Archive | October 8th, 2016

Key Neocon Calls on US to Oust Putin

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By Robert Parry | Consortium News 

The neoconservative president of the U.S.-taxpayer-funded National Endowment for Democracy [NED] has called for the U.S. government to “summon the will” to engineer the overthrow of Russian President Vladimir Putin, saying that the 10-year-old murder case of a Russian journalist should be the inspiration.

Carl Gershman, who has headed NED since its founding in 1983, doesn’t cite any evidence that Putin was responsible for the death of Anna Politkovskaya but uses a full column in The Washington Post on Friday to create that impression, calling her death “a window to Vladimir Putin, the Kremlin autocrat whom Americans are looking at for the first time.”

Gershman wraps up his article by writing: “Politkovskaya saw the danger [of Putin], but she and other liberals in Russia were not strong enough to stop it. The United States has the power to contain and defeat this danger. The issue is whether we can summon the will to do so. Remembering Politkovskaya can help us rise to this challenge.”

That Gershman would so directly call for the ouster of Russia’s clearly popular president represents further proof that NED is a neocon-driven vehicle that seeks to create the political circumstances for “regime change” even when that means removing leaders who are elected by a country’s citizenry.

And there is a reason for NED to see its job in that way. In 1983, NED essentially took over the CIA’s role of influencing electoral outcomes and destabilizing governments that got in the way of U.S. interests, except that NED carried out those functions in a quasi-overt fashion while the CIA did them covertly.

NED also serves as a sort of slush fund for neocons and other favored U.S. foreign policy operatives because a substantial portion of NED’s money circulates through U.S.-based non-governmental organizations or NGOs.

That makes Gershman an influential neocon paymaster whose organization dispenses some $100 million a year in U.S. taxpayers’ money to activists, journalists and NGOs both in Washington and around the world. The money helps them undermine governments in Washington’s disfavor – or as Gershman would prefer to say, “build democratic institutions,” even when that requires overthrowing democratically elected leaders.

NED was a lead actor in the Feb. 22, 2014 coup ousting Ukraine’s elected President Viktor Yanukovych in a U.S.-backed putsch that touched off the civil war inside Ukraine between Ukrainian nationalists from the west and ethnic Russians from the east. The Ukraine crisis has become a flashpoint for the dangerous New Cold War between the U.S. and Russia.

Before the anti-Yanukovych coup, NED was funding scores of projects inside Ukraine, which Gershman had identified as “the biggest prize” in a Sept. 26, 2013 column also published in The Washington Post.

In that column, Gershman wrote that after the West claimed Ukraine, “Russians, too, face a choice, and Putin may find himself on the losing end not just in the near abroad but within Russia itself.” In other words, Gershman already saw Ukraine as an important step toward an even bigger prize, a “regime change” in Moscow.

Less than five months after Gershman’s column, pro-Western political activists and neo-Nazi street fighters – with strong support from U.S. neocons and the State Department – staged a coup in Kiev driving Yanukovych from office and installing a rabidly anti-Russian regime, which the West promptly dubbed “legitimate.”

In reaction to the coup and the ensuing violence against ethnic Russians, the voters of Crimea approved a referendum with 96 percent of the vote to leave Ukraine and rejoin Russia, a move that the West’s governments and media decried as a Russian “invasion” and “annexation.”

The new regime in Kiev then mounted what it called an “Anti-Terrorism Operation” or ATO against ethnic Russians in the east who had supported Yanukovych and refused to accept the anti-constitutional coup in Kiev as legitimate.

The ATO, spearheaded by neo-Nazis from the Azov battalion and other extremists, killed thousands of ethnic Russians, prompting Moscow to covertly provide some assistance to the rebels, a move denounced by the West as “aggression.”

Blaming Putin

In his latest column, Gershman not only urges the United States to muster the courage to oust Putin but he shows off the kind of clever sophistry that America’s neocons are known for. Though lacking any evidence, he intimates that Putin ordered the murder of Politkovskaya and pretty much every other “liberal” who has died in Russia.

Carl Gershman, president of the National Endowment for Democracy.

Carl Gershman, president of the NED

It is a technique that I’ve seen used in other circumstances, such as the lists of “mysterious deaths” that American right-wingers publish citing people who crossed the paths of Bill and Hillary Clinton and ended up dead. This type of smear spreads suspicion of guilt not based on proof but on the number of acquaintances and adversaries who have met untimely deaths.

In the 1990s, one conservative friend of mine pointed to the Clintons’ “mysterious deaths” list and marveled that even if only a few were the victims of a Clinton death squad that would be quite a story, to which I replied that if even one were murdered by the Clintons that would be quite a story – but that there was no proof of any such thing.

“Mysterious deaths” lists represent a type of creepy conspiracy theory that shifts the evidentiary burden onto the targets of the smears who must somehow prove their innocence, when there is no evidence of their guilt (only vague suspicions). It is contemptible when applied to American leaders and it is contemptible when applied to Russian leaders, but it is not beneath Carl Gershman.

Beyond that, Gershman’s public musing about the U.S. somehow summoning “the will” to remove Putin might — in a normal world — disqualify NED and its founding president from the privilege of dispensing U.S. taxpayers’ money to operatives in Washington and globally. It is extraordinarily provocative and dangerous, an example of classic neocon hubris.

While the neocons do love their tough talk, they are not known for thinking through their “regime change” schemes. The idea of destabilizing nuclear-armed Russia with the goal of ousting Putin, with his 82 percent approval ratings, must rank as the nuttiest and most reckless neocon scheme of all.

Gershman and his neocon pals may fantasize about making Russia’s economy scream while financing pro-Western “liberals” who would stage disruptive protests in Red Square, but he and his friends haven’t weighed the consequences even if they could succeed.

Given the devastating experience that most Russians had when NED’s beloved Russian “liberals” helped impose American “shock therapy” in the 1990s — an experiment that reduced average life expectancy by a full decade — it’s hard to believe that the Russian people would simply take another dose of that bitter medicine sitting down.

Even if the calculating Putin were somehow removed amid economic desperation, he is far more likely to be followed by a much harder-line Russian nationalist who might well see Moscow’s arsenal of nuclear weapons as the only way to protect Mother Russia’s honor. In other words, the neocons’ latest brash “regime change” scheme might be their last – and the last for all humanity.

A Neocon Slush Fund

Gershman’s arrogance also raises questions about why the American taxpayer should tolerate what amounts to a $100 million neocon slush fund which is used to create dangerous mischief around the world. Despite having “democracy” in its name, NED appears only to favor democratic outcomes when they fit with Official Washington’s desires.

CIA Director William Casey.

CIA Director William Casey

If a disliked candidate wins an election, NED acts as if that is prima facie evidence that the system is undemocratic and must be replaced with a process that ensures the selection of candidates who will do what the U.S. government tells them to do. Put differently, NED’s name is itself a fraud.

But that shouldn’t come as a surprise since NED was created in 1983 at the urging of Ronald Reagan’s CIA Director William J. Casey, who wanted to off-load some of the CIA’s traditional work ensuring that foreign elections turned out in ways acceptable to Washington, and when they didn’t – as in Iran under Mossadegh, in Guatemala under Arbenz or in Chile under Allende – the CIA’s job was to undermine and remove the offending electoral winner.

In 1983, Casey and the CIA’s top propagandist, Walter Raymond Jr., who had been moved to Reagan’s National Security Council staff, wanted to create a funding mechanism to support outside groups, such as Freedom House and other NGOs, so they could engage in propaganda and political action that the CIA had historically organized and paid for covertly. The idea emerged for a congressionally funded entity that would serve as a conduit for this money.

In one undated letter to then-White House counselor Edwin Meese III, Casey urged creation of a “National Endowment,” but he recognized the need to hide the strings being pulled by the CIA. “Obviously we here [at CIA] should not get out front in the development of such an organization, nor should we appear to be a sponsor or advocate,” Casey wrote.

The National Endowment for Democracy took shape in late 1983 as Congress decided to also set aside pots of money — within NED — for the Republican and Democratic parties and for organized labor, creating enough bipartisan largesse that passage was assured.

But some in Congress thought it was important to wall the NED off from any association with the CIA, so a provision was included to bar the participation of any current or former CIA official, according to one congressional aide who helped write the legislation.

This aide told me that one night late in the 1983 session, as the bill was about to go to the House floor, the CIA’s congressional liaison came pounding at the door to the office of Rep. Dante Fascell, a senior Democrat on the House Foreign Affairs Committee and a chief sponsor of the bill.

The frantic CIA official conveyed a single message from CIA Director Casey: the language barring the participation of CIA personnel must be struck from the bill, the aide recalled, noting that Fascell consented to the demand, not fully recognizing its significance – that it would permit the continued behind-the-scenes involvement of Raymond and Casey.

The aide said Fascell also consented to the Reagan administration’s choice of Carl Gershman to head NED, again not recognizing how this decision would affect the future of the new entity and American foreign policy.

Gershman, who had followed the classic neoconservative path from youthful socialism to fierce anticommunism, became NED’s first (and, to this day, only) president. Though NED is technically independent of U.S. foreign policy, Gershman in the early years coordinated decisions on grants with Raymond at the NSC.

For instance, on Jan. 2, 1985, Raymond wrote to two NSC Asian experts that “Carl Gershman has called concerning a possible grant to the Chinese Alliance for Democracy (CAD). I am concerned about the political dimension to this request. We should not find ourselves in a position where we have to respond to pressure, but this request poses a real problem to Carl.

“Senator [Orrin] Hatch, as you know, is a member of the board. Secondly, NED has already given a major grant for a related Chinese program.”

Neocon Tag Teams

From the start, NED became a major benefactor for Freedom House, beginning with a $200,000 grant in 1984 to build “a network of democratic opinion-makers.” In NED’s first four years, from 1984 and 1988, it lavished $2.6 million on Freedom House, accounting for more than one-third of its total income, according to a study by the liberal Council on Hemispheric Affairs that was entitled “Freedom House: Portrait of a Pass-Through.”

Over the ensuing three decades, Freedom House has become almost an NED subsidiary, often joining NED in holding policy conferences and issuing position papers, both organizations pushing primarily a neoconservative agenda, challenging countries deemed insufficiently “free,” including Syria, Ukraine (in 2014) and Russia.

Indeed, NED and Freedom House often work as a kind of tag-team with NED financing “non-governmental organizations” inside targeted countries and Freedom House berating those governments if they crack down on U.S.-funded NGOs.

For instance, on Nov. 16, 2012, NED and Freedom House joined together to denounce legislation passed by the Russian parliament that required recipients of foreign political money to register with the government.

Or, as NED and Freedom House framed the issue: the Russian Duma sought to “restrict human rights and the activities of civil society organizations and their ability to receive support from abroad. Changes to Russia’s NGO legislation will soon require civil society organizations receiving foreign funds to choose between registering as ‘foreign agents’ or facing significant financial penalties and potential criminal charges.”

Of course, the United States has a nearly identical Foreign Agent Registration Act that likewise requires entities that receive foreign funding and seek to influence U.S. government policy to register with the Justice Department or face possible fines or imprisonment.

But the Russian law would impede NED’s efforts to destabilize the Russian government through funding of political activists, journalists and civic organizations, so it was denounced as an infringement of human rights and helped justify Freedom House’s rating of Russia as “not free.”

Another bash-Putin tag team has been The Washington Post’s editors and NED’s Gershman. On July 28, 2015, a Post editorial and a companion column by Gershman led readers to believe that Putin was paranoid and “power mad” in worrying that outside money funneled into NGOs threatened Russian sovereignty.

The Post and Gershman were especially outraged that the Russians had enacted the law requiring NGOs financed from abroad and seeking to influence Russian policies to register as “foreign agents” and that one of the first funding operations to fall prey to these tightened rules was Gershman’s NED.

The Post’s editors wrote that Putin’s “latest move … is to declare the NED an ‘undesirable’ organization under the terms of a law that Mr. Putin signed in May [2015]. The law bans groups from abroad who are deemed a ‘threat to the foundations of the constitutional system of the Russian Federation, its defense capabilities and its national security.’

“The charge against the NED is patently ridiculous. The NED’s grantees in Russia last year ran the gamut of civil society. They advocated transparency in public affairs, fought corruption and promoted human rights, freedom of information and freedom of association, among other things. All these activities make for a healthy democracy but are seen as threatening from the Kremlin’s ramparts.

“The new law on ‘undesirables’ comes in addition to one signed in 2012 that gave authorities the power to declare organizations foreign agents if they engaged in any kind of politics and receive money from abroad. The designation, from the Stalin era, implies espionage.”

However, among the relevant points that the Post’s editors wouldn’t tell their readers was the fact that Russia’s Foreign Agent Registration Act was modeled after the American Foreign Agent Registration Act and that NED President Gershman had already publicly made clear — in his Sept. 26, 2013 column — that his goal was to oust Russia’s elected president.

In his July 28, 2015 column, Gershman further deemed Putin’s government illegitimate. “Russia’s newest anti-NGO law, under which the National Endowment for Democracy … was declared an undesirable organization prohibited from operating in Russia, is the latest evidence that the regime of President Vladimir Putin faces a worsening crisis of political legitimacy,” Gershman wrote, adding:

“This is the context in which Russia has passed the law prohibiting Russian democrats from getting any international assistance to promote freedom of expression, the rule of law and a democratic political system. Significantly, democrats have not backed down. They have not been deterred by the criminal penalties contained in the ‘foreign agents’ law and other repressive laws. They know that these laws contradict international law, which allows for such aid, and that the laws are meant to block a better future for Russia.”

The reference to how a “foreign agents” registration law conflicts with international law might have been a good place for Gershman to explain why what is good for the goose in the United States isn’t good for the gander in Russia. But hypocrisy is a hard thing to rationalize and would have undermined the propagandistic impact of the column.

Also undercutting the column’s impact would be an acknowledgement of where NED’s money comes from. So Gershman left that out, too. After all, how many governments would allow a hostile foreign power to sponsor politicians and civic organizations whose mission is to undermine and overthrow the existing government and put in someone who would be compliant to that foreign power?

And, if you had any doubts about what Gershman’s intent was regarding Russia, he dispelled them in his Friday column in which he calls on the United States to “summon the will” to “contain and defeat this danger,” which he makes clear is the continued rule of Vladimir Putin.

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Palestinian media raided and closed by Nazi forces

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closure-48

Palestinian associations in 1948 Palestine were closed by Nazi police and Shin Bet agents on Thursday, 6 October in a series of raids in Nazareth and Umm al-Fahm. The associations allegedly are linked to the northern Islamic movement, the Palestinian religious and political organization banned nearly a year ago by Nazi officials. The leader of the Islamic Movement is Raed Salah, currently imprisoned and well-known for his advocacy in defense of Al-Aqsa Mosque, as well as his participation in the Freedom Flotilla to Gaza.

Palestinian organizations across political lines condemned both the banning of the Islamic Movement and the raids on the community organizations and media institutions. The four Palestinian entities forcibly shuttered on Thursday were the Higher Commission to Support Jerusalem and Al-Aqsa, Q Press in Umm al-Fahm, the Midad Psychometry Institute and Al-Medinanewspaper.

The Higher Arab Follow-Up Committee labeled the attacks “a new sign of a systematic scheme to suppress the rights of the Arab community, a repression that applies to all walks of life… We renew our rejection of the decision to ban the activities of the Islamic Movement, and at the same time warn of the danger of the use of the Islamic Movement’s activities as a new pretext to suppress even more freedoms and silence the voice of the Arab people, who are fighting against the Nazi racist policies targeting our presence on our ancestral land.”

The Al-Alam media association denounced the closures and raids on Al-Medina, Q Press and other institutions and the confiscation of their computers, linking the raids to an ongoing escalation against Palestinian organizing in 1948 Palestine, in particular the campaign of arrests and harassment targeting the National Democratic Assembly (Tajammu’/Balad party).

The Freedoms Commission of the Higher Follow-Up Committee said that “these three institutions, added to the 23 already prohibited, are independent institutions that provide a variety of services for our people… How can an institution like the Midad Psychometry Institute to qualify students for exams, which tutors thousands of secondary school students, contribute to conflicts over Al-Aqsa Mosque? How can the fact that 69 students of the Midad Institute were admitted this year to study medicine in Zionist universities be a cause of conflict over the Al-Aqsa Mosque?” The statement noted the ongoing attacks on the National Democratic Assembly and the investigations targeting Haneen Zoabi and Jamal Zahalka, as well as the 104th demolition of the village of Al-Araqib and the displacement of its people on the same morning of 6 October as reflections of one policy. “This government has declared outright war on the Palestinian people inside, taking advantages of the wars in the region to implement its plans against our people in our homeland, and the Palestinian people in general,” said the statement.

The suppression of Palestinian political activity among the Palestinians of ’48 (who hold Israeli citizenship, and constitute 20% of the population of the Zionist state) is nothing new; in the first 20 years of occupation, from 1948 to 1966, Palestinian citizens lived under martial law which in many ways served as the precursor to the present-day scheme in the West Bank and Jerusalem. Since that time, the banning and violent suppression of Palestinian political activities, as well as the targeting of Palestinian political leaders for arrest and imprisonment, has not ceased. From the Al-Ard movement prohibited in the 1950s, to the Land Day protests against land confiscation met by Israeli fire, to the killing of Palestinians at the launch of the second Intifada – not to mention the imprisonment of prominent Palestinians like Salah, Said Naffaa, Ameer Makhoul and others, and the targeting of cultural workers like Dareen Tatour, the Nazi state has been firmly committed to the suppression of Palestinian existence and political organizing in 1948 Palestine. These acts of political repression accompany ongoing land confiscation, racism and discrimination, defunding of communities and institutions and over 50 racist laws targeting Palestinian existence on their land.

Posted in Palestine Affairs, ZIO-NAZI, Human RightsComments Off on Palestinian media raided and closed by Nazi forces

CrossTalk: White Helmets, Really?

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Image result for CIA White Helmets CARTOON

RT 

The White Helmets: a heartfelt humanitarian NGO or an elaborate and cynical western PR stunt promoting illegal regime change in Syria? Does the wearing of white helmets mean they are the good guys supporting a just cause?

CrossTalking with Vanessa Beeley, Eva Bartlett, and Patrick Henningsen.

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Librarians Condemn Police Conduct in Kansas City Free Speech Arrests

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Librarians Condemn Police Conduct in Kansas City Free Speech Arrests Condemn Police Conduct in Kansas City Free Speech Arrests

Image result for Librarians PHOTO
By Mark Hand | CounterPunch 

Libraries often find themselves on the frontlines against government overreach, whether it is opposing local politicians who want to ban books or protecting the privacy and confidentiality of their patrons from police intrusion.

The Kansas City, Mo., Public Library system has dealt with these issues over the years. But now the library finds itself at the center of a new controversy — aggressive policing — a trend increasingly common in the streets but rarely seen inside the walls of libraries.

In May, Kansas City police arrested an audience member attending a public event at a local branch of the city’s library system. The police also arrested an employee of the Kansas City Library who intervened on behalf of the audience member.

The library kept quiet about the May 9 incident for several months, hoping the city would drop the charges against the two people. When the city told the library it was moving forward with the charges, the library began to publicize the incident and how the local police suppressed free speech.

“They’ve kind of doubled-down on this and they’re moving ahead with the prosecution,” R. Crosby Kemper III, the Kansas City Library executive director, said in a video interview posted Sept. 30 on the Kansas City Star website. “At this stage, I’m actually outraged. This is a big violation of the very First Amendment to the Constitution of the United States. We would expect our police department, which we have worked with very closely over the years, to want to talk to us about this and deal with this in a community way. Instead, they’ve chosen to defend the indefensible conduct of their off-duty police officer.”

The audience member, Jeremy Rothe-Kushel, was standing still and speaking into a microphone when a security guard grabbed him. Steve Woolfolk, director of public programming for the library system, intervened without touching the security guard and asked for Rothe-Kushel to be allowed to leave the library peacefully.

Woolfolk reportedly suffered a torn medial collateral ligament in his knee when a police officer providing security at the event hit him in the leg. Rothe-Kushel was arrested and charged with trespassing and resisting arrest. Woolfolk was arrested and charged with interfering with an arrest.

The arrests occurred at the Plaza branch of the Kansas City Library, where diplomat and Middle East «specialist» Dennis Ross was giving the inaugural Truman and Israel Lecture, established by the Truman Library Institute and the Jewish Community Foundation of Greater Kansas City. The Jewish Community Foundation hired the private security and off-duty police officers for the event.

Prior to the event, the library said it specified that no one was to be removed for asking uncomfortable questions and not without permission of library staff, unless there was an imminent threat of physical danger. “We were absolutely clear on this issue from the very beginning,” Kansas City Library spokeswoman Carrie Coogan said. “We don’t know why that was not communicated to the security teams that were there that day.”

The American Library Association (ALA) issued a statement on Oct. 3 expressing its support for the Kansas City Library and commended Woolfolk for defending Rothe-Kushel’s “right to question and debate matters of public concern.”

“The ALA commends the Kansas City Public Library for its commitment to fostering public deliberation and the exchange of a wide spectrum of ideas by offering meeting rooms and other spaces for lectures, educational programs, and organizational meetings,” ALA President Julie Todaro said in a statement. “Libraries are public institutions that serve as catalysts for public discussions that help solve community challenges. Such efforts are not possible when patrons are not allowed to engage in open debate in a public forum, but rather are arrested for asking difficult questions.”

The ALA said it will “extend resources” to the staff of the Kansas City Library in their legal battle over the incident.

The Jewish Community Foundation has tightened security at its facilities and events over the past two years. In April 2014, Frazier Glenn Miller Jr., a notorious neo-Nazi and Klansman, killed two people at the Jewish Community Center of Greater Kansas City in nearby Overland Park, Kan. Frazier also killed one person at Village Shalom, a Jewish retirement community located in Overland Park. Miller was convicted of the killings and sentenced to death.

In a statement on the May 9 incident, the Jewish Community Foundation noted that it included a question-and-answer opportunity after Ross’s speech “in the spirit of encouraging dialogue.” During the Q&A, “a series of actions by a questioner and a library employee began that resulted in their arrests by local law enforcement,” the organization said.

Jewish Community Foundation spokeswoman Brooke Hardy said the organization has been trying to encourage a resolution to the incident “that would be acceptable to all parties” and that it will “continue to cooperate in this matter.”

Rothe-Kushel told the Mondoweiss news site that the private security guard who grabbed him at the event was Blair Hawkins, who serves as security director for the Jewish Community Foundation.

The Kansas City Library has no plans to stop partnering with the Jewish Community Foundation, Coogan said. The library also will continue to allow private security guards at future library events. “We just will make absolutely, positively sure that they understand the expectations ahead of time,” she said.

Library Patron and Librarian Facing Charges Following Arrests by Homeland Security Liaison During Public Q&A with former Ambassador Dennis Ross

See also interview with Jeremy 9/30

===============
Below is a transcript of the clip with a few additional comments based on another video:

Jeremy Rothe-Kushel:
Hi, thank you. I’m very interested in the issue of tribalism and terror. Just today, I ran into an article referencing Truman’s daughter’s, Margaret’s book, disclosing that the Stern Gang sent mail bombs to Truman in ‘47, and we know that when I think – I can’t remember which group blew up the King David Hotel, but Jews were amongst the dead involved in that ‘necessary statecraft’, what ultimately became that. So you see this long history of not only the United States, but Israel utilizing terrorism that includes potentially the death of its own tribe to advance its own geopolitical cause all the way up into the 21st century, including September 11th and that whole mess that I would tell people to look at Alan Sabrosky, the Jewish, courageous Marine who’s exposed the Zionist role in that. So I would ask you, at what point does the Jewish diaspora – do we have to have the ethical courage – I’m a Jewish American – to point out that especially in America, both the countries that operate in our name have used terrorism way too long, including against its own citizens, to project power at home and abroad. When are we going to stand up and be ethical Jews and Americans?

Dennis Ross:
Well, look, I don’t think that as a matter of policy, that the United States or Israel engage in acts of terror. Terror is you target deliberately civilians for an expressed political purpose. The idea that Israel had something to do with 9/11 is just outrageous – they had nothing to do with it. [Applause]
Jeremy Rothe-Kushel:
Tell that to the Marine. Tell that to the Marine, Alan Sabrosky.

Look him up, Jewish American Marine.

Dennis Ross:
You know what? You can make up whatever you want to.

Jeremy Rothe-Kushel:
I didn’t make that up.

Dennis Ross:
Well, I’m a big believer – as Patrick– Daniel Patrick Moynihan used to say, everybody’s entitled to their own opinions; they’re just not entitled to their own facts. [Applause]

Greg McCarron:
Take your own advice Dennis.

Jeremy Rothe-Kushel:
True—–, Go look at September —- [–mic being cut in and out] …. [off mic] free fall speed

[At this time, while at the microphone beginning to respond to Dennis Ross, Rothe-Kushel’s upper left arm was grabbed with force, with no apparent warning, from behind by the head of the Jewish Community Foundation’s private security detail, and pushed away from the microphone and towards another, currently unidentified, member of security.]

Jeremy Rothe-Kushel: Do not touch me!
Get your hands off me right now!
[Multiple people are grabbing Rothe-Kushel at this point]
You can ask me to leave.
I will leave if asked.
Get your hands off me!

Greg McCarron:
Hey! He has a right to talk without being–

Patron sitting next to Greg:
No he had a right to ask the question and he asked the question.

Greg McCarron:
They don’t have to be putting their hands on him like that!

Jeremy Rothe-Kushel:
Get your hands off me.
I will leave if asked.
Get your hands off of me.
I will ask if leaved–

[At this time, Dennis Ross begins to move on to the next question, by stating the following:]

Dennis Ross:
Okay, you know what? I will accept the question and we can ignore that.

Jeremy Rothe-Kushel:
I will leave.
Get your hands off of me!
I didn’t threaten anybody.

Security Guard:
Right now you’re disturbing-

Greg McCarron:
It’s all on video.

Unknown: You get out.

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40 Years After CIA Terrorist Bombs Cuba Plane, Still No Justice

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Protesters demand extradition of Luis Posada Carriles.

By Teresa Gutierrez 

Forty years ago, on October 6, 1976, Cubana Flight 455 on its way from Barbados to Jamaica was bombed shortly after takeoff, killing 73 people, including the national fencing team of Cuba.

In what was immediately seen as a terrorist act, most in the international community joined Cuba in denouncing the horrific act.

In 2011, declassified CIA documents showed that one of the key figures in this terrorist attack was Luis Posada Carriles, a right-wing Cuban who had fled the island after the Cuban Revolution of 1959.

The documents revealed that it was Posada Carriles, now 88, who had planned the 1976 bombing. He had already gained experience terrorizing the Cuban people as a participant in the failed CIA-orchestrated Bay of Pigs assault in 1961.

Peter Kornbluh, author of the book, “Back Channel to Cuba,” and a former researcher at the National Security Archive of George Washington University, said in 2011 that the declassified documents “again brings up the issue of how an international terrorist like Luis Posada Carriles can live happily ever after in Miami.”

This point demonstrates that the Oct. 6 anniversary should not only be remembered, it should be reflected upon.

The 1976 attack highlights U.S. imperialism’s decades-long war of sabotage against the Cuban Revolution. Despite a thawing in U.S.-Cuba relations, this war has not subsided.

A free man, Posada Carriles moved to Venezuela in the early 80’s where he was eventually jailed for his acts of terror against Cuba. But he escaped in 1985 and resumed plotting against Cuba and its leader, Fidel Castro.

In this period, he was also instrumental in plotting against the revolutionary government of the Sandinista National Liberation Front in Nicaragua, working as a coordinator for the contras who were fighting a war backed by the U.S. government.

Posada Carriles bragged to the New York Times in 1998 that he had been responsible for the 1997 hotel bombings targeting Cuba’s tourist industry that killed an Italian tourist, saying the man just happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time. Posada Carriles later recanted his story.

The New York Times wrote in 1998, “Mr. Posada was schooled in demolition and guerrilla warfare by the Central Intelligence Agency in the 1960s. In a series of tape-recorded interviews … Posada said the hotel bombings and other operations had been supported by leaders of the Cuban-American National Foundation. Its founder and head, Jorge Mas Canosa … was embraced at the White House by Presidents Reagan, Bush and Clinton.”

The CANF recieved millions of dollars of U.S. tax-payer money to carry out its dirty war against Cuba for decades, according to declassified documents.

Posada Carriles was again arrested in 2000 for possession of explosives in Panama and charged with plotting to assassinate the Cuban leader at the Peoples’ Summit taking place at the University of Panama. Soon after he went into hiding.

When Posada Carriles resurfaced in Miami in 2005, the U.S. government refused to extradite him to Cuba or Venezuela to face judicial proceedings for his crimes.

In early 2011, Posada Carriles was finally put on trial in El Paso, Texas—not for his many terrorist acts—but for immigration fraud and obstruction of a proceeding.

He was charged with lying to an immigration judge about his involvement in the 1997 bombings and about how he entered the U.S. in 2005.

U.S. prosecutors presented evidence that Posada Carriles played a major role in carrying out bombings in Cuba. Many expected convictions on at least some of these charges but the jury dumbfounded prosecutors with a complete acquittal.

Ricardo Alarcon, a long-time Cuban leader and at the time, the president of the national assembly, told AP, “The stupid and shameful farce is over.”

Venezuela’s government also denounced the trial as “theater,” saying Washington continued to harbor a mass murderer.

Alarcon had intimate and deep knowledge of the farce that is the U.S. judicial system. He had been a leading advocate of the Cuban Five and a principle strategist for their freedom.

The Cuban Five were Gerardo Hernandez, Ramon Labañino, Antonio Guerrero, Fernando Gonzalez and Rene Gonzalez. They were arrested by the U.S. government in Miami in 1998 and falsely accused of committing espionage conspiracy against the U.S. and other related charges.

They were convicted in a federal court in 2001 and spent over 15 years in jail, labeled by the U.S. government and media as terrorists.

But the Five were in fact counter-terrorists, heroes who were willing to sacrifice their lives, leave their beloved families and homeland to protect Cuba from U.S. aggression. They worked to stop terror and aimed to defend Cuba from the kind of aggression Posada Carriles and his CIA cohorts carried out.

The Five reflect a spirit of justice and peace and to this day—having returned to their beloved country—continue to inspire all those who yearn for a better world.

As long as the likes of Posada Carriles are free to walk the streets of Florida, Cuba must do everything it can to defend itself from U.S. terror.

As long as the U.S. continues to occupy Guantanamo, the Cuban Revolution must be ready to defend itself, despite President Barack Obama’s dubious declarations.

A Salon magazine article in 2008 raised this question: “The coddled ‘terrorists’ of South Florida: Anti-Castro Cuban exiles who have been linked to bombings and assassinations are living free in Miami. Does the U.S. government have a double standard when it comes to terror?”

The answer is yes—a thousand times yes.

Posted in USA, South AmericaComments Off on 40 Years After CIA Terrorist Bombs Cuba Plane, Still No Justice

J’Accuse – French Condemnations of Russia in Syria Beyond Cynical

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AppleMark

By Finian CUNNINGHAM | Strategic Culture Foundation 

French Foreign Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault worked up his frequent-flyer air miles account this week with consecutive flights to Moscow then to Washington in a bid to push through a UN Security Resolution for a new ceasefire in Syria.

Ayrault began his shuttle diplomacy with stern condemnation of the Syrian government for what he said were «war crimes» committed in the besieged city of Aleppo. The French minister also implied Russian complicity in the same alleged crimes. It wasn’t the first time he made such accusations against Russia and its Syrian ally.

When the ceasefire brokered by US Secretary of State John Kerry and Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov broke down at the end of last month, it was Ayrault who led vociferous denunciations at the UN, along with American UN ambassador Samantha Power, blaming Russia for «barbarous crimes against humanity».

This week on his way to Moscow, Ayrault accused Russia of «cynicism that is fooling nobody» in reference to the renewed Russian-backed offensive by Syrian state forces to recapture the militant-held eastern quarter of Aleppo. That part of the city housing about 250,000 people has been under the control of various Islamist militants dominated by the terrorist group Al Nusra Front since 2012.

France, the US and Britain, amplified by the Western news media, have been conducting a relentless campaign to portray the Russian-backed Syrian operation on Aleppo as criminal and brutally injurious to the civilian population. Since the ceasefire collapsed during the last week of September, the Western media have been saturated with unverified claims of Russian air strikes killing civilians in eastern Aleppo and of targeting hospitals and humanitarian aid facilities.

France 24, the state-owned broadcaster of Ayrault’s country, never gives any reports from the Syrian government-held quarters of Aleppo where the majority of citizens – some 1.5 million – are residing. These areas are routinely shelled by the militants, with hundreds of victims over the past few weeks. Yet, France 24 and the other Western media outlets appear to operate on the basis that the majority of Aleppo’s population simply does not exist.

Nor do the Western media report that the majority of Aleppo’s civilians are willingly residing in the government-held districts out of seeking protection from the Islamist militants. Moreover, neither is it reported that the mainstay of the 250,000 civilians in eastern Aleppo are being held there against their will by the militants as hostages, or human shields. They can’t flee out of fear that remaining family relatives will be murdered in retribution.

The evidently selective humanitarian concern expressed by the French foreign minister and his Western counterparts for the people of Aleppo begins to alert one of a more nuanced – dare we say cynical – agenda.

Claims of Russian and Syrian «war crimes» made by Ayrault and other Western officials are based on «rebel sources» within besieged eastern Aleppo. One of the primary sources is the so-called «volunteer aid» group known as the White Helmets. Video footage purporting to show the aftermath of Russian air strikes is routinely aired by France 24 and other Western channels with the White Helmets logo displayed. It is presented as a bona fide humanitarian agency, when it fact the group is funded by US and British governments to the tune of $23 million and is embedded with the Al Nusra terrorist-controlled Aleppo Media Center. In short, a terrorist propaganda outlet, which serves to feed Western media and government ministers with disinformation that is purveyed to the Western public in order to discredit and demonize Syria and Russian forces.

French diplomats told Reuters this week that France is drafting its proposed resolution to the UN Security Council in such a way that Russia would have to exercise its veto if it is to block it. In that way, the French purpose is to project Russia as an unreasonable member of the Security Council and a stalwart backer of the Syrian «regime». This amounts to more cynical Western attempts to traduce Russia and Syria as the perpetrators for the ongoing violence.

Russia is unlikely to support the French-sponsored resolution because the resolution is impossibly one-sided and belies a political objective of undermining Syria and Russia. France is calling for an immediate cessation of fighting in Aleppo, including no military flights over the city; and, secondly, for the complete humanitarian aid access to eastern Aleppo.

This French initiative – under the guise of urgent humanitarianism – is a de facto «no fly zone» that will bolster the fighting capability of the anti-government insurgents, which, as noted, are dominated by al-Qaeda-affiliated terror groups.

When Russia and Syrian forces agreed to the ceasefire declared earlier on September 12, they did so on the strict condition that militants not associating with terrorist brigades would henceforth separate physical units. But no such separation occurred, as many observers had predicted, because Western government claims of «moderate rebels» being interspersed with «extremists» are nothing but a cynical charade. All these militants belong to the same terrorist front which Western governments have been arming in a covert war for regime change against President Bashar al-Assad – a longtime ally of Russia and Iran.

The only parties to respect the ceasefire called by Kerry and Lavrov last month were the Syrian army and its allies among the Iranian and Hezbollah militias, as well as the Russian air force. The foreign-backed militants continued to carry out hundreds of breaches of the truce, while also using the initial reduction of operations by the Syrian and Russian forces as an opportunity to regroup and rearm.

What French minister Ayrault is calling for in a renewed ceasefire this week is merely a repeat of the previous one – this time without even a pretense that the terrorists might separate into «moderates» and «extremists».

French and Western anxiety to implement some kind of cessation around Aleppo is correlated with the increasingly desperate, losing situation for the regime-change insurgents. Aleppo is a key battleground. If the Syrian and Russian forces manage to vanquish this bastion for the militants then the six-year war in Syria will be over.

The Western sponsors of the covert war in Syria stand to incur a huge strategic defeat. It should be also noted that 66-year-old Jean-Marc Ayrault was previously French prime minister back in 2012, at the very time that France was beginning to covertly supply weapons to illegally armed groups in Syria – in contravention of a European Union embargo.

This is why Ayrault and his American and British allies are now assiduously piling the political pressure on Russia to desist from its offensive in Syria. The Western sponsors are desperately trying to salvage their proxy assets on the ground and to salvage their criminal regime-change project – using the language and emotion of humanitarian concern and legal niceties.

You can’t get much more cynical than that. Now Monsieur Ayrault, just who is accusing who of what?

Posted in France, SyriaComments Off on J’Accuse – French Condemnations of Russia in Syria Beyond Cynical

UK in arms talks with Zio-Wahhabiregime despite war crimes in Yemen

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The UK’s leading arms maker, BAE Systems, says it is in talks with Saudi Arabia to secure a multi-billion-dollar arms contract, amid outrage over the use of British-made weapons by Riyadh in Yemen.

“Discussions between BAE Systems, the UK government and Saudi Arabia are progressing,” the London-based weapons maker said on Thursday.

BAE Systems also noted that it was working to define the scope of cooperation between the UK and the Arab kingdom over the next five years.

Under the terms of the contract, the multinational aerospace and electronics giant will provide training, support and upgrades for Hawk aircraft the UK has sold to Saudi Arabia. It also hopes to sell 48 Eurofighter Typhoon jets to the Saudis for a reported £4 billion ($4.97bn) under a separate deal.

This is while British lawmakers from a powerful committee said last month that there was evidence that UK-made weapons have been used in Yemen in violation of international humanitarian law.

“The weight of evidence of violations of international humanitarian law by the Saudi-led coalition is now so great, that it is very difficult to continue to support Saudi Arabia,” the Committee on Arms Export Control (CAEC) said.

The committee also raised serious concerns about the UK’s commitment to international law regarding the sale of arms.

CAEC inquiry chair Chris White stressed that the government must now take urgent action in halting the sale of weapons to Saudi Arabia.

UK supports repressive regimes

Meanwhile, the British government was accused on Thursday of sacrificing human rights in order to access oil from repressive regimes in the Persian Gulf region.

Human rights group War on Want said in a report that the UK regards Persian Gulf states as vital partners in securing Britain’s energy interests.

“From the sale of vast quantities of tear gas and other crowd control tools, to the training of sniper units used to put down pro-democracy protests, the UK government, working closely with a large number of private companies, are key partners for repressive regimes in the [Persian] Gulf, with devastating consequences for democracy and human rights,” said Dr. Sam Raphael, the report’s author and senior lecturer in international relations at the University of Westminster.

According to the report, Bahrain and Saudi Arabia are among the Persian Gulf countries regarded as priority markets. The two Arab kingdoms have been widely criticized by international advocacy groups for their human rights record.

London has been one of the biggest suppliers of weapons to Riyadh for 40 years.

According to sources, the UK supplied export licenses for close to £3 billion ($3.73bn) worth of arms to Saudi Arabia in 2015. The British government has also been accused of being involved in guiding the Saudi military aggression in Yemen.

Since the beginning of the Saudi war against Yemen in March of last year, nearly 10,000 people, including over 2,000 children, have been killed.

Posted in Saudi Arabia, UKComments Off on UK in arms talks with Zio-Wahhabiregime despite war crimes in Yemen

What’s Behind Time Magazine’s Putin Demonizing?

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By David Swanson 

“Russia Wants to Undermine Faith in the U.S. Election. Don’t Fall For It.” Thus reads the cover of Time magazine with a photo of Vladimir Putin on the cover staring at me from shelves as I sit in an airport.  Genuinely curious, I check out Massimo Calabresis article online.

Of course, U.S. elections are almost completely unverifiable and do not even pretend to meet international standards. Jimmy Carter doesn’t even try to monitor them because there’s no way to do it. Much voting is done on machines that simply must be trusted on faith. Whether they accurately count the votes entered is simply unknowable, and reason to wonder is fueled by the machines’ frequently changing a vote visibly just as it’s cast, and by the ease with which people have been able to hack the machines. Never mind all the problems with registration, intimidation, inconvenience, discrimination, etc.

We should undermine our own faith in the U.S. election system. I’d include in that the financial corruption, gerrymandering, etc., but here I’m just referring to the counting of votes. Then we should repair it! Is Russia helpfully pointing out the problem to us? Not that I’ve seen. But the Russia-did-it stories that were used to bury the DNC-rigged-its-primary stories rather shockingly blurted out in major corporate U.S. media what I’ve just been saying. For a while it seemed acceptable to be aware that U.S. elections are faith-based as long as it helps build up hostility with Russia. Now, however, we’re being told of our duty to remain firm in our faith. Timesays:

“The leaders of the U.S. government, including the President and his top national-security advisers, face an unprecedented dilemma. Since the spring, U.S. intelligence and law-enforcement agencies have seen mounting evidence of an active Russian influence operation targeting the 2016 presidential election.”

Why the “top national-security advisers”? That’s a euphemism for war counselors. How do they come into this? And where is the evidence, mounting or otherwise?

“It is very unlikely the Russians could sway the actual vote count, because our election infrastructure is decentralized and voting machines are not accessible from the Internet.”

Of the 50 states into which the vote counting is “decentralized” there are only a handful the U.S. media will pay much attention to. Those “swing states” are the ones a hacker would hack. And here’s an interesting Washington Post article I recommend to the editors of Time: More than 30 states offer online voting, but experts warn it isn’t secure.”

“But they can sow disruption and instability up to, and on, Election Day, more than a dozen senior U.S. officials tellTIME, undermining faith in the result and in democracy itself.”

Democracy itself? Egad! Those commies must be against democracy. Perhaps they even hate capitalism! How many of those senior officials have names? Is “senior” in this case a polite way of saying “extremely elderly”? Come on! Nobody has faith in U.S. democracy. That’s undermined every day by the U.S. government, as Time’s own pollsters are perfectly aware. Most U.S. residents believe their government is broken, and they’re perfectly right. Russia’s government could use a lot of improvements too. But only one of the two is building missile bases and engaging in military “exercises” on the other one’s border.

“The question, debated at multiple meetings at the White House, is how aggressively to respond to the Russian operation. Publicly naming and shaming the Russians and describing what the intelligence community knows about their activities would help Americans understand and respond prudently to any disruptions that might take place between now and the close of the polls.”

Gee, there’s an idea. If only there were a journalist in the building!

“Senior Justice Department officials have argued in favor of calling out the Russians, and that position has been echoed forcefully outside of government by lawmakers and former top national-security officials from both political parties.”

Wait, don’t tell me, are these the same guys who sincerely wanted to tell us where the Weapons of Mass Destruction were in Iraq?

“Unfortunately, it’s not that simple. The President and several of his closest national-security advisers are concerned about the danger of a confrontation in the new and ungoverned world of cyberspace, and they argue that while the U.S. has powerful offensive and defensive capabilities there, an escalating confrontation carries significant risks.”

That’s right! Hey, they know best. Accusing Russia without any evidence shouldn’t offend anybody. The Russian government should be grateful. But presenting evidence and seeking to uphold the law, truth, and perhaps even reconciliation? Only reckless subversives would suggest such lunacy!

“National Security Council officials warn that our critical infrastructure–including the electricity grid, transportation sector and energy networks–is vulnerable to first strikes; others say attacks on private companies, stock exchanges and the media could affect the economy.”

Is there some nation whose infrastructure is not vulnerable to first strikes? Is the blurring of computer hacking and bomb dropping even conscious anymore?

“Senior intelligence officials even worry about Russia exposing U.S. espionage operations in retaliation.”

Well, if Russia can expose them, exactly what purpose are they currently serving? And what of any of this has Russia actually threatened? If I “worry about” Henry Kissinger streaking Fifth Avenue will Time run that story?

“And while U.S. officials have ‘high confidence’ that Russia is behind what they describe as a major influence operation, senior U.S. officials tell TIME, their evidence would not yet stand up in court.”

Mid-article, you’ll notice, we’ve dropped from the statement of fact on the cover of a magazine displayed everywhere in a nation of people who hardly read, to a statement of possibility.

“And so with five weeks to go, the White House is, for now, letting events unfold. On one side, U.S. law-enforcement agencies are scrambling to uncover the extent of the Russian operation, counter it and harden the country’s election infrastructure. On the other, a murky network of Russian hackers and their associates is stepping up the pace of leaks of stolen documents designed to affect public opinion and give the impression that the election is vulnerable, including emails from the computers of the Democratic National Committee (DNC).”

Not those emails that added so authoritatively to our knowledge that the DNC had rigged its own primary? Not those emails? Surely if it were those emails you’d mention their contents, not just an evidence-free claim as to who leaked them?

“Meanwhile, the FBI alerted all 50 states to the danger in mid-August, and the states have delivered evidence of a ‘significant’ number of new intrusions into their election systems that the bureau and their colleagues at the Department of Homeland Security ‘are still trying to understand,’ a department official tells TIME.”

Wait, I thought it was all offline and decentralized? Are all these intrusions harmless because they might be by non-Russians? Or is it only in the scenario in which they are acts of the Russian government that we should pay no attention to the uselessness of the lousy vote-counting machines? Or should we just not worry in either case, even while really really — you know — worrying?

“All of which makes Donald Trump’s repeated insertion of himself into the U.S.-Russia story all the more startling. Trump has praised Putin during the campaign, and at the first presidential debate, on Sept. 26, he said it wasn’t clear the Russians were behind the DNC hack.”

Time said the same thing three paragraphs back. Perhaps the real sin here is praising Putin, eh? But Trump is praising Putin for violating people’s rights, not for being a designated enemy of Time magazine and the government for which it serves as a stenographer.

“But the U.S. intelligence community has ‘high confidence’ that Russian intelligence services were in fact responsible, multiple intelligence and national security officials tell TIME.”

That’s impressive. How many of them have names?

“Trump was informed of that assessment during a recent classified intelligence briefing, a U.S. official familiar with the matter tells TIME. ‘I do not comment on information I receive in intelligence briefings, however, nobody knows with definitive certainty that this was in fact Russia,’ Trump told TIME in a statement. ‘It may be, but it may also be China, another country or individual.’”

Is that not indisputably accurate?

“Russia’s interference in the U.S. election is an extraordinary escalation of an already worrying trend.”

Whether or not it exists?

“Over the past 2½ years, Russia has executed a westward march of election meddling through cyberspace, starting in the states of the former Soviet Union and moving toward the North Atlantic.”

Freud. Sigmund. Paging a Doctor Freud, Sigmund. NATO has in fact literally marched in the path of Nazis right to the border of Russia with new members, new troops, new weapons, new nukes, new missile bases, new threats, and new lies — plus a violent coup in Ukraine. But it’s a march of alleged election meddling that should scare us, despite the United States government’s blatant election meddling (and support for coups) in nations all over the world, including Ukraine, Brazil, Honduras, Nicaragua, Venezuela, etc.

“‘On a regular basis they try to influence elections in Europe,’ President Obama told NBC News on July 26. With Russia establishing beachheads in the U.S. at least since April, officials worry that in the final weeks of the campaign the Russian cybercapability could be used to fiddle with voter rolls, election-reporting systems and the media, resulting in confusion that could cast a shadow over both the next President and the democratic process.”

Despite the offline decentralized security?

And the media too? How would Russia hack the media exactly?

“Obama’s decision not to call out the Russian espionage operation has so far left the effort to educate Americans about it to lawmakers and national-security experts. On Sept. 22, the ranking Democrats on the Senate and House Intelligence Committees, California’s Senator Dianne Feinstein and Representative Adam Schiff, released an unusually blunt statement. ‘Based on briefings we have received, we have concluded that the Russian intelligence agencies are making a serious and concerted effort to influence the U.S. election,’ they said. ‘At the least, this effort is intended to sow doubt about the security of our election.”

That’s like saying ‘We’ve been briefed on the WMDs in Iraq and at the very least there is an effort to scare the heck out of you. Of course we and Time magazine are central to this effort, but try to focus on the alleged role of Iraq.’

“Orders for Russian intelligence agencies to conduct electoral-influence operations, they added, could come only from very senior levels of government. ‘We call on [Russian] President [Vladimir] Putin to immediately order a halt to this activity.’ The statement, though not endorsed publicly by the Administration, was cleared with the CIA. To understand why Putin would want to undercut the legitimacy of the U.S. election, it helps to step back from the long and ugly presidential campaign and remember why we’re voting in the first place. Elections are the ultimate source of authority in our democracy. Because Republicans and Democrats have agreed for decades that spreading democracy is good for everyone, America has pushed for free and fair elections around the world.”

Really? Are we all agreed on “pushing” for the “spread of democracy”? Who has more of it, do you think, Russia, the United States, or any of the seven nations the United States has bombed and “liberated” in recent years?

“And many nations have embraced them: peasants in the Balkans put on their Sunday best to go to the polls, and burqa-clad women in Afghanistan brave terrorist attacks to stand in line for hours to cast their ballots.”

Well that proves it. Better bomb some more places!

“Not surprisingly, quasi-authoritarian rulers in the former Soviet Union, latter-day communists in China and medieval theocrats in the Middle East, among many others, see America’s sometimes aggressive evangelism about the benefits of liberal democracy as a direct threat to their own claims to authority.”

The UN Charter also has that odd view, choosing to see aggressive wars as criminal.

“Putin has taken particular umbrage, accusing the U.S.–and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in particular–of meddling in Russia’s presidential election in 2012. He has publicly questioned the validity of past U.S. presidential elections, saying, on June 17, of the Electoral College, ‘You call that democracy?’”

Do you?

“Now, experts say, Putin is expanding his anti-American campaign into cyberspace. ‘More than any attempt to get one candidate or another elected, this [Russian influence operation] is about discrediting the entire idea of a free and fair election,’ says Dmitri Alperovitch, co-founder and chief technology officer of CrowdStrike, the cybersecurity company that did the analysis of the DNC hack.”

Wow, congratulations on naming names. Dmitri must be a special person to get his name into Time magazine.

“No one knows that better than Arizona secretary of state Michele Reagan. One day in June she was in her backyard in Phoenix when she got a call from her chief of staff. ‘Are you sitting down?’ he asked. The FBI had been monitoring a corner of the so-called dark web, the network of hidden sites used by criminals to buy and sell drugs, pedophilic pornography and stolen identities. A group of hackers known collectively as Fancy Bear, which the U.S. government believes is controlled by Russian military intelligence, was trying to sell a user name and password that belonged to someone in an Arizona county election official’s office, which holds the personal data of almost 4 million people. ‘My first reaction was, Well, this is like the worst thing that you want to hear,’ Reagan recalls.”

All I can say is it’s a darn good thing everything is offline and decentralized.

“Reagan and the FBI scrambled to figure out how the Russians had gotten into Arizona’s system and what needed to be done to secure it. It turned out that an election official in rural Gila County, pop. 54,000, had opened a Word document on her desktop computer that contained malicious software. Fortunately, while Fancy Bear had penetrated a local computer system, it hadn’t accessed the statewide registration database. Others weren’t so lucky. Fancy Bear’s electronic fingerprints were found on the hack into the DNC computers. In Illinois, the feds found that Fancy Bear had stolen 85,000 voter records from that state’s registration systems in mid-July. Later that month, the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC) revealed that it, too, had been hacked by Fancy Bear.”

Well he or she or they are called “Bear.” I can’t see why that wouldn’t be enough to convict Russia in a court of law.

“With other states now reporting intrusions of unknown origin, the government wants to reassure the public that the vote count itself is safe. ‘We have confidence in the overall integrity of our electoral systems,’ Homeland Security chief Jeh Johnson said on Sept. 16. ‘It is diverse, subject to local control, and has many checks and balances built in.’ Each of the U.S.’s more than 9,000 polling places uses machines not connected to the Internet, precincts count and report their results independently, and most have paper or electronic backups in case a recount is needed.”

Oh OK, then I’ll stop worrying. Never mind, after all, Vladimir.

“The Administration has a message for Russia too.”

Oh no. Wait. What?

“The U.S. has privately warned that any effort to sway the election would be unacceptable, intelligence and other Administration officials tell TIME. Secretary of State John Kerry delivered the message to his counterpart, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, in Laos on July 27. During a 90-minute meeting with Putin on the sidelines of the G-20 meeting on Sept. 6, Obama pulled Putin aside and discussed the cyberconcerns one-on-one, with no aides present, a White House official tells TIME. In a press conference later, the President called for restraint on all sides in the use of cyberweapons and issued a veiled threat about America’s cyberpowers. ‘Frankly, we’ve got more capacity than anybody both offensively and defensively,’ Obama said.”

Because offensive attacks by the United States are good things, you see. (Some people might get confused without that explanation.)

“Putin’s history of using influence operations against opponents begins, appropriately enough, with himself. As he was rising quickly through the Kremlin ranks in 1999, one of his main opponents, Prosecutor General Yuri Skuratov, was caught on tape having sex with two women in a hotel room in what Skuratov later claimed was a Putin-run espionage operation traditionally known as a ‘honey trap.’ Putin, who had risen from a Soviet-era KGB operative to head the country’s intelligence services, denied he was behind it but said on TV that his agents had confirmed that the man in the grainy video was Skuratov. Putin went on to win the presidency the next year. Skuratov, who ran against him, got less than 1% of the popular vote.”

That seems like good grounds to me for risking nuclear apocalypse. Please proceed.

“With the expansion of the Internet in the decade that followed, the Russians adopted cyberweapons as a standard tool of political meddling. Nowhere has their tactic of spreading chaos around a vote been clearer than in Ukraine, where three days before the presidential election on May 25, 2014, the computer systems of the Central Electoral Commission went dark. ‘The servers wouldn’t turn on. The links to the local election authorities were cut off,’ says Victor Zhora, director of the cybersecurity firm Infosafe, which had been hired to defend the system. ‘Literally, nothing worked.’”

Only the Russians could have done something so devious to put in place a new anti-Russian government that immediately began efforts to restrict the use of the Russian language, and which put into power actual Nazis.

Read the rest at Time magazine if you can stand it.

Posted in RussiaComments Off on What’s Behind Time Magazine’s Putin Demonizing?

On Assad and Syria: a Reply to a Reader

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By Diana Johnstone | CounterPunch 

A reader sent me the following short comment on my article about destroying Syria:

“Not a word about Assad’s crimes or Russia bombing civilians?”

Here is my reply to such objections:

Dear …

If you are in need of words about Assad’s crimes or Russia bombing civilians, just look around you. They are everywhere.

First of all, I am not concerned with displaying my disapproval of crimes or of bombing civilians, something that should be taken for granted. I am concerned with avoiding World War III – or even endless war in Syria.

As David Swanson insists, war is a crime. Once you are into a war, and especially a civil war with massive outside intervention, there are bound to be more and more crimes. But by the way, how are you so sure about Assad’s crimes or Russia bombing civilians? Surely you must realize that our media regard them as the enemy and readily believe every version of events that portrays them as villains. An example of obvious exaggeration is official U.S. insistence that Russia deliberately bombs hospitals, etc., where if we do it, it is of course an accident.

I am suspicious of all reports of crimes, knowing how much this war is a propaganda war and how easy it is to misrepresent events in other countries. But measuring how many crimes are committed by whom does not get to the root of the problem. The root of the problem, as I say in my article, is a longstanding ambition by the United States and its allies to replace the Syrian Arab nationalist state with an obedient pro-Western clique, friendly to Israel. Since that seems out of reach at the present, the strategy is simply to keep the war going as long as possible, deepening the chaos, until nobody much is left except the exiles in London being groomed by Western powers to win rigged elections.

By dragging out the war, more and more children will die, as well as adults, whose lives are also worth something. But it is interesting that humanitarian propaganda focuses only on children, as if realizing that most Westerners are totally indifferent to the massive deaths of Arabs – unless they are toddlers. Or kittens.

Best wishes,

Diana Johnstone

Posted in SyriaComments Off on On Assad and Syria: a Reply to a Reader

Yahoo helped government with ‘unprecedented, unconstitutional’ email surveillance program

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PrivacySOS

Big news dropped yesterday in Reuters : In 2015, the US government asked Yahoo to scan all incoming email looking for certain, unknown characters in emails or attachments; unfortunately, Yahoo agreed to do it—without putting up a fight. The demand came in the form of a classified “edict,” as Reuters describes it, to Yahoo’s legal department.

Reuters reports:

According to two of the former employees, Yahoo Chief Executive Marissa Mayer’s decision to obey the directive roiled some senior executives and led to the June 2015 departure of Chief Information Security Officer Alex Stamos, who now holds the top security job at Facebook Inc.

Mayer and other executives ultimately decided to comply with the directive last year rather than fight it, in part because they thought they would lose, said the people familiar with the matter.

Yahoo in 2007 had fought a FISA demand that it conduct searches on specific email accounts without a court-approved warrant. Details of the case remain sealed, but a partially redacted published opinion showed Yahoo’s challenge was unsuccessful.

Some Yahoo employees were upset about the decision not to contest the more recent edict and thought the company could have prevailed, the sources said.

They were also upset that Mayer and Yahoo General Counsel Ron Bell did not involve the company’s security team in the process, instead asking Yahoo’s email engineers to write a program to siphon off messages containing the character string the spies sought and store them for remote retrieval, according to the sources.

The sources said the program was discovered by Yahoo’s security team in May 2015, within weeks of its installation. The security team initially thought hackers had broken in.

When Stamos found out that Mayer had authorized the program, he resigned as chief information security officer and told his subordinates that he had been left out of a decision that hurt users’ security, the sources said. Due to a programming flaw, he told them hackers could have accessed the stored emails.

In statements to reporters, other major technology companies denied participating in similar surveillance programs at the behest of the US government. Google released a statement categorically denying any such relationship: “We’ve never received such a request, but if we did, our response would be simple: ‘No way.’” Microsoft, which declined to comment on whether it had received a similar request from the government, issued a carefully phrased denial: “We have never engaged in the secret scanning of email trafficlike what has been reported today about Yahoo” [emphasis mine]. Apple, meanwhile, was explicit: “We have never received a request of this type. If we were to receive one, we would oppose it in court.” Facebook and Twitter both also said they’d never received such demands, and would fight them if they did.

It’s not clear what legal authority the government thinks gives it the right to make such demands. But we have a good lead, from Senator Ron Wyden, a privacy stalwart who has access to classified intelligence information because of his position on the Senate Intelligence Committee. Wyden, who has made a habit of dropping public hints about what’s really going on in the spy world, responded to the story with this statement:

It is a fact that collection under Section 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act has a significant impact on Americans’ privacy. It is public record that this expansive surveillance program is the basis for warrantless searches of Americans’ emails, and that the government has never even counted how many. The NSA has said that it only targets individuals under Section 702 by searching for email addresses and similar identifiers. If that has changed, the executive branch has an obligation to notify the public.

Here’s how I interpret that statement, following the Wyden code: The NSA has been lying to the American public, again, about its domestic surveillance activities. The NSA said it only targets certain people under 702 authorities, but in fact, as the Yahoo story shows, it is searching through everyone’s emails. The NSA ought to be straight with the public about that activity. (Reminder: the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act Amendments Act (FAA for short) of 2008, the law that contains Section 702, put congress’ stamp of approval on the controversial, widely criticized Bush administration warrantless wiretapping program, disclosed by New York Times reporter James Risen in 2005. The ACLU tried to challenge the constitutionality of Section 702 but was stymied when the Supreme Court held the organization’s clients—human rights attorneys among them—lacked standing to bring the lawsuit.)

ACLU attorney Patrick Toomey called the reported program “unprecedented and unconstitutional”:

The government appears to have compelled Yahoo to conduct precisely the type of general, suspicionless search that the Fourth Amendment was intended to prohibit. It is deeply disappointing that Yahoo declined to challenge this sweeping surveillance order, because customers are counting on technology companies to stand up to novel spying demands in court. If this surveillance was conducted under Section 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, this story reinforces the urgent need for Congress to reform the law to prevent dragnet surveillance and require increased transparency.

Back in 2013 when we learned, through Edward Snowden’s leaks, about the NSA and FBI’s vast PRISM surveillance partnership with the major technology companies, Yahoo had this to say: “The notion that Yahoo! gives any federal agency vast or unfettered access to our users’ records is categorically false.” The company’s spokesman later clarified to say that it only hands over to the government the private information of an “infinitesimal percentage” of its users.

The program disclosed yesterday appears to differ from PRISM in at least two core respects: First, the email scanning surveillance is achieved through a special program Yahoo email engineers reportedly wrote on the government’s behalf. Second, the recently disclosed program deals with ‘live’ data, whereas PRISM granted the NSA and FBI access to information stored on company servers, not information in transit.

Over the next couple of days, you will likely hear surveillance state defenders talk about how we need to give the intelligence agencies access to “the whole haystack” if we want them to stop terrorist attacks. But mass surveillance doesn’t stop terrorism; it never once has.

Meanwhile, yet another NSA contractor working for Booz Allen Hamilton has been accused of stealing government secrets.

Posted in USAComments Off on Yahoo helped government with ‘unprecedented, unconstitutional’ email surveillance program


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