Archive | September 14th, 2017

Reagan Documents Shed Light on U.S. ‘Meddling’

NOVANEWS

“Secret” documents from the Reagan administration show how the U.S. embedded “political action,” i.e., the manipulation of foreign governments, in ostensibly well-meaning organizations, reports Robert Parry.

“Secret” documents, recently declassified by the Reagan presidential library, reveal senior White House officials reengaging a former CIA “proprietary,” The Asia Foundation, in “political action,” an intelligence term of art for influencing the actions of foreign governments.

The documents from 1982 came at a turning-point moment when the Reagan administration was revamping how the U.S. government endeavored to manipulate the internal affairs of governments around the world in the wake of scandals in the 1960s and 1970s involving the Central Intelligence Agency’s global covert operations.

Instead of continuing to rely heavily on the CIA, President Reagan and his national security team began offloading many of those “political action” responsibilities to “non-governmental organizations” (NGOs) that operated in a more overt fashion and received funding from other U.S. government agencies.

Partially obscured by President Reagan, Walter Raymond Jr. was the CIA propaganda and disinformation specialist who oversaw “political action” and “psychological operations” projects at the National Security Council in the 1980s. Raymond is seated next to National Security Adviser John Poindexter. (Photo credit: Reagan presidential library)

But secrecy was still required for the involvement of these NGOs in the U.S. government’s strategies to bend the political will of targeted countries. If the “political action” of these NGOs were known, many countries would object to their presence; thus, the “secret” classification of the 1982 White House memos that I recently obtained via a “mandatory declassification review” from the archivists at the Reagan presidential library in Simi Valley, California.

In intelligence circles, “political action” refers to a wide range of activities to influence the policies and behaviors of foreign nations, from slanting their media coverage, to organizing and training opposition activists, even to setting the stage for “regime change.”

The newly declassified memos from the latter half of 1982 marked an ad hoc period of transition between the CIA scandals, which peaked in the 1970s, and the creation of more permanent institutions to carry out these semi-secretive functions, particularly the National Endowment for Democracy (NED), which was created in 1983.

Much of this effort was overseen by a senior CIA official, Walter Raymond Jr., who was moved to Reagan’s National Security Council’s staff where he managed a number of interagency task forces focused on “public diplomacy,” “psychological operations,” and “political action.”

Raymond, who had held top jobs in the CIA’s covert operations shop specializing in propaganda and disinformation, worked from the shadows inside Reagan’s White House, too. Raymond was rarely photographed although his portfolio of responsibilities was expansive. He brought into his orbit emerging “stars,” including Lt. Col. Oliver North (a central figure in the Iran-Contra scandal), State Department propagandist (and now a leading neocon) Robert Kagan, and NED President Carl Gershman (who still heads NED with its $100 million budget).

Despite his camera avoidance, Raymond appears to have grasped his true importance. In his NSC files, I found a doodle of an organizational chart that had Raymond at the top holding what looks like the crossed handles used by puppeteers to control the puppets below them. The drawing fit the reality of Raymond as the behind-the-curtains operative who controlled various high-powered inter-agency task forces.

Earlier declassified documents revealed that Raymond also was the conduit between CIA Director William J. Casey and these so-called “pro-democracy” programs that used sophisticated propaganda strategies to influence not only the thinking of foreign populations but the American people, too.

This history is relevant again now amid the hysteria over alleged Russian “meddling” in last year’s U.S. presidential elections. If those allegations are true – and the U.S. government has still not presented any real proof  – the Russian motive would have been, in part, payback for Washington’s long history of playing games with the internal politics of Russia and other countries all across the planet.

A Fight for Money

The newly released memos describe bureaucratic discussions about funding levels for The Asia Foundation (TAF), with the only sensitive topic, to justify the “secret” stamp, being the reference to the U.S. government’s intent to exploit TAF’s programs for “political action” operations inside Asian countries.

Indeed, the opportunity for “political action” under TAF’s cover appeared to be the reason why Reagan’s budget cutters relented and agreed to restore funding to the foundation.

Then-Vice President George H.W. Bush with CIA Director William Casey at the White House on Feb. 11, 1981. (Photo credit: Reagan Library)

William Schneider Jr. of the Office of Management and Budget wrote in a Sept. 2, 1982 memo that the Budget Review Board (BRB) had axed TAF funding earlier in the year.

“When the BRB last considered this issue on March 29, 1982, it decided not to include funding in the budget for a U.S. Government grant to TAF. The Board’s decision was based on the judgement that given the limited resources available for international affairs programs, funding for the Foundation could not be justified. During that March 29 meeting, the State Department was given the opportunity to fund TAF within its existing budget, but would not agree to do so.”

However, as Schneider noted in the memo to Deputy National Security Advisor Robert McFarlane, “I now understand that a proposal to continue U.S. funding for the Asia Foundation is included in the ‘political action’ initiatives being developed by the State Department and several other agencies.

“We will, of course, work with you to reconsider the relative priority of support for the Foundation as part of these initiatives keeping in mind, however, the need for identifying budget offsets.”

A prime mover behind this change of heart appeared to be Walter Raymond, who surely knew TAF’s earlier status as a CIA “proprietary.” In 1966, Ramparts magazine exposed that relationship and led the Johnson administration to terminate the CIA’s money.

According to an April 12, 1967 memo from the State Department’s historical archives, CIA Director Richard Helms, responding to a White House recommendation, “ordered that covert funding of The Asia Foundation (TAF) shall be terminated at the earliest practicable opportunity.”

In coordination with the CIA’s “disassociation,” TAF’s board released what the memo described as “a carefully limited statement of admission of past CIA support. In so doing the Trustees sought to delimit the effects of an anticipated exposure of Agency support by the American press and, if their statement or some future expose does not seriously impair TAF’s acceptability in Asia, to continue operating in Asia with overt private and official support.”

The CIA memo envisioned future funding from “overt U.S. Government grants” and requested guidance from the White House’s covert action oversight panel, the 303 Committee, for designation of someone “to whom TAF management should look for future guidance and direction with respect to United States Government interests.”

In 1982, with TAF’s funding again in jeopardy, the CIA’s Walter Raymond rallied to its defense from his NSC post. In an undated memo to McFarlane, Raymond recalled that “the Department of State underscored that TAF had made significant contributions to U.S. foreign policies through fostering democratic institutions and, as a private organization, had accomplished things which a government organization cannot do.” [Emphasis in original]

Raymond’s bureaucratic intervention worked. By late 1982, the Reagan administration had arranged for TAF’s fiscal 1984 funding to go through the U.S. Information Agency (USIA) budget, which was being used to finance a range of President Reagan’s “democracy initiatives.” Raymond spelled out the arrangements in a Dec. 15, 1982 memo to National Security Advisor William Clark.

“The issue has been somewhat beclouded in the working levels at State since we have opted to fund all FY 84 democracy initiatives via the USIA budgetary submission,” Raymond wrote. “At the same time, it is essential State maintain its operational and management role with TAF.”

Over the ensuing three and half decades, TAF has continued to be  subsidized by U.S. and allied governments. According to its annual report for the year ending Sept. 30, 2016, TAF said it “is funded by an annual appropriation from the U.S. Congress, competitively bid awards from governmental and multilateral development agencies, including the U.S. Agency for International Development, Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, United Kingdom’s Department for International Development and by private foundations and corporations,” a sum totaling $94.5 million.

TAF, which operates in 18 Asian countries, describes its purpose as “improving lives across a dynamic and developing Asia.” TAF’s press office had no immediate comment regarding the newly released Reagan-era documents.

Far From Alone

But TAF was far from alone as a private organization that functioned with U.S. government money and collaborated with U.S. officials in achieving Washington’s foreign policy goals.

For instance, other documents from the Reagan library revealed that Freedom House, a prominent human rights organization, sought advice and direction from Casey and Raymond while advertising the group’s need for financial help.

In an Aug. 9, 1982 letter to Raymond, Freedom House executive director Leonard R. Sussman wrote that

“Leo Cherne [another senior Freedom House official] has asked me to send these copies of Freedom Appeals. He has probably told you we have had to cut back this project to meet financial realities. We would, of course, want to expand the project once again when, as and if the funds become available.”

According to the documents, Freedom House remained near the top of Casey’s and Raymond’s thinking when it came to the most effective ways to deliver the CIA’s hardline foreign policy message to the American people and to the international community.

Carl Gershman, president of the National Endowment for Democracy.

On Nov. 4, 1982, Raymond wrote to NSC Advisor Clark about the “Democracy Initiative and Information Programs,” stating that

“Bill Casey asked me to pass on the following thought concerning your meeting with [right-wing billionaire] Dick Scaife, Dave Abshire [then a member of the President’s Foreign Intelligence Advisory Board], and Co.

“Casey had lunch with them today and discussed the need to get moving in the general area of supporting our friends around the world. By this definition he is including both ‘building democracy’ and helping invigorate international media programs. The DCI [Casey] is also concerned about strengthening public information organizations in the United States such as Freedom House.

“A critical piece of the puzzle is a serious effort to raise private funds to generate momentum. Casey’s talk with Scaife and Co. suggests they would be very willing to cooperate. Suggest that you note White House interest in private support for the Democracy initiative.”

In a Jan. 25, 1983 memo, Raymond wrote,

“We will move out immediately in our parallel effort to generate private support” for “public diplomacy” operations.

Then, on May 20, 1983, Raymond recounted in another memo that $400,000 had been raised from private donors brought to the White House Situation Room by USIA Director Charles Wick. According to that memo, the money was divided among several organizations, including Freedom House and Accuracy in Media, a right-wing media attack group.

In an Aug. 9, 1983 memo, Raymond outlined plans to arrange private backing for that effort. He said USIA Director Wick “via [Australian publishing magnate Rupert] Murdock [sic], may be able to draw down added funds” to support pro-Reagan initiatives. Raymond recommended “funding via Freedom House or some other structure that has credibility in the political center.”

Questions of Legality

Raymond remained a CIA officer until April 1983 when he resigned so in his words “there would be no question whatsoever of any contamination of this” propaganda operation to woo the American people into supporting Reagan’s policies.

Raymond fretted, too, about the legality of Casey’s role in the effort to influence U.S. public opinion because of the legal prohibition against the CIA influencing U.S. policies and politics. Raymond confided in one memo that it was important “to get [Casey] out of the loop,” but Casey never backed off and Raymond continued to send progress reports to his old boss well into 1986.

It was “the kind of thing which [Casey] had a broad catholic interest in,” Raymond said during his Iran-Contra deposition in 1987. He then offered the excuse that Casey undertook this apparently illegal interference in domestic affairs “not so much in his CIA hat, but in his adviser to the president hat.”

In 1983, Casey and Raymond focused on creating a permanent funding mechanism to support private organizations that would 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 be a conduit for this money.

But Casey recognized the need to hide the strings being pulled by the CIA. In one undated letter to then-White House counselor Edwin Meese III, Casey urged creation of a “National Endowment,” but added: “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.”

document in Raymond’s files offered examples of what would be funded, including “Grenada — 50 K — To the only organized opposition to the Marxist government of Maurice Bishop (The Seaman and Waterfront Workers Union). A supplemental 50 K to support free TV activity outside Grenada” and “Nicaragua — $750 K to support an array of independent trade union activity, agricultural cooperatives.”

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.

The aide said Fascell also consented to the Reagan administration’s choice of Carl Gershman to head the National Endowment for Democracy, 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.”

Besides clearing aside political obstacles for Gershman, Raymond also urged NED to give money to Freedom House in a June 21, 1985 letter obtained by Professor John Nichols of Pennsylvania State University.

What the documents at the Reagan library make clear is that Raymond and Casey stayed active shaping the decisions of the new funding mechanism throughout its early years. (Casey died in 1987; Raymond died in 2003.)

Lots of Money

Since its founding, NED has ladled out hundreds of millions of dollars to NGOs all over the world, focusing on training activists, building media outlets, and supporting civic organizations. In some geopolitical hotspots, NED may have scores of projects running at once, such as in Ukraine before the 2014 coup that overthrew elected President Viktor Yanukovych and touched off the New Cold War with Russia. Via such methods, NED helped achieve the “political action” envisioned by Casey and Raymond.

From the start, NED also 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, which was entitled “Freedom House: Portrait of a Pass-Through.”

Over the ensuing 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 (before the 2014 coup) and Russia.

NED and Freedom House often work as a kind of tag-team with NED financing NGOs inside targeted countries and Freedom House berating those governments if they try to crack down on U.S.-funded NGOs.

For instance, on Nov. 16, 2012, NED and Freedom House joined together to denounce a law passed by the Russian parliament requiring Russian 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.”

The Russian government’s concerns were not entirely paranoid. On Sept. 26, 2013, Gershman, in effect, charted the course for the crisis in Ukraine and the greater neocon goal of regime change in Russia. In a Washington Post op-ed, Gershman called Ukraine “the biggest prize” and explained how pulling it into the Western camp could contribute to the ultimate defeat of Russian President Vladimir Putin.

“Ukraine’s choice to join Europe will accelerate the demise of the ideology of Russian imperialism that Putin represents,” Gershman wrote. “Russians, too, face a choice, and Putin may find himself on the losing end not just in the near abroad but within Russia itself.”

The long history of the U.S. government interfering covertly or semi-covertly in the politics of countries all over the world is the ironic backdrop to the current frenzy over Russia-gate and Russia’s alleged dissemination of emails that undermined Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton’s campaign.

The allegations are denied by both Putin and WikiLeaks editor Julian Assange who published the Democratic emails – and the U.S. government has presented no solid evidence to support the accusations of “Russian meddling” – but if the charges are true, they could be seen as a case of turnabout as fair play.

Except in this case, U.S. officials, who have meddled ceaselessly with their “political action” operations in countries all over the world, don’t like even the chance that they could get a taste of their own medicine.

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North Korea Solution Depends on ‘Containment of the US’

 NOVANEWS

No one wants nuclear war, yet that is the trajectory the US and NATO are on with not just North Korea, but potentially China and Russia too, journalist John Pilger fears. In fact, he says the crisis over North Korea is just “a sideshow to the main game.”

On Tuesday, investigative journalist and documentary filmmaker John Pilger spoke with RT America’s Natasha Sweatte about the seemingly escalating nuclear situation on the Korean peninsula.

RT: What are your thoughts on what the North Korean ambassador to Russia said today, that no sanctions will make North Korea change its policies, adding that North Korea’s nuclear program will help his country manage the “hostile policy” of the US? Don’t you think it’s just an excuse for Kim Jong-un to build up his arsenal?

John Pilger: Look, the problem is not North Korea. The problem is not Russia. The problem is not China. The problem is the United States.

There have been a number of agreements in the past, 1992, 1994, between North and South Korea to denuclearize Korea. The problem is the United States, and you have to look at this broadly. The problem for the rest of the world actually, now, is the containment of the United States. The US used to, during the first Cold War, talk about the containment of the Soviet Union, but no. It’s the containment of the United States and frankly, it always has been.

Yes, it’s an unpredictable regime, but there’s absolutely no doubt that if North Korea hadn’t developed nuclear weapons, it would’ve been attacked. Or the same thing would have happened, something similar would have happened to North Korea as happened to Libya and Iraq and Syria and Afghanistan.

RT: Will China help enforce the UN sanctions, and do you think the country feels alarmed over the recent actions coming out of Pyongyang?

JP: No, China is mostly alarmed by the United States, not by North Korea. It’s always been rather a worry that North Korea might provoke the United States, but even these sanctions that have gone through the Security Council, the United Nations sanctions, China has all ways of getting ’round them. They use Chinese currency, Chinese firms, so they don’t really work anyway. China’s main concern is that Pyongyang will provoke the United States, and that’s always, historically, that’s always been China’s concern.

RT: And speaking of sanctions to North Korea, why do you think the United Nations is targeting some of the country’s biggest remaining foreign revenue streams, but leaving its oil alone, which clearly, it would need for its huge military?

JP: I don’t know, frankly, and I don’t think it actually matters. Because, these sanctions are just going to not work on North Korea. North Korea has, over the years, developed a way of life, a way of development, a way of developing its strategic weapons, knowing that it’s going to be almost in a permanent state of siege. So, I don’t think any of these sanctions matter at all.

As I say, North Korea will be able to – they’ve stopped short at oil anyway – but North Korea will be supported by China. China just does it in a different way. They, instead of dealing with Koreans, deal with Chinese businessmen in Korea, so, like all sanctions, there are ways ‘round them.

Sanctions are irrelevant in a sense to this whole debate. What is needed is a peace treaty with North Korea, between the United States and North Korea and the government in Seoul.

But where it’s all heading is the most worrying thing of all. And we’ve just seen, although it’s not reported as far as I can tell in the United States, we’ve now seen a NATO document in Germany released by a research group there and in several of the German newspapers, that says that the whole question of whether NATO actually increases its nuclear weapons is the most important one.

And what this document is saying is that there is the beginning of the end of the intermediate range nuclear weapons treaty. That’s the most important treaty of the old Cold War. Once you take that away, then you’ve got the real threat of nuclear war between the great powers. So, in a way, North Korea is a sideshow to this. That’s the main game.

RT: And now it’s rumored that President Trump will visit China in November, and you know, he’s invited President Xi Jinping to Mar-a-Lago and has said some nice things about the president. Why do you think China hasn’t really stepped in by now to try and help ease tensions between the US and North Korea. Does China have too much of a stake in North Korea financially?

JP: I think China has stepped in to ease tensions. China and Russia have a strategic plan that they put to the United States that has been dismissed out of hand, that says if the United States and the government in South Korea stop these provocative military exercises, that he include as they put it, the decapitation of the Pyongyang regime, if they stop these provocative exercises, then the current testing in North Korea itself will cease.

So, China and Russia have actually come forward with positive plans. As I said at the beginning, the real problem to all this is the containment of the world’s biggest nuclear power, the United States.

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The UN Losing Poker Hand in Libya

Featured image: Field Marshal Khalifa Haftar

In poker, smart players know that the best thing to do with a weak hand is dump it.

Not so the United Nations. Libya is doubling down on backing the failing Government of National Accord (GNA), hoping that by reopening its UN base in the capital, the previously fortified “Palm City Complex,” things will improve.

They are also sending some sending in Gurkha “Security Guards,” but nowhere near enough to actually make a difference against the Tripoli-based militias. For two hundred years the Gurkhas have been the most feared force in the British Army. If anyone can destroy the Tripoli militias, they can, but what’s the point? Why shore up an unelected five-man government?

The GNA was created by the UN two years ago to unite the country and end the civil war. Instead, the GNA’s cabinet is unable even to unite Tripoli, which is “controlled” by various militias. Hence the need for Gurkhas to stop militias overrunning the ostentatious UN compound, “Palm City,” which is itself a provocation to the Libyan people.

The elected parliament in Tobruk, rival to the GNA, is increasingly calling the shots. Thanks to the increasingly popular Field Marshal Khalifa Haftar, Tobruk now controls the majority of the country and its oil infrastructure and ports. The idea that the GNA will ever rule over areas held by Tobruk is laughable. But, having created the GNA, the UN remains determined to back it. Last week Haftar banned GNA personnel from visiting the East — so much for the alleged French July détente efforts.

What makes the UN case so hopeless is that outside powers are split and at odds – in particular France and Italy — over who to support.

One European country is even pondering supporting the son of the late Colonel Gaddafi — that is how desperate the situation has become.

Italy supports the GNA because militias in western Libya are in a position to stop people-smuggling. Italy faces parliamentary elections in 2018 and politicians are aware the electorate will focus on the immigration issue.

Most migrants from Libya end up in Italy, not France, and for Paris migration is less important than combating terrorism. Haftar is already combating Islamist terrorists in Libya, making France a natural ally.

“Serraj leverages off of Italian support,” said Jalel Harchaoui, a doctoral candidate in geopolitics and Libyan commentator, adding “and you can be sure Haftar makes use of the prestige of France’s apparent support for his military campaign. On the ground, the inability of foreign states to coordinate among themselves on Libya has always generated more chaos.”

In July, Fayez Serraj, the UN-designated prime minister from the Government of National Accord, met with Haftar in Paris to sign a peace deal between the two sides. But neither leader actually signed the document. In an interview with France 24, Haftar later stated,

“Serraj is a good man, but he cannot implement what he agrees to.”

Russia showed its support for Haftar by inviting him aboard an aircraft carrier earlier this year. It has since hedged its bets, insisting it is working for reconciliation by talking to all sides, including the Misrata-based Al-Bunyan Al-Marsoos (BMB) militia.

Yesterday the BMB militia surprisingly pledged its support for an unknown multi-millionaire businessman Basit Igtet, a Swiss based Libyan with alleged links to Israel and designs on becoming President of Libya!

One thing must be made clear: The BMB Militia are enemies of Haftar’s LNA.

Lev Dengov, head of the “Russia’s Contact Group for a Libyan settlement,” recently stated,

“Tripoli and Tobruk personnel share the same embassy building in Moscow, engineered by us, to bring them closer to each other.”

Britain is trying to have it both ways. Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson, who presumably facilitated the Gurkhas’ deployment, visited Serraj to show support, flying east to see Haftar on the of 24th August at his headquarters, urging the field marshall to keep to the “unsigned” agreement announced in Paris. But why should Hafter do so? It’s farcical.

The United States has kept a low profile thus far. Though rumour has it there has been a shift in policy in the last few days. Expect Rex Tillerson to get involved in the near future.

With the big powers so divided, and the GNA experiment having failed, the new UN envoy, Ghassan Salame, a Lebanese politician, said by some to be distrusted by the Russians, would have done better to dump the GNA.

Instead Salame is planning to send UN staff and “British Gurkhas,” disguised as “guards,” into the Tripoli cauldron, putting many lives needlessly at risk to support a failed and unelected government.

When will the UN throw in its losing hand? And when will Russia return to the aces it had when it supported Haftar?

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Another Threat to British Democracy Emerges

NOVANEWS

The Prevent strategy originally set up in 2006 by Tony Blair’s government was reviewed by the 2011 coalition government and then fully updated in a 116 page document that describes the potential threat of terrorism in Britain:

“Intelligence indicates that a terrorist attack in our country is ‘highly likely’. Experience tells us that the threat comes not just from foreign nationals but also from terrorists born and bred in Britain. It is therefore vital that our counter-terrorism strategy contains a plan to prevent radicalisation and stop would-be terrorists from committing mass murder. Osama bin Laden may be dead, but the threat from Al Qa’ida inspired terrorism is not. The Prevent programme we inherited from the last Government was flawed. It confused the delivery of Government policy to promote integration with Government policy to prevent terrorism. It failed to confront the extremist ideology at the heart of the threat we face; and in trying to reach those at risk of radicalisation, funding sometimes even reached the very extremist organisations that Prevent should have been confronting.”

The basic strategy was then redefined as:

“First, we will respond to the ideological challenge of terrorism and the threat from those who promote it. Second, we will prevent people from being drawn into terrorism and ensure that they are given appropriate advice and support. Third, we will work with sectors and institutions where there are risks of radicalisation.”

All seems good and reasonable in a lengthy document, written and signed off by the then Home Secretary Theresa May.

Clearly, the Prevent programme was originally designed to combat terrorism. It’s new rollout included mandatory training for public bodies. By 2015 over half a million public sectors workers had undergone Prevent training, which included schools and the NHS.

Criticisms of the strategy emerged that included the alienation of Muslim communities, that it restricted freedom of expression and impacted on human rights. This has been echoed by a number of NGOs. A UN representative also suggested that the Prevent programme was having the opposite of its intended effect by “dividing, stigmatising and alienating segments of the population”.

The government has said the strategy was working and “had made a significant impact in preventing people being drawn into terrorism”. This was widely reported in the press throughout the last five years.

Less publicly known is that the Prevent strategy is part of “Channel”. This is another strategy where the Police work with public bodies, including local councils, social workers, NHS staff, schools and the justice system to identify those at risk of being drawn into terrorism, assess what the risk might be and then develop tailored support for those referred to them.

At this point, with criticism or not, most of what is laid out seems on the face of it to be reasonable given the difficulty in approaching problems such as being radicalised, not forgetting that radicalisation is an ideology and nothing else.

The Canary news outlet has published documentation acquired by ‘Cage’ that proves the Prevent strategy, a strategy designed purely for prevention of terrorism has defined the Occupy movement, anti-fracking environmentalists, the Green Party, and individuals in anti-war and anti-austerity protests – as extremists worthy of being in the collective group of ‘terrorist threats.’ One document even highlights individuals who ‘home educate’ their children as a threat to national security.

We always knew a few years ago that organisations like the Occupy movement were under extreme surveillance and infiltration tactics and yet were still defined as ‘domestic extremists’ and placed in the same category of al-Qaida and IRA Terrorism in what emerged as Project Fawn. In that leak even student protests were targeted by police and listed as threats to society alongside David Copeland, a neo-Nazi who carried out a nail-bombing campaign in 1999. It looks like the Prevent strategy is going the same way as recent terror related legislation over the last few years that was either broadened or abused.

The Guardian reported back in 2015 that

A coalition of police monitoring groups, the Network for Police Monitoring (Netpol), accused the City of London police of conflating protest with terrorism and violence. Kevin Blowe, a co-ordinator of Netpol, said this was repeated around the country and was the “result of including ill-defined labels, like ‘domestic extremism’, within the language and strategies of counter-terrorism”.

Another document released by Cage states that 87 percent of those being monitored are individuals, 11 percent are institutions, but that only 2 percent are ideologies. Emerging threats were referrals coming from Syria – hardly a big surprise given Britain’s role in destroying yet another sovereign nation without good reason.

Netpol went on to say at the time that:

Programmes like the government’s Prevent strategy overwhelmingly target and stigmatise Muslim communities, but as Project Fawn shows, they also provide plenty of scope to include almost any group of political activists that the police dislike or consider an inconvenience. There a real disdain for legitimate rights to exercise freedoms of expression and assembly in a free society, which leads to individuals having their lawful activities recorded and retained on secret police intelligence databases.

Since then the government have gone on to create more anti-radicalisation programmes, in addition to Prevent.

  • Pursue—its main aim is “to stop terrorist attacks”.
  • Protect—“to strengthen our protection against terrorism attack”.
  • Prepare—“where an attack cannot be stopped, to mitigate its impact”.

Meanwhile, Britain’s freedoms continue to be massively eroded by a government hell bent on ensuring our endemic surveillance state is supported through legislation such the Investigatory Powers Act that effectively legalises a range of tools for snooping and hacking by the security services over the wider general public. Whistleblower Edward Snowden stated that –

The UK has legalised the most extreme surveillance in the history of western democracy. It goes further than many autocracies.”

Snowden has not been proved wrong.

The Guardian reported six months ago that Liberal Democrat peer Lord Strasburger, one of the leading voices against the investigatory powers bill, said:

We do have to worry about a UK Donald Trump. If we do end up with one, and that is not impossible, we have created the tools for repression. The real Donald Trump has access to all the data that the British spooks are gathering and we should be worried about that.”

Within this Act, journalists are no longer protected – another sure sign of autocratic tendencies.

In the end, even Max Hill QC, the barrister appointed by the government to be the independent reviewer of terrorism laws in the United Kingdom has said enough is enough.

Speaking exclusively to The Independenta few days agoMax Hill QC, the Independent Reviewer of Terrorism Legislation, argued potential jihadis can be stopped with existing “general” laws that are not always being used effectively to take threats off the streets and that the “Government should consider abolishing all anti-terror laws as they are “unnecessary” in the fight against extremists”.

Hill also expressed concern over the threat to civil liberties posed by some proposed anti-terror measures, warning laws aimed at tackling hate preachers could easily veer into the territory of “thought crime”.

David Videcette, a former Scotland Yard counter-terror detective, agreed, arguing that police should be using “disruption” techniques that are frequently applied to organised crime.

“The profile of religious extremists is changing, they are more criminal-based,” he told The Independent. “We need to be better … the counter-terror work needs to be more crime-focused.”

Max Hill and David Videcette’s comments will fall on deaf years though.

Like so many other Acts of parliament, terror laws in their various guises are being used for nefarious reasons. Under the cover of national security, legislation such as the Public Space Protection Orders, the expansion of Privately Owned Public Spaces, The Anti-Terrorism and Security Act, the Terrorism Act and RIPA continue to be used against civil society, civil liberty and human rights.

Considering that the BBC – a publicly funded organisation uses terror laws to hunt down licence fee dodgers, local councils use them for council tax arrears, dog fouling, illegal sun bed use and even feeding pigeons, was it really any big surprise that the Prevent strategy was going to be abused by the authorities in their continued battle against the civil liberties of the general public in yet another threat to the principles of British democracy.

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An Economic Lesson for China and Russia

NOVANEWS

Is there anyone in Trump’s government who is not an imbecile?

After years of endless military threats against Russia—remember CIA deputy director Mike Morell saying on TV (Charlie Rose show) that the US should start killing Russians to give them a message, and Army Chief of Staff Mark Milley threatening “We’ll beat you harder than you have ever been beaten before”—now the US Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin threatens China. If China doesn’t abide by Washington’s new sanctions on North Korea, Mnuchin said the US “will put additional sanctions on them [China] and prevent them from accessing the US and international dollar system.”

Here is the broke US government $20 trillion in public debt, having to print money with which to buy its own bonds, threatening the second largest economy in the world, an economy on purchasing power parity terms that is larger than the US economy.

Take a moment to think about Mnuchin’s threat to China. How many US firms are located in China? It is not only Apple and Nike. Would sanctions on China mean that the US firms could not sell their Chinese made products in the US or anywhere outside China? Do you think the global US corporations would stand for this?

What if China responded by nationalizing all US factories and all Western owned banks in China and Hong Kong?  

Mnuchin is like the imbecile Nikki Haley. He doesn’t know who he is threatening.  

Consider Mnuchin’s threat to exclude China from the international dollar system. Nothing could do more harm to the US and more good to China.

A huge amount of economic transactions would simply exit the dollar system, reducing its scope and importance.  Most importantly, it would finally dawn on the Chinese and Russian governments that being a part of the dollar system is a massive liability with no benefits. Russia and China should years ago have created their own system.  Being part of Washington’s system simply lets Washington make threats and impose sanctions. 

The reason Russia and China are blind to this is that they foolishly sent students to the US to study economics.  These students returned completely brainwashed with neoliberal economics, “junk economics” in Michael Hudson’s term. This American economics makes Russian and Chinese economists de facto American stooges. They support policies that serve Washington instead of their own countries.

If China and Russia want to be sovereign countries, they must pray that Mnuchin does cut them off from the dollar system that exploits them. Then Russia and China will have to put in place their own system and learn real economics instead of propaganda posing as economics that serves Washington’s interest.

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NGOs Demand Olympic Authorities End Rainforest Destruction and Human Rights Abuses

NOVANEWS

NGOs Demand Olympic Authorities End Rainforest Destruction and Human Rights Abuses Connected to Tokyo 2020 Olympics Construction

 

TOKYO/LIMA – Today, 47 civil society organizations delivered an open letter to the International Olympic Committee (IOC) and Tokyo 2020 Olympic authorities, at the start of the IOC Executive Board Meeting in Lima, Peru. The letter reiterated grave and mounting concerns about the legitimacy and accountability of IOC sustainability commitments and the reputation and credibility of the iconic Olympic games. The letter criticizes the Olympics for knowingly exploiting tropical forests and potentially fueling human rights abuses in the construction and implementation of the games. The groups are calling for full transparency and an end to the use of rainforest wood to construct the Tokyo Olympic facilities, including the new National Olympic Stadium.

The signatory organizations, which include a broad cross section of NGOs with expertise in supply chain risks associated with environmental and human rights, are critical of the continued lack of transparency by Tokyo Olympic authorities.

“The Tokyo Olympic authorities are hiding the fact that they are using massive volumes of tropical wood to construct the new National Olympic Stadium. Without full transparency of the timber supply chain, claims to hosting a sustainable Olympics are completely baseless,” said Hana Heineken with Rainforest Action Network.

NGOs claim that the IOC’s failure to address the obvious risk of unsustainability is a clear breach of its own commitment to “include sustainability in all aspects of the Olympic Games.” In particular, they point to a major loophole in the Tokyo 2020 procurement policy that allows wood used for concrete formwork to be exempted from the policy’s environmental, labor and human rights requirements, despite the majority of this type of wood in Japan coming from the rainforests of Malaysia and Indonesia where problems of illegal logging, rainforest destruction, and land rights violations persist.

On December 6 2016, 44 NGOs sent a letter to the IOC warning them of the high risk that illegal and unsustainable rainforest wood would be used to construct Tokyo’s new Olympic National Stadium and other related facilities. The groups warned that failure to adopt additional safeguards and due diligence measures at the outset of the construction could result in complicity with human rights abuses, illegal logging, and rainforest destruction. The letter offered evidence of high risk timber from Malaysia being used in Tokyo construction projects and argued that the Tokyo 2020 Timber Sourcing Code is ill-equipped to prevent the use of risky timber. Yet, not a single demand put forward in the letter has been met.

Today’s letter states that the new National Olympic Stadium is using significant volumes of rainforest wood as concrete formwork plywood. They point to evidence that tropical plywood supplied by a notorious Malaysian timber company called Shin Yang is being used, despite the company’s history of illegal logging, rainforest destruction, and human rights violations. While Tokyo Olympic authorities have defended their use of Shin Yang wood by claiming it is certified, the letter refutes claims to sustainability with evidence that Shin Yang’s certified wood is linked to human rights violations in Sarawak, Malaysia. The letter also states that the majority of wood being used for the Stadium as concrete formwork is in fact uncertified and very likely to have originated from the rainforests of Malaysia or Indonesia, which supplies most concrete formwork plywood used in Japan.

“Shin Yang’s certification is meaningless in the face of evidence from Indigenous representatives themselves that its logging practices are destroying Indigenous peoples’ traditional lands and livelihoods,” said Peg Putt, CEO of Markets For Change.

Tokyo 2020 authorities are in the midst of developing procurement standards for palm oil and pulp & paper, commodities that are major drivers of tropical deforestation. Given Japan’s significant consumption of rainforest-derived paper and growing consumption of palm oil, NGOs warn Olympic authorities to adopt robust social and environmental safeguards or face further criticism for fueling rainforest destruction, illegal logging and human rights violations.

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Facing a Major Attack on Academic Freedom in Canada

NOVANEWS

For presentation on Sept. 11 2017 at the Grand Lake Theatre, Oakland California. “Why 9/11 Truth Still Matters, 13th Annual 9/11 Truth Film Festival”

Sixteen years after the event, 9/11 stands as striking evidence of an insidious assault on science. Officialdom’s dogged adherence to a discredited account of 9/11 stands as a stark illustration of this phenomenon. The subordination of scientific method to the higher imperatives of imperial war propaganda is epitomized by officialdom’s failure to formulate a credible account of the 9/11 debacle.

Universities have become important sites of this betrayal. The sabotage of society’s primary platforms of scholarly enterprise forms an essential feature of a more pervasive attack from within.  Everywhere, but especially on the Internet, fundamental freedoms are being menaced to investigate, publish, publicize and discuss interpretations that might undermine or inconvenience power.  

As a tenured full professor with 27 years of seniority at my home institution, I am currently facing a sharp attack on the remaining protections for academic freedom. In early October of 2016 the President of the University of Lethbridge, Michael J. Mahon, suspended me without pay. He also prohibited me from stepping foot on the University of Lethbridge campus. In explaining his actions Dr. Mahon’s speculated I might have violated a section of the Alberta Human Rights Act.

The vagueness of this assertion exposes the reality that severe punishment was imposed without any proper investigation. Dr. Mahon’s abrupt deviation from the terms of the collective agreement with my faculty association has established precedents and countervailing responses with broad implications.  Adversarial proceedings on this matter began this August in the Lethbridge Alberta Court House. As evidenced by the intervention of the 68,000 members of the Canadian Association of University Teachers, the outcome of this case will in all probability significantly affect the future of university governance in Canada and beyond.

Dr. Mahon’ suspension letter detailed that there was a possibility that I might be guilty because of allegations that

a) “my Facebook page had been used for virulent anti-semitic comments “and

b) “Inferring that Israelis, and hence Jewish individuals, were responsible for the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center on September 11, 2001.”

Dr. Michael J. Mahon (Source: uleth.ca)

Before dealing with the manipulation of my Facebook wall in the prelude to my suspension, allow me to linger on questions concerning the academy and 9/11. Along with government, media and law enforcement agencies, universities are deeply implicated in sabotaging the quest for 9/11 truth and many other varieties of inconvenient truth as well. The punitive measures directed at me can be seen as a warning to scare other professors into compliance with all manner of official stories?

As for my own reading of the available evidence, I am far from alone in positing that Israel First partisans, including the American neocons that dominated the Project for the New American Century, are prominent among the many protagonists of the 9/11 crimes. These crimes extend to orchestrating the media spin, rigging investigations, and sustaining the ongoing 9/11 cover-up. In publications and on False Flag Weekly NewsDr. Kevin Barrett and I have joined others in extending this investigative and interpretation trajectory into many cases of possible false flag terrorism particularly after 2001.

I am astonished that the Administration of my University became so aggressive in attempting to outlaw an evidence-based interpretation of the most transformative event of the twenty-first century. New frontiers of subversion are being pioneered in the U of L’s audacious administrative attempt to criminalize independent academic work.

What are the implications of subordinating the scholarly judgments of academic experts on campus to the executive dictates of administrators?  How can the principles of critical thinking be cultivated when adherence to conformity is so aggressively enforced by administrators?

The University Administration extends its claims of academic control several steps further in the complaint it brought forward to the Alberta Human Rights Commission seven months after I was suspended. The complaint begins with six sweeping statements outlining topics that the complainants want removed from the reach of critical academic examination. One of the complainants chief assertions is the Islamophobia-inducing proposition that “acts of terrorism between 2001 to the present… were in fact committed and financed by Islamic terrorists.”

Facebook Machinations

A maliciously-engineered Facebook operation created the original catalyst of the smear and disinformation campaign leading to my suspension. Without the originating momentum set in motion by the Facebook operation the campaign to discredit me could not have unfolded as it did. The most public face of this campaign was presented by the Canadian extension of the Israeli- and US-based Anti-Defamation League of B’nai B’rith. According to B’nai Brith Canada, an abhorrent post appeared and then disappeared on my Facebook wall during a short interval on Aug. 26, 2016.  The text of the disgusting digital item proclaimed that the Holocaust didn’t happen and that Jews should be “KILLED, EVERY LAST ONE.”

This heinous assertion goes against everything I have tried to stand for in my life including in my academic work.  As soon as I became aware of this blaspheme embedded in the planted Facebook post I publicly condemned it. By mid-September, however, my persecutors were far advanced in pushing forward the manufactured crisis. By then B’nai Brith Canada was mounting a petition campaign demanding that I be investigated, fired and silenced.

Recently the results of a Freedom of Information inquiry have brought to light documents illuminating the elaborate defamation pointed my way in the hours and days immediately following the August 26 Facebook operation. One document was sent to the Office of the University of Lethbridge President and copied to the Premier of Alberta as well as the Alberta Justice Minister. Citing the B’nai Brith, the document’s author characterized me as an “advocate for the murder of Jews.”

Another letter dated 1 Sept. 2016 was signed by the President of the Canadian Jewish Civil Rights Association. This signator, who has since passed away, cited the complete text of the offending Facebook post. The letter to Dr. Mahon indicated the reprehensible words actually came “from my lips.”

I cannot understand why Dr. Mahon did not at this juncture properly investigate by consulting me directly and conferring with the University of Lethbridge Faculty Association. Instead the President opted to push ahead with drastic action based on incomplete information combined with the intense pressure brought to bear on him by an extremely influential external political lobby

Hate Speech Deceptions

None of my persecutors has yet identified the true source of the offending Facebook item. My own research into the matter, including my email exchange with cartoonist Ben Garrison, has led me to Joshua GoldbergAmerican Herald Tribune has published my article on this young man. Goldberg is widely reported to be the creator of many Internet personalities, all of whom generate abundant “hate speech deceptions” from various ethnic and ideological perspectives.

Goldberg’s case exposes much about the wholesale manufacturing and misrepresentation of so-called “hate speech” to justify censorship on the Internet. In my case an atrocious digital item was strategically inserted with the aim of ruining me professionally and personally.

The intervention of Internet leviathans like Google and Facebook is especially aggressive when it comes to disappearing material critical of the Israeli government’s treatment of Palestinians. My own experience with the Canadian branch of the Anti-Defamation League of B’nai B’rith points to the strength of this pattern. Why is it that this same Zionist organization is being tasked with the strategic responsibility of censoring and categorizing You Tube videos?

As illustrated by William Pepper’s development of civil litigation to bring to light the US government’s role in the tragedy suffered by the family of Martin Luther King Jr., we rarely get criminal trials pressed against the world’s most powerful interests and operatives. Instances of possible false flag terrorism, but especially 9/11, have been rendered especially immune to any kind of trial that would put before the public evidence garnered from genuine investigations of facts.

Perhaps the reference to 9/11 in a University Administration’s efforts to condemn me for academic thought crimes and speech crimes will force the forbidden topic into some kind of evidence-based juridical procedure. When it comes to understanding the real dynamics of who did what to whom on 9/11, the truth must prevail.

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Fake News, “Human Rights” and “Free Speech” in the USA

NOVANEWS

Fake News, “Human Rights” and “Free Speech” in the USA: State-Sponsored Intimidation, or When FARA Goes Too Far

 

The US government is blatantly violating the most basic tenets of its purportedly “sacred” ideology of “human rights” and “free speech” by egregiously overstepping the bounds of FARA to engage in the same type of state-sponsored intimidation that it regularly accuses its geopolitical opponents of for far less.

Yahoo broke the story earlier on Monday that the FBI questioned former Sputnik employee Andrew Feinburg following his public complaints to the media about how the company is supposedly being run, and this reportedly came after another former employee, Joseph John Fionda, allegedly contacted the FBI on his own initiative to share “a big packet” of information accusing Sputnik of breaking the law. The legislation at the center of this scandal is theForeign Agents Registration Act” (FARA), a 1938 law originally passed to expose Nazi influence operations inside of the US. It’s since been used for registering anyone who works as a “foreign agent”, which stereotypically refers to Congressional lobbyists hired by foreign governments but is nowadays being proposed by some US voices to apply to Sputnik and RT as well.

The basis for this move is that both companies are publicly funded by the Russian government, and that this therefore supposedly makes them “propaganda” because it’s assumed by the American authorities that all of their employees lack “editorial independence” from the Kremlin. As could have been expected, the same forces pushing for Sputnik and RT to register as “foreign agents” under FARA aren’t interested in equally applying these expanded “standards” to other publicly financed international media outlets such as Al Jazeera and the BBC.

Using the same criteria as is being applied against these two companies, one could rhetorically question the “independence” of US Congressmen and American government-connected “think tanks” to the “deep state”, which is another word for its permanent military, intelligence, and diplomatic bureaucracies that hold disproportionate influence over policymaking decisions.

In any case, what’s important to focus on is the difference between publicly financed institutions and those which are “government-run”. The first one simply means that taxpayers are paying the bills, whereas the second refers to government employees being the final decision makers on all matters. All government employees work for publicly financed institutions, but not all employees at publicly financed institutions are government employees. Sputnik, for example, is a publicly financed media platform where the editors always have the final say as decision makers in what is a globally recognized industry-wide hierarchical standard. This doesn’t indicate “censorship” or a “cover-up” – it’s just plain journalism.

If Washington-funded media platforms happen to accuse Sputnik and RT of being “government-run”, then it might possibly be that they’re falsely projecting their own unstated but widely assumed internal arrangements onto their Russian counterparts.

Moreover, just because two disgruntled employees seem to have experienced communication issues with their superiors and failed to resolve – or in some cases, even address – them prior to continuing with their given assignments doesn’t mean that there’s a “Kremlin conspiracy” because their bosses were displeased with their overall work at the company as a result. Outcomes like that happen in those situations. It’s life – nothing more, nothing less – and should be used as a personal learning experience, not as someone’s 15 minutes of fame driven by their desire to more easily land a new job elsewhere, whether in the same industry or the “think tank” one. It’s natural for people to have divergent views on any given subject, especially when it’s related to politics, but editors always have the final say when it comes to the journalism industry, and employees are supposed to respect that.

One of the more popular fake news claims going around about Sputnik and RT is that the two outlets were heavily biased in favor of Trump during the 2016 election, but that’s frankly not true, as anyone would know by listening to Sputnik’s radio programs from that time, watching RT’s shows, or reading both of their websites’ archives. Both platforms lean closer to the liberal-progressive side of things as opposed to the conservative one. Simply reporting on the many unfavorable stories surrounding Hillary Clinton and not blindly fawning over her candidacy doesn’t qualify as “institutional bias”, though in largely controlled systems such as the American one where most of the media openly back the Democrats, then the Overton window concept would suggest that Sputnik and RT’s balanced reporting and analyses would understandably stand out as attention-grabbing and exemplary.

In addition, it should never be forgotten that it was the on-the-fence population of the Rust Belt who surprisingly turned the election in Trump’s favor. One would presume that the liberal-progressive masses in the solidly Democratic states on each coast would be Sputnik and RT’s core audiences given how these two outlets’ more leftist-leaning stance on many matters overlap with the prevailing preferences there, so it’s ridiculous to believe that these Russian companies somehow convinced voters to want to “Make America Great Again” in the more stereotypically nationalistic heartland with their liberal-progressive messaging. In fact, it’s uncertain how many people in that part of the US listen to, watch, or read Sputnik and RT in the first place when Fox NewsCNN, and Rush Limbaugh dominate those media markets, and whether these Russian companies are even capable of making any difference at all in those swing states.

Another point that’s often brought up in the course of this conversation is that individual writers, analysts, and presenters might be “biased”, but human beings are unique and have their own way of understanding and relaying information, which in the media field leads to them expressing their individual viewpoints and perspectives in their work. There’s nothing wrong with this, and it should be celebrated that people feel comfortable enough in their professional environment to express themselves as they see fit, though provided that they’re not obnoxiously – and perhaps even deliberately – doing something to cross the line of the editorial standards which vary according to the media outlet. The Sputnik and RT employees that are in the public limelight sometimes have opinions that are just as passionate as their counterparts in The Washington Post and The New York Times, though the latter two are rarely – if ever – condemned for their zeal by the US government.

The double standard that’s being applied when it comes to Sputnik and RT should be clear for all to see, and it’s that the American “deep state” doesn’t tolerate foreigners having an opinion about the US unless they present it on a US-based media platform or on one of Washington’s allies’. Otherwise, as the witch-hunting “logic” now goes, they’re “foreign agents” possibly “spreading propaganda”, and their outlets need to be registered as such with the intimidating “scarlet letter(s)” of FARA if they’re foreign-funded. Even worse, the hysterical zeitgeist has now peaked at such a point that Americans are unable to talk about American-related issues (whether domestic or foreign) on non-American international media outlets publicly funded by a foreign government without potentially having to register as a “foreign agent” in their homelands, whether they still live there or emigrated already.

This is nothing less than state-sponsored intimidation, since Washington is implying that the Americans who work for and comment on these platforms might be “national security threats” because of their supposedly undeclared “foreign agent” status.

If Russia implemented the same media version of FARA that the US is seriously considering and decided to decree that its citizens working for publicly funded American information outlets both in the country and abroad are “foreign agents” that are forced to register with the Kremlin, then the US government would instantly condemn it as state-sponsored intimidation and political oppression, possibly even extending political asylum and an expedited path to citizenship for those said nationals who might be working in the US and are too afraid to ever go home again. Frighteningly, however, it’s not Russians who have to fear the long arm of their government in this respect, but Americans, though it’s “politically incorrect” for anyone to say so.

In the Twilight Zone of the New Cold War, Russia could plausibly – and with full ethical and legal backing behind it –contemplate granting its Russian-based American employees political asylum and potential citizenship because of the state-sponsored intimidation that they might become reasonably subjected to back home just because they decided to “Tell The Untold” and “Question More”. If the US government demands that Sputnik and RT employees register as “foreign agents” under FARA but selectively ignores enforcing this new “standard” against other publicly financed international media companies and their employees, then it’s not unrealistic to imagine that Edward Snowden might end up sharing a toast with some fellow American political refugees in Moscow before too long.

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Understanding Zionism and the Liberation of Palestine

NOVANEWS

It’s been almost one hundred years since the Balfour Declaration and we are still trying to “understand” Zionism and Jewish supremacy in Palestine.

For a long time, what stood in the way of full understanding is the desire in Jewish intellectual circles on the left to fuse Zionism and Socialism in the belief that such a fusion would achieve so-called “Jewish national and social redemption” and at the same time be universally humanist toward Palestinian Arabs — in other words, the desire to view Zionism as “complicated” and give it validation through a critical perspective while at the same time insisting on its invaluable contribution to Jewish national development.

At the 1919 Paris Peace Conference, the Zionist delegation, “well versed in Western diplomacy and psychology”, rested their claims over Palestine on the promise contained in the Balfour Declaration as well as on various religious, historic and humanitarian “rights”. At the time, these Zionists, while careful to continue to use the term Jewish “national home” rather than Jewish state, contended that a Jewish Palestine with Jewish capital and know-how would be to the benefit of backward Arabs, ‘long oppressed by the Turks.”

This Ashkenazi man’s burden extended to indigenous Arab Jews as well, who at the time were a small minority in Palestine before their forced emigration to Israel in the 1950s from other Arab countries. Regardless of deceptive declarations around British aims in Palestine, Zionist goals were never “the free exercise of the initiative and choice of the indigenous population” that Great Britain supposedly espoused in a Nov 8, 1918 communiqué representing the British and French governments that was proclaimed throughout the Levant, including Palestine.

The majority of Jews in the world today are Ashkenazim, tracing their ancestry to Europe. In Israel, however, Sephardic Jews, who descend from Jews in Spain and North Africa, and Mizrahi Jews, who descend from Middle Eastern (i.e., Arab) Jews, account for “just over half (52%) of the Jewish population. There is also a small population (approximately 125,000) of Ethiopian Jews who account for 1% of the Israeli Jewish population.”

Smadar Lavie, author of Wrapped in the Flag of Israel, writes about:

… the paradox that allows the majority of the world to ignore the Mizrahi problem in Israel. While 85% of world Jewry are Ashkenazim, they mainly reside in the diaspora. 15% of world Jewry are Mizrahim, and almost all of them reside in Israel. I discuss the implications of this paradox on the Israeli Ashkenazi Left’s ability to hide its racism when this Left talk with pro-Palestinian NGOs in the West and with the Palestinian national elite in the WB and Gaza… Nothing is going to move toward resolution of the Palestine-Israel conflict without taking into account Israel’s Mizrahi majority and their continual support of Israel’s ultra-nationalist Right, stemming out of the racist history of Israel’s Zionist Left.

The Mizrahim have a history of inequality in Israel, “based on the eugenics ideologies and practices of the Ashkenazi establishment”, with the Israeli Labor Party openly referring to the 1990s Jewish emigration to Israel by Ashkenazim from the former Soviet Union as the “white ‘alliya” meant to redeem the Jewish state from Mizrahization.

But again, we have a “complicated” situation here:

… The third generation of Mizrahim in Israel, those born in the 1970s whose parents and grandparents immigrated to Israel with the large wave of immigration in the 1950s, has mixed feelings toward its Mizrahi identity. For many, the lines between Mizrahim and Ashkenazim are blurring. Mizrahim and Ashkenazim, for the most part, study together, are enlisted together in the army, and often marry one another [On this last point, Lavie says, “All current demographers — some even of the Ashkenazi Zionist species — debunk “mixed marriages” between Ashkenazim and Mizrahim as a myth. Present rate of such marriages is 24–28%”.]

The Jewish state is in the business of brainwashing its Jewish citizens of all backgrounds (as well as Jews worldwide, the vast majority of whom are Ashkenazim). Renee Leavy, manager of Jewish Voice for Peace (JVP) South Florida’s social media campaign, writes:

Judaism teaches, that we should be willing to sacrifice our lives rather than commit murder, commit adultery or worship idols. [But] How many [Jewish] teenagers, especially those who grew up in the Israeli school system who have been brainwashed to believe that Arabs are subhuman are capable of thinking like that?

To help us understand the ins-and-outs of Zionism fully, the shameful realities of Israeli Jewish society, including Apartheid, had to be called out, one by one, dissected and analyzed, their “complications” often obscuring the heart of the matter — Palestinian suffering and dispossession — and putting the focus on Jewish identity politics.

Today in discourse about Palestine we have new “complications” having to do with internal differences among Israeli Jews and with the imperative of being consistent ethically and intellectually.

Ran Greenstein, author of Zionism and its Discontents: A Century of Radical Dissent in Israel/Palestine, expressed these new dynamics in a Facebook status as “Two self-defeating pseudo-radical strategies of ‘call out’ politics in Israel/Palestine”:

(1) conflating Zionism with ‘Zionists’, thereby excluding those willing to act on the basis of opposition to current Israeli state practices (post-1967), because they do not share a critique of earlier historical practices. Result: elevating the radical leftist credentials of the caller out (call outer?), while diminishing the potential for a broader action-based front here and now. And

(2) refusing to protest current manifestations of racism and state oppression (towards Palestinians, African asylum seekers and others), together with ‘white’ leftists, because of the historical sins of the Zionist left against Mizrahim. Result: elevating the radical Mizrahi credentials of call-out activists, who end up serving as useful idiots for the Israeli state and its oppressive practices at present.

We have catchphrases in the above (“conflating Zionism with Zionists”? Really?) that may make us feel clever but that needlessly complicate, in my view, our understanding of Zionism and Zionists (past and present) and the strategies that ought to be open for all those struggling to achieve Palestine’s liberation.

It is true that recognition of the brutalities of the ongoing Jewish-state-Nakba and explanations of its cause, which have been taking place among activists on social and alternative media for a long time now, have not translated into policies or concerns in the United States and the EU (let alone in Israel) for the well-being of Palestinian Arabs. Chances are good that joining a “broader action-based front”, admirable and exhilarating as this movement is, will also fail to question the normative principles and narratives associated with Zionism — i.e. Jewish supremacy in Palestine.

This is because, beyond self-interest politics, I believe that at the heart of the resistance of Western countries to justice in Palestine is the underlying and pervasive concern for Ashkenazi Jews, stemming from the trauma of the holocaust.

This position is ingrained even as it flies in the face of the very international laws these Western countries have themselves put in place.

The context of broader global social dynamics can work only if we address the particularity of the Jewish nationalist movement in Palestine — i.e., both its colonial and Jewish supremacist character — leading us to a position that embraces “the free exercise of the initiative and choice of the indigenous population” of Palestine.

It will not work if we begin making distinctions between Zionism and Zionists! Ran Greenstein writes,

“These people [liberal-left tendencies (Meretz in Israel, J Street in the USA, and many unaffiliated individuals and organizations)]define themselves as Zionist but deviate, to some extent at least, from some of the core policies pursued by mainstream Zionist movements and the State of Israel… There is no need for perfect agreement on all issues, tactical collaboration would serve us well.”

The core policy in the liberation of Palestine is that of return, which means the end of the Jewish state. Any Zionist who espouses the Zionist core ideology that Palestine belongs to Jews worldwide and not to its indigenous inhabitants, regardless of religion or ethnicity, is a Zionist without a difference in my view. Tactical alliances with such Zionists are bound to lead to another decade or two of obfuscation regarding the “rights” of Ashkenazi Jews to Palestine.

Fighting to make Israel “Jewish and Democratic”, rather than one truly democratic state for all, is a no starter for the liberation of Palestine. As Wayne Kraft, an American BDS activist, wrote on Facebook:

Those who believe that the occupation must be ended first to alleviate the most savage abuses must contend with the fact that the occupation has only been strengthened throughout all attempts to resolve and end it. That is, if the two-state solution is the only possible solution (interim or otherwise), well, it doesn’t appear to be possible.

The end of Israel— i.e., the end of Jewish Supremacy in Palestine is not only the ultimate goal; it is the only goal that will bring justice and liberation to Palestine after all these decades.

Posted in Palestine Affairs, ZIO-NAZIComments Off on Understanding Zionism and the Liberation of Palestine

ADL Campus guide describes how to block events about Palestine

NOVANEWS

The ADL claims to oppose injustice, but spends much of its huge budget defaming Palestinians and their allies who work for an end to Israel’s human rights abuses.
By Alison Weir | If Americans Knew 

The ADL (Anti-Defamation League) has just launched a new initiative for college students called “ADL CAMPUS: Tools for Dealing with Anti-Semitic and Anti-Israel Incidents on Campus.”

This resource contains much useful information about addressing anti-Semitism, endorses such valuable principles as freedom of speech and non-violence, and recommends that students talk to others who may hold different perspectives.

It also, however, contains some deeply problematic components for anyone who believes that human rights and justice should apply to all people without exception.

Unfortunately, the ADL does not share this belief. While it announces prominently, “We protect the Jewish people and secure justice and fair treatment to all,” in reality the ADL supports Israeli injustice against Palestinians.

Its recent campus resource exemplifies this, and distorts facts and words in order to do so.

First of all, ADL Campus conflates criticism of Israel with anti-Semitism. Rather than meaning bigotry against Jewish people, the ADL’s use of the term anti-Semitism includes many forms of criticism of Israel. The Israeli government and certain of its partisans have been pushing this new, expanded definition in the U.S., Europe and elsewhere.

Below, this article will look in more detail at what kinds of criticism of Israel the ADL considers unacceptable, and why its parameters will include virtually all speakers truly critical of Israeli oppression of Palestinians. First, however, let us turn to the ADL’s advice on blocking events championing Palestinian human rights (and undermining free speech and academic inquiry).

ADL strategies to prevent events about Palestine

ADL Campus provides an entire section on how to block events on Palestine. The section starts out by assuring students that they have tremendous resources on their campuses to help them in this: faculty, Hillel, Chabad, J Street U, Stand With Us, The David Project, off-campus organizations like ADL, the Israel Action Network, Israel on Campus Coalition, AIPAC, and “your local Israeli Consulate.”

It provides an array of “Proactive Strategies to Prevent Anti-Israel Activity” – “steps you can take year-round to prevent an anti-Israel event from taking place on your campus, and to be prepared if and when an anti-Israel event does take place.”

They are advised to join – and lead, when possible – student organizations so that they can use this position to advocate for Israel and prevent campus activism on Palestine. The guide advises students to:

“Run for student government. Write for the campus newspaper. Join committees and other student organizations. Holding leadership positions on campus provides a great opportunity to meet new people, build coalitions, and exchange views with your peers. With a seat at the table, you can more effectively speak out (or even vote) against anti-Israel actions, including divestment resolutions.”

This is not a new idea. In 2010 an AIPAC official (American Israel Public Affairs Committee) said that AIPAC was going to take over student governments in order to block resolutions on behalf of Palestinian rights:

More recently, pro-Israel students have been working to insert an Israel-centric definition of anti-Semitism into student governments. This then blocks university funding for student groups wishing to bring speakers on Palestine.

ADL Campus expands further upon the value of building relationships with other students as a strategy to prevent Palestine activism:

“Build coalitions with other student groups. Take the time to understand the needs and priorities of other groups and learn how to be an ally to other communities. Attend their events and meetings.  Join advocacy efforts for issues you care about. Think about opportunities for co-sponsoring events with these groups.”

Another suggested strategy is to put on Israel-related events; again the document suggests resources students can tap into:

“Hillel, the Israeli consulate responsible for the region in which your campus is located, ADL and other organizations, on campus and off, can help provide you with speakers and ideas.”

What to do if an event about Palestine is scheduled

If, despite their efforts, a program on Palestine is scheduled for their campus, ADL Campus tells students what to do next: investigate the speaker by contacting Hillel, ADL, ICC (Israel on Campus), or other organizations. (Some of these groups compile witch-hunt-like dossiers on Palestinian rights speakers which often contain inaccurate information, grossly exaggerated ad hominem attacks and claims that they are “anti-Semitic.”)

If they find that the speaker has engaged in alleged “hate speech, including anti-Semitic comments [sic],” ADL Campus tells them to contact the administration about it. Given that the ADL labels numerous valid statements about Israel “anti-Semitic (see below),” this could apply to virtually all honest and committed speakers on Palestine, and is often used in attempts to impugn the speaker’s integrity and block his or her talk. Such misrepresentations sometimes cause academic departments and other organizations to back out of sponsoring a lecture.

If an event does go forward with speakers that don’t pass ADL muster, ADL Campus tells students they should consider “an active, organized effort.” It advises them to “send a small contingent of pro-Israel students to the event to question the speaker about their views. Prepare some questions in advance based on what you’ve learned about the speaker [sic] in your research.”

ADL Campus also tells students: “Share information with fellow students attending the event about the speakers and organizations they’re about to hear from. Prepare fact sheets [sic] in advance that highlight how extreme the views of the speaker really are. ADL and other organizations make it easy to access information on extreme speakers who frequently appear on campuses.”

In reality, such “fact sheets” typically misrepresent speakers’ statements and contain non-factual information about Israel-Palestine in general and about the speaker in particular.

The ADL “deciphers” anti-Semitism

ADL Campus contains an entire section and video that claim to help students decipher when something is anti-Semitic or contains “anti-Israel bias” (the latter seems to be anti-Semitism’s almost equally objectionable sister sin).

According to the ADL, you are anti-Semitic if you who fail to affirm Israel’s alleged “right to exist as a Jewish state.”


Palestinians forced out in 1948 by Israel’s founding war

Affirming such a “right” may seem benign. In reality, it means affirming Israel’s “right” to have created its state through the violent expulsion of the majority indigenous population and confiscation of their land, simply because they were not Jewish. It also means you believe Israel has the “right” to prohibit these families from returning to their homes because they are of the “wrong” ethnicity or religion (even though returning to one’s home is an internationally recognized human right.)

In actuality, saying that Israel has a “right to exist as a Jewish state” entails the morally untenable position that universal human rights do not apply to the residents and indigenous people Israel does not want in its ethnically preferential state.

ADL Campus also states that BDS (Boycott, Divestment, & Sanctions), the international nonviolent movement that works to require Israel to adhere to international law and end its violations of human rights, is “anti-Semitic.”

In fact, the ADL head has just endorsed legislation that would make Americans who support boycotts targeting Israel criminals to be punished by fines of up to $1 million and 20 years in prison. Once again, we see the ADL turning morality on its head. Those who stand up for justice and who oppose oppression and discrimination are not bigots or criminals, they are human rights champions.

While the ADL Campus video allows in theory that “people can support the Palestinian cause without being anti-Israel,” it censures what the ADL claims is “illegitimate criticism.” As the narrator’s voice intones that this consists of “false accusations,” the screen shows the words apartheid, genocide, and ethnic cleansing.


Screenshot from ADL Campus video

Far from being “false accusations” and “illegitimate criticism,” however, all three characterizations of Israel and its actions are based on factual conditions and have been argued for by diverse scholars, institutions, and human rights advocates (see links below*).

ADL campus also decrees that statements comparing Israel to Nazis are “anti-Semitic” (reflecting the international redefinition of the term mentioned above). However, Israeli leaders themselves at times have referred to one another this way, beginning with Ben Gurion, who compared both Zionist leader Ze’ev Jabotinsky and future Prime Minister Menachem Begin to Hitler (Begin returned the epithet). An article in the Israeli newspaper Ha’aretz is headlined: Calling your political rival a Nazi is a time-hallowed tradition in Israel.

And while such comparisons are exaggerated and imprecise, some years ago there was an uproar in Israel when an Israeli military officer suggested that studying how the German army fought in the Warsaw ghetto could be useful in finding strategies to use in seizing “a densely populated refugee camp, or take over the casbah in Nablus.” Author Melvin Goodman, describing the cruel situation in Gaza, concludes:  Perhaps the comparison with the Warsaw Ghetto is not completely far-fetched after all.”

ADL helps mislead people, then calls them “anti-Semitic”

In one case, the ADL’s characterization of some statements about Israel as “anti-Semitic” may be legitimate. The ADL accuses individuals of being “anti-Semitic”– i.e. bigots – if they suggest that all Jewish people are responsible for the actions of Israel.

Such a conflation is erroneous and should be corrected. However, it is important to understand that the state of Israel itself and its strongest partisans, including the ADL, actively work to conflate Judaism and Jewish identity with Israel. This intentional conflation has gone on for decades. A century ago Supreme Court Justice and Zionist leader Louis Brandeis was known for specifically working to conflate Zionism with being Jewish at a time when most Jewish people were not Zionists.


Israeli flag featuring the “Star of David” Jewish identity symbol

Israel specifically calls itself “the Jewish state” and often claims to represent Jews worldwide, a claim specifically rejected by certain Jewish individuals and organizations.

The Israeli flag, which adorns tanks, helicopter gunships, and fighter jets that periodically attack Gaza civilians, consists of a star of David, thus working to symbolically conflate Israel and its actions with Judaism and Jews. Israelis regularly call the pro-Israel lobby in the U.S. “the Jewish lobby.”

In addition, virtually every mainstream national Jewish institution in the U.S. publicly supports Israel, numerous synagogues and schools across the country exhibit the Israeli flag and affirm their attachment to Israel, and Jewish Community Relations Councils and Jewish Federations advocate for Israel in cities throughout the country.

The ADL’s 2015 Annual Report itself conflates Israel and “the Jewish people,” stating: “Since the founding purpose of ADL is to protect the Jewish people, our work on behalf of and in support of the State of Israel is a significant way of fulfilling that mission.” The ADL Campus video itself uses an image of a menorah, a religious symbol, to represent Israel.


Graphic featuring the menorah used in ADL Campus video

If some people critical of human rights abuses or other actions by the government of Israel or certain Israel partisans connect all Jews to Israel’s actions, this intentional conflation is part of the problem, not the solution. Those taken in by it are mistaken, not necessarily prejudiced.

ADL: Advocate for Israel

For many years the ADL has been held in high regard by many Americans who believe its purpose is to oppose bigotry and assist those being treated unfairly, and who are unaware of the ADL’s work to defame human rights defenders and maintain Israel’s power over Palestinians, one of the world’s most oppressed populations.

Through its own well-funded efforts combined with the support of media figures who may also be pro-Israel, the ADL has attained considerable power. Its frequent reports on alleged anti-Semitism are cited regularly as though they are the work of an objective, official, accountable entity.

In reality, the ADL is a non-governmental organization without public accountability whose work is non-transparent, lacks objective review, and which has a publicly stated goal of advocating for a foreign country—a nation whose system is antithetical to the principles held by most Americans, and whose actions are frequently harmful to the United States.

With its $142 million assets, the ADL crows that it helps “shape laws locally and nationally, and develop groundbreaking model legislation,” thus exerting influence from the highest levels of the U.S. government down to American campuses.

ADL Campus is its latest effort to maintain US taxpayers’ $10 million+ per day to Israel, and thus maintain Israel’s hegemony over Palestinians and others in the region.

Opposing bigotry, prejudice, and racism are noble actions that benefit everyone. Sadly, that’s not what the ADL is about. 


* According to the ADL, statements suggesting that Israeli actions and/or policies have constituted apartheid, genocide, and ethnic cleansing are “false claims” and therefore constitute “anti-Israel bias,” a phrase that the ADL seems to suggest is tantamount to anti-Semitism. In reality, however, there is considerable evidence that such statements are accurate; at minimum, they are valid criticisms worthy of investigation. Below are a few of the many resources available on these topics:

Apartheid

Genocide

Ethnic Cleansing

Posted in Palestine Affairs, USA, ZIO-NAZIComments Off on ADL Campus guide describes how to block events about Palestine


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