http://www.ronpaulinstitute.org/archives/featured-articles/rss.aspx?blogid=3 Mon, 25 Mar 2019 17:15:20 GMT Mon, 25 Mar 2019 17:15:20 GMT Mueller Report Decimates 'Russiagate' Hoax - What's Next? Daniel McAdams http://www.ronpaulinstitute.org/archives/featured-articles/2019/march/25/mueller-report-decimates-russiagate-hoax-whats-next/
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http://www.ronpaulinstitute.org/archives/featured-articles/2019/march/25/mueller-report-decimates-russiagate-hoax-whats-next/ http://www.ronpaulinstitute.org/archives/featured-articles/2019/march/25/mueller-report-decimates-russiagate-hoax-whats-next/ Mon, 25 Mar 2019 17:15:20 GMT
Now We Will Find Out If Trump Is Really The President Or Merely A Figurehead Paul Craig Roberts http://www.ronpaulinstitute.org/archives/featured-articles/2019/march/25/now-we-will-find-out-if-trump-is-really-the-president-or-merely-a-figurehead/

What can we conclude from the utter and total failure of the Russiagate “investigation” to find any evidence of “Russian collusion”?

We can conclude that it was a hoax cooked up by an utterly corrupt and immoral military/security complex determined to protect its $1,000 billion annual budget and the power that goes with it from the loss of its Russian enemy to normalized relations.

We can conclude that Hillary’s DNC was partner to this crime and that scum like Jarrold Nadler and Adam Schiff have destroyed the reputation and credibility of the Democratic Party.

We can conclude that the US media is devoid of all integrity, morality, and truthfulness and has forever discredited itself as a source of objective and accurate information.

We can conclude that a corrupt military/security complex and Democratic Party were so determined to serve their own narrow self-interests that they were willing to subject the entirety of the world to a higher risk of nuclear war.

We can conclude that the fact that such filth as Mueller, Brennan, Comey, Rosenstein, and Clapper were at the top of US intelligence and criminal investigation is conclusive proof that the US government is a criminal organization.

Keep in mind, as Tucker Carlson reminds us, that Mueller’s “investigation” was not a well-intentioned investigation conducted by open-minded people who turned out to be wrong. It was an organized witch-hunting event determined to destroy the President of the United States. 

What will be the consequences of this failed act of high treason on the part of the Democratic Party, military/security complex, and presstitute media to falsely convict the duly elected President of the United States and remove him from office? Will President Trump be content with his enemies’ failure and move on, or will he hold them responsible for their criminal actions? Keep in mind that Mueller’s “investigation” was based on spy warrants obtained by deceiving the FISA court, which is a felony. Keep in mind that Mueller’s indictments of Manafort and Stone are far outside the designated scope of his investigation and have nothing whatsoever to do with Russiagate. This makes the convictions of Manafort and Stone illegitimate.

Where is Trump’s pardon of these illegitimately convicted Republicans?

If Trump fails to pardon the two victims of a hoax investigation, we will know that Trump is a coward with no integrity and moral conscience. It will prove him to be as despicable as his enemies.

Mueller’s effort to frame the President of the United States was never a real investigation. Left uninvestigated was the proven fact that the Hillary emails allegedly hacked by a Putin/Trump conspiracy to steal the presidential election were downloaded on a thumb drive, most likely by the DNC staffer, Seth Conrad Rich, who was mysteriously shot dead on a Washington street in an unsolved, and uninvestigated, murder case. 

Mueller and the FBI made no investigation of the DNC computers. 

Mueller and the FBI ignored the fact that the known download time of the emails was far quicker that is possible via the Internet. In other words, according to the time dates, the emails could not possibly have been hacked by Russians and given to Wikileaks.

This undisputed fact will remain ignored, unless President Trump intervenes, because it completely obliterates the false case the criminal US Department of Justice (sic) has concocted against Julian Assange.

To be clear, Trump’s vindication by the inability of a corrupt FBI and Department of Justice (sic) to frame him screams for a real investigation of the corrupt elements in the US government and Democratic Party that concocted a fake investigation in order to direct attention away from the real crimes.

Is Trump strong enough to launch an investigation into the “illegal takedown that failed,” or is he too surrounded by enemies, as I predicted he would be, to serve as President of the United States instead of as a figurehead for the criminal elements who actually comprise government in the United States?

We will soon know.

Reprinted with permission from PaulCraigRoberts.org.
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http://www.ronpaulinstitute.org/archives/featured-articles/2019/march/25/now-we-will-find-out-if-trump-is-really-the-president-or-merely-a-figurehead/ http://www.ronpaulinstitute.org/archives/featured-articles/2019/march/25/now-we-will-find-out-if-trump-is-really-the-president-or-merely-a-figurehead/ Mon, 25 Mar 2019 16:53:13 GMT
The Green Bad Deal Ron Paul http://www.ronpaulinstitute.org/archives/featured-articles/2019/march/25/the-green-bad-deal/

The recently-proposed Green New Deal is proof that climate change is for progressive Democrats what terrorism is for neoconservative Republicans: a ready-made excuse to expand government and curtail liberty. This radical plan would authorize the US government to seize control of major sectors of the US economy, phase out gasoline-fueled cars, make buildings “energy efficient,” and even replace air travel with rail travel.

Supporters of the Green New Deal claim that the science regarding the risk of climate change is “settled.” However, the science is far from settled. Many of the claims regarding climate change have been debunked.

Some supporters of policies like the Green New Deal have actually supported criminalizing dissent from the so-called “settled” science of climate change. This reveals the authoritarianism of some people demanding Americans give up real liberty and prosperity because of phantom fears of impending environmental disaster.

Like all forms of socialism, the Green New Deal suffers from what Ludwig von Mises identified as the “calculation problem.” Knowledge of the most efficient use of resources is conveyed by prices set in a free market. Prices reflect individuals’ subjective preferences regarding the best use of resources. When government uses force to remove resources from the marketplace, it makes it impossible for the price system to function, leaving government officials and private citizens unable to determine the most efficient use of resources. That is why every attempt at government management of the economy inevitably reduces the people’s standard of living.

Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez has dismissed concerns regarding the almost 100 trillion dollars ten-year cost of implementing the Green New Deal by suggesting that Congress simply make the Federal Reserve pay for it by creating new money. Rep. Ocasio-Cortez’s claim is rooted in Modern Monetary Theory. This theory states that, when government controls the currency, it need not worry about running up large debt for welfare and war; it can have the central bank print more money to pay for more government.

Modern Monetary Theory is not modern. The Federal Reserve has facilitated the growth of government by printing money since its creation. It is no coincidence the birth of the Federal Reserve was immediately followed by the rise of the welfare-warfare state.

Whether done to monetize the federal debt or to jump-start economic growth, the Federal Reserve’s creation of new money harms the economy. In fact, Fed-induced distortions, caused by actions including money creation and interest rate manipulation, are the root cause of the boom-and-bust cycle that plagues the American economy. The Green New Deal would, in addition to its other negative impacts, hasten and deepen the inevitable Federal Reserve-caused economic crisis facing America. It would also increase the hidden and regressive inflation tax.

Ironically, the Green New Deal also would likely damage the environment. History shows that the most effective way to protect the environment is with a free-market economy that respects property rights. Therefore, those concerned with protecting the environment should support the free market, along with a legal system that holds private property owners accountable when their actions damage the environment or harm other individuals or their property.]]>
http://www.ronpaulinstitute.org/archives/featured-articles/2019/march/25/the-green-bad-deal/ http://www.ronpaulinstitute.org/archives/featured-articles/2019/march/25/the-green-bad-deal/ Mon, 25 Mar 2019 14:01:32 GMT
Iraq War Anniversary: Ron Paul’s Opposition Scored the Szasz Award for Civil Liberties James Bovard http://www.ronpaulinstitute.org/archives/featured-articles/2019/march/23/iraq-war-anniversary-ron-paul-s-opposition-scored-the-szasz-award-for-civil-liberties/

This week marked the 16th anniversary of the US invasion of Iraq. Plenty of Bush apologists have been rewriting history on Twitter. But Ron Paul was one member of Congress who had nothing to apologize in the run-up to the war. He was outspoken throughout 2002 and beyond, exposing the folly of starting a major war in the Middle East and trouncing the shabby evidence the Bush administration offered.

His valiant fight against the war resulted in his receiving the Szasz Award for Outstanding Contributions to Civil Liberties in November 2002. He was the only politician to ever win the award named after the legendary psychiatrist Thomas Szasz, one of the great heroes of modern liberty. In the spiel below, I praised Ron Paul as someone who “speaks truth to power;” for the record, that was long before the same accolade was used to burnish our current CIA director. Here are the comments I made at the award ceremony in November 2002 in Washington:
It is my honor on behalf of the Szasz award committee to present the award this year to Congressman Ron Paul.

Ron Paul speaks truth to power.  Congressman Paul takes the high ground – stands on principle – and he often stands alone.

Last year, Paul was one of only three Republicans to vote against the Patriot Act and the only member of the House to vote against the money laundering provisions of the Patriot Act. Paul denounced that portion of the bill as “a laundry list of dangerous, unconstitutional power grabs…” The type of honesty that is damn near nonexistent in Washington.

Ron Paul has made it clear from Day One where he stands on the War with Iraq. He stands on the Constitution on this – not on the public opinion polls. He is not finessing the issue.

One thing I like about Paul is that he is wiling to question people’s motives – something that happens far too rarely in Washington.

Back in mid-September, I was flipping on the TV at the end of the day – after a few beers – trolling on C SPAN. And I happened to come upon a House hearing on the pending war with Iraq. I think I missed the first couple hours of the hearing because chairman Henry Hyde announced that it was Congressman Paul’s chance to ask a question.

Paul scorned the hearing as “very one sided” and said “This turns out to be more propaganda for war than anything else. We’re willing to go to war over phantom weapons.”
And then he asked the two witnesses – Richard Perle and James Woolsey – whether they would personally be wiling to risk their lives for the war they so strongly advocated.
Woolsey answered first. He mentioned that he “flew a desk” during his two years in the army – but then stressed that it was not up to private citizens to decide whether to go to war – it was up to Congress.
Then Perle answered. Perle was in London at the time – and they had a giant video screen up there for him to be seen. The hearing setting looked like a scene out of Dr. Strangelove. And there was a giant flag just to Perle’s right – sort of like the Fox News Network on amphetamines.

Perle opined: “Well, I find the question a particularly troubling question because the suggestion is that somehow it is illegitimate to make recommendation with respect to what one believes is in the best interest of the country and all of our citizens except in some intensely personal context. And if I were in a position to serve, I would do so. But, that seems to me quite the wrong question, Congressman. The question is how do we best protect the citizens of this country.”
Woolsey chimed in: “This so-called chicken hawk argument does seem to me to be an extraordinarily unworthy argument. And I think Senator John McCain has put it exactly where it belongs. For one thing it says that if an American women or an openly gay American man supports the war that an opinion is unworthy or an over age, military age, American man, that that is an unworthy and ought to be an unconsidered opinion because none of those people are going to serve in combat. And I join Mr. Perle in saying that I think that it’s an extraordinarily unworthy ad hominem argument.”

Now – congressman Paul had not accused the two distinguished witnesses of being chickenhawks – they were the ones that brought this up. But simply to directly challenge them made both Perle and Woolsey go strutting as if they had suffered some terrible insult. I mean – since they were advocating killing foreigners – of course they had good intentions, right?

Paul has done great work for freedom for decades – as far back as the mid-70s. His foundation for Foundation for Rational Economic Education (FREE) has done cutting-edge work- such as its recent publication of his speech, “The Case Against the Police State.” His Liberty Committee has worked mightily to educate fellow congressmen on the danger of Leviathan.
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Same venue, a year later after Terrorism & Tyranny (St. Martin’s Press) came out. With Ron Paul’s congressional staffers Norm Singleton and Adam Dick.

Reprinted with permission from JimBovard.com.]]>
http://www.ronpaulinstitute.org/archives/featured-articles/2019/march/23/iraq-war-anniversary-ron-paul-s-opposition-scored-the-szasz-award-for-civil-liberties/ http://www.ronpaulinstitute.org/archives/featured-articles/2019/march/23/iraq-war-anniversary-ron-paul-s-opposition-scored-the-szasz-award-for-civil-liberties/ Sat, 23 Mar 2019 22:39:45 GMT
With RussiaGate Over Where’s Hillary? Tom Luongo http://www.ronpaulinstitute.org/archives/featured-articles/2019/march/23/with-russiagate-over-where-s-hillary/

During most of the RussiaGate investigation against Donald Trump, I kept saying that all roads lead to Hillary Clinton.

Anyone with three working brain cells knew this, including ‘Miss’ Maddow, whose tears of disappointment are particularly delicious.

Robert Mueller’s investigation was designed from the beginning to create something out of nothing. It did this admirably.

It was so effective it paralyzed the country for more than two years, just like Europe has been held hostage by Brexit. And all of this because, in the end, the elites I call The Davos Crowd refused to accept that the people no longer believed their lies about the benefits of their neoliberal, globalist agenda.

Hillary Clinton’s ascension to the Presidency was to be their apotheosis along with the Brexit vote. These were meant to lay to rest, once and for all time, the vaguely libertarian notion that people should rule themselves and not be ruled by philosopher kings in some distant land.

Hillary’s failure was enormous. And the RussiaGate gambit to destroy Trump served a laundry list of purposes to cover it:

1) Undermine his legitimacy before he even takes office.

2) Accuse him of what Hillary actually did: collude with Russians and Ukrainians to effect the outcome of the election.

3) Paralyze Trump on his foreign policy desires to scale back the Empire.

4) Give aid and comfort to hurting progressives and radicalize them further undermining our political system.

5) Polarize the electorate over the false choice of Trump’s guilt.

6) Paralyze the Dept. of Justice and Congress so that they would not uncover the massive corruption in the intelligence agencies in the US and the UK.

7) Isolate Trump and take away every ally or potential ally he could have by turning them against him through prosecutor overreach.

Hillary should have been thrown to the wolves after she failed. When you fail the people she failed and cost them the money she cost them, you lose more than just your funding. What this tells you is that she has so much dirt on everyone involved, once this thing started everyone went along with it lest she burn them down as well.

Burnin’ Down da House

Hillary is the epitome of envy. Envy is the destructive sin of coveting someone else’s life so much they are obsessed with destroying it. It’s the sin of Cain

She envies what Trump has, the Presidency.

And she was willing to tear it down to keep him from having it no matter how much damage it would do. She’s worse than the Joker from The Dark Knight.

Because while the Joker is unfathomable to someone with a conscience there’s little stopping us from excising him from the community completely, even though Batman refuses.

Hillary hates us for who we are and what we won’t give her. And that animus drove her to blackmail the world while putting on the face of its savior.

And that’s what makes what comes next so obvious to me. RussiaGate was never a sustainable narrative. It was ludicrous from the beginning. And now that it has ended with a whimper there are a lot of angry, confused and scared people out there.

Mueller thought all he had to do was lean on corrupt people and threaten them with everything. They would turn on Trump. He would resign in disgrace from the public outcry.

It didn’t work. In the end Paul Manafort, Michael Cohen and Roger Stone all held their ground or perjured themselves into the whole thing falling apart.

Andrew Weissman’s resignation last month was your tell there was nothing. Mueller would pursue this to the limit of his personal reputation and no further.

Just like so many other politicians.

Vote Your Pocketbook

With respect to Brexit I’ve been convinced that it would come down to reputations.

Would the British MP’s vote against their own personal best interests to do the bidding of the EU?

Would Theresa May eventually realize her historical reputation would be destroyed if she caves to Brussels and betrays Brexit in the end?

Always bet on the fecklessness of politicians. They will always act selfishly when put to the test. While leading RussiaGate, Mueller was always headed here if he couldn’t get someone to betray Trump.

And now his report is in. There are no new indictments. And by doing so he is saving his reputation for the future. And that is your biggest tell that HIllary’s blackmail is now worthless.

They don’t fear her anymore because RussiaGate outed her as the architect. Anything else she has is irrelevant in the face of trying to oust a sitting president from power.

The progressives that were convinced of Trump’s treason are bereft; their false hope stripped away like standing in front of a sandblaster. They will be raw, angry and looking for blood after they get over their denial.

Everyone else who was blackmailed into going along with this lunacy will begin cutting deals to save their skins. The outrage over this will not end. Trump will be President when he stands for re-election.

The Wolves Beckon

The Democrats do not have a chance against him as of right now. When he was caving on everything back in December it looked like he was done. That there was enough meat on the RussiaGate bones to make Nancy Pelosi brave.

Then she backed off on impeachment talk. Oops.

But the Democrats have a sincere problem. Their candidates have no solutions other than to embrace the crazy and go full Bolshevik. That is not a winning position.

Trump will kill them on ‘socialism.’

The Deep State and The Davos Crowd stand revealed and reviled.

If they don’t do something dramatic then the anger from the rest of the country will also be palpable come election time. Justice is not done simply by saying, “No evidence of collusion.”

It’s clear that RussiaGate is a failure of monumental proportions. Heads will have to roll. But who will be willing to fall on their sword at this point?

Comey? No. McCabe? No.

There is only one answer. And Obama’s people are still in place to protect him. I said last fall that “Hillary would indict herself.” And I meant it. Eventually her blackmail and drive to burn it all down led to this moment.

The circumstances are different than I expected back then, Trump didn’t win the mid-terms. But the end result was always the same. If there is no collusion, if RussiaGate is a scam, then all roads lead back to Hillary as the sacrificial lamb.

Because the bigger project, the erection of a transnational superstate, is bigger than any one person. Hillary is expendable.

Lies are expensive to maintain. The truth is cheap to defend. Think of the billions in opportunity costs associated with this. Once the costs rise above the benefits, change happens fast.

If there is any hope of salvaging the center of this country for the Democrats, the ones that voted against Hillary in 2016, then there is no reason anymore not to indict Hillary as the architect of RussiaGate.

We all know it’s the truth. So, the cheapest way out of this mess for them is to give the MAGApedes what they want, Hillary.

And hope that is enough bread and circuses to distract from the real storm ahead of us.

Reprinted with permission from TomLuongo.me.]]>
http://www.ronpaulinstitute.org/archives/featured-articles/2019/march/23/with-russiagate-over-where-s-hillary/ http://www.ronpaulinstitute.org/archives/featured-articles/2019/march/23/with-russiagate-over-where-s-hillary/ Sat, 23 Mar 2019 15:12:25 GMT
The Mueller Report Is In. They Were Wrong. We Were Right. Caitlin Johnstone http://www.ronpaulinstitute.org/archives/featured-articles/2019/march/23/the-mueller-report-is-in-they-were-wrong-we-were-right/

The Robert Mueller investigation which monopolized political discourse for two years has finally concluded, and his anxiously awaited report has been submitted to Attorney General William Barr. The results are in and the debate is over: those advancing the conspiracy theory that the Kremlin has infiltrated the highest levels of the US government were wrong, and those of us voicing skepticism of this were right.

The contents of the report are still secret, but CNN’s Justice Department reporter Laura Jarrett has told us all we need to know, tweeting, “Special Counsel Mueller is not recommending ANY further indictments am told.” On top of that, William Barr said in a letter to congressional leaders that there has been no obstruction of Mueller’s investigation by Justice Department officials.

So that’s it, then. A completely unhindered investigation has failed to convict a single American of any kind of conspiracy with the Russian government, and no further indictments are coming. The political/media class which sold rank-and-file Americans on the lie that the Mueller investigation was going to bring down this presidency were liars and frauds, and none of the goalpost-moving that I am sure is already beginning to happen will change that.
It has been obvious from the very beginning that the Maddow Muppets were being sold a lie. In 2017 I wrote an article titled “How We Can Be Certain That Mueller Won’t Prove Trump-Russia Collusion”, saying that Mueller would continue finding evidence of corruption “since corruption is to DC insiders as water is to fish”, but he will not find evidence of collusion. If you care to take a scroll through the angry comments on that article, just on Medium alone, you will see a frozen snapshot of what the expectations were from mainstream liberals at the time. They had swallowed the Russiagate narrative hook, line and sinker, and they believed that the Mueller investigation was going to vindicate them. It did not.

I’ve been saying Russiagate is b.s. from the beginning, and I’ve been called a Trump shill, a Kremlin propagandist, a Nazi and a troll every day for saying so by credulous mass media-consuming dupes who drank the Kool Aid. And I’ve only taken a fraction of the flack more high profile Russiagate skeptics like Glenn Greenwald and Michael Tracey have been getting for expressing doubt in the Gospel According to Maddow. The insane, maniacal McCarthyite feeding frenzy that these people were plunged into by nonstop mass media propaganda drowned out the important voices who tried to argue that public energy was being sucked into Russia hysteria and used to manufacture support for dangerous cold war escalations with a nuclear superpower.

Just think what we could have done with that energy over the last two years. Think how much public support could have been poured into the sweeping progressive reforms called for by the Sanders movement, for example, instead of constant demands for more sanctions and nuclear posturing against Russia. Think how much more attention could have been drawn to Trump’s actual horrific policies like his facilitation of Saudi butchery in Yemen or his regime change agendas in Iran and Venezuela, his support for ecocide and military expansionism and the barbarism of Jair Bolsonaro and Benjamin Netanyahu. Think how much more energy could have gone into beating back the Republicans in the midterms, reclaiming far more House seats and taking the Senate as well, gathering momentum for a presidential candidacy that truly threatens Trump instead of 9,000 primary candidates who will probably be selected by superdelegates after the first ballot when there’s too many of them to establish a clear majority under the new rules.
We must never let them forget what they did or what they cost us all. We must never let mainstream Democrats forget how crazy they got, how much time and energy they wasted, how very, very wrong they were and how very, very right we were.

Never stop reminding them of this. Never stop mocking them for it. Never stop mocking their idiotic Rachel Maddow worship. Never stop mocking the Robert Mueller prayer candles. Never stop making fun of the way they blamed all their problems on Susan Sarandon. Never stop reminding them of those stupid pink vagina hats. Never stop mocking them for elevating Louise Mensch and Eric Garland. Never stop mocking them for creating the f**king Krassenstein brothers.

Every politician, every media figure, every Twitter pundit and everyone who swallowed this moronic load of bull spunk has officially discredited themselves for life. Going forward, authority and credibility rests solely with those who kept clear eyes and clear heads during the mass media propaganda blitzkrieg, not with those who were stupid enough to believe what they were told about the behaviors of a noncompliant government in a post-Iraq invasion world. The people who steered us into two years of Russiavape insanity are the very last people anyone should ever listen to ever again when determining the future direction of our world.

Reprinted with permission from Medium.com.
Support Ms. Johnstone's work on Patreon or Paypal.
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http://www.ronpaulinstitute.org/archives/featured-articles/2019/march/23/the-mueller-report-is-in-they-were-wrong-we-were-right/ http://www.ronpaulinstitute.org/archives/featured-articles/2019/march/23/the-mueller-report-is-in-they-were-wrong-we-were-right/ Sat, 23 Mar 2019 12:49:05 GMT
Human Rights as Seen by the White House: Concessions to Israel Are Notable Philip Giraldi http://www.ronpaulinstitute.org/archives/featured-articles/2019/march/22/human-rights-as-seen-by-the-white-house-concessions-to-israel-are-notable/

The State Department’s just issued annual Human Rights Report for 2018 is a disgrace, a document so heavily politicized by Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and his crew of hardliners that it might be regarded as a model in how to make something that is black appear to be white. Which is not to say that it is not cleverly composed, quite the contrary, but it uses its choice of words and expressions to mitigate or even dismiss some actual human rights abuses while regarding as more grave other lesser offenses to make political points. And then there is what it does not say, deliberate omissions intended to frame situations in terms favorable to America and its dwindling number of friends in the world.

Not surprisingly, the region that has received the most massaging by the authors of the report is the Middle East, where an effort has been made to depict Israel in a positive light while also denigrating the Palestinians and Iranians. The language used regarding Israel’s occupation of much of the West Bank and the Golan Heights has been particularly welcomed by the government of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and also by the Israeli media. The word “occupation” or “occupied” to describe the status quo of those areas administered by the Israeli military has been dropped in favor of "Israeli controlled." The difference is important as occupation has specific legal implications defined by the Geneva Conventions in terms of what the occupying power can and cannot do. To starve and dispossess the Arab inhabitants of the occupied area, as the Israelis are doing to build their settlements, is a war crime. Also, an occupation must have a terminus ante quem date whereby the occupation itself must end. It cannot be permanent.

The new language is a gift to Israel on the eve of its April 9th election and it allows incumbent Benjamin Netanyahu to claim that he is the candidate best able to obtain concessions from Washington. America’s so-called Ambassador to Israel is a former Trump bankruptcy lawyer named David Friedman who is more involved in serving up Israeli propaganda than in supporting the actual interests of the United States. He probably believes that what is good for Israelis is good for Americans.

