imperialism. On this, the Trump administration and its ostensible opponents in the Democratic Party are agreed. Their unconditional defense of the war crimes carried out in Afghanistan, Iraq and elsewhere is a warning to the working class that far greater crimes are being prepared as US imperialism prepares for “great power” conflicts.


By Bill Van Auken
Source: World Socialist Web Site

Tucker Carlson interviews Roger Waters about Julian Assange

Roger Waters explains Julian Assange to Tucker Carlson and they AGREE!!!

Highlights from the Assange Trial Thus Far

Eric Zuesse for The Saker Blog

February 26, 2020

Here are the most informative excerpts that I have noted from the best news-reporting from journalists who have been attending at the trial:

CRAIG MURRAY, “Day 2”:

For the defence, Mark Summers QC stated that the USA charges were entirely dependent on three factual accusations of Assange behviour:

1) Assange helped Manning to decode a hash key to access classified material.

Summers stated this was a provably false allegation from the evidence of the Manning court-martial.

2) Assange solicited the material from Manning

Summers stated this was provably wrong from information available to the public

3) Assange knowingly put lives at risk

Summers stated this was provably wrong both from publicly available information and from specific involvement of the US government.

In summary, Summers stated the US government knew that the allegations being made were false as to fact, and they were demonstrably made in bad faith. This was therefore an abuse of process which should lead to dismissal of the extradition request. …

This comprehensive account took some four hours and I shall not attempt to capture it here. I will rather give highlights. …

On 1) Summers at great length demonstrated conclusively that Manning had access to each material a) b) c) d) provided to Wikileaks without needing any code from Assange, and had that access before ever contacting Assange. …

After a brief break, Baraitser [the judge] came back with a real zinger. She told Summers that he had presented the findings of the US court martial of Chelsea Manning as fact. But she did not agree that her court had to treat evidence at a US court martial, even agreed or uncontested evidence or prosecution evidence, as fact. …

The bulk of Summers’ argument went to refuting behaviour 3), putting lives at risk. … Summers described at great length the efforts of Wikileaks with media partners over more than a year to set up a massive redaction campaign on the cables. He explained that the unredacted cables only became available after Luke Harding and David Leigh of the Guardian published the password to the cache as the heading to Chapter XI of their book, Wikileaks, published in February 2011. …

Summers read from the transcripts of telephone conversations as Assange and Harrison [both of Wikileaks] had attempted to convince US officials of the urgency of enabling source protection procedures – and expressed their bafflement as officials stonewalled them. This evidence utterly undermined the US government’s case and proved bad faith in omitting extremely relevant fact. It was a very striking moment.

CNN, Day 2:

Julian Assange tried to warn the US government that sensitive documents were to be leaked “imminently,” but was told to call back in a few hours, according to his lawyers during the second day of the WikiLeaks founder’s extradition hearing in London.

Assange personally warned the State Department that an encrypted database of 250,000 unredacted US diplomatic cables was about to be leaked in 2011, his lawyer Mark Summers told Woolwich Crown Court on Tuesday.

The cables included the identities of people — some deemed high risk — who had been in communication with the US.

Assange contacted officials after it became known that German newspaper Der Freitag had discovered the password to a database containing the unredacted files, Summers said.

The 48-year-old Australian, along with WikiLeaks editor Sarah Harrison, telephoned then-Secretary of State Hilary Clinton’s emergency line to sound the alarm about the unredacted material, the court heard.

Assange personally warned: “I don’t understand why you’re not seeing the urgency in this… people’s lives are at risk,” according to Summers.

But he was told to call back in a few hours, said the lawyer.

CNN reached out to the State Department for a response, but had not received one at time of publishing.

BBC, Day 2:

Mark Summers QC, representing Mr Assange, told the hearing in London that Wikileaks had begun redacting a tranche of 250,000 leaked cables in November 2010, working with media partners around the world as well as the US government.

He said that in February 2011 the Guardian published a book about Wikileaks which contained a password to the unredacted documents.

He said it wasn’t until months later that it was discovered the password could be used to access the unredacted database, which was revealed by German news outlet Der Freitag on 25 August 2011.

On that day, Mr Assange called the White House and asked to speak to then secretary of state Hillary Clinton “as a matter of urgency” over fears the documents were about to be dumped online by third parties who had gained access, Mr Summers told the court. He was told to ring back in a few hours.

Mr Summers said Mr Assange had warned: “I don’t understand why you’re not seeing the urgency of this.

“Unless we do something, then people’s lives are put at risk.” …

Prosecutors argued on Monday that Mr Assange knowingly put hundreds of sources around the world at risk of torture and death by publishing the unredacted documents containing names or other identifying details.

But Mr Summers told the court that the US extradition request “boldly and brazenly” misrepresented the facts.

He said the US government, which was involved in the redaction process, knows “what actually occurred” which was “far from being a reckless, unredacted release”.

In response, James Lewis QC, representing the US government, told the court that Mr Assange “didn’t have to publish the unredacted cables”.

“He decided to do so on a widely followed and easily searchable website, knowing that it was dangerous to do so,” he added.

MY CLOSING NOTE:

I hope that subsequently will be revealed whether or not the U.S. Government’s statement that Wikileaks “didn’t have to publish the unredacted cables” is true. After Wikileaks gave the files to the media in the U.S. Government-accepted redacted version, a sequence of events occurred in which, it appears according to the Wilileaks allegations, the Guardian’s Luke Harding (who is a prominent neoconservative journalist) caused “security being compromised when the book was published in February 2011” as the Guardian’s book about Wikileaks was being published. Then Der Freitag took the next step, and used that key to open the lock, and obtain access to the unredacted file. Is the U.S. Government ignoring Assange’s intensive efforts to prohibit such a thing from happening? Is the U.S. Government ignoring Hillary Clinton’s role in this? Is Donald Trump protecting Ms. Clinton? Why would he be protecting her and trying to frame and destroy Assange? Why is the Government of UK, throughout this nearly ten-year-long matter, serving as the U.S. Government’s errand-boy? Is UK a democracy? Is U.S. a democracy?

Craig Murray’s report on the trial’s first day provides shocking evidence that Judge Baraitser is extremely prejudiced against Assange and for the Trump Administration. I strongly recommend his blog, as the best site covering this trial (and as one of the really great one-person blogs on international matters, along with the “Moon of Alabama”).

—————

Investigative historian Eric Zuesse is the author, most recently, of  They’re Not Even Close: The Democratic vs. Republican Economic Records, 1910-2010, and of CHRIST’S VENTRILOQUISTS: The Event that Created Christianity.

‘It Would be the End of Free Speech’: Protest Against Assange’s Extradition at Belmarsh Prison

Source

Today is the day a London court begins hearing on what looks to become (or at least precede) one of the defining cases of the decade – the extradition trial of Julian Assange. The WikiLeaks founder has found support from human rights advoctes from across the globe, including France’s Yellow Vest movement.

It’s chilly and windy in London, and Belmarsh Prison is definitely not the first place that comes to mind when you think of where to hang out.

But a small crowd of several dozen people, many clad in signature high-vis jackets, have come together at the nearby Woolwich Crown Court to demand freedom for Julian Assange. Some of them have spent a nippy night camped out outside the court; most arrived today.

Protesters are holding up banners reading, “Bent judges are killing Assange”, “Jail the war criminals, free Chelsea Manning”, and “No US extradition”.

The rally is organised by human rights campaigners, notably those from Reporters Without Borders and France’s Yellow Vest movement.

More

%d bloggers like this: