Tag: Ukraine (page 1 of 8)

Russia-Gate Spreads To Europe

Authored by Robert Parry via ConsortiumNews.com,

Ever since the U.S. government dangled $160 million last December to combat Russian propaganda and disinformation, obscure academics and eager think tanks have been lining up for a shot at the loot, an unseemly rush to profit that is spreading the Russia-gate hysteria beyond the United States to Europe…

British Prime Minister Theresa May

Now, it seems that every development, which is unwelcomed by the Establishment – from Brexit to the Catalonia independence referendum – gets blamed on Russia! Russia! Russia!

The methodology of these “studies” is to find some Twitter accounts or Facebook pages somehow “linked” to Russia (although it’s never exactly clear how that is determined) and complain about the “Russian-linked” comments on political developments in the West. The assumption is that the gullible people of the United States, United Kingdom and Catalonia were either waiting for some secret Kremlin guidance to decide how to vote or were easily duped.

Oddly, however, most of this alleged “interference” seems to have come after the event in question. For instance, more than half (56 percent) of the famous $100,000 in Facebook ads in 2015-2017 supposedly to help elect Donald Trump came after last year’s U.S. election (and the total sum compares to Facebook’s annual revenue of $27 billion).

Similarly, a new British study at the University of Edinburgh blaming the Brexit vote on Russia discovered that more than 70 percent of the Brexit-related tweets from allegedly Russian-linked sites came after the referendum on whether the U.K. should leave the European Union. But, hey, don’t let facts and logic get in the way of a useful narrative to suggest that anyone who voted for Trump or favored Brexit or wants independence for Catalonia is Moscow’s “useful idiot”!

This week, British Prime Minister Theresa May accused Russia of seeking to “undermine free societies” and to “sow discord in the West.”

What About Israel?

Yet, another core problem with these “studies” is that they don’t come with any “controls,” i.e., what is used in science to test a hypothesis against some base line to determine if you are finding something unusual or just some normal occurrence.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu speaking to a joint session of the U.S. Congress on March 3, 2015, in opposition to President Barack Obama’s nuclear agreement with Iran. (Screen shot from CNN broadcast)

In this case, for instance, it would be useful to find some other country that, like Russia, has a significant number of English speakers but where English is not the native language – and that has a significant interest in foreign affairs – and then see whether people from that country weigh in on social media with their opinions and perspectives about political events in the U.S., U.K., etc.

Perhaps, the U.S. government could devote some of that $160 million to, say, a study of the Twitter/Facebook behavior of Israelis and whether they jump in on U.S./U.K. controversies that might directly or indirectly affect Israel. We could see how many Twitter/Facebook accounts are “linked” to Israel; we could study whether any Israeli “trolls” harass journalists and news sites that oppose neoconservative policies and politicians in the West; we could check on whether Israel does anything to undermine candidates who are viewed as hostile to Israeli interests; if so, we could calculate how much money these “Israeli-linked” activists and bloggers invest in Facebook ads; and we could track any Twitter bots that might be reinforcing the Israeli-favored message.

No Chance

If we had this Israeli baseline, then perhaps we could judge how unusual it is for Russians to voice their opinions about controversies in the West. It’s true that Israel is a much smaller country with 8.5 million people compared to Russia’s 144 million, but you could adjust for those per capita numbers — and even if you didn’t, it wouldn’t be surprising to find that Israel’s interference in U.S. policymaking still exceeds Russian influence.

Russian President Vladimir Putin with German Chancellor Angela Merkel on May 10, 2015, at the Kremlin. (Photo from Russian government)

It’s also true that Israeli leaders have often advocated policies that have proved disastrous for the United States, such as Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s encouragement of  the Iraq War, which Russia opposed. Indeed, although Russia is now regularly called an American enemy, it’s hard to think of any policy that President Vladimir Putin has pushed on the U.S. that is even a fraction as harmful to U.S. interests as the Iraq War has been.

And, while we’re at it, maybe we could have an accounting of how much “U.S.-linked” entities have spent to influence politics and policies in Russia, Ukraine, Syria and other international hot spots.

But, of course, neither of those things will happen. If you even tried to gauge the role of “Israeli-linked” operations in influencing Western decision-making, you’d be accused of anti-Semitism. And if that didn’t stop you, there would be furious editorials in The New York Times, The Washington Post and the rest of the U.S. mainstream media denouncing you as a “conspiracy theorist.” Who could possibly think that Israel would do anything underhanded to shape Western attitudes?

And, if you sought the comparative figures for the West interfering in the affairs of other nations, you’d be faulted for engaging in “false moral equivalence.” After all, whatever the U.S. government and its allies do is good for the world; whereas Russia is the fount of evil.

So, let’s just get back to developing those algorithms to sniff out, isolate and eradicate “Russian propaganda” or other deviant points of view, all the better to make sure that Americans, Britons and Catalonians vote the right way.

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Who’s Next? Venezuela’s Collapse Puts These Nations At Risk

"It's a wake-up call for a lot of people who will say ‘Look, the stuff I own is actually very risky'…" warns Ray Jian, who oversees about $6 billion at Pioneer Investment Management Ltd. in London. "People have been ignoring risks in places like Lebanon for a long time," and the official default of Venezuela this week has emerging-market money managers are looking to identify countries that might run into trouble down the road.

While Bloomberg reports that while none are nearly as badly off as Venezuelawhere a combination of low oil prices, economic mismanagement and U.S. sanctions did the country in –  traders are scouting for credit risk, from Lebanon, where Prime Minister Saad Hariri’s sudden resignation has once again thrust the nation into a Saudi-Iran proxy war, to Ecuador, where recently elected President Lenin Moreno continues to expand the debt load in a country with a history as a serial defaulter.

1. Lebanon:

One of the world’s most indebted countries, Lebanon may hit a debt-to-gross domestic product ratio of 152 percent this year, according to International Monetary Fund forecasts. That’s coming at a time when political tension is rising. Hariri’s abrupt resignation, announced from Riyadh on Nov. 4, triggered about $800 million of withdrawals from the country as investors speculated that the nation would be in the crosshairs of a regional feud between the Saudis and Iranians. While the central bank says the worst may be over, credit-default swaps have hit a nine-year high.

2. Ecuador:

After a borrowing spree, the Andean nation’s external debt obligations over the next 12 months ballooned to a nine-year high relative to the size of its GDP. Ecuador probably has the highest default risk after Venezuela, according to Robert Koenigsberger, the chief investment officer of Gramercy Funds Management. The country will be vulnerable “when the liquidity environment changes and they can no longer go to the market to get $2.5 billion to plug the hole," he said. Finance Minister Carlos de la Torre told Bloomberg in an email on Thursday that there is "no default risk" for any of Ecuador’s debt commitments and the nation’s indebtedness is nowhere near "critical" levels.

3. Ukraine:

While the Eastern European nation’s credit-default swaps have declined from their 2015 highs, persistent economic struggles are giving traders reason for caution. GDP expansion has slowed for three consecutive quarters and the World Bank warns that the economy is at risk of falling into a low-growth trap. Ukraine’s parliament approved next year’s budget on Tuesday as it eyes a $17.5 billion international bailout.

4. Egypt:

Egypt’s credit-default swaps are hovering near the highest since September. The cost for protection surged in June as regional tensions heated up amid a push by the Saudis to isolate Qatar. While Egypt has been able to boost foreign-currency reserves and is on course to repay $14 billion in principal and interest in 2018, its foreign debt has climbed to $79 billion from $55.8 billion a year earlier.

5. Pakistan:

Pakistan’s credit-default swaps surged in late October and linger near their highest level since June. South Asia’s second-largest economy faces challenges as it struggles with dwindling foreign reserves, rising debt payments and a ballooning current account deficit. Pakistan is mulling a potential $2 billion debt sale later this year. Speaking at the Bloomberg Pakistan Economic Forum last week, central bank Deputy Governor Jameel Ahmad played down concerns over the country’s widening twin deficits.

6. Bahrain:

Bahrain’s spread rose dramatically in late October to the highest since January after it was said to ask Gulf allies for aid. The nation is seeking to replenish international reserves and avert a currency devaluation as oil prices batter the six Gulf Cooperation Council oil producers. Although its neighbors are likely to help, Bahrain could still be left with the highest budget deficit in the region, according to the IMF.

7. Turkey:

Despite high yields, investors are still reluctant to buy Turkish bonds. The nation has been caught up in a blur of political crises, driving spreads on credit-default swaps to their highest level since May. Turkey was the only holdover on S&P Global Ratings’s latest “Fragile Five” list of countries most vulnerable to normalization in global monetary conditions.

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America’s Righteous Russia-gate Censorship

Authored by Robert Parry via ConsortiumNews.com,

Arriving behind the anti-Trump “resistance” and the Russia-gate “scandal” is a troubling readiness to silence dissent in the U.S., shutting down information that challenges Official Narratives…

A stark difference between today’s Washington and when I was here as a young Associated Press correspondent in the late 1970s and the early 1980s is that then – even as the old Cold War was heating up around the election of Ronald Reagan – there were prominent mainstream journalists who looked askance at the excessive demonization of the Soviet Union and doubted wild claims about the dire threats to U.S. national security from Nicaragua and Grenada.

Tomb of the Unknown Soldier outside the Kremlin wall, Dec. 6, 2016. (Photo by Robert Parry)

Perhaps the Vietnam War was still fresh enough in people’s minds that senior editors and national reporters understood the dangers of mindless groupthink inside Official Washington, as well as the importance of healthy skepticism toward official pronouncements from the U.S. intelligence community.

Today, however, I cannot think of a single prominent figure in the mainstream news media who questions any claim – no matter how unlikely or absurd – that vilifies Russian President Vladimir Putin and his country. It is all Russia-bashing all the time.

And, behind this disturbing anti-Russian uniformity are increasing assaults against independent and dissident journalists and news outlets outside the mainstream. We’re not just entering a New Cold War and a New McCarthyism; we’re also getting a heavy dose of old-style Orwellianism.

Sometimes you see this in individual acts like HuffingtonPost taking down a well-reported story by journalist Joe Lauria because he dared to point out that Democratic money financed the two initial elements of what’s now known as Russia-gate: the forensic examination of computers at the Democratic National Committee and the opposition research on Donald Trump conducted by ex-British spy Christopher Steele.

HuffingtonPost never contacted Lauria before or after its decision to retract the story, despite a request from him for the reasons why. HuffPost editors told a BuzzFeed reporter that they were responding to reader complaints that the article was filled with factual errors but none have ever been spelled out, leaving little doubt that Lauria’s real “error” was in defying the Russia-gate groupthink of the anti-Trump Resistance. [A version of Lauria’s story appeared at Consortiumnews.com before Lauria posted it at HuffPost. If you want to sign a petition calling on HuffPost to restore Lauria’s article, click here.]

Muzzling RT

Other times, the expanding American censorship is driven by U.S. government agencies, such as the Justice Department’s demand that the Russian news outlet, RT, register under the restrictive Foreign Agent Registration Act, which requires such prompt, frequent and detailed disclosures of supposed “propaganda” that it could make it impossible for RT to continue to function in the United States.

Russian President Vladimir Putin, following his address to the UN General Assembly on Sept. 28, 2015. (UN Photo)

This attack on RT was rationalized by the Jan. 6 “Intelligence Community Assessment” that was, in reality, prepared by a handful of “hand-picked” analysts from the CIA, FBI and National Security Agency. Their report included a seven-page addendum from 2012 accusing RT of spreading Russian propaganda – and apparently this Jan. 6 report must now be accepted as gospel truth, no questions permitted.

However, if any real journalist actually read the Jan. 6 report, he or she would have discovered that RT’s sinister assault on American democracy included such offenses as holding a debate among third-party candidates who were excluded from the Republican-Democratic debates in 2012. Yes, allowing Libertarians and Greens to express their points of view is a grave danger to American democracy.

Other RT “propaganda” included reporting on the Occupy Wall Street protests and examining the environmental dangers from “fracking,” issues that also have been widely covered by the domestic American media. Apparently, whenever RT covers a newsworthy event – even if others have too – that constitutes “propaganda,” which must be throttled to protect the American people from the danger of seeing it.

If you bother to study the Jan. 6 report’s addendum, it is hard not to conclude that these “hand-picked” analysts were either stark-raving mad or madly anti-Russian. Yet, this “Intelligence Community Assessment” is now beyond questioning unless you want to be labeled a “Kremlin stooge” or “Putin’s useful idiot.” [An earlier State Department attack on RT was equally ridiculous or demonstrably false.]

And, by the way, it was President Obama’s Director of National Intelligence James Clapper who testified under oath that the analysts from the three agencies were “hand-picked.” That means that they were analysts personally selected by Obama’s intelligence chiefs from three agencies – not “all 17” as the American public was told over and over again – and thus were not even a full representation of analysts from those three agencies. Yet, this subset of a subset is routinely described as “the U.S. intelligence community,” even after major news outlets finally had to retract their “all 17” canard.

So, the myth of the intelligence community’s consensus lives on. For instance, in an upbeat article on Tuesday about the U.S. government’s coercing RT into registering as a foreign agent, Washington Post reporters Devlin Barrett and David Filipov wrote, “U.S. intelligence agencies have concluded that the network and website push relentlessly anti-American propaganda at the behest of the Russian government.”

In the old days, even during the old Cold War and President Reagan’s ranting about “the Evil Empire,” some of us would have actually examined the Jan. 6 report’s case against RT and noted the absurdity of these claims about “relentlessly anti-American propaganda.” Whether you want to hear the views of the Greens and Libertarians or not – or whether you like “fracking” and hate Occupy Wall Street – the opportunity to hear this information doesn’t constitute “relentlessly anti-American propaganda.”

The U.S. government’s real beef with RT seems to be that it allows on air some Americans who have been blacklisted from the mainstream media – including highly credentialed former U.S. intelligence analysts and well-informed American journalists – because they have challenged various Official Narratives.

In other words, Americans are not supposed to hear the other side of the story on important international conflicts, such as the proxy war in Syria or the civil war in Ukraine or Israel’s mistreatment of Palestinians. Only the State Department’s versions of those events are permitted even when those versions are themselves propagandistic if not outright false.

For example, you’re not supposed to hear about the huge holes in the Syria-sarin cases, nor about Ukraine’s post-coup regime arming neo-Nazis to kill ethnic-Russian Ukrainians, nor about Israel’s evolution into an apartheid state. All right-thinking Americans are to get only a steady diet of how righteous the U.S. government and its allies always are. Anything else is “propaganda.”

Also off limits is any thoughtful critique of that Jan. 6 report – or apparently even Clapper’s characterization of it as a product of “hand-picked” analysts from only three agencies. You’re not supposed to ask why other U.S. intelligence agencies with deep knowledge about Russia were excluded and why even other analysts from the three involved agencies were shut out.

No, you must always think of the Jan. 6 report as the “consensus” assessment from the entire “U.S. intelligence community.” And you must accept it as flat fact – as it now is treated by The New York Times, The Washington Post, CNN and other mainstream news outlets. You shouldn’t even notice that the Jan. 6 report itself doesn’t claim that Russian election meddling was a fact. The report explains, that “Judgments are not intended to imply that we have proof that shows something to be a fact.”

But even quoting from the Jan. 6 report might make an American reporter some kind of traitorous “Russian mole” whose journalism must be purged from “responsible” media and who should be forced to wear the journalistic equivalent of a yellow star.

The Anti-Trump/Russia Hysteria

Of course, much of this anti-Russian hysteria comes from the year-long fury about the shocking election of Donald Trump. From the first moments of stunned disbelief over Hillary Clinton’s defeat, the narrative was put in motion to blame Trump’s victory not on Clinton and her wretched campaign but on Russia. That also was viewed as a possible way of reversing the election’s outcome and removing Trump from office.

Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton speaking with supporters at a campaign rally in Phoenix, Arizona, March 21, 2016. (Photo by Gage Skidmore)

The major U.S. news media quite openly moved to the forefront of the Resistance. The Washington Post adopted the melodramatic and hypocritical slogan, “Democracy Dies in Darkness,” as it unleashed its journalists to trumpet the narrative of some disloyal Americans spreading Russian propaganda. Darkness presumably was a fine place to stick people who questioned the Resistance’s Russia-gate narrative.

An early shot in this war against dissenting information was fired last Thanksgiving Day when the Post published a front-page article citing an anonymous group called PropOrNot smearing 200 Internet news sites for allegedly disseminating Russian propaganda. The list included some of the most important sources of independent journalism, including Consortiumnews.com, apparently for the crime of questioning some of the State Department’s narratives on international conflicts, particularly Syria and Ukraine.

Then, with the anti-Russia hysteria building and the censorship ball rolling, Congress last December approved $160 million for think tanks and other non-governmental organizations to combat Russian propaganda. Soon, reports and studies were flying off the shelves detecting a Russian behind every article, tweet and posting that didn’t toe the State Department’s line.

The New York Times and other leading news organizations have even cheered plans for Google, Facebook and other technology companies to deploy algorithms that can hunt down, marginalize or eliminate information that establishment media deems “fake” or “propaganda.” Already Google has put together a First Draft coalition, consisting of mainstream media and establishment-approved Web sites to decide what information makes the cut and what doesn’t.

Among these arbiters of truth is the fact-check organization PolitiFact, which judged the falsehood about “all 17 intelligence agencies” signing off on the Russian “hacking” claim to be “true.” Even though the claim was never true and is now clearly established as false, PolitiFact continues to assert that this lie is the truth, apparently filled with the hubris that comes with its power over determining what is true and what is false.

But what is perhaps most troubling to me about these developments is the silence of many civil liberties advocates, liberal politicians and defenders of press freedom who might have been counted on in earlier days to object to this censorship and blackballing.

It appears that the ends of taking down Donald Trump and demonizing Vladimir Putin justify whatever means, no matter the existential danger of nuclear war with Russia or the McCarthyistic (even Orwellian) threats to freedom of speech, press and thought.

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Another False Flag Terror ADMISSION: Snipers In the Ukraine “Protests”

Snipers Fired At BOTH Police and Protesters In Ukraine

Remember the protests in Ukraine which led to the old leader being replaced?

If you’ll recall,  the ruthless slaughter of people by snipers was the event which turned world opinion against the Ukrainian Prime Minister, and resulted in him having to flee the country.

Italy’s 11th largest newspaper – Il Giornale – reported on an admission by several of the snipers (Google translation) :

“Everyone started shooting two or three shots at a time. It went on for fifteen, twenty minutes. We had no choice. We were ordered to shoot both on the police and the demonstrators, without any difference. I was totally outraged.

 

So Georgian Alexander Revazishvilli remembers the tragic shootout of 20 February 2014 in Kiev when a group of mysterious snipers opened fire on crowds and cops massacring over 80 people. That massacre has horrified the world and changed the destiny of Ukraine by forcing President Viktor Yanukovich accused of organizing the shootout. But the massacre also changed the fates of Europe and our country, triggering the crisis that will lead to sanctions against Putin’s Russia. Sanctions revealed a boomerang for the Italian economy ( Watch the video ).

 

Revazishvilli’s confessions and two other Georgians – gathered by writers in the documentary “Ukraine, the hidden truths” aired tonight at 23.30 on Matrix, Channel 5 – reveal a different and disconcerting truth. The truth of a massacre and the same opposition that accused Yanukovych and his Russian allies. Revazishvilli and his two companions – met and interviewed in the documentary – are a former member of the security services of former Georgian President Mikhail Saakashvili and two former militants of his party. Hired in Tbilisi by Mamuka Mamulashvili, Saakashvili’s military adviser, are tasked with supporting – along with other Georgian and Lithuanian volunteers – ongoing demonstrations in Kiev in return for a $5,000 final fee.

 

***

 

The following day, Mamulashvili and the leaders of the protest explain to volunteers who will face a police assault at the Conservatory building and at the Ukraine hotel. In that case – he says – we must shoot at the square and sow the chaos. But one of the protagonists confesses to having received another explanation, much more comprehensive. “When Mamulashvili arrived, I also asked him. Things are getting complicated, we have to start shooting – he replied that we can not go to the pre-election presidential elections. But who should shoot? “I asked. He replied that who and where it did not matter, you had to shoot somewhere so much to sow chaos.

 

“It did not matter if we fired at a tree, a barricade, or the molotov. confirms another volunteer – what counts was sowing confusion.

BBC interviewed the head of the opposition’s security forces at the time, who confirms that snipers were killing both sides … protesters and police:

And the former Ukranian government security boss said the same thing. Specifically, he said:

Former chief of Ukraine’s Security Service has confirmed allegations that snipers who killed dozens of people during the violent unrest in Kiev operated from a building controlled by the opposition on Maidan square.

 

Shots that killed both civilians and police officers were fired from the Philharmonic Hall building in Ukraine’s capital, former head of the Security Service of Ukraine Aleksandr Yakimenko told Russia 1 channel. The building was under full control of the opposition and particularly the so-called Commandant of Maidan self-defense Andrey Parubiy who after the coup was appointed as the Secretary of the National Security and Defense Council of Ukraine, Yakimenko added.

So the chief of the government’s security forces, the head of the opposition’s security forces, and the snipers themselves  all admit the snipers were killing both protesters and police.

Similarly:

[Ukrainian Health Minister Oleh] Musiy, who spent more than two months organizing medical units on Maidan, said that on Feb. 20 roughly 40 civilians and protesters were brought with fatal bullet wounds to the makeshift hospital set up near the square. But he said medics also treated three police officers whose wounds were identical.

 

Forensic evidence, in particular the similarity of the bullet wounds, led him and others to conclude that snipers were targeting both sides of the standoff at Maidan — and that the shootings were intended to generate a wave of revulsion so strong that it would topple Yanukovych and also justify a Russian invasion.

And the Estonian foreign minister – after visiting Ukraine – told the EU foreign affairs minister that the Maidan opposition deployed the snipers – and fired on both the protesters and the police – to discredit the former government of Ukraine.

The Snipers Were Associated with the Maidan Protesters

While the mainstream media has proclaimed that the sniper fire was definitely from government forces, some of the above-cited sources dispute that claim.

Additionally, BBC reported at the time:

Reporting for Newsnight, Gabriel Gatehouse said he saw what looked like a protester shooting out of a window at the BBC’s Kiev base, the Ukraine Hotel.

BBC interviewed a Maidan protester who admitted that he fired a sniper rifle at police from the Conservatory, and that he was guided by a military veteran within the Maidan resistance. Here are actual pictures a reporter took of Maidan snipers, recently published by BBC:

gunmen at Kiev Conservatory 20 February

(There were reportedly at least 10 Maidan snipers firing from the Conservatory.)

The Frankfurther Allgemein reported that Maidan commander Volodymyr Parasjuk controlled the Conservatory at the time:

Volodymyr Parasjuk – the leader in “self-defense units” of the revolution who had called the night of Yanukovich’s escape, on the stage of Maidan to storm the presidential residence one year ago.

 

On the day of the massacre Parasjuk was staying with his unit in the colonnaded building of the Kiev Conservatory right at the Maidan. In the days before the death toll had risen, and the fighters grew the conviction alone with limited power as before will not be able to overthrow Yanukovych. “There were at that time many guys who said you have to take the weapon and attack,” said Parasjuk recalls. “Many,” he himself had since long ago it had firearms, often their officially registered hunting rifles.

Tagesschau – a German national and international television news service produced by state-run Norddeutscher Rundfunk on behalf of the German public-service television network ARD – also reported in 2014 that at least some of the sniper fire came from protesters.

And remember, the snipers who admitted firing at both sides were associated with Mikhail Saakashvili and his party.  Saakashvili was a huge supporter of the Maidan protesters from the very beginning.  As Newsweek reports:

Saakashvili was a supporter of the Ukrainian revolution since the beginning of Euromaidan ….

Indeed, the Maidan protesters who deposed the old Ukrainian prime minister were so pleased with events that they rewarded Saakashvili by appointing him leader of Ukraine’s largest region.

Former AP and Newsweek reporter Robert Parry summarizes what kind of guy Saakashvili is:

The latest political move by the … regime in Ukraine was to foist on the people of Odessa the autocratic Georgian ex-President Mikheil Saakashvili, a neoconservative favorite and currently a fugitive from his own country which is seeking him on charges of human rights violations and embezzlement.

 

***

 

According to a New York Times profile last September, Saakashvili was there “writing a memoir, delivering ‘very well-paid’ speeches, helping start up a Washington-based think tank and visiting old boosters like Senator John McCain and Victoria Nuland, the assistant secretary of state.”

 

McCain and Nuland were key neocon backers of the coup that ousted Yanukovych and touched off the bloody civil war that has killed thousands of ethnic Russians in eastern Ukraine, while also reviving Cold War tensions between the West and Russia. Before the coup, McCain urged on right-wing protesters with promises of U.S. support and Nuland was overheard hand-picking Ukraine’s new leadership, saying “Yats is the guy,” a reference to Arseniy Yatsenyuk, who became prime minister after the coup.

 

***

 

The Georgian prosecutors also have charged Saakashvili with human rights violations for his violent crackdown on political protesters in 2007.

Context: Sniper Attacks As False Flag Terror

Random shootings are a type of false flag terror.    For example, in 1985 – as part of the “Gladio” false flag terror campaign (see number 12) – snipers attacked and shot shoppers in supermarkets randomly in Belgium, killing twenty-eight and leaving many wounded.

Shooting both sides is an especially big red flag for a false flag …

Specifically, when authoritarian regimes want to break up protests, they might shoot protesters. On the other hand, when violent protesters shoot government employees, they might be trying to overthrow the government.

But when secretive snipers kill both protesters and the police, it is an indication of a “false flag” attack meant to sow chaos, anger, disgust and a lack of legitimacy.

This has happened many times over the years. For example:

  • Unknown snipers reportedly killed both Venezuelan government and opposition protesters in the attempted 2002 coup

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Russia Names The 9 US News Outlets It Will Retaliate Against

After hinting that retaliation was imminent, Russian lawmakers in the Duma – Russia’s lower house of Parliament – have approved a law that would require nine US news outlets to be labeled “foreign agents” in response to Washington's decision to require Russia Today to register as a foreign agent last week, a decision that Moscow has slammed as hypocritical and infringing on free speech.

Reuters reports that Russia’s lower house of Parliament has approved the law – which allows Moscow to force foreign media to brand news they provide to Russians as the work of “foreign agents” and to disclose the source of their funding.

The law must now pass the upper house, which is likely to happen next week. Once President Vladimir Putin signs it, it will become law. The path to passage looks relatively straightforward, and it's likely the bill will become a law.

The Russian Justice Ministry on Thursday published a list of the news outlets that it said could be affected by the law.

Meanwhile, the outlets are the US-government-sponsored Voice of America (VOA) and Radio Free Europe (RFE), otherwise known as Radio Liberty, radio channels, along with seven separate Russian or local-language news outlets run by Radio Free Europe and Radio Liberty.

One of the seven outlets provides news on Crimea, which Russia annexed from Ukraine in 2014, one on Siberia, and one on the predominantly Muslim North Caucasus region. Another covers provincial Russia, one is an online TV station, another covers the mostly Muslim region of Tatarstan, and the other is a news portal that fact-checks the statements of Russian officials.

Russia's attack on US-funded media is part of the fallout from allegations that the Kremlin interfered in the US presidential election last year in favor of Donald Trump, Reuters noted.

US intelligence officials accuse the Kremlin of using Russian media organizations it finances to influence US voters. Meanwhile, the US has funded organizations like RFE since the early days of the Cold War. RFE was founded to broadcast pro-capitalist messaging to Soviet Satellites in Central and Eastern Europe.

The Kremlin denies meddling in the election and has said the restrictions on Russian broadcasters in the US amount to an attack on free speech. After the US forced RT to register, Kremlin spokespeople hinted that the government had a “surprise” retaliation at the ready.

The draft legislation would allow Russian authorities to designate foreign media as "foreign agents", making them subject to the same requirements that are applied to foreign-funded non-governmental organizations under a 2012 law. Under that law, "foreign agents" must include in any information they publish or broadcast to Russian audiences a mention of their "foreign agent" designation.

They also must apply for inclusion in a government register, submit regular reports on their sources of funding, on their objectives, on how they spend their money, and who their managers are.

They can be subject to spot checks by the authorities to make sure they comply with the rules, according to the 2012 law, which has forced some NGOs to close.

Radio Free Europe said in a statement it did not want to speculate what steps Russia might take against it next, and looked forward to continuing its journalistic work. Voice of America Director Amanda Bennett has said the station remains committed to providing independent news to global audiences.
 

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Trump And Putin: What Comes Next?

Authored by Nikolas Gvosdev via The Strategic Culture Foundation,

Will a future, formal Trump-Putin summit be a game changer?

Last week, I noted that any encounter between Donald Trump and Vladimir Putin that would take place at the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit in Da Nang, Vietnam, would have to address two critical questions if there was to be any clarity in U.S.-Russia relations.

We’ve now gotten a first draft of answers.

I argued that, for the Russian side, the overarching issue is whether or not Donald Trump is calling the shots on U.S. policy. Seven days ago, the White House press operation was signaling that there would be a formal encounter between the two presidents, a scheduled meeting with a defined agenda. As the week progressed, the United States began to back away from those announcements. By the end of the week, the encounter was a far less structured event, essentially folded in around an informal stroll to a photo opportunity and brief chats in between APEC sessions – nothing at all like the meeting that took place at the G-20 summit in Hamburg in July. What happened? And does it suggest that Donald Trump has a George W. Bush problem – the apparent inability to take a personal rapport with Vladimir Putin and transform it into concrete policy directives?

As the APEC summit drew nearer, it became clear that the Russian president would not bring any agenda to Vietnam that suggested a willingness to reverse course or offer major concessions to U.S. preferences regarding Russian policy on North Korea, Syria, Iran and Ukraine. At best, the Russian leader might seek to bargain with President Trump, seeking concessions from Washington in some areas in return for Russian acquiescence to American proposals in others. There are, of course, two major items being prepared for the president’s review and approval. First is the application of U.S. sanctions, authorized by congressional legislation, both against Russian companies and against third parties that do business with them. Here, a critical test is pending within weeks, should the Italian energy conglomerate ENI go ahead with a joint project with Rosneft in the Black Sea—a deal grandfathered in under European regulations, but one that will certainly draw the attention of U.S. regulators for any violations of U.S. financial or technological sanctions. The second is the final decision on whether or not the United States will provide advanced weaponry, especially antitank missiles, to the Ukrainian military.

Because of the way the United States geographically boxes Russia in as only a “European” state, Trump’s “Russia hands” were not scheduled to join his delegation to APEC. Thus, there were concerns that any substantive meeting between Trump and Putin would occur without the U.S. officials who would be most likely to provide necessary expertise (and who would wind up implementing any results). Linked to that were fears that, if another meeting followed the Hamburg precedent (of just the two presidents and their chief diplomatic officers), Putin might convince Trump to accept a series of compromises: trading Russian support of Trump’s initiatives in return, for instance, for concrete sanctions relief and acceptance of Russian preferences for Syria and Ukraine. There had already been some advance warning of this, such as, when Saudi Arabia’s King Salman visited Moscow last month in an historic summit, the Saudi delegation seemed to suggest that a Russia playing a more constructive and stabilizing role in the Middle East would outweigh the logic of maintaining the full raft of U.S. sanction, imposed after the 2014 incursions into Ukraine and after the 2016 elections.

Keeping the tenor of the encounters between the two presidents at Da Nang informal precluded the chance of any intense bargaining sessions on the sidelines. But for the Russian side, it also raises questions – of whether Trump is in fact inclined to bargain with the Kremlin, or whether he has the clout to carry through any agreement in the face of stiff domestic opposition, not only from his own national-security team, but from Congress, where opposition to any concessions to Vladimir Putin is one of the few genuine bipartisan issues left. There is no support (even from his own appointees) for any compromise with Moscow that leaves Bashar al-Assad in power in Damascus, or that ratifies any of the gains Russia has made in Ukraine since 2014 – not when there is still a sense that strong, concerted U.S. action could lead to different outcomes. Indeed, with the European Commission recognizing that Russian plans to bypass Ukraine by 2019 are moving ahead, even despite existing sanctions, new efforts are underway to find ways to block the expansion of the Nord Stream line and forestall the expansion of the Turkish Stream export route to Europe. There is confidence that expanded sanctions, plus a renewed commitment to the Syrian opposition, could change Russia’s calculations—and therefore there is no reason to prematurely concede anything to the Kremlin.

But then we have Trump’s comments to the press following the Da Nang summit. Much of that coverage has focused on Trump’s willingness to accept Putin’s denials of Russian interference in the 2016 election at face value, but two other items deserve greater attention.

The first is that the president, having been convinced, guided, or maneuvered into not having a formal sit-down with Putin in Vietnam, is apparently committing to a full-fledged summit meeting of the two presidents and their respective “teams” at some indefinite point in the future. If so, then how the agenda for that meeting is set, and what parameters are established for the negotiations, will be critical.

 

The second is what role Trump himself intends to play in Russia policy. What struck me at times about his comments on Air Force One was how he seemed to view himself, as “the president,” as something separate and distinct from the executive branch as a whole. As chief executive, Trump is in charge of the U.S. intelligence community, the diplomatic corps and the military. Yet his comments seem to suggest that, at times, the government is pursuing a policy towards Russia that he personally disagrees with but somehow has little power to change.

So while we’ve gotten a first set of answers, the questions still remain unresolved. Sideline encounters at the G-20 and at APEC were not successful in changing the dynamic of the U.S.-Russia relationship. So will a direct Trump-Putin summit be a game changer? Only if those original questions can be answered definitively.

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“Russian Interference” Now Being Blamed For Swaying Vote In Favor Of Brexit

Was Brexit also Putin’s fault?

The simmering anti-Russia hysteria that has emerged in the UK recently has finally boiled over, and it appears last night’s story in the        Times of London claiming that a swarm of Twitter bots reportedly created by a troll farm possibly linked to Russian intelligene (sound familiar?) posted more than 45,000 messages about Brexit in 48 hours during last year’s referendum to try and “so discord” among the public was the grain of rice that tipped the scale.

Details that will sound familiar to anybody who’s been following the ongoing hysteria surrounding the multiple investigations into Russian influence in the US election, the suspicious twitter accounts shared messages that promoted both the ‘Remain’ and ‘Leave’ campaigns, purportedly a “sophisticated” ploy to confuse and bewilder voters.

Most of the tweets seen by this newspaper encouraged people to vote for Brexit, an outcome which Russia would have regarded as destabilising for the European Union. A number were pro-Remain, however, suggesting that the Russian goal may have been simply to sow division.

 

“This is the most significant evidence yet of interference by Russian-backed social media accounts around the Brexit referendum,” said Damian Collins, the Tory MP who chairs the digital, culture, media and sport select committee.

 

“The content published and promoted by these accounts is clearly designed to increase tensions throughout the country and undermine our democratic process. I fear that this may well be just the tip of the iceberg."

According to the Times, more than 150,000 accounts based in Russia, which had previously confined their posts to subjects such as the Ukrainian conflict, switched attention to Brexit in the days leading up to last year’s vote, according to research for an upcoming paper by data scientists at Swansea University and the University of California, Berkeley.

In other words, after months of tweeting about pro-Russian forces in Ukraine, these bots started firing off messages amplifying the voice of the ‘Leave’ campaign into the void.

The researchers said Russian activity spiked on June 23, the day of the referendum, and on June 24 when the result was announced. From posting fewer than 1,000 tweets a day before June 13, the suspicious accounts posted 39,000 tweets on June 24 before dropping off almost entirely.

The Swansea and Berkeley paper says that a “massive number of Russian-related tweets was created a few days before the voting day, reached its peak during the voting and the result and then dropped immediately afterwards”. Tho Pham, one of the paper’s authors, said that “the main conclusion is that bots were used on purpose and had influence”.

Of course, the Times report neglected to explain the Swansea researchers methodology. Facebook, Twitter and Google used the inadequate standard of having one’s browser language set to Russian. It’s unclear whether these researchers something that, like browser language, can be easily changed or mimicked by other groups.

On Monday, Theresa May accused Moscow of using fake news to “sow discord” and of meddling directly in elections. Her remarks followed a brief, impromptu meeting between President Donald Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin at an Asian economic summit in Vietnam.

In what appeared to be an attempt to deflect attention away from a challenge to her leadership, UK Prime Minister Theresa May blasted Russia Monday evening, using her speech at the Lord Mayor’s Banquet to accuse them of interfering in foreign elections.

May accused Moscow of attempting to "weaponize information" as part of a "sustained campaign of cyberespionage and disruption." Russia's actions were "threatening the international order," she said.

"We know what you are doing. And you will not succeed. Because you underestimate the resilience of our democracies, the enduring attraction of free and open societies, and the commitment of Western nations to the alliances that bind us," May said.

May listed off a litany of ills she ascribed to Russia since its annexation of Crimea, including fomenting conflict in eastern Ukraine, violating the airspace of European countries, and hacking the Danish ministry of defense and the German Parliament. Russia has also been accused of interfering in elections in the US, the Brexit referendum in the UK, and the independence vote in Catalonia.

Following May’s speech, reports emerged that individuals working on behalf of the Kremlin tried to set up meetings with conservative MPs, including Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson.

Last night, one of the UK's cyber-defense chiefs adding to the anti-Russia sentiment by accusing Russian intelligence of attacking Britain's media, telecommunications and energy sectors over the past year.

Ciaran Martin, chief executive of GCHQ's National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC), echoed May’s claim that Russia was "seeking to undermine the international system."

Of course, there were at least two prominent British polls who decided to question the dubious accusations of interference.

Jeremy Corbyn wants to “see more evidence” that Russia is trying to undermine Western democracy, his spokesman said Wednesday.

And of course, as we noted yesterday, Nigel Farage pointed out during a speech at the European Parliament that financier George Soros has spent billions of dollars to push his political agenda across Europe, the US and the UK.

“How many of you have taken money from Open Society?” He asked his peers, referring to Soros’s Open Society foundation.

While the Russian hysteria has been raging for a year in the US now, in the UK, it’s only just beginning. In time, we will see of May’s government will continue to use Vladimir Putin as a boogeyman on which they can blame their failure to successfully negotiate amenable Brexit terms for the UK.

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The Unbearable Slowness Of Fourth Turnings, Part 2

Authored by Jim Quinn via The Burning Platform blog,

In Part 1 of this article I provided the background regarding the phases of Fourth Turnings and where we stand nine years into this period of crisis. I will now ponder what could happen during the remainder of this Fourth Turning.

“History offers no guarantees. Obviously, things could go horribly wrong – the possibilities ranging from a nuclear exchange to incurable plagues, from terrorist anarchy to high-tech dictatorship. We should not assume that Providence will always exempt our nation from the irreversible tragedies that have overtaken so many others: not just temporary hardship, but debasement and total ruin. Losing in the next Fourth Turning could mean something incomparably worse. It could mean a lasting defeat from which our national innocence – perhaps even our nation – might never recover.” – Strauss & Howe – The Fourth Turning

The most important point to comprehend is the death of the existing social order always occurs during the course of a Fourth Turning. Thus far, those constituting the Deep State hierarchy have fended off their demise. They are utilizing every tool at their disposal to retain their wealth, power and control. As their mass media propaganda machine falters, they have redoubled their rigging of financial markets to promote a narrative of economic recovery, while further enriching themselves and their cronies.

It is clear they have reached the peak of financial manipulation, money printing, and artificial interest rate suppression. The narrative is faltering. Their last and final option to retain power is war. As their “everything bubble” (stocks, bonds, real estate) inevitably implodes, civil and/or global military conflict will be utilized to distract the populace from their Deep State domestic disasters.

The time for compromise is long past. There are no moderates left in the political spectrum. The mood of the country is clearly trending towards conflict. Trump, as the grey champion of this Fourth Turning, has proven to be a lightning rod of hate. He infuriates his political opponents, the left wing media, many in his own party, foreign leaders, billionaires and most worrisome to his well-being – the shadowy surveillance state intel operatives.

His own FBI and CIA have been subverting his presidency and attempting to initiate his impeachment or as a last resort – coup. After running a campaign championing a reduction in foreign military intervention in the Middle East, reducing commitments to NATO and increasing cooperation with Russia, it appears Trump has been taken into a room and told the military industrial complex calls the shots. Trump has clearly made a self-preservation decision to avoid being JFK’d.

The possibility of global catastrophe is not taken seriously by the vast majority of Americans. It’s been over seventy years since the last global conflict and most of the people who experienced the horror are dead. We’ve forgotten the past and are condemned to relive it, just as we do every eighty or so years. The lack of volatility in financial markets portends drastic levels of volatility as the perception markets can’t fall has lured Wall Street 30 something MBAs and the investor class into a sense of invincibility.

Geopolitical tensions have been rising dramatically over the last few years, with religious extremism, oil, petro-dollar, historical rivalries and nationalism driving the world towards conflict. These extreme economic and geopolitical stresses are coinciding along the same timeline and will erupt simultaneously, catalyzing the climactic half of this Fourth Turning.

“The risk of catastrophe will be very high. The nation could erupt into insurrection or civil violence, crack up geographically, or succumb to authoritarian rule. If there is a war, it is likely to be one of maximum risk and effort – in other words, a total war. Every Fourth Turning has registered an upward ratchet in the technology of destruction, and in mankind’s willingness to use it.” – Strauss & Howe – The Fourth Turning

With the House of Saud descending into madness as religious zealots, kings, princes, and foreign infiltrators vie for control of their depleting oil riches, and tens of billions in high tech weaponry provided by American arms dealers, a Middle East conflagration is a certainty. Iran has been winning the proxy wars in Syria, Iraq, and Yemen. Saudi Arabia and Israel are determined to stop Iran’s expansion at any cost.

Mixing religious extremism, oil riches, gas pipelines, opium, egotistical dictators, nuclear bombs, hatred and territorial ambitions into the deepening militaristic global mood change is destined to spark a chain reaction of unintended consequences and unyielding responses. The next Middle East war will not be a proxy war. It will be a fight to the death.

You need a scorecard to figure out the alliances, opponents and wildcards.

Iran appears to be aligned with Iraq, Qatar, Syria, Hezbollah, Yemen, and Russia.

 

Saudi Arabia appears to be aligned with Israel, UAE, and the United States.

 

Various factions, who include Turkey, ISIS, Al Qaeda, and the Kurds, are fighting one or more of these parties.

 

In many cases the enemy of my enemy is my friend applies.

Peace and compromise are out of the question at this point.

It’s just a matter of who pulls the trigger to kick off the fireworks. It looks like Saudi Arabia is willing to gamble everything on a final showdown with Iran. Once the shooting starts and the U.S. and Russia are sucked in, all bets are off on what happens next. Diplomacy will not be an option.

This scenario presumes a Korean conflict doesn’t happen first. With reckless actions on the part of Kim Jung Un and reckless rhetoric from both sides, the odds of a Korean conflict are the highest since the 1950s. With three carrier groups sitting off the Korean coastline, just one provocative act or mistake could unleash a fusillade from both sides, killing hundreds of thousands in a matter of days. Global treaties, alliances and economic realities are pushing global powers in unforeseen directions, just as this Fourth Turning enters its most dangerous phase. Human failings are the constant throughout history. But, human failings resulted in 50,000 deaths during the American Revolution Crisis. They could result in hundreds of millions of deaths during this Crisis.

The U.S. and Europe’s provocative actions with NATO forces surrounding Russia, the ongoing Ukraine civil war, the Syrian civil war, and false accusations of rigging the U.S. presidential election have pushed Russia into a closer alliance with China. Saudi Arabia has also strengthened ties with China, as the debt financed shale oil boom has lessened U.S. purchases of OPEC oil.

The EU is falling apart, as debt creation has failed to revive economies, governments are bankrupt, Muslim hordes destroy their social fabric, and a revolutionary spirit is in the air. Germany, France, Sweden and most of Europe have signed their own death warrant by allowing their countries to be invaded by millions of young Muslim men intent on destroying their way of life. Global disorder is expanding exponentially and is surely leading towards war.

War will either be the trigger for the forthcoming financial crash or a direct result of the forthcoming financial crash.

The core elements of this Fourth Turning (debt, civic decay, global disorder) are going to juxtapose and connect, accelerating into a chain reaction of chaos, civil uprising, global war, mass casualties, the fall of empires, and ultimately the destruction of the existing social order (aka Deep State).

When Americans see their wealth vaporized for the 3rd time in less than two decades by the same criminal bankers and corrupt politicians, they will not forgive, forget and bail them out again. They will seek out the guilty and make them pay through street justice. The fraudulent Deep State controlled scheme is beyond redemption and must be destroyed in order for a Constitution based free market system to be reintroduced. The result could also be dictatorship or worse. The outcomes will be determined by the actions we take as citizens.

With a debt inundated global economy already slowing; panicked central bankers beginning to take their foot off the accelerator; massively overvalued stock, bond and real estate markets; consumers in debt up to their eyeballs; stagnant wages; rising inflation; currency and trade wars heating up; deficits rising again; and gridlocked legislative bodies, the onset of war in the Middle East would cause oil prices to skyrocket and trigger the stock market collapse 3.0.

At this point, even the slightest hint of wage inflation causing interest rates to rise even modestly would prompt a market meltdown. The perfect storm is headed our way. The triple threats of debt, civic decay and global disorder cannot be avoided. We can’t defy the chaos set in motion by the cyclical nature of history. The seasons cannot be reversed, so we must brace ourselves for the oncoming storms.

“The future’s uncertain and the end is always near.”Jim Morrison

“No one here gets out alive.”Jim Morrison

There are no guarantees or certainties regarding what happens over the remaining decade or so of this Fourth Turning. Don’t believe God will exempt our empire from the tragedies that have befallen past empires. Debasement and total ruin are not inconsequential possibilities. Hubris, arrogance, decadence, and debt have devastated previous global empires and are present today in copious quantities as the American Empire enters its critical threshold of national survival. There are a myriad of internal and external competing forces which threaten both the status quo and very existence of our nation.

There will be moments of extreme danger and severe threats in the coming years. I do not consider the Russian people or the Chinese people my enemies, but my government will attempt to convince us to go to war against them, in order to maintain their empire. Human nature has not changed over the course of history, but the technological advancements in warfare have placed the ability to obliterate the planet into the hands of weak minded malevolent men, whose egotism and thirst for power know no bounds. Human flaws and frailties could endanger the world and its inhabitants. Do you trust the leadership of your country to do what’s in your best interest?

I do not trust my government. I do not trust the puppet politician front men for the Deep State. I do not trust the mega-corporations who dominate our economy. I do not trust central bankers and their Wall Street owners. I do not trust the fake news corporate media. I do not trust the military industrial complex. I do not trust the leaders of organized religion.

I trust my own instincts, reasoning ability, and critical thinking skills. I trust my immediate family members. I trust some of my neighbors. I trust more of people I’ve met through my blog than I’ve met face to face. I trust normal people living normal lives across this once great country. I trust the people who distrust the people and things I distrust. As events spiral out of control, we will need to pick and choose our friends carefully.

If or when the government attempts to force my three sons into a war on behalf of the vested interests to retain their wealth and power, I will resist with every ounce of strength in my aging body. They will not become cannon fodder for the Deep State. We don’t know the events and path which will drive the remainder of this crisis, but we do know our choices will matter.

This is no time for apathy and complacency. For those who grasp generational theory and the cycles of history, the seemingly unbearable slowness of this Fourth Turning is actually a blessing. The slowness allows more time to prepare. If you haven’t prepared for the coming saecular winter, time is growing short. The skies are darkening. Our rendezvous with destiny awaits.

 “Reflect on what happens when a terrible winter blizzard strikes. You hear the weather warning but probably fail to act on it. The sky darkens. Then the storm hits with full fury, and the air is a howling whiteness. One by one, your links to the machine age break down. Electricity flickers out, cutting off the TV. Batteries fade, cutting off the radio. Phones go dead. Roads become impossible, and cars get stuck. Food supplies dwindle.

Day to day vestiges of modern civilization – bank machines, mutual funds, mass retailers, computers, satellites, airplanes, governments – all recede into irrelevance. Picture yourself and your loved ones in the midst of a howling blizzard that lasts several years. Think about what you would need, who could help you, and why your fate might matter to anybody other than yourself. That is how to plan for a saecular winter.

Don’t think you can escape the Fourth Turning. History warns that a Crisis will reshape the basic social and economic environment that you now take for granted.” – Strauss & Howe The Fourth Turning

 

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Federal Prosecutors Are Running Amok

Authored by William Anderson via The Mises Institute,

It is hard to know where to begin regarding the charges against Paul Manafort, the former campaign director for Donald Trump’s successful presidential bid, but having read the indictments and knowing some background about both the case and the investigation, I cannot say it is exactly a high point of American justice. In fact, when former FBI chief Robert Mueller first was appointed as a special prosecutor to look into the allegations that the Trump campaign conspired with Russia the tilt the election to Trump’s favor, I feared his investigation would turn out to be an assault on the Constitution – and Mueller has done nothing to dispel those fears.

I have included a link to the actual indictment, and while federal indictments can be a bit mind-numbing to read, nonetheless I have found nothing in it that relates to the original reason the Mueller probe was created: alleged Russian collusion with the Trump campaign. Instead, it is clear that Mueller engaged in a legal “fishing expedition” against Manafort and found evidence of tax evasion involving income that Manafort made while serving as a lobbyist for the government of Ukraine.

The criminal charges themselves clearly don’t match up to the original purpose of the investigation. Writes Judge Andrew Napolitano:

Both were accused of working as foreign agents and failing to report that status to the federal government, using shell corporations to launder income and obstruction of justice by lying to the federal government.

He adds:

The alleged crimes of Manafort and Gates appear to have nothing to do with Trump, nor have they any facial relationship to the Russians. So why were these two indicted by a grand jury hearing evidence about alleged American assistance to Russian interference with the 2016 presidential campaign?

One of the worrisome aspects of the indictments, however, has been Mueller’s use of the Foreign Agents Registration Act, as filing criminal charges using that law has been done only six times before, according to George Washington University and legal blogger, Jonathan Turley. Manafort’s violation, notes Turley, was retroactively registering as a foreign agent, something that in almost all cases is treated as a regulatory violation and punished with fines (if it even comes to that). For that matter, prominent Democrat lobbying Tony Podesta, brother of Hillary Clinton’s campaign manager John Podesta, did the same thing and no federal prosecutor cared to make a federal crime out of it.

If anything, I believe that in his quest to rid Washington of Donald Trump, Mueller seems to be taking a page from Rudy Giuliani’s infamous Wall Street prosecutions in which he and his staff found ways to criminalize what at most were regulatory violations (which almost are impossible not to violate, given the voluminous numbers of them promulgated by the Securities and Exchange Commission). Yes, there are issues of tax evasion, allegedly hiding income, and depositing money in offshore banks, but none of those relates to anything remotely involving alleged Russian involvement in the U.S. presidential election of 2016.

While I have no doubt Manafort will go to federal prison, given the near-unchecked powers of U.S. attorneys, whether or not Mueller and his highly-partisan staff are going to be able to use their probe to remove Trump from office – which clearly is Mueller’s goal – is another matter altogether. What is clear is that Mueller has openly declared war on legal ethics, from his hiring of a prosecutor who has been cited before for skirting the law, to his basing much of the justification for his investigation upon a document secretly funded by the Democratic National Committee and the Hillary Clinton campaign which has seriously been questioned for its truthfulness.

Whether or not one approves of Donald Trump’s presidency, when a prosecutor staffs his organization with other known partisans that openly supported Trump’s opponent, he is sending a message that his is a political probe, not a legal one. Furthermore, Mueller’s lead prosecutor, Andrew Weissman, while admired by the New York Times for his lack of legal ethics (the NYT long has openly cheered for prosecutors like Weissman, James Comey, and Rudy Giuliani that regularly have broken the law in their prosecutorial quests), is well-known for scorched-earth prosecutorial tactics that at least one time resulted in a fellow federal prosecutor filing ethics complaints against him.

Not surprisingly, George Washington University law professor Jonathan Turley, well-known for his legal moral compass and support of the rights of the accused, has pointed out that Weissman seems to have no legal scruples whatsoever, essentially filing criminal charges wily-nily and then letting the courts sort out whether or not his actions even were legal. Writes Turley:

Mueller raised some eyebrows early in his tenure as special counsel by hiring prosecutors with controversial reputations for stretching the criminal conduct to the breaking point. His chief aide, Andrew Weissmann, has been widely criticized for a pattern of “prosecutorial overreach” in cases like Enron. Weissmann’s work against the accounting firm of Arthur Andersen is one such example. The convictions that he secured at any cost in that case were unanimously reversed by the Supreme Court. Likewise, Weissmann secured convictions against four executives with Merrill Lynch by stretching the criminal code beyond recognition The Fifth Circuit reversed them. He also resigned from the Enron task force in the midst of complaints over his tactics.

One should recall that the Enron prosecution was characterized by prosecutorial misconduct throughout the case, including subornation of perjury, lying to the judge and jurors (not to mention the public), and withholding exculpatory evidence. That Mueller would reach into that prosecutorial cesspool and pull out the one prosecutor who was deemed even too dishonest for that probe says clearly that Mueller is not going to allow truth to seep into his prosecution.

Indeed, Weissman’s dishonesty and Cheka-like tactics could be the entire subject of this article (which would make it a very long piece of writing, indeed) and I am not surprised that the New York Times and the rest of the political establishment is solidly behind him. The newspaper that covered up the horrendous Ukraine famine of the early 1930s – and still proudly displays the Pulitzer Prize it won for its false reporting – long ago abandoned journalistic integrity to use its pages to chase after progressive causes. Those of us that wrote extensively about the infamous Duke Lacrosse Case also remember how the NYT cheered on one of the most corrupt prosecutors in U.S. history. That Mueller would use a known liar like Weissman as his lead prosecutor is deemed acceptable by the NYT because the ultimate goal in the Mueller campaign is to remove Trump from the White House. While the NYT will not use the term “by any means necessary,” it is clear that the newspaper and the ruling class it represents are willing to accept lawbreaking on behalf of the federal government to accomplish Trump’s outster.

It was Weissman that orchestrated the infamous Gestapo-like pre-dawn raid on Manafort in his home, holding him and his family at gunpoint (although all of them were unarmed and posed no threat to federal agents). While the political establishment and the left cheered the raid, others that are concerned with police and prosecutorial abuse wonder if government agents should be free to engage in such actions of intimidation against people who are simply under investigation.

Mueller himself already has demonstrated his lack of legal ethics, as he once tried to trick the famed civil liberties attorney Harvey Silverglate into suborning perjury. Mueller’s tactic that Silverglate describes was one that if the courts actually were honorable, it would have resulted in Mueller’s being disbarred, but federal prosecutors are not honest people and the system that supports them only enables outright criminal behavior by those shielded from being subject to the law.

In his well-referenced book Three Felonies a Day, Silverglate documents how federal prosecutors manage to find crimes where there is no criminal behavior, and certainly no intent even to break the law. He also points out that a favorite tactic of federal prosecutors is to charge a lower-level employee or associate of the person actually being targeted, and then offer that person a deal – provided the accused says what prosecutors want to hear. As Silverglate has said, the idea is to get the accused person to “sing,” but all-too-often, what prosecutors actually do is to get the person to “compose” something that is not true. Judge Napolitano concurs:

The ultimate target of Mueller’s investigation is President Trump. It is standard operating procedure when prosecutors have a high-level target to charge those below the target with something just to get them to cooperate. Though the charges against Manafort and Gates need not be related to the Russians or to Trump, they must be real. It’s clear they are, as each is facing more than 20 years in prison. Mueller believes that that prospect is enough to dispatch their lawyers to make deals with him.

The danger of such a deal is that Manafort and Gates may offer to tell Mueller what they think he wants to hear — even if it is not truthful — so that they can have their prison exposure lessened. (Emphasis mine)

In a recent story, NBC News announced that Mueller is likely to indict Trump’s former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn. No doubt, prosecutors will try to get Flynn to implicate Trump on something – or face what would be a life sentence in prison.

Indeed, given that neither Weissman nor Mueller ever have been bound by ethical constraints, I would not be surprised to see prosecutors and the FBI simply create false testimony out of whole cloth. Ordinarily, using such a tactic against a sitting president would be beyond the pale and not even federal prosecutors in ordinary circumstances would consider doing it. However, these hardly are ordinary times, and the American political establishment is united against Trump and the media and the courts are less likely than usual to apply safeguards to accepting the truth of accusations against him. Just as Rudy Giuliani was able to run roughshod over law in order to indict and ultimately force Wall Street investment banker Michael Milken to plead guilty to what essentially were non-crimes, Mueller and Weissman are looking to do to President Donald Trump.

Not long ago, I would not even have thought of saying things I have written in this article, but that was before I began several years of research of federal criminal law and how prosecutors apply it. I still believe what I wrote seven years ago:

The great English jurist William Blackstone declared that law was to be “a shield for the innocent” and a mechanism to protect people from the predations of others, as well as the predations of the government itself — the very meaning of limited government. This is no longer the case. Ironically, as laws proliferate in Congress, the rule of law is disappearing. The law has become the plaything of federal prosecutors who advance their careers by convicting others.

 

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The Split Personality Of The Russian Soul: Moscow And Kiev

Via GEFIRA,

All nations can be made to suffer from disturbed or split personality, becoming 'unhappy after their own fashion'… toys in the hands of the powers that be.

All healthy nations are alike, but an unhealthy nation is unhealthy after its own fashion. This paraphrase of the opening sentence from Leo Tolstoy’s Anna Karenina neatly serves the purpose of analyzing the Ukrainian soul, a soul that has dissociative identity disorder. A transgender man has an identity disturbance in that he thinks or feels he was born a woman and other females are not his sexual partners. The same is true of peoples. A Ukrainian thinks or feels he is not Russian and, consequently, that Russians are not his brothers. A transgender man physically looks like a man and still thinks he is not a male; a Ukrainian speaks Russian, professes Orthodox Christianity, writes Cyrillic and still says he is anything but.

We from such European countries as Poland, France or Germany may ask ourselves, what is the origin of the Ukrainian state? What is the origin of the Russian state?

Ukrainian and Russian children learn about the same beginnings of their respective countries, read stories about Rurik, Oleg and Olga, Vladimir the Great and Yaroslav the Wise. Polish and Czech, French and Spanish, British and Norwegian children do not learn that their respective nations share the same origin whereas Ukrainian and Russian children do. Kiev is regarded as the mother of Russian cities. True, there was a time when the Russian vast lands were split into a number of principalities, but then Italian, Polish, and German were too.

The land east of the Bug River and west of the Urals is historically, ethnographically, culturally and emotionally referred to russkiy mir (Russian world, Russian civilization). In the Middle Ages it was known as Rus’ or Ruthenia and was comprised of Great Russia with its centre in Moscow, Little Russia with its centre in Kiev and White Russia with its present-day centre in Minsk. They all three share one and the same founding legend.

Parts of Rus’ (or Ruthenia) were once conquered and held by the Tartars (Mongols), Lithuania and Poland, which might have contributed to the split in the collective psyche of the people inhabiting these areas. Yet, Poland too, was partitioned by three foreign powers and kept in subjugation for more than a hundred years. The occupying forces made various attempts to either Germanize or Russify its population, and still Poland emerged as one nation.

True, some Ukrainians, especially in the western parts of the country speak a variety of Russian, which they call a separate language. Yet the Ukrainian language is not more different from Russian than the Bavarian or Liverpudlian dialects are different from German or English. Surely, nobody says we have the Bavarian or Liverpudlian languages? In the 19th century the Ukrainian dialect of the Russian tongue was forcibly turned into a language by deleting some of the Russian and taking on some of the Polish vocabulary and affirming the local west-Ukrainian pronunciation. The Russian Cyrillic alphabet used for Ukrainian has as many as… three ‘new’ characters. Well, the American variety of English, too, has some spelling and pronunciation peculiarities that make it a tiny bit different from its British counterpart, yet American children are taught English at school, not American.

Of course, such differences are skilfully exploited by the powers that be just as it was done in the case of Yugoslavia, where Westerners could be easily duped into believing that Croats and Serbs speak two entirely different languages because… the former use the Latin whereas the latter the Cyrillic script, while in point of fact they speak the same language. The Turkish language has not changed simply because Kemal Atatürk had the Arabic script done away with and decreed the use of Latin characters, or did it?

What’s the matter with Ukrainian identity disturbance? The whole can be traced back to the times of Peter the Great and then again to 19th century when among the Russian intelligentsia the movement of Westernizers (?????????????) came into being, which reflected the split Russian soul. Part of it wants to stay Russian, Slavophile, the other part is ashamed of being Russian. A split personality syndrome. Ukrainians for the most part represent the pro-Western inclination of the Russian soul. In a similar case of the Southern Slavs, Croats have been westernized since the dawn of their history as they accepted Christianity from Rome; Serbs became easterners as they accepted Christianity from Byzantium. A Ukrainian is a Russian desperately in need of westernizing himself and his country. The tighter is the leash on which Moscow holds him, the more disruptive tendencies a Ukrainian will show. This pro-Western strand in the Russian soul is being skilfully exploited by the West for its own purposes. Nations, as we know, can be created when it suits someone’s purposes. At present Germans in Austria are Austrians, not Germans, but there was a time when they were Germans; Catalans are Spaniards or they are not Spaniards, as the case may be; not long ago citizens of the German Democratic Republic would have fought against their historical compatriots from the Federal German Republic. Did we have two German nations?

Ukrainians cutting themselves off from Moscow are like the British colonists across the Atlantic cutting themselves off from the British crown. The difference is, however, that the thirteen colonies at least comprised a significant number of nations other than English, Welsh or Scottish and they were mostly religious rebels from the Church of England. Ukrainians, on the other hand, are like their Russian compatriots Orthodox Christians and have no significant national or religious minorities. Furthermore, throughout history Ukrainians have hardly ever rebelled against Moscow. They willingly declared their allegiance to the Great Russian capital in 1654 (Treaty of Pereyaslav) at the climax of the largest revolt against the Polish Crown. Prior to that event Kiev was part of the the Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth.

Thus Little Russians broke away from a culturally western country to happily let themselves be embraced by their eastern brothers. The Russian soul subconsciously knew where it belonged. In Poland Ukrainians were called Cossacks and later Rusini (which in Polish is as close to the word denoting Russians as in English Germanic is to German).

Ukraine’s territory after World War One and the Russian Civil War was carved out of Russia by the Bolsheviks, who happily joined to Ukraine vast eastern areas, without the Crimea, though. The Bolsheviks themselves were mostly of non-Russian nationality or indifferent to national questions, so they didn’t care about such things as delineating territories. In 1956 Nikita Khrushchev, Secretary General of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union (for all practical purposes the Soviet Union’s president), himself a Ukrainian, carved the Crimea out of Russia (then a Soviet Socialist Republic) and had it joined to Ukraine (then, too, a Soviet Socialist Republic). Thus the peninsula was not Russian only for a few decades (1956-2014) and only formally because it was and is inhabited by Russians. When it was incorporated back into Russia, not a shot was fired on the Ukrainian side.

Now the West-prone Russians (centred around Kiev) are being played off against the West-averse Russians (centered around Moscow) and both are presented to the world as two separate nations. Were the Americans two separate nations when they fought the Civil War of 1861-1865? The resentment in the southern states against the North has persisted ever since. If Russia were the world’s superpower rather than the United States, she might as well choose to play the southern American states off against Washington. Then, conversely, rather than having Ukrainians jumping in the city squares and shouting “??? ?? ??????, ??? ???????!” (Who is not jumping [with us] is Moscow’s [lackey (useful idiot)]), we would have Southerners jump and shout “Who’s not jumping with us, is Washington’s lackey”. And surely, in due time we would learn that Southerners speak a language other than the Northerners and have every right to be recognized as a separate nation.

http://WarMachines.com

Why Robert Mueller Was Selected To Be The Special Prosecutor

Authored by Eric Zuesse,

It all began with the 1996 bombing of the Khobar Towers apartment complex in the Saudi city of Khobar, which killed 19 U.S. military, who worked at the Dharan air base three miles away.

That incident became the lynchpin of the accusation by the Saudi royal family, the U.S. State Department, and the CIA, that Iran is the foremost state sponsor of terrorism.

Both Robert Mueller and his longtime ally James Comey (the latter of whose firing as the FBI chief, by U.S. President Trump, had sparked the appointment of Mueller to become the Special Counsel investigating the U.S. President) performed crucial roles in establishing that the Khobar Towers bombing had been a Hezbollah operation run by the Iranian Government – and, starting upon this basis, in helping to develop the case that Iran “is the foremost state sponsor of terrorism.”

However, as has been made clear by several great independent investigative journalists, on the basis of far more-solid documentation than the official account, the Khobar Towers bombing was instead entirely a fundamentalist-Sunni operation, specifically perpetrated by Al Qaeda, which hates Shia and which also hates America’s military presence in the Middle East. Osama bin Laden’s claim of the bombing's having been done by Al Qaeda, was, in fact, entirely honest and accurate.

America’s “Deep State,” which extends to Saudi Arabia and to a number of other Governments – it’s an international network – is deeply committed to supporting the fundamentalist-Sunni war to conquer and destroy Shia Islam, and not merely to conquer the leading Shia nation, which is Iran. The U.S. Government has intensely taken a side in the Sunni-Shia religious war. That war is comparable in some respects to the 30 Years’ War (1618-1648) between Catholics and Protestants, which killed an estimated eight million Europeans; and, both the United States and Israel have clearly joined with the fundamentalist-Sunni leaders, against Iran, and against Shia generally.

The reasons behind the prevailing lies about this matter will also be documented here. Discrepancies between the official story and the solidly documented facts, need to be explained, in order for a reader to be able to understand truthfully why Mueller (who cooperated with Comey in order to rig the official account of the bombing, so as to condemn Iran and Hezbollah instead of Al Qaeda) received his appointment. This is also important in order to understand why Trump, though rabidly anti-Iranian himself, is nonetheless insufficiently anti-Iranian to satisfy the Sauds, Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, or the rest of the U.S.-and-allied Deep State.

Before proceeding further here, however, the statistical falseness of the allegation that Iran is the foremost state-sponsor of terrorism has to be clearly recognized as being the ultimate fact; because, if this entire question – to which Mueller and Comey contributed so importantly to answering by their identifying Iran (and Shia generally) as being precisely that (‘the foremost state sponsor of terrorism’) — can be assessed at all objectively, then the statistical answer to it would certainly be the objective one.

Wikipedia’s article on “Iran and state-sponsored terrorism” says: “According to the Global Terrorism Database, the majority of deaths, more than 94% attributed to Islamic terrorism since 2001, were perpetrated by Sunni jihadists of the Islamic Stateal-Qaeda and others.[3][4].” Only 6% were Shiites, at all — from any country. Similarly, my own independent study of 54 especially prominent global instances of Islamic terrorism was headlined (and reported that) "All Islamic Terrorism Is Perpetrated by Fundamentalist Sunnis, Except Terrorism Against Israel.” (The anti-Israel terrorist instances might constitute the “6%” which was referred to in the Wikipedia article, but that article provided no good link to its source for the “6%” figure.)

So: the basic allegation is false, that Iran is the foremost state-sponsor of terrorism; the general allegation isn’t anywhere near to being true. It’s a lie.

More specifically, now, regarding the Khobar Towers incident, which triggered the start of this fraudulent generalization:

The Saudi royal family asserted, immediately after the bombing, that the attack had been perpetrated by jihadists who had returned from Afghanistan and who were now fighting to overthrow Saudi Arabia’s Government (the royal Saud family).

For example, on 15 August 1996, the New York Times headlined "Saudi Rebels Are Main Suspects In June Bombing of a U.S. Base”, and reported that, “The Government of Saudi Arabia now believes that native Saudi Islamic militants, including many veterans of the Afghan war, carried out the June 25 bombing that killed 19 American servicemen at a base in Dhahran, Saudi officials said today.” However, the “mujahideen” who had fought in Afghanistan were paid and backed both by the Sauds and by the U.S. Government, For example, as early as 1979, Zbigniew Brzezinski flew into Pakistan and exhorted the Taliban there to become mujahideen in Afghanistan because “That land over there is yours; you’ll go back to it one day, because your fight will prevail, and you will have your homes and your mosques back again, because your cause is right and God is on your side.”

Then, starting in 1980, “From the Pakistani border, bin Laden raises funds and provides the mujahedeen with logistical and humanitarian aid.” So, the Sauds’ allegation that the Khobar bombers had been “veterans of the Afghan war” would have meant that they had been foot-soldiers for the U.S.-Saudi operation in Afghanistan. Both the U.S. Government and the Saud family (who own the Saudi Government) hate Shia and especially hate Iran. Hezbollah are Shia, and they are extremely pro-Iran. How likely is it that Hezbollah, anywhere, would have been fighting under the command of Al Qaeda, or of any other fundamentalist-Sunni jihadist organization that calls all Shia “infidels”? So, the Sauds’ account of the Khobar Towers bombing is fishy, at best.

Furthermore, a Google-search for the phrase “Hezbollah in Afghanistan” turns up only “6 results,” and all of them say nothing about any “Hezbollah in Afghanistan.” No report comes up about such a thing, for any year, or any period. The only countries where Hezbollah was reported to exist were Iran, Syria, and Lebanon. One of the links in that Google search was globally comprehensive for the year 2007, the Center on International Cooperation’s “Annual Review of Global Peace Operations — 2007”. It included reports on wars during that year, in 26 countries, and the chapter for Afghanistan (pages 52-58) doesn’t mention Hezbollah even once. However, a search for the phrase ”Hezbollah Afghanistan” does bring up “Syria's Other Foreign Fighters: Iran's Afghan and Pakistani Mercenaries”, at the neoconservative (and thus favoring not only the American aristocracy but its allied aristocracies — especially in Saudi Arabia and Israel) The National Interest, dated 20 November 2015. That article says, “The liwa’ fatimiyun (Fatimiyun Brigade) is composed exclusively of Afghans and fights under the auspices of Hezbollah Afghanistan,” based in Syria. Other supposed foreign Shiites trying to overthrow Syria’s Government are mentioned, as being supposedly “Pakistanis fighting in Syria under the Hezbollah flag.” However, if these allegations are true, then those men would be opponents of Syria’s secular government, which is headed by the secular Shiite Bashar al-Assad, who is being attacked by fundamentalist Sunnis — including both ISIS and Al Qaeda there — who are trying to kill Hezbollah in Syria, who are, in fact, defending Assad. (Such illogical ‘historical’ accounts as that, are normal in neoconservative publications — counterfactuality is entirely acceptable to them.) Either that, or else the alleged Shiite Pakistanis who are fighting in Syria to overthrow the Shiite Assad and replace him with a fundamentalist Sunni regime, would be — not actually members of Hezbollah, but instead — Shiites from Pakistan who came to Syria in order to help actually not to overthrow the Government but to defend it against its rabidly anti-Shia attackers. That’s the opposite of the assumption that The National Interest made, but it conceivably could be the case. A Pew survey scientifically randomly sampled 1,512 Pakistanis, and found that 1,450 of them declared themselves to be “Muslim,” which is 96%. It also found that 94% of Pakistanis (of any or no faith) say that religion is “very important” in their lives, and found that 81% of the Muslims said they were “Sunni,” 6% said they were “Shiite,” and 12% said they were “Just a Muslim.” So, only 6% of Pakistanis identify themselves specifically as “Shia.” That is such a small percentage of Shiites in Pakistan, as to make unlikely any significant contribution that Pakistanis would be providing to the defense of Syria, which is at least 1,800 miles or 2,900 kilometers, away — not even in the same general region. But, in any case, that neoconservative magazine’s assumptions regarding the entire matter are clearly false.

Clearly, then, the logical feasibility of the U.S. Government’s case against Iran is so tiny as to constitute almost an absolute impossibility of that case being true.

Now, then, let’s consider the specifics of the case:

The great investigative journalist Greg Palast, in his 2003 The Best Democracy Money Can Buy (pages 101-102), wrote:

True-blue Democrats may want to skip the next paragraphs. If President Bush put the kibosh on investigations of Saudi funding of terror and nuclear bomb programs, this was merely taking a policy of Bill Clinton one step further.

 

Following the 1996 Khobar Towers bombing in Saudi Arabia, Clinton hunted Osama with a passion — but a passion circumscribed by the desire to protect the sheikdom sitting atop our oil lifeline. In 1994, a Saudi diplomat defected to the United States with 14,000 pages of documents from the kingdom’s sealed file cabinets. This mother lode of intelligence included evidence of plans for the assassination of Saudi opponents living in the West and, tantalizingly, details of the $7 billion the Saudis gave to Saddam Hussein for his nuclear program — the first attempt to build an Islamic bomb. The Saudi government, according to the defector, Mohammed Al Khilewi, slipped Saddam the nuclear loot during the Reagan and Bush Sr. years when our government still thought Saddam too marvelous for words [because he was trying to slaughter Shiite Iran]. The thought was that he would only use the bomb to vaporize Iranians [which the rulers of both the U.S. and Saudi Arabia — and of Israel — would love].

 

Clinton granted the Saudi defector asylum, but barred the FBI from looking at the documents. Al Khilewi’s New York lawyer, Michael Wildes, told me he was stunned. Wildes handles some of America’s most security-sensitive asylum cases. “We said (to the FBI), ‘Here, take the documents! Go get some bad guys with them! We’ll even pay for the photocopying!” But the agents who came to his office had been ordered not to accept evidence of Saudi criminal activity, even on U.S. soil.

 

In 1997, the Canadians caught and extradited to America one of the [Saudi-Government-alleged] Khobar Towers attackers. In 1999, Vernon Jordan’s law firm stepped in and — poof! — the [Saudi-alleged] killer was shipped back to Saudi Arabia before he could reveal all he knew about Al Qaeda (valuable) and the Saudis (embarrassing). I reviewed but was not permitted to take notes on, the alleged [finally, Palast is getting that right] terrorist’s debriefing by the FBI. To my admittedly inexpert eyes, there was enough on Al Qaeda to make him a source on terrorists worth holding on to. Not that he was set free — he’s in one of the kingdom’s dungeons [likelier dead soon after arriving back in Saudi Arabia] — but his info is sealed up with him. The terrorist’s extradition was “Clinton’s.” “Clinton’s parting kiss to the Saudis,” as one insider put it.

Another great investigative journalist is Seymour Hersh, who in the 22 October 2001 issue of the New Yorker, headlined “King’s Ransom” and he opened:

Since 1994 or earlier, the National Security Agency has been collecting electronic intercepts of conversations between members of the Saudi Arabian royal family, which is headed by King Fahd. The intercepts depict a regime increasingly corrupt, alienated from the country's religious rank and file, and so weakened and frightened that it has brokered its future by channelling hundreds of millions of dollars in what amounts to protection money to fundamentalist groups that wish to overthrow it.

 

The intercepts have demonstrated to analysts that by 1996 Saudi money was supporting Osama bin Laden's Al Qaeda and other extremist groups in Afghanistan, Lebanon, Yemen, and Central Asia, and throughout the Persian Gulf region. "Ninety-six is the key year," one American intelligence official told me. "Bin Laden hooked up to all the bad guys — it's like the Grand Alliance — and had a capability for conducting large-scale operations." The Saudi regime, he said, had "gone to the dark side.”

Subsequently, he noted:

In 1994, Mohammed al-Khilewi, the first secretary at the Saudi Mission to the United Nations, defected and sought political asylum in the United States. He brought with him, according to his New York lawyer, Michael J. Wildes, some fourteen thousand internal government documents depicting the Saudi royal family's corruption, human-rights abuses, and financial support for terrorists.

 

He claimed to have evidence that the Saudis had given financial and technical support to Hamas, the extremist Islamic group whose target is Israel. There was a meeting at the lawyer's office with two F.B.I. agents and an Assistant United States Attorney. "We gave them a sampling of the documents and put them on the table," Wildes told me last week. "But the agents refused to accept them." He and his client heard nothing further from federal authorities. Al-Khilewi, who was granted asylum, is now living under cover.

 

The Saudis were also shielded from Washington's foreign-policy bureaucracy. A government expert on Saudi affairs told me that Prince Bandar dealt exclusively with the men at the top, and never met with desk officers and the like. "Only a tiny handful of people inside the government are familiar with U.S.-Saudi relations," he explained. "And that is purposeful."

Both Mueller and Comey were high enough “at the top” so as to know what the people below them needed to hide in order to succeed in their careers.

The New York Times’s report, on 15 August 1996, quoted a leading Saudi dissident in London as asserting that, “As far as I know, Prince Nayef is keeping the Americans away from all the details at this point.” This report went on: “In a statement responding to the earlier reports of confessions, Prince Nayef said Saudi Arabia would make an announcement as soon as the investigation is completed. His comments were also viewed as refuting earlier suggestions by Secretary of Defense William J. Perry, who had said that Saudi investigations might point to an Iranian connection.” In other words, at that time (as of August 15th), the U.S. official was suggesting “an Iranian connection” but the Saudi official wasn’t — at least, not yet — and the expectation was that “confessions” would be providing the decisive ‘evidence’. However, these ‘confessions’, in Saudi cases are typically ‘information’ extracted under torture, and, where that fails to obtain the ‘information’ that’s desired by the Government, then threats to destroy the person’s immediate family are applied; so, the Sauds famously usually do get exactly the ‘information’ that they want (regardless of whether it’s true). 

The Wikipedia article “Khobar Towers bombing” summarizes the ‘findings’ by the U.S. FBI and courts, and ignores the Sauds’ ‘investigation(s)’, because nothing was ever made public from the Sauds’ Government or officials or anyone there, about what they ‘found’ (other than ‘found’ by torture). Wikipedia’s article, which is based entirely upon the U.S. Government (the first party to broach publicly the possibility of “an Iranian connection”) states flatly, right up front, “Perpetrators: Hezbollah Al-Hejaz (English: Party of God in the Hijaz).” In common parlance, that’s Hezbollah, an “Iranian connection” — exactly what the U.S. Government wanted.

Here’s what that article asserts regarding the operations of the alleged mastermind:

In June 2001, an indictment was issued in United States District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia in Alexandria, Virginia charging the following people with murder, conspiracy, and other charges related to the bombing:[18]

Ahmed Ibrahim Al-Mughassil

Al-Mughassil disappeared from the ‘news’ after the Sauds announced his capture in 2015, but Wikipedia on 6 November 2017 closed its bizarre article about him by saying, without comment, “Al-Mughassil was believed to be living in Iran.[1][2]” That footnote [1] linked to Front Page mag. in 2005, which actually said nothing of the sort; footnote [2] linked to FDD in 2006, which actually said nothing of the sort. The obvious likeliest explanation for Wikipedia’s blatant falsehoods there is Wikipedia’s being edited by the CIA, which serves the Sauds, just like the rest of America’s federal Government does.

The Wikipedia article then continued by listing the other alleged defendants:

  • Abdelkarim Hussein Mohamed Al-Nasser
  • Ali Saed Bin Ali El-Hoorie
  • Ibrahim Salih Mohammed Al-Yacoub
  • Hani al-Sayegh who had been previously in U.S. custody but deported to Saudi Arabia, when charges against him were dropped due to a lack of evidence.
  • Eight other Saudis
  • One Lebanese man listed as "John Doe".

In July 2001, Saudi Arabia said that eleven of the people indicted in the US were in custody in Saudi prisons, and were to be tried in Saudi court, as the country refused to extradite any of them to the United States to stand trial.[19] The government has not since made public the outcome of the trial or the whereabouts of the prisoners.

All six of the named persons there were Shiites in Saudi Arabia. The respective Wikipedia articles on each provide no evidence that any of them was at all involved in the bombing. However, the article on Hani al-Sayegh, who was living in Canada, is extraordinarily honest: it indicates that he said he had had nothing whatsoever to do with any bombings, nor any terrorism at all, and that the U.S. Government tried to get him to confess to something on the basis of which he could be tried and convicted in the U.S., but that he continued to resist all plea-offers, and to maintain that they were seeking to get him to lie, which he would not do. So, since the U.S. would not torture him on U.S. soil, the U.S. deported him “to Saudi Arabia on October 10, 1999 where it was assumed he would be executed upon arrival.[3][12].” But the Saudi regime never announced anything about any of the men they were charging in the Khobar Towers bombing.