Friedman personally supports the view that the illegal Jewish settlements are legitimately part of Israel, choosing to ignore their expansion even though it has long been US policy to oppose them. He has also long sought to change the State Department’s language on the Israeli control of the West Bank and Golan Heights, being particularly concerned about the expression “occupied” which has previously appeared in US government texts describing the situation in the Israel-Palestine region. Friedman now appears to have won the fight over language, to the delight of the Netanyahu government.

And the elimination of “occupied” will apparently be only the first of several gifts intended to bolster Netanyahu’s chances. Senator Lindsey Graham, who also boasts of his close ties to the Israeli Prime Minister, recently stated his intention to initiate legislative action to go one step further and compel the United States to actually recognize Israel’s sovereignty over the Golan Heights, the Syrian territory that was annexed after fighting in 1967, but which has not been recognized as part of Israel by any other country or international body.

Last Thursday, President Donald Trump announced that the Senate vote promoted by Graham would not be necessary, that he would order the State Department to recognize Israeli sovereignty over the area. This will hugely benefit Bibi and further damage America’s standing in the Middle East and beyond. Some sources are already predicting that recognition of the annexation of the Golan Heights will soon lead to US government recognition of Israel’s sovereignty over much of the West Bank, both ending forever any prospect for a Palestinian state and making it clear that the United States is running a foreign policy to benefit Israel.

There is, of course, much more in the Human Rights Report. The executive summary and first section on Israel and Palestine include text that could easily have come from an Israeli government press release or been featured as an editorial in the New York Post, Washington Post or Wall Street Journal: “Human rights issues included reports of unlawful or arbitrary killings, including Palestinian killings of Israeli civilians and soldiers…From March 30 to December 5, Palestinian militant groups launched more than 1,150 rockets and mortars from the Gaza Strip toward arbitrary or civilian targets in Israel. Gaza-based militants shot and killed one Israeli soldier, and a rocket launched by Gaza-based militants killed one Palestinian laborer in Ashkelon. More than 200 Israelis required treatment from these attacks, mostly for shock. Beginning on March 30, Israeli forces engaged in conflict with Palestinians at the Gaza fence, including armed terrorists, militants who launched incendiary devices into Israel, and unarmed protesters. This occurred during mass protests co-opted by terrorist organization Hamas and dubbed a ‘March of Return.’ The government stated that since March 30 it had been ‘contending with violent attempts led by Hamas to sabotage and destroy Israel’s defensive security infrastructure separating Israel from the Gaza Strip, penetrate Israel’s territory, harm Israeli security forces, overrun Israeli civilian areas, and murder Israeli civilians.’”

A separate report section on Gaza adds “On March 30, Palestinians in Gaza launched the ‘March of Return,’ a series of weekly protests along the fence between Gaza and Israel. The protests, some of which drew tens of thousands of people, and included armed terrorists, militants who launched incendiary devices into Israel, and unarmed protesters, continued throughout the year. Hamas took control of the weekly protests, and many of the protests were violent as encouraged by Hamas.”

Interestingly, the Report does not even have a dedicated section on Iran, only providing a link to a separate document: “Read the State Department's new report detailing the magnitude of the Iranian regime's destructive behavior at home and abroad. The report covers Iran's support for terrorism, its missile program, illicit financial activities, threats to maritime security and cybersecurity, human rights abuses, as well as environmental exploitation.” A second link is to a speech by Secretary of State Mike Pompeo given before the neocon group United Against Nuclear Iran: "The Iranian regime’s track record over the past 40 years has revealed it as among the worst violators of the UN Charter and UN Security Council resolutions – perhaps, indeed, the worst violator. It is truly an outlaw regime."

Exonerating perpetual victim Israel of all its misdeeds and blaming the Israel-Palestine problem on the Palestinians while also labeling them as “terrorists” is both delusional and propaganda, not responsible analysis. Nor is damning Iran when speaking before a partisan group and falsely calling it a “worst violator of the U.N. Charter and U.N. Security Council resolutions” exactly informative. It is actually Israel that is the worst violator of U.N. Security Council resolutions, a fact that is not mentioned in the Human Rights Report.

One might well question why to write a Human Rights Report at all, but that is something that can be blamed on Congress, which ordered the State Department to prepare it. And one should note the key omission in the document: there is no admission of causality. The United States foreign and national security policies over the past twenty years have created a “human rights” disaster mostly in Asia but also elsewhere, a virtual tsunami rolling over ruined countries that has killed millions of people while also displacing millions more. In reckoning the terrible circumstances being endured by many in so many places there is no mention of the American role. And, unfortunately, there is no section in the Human Rights Report for “United States of America.

Reprinted with permission from American Herald Tribune.]]>
http://www.ronpaulinstitute.org/archives/featured-articles/2019/march/22/human-rights-as-seen-by-the-white-house-concessions-to-israel-are-notable/ http://www.ronpaulinstitute.org/archives/featured-articles/2019/march/22/human-rights-as-seen-by-the-white-house-concessions-to-israel-are-notable/ Fri, 22 Mar 2019 19:07:49 GMT
Russia Gives US Red Line on Venezuela Finian Cunningham http://www.ronpaulinstitute.org/archives/featured-articles/2019/march/22/russia-gives-us-red-line-on-venezuela/

At a high-level meeting in Rome this week, it seems that Russia reiterated a grave warning to the US – Moscow will not tolerate American military intervention to topple the Venezuelan government with whom it is allied.

Meanwhile, back in Washington DC, President Donald Trump was again bragging that the military option was still on the table, in his press conference with Brazilian counterpart Jair Bolsonaro. Trump is bluffing or not yet up to speed with being apprised of Russia’s red line.

The meeting in the Italian capital between US “special envoy” on Venezuelan affairs Elliot Abrams and Russia’s deputy foreign minister Sergei Ryabkov had an air of urgency in its arrangement. The US State Department announced the tête-à-tête only three days beforehand. The two officials also reportedly held their two-hour discussions in a Rome hotel, a venue indicating ad hoc arrangement.

Abrams is no ordinary diplomat. He is a regime-change specialist with a criminal record for sponsoring terrorist operations, specifically the infamous Iran-Contra affair to destabilize Nicaragua during the 1980s. His appointment by President Trump to the “Venezuela file” only underscores the serious intent in Washington for regime change in Caracas. Whether it gets away with that intent is another matter.

Moscow’s interlocutor, Sergei Ryabkov, is known to not mince his words, having earlier castigated Washington for seeking global military domination. He calls a spade a spade, and presumably a criminal a criminal.

The encounter in Rome this week was described as “frank” and “serious” – which is diplomatic code for a blazing exchange. The timing comes at a high-stakes moment, after Venezuela having been thrown into chaos last week from civilian power blackouts that many observers, including the Kremlin, blame on American cyber sabotage. The power grid outage followed a failed attempt by Washington to stage a provocation with the Venezuelan military over humanitarian aid deliveries last month from neighboring Colombia.

The fact that Washington’s efforts to overthrow the elected President Nicolas Maduro have so far floundered, might suggest that the Americans are intensifying their campaign to destabilize the country, with the objective of installing US-backed opposition figure Juan Guaido. He declared himself “acting president” in January with Washington’s imprimatur.

Given that the nationwide power blackouts seem to have failed in fomenting a revolt by the civilian population or the military against Maduro, the next option tempting Washington could be the military one.

It seems significant that Washington has recently evacuated its last remaining diplomats from the South American country. US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo commented on the evacuation by saying that having US personnel on the ground “was limiting” Washington’s scope for action. Also, American Airlines reportedly cancelled all its services to Venezuela in the past week. Again, suggesting that the US was considering a military intervention, either directly with its troops or covertly by weaponizing local proxies. The latter certainly falls under Abrams’ purview.

After the Rome meeting, Ryabkov said bluntly: “We assume that Washington treats our priorities seriously, our approach and warnings.”

One of those warnings delivered by Ryabkov is understood to have been that no American military intervention in Venezuela will be tolerated by Moscow.

For his part, Abrams sounded as if he had emerged from the meeting after having been given a severe reprimand. “No, we did not come to a meeting of minds, but I think the talks were positive in the sense that both sides emerged with a better understanding of the other’s views,” he told reporters.

“A better understanding of the other’s views,” means that the American side was given a red line to back off.

The arrogance of the Americans is staggering. Abrams seems, according to US reporting, to have flown to Rome with the expectation of working out with Ryabkov a “transition” or “compromise” on who gets the “title of president” of Venezuela.

That’s what he no doubt meant when he said after the meeting “there was not a meeting of minds”, but rather he got “a better understanding” of Russia’s position.

Washington’s gambit is a replay of Syria. During the eight-year war in that country, the US continually proffered the demand of a “political transition” which at the end would see President Bashar al Assad standing down. By contrast, Russia’s unflinching position on Syria has always been that it’s not up to any external power to decide Syria’s politics. It is a sovereign matter for the Syrian people to determine independently.

Nearly three years after Russia intervened militarily in Syria to salvage the Arab country from a US-backed covert war for regime change, the American side has manifestly given up on its erstwhile imperious demands for “political transition”. The principle of Syrian sovereignty has prevailed, in large part because of Russia’s trenchant defense of its Arab ally.

Likewise, Washington, in its incorrigible arrogance, is getting another lesson from Russia – this time in its own presumed “back yard” of Latin America.

It’s not a question of Russia being inveigled by Washington’s regime-change schemers about who should be president of Venezuela and “how we can manage a transition”. Moscow has reiterated countless times that the legitimate president of Venezuela is Nicolas Maduro whom the people voted for last year by an overwhelming majority in a free and fair election – albeit boycotted by the US-orchestrated opposition.

The framework Washington is attempting to set up of choosing between their desired “interim president” and incumbent Maduro is an entirely spurious one. It is not even worthy to be discussed because it is a gross violation of Venezuela’s sovereignty. Who is Washington to even dare try to impose its false choice?

On Venezuela, Russia is having to remind the criminal American rulers – again – about international law and respect for national sovereignty, as Moscow earlier did with regard to Syria.

And in case Washington gets into a huff and tries the military option, Moscow this week told regime-change henchman Abrams that that’s a red line. If Washington has any sense of rationale left, it will know from its Syria fiasco that Russia has Venezuela’s back covered.

Political force is out. Military force is out. Respect international law and Venezuela’s sovereignty. That’s Russia’s eminently reasonable ultimatum to Washington.

Now, the desperate Americans could still try more sabotage, cyber or financial. But their options are limited, contrary to what Trump thinks.

How the days of American imperialist swagger are numbered. There was a time when it could rampage all over Latin America. Not any more, evidently. Thanks in part to Russia’s global standing and military power.

Reprinted with permission from Strategic Culture Foundation.]]>
http://www.ronpaulinstitute.org/archives/featured-articles/2019/march/22/russia-gives-us-red-line-on-venezuela/ http://www.ronpaulinstitute.org/archives/featured-articles/2019/march/22/russia-gives-us-red-line-on-venezuela/ Fri, 22 Mar 2019 13:55:52 GMT
Conscription Is Slavery Jacob G. Hornberger http://www.ronpaulinstitute.org/archives/featured-articles/2019/march/21/conscription-is-slavery/

Last month a federal judge in Texas declared the all-male military draft to be unconstitutional because it applies only to men and not also to women. The decision flies in the face of a decision by the Supreme Court in 1981 that upheld the constitutionality of the draft-registration process. Back then, however, women were not permitted to serve in combat roles, which was the justification for the Court’s ruling. Today, women are permitted to serve in combat roles, a point cited by that Texas federal judge.

While the controversy might seem academic given that we haven’t had conscription for several decades, that could change on a moment’s notice. Given the propensity of US officials, from the president down, to embroil the United States in foreign wars, lots of fathers and mothers might suddenly be shocked to see their daughters suddenly being hauled off to boot camp and then to war, where they would face the possibility of being shot, bombed, killed, injured, maimed, or raped. Lots of young women might also be shocked.

Yes, I know America has a volunteer army. And yes, I know that it has proven sufficient to fight America’s forever foreign wars for the past several decades. But the fact is that all that could change overnight if US officials were to embroil the United States in a war that the volunteer army couldn’t handle on its own. In that case, the Pentagon and the CIA would not hesitate to advise the president to immediately initiate the draft.

After all, that’s the point of draft registration. When a male reaches the age of 18, he is required by law to register for the draft. With draft registration, the Pentagon has a ready list of people to conscript at a moment’s notice, should the necessity arise.

What happens if a young man refuses to register for the draft? He is criminally prosecuted, convicted, fined, and sentenced to jail. There is nothing voluntary about draft registration.

Questions naturally arise. Does that District Court’s order mean that young men no longer have to register for the draft? I could be wrong but it sure seems to me that reliance on a US District Judge’s judicial decision might be a legitimate defense in a criminal prosecution for refusing to register. To obviate that possibility, the Pentagon and the CIA will almost certainly advise the Justice Department to appeal the ruling. Or will draft registration — and, by implication, the draft — now be extended to women to make it constitutional? Or is it possible that draft registration will be ended entirely?

For anyone concerned about the principles of freedom, there is only one right answer: End the draft itself and never implement it again. A permanent ban on conscription is the ideal insofar as freedom is concerned.

After all, we call it by that fancy word “conscription” or even by the less fancy term “the draft,” but the fact is that it’s really nothing more than slavery. The state orders a person to leave his life and report to a military installation, where he is required to serve the state, specifically the military, and obey its orders. The draftee has no effective choice. If he refuses, he goes to jail.

That’s the very essence of slavery. A slave is required to serve another person or another entity. He has no effective choice. If he refuses, he is severely punished.

There is no way to reconcile conscription with the principles of a free society. The big problem, of course, is that Americans have been born and raised under this system and, equally important, have been taught that they are living in a free society. Therefore, most Americans (libertarians excepted, of course) are not able to recognize that it’s the exact opposite — that everyone is living in an unfree society, one in which everyone within a certain age group can be enslaved on a moment’s notice and be forced to kill or be killed in one of the national-security establishment’s foreign wars. Ironically, with conscription freedom is destroyed in the name of protecting “freedom” or “national security” in some faraway land.

Statists say that sometimes conscription us necessary to win a war and, therefore, that there’s nothing wrong with enslaving people temporarily for the greater good of the nation.

But when people have to be forced to fight in a particular war, that’s a good sign that the government shouldn’t be waging that war. When a genuinely free people are invaded by a foreign army, most of the citizenry are going to fight to preserve their freedom and well-being. A free people don’t need to be forced to fight.

But when a regime embroils the nation in a faraway war, the situation changes. Suddenly, people say to themselves: That conflict doesn’t involve me, my family, or my nation. I’m staying out of it. That’s when the state resorts to conscription — to force people to fight in those faraway lands and to kill or be killed.

That’s why American men had to be enslaved to fight in the Vietnam War, the Korean War, World War I, and World War II. Not enough American men were willing to volunteer to fight in those foreign wars. It wasn’t worth it to them. So, US officials forced them to do so through conscription.

Maybe the solution is to reenact the Thirteenth Amendment in a modified form, as follows:
Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, except as a punishment for crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted, shall exist within the United States, or any place subject to their jurisdiction. And this time we mean it.
Reprinted with permission from Future of Freedom Foundation.]]>
http://www.ronpaulinstitute.org/archives/featured-articles/2019/march/21/conscription-is-slavery/ http://www.ronpaulinstitute.org/archives/featured-articles/2019/march/21/conscription-is-slavery/ Thu, 21 Mar 2019 18:55:16 GMT
'Shock & Awe'? 16 Years Later, Who Won The Iraq War? Daniel McAdams http://www.ronpaulinstitute.org/archives/featured-articles/2019/march/21/shock-awe-16-years-later-who-won-the-iraq-war/
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http://www.ronpaulinstitute.org/archives/featured-articles/2019/march/21/shock-awe-16-years-later-who-won-the-iraq-war/ http://www.ronpaulinstitute.org/archives/featured-articles/2019/march/21/shock-awe-16-years-later-who-won-the-iraq-war/ Thu, 21 Mar 2019 16:50:34 GMT
On The Anniversary Of The Iraq Invasion, Bush Press Secretary Claims Bush Didn’t Lie Caitlin Johnstone http://www.ronpaulinstitute.org/archives/featured-articles/2019/march/21/on-the-anniversary-of-the-iraq-invasion-bush-press-secretary-claims-bush-didn-t-lie/

On the sixteenth anniversary of the invasion of Iraq, as the US government threatens punitive action against International Criminal Court investigators for attempting to look into US war crimes, former George W Bush administration Press Secretary Ari Fleischer has decided to publish a Twitter thread claiming that Bush did not lie to the world about Iraq.

Here is a transcript of the full thread by Fleischer:
The Iraq war began sixteen years ago tomorrow. There is a myth about the war that I have been meaning to set straight for years. After no WMDs were found, the left claimed “Bush lied. People died.” This accusation itself is a lie. It’s time to put it to rest.

The fact is that President Bush (and I as press secretary) faithfully and accurately reported to the public what the intelligence community concluded. The CIA, along with the intelligence services of Egypt, France, Israel and others concluded that Saddam had WMD. We all turned out to be wrong. That is very different from lying.

After the war, a bipartisan group was created to determine what went wrong, particularly why the intelligence community’s conclusions about Iraq were so different from what was found on the ground after the war. The group of experts was named the Robb-Silberman commission. It’s report was issued in March 2005. It can be found in full here. Its key finding was that that a “major intelligence failure” took place. It also stated that no intelligence service was pressured by the Bush Administration to conclude that Saddam had WMDs.

Here are the key quotes from their report:

“Overall Commission Finding: The Intelligence Community’s performance in assessing Iraq’s pre-war weapons of mass destruction programs was a major intelligence failure.

Nuclear Weapons Summary Finding: The Intelligence Community seriously misjudged the status of Iraq’s alleged nuclear weapons program in the 2002 NIE and other pre-Iraq war intelligence products. This misjudgment stemmed chiefly from the Community’s failure to analyze correctly Iraq’s reasons for attempting to procure high-strength aluminum tubes.

Biological Warfare Summary Finding: The Intelligence Community seriously misjudged the status of Iraq’s biological weapons program in the 2002 NIE and other pre-war intelligence products. The primary reason for this misjudgment was the Intelligence Community’s heavy reliance on a human source — codenamed ‘Curveball’ — whose information later proved to be unreliable.

Chemical Warfare Summary Finding: The Intelligence Community erred in its 2002 NIE assessment of Iraq’s alleged chemical warfare program. The Community’s substantial overestimation of Iraq’s chemical warfare program was due chiefly to flaws in analysis and the paucity of quality information collected. In the case of Iraq, collectors of intelligence absorbed the prevailing analytic consensus and tended to reject or ignore contrary information. The result was ‘tunnel vision’ focusing on the Intelligence Community’s existing assumptions. The Intelligence Community did not make or change any analytic judgments in response to political pressure to reach a particular conclusion, but the pervasive conventional wisdom that Saddam retained WMD affected the analytic process. The CIA took too long to admit error in Iraq, and its Weapons Intelligence, Nonproliferation, and Arms Control Center actively discouraged analysts from investigating errors.

Finally, we closely examined the possibility that intelligence analysts were pressured by policymakers to change their judgments about Iraq’s nuclear, biological, and chemical weapons programs. The analysts who worked Iraqi weapons issues universally agreed that in no instance did political pressure cause them to skew or alter any of their analytical judgments.”

That is what the investigators reported, after been given full access to people throughout the intelligence community. Which leads me to conclude that there was a liar and his name was Saddam Hussein. He created an elaborate system of lies to fool western intelligence services and he succeeded. He wanted us to believe he had WMDs.

The allegaton that “Bush lied. People died” is a liberal myth created to politically target President Bush. I understand the anger that was felt after no WMDs were found. But that doesn’t justify calling the President a liar. I can only hope that serious historians and other experts do their homework and resist falling for this myth.
Ari Fleischer is lying. It is an absolute proven fact that George W Bush and his administration lied extensively about the degree of certainty in intelligence regarding Saddam Hussein possessing weapons of mass destruction, having ties to Al Qaeda, and seeking nuclear weapons, all of which (along with Vice President Cheney’s claim that the US invaders would be “greeted as liberators”) proved false. The Bush administration did not know the things they claimed to know with any degree of certainty, but they claimed that they were certain in order to manufacture support for war. Claiming to know something you do not know is lying, especially when it’s to advance an ulterior motive.

“Evidence from intelligence sources, secret communications and statements by people now in custody reveal that Saddam Hussein aids and protects terrorists, including members of Al Qaeda,” Bush claimed in January 2003. “Secretly, and without fingerprints, he could provide one of his hidden weapons to terrorists, or help them develop their own.”

“Simply stated, there is no doubt that Saddam Hussein now has weapons of mass destruction,” Cheney claimed in August 2002. “There is no doubt he is amassing them to use against our friends, against our allies, and against us.”

“The United States knows that Iraq has weapons of mass destruction,” Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld said in December 2002. “Any country on the face of the earth with an active intelligence program knows that Iraq has weapons of mass destruction.”

“We are absolutely sure they have continued to develop weapons of mass destruction, and we are sure they have in their possession weapons of mass destruction,” Secretary of State Colin Powell said in December 2002.

“My colleagues, every statement I make today is backed up by sources, solid sources,” Powell told the United Nations Security Council in his infamous Iraq presentation in February 2003. “These are not assertions. What we’re giving you are facts and conclusions based on solid intelligence.”

“People will continue to debate this issue, but there is no doubt in my mind,” Powell said in the same presentation. “These illicit procurement efforts show that Saddam Hussein is very much focused on putting in place the key missing piece from his nuclear weapons program, the ability to produce fissile material.”

Powell was not nearly as certain as he claimed to be. None of them were. Facts revealed after the invasion prove that for all their public claims of complete and total certainty that Saddam had weapons of mass destruction, was aiding and abetting Al Qaida, and was developing nuclear weapons, behind the veil of government secrecy there was nothing like certainty at all.



For starters, Rafid Ahmed Alwan al-Janabi, who was cited in Powell’s presentation and who Fleischer refers to by the code name “Curveball” in the above thread, was known to have been lying about bioweapons long before the invasion. Despite the confident assertions made by the Bush administration about Janabi’s claims to the public, no American personnel were present when he made those claims, and he told the Guardian in 2011that the BND (the German intelligence agency who interrogated him) had known he was lying all along.

“The BND [German intelligence] knew in 2000 that I was lying after they talked to my former boss, Dr Bassil Latif, who told them there were no mobile bioweapons factories,” Janabi said. “For 18 months after that they left me alone because they knew I was telling lies even though I never admitted it. Believe me, back then, I thought the whole thing was over for me. Then all of a sudden [in the run up to the 2003 invasion] they came back to me and started asking for more details about what I had told them. I still don’t know why the BND then passed on my information to the CIA and it ended up in Powell’s speech.”

Colonel Lawrence Wilkerson was Powell’s chief of staff and helped him prepare his UN presentation on Iraq. When asked on MSNBC if he believed he was lied to about Janabi following the 2011 revelation, Wilkerson told Cenk Uygur that “I cannot come to any other conclusion, especially when I have discovered that no US personnel were present when Curveball was interrogated by the BND, the German intelligence service. That we accepted that, that we even had a head of the European division for the CIA, Tyler Drumheller, who at the last minute during Powell’s preparation, during my preparation of the secretary, had told both Tenet and McLaughlin that Curveball might not be reliable. That information was never relayed to the Secretary of State, or to me. I have some serious doubts about it now. I think there was some manipulation of this material, and there was some outright lying.”

When asked by Uygur who he thought lied to him, Wilkerson said one of WINPAC’s two WMD experts at the time may have been answering directly to Dick Cheney’s office.



declassified report from 2002 titled Iraq: Status of WMD Programs reveals that while the Bush administration was making its claims of absolute certainty regarding the dangers posed by the Iraqi government, behind the scenes it was damn near the opposite. Some choice excerpts:
“Our assessments rely heavily on analytic assumptions and judgment rather than hard evidence. The evidentiary base is particularly sparse for Iraqi nuclear programs.”

“We range from 0% to about 75% knowledge on various aspects of their program.”

“Our knowledge of the Iraqi (nuclear) weapons program is based largely — perhaps 90% — on analysis of imprecise intelligence.”

“We cannot confirm the identity of any Iraqi facilities that produce, test, fill, or store biological weapons.”

“Our knowledge of what biological weapons the Iraqis are able to produce is nearly complete. Our knowledge of how and where they are produced is nearly 90% incomplete.”

“We do not know the status of enrichment capabilities. We do not know with confidence the location of any nuclear-weapon-related facilities.”

“Please take a look at this material as to what we don’t know about WMD. It is big.” (That one was from Rumsfeld.)

“We don’t know with any precision how much we don’t know.”
This is not the language of certainty. Yet certainty was presented to the public to manufacture support for a war which murdered a million Iraqis.



The 2002 Downing Street memo, made public in 2005, reveals a secret meeting between senior officials of the British government, intelligence and defense agencies discussing what they knew about America’s plans for war. The text of the document contains an assertion by the head of MI6 that Bush had already determined that the invasion of Iraq would take place, and it was only a matter of fixing bits of intelligence around a narrative to make the case.

“Military action was now seen as inevitable,” the document reads. “Bush wanted to remove Saddam, through military action, justified by the conjunction of terrorism and WMD. But the intelligence and facts were being fixed around the policy. The NSC had no patience with the UN route, and no enthusiasm for publishing material on the Iraqi regime’s record. There was little discussion in Washington of the aftermath after military action.”

“It seemed clear that Bush had made up his mind to take military action, even if the timing was not yet decided,” the document quotes Foreign Secretary Jack Straw as saying. “But the case was thin.”



In a 2008 hearing before the House Judiciary Committee, attorney and author Vincent Bugliosi pointed out that the fact that Bush lied about Iraq could be proven by the difference between the classified 2002 National Intelligence Estimate and its declassified white paper which was made available to the public. The classified version contained dissents from the consensus and language which made it clear that the reader was reading assessments and opinions by the CIA and other intelligence agencies, whereas the unclassified version saw these things deleted, presenting the assessments as absolute fact.

“The evidence that he lied about weapons of mass destruction, by the way, which is not the basis for this book, are right in front of me,” Bugliosi said. “I have it right here. Here is the evidence. This document here is the National Intelligence Estimate. I didn’t name it before. I talked about a classified report. This is it right here. October 1st, 2002, classified NIE report. It is called Iraq’s Continuing Programs of Weapons of Mass Destruction. In this document right here, the CIA and 15 other US intelligence agencies use words like this, ‘we assess that’ or ‘we judge that’ Hussein has weapons of mass destruction. This document here is the white paper that was given to you folks here in Congress and the American people. And the words ‘we assess that’ or ‘we judge that’ were removed, meaning that you folks here heard a fact, and in fact, it was only an opinion.

“Number two, on nuclear weapons, this document right here, the classified report has several important dissents. This document right here, the white paper that you folks were given and the American people, all of those dissents were deleted.”

Over and over and over again we saw the same thing: uncertainty presented as certainty. Guesses presented as fact. Opinions presented as proof. That’s a lie. Bush lied. We know this with as much certainty as his administration was pretending to have in the lead-up to the Iraq invasion. There was a pre-existing agenda to invade Iraq, and justifications were advanced to provide an excuse for that invasion with such extreme aggression that now-National Security Advisor John Bolton literally threatened to murder an international official’s children for making diplomacy work with Saddam.

Here are a few more courtesy of Vox:
In October 2002, Bush said that Saddam Hussein had a “massive stockpile” of biological weapons. But as CIA Director George Tenet noted in early 2004, the CIA had informed policymakers it had “no specific information on the types or quantities of weapons agent or stockpiles at Baghdad’s disposal.” The “massive stockpile” was just literally made up.

In December 2002, Bush declared, “We do not know whether or not [Iraq] has a nuclear weapon.” That was not what the National Intelligence Estimate said. As Tenet would later testify, “We said that Saddam did not have a nuclear weapon and probably would have been unable to make one until 2007 to 2009.” Bush did know whether or not Iraq had a nuclear weapon — and lied and said he didn’t know to hype the threat.

On CNN in September 2002, Condoleezza Rice claimed that aluminum tubes purchased by Iraq were “only really suited for nuclear weapons programs.” This was precisely the opposite of what nuclear experts at the Energy Department were saying; they argue that not only was it very possible the tubes were for nonnuclear purposes but that it was very likely they were too. Even more dire assessments about the tubes from other agencies were exaggerated by administration officials — and in any case, the claim that they’re “only really suited” for nuclear weapons is just false.

On numerous occasions, Dick Cheney cited a report that 9/11 conspirator Mohammed Atta had met in Prague with an Iraqi intelligence officer. He said this after the CIA and FBI concluded that this meeting never took place.

More generally on the question of Iraq and al-Qaeda, on September 18, 2001, Rice received a memo summarizing intelligence on the relationship, which concluded there was little evidence of links. Nonetheless Bush continued to claim that Hussein was “a threat because he’s dealing with al-Qaeda” more than a year later.

In August 2002, Dick Cheney declared, “Simply stated, there’s no doubt that Saddam Hussein now has weapons of mass destruction.” But as Corn notes, at that time there was “no confirmed intelligence at this point establishing that Saddam had revived a major WMD operation.” Gen. Anthony Zinni, who had heard the same intelligence and attended Cheney’s speech, would later say in a documentary, “It was a total shock. I couldn’t believe the vice president was saying this, you know? In doing work with the CIA on Iraq WMD, through all the briefings I heard at Langley, I never saw one piece of credible evidence that there was an ongoing program.”


In 2007 General Wesley Clark told Democracy Now that he’d actually been informed of the decision to invade Iraq immediately after 9/11, while the crosshairs were turning on Afghanistan and well before the public narrative was being amped up in demand of an invasion of Iraq. His comments read as follows:
About ten days after 9/11, I went through the Pentagon and I saw Secretary Rumsfeld and Deputy Secretary Wolfowitz. I went downstairs just to say hello to some of the people on the Joint Staff who used to work for me, and one of the generals called me in.

He said, “Sir, you’ve got to come in and talk to me a second.” I said, “Well, you’re too busy.” He said, “No, no.” He says, “We’ve made the decision we’re going to war with Iraq.” This was on or about the 20th of September. I said, “We’re going to war with Iraq? Why?” He said, “I don’t know.” He said, “I guess they don’t know what else to do.” So I said, “Well, did they find some information connecting Saddam to al-Qaeda?” He said, “No, no.” He says, “There’s nothing new that way. They just made the decision to go to war with Iraq.” He said, “I guess it’s like we don’t know what to do about terrorists, but we’ve got a good military and we can take down governments.” And he said, “I guess if the only tool you have is a hammer, every problem has to look like a nail.”

So I came back to see him a few weeks later, and by that time we were bombing in Afghanistan. I said, “Are we still going to war with Iraq?” And he said, “Oh, it’s worse than that.” He reached over on his desk. He picked up a piece of paper. And he said, “I just got this down from upstairs” — meaning the Secretary of Defense’s office — “today.” And he said, “This is a memo that describes how we’re going to take out seven countries in five years, starting with Iraq, and then Syria, Lebanon, Libya, Somalia, Sudan and, finishing off, Iran.” I said, “Is it classified?” He said, “Yes, sir.” I said, “Well, don’t show it to me.” And I saw him a year or so ago, and I said, “You remember that?” He said, “Sir, I didn’t show you that memo! I didn’t show it to you!”
Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, Libya, Somalia, Sudan and Iran. If you’ve been following the behaviors of the US war machine, Iraq won’t be the only painfully familiar name on that list.



Ari Fleischer is a liar. He was in the thick of the Bush administration’s campaign to sell the Iraq war to the American public, and to this day he continues trying to sell them on new acts of depraved US interventionism. He’s just as much a warmongering neocon inside as he was when he was behind a podium defending Bush’s wars in the press room, so it’s no wonder he wants to preserve the image of his insatiable death cult. Fleischer wants to preserve his legacy, yes, but he also wants to preserve support for the war machine whose feet he worships at, hence his ham-fisted attempt at narrative manipulation regarding the unforgivable Iraq invasion.

The responses to Fleischer’s Twitter thread have been overwhelmingly negative, though, so it doesn’t look like anyone’s buying it. In our new political landscape, where the image of George W Bush is being continually rehabilitated, that gives me a bit of hope.

These monsters lied to start a war which snuffed out a million human lives and destabilized an entire region, and they did it right in front of our faces. The fact that they’re now trying to lie about the thing we all watched them do is as insulting as it is infuriating. Never let them pull the wool over your eyes, and never forget what they did. Forgiveness is highly overrated.

Reprinted with permission from Medium.com.

Support Ms. Johnstone's work  on Patreon or Paypal.
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http://www.ronpaulinstitute.org/archives/featured-articles/2019/march/21/on-the-anniversary-of-the-iraq-invasion-bush-press-secretary-claims-bush-didn-t-lie/ http://www.ronpaulinstitute.org/archives/featured-articles/2019/march/21/on-the-anniversary-of-the-iraq-invasion-bush-press-secretary-claims-bush-didn-t-lie/ Thu, 21 Mar 2019 14:19:00 GMT
Goodbye to the Internet: Interference by Governments Is Already Here Philip Giraldi http://www.ronpaulinstitute.org/archives/featured-articles/2019/march/21/goodbye-to-the-internet-interference-by-governments-is-already-here/

There is a saying attributed to the French banker Nathan Rothschild that "Give me control of a nation's money and I care not who makes its laws." Conservative opinion in the United States has long suspected that Rothschild was right and there have been frequent calls to audit the Federal Reserve Bank based on the presumption that it has not always acted in support of the actual interests of the American people. That such an assessment is almost certainly correct might be presumed based on the 2008 economic crash in which the government bailed out the banks, which had through their malfeasance caused the disaster, and left individual Americans who had lost everything to face the consequences.

