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The US-Turkey Crisis: The NATO Alliance Forged in 1949 Is Today Largely Irrelevant

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There has been some reporting in the United States mass media about the deteriorating relationship between Washington and Ankara and what it might mean. Such a falling out between NATO members has not been seen since France left the alliance in 1966 and observers note that the hostility emanating from both sides suggests that far worse is to come as neither party appears prepared to moderate its current position while diplomatic exchanges have been half-hearted and designed to lead nowhere.

The immediate cause of the breakdown is ostensibly President Donald Trump’s demand that an American Protestant minister who has lived in Turkey for twenty-three years be released from detention. Andrew Brunson was arrested 21 months ago and charged with being a supporter of the alleged conspiracy behind the military coup in 2016 that sought to kill or replace President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

Erdogan has asserted that the coup was directed by former political associate Fetullah Gulen, who lives in exile in Pennsylvania, but has produced little credible evidence to support that claim. In the aftermath of the coup attempt, Erdogan has had himself voted extraordinary special powers to maintain public order and has arrested 160,000 people, including 20 Americans, who have been imprisoned. More than 170,000 civil servants, teachers, and military personnel have lost their jobs, the judiciary has been hobbled, and senior army officers have been replaced by loyalists.
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Why Does Facebook Use NATO To Help Censor Users?

Facebook is using a NATO think tank, the Atlantic Council, which is also funded by the US government and foreign governments, to help it determine which posts are authentic and which are fake. The Atlantic Council is hardly an unbiased judge, however. It is extremely hawkish and has even encouraged US military strikes against Russian assets! Why is a US government funded entity involved in limiting speech? More in today's Liberty Report...
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Trump vs. His Own Administration?

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Are President Trump’s senior cabinet members working against him? It’s hard not to conclude that many of the more hawkish neocons that Trump has (mistakenly, in my view) appointed to top jobs are actively working to undermine the president’s stated agenda. Especially when it seems Trump is trying to seek dialogue with countries the neocons see as adversaries needing to be regime-changed.
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Butina Case: Neo-McCarthyism Engulfs America

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The United States Department of Justice would apparently have you believe that the Kremlin sought to subvert the five-million-member strong National Rifle Association (NRA) by having two Russian citizens take out life memberships in the organization with the intention of corrupting it and turning it into a mouthpiece for President Vladimir Putin. Both of the Russians – Maria Butina and Alexander Torshin – have, by the way, long well documented histories as advocates for gun ownership and were founders of Right to Bear Arms, which is not an intelligence front organization of some kind and is rather a genuine lobbying group with an active membership and agenda. Contrary to what has been reported in the mainstream media, Russians can own guns but the licensing and registration procedures are long and complicated, which Right to Bear Arms, modeling itself on the NRA, is seeking to change.

Maria Butina, a graduate student at American University, is now in solitary confinement in a federal prison, having been charged with collusion with Torshin and failure to register as an agent of the Russian Federation. It is unusual to arrest and confine someone who has failed to register under the Foreign Agents Registration Act of 1938, but she has not been granted bail because, as a Russian citizen, she is considered to be a “flight risk,” likely to try to flee the US and return home. It is to be presumed that she is being pressured to identify others involved in her alleged scheme to overthrow American democracy through NRA membership.

Indeed, in any event, it would be difficult to imagine why anyone would consider the NRA to be a legitimate intelligence target. It only flexes its admitted powerful legislative muscles over issues relating to gun ownership, not regarding policy on Russia. In short, Butina and by extension Torshin appear to have done nothing wrong. Both are energetic advocates for their country and guns rights, which they appear to believe in, and Butina’s aggressive networking has broken no law except not registering, which in itself assumes that she is a Russian government agent, something that has not been demonstrated. To put the shoe on the other foot, will every American who now travels to Russia and engages in political conversations with local people be suspected of acting as an agent of the US government? Once you open the door, it swings both ways.
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What if a #MAGA Guy Ate Twitter’s Face?

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More than a few people have cited the exchange below as justification for my forever trip down the Memory Hole, my ban from Twitter. I used to be there as @wemeantwell. My bad zombie joke about #MAGA, or anything else I wrote that was flippant, is not writing I’m proud of. But ask yourself if indeed what I was doing, in the words of Twitter’s auto-response to me, “harasses, intimidates, or uses fear to silence someone else’s voice,” or if I was just being rude and childish.
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Pompeo Slaps On Major Russia Sanctions...Over Unproven UK Poisoning!

Is Pompeo launching a coup against his boss? By kicking in sanctions on Russia - invoking a 1991 US law on chemical weapons - the US State Department is further poisoning President Trump's efforts to improve relations with his Russian counterpart. If President Trump refuses to enforce the sanctions, he will hand a political gift to Democrats who believe their election fortunes in November rest on endlessly screaming "Russia, Russia, Russia." And what are these new sanctions all about? The totally unproven, full-of-holes claims that the Russian government was behind the Skripal "poisoning" in the UK in March. We untangle some of this madness in today's Liberty Report...
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A Four Person NATO-Funded Team Advises Facebook On Flagging 'Propaganda'

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This is not at all comforting: during a week that's witnessed Alex Jones' social media accounts taken down by Facebook, Apple, Spotify and Google, and what appears to be a growing crackdown against alternative media figures including several prominent Libertarians, notably the Ron Paul Institute director, and the Scott Horton Show, who found their Twitter accounts suspended — we learn that the Atlantic Council is directly advising Facebook on identifying and removing "foreign interference" on the popular platform. 

While the initiative was initially revealed last May through an official Facebook media release, more details of the controversial think tank's role have been revealed. 

Supposedly the whole partnership is aimed at bringing more objectivity and neutrality to the process of rooting out fake accounts that pose the threat of being operated by nefarious foreign states.

And yet as a new Reuters report confirms, Facebook is now itself a top donor to the Atlantic Council, alongside Western governments, Gulf autocratic regimes, NATO, various branches of the US military, and a number of major defense contractors and corporations.
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Senate Moves To Seize The Internet - Do We Need More Government Censorship?

Senator Mark Warner's (D-VA) office has drawn up a proposal for the US government to become much more involved in the Internet and particularly social media. They tell us for our own good they must protect us from "disinformation" and be able to determine the identity of each social media account as well as the user's location. Ironically - or not - this is pretty much what the Chinese government is doing with its social media and search engines. Is this the direction we should be heading? Is there a better solution? Tune in to today's Liberty Report...
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Senator Rand Paul Visits Russia to Encourage ‘Vital Engagement’ Between Lawmakers

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Donald Trump is not the only American politician to be striving for a better relationship with Moscow in defiance of multiple opponents who are raising a ruckus about his stance on Russia. The hysterical reaction to the US president’s summit with the Russian leader in Helsinki did not keep Republican Senator Rand Paul from doing what he believes is right — going to Moscow as the head of a US delegation, which also included Texas State Senator Don Huffines and the president of the Cato Institute, Peter Goettler, in order to spur contacts with Russian lawmakers.

During the talks in Moscow on Aug.6, he invited Russian senators to visit Washington.“Today, I met with Chairman Kosachev, and we agreed on the importance of continued dialogue. I invited the Russian Federation to send a delegation to the Capitol, and they have agreed to take this important next step,” Mr. Paul stated. It’ll be the first Russian parliamentary delegation to have traveled to Washington in nearly three years. The senator thinks "our biggest problem right now is no dialogue," emphasizing that"engagement is vital to our national security and peace around the world."

Last year, Rand Paul, who sits on the Foreign Relations Committee, was one of two senators who voted against the Countering America's Adversaries Through Sanctions Act, which included  massive sanctions against Russia. Prior to that, he had voted against Montenegro’s NATO membership, which was also opposed by Moscow. According to Sen. Paul, “Currently, the United States has troops in dozens of countries and is actively fighting in Iraq, Syria, Libya, and Yemen (with the occasional drone strike in Pakistan). In addition, the United States is pledged to defend twenty-eight countries in NATO. It is unwise to expand the monetary and military obligations of the United States given the burden of our $20 trillion debt.”
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VIPS Asks Twitter to Restore Van Buren’s Account

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We at Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity (VIPS) are greatly disturbed by the recent decision of your management to permanently suspend the Twitter account @WeMeantWell of our colleague Peter Van Buren. Peter is a highly respected former Foreign Service Officer possessing impeccable credentials for critiquing current developments that might lead to a new war in Eastern Europe or Asia, something which we Americans presumably all would like to avoid.
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