The FBI issued charges against al-Sayegh and 12 others (all allegedly Hezbollah) on 21 June 2001, for the bombing; and, since that time, the only publication of their names has been in regards to the mere presumption that they were guilty. Their indictments in the U.S.(without evidence), and (since the Saudi Government wouldn’t say anything about them — not even whether they were in prison or free there) the charge in U.S. courts that Iran had helped them to do it, were 100% based upon that ‘evidence’. Therefore, Iran was declared guilty in U.S. courts, and fined, again, and again, over $500 million in all, without any reliable evidence, at all, that Iran had anything to do with the Khobar Towers bombing. And, not a cent of those fines was paid; but the U.S. Government’s purpose was served nonetheless: getting Iran’s ‘guilt’ onto the official record, such that Wikipedia, for example could say “Perpetrators: Hezbollah Al-Hejaz (English: Party of God in the Hijaz).”

The Wikipedia article on the Khobar Towers bombing closed, however, by saying:

William Perry, who was the United States Secretary of Defense at the time that this bombing happened, said in an interview in June 2007 that "he now believes al-Qaida rather than Iran was behind a 1996 truck bombing at an American military base.”[25]

 

On December 22, 2006, federal judge Royce C. Lamberth ruled that Iran and Hezbollah were responsible for the attack, stating that the leading experts on Hezbollah presented "overwhelming" evidence of the group's involvement and that six captured Hezbollah members detailed the role of Iranian officials in providing money, plans, and maps.[4] This decision was reached as a default judgment, however, in which the Iranian government was not represented in court, and had no opportunity to challenge the allegations.

People who trust the U.S. Government’s honesty will interpret the outcome as displaying legal and judicial incompetency, not as displaying political and propagandistic competency.

William Perry announced his opinion only after the 2006 court ‘finding’ of Iran’s ‘guilt’ in the case. The UPI article on this opened and closed as follows:

Perry: U.S. eyed Iran attack after bombing

Published: June 6, 2007 at 4:25 PM

 

WASHINGTON, June 6 (UPI) — A former U.S. defense secretary says he now believes al-Qaida rather than Iran was behind a 1996 truck bombing at an American military base.

 

Former Defense Secretary William Perry said he had a contingency plan to attack Iran if the link had been proven, but evidence was not to either his nor President Bill Clinton's satisfaction.

 

The attack would have struck "at a number of their military facilities that would have weakened — substantially weakened … the Iranian navy and air force," he said in New York Tuesday during a speech to the Council on Foreign Relations. …

 

"I believe that the Khobar Tower bombing was probably masterminded by Osama bin Laden," Perry said. "I can't be sure of that, but in retrospect, that's what I believe. At the time, he was not a suspect. At the time … all of the evidence was pointing to Iran."

 

He said al-Qaida did not emerge as a major threat until Clinton's second term.

 

"We probably should have been more concerned about it at the time than we were but in the first term we did not see Osama bin Laden and al-Qaida as a major factor, or one that we were concerned with," he said.

 

In 2001, the U.S. Justice Department announced a 46-count indictment against 13 Saudis and one Lebanese man in the bombing. All were allegedly connected to Hezbollah, a terrorist group the United States believes is linked to Iran.

 

Perry said the FBI strongly believed at the time the bombing was ordered by Iran, but Saudi officials tried to discourage that theory.

 

"They feared what action we would take. They rightly feared it. In fact, I had a contingency plan for a strike on Iran, if it had been if it had been clearly established. But it was never clearly established, and so we never did that," Perry said.

So, although Wikipedia started by alleging “Perpetrators: Hezbollah Al-Hejaz (English: Party of God in the Hijaz)” — and in plain language, that’s Hezbollah — it ended by kaboshing that very theory of the case, which the Wikipedia article had been ‘documenting’ (with bad logic and some false ‘facts’).

Subsequently, the fine investigative journalist Gareth Porter explained how Perry had come to think that Iran and Hezbollah had been the culprit. Perry had trusted the head of the FBI, Louis Freeh. Perry didn’t know that, behind the scenes, Saudi Prince Bandar bin Sultan al-Saud (who was his family’s U.S. Ambassador) had told Freeh that Iran and Hezbollah did it. Furthermore, the Sauds had actually blocked the FBI’s own investigators from having access to the site or to any of the evidence (other than by providing Freeh himself access to the torture-extracted ‘confessions’). Initially, in fact, the Sauds even started bulldozing the site.

The first part of Porter’s five-part report was titled “EXCLUSIVE — PART 1: Al Qaeda Excluded from the Suspects List”. It said: “The Saudi bulldozing stopped only after Scott Erskine, the supervisory FBI special agent for international terrorism investigations, threatened that Secretary of State Warren Christopher, who happened to be in Saudi Arabia when the bomb exploded, would intervene personally on the matter.” It said there was: “a systematic effort by the Saudis to obstruct any U.S. investigation of the bombing and to deceive the United States about who was responsible for the bombing. The Saudi regime steered the FBI investigation toward Iran and its Saudi Shi’a allies with the apparent intention of keeping U.S. officials away from a trail of evidence that would have led to Osama bin Laden and a complex set of ties between the regime and the Saudi terrorist organiser.”

The second part was titled “EXCLUSIVE — PART 2: Saudi Account of Khobar Bore Telltale Signs of Fraud”.

The third part was titled “EXCLUSIVE — PART 3: U.S. Officials Leaked a False Story Blaming Iran”.

The fourth part was titled “EXCLUSIVE — PART 4: FBI Ignored Compelling Evidence of bin Laden Role”. It noted that, “In October 1996, after having issued yet another fatwa calling on Muslims to drive U.S. soldiers out of the Kingdom, bin Laden was quoted in al Quds al Arabi, the Palestinian daily published in London, as saying, ‘The crusader army was shattered when we bombed Khobar.’"

The fifth part was titled “EXCLUSIVE — PART 5: Freeh Became "Defence Lawyer" for Saudis on Khobar”. This part had the most hair-raising details:

The key to the success of the Saudi deception was FBI director Louis Freeh, who took personal charge of the FBI investigation, letting it be known within the Bureau that he was the "case officer" for the probe, according to former FBI officials.

 

Freeh allowed Saudi Ambassador Prince Bandar bin Sultan to convince him that Iran was involved in the bombing, and that President Bill Clinton, for whom he had formed a visceral dislike, "had no interest in confronting the fact that Iran had blown up the towers," as Freeh wrote in his memoirs.

 

The Khobar Towers investigation soon became Freeh’s vendetta against Clinton. "Freeh was pursuing this for his own personal agenda," says former FBI agent Jack Cloonan.

 

A former high-ranking FBI official recalls that Freeh "was always meeting with Bandar". And many of the meetings were not in Freeh’s office but at Bandar’s 38-room home in McLean, Virginia.

 

Meanwhile, the Saudis were refusing the most basic FBI requests for cooperation.

 

Freeh quickly made Iranian and Saudi Shi’a responsibility for the bombing the official premise of the investigation, excluding from the inquiry the hypothesis that Osama bin Laden’s al Qaeda organisation had carried out the Khobar Towers bombing.

 

The CIA’s bin Laden unit, which had only been established in early 1996, was also excluded by CIA leadership from that Agency’s work on the bombing.

Finally, in order to bring his exhaustive investigation up-to-date, Porter headlined on 1 September 2015, “Who Bombed Khobar Towers? Anatomy of a Crooked Terrorism Investigation”. Here’s one particularly forceful portion of it:

In order to build a legal case against Iran and Shi'a Saudis, Freeh had to get access to the Shi'a detainees who had confessed. But the Saudis never agreed to allow FBI officials to interview them. In early November 1998, Freeh sent an FBI team to observe Saudi secret police officials asking eight Shi'a detainees the FBI's questions from behind a one-way mirror at the Riyadh detention center.

 

By then Saudi secret police had already had two and half years to coach the detainees on what to say, under the threat of more torture. But Freeh didn't care. "For Louis, if they would let us in the room, that was the important thing," a senior FBI official involved in the Khobar investigation told me. "We would have gone over there and gotten the answers even if they had been propped up."

 

But the Justice Department refused to go ahead with an indictment based on the information the FBI team brought back. Department lawyers knew the Shi'a detainees had been subject to torture, so they have ruled that the confessions were not valid.

In other words: the head of the FBI believed torture-extracted ‘confessions’ as if such would meet U.S. rules of evidence — which they don’t. And coaching of witnesses is likewise prohibited — under U.S. laws.

On 30 May 2013, The Washingtonian headlined “Forged Under Fire — Bob Mueller and Jim Comey’s Unusual Friendship” and Garrett M. Graff reported:

Although they’d been aware of each other for years, sharing their similar orbits, Comey and Mueller were first brought together professionally by then-FBI director Louis Freeh in the opening days of the Bush administration. … As the Bush administration took office in 2001, Freeh asked Bob Mueller, who was acting as John Ashcroft’s deputy attorney general, to transfer the [Khobar] case to Comey.

 

When he finally did so, Mueller called Comey with a warning: “Wilma Lewis is going to be so pissed.” Indeed, Lewis blasted the decision, as well as both Freeh and Mueller personally, in a press release, saying the move was “ill-conceived and ill-considered.” But Freeh’s gambit paid off.

 

Within weeks, Comey had pulled together the indictment. During a National Security Council briefing at the White House, under the watchful gaze of Secretary of State Colin Powell, Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, and National Security Advisor Condoleezza Rice, Comey presented overwhelming evidence of Iran’s involvement.

 

On the eve of the expiration of the statute of limitations, fourteen individuals were indicted for the attack. Freeh, who stepped down the next day, said the indictment was “a major step.”

So, Comey and Mueller were brought in by Freeh because Freeh was about to retire and he wanted successors who would be committed to the theory of the case, that Freeh had gotten from Prince Bandar. If Comey and Mueller wouldn’t go along with that torture-extracted ‘testimony’ as ‘evidence’, then their ability to become appointed head the FBI would have been zero. Freeh, Comey, and Mueller are a team – a team that serves the Bushes and the Sauds. But not the American public.

Our continuing war against Iran is due entirely to their crucial assistance. The Deep State appoints such individuals.

*  *  *

CLOSING NOTE: This article had been submitted to, and rejected by, the 39 publications listed here at the bottom, sent to each as an exclusive, but since they all rejected it without comment, I now am sending it not just to them but to the entire U.S. newsmedia, on a non-exclusive and free-of-charge basis to publish. Since none of them will pay me for publishing it, I shall be happy if any publish it without charge, even small ‘alternative news’ sites online, because – and especially if a mainstream newsmedium relents and decides to publish it – then perhaps the embargo against the truth of such important matters being published in the United States and its vassal nations, will come to be broken, and the ‘news’media in America and in those other countries, might then terminate being actually the U.S-regime’s propaganda-media, and might finally begin to pay penance for their all having helped the U.S. Government to deceive the American (and allied-nations’) public into supporting the regime’s entirely lie-based invasions of Afghanistan in 2001, of Iraq in 2003, of Libya in 2012, of Syria since 2012, of U.S. coups elsewhere (such as in Ukraine), and, now, potentially repeating it yet again with invasions or coups against Iran or other countries that the U.S. elite want to grab and add to their growing U.S. empire.

If Iran becomes invaded, or another U.S. coup becomes perpetrated there (such as in 1953), then perhaps Russia’s only realistic response — as being the ultimate U.S. target — will be a blitz nuclear attack to destroy the United States, in recognition of the U.S. Government’s fanatical reach to control a total global empire — total global strangulation of freedom and of peace, everywhere. After all, if Russia waits till after a U.S. lie-based invasion of Iran, then it will be simply waiting for a blitz nuclear attack by the U.S. and its NATO alliance against Russia itself, which would be even worse for the world than Russia’s striking first — though the world would end, either way. The U.S. Government now seems to be an out-of-control spreading cancer, a terminal threat to the world in every regard. It’s already recognized throughout the world as being “the greatest threat to peace in the world today”. And its ‘news’media have helped to keep it that way.

Here is the list of 39 publications that this article had been submitted to as an exclusive (and, of course, it’s now being submitted to them, too, yet again, but this time on a non-exclusive, non-fee, basis, along with being submitted to all the rest of the regime’s press, including broadcast media):

McClatchy newspapers, New York Times, Washington Post, The Atlantic, Harper’s, TIME, The New Republic, Foreign Policy, Mother Jones, The Nation, Progressive, National Review, New Yorker, Rolling Stone, Business Week, Forbes, Politico, thedailybeast, huffingtonpost, slate, bloomberg, businessinsider, newsweek, theintercept, breitbart, alternet, newsbud, spiked-online, vice, mintpressnews, truthdig, truth-out, Independent, Guardian, Daily Mail, Spectator, London Review of Books, New Statesman, Spiegel.

*  *  *

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.

 

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Trump Reverses, Sides With Intel Agencies Over Russia Election Meddling; Offers To Mediate South China Sea Dispute

One day after Trump caused the latest round of broad media outrage when he reportedly sided with Putin over Russia’s alleged “election interference”, while slamming US intel agencies, and repeating his allegation that the investigation is a ‘hoax’, and the FBI a “bunch of hacks,” Trump reversed himself and “cleared up confusion” over whether he accepts Russian President Vladimir Putin’s denials of meddling in the U.S. election last year.

Speaking at a news conference in Vietnam with President Tran Dai Quang on Sunday morning local time, Trump distanced himself from remarks he made one day earlier in which he suggested he believed Putin when he said there had been no Russian meddling in the election that took him to the White House. The comments drew a backlash of criticism at home because US intelligence agencies have long since “concluded” there was Russian meddling.

As a result, Trump was careful to make clear he sided with the intelligence agencies under his own leadership: “What I said is, I believe Putin believes that,” Trump told reporters in Hanoi, Vietnam. “I believe that he feels that he and Russia did not meddle in the election. What he believes is what he believes.”

Trump then added that “as to whether I believe it or not, I’m with our agencies, especially as currently constituted, with their leadership. I believe in our intel agencies. I’ve worked with them very strongly.”

The comment was made shortly after Trump tweeted that “When will all the haters and fools out there realize that having a good relationship with Russia is a good thing, not a bad thing. There always playing politics – bad for our country. I want to solve North Korea, Syria, Ukraine, terrorism, and Russia can greatly help!”

Still, despite the backlash driven clarification, Trump has repeatedly called allegations of campaign collusion with Moscow a hoax, angering US intel chiefs. U.S. intelligence agencies have also concluded Russians interfered to tip the election in Trump’s favour through hacking and releasing emails to embarrass Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton and spreading social media propaganda, in a year-long attempt to deflect attention from Hillary Clinton’s shocking loss, and scapegoat it on outside actors.

On Saturday, former U.S. intelligence director James Clapper told Reuters: “the fact the president of the United States would take Putin at his word over that of the intelligence community is quite simply unconscionable.”

As noted above, Trump’s comments siding with intel agencies bizarrely also come after he hit former U.S. intelligence officials by name, including former CIA Director John Brennan, former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper and former FBI Director James Comey. 

“I mean, give me a break, they are political hacks,” Trump said on Air Force One, according to White House pool reports. He was discussing the U.S. intelligence community’s conclusion that Russia sought to influence the 2016 election in favor of Trump. “So you look at it, I mean, you have Brennan, you have Clapper and you have Comey,” he continued. “Comey is proven now to be a liar and he is proven now to be a leaker.”

Separately,  also during his meeting with the Vietnam president, Trump offered to mediate and arbitrate in the dispute over the South China Sea, where four Southeast Asian countries and Taiwan contest China’s sweeping claims to the busy waterway. “I am a very good mediator and a very good arbitrator,” President Trump said during his meeting with Vietnamese President Tran Dai Quang in Hanoi.  “If I can be of help in any way let me know.”

Trump also said that U.S. and Vietnam “will be great trade partners” and added that “we’re going to do a tremendous amount of trade…billions and billions.”

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Podesta Group “Will Not Exist At The End Of The Year”

While all eyes (from the left and the establishment right) remain on Trump  (daring to shake Putin's hand this weekend), the mainstream media appears to be missing the news that the lobbying firm founded by longtime Democratic operative Tony Podesta is reportedly on the verge of shuttering after being swept up in special counsel Robert Mueller's Russia probe.

Just three weeks after we reported that special counsel Mueller was targeting lobbying firm Podesta Group. and just two weeks after Tony Podesta resigned from his position at the firm he founded, The Hill reports that Kimberley Fritts, the Podesta Group's chief executive, told employees on Thursday that the firm would not exist at the end of the year and that they would likely not be paid through the end of November, sources told CNN.

Fritts announced her resignation from the top Washington lobbying group after Podesta left the company amid ties to indictments filed in the Russia investigation. Fritts is beginning work on launching a new firm. Her last day at the company Friday created new uncertainty for the Podesta Group after the departure of Podesta on Oct. 30.

Multiple employees who spoke to The Hill said the mood at the firm was mostly optimistic, though they said many of the firm's dozens of employees could be in limbo as Fritts sets up the new firm and brings Podesta Group talent and clients with her.

As a reminder, Mueller is now investigating whether the Podesta Group properly identified to U.S. authorities its foreign work on behalf of a Ukrainian advocacy group in Europe, CNN reported.

An NBC report found that the Podesta Group was one of several firms working on Paul Manafort's public relations campaign for European Centre for a Modern Ukraine, which the Podesta Group claims it thought was a nonpartisan think tank, something which this site reported first last August.

And here is one reason why we suspect more than a few on the left are now concerned…

It goes without saying, that Podesta's brother, John, is arguably one of the top figure in Democratic politics, serving most recently as chief of staff in the Bill Clinton White House and also as the chairman of Hillary Clinton's 2016 presidential campaign.

What happens next to Tony (and perhaps his brother John) is to be determined, but one thing is clear: both sides of the swamp should probably control themselves in any premature celebrations as this appears to be far from over.

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Trump Slams Intel Chiefs After Meeting With Putin: “They’re Political Hacks”

While President Donald Trump was effectively forced to cancel a formal meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin due to the glare of the Mueller indictments – despite the fact that the charges had seemingly little to do with his campaign – the two leaders still took a minute to chat on the sidelines of an Asia Pacific conference in VIetnam on Saturday. Photos captured Putin ominously whispering a message into his surrogate’s ear, before posing for a few photos alongside other world leaders, with one photo featuring a much discussed handshake between Putin and Trump.

Afterward, when reporters asked if he was worried about the Mueller probe, Trump repeated his allegation that the investigation is a ‘hoax’, with the president calling the FBI a “bunch of hacks,” according to the New York Post.

“They’re political hacks,” Trump said of the former CIA director John Brennan, former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper, and former FBI chief James Comey, who have said that the evidence of Russian meddling is clear.

 

“You have Brennan, you have Clapper and you have Comey. Comey’s proven now to be a liar and he’s proven to be a leaker. So you look at that,” Trump said. “And you have President Putin very strongly, vehemently says he had nothing to do with that."

 

But he fell short of saying that he took Putin’s word.

 

“Well, look, I can’t stand there and argue with him,” Trump said. “I would rather have him get out of Syria, to be honest with you. I would rather … get to work with him on the Ukraine rather than standing and arguing about whether or not— because that whole thing was set up by the Democrats."

Of course, this isn’t the first time Trump has lashed out at his own intelligence community over its finding that Russia actively intervened to try and sway the November 2016 election in Trump’s favor. It’s also not the first time he’s said he believes Putin’s claim that Russia had nothing to do with the hacks.

Two days ago, the DOJ declared that Russia Today would need to register as a Foreign Agent, or its staff would risk arrest in the US.

President Trump on Saturday brushed off allegations that Russia had interfered in the 2016 election, and implied he would take Vladimir Putin’s word on the matter more seriously than the opinions of some US intelligence officials.

Meanwhile, the CIA has reaffirmed that the Russia interference narrative remains the official position of the US intelligence community by issuing a rebuttal to the president’s statement.

Trump also said the suspicions about Putin are hurting his ability to develop a closer relationship with the leader in order to have more productive discussions on North Korea, the Hill reported.

“We could really be helped a lot with Russia having to do with North Korea,” Trump said.

 

“You know you are talking about millions and millions of lives. This isn’t baby stuff, this is the real deal. And if Russia helped us, in addition to China, that problem would go away a lot faster."

Trump and Putin met Saturday on the sidelines of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation Economic Leaders' Meeting in Danang, Vietnam. Though they didn’t have a “formal” meeting scheduled, Trump says they will issue a joint statement later in the day. What that statement is about is unclear.. Trump said the two leaders had “two or three very short conversations” during the larger forum and discussed Syria.

Predictably, Trump said Putin is “very insulted” by the suggestion Moscow attempted to hack the election.

Because presumably, if Putin had done it, he would’ve done a much better job…

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Trump “Chats Amicably” With Putin, Sides With Russia Over “Election Interference” At APEC Meeting

All eyes were on Trump and Putin again as the two leaders bumped into each other at the APEC meeting on Saturday. They patted each other on the back several times, and Putin whispered something in Trump’s ear. The US leader listened attentively leaving reporters to guess what the two discussed.

Shortly after, President Trump again dismissed allegations of Russian meddling in last year’s U.S. election, following his first brief meeting with Russian president Vladimir Putin at the APEC conference after their first encounter in July. Speaking to reporters on Air Force One, Trump said that he believes Vladimir Putin’s denials about election meddling – over allegations raised by US intel agencies including the CIA, NSA, and FBI which claim that Russia actively worked to meddle in the election – which are an “artificial Democratic hit job” and did not want to press further because he thinks the U.S. and Russia can work together on issues that include North Korea, Syria and Ukraine. He also said that interference talk “gets in the way and that’s a shame,” because people will die because of it.

Trump said Putin had told him again that he hadn’t meddled in the election: “I really believe that when he tells me that, he means it,” Trump said of the accusations.

“I think he’s very insulted by it, which is not a good thing for our country.” Trump repeated that “there was no collusion, everybody knows there was no collusion” and called it a “pure hit job” and said that “rhis is really an artificial barrier that’s put in front of us for solving problems with Russia. I think it’s a shame that something like can destroy a very important potential relationship between two countries that are very important countries. Russia could really help us.”

Putin likewise dismissed suggestions Russia influenced the elections through political advertising. Tech companies, including Facebook, have said some Russian-bought political content spread on their platforms around the time of the election.  “There is no confirmation of our mass media meddling in election campaigns – and there can’t be any,” Putin said.

Trump also said he didn’t speak to Putin about North Korea during APEC summit, and was focused on Syria and Ukraine.

While there was no official meeting between the two presidents scheduled, Trump said he and Putin spoke at picture- taking last night and at a roundtable today. “We spoke intermittently.” Scheduling and unspecified protocol issues were to blame for the fact that a mooted sit-down meeting with Trump did not happen in Danang, Putin said.

They were also seen chatting amicably as they walked to the position where the traditional APEC summit photo was being taken at a viewpoint looking over the South China Sea.

Pictures from the APEC meeting also showed Trump walking up to Putin at the summit table and patting him on the back. They also shook hands at the summit dinner on Friday evening. “We’ll have a meeting” in the future Trump said, while adding cryptically that a deal to support a political solution to Syria’s conflict would save “tremendous numbers of lives”.

“We did it very quickly,” Trump told reporters aboard Air Force One after leaving the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) summit in the resort of Danang for Hanoi, Vietnam’s capital. “We seem to have a very good feeling for each other, a good relationship considering we don’t know each other well.”

Talking to journalists on Saturday after the meeting, Putin said that the absence of a separate, official meeting with the US president at the summit further proves that there is an ongoing crisis in relations between the two nations. “It means that US-Russia relations are still in a state of crisis.” Moscow is, however, ready “to turn the page and move on, look into the future and solve problems important both to the people of the US and Russia,” including issues within the “sphere of security, and of economic interaction, which has dropped to virtually zero.”

Asked whether he experienced Trump’s trademark “intense handshake” habit, the Russian leader replied: “I know nothing about his habits, we are not so well acquainted, but the US president conducts himself in the best possible way, is a well-mannered person and comfortable to deal with.”

Ahead of APEC, the Kremlin and the White House gave conflicting reports on the possibility of a meeting between the two leaders, before eventually stating that there will not be an official meeting this time around. Nonetheless, Putin and Trump met and shook hands at a dinner on Friday night, and again at the start of the main meeting of Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) leaders on Saturday.

Eyebrows were raised when Secretary of State Rex Tillerson questioned the necessity of the Russian and US presidents sitting down for a meeting. “The view has been if the two leaders are going to meet, is there something sufficiently substantive to talk about that would warrant a formal meeting?” he told a press briefing in Beijing on Thursday. Tillerson’s statement comes at a time when US-Russian relations have reached one of the lowest points in decades.

On Saturday, the two leaders agreed on a joint statement confirming their commitment to Syria’s sovereignty, independence, and territorial integrity. “Moscow and Washington agree there is no military solution to the conflict,” the text of the joint statement, published on the Kremlin’s website, said. Putin and Trump have called on all parties to the Syrian conflict to “take an active part in the Geneva political process and support efforts aimed at ensuring its success.”

* * *

Courtesy of Axios, here is the exchange between Trump and reporters on Air Force One

Reporter: Did Russia’s attempts to meddle in US elections come up in the conversations?

Trump: “He said he didn’t meddle, he said he didn’t meddle. I asked him again. You can only ask so many times.”

Reporter: Today?

Trump: “I just asked him again. He said he absolutely did not meddle in our election, he did not do what they are saying he did.”

Reporter: Do you believe him?

Trump: “Well, look, I can’t stand there and argue with him, I would rather have him get out of Syria, I would rather get to work with him on the Ukraine rather than arguing about whether or not… that whole thing was set up by the Democrats. Look at Podesta, look at all the things that they have done with the phony dossier. Those are the big events. But Putin said he did not do what they said he did. But we have a good feeling toward getting things done. If we had a relationship with Russia, that would be a good thing. In fact it would be a great thing, not a bad thing, because he could really help us on North Korea. We have a big problem with North Korea and China is helping us. And because of the lack of the relationship that we have with Russia, because of this artificial thing that’s happening with this Democratic-inspired thing. We could really be helped a lot with Russia having to do with North Korea. You know you are talking about millions and millions of lives. This isn’t baby stuff, this is the real deal. And if Russia helped us in addition to China, that problem would go away a lot faster.”

Reporter: On election meddling, did you ask him the question?

Trump: “Every time he sees me he says I didn’t do that and I really believe that when he tells me that, he means it. But he says I didn’t do that. I think he is very insulted by it, which is not a good thing for our country. Because again, if we had a relationship with Russia, North Korea which is our single biggest problem right now, it would help a lot. I think they are doing very well with respect to China, they have cut off financing, they have cut off lots of oil and lots of other things, lots of trade and it’s having a big impact. But Russia on the other hand may be making up the difference. And if they are, that’s not a good thing. So having a relationship with Russia would be a great thing especially as it relates to North Korea.”

“Hillary had her stupid reset button that she spelled the word wrong, but she does not have what it takes to have that kind of relationship where you could call or you could do something. But this is really an artificial barrier that’s put in front of us for solving problems with Russia. He says that very strongly, he really seems to be insulted by it and he says he didn’t do it. He is very, very strong in the fact that he didn’t do it. You have President Putin very strongly, vehemently says he has nothing to do with that. Now, you are not going to get into an argument, you are going to start talking about Syria and the Ukraine.”

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