Be that as it may, if there were a modern version of the Rothschild comment it might go something like this: “Give me control of the internet and no one will ever more know what is true.” The internet, which was originally conceived of as a platform for the free interchange of information and opinions, is instead inexorably becoming a managed medium that is increasingly controlled by corporate and government interests. Those interests are in no way answerable to the vast majority of the consumers who actually use the sites in a reasonable and non-threatening fashion to communicate and share different points of view.

The United States Congress started the regulation ball rolling when it summoned the chief executives of the leading social media sites in the wake of the 2016 election. It sought explanations regarding why and how the Russians had allegedly been able to interfere in the election through the use of fraudulent accounts to spread information that might have influenced some voters. In spite of the sound and fury, however, all Congress succeeded in doing was demonstrating that the case against Moscow was flimsy at best while at the same creating a rationale for an increased role in censoring the internet backed by the threat of government regulation.

Given that background, the recent shootings at a synagogue in Pittsburgh and at mosques in Christchurch New Zealand have inevitably produced strident demands that something must be done about the internet, with the presumption that the media both encouraged and enabled the attacks by the gunmen, demented individuals who were immediately labeled as “white supremacists.” One critic puts it this way, “Let’s be clear, social media is the lifeblood of the far-right. The fact that a terror attack was livestreamed should tell us that this is a unique form for violence made for the digital era. The infrastructure of social media giants is not merely ancillary to the operations of terrorists — it is central to it [and] social media giants assume a huge responsibility to prevent and stop hate speech proliferating on the internet. It’s clear the internet giants cannot manage this alone; we urgently need a renewed conversation on internet regulation… It is time for counter-terrorism specialists to move into the offices of social media giants.”

It's the wrong thing to do, in part because intelligence and police services already spend a great deal of time monitoring chat on the internet. And the premise that most terrorists who use the social media can be characterized as the enemy du jour “white supremacists” is also patently untrue. Using the national security argument to place knuckle dragging “counter-terrorism specialists” in private sector offices would be the last thing that anyone would reasonably want to do. If one were to turn the internet into a government regulated service it would mean that what comes out at the other end would be something like propaganda intended to make the public think in ways that do not challenge the authority of the bureaucrats and politicians. In the US, it might amount to nothing less than exposure to commentary approved by Mike Pompeo and John Bolton if one wished to learn what is going on in the world.

Currently I and many other internet users appreciate and rely on the alternative media to provide viewpoints that are either suppressed by government or corporate interests or even contrary to prevailing fraudulent news accounts. And the fact is that the internet is already subject to heavy handed censorship by the service providers, which one friend has described as “Soviet era” in its intensity, who are themselves implementing their increasingly disruptive actions to find false personas and to ban as “hate speech” anything that is objected to by influential constituencies.

Blocking information is also already implemented by various countries through a cooperative arrangement whereby governments can ask search engines to remove material. Google actually documents the practice in an annual Transparency Report which reveals that government requests to remove information have increased from less than 1,000 per year in 2010 to nearly 30,000 per year currently. Not surprisingly, Israel and the United States lead the pack when it comes to requests for deletions. Since 2009 the US has asked for 7,964 deletions totaling 109,936 items while Israel has sought 1,436 deletions totally 10,648 items. Roughly two thirds of Israeli and US requests were granted.

And there is more happening behind the scenes. Since 2016, Facebook representatives have also been regularly meeting with the Israeli government to delete Facebook accounts of Palestinians that the Israelis claim constitute “incitement.” Israel had threatened Facebook that non-compliance with Israeli deletion orders would “result in the enactment of laws requiring Facebook to do so, upon pain of being severely fined or even blocked in the country.” Facebook chose compliance and, since that time, Israeli officials have been “publicly boasting about how obedient Facebook is when it comes to Israeli censorship orders.” It should be noted that Facebook postings calling for the murder of Palestinians have not been censored.

And censorship also operates as well at other levels unseen, to include deletion of millions of old postings and videos to change the historical record and rewrite the past. To alter the current narrative, Microsoft, Google, YouTube, Twitter and Facebook all have been pressured to cooperate with pro-Israel private groups in the United States, to include the powerful Anti-Defamation League (ADL). The ADL is working with social media “to engineer new solutions to stop cyberhate” by blocking “hate language,” which includes any criticism of Israel that might be construed as anti-Semitism by the new expanded definition that is being widely promoted by the US Congress and the Trump Administration.

Censorship of information also increasingly operates in the publishing world. With the demise of actual bookstores, most readers buy their books from media online giant Amazon, which had a policy of offering every book in print. On February 19, 2019, it was revealed that Amazon would no longer sell books that it considered too controversial.

Government regulation combined with corporate social media self-censorship means that the user of the service will not know what he or she is missing because it will not be there. And once the freedom to share information without restraint is gone it will never return. On balance, free speech is intrinsically far more important than any satisfaction that might come from government intrusion to make the internet less an enabler of violence. If history teaches us anything, it is that the diminishment of one basic right will rapidly lead to the loss of others and there is no freedom more fundamental than the ability to say or write whatever one chooses, wherever and whenever one seeks to do so. 

Reprinted with permission from Strategic Culture Foundation.]]>
http://www.ronpaulinstitute.org/archives/featured-articles/2019/march/21/goodbye-to-the-internet-interference-by-governments-is-already-here/ http://www.ronpaulinstitute.org/archives/featured-articles/2019/march/21/goodbye-to-the-internet-interference-by-governments-is-already-here/ Thu, 21 Mar 2019 13:42:11 GMT
Was UK Paying White Helmets to Produce Syria ‘Chemical Weapon’ PR as Cover for Jaish Al Islam? Vanessa Beeley http://www.ronpaulinstitute.org/archives/featured-articles/2019/march/20/was-uk-paying-white-helmets-to-produce-syria-chemical-weapon-pr-as-cover-for-jaish-al-islam/
Life returns to normal in Douma after SAA liberation. Photo © Vanessa Beeley.

As controversy rages over the alleged April 2018 Douma “chemical weapon attacks” that signaled the end of Jaish Al Islam’s occupation, life in the Syrian city gradually returns to peace and stability.

The Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons’ (OPCW) interim report and final report have thrown the Western media community into disarray. Already scrambling to salvage their loss of face after the “no sarin” conclusions were drawn by the OPCW in July 2018, they are now trying to convert an inconclusive OPCW report into a definitive claim regarding chlorine use, in order to reassert their declining narrative supremacy.

A “chemical weapon” narrative that has effectively sustained the criminalization of the Syrian government and thus the continued unlawful aggression, direct and through Takfiri proxies, by the US coalition against Syria.

“Reasonable grounds that the use of a toxic chemical as a weapon took place” is transformed into “OPCW confirms chlorine gas used in attack on Douma by Syrian government” by the state media revisionists across the Western media echo chambers.

A retraction for the Western media’s earlier certainty that Sarin was used is above their pay grade, presumably. An apology to the Syrian people for enabling the unlawful bombing of Syrian territory by a rapacious FUKUS alliance is clearly not within their moral remit.

Putting aside the almost unassailable evidence that the NATO-member-state-financed White Helmets staged the now notorious hospital scenes that were universally distributed by NATO-aligned media outlets and incredulity that a yellow cylinder could be dropped from a helicopter through the roof of an apartment and then bounce from the floor and onto an undamaged bed, what is largely being ignored by the West and the OPCW is the context of the attack.

Who was in charge in Douma? How had they treated civilians leading up to the attack? To what degree should we rely upon the dubious testimony of organizations collaborating with the extremist regime ruling Douma with a rod of iron?

When we start to examine these and other questions, we can begin to comprehend the extent to which the OPCW report has failed to take into account the conditions on the ground and the relevance of these for understanding the alleged attack on April 7, 2018.

I returned to Douma on the March 9, 2019. I had previously visited a week after the alleged “chemical attack” in April 2018 and interviewed hospital staff who had already informed me that the White Helmet hospital scenes had been staged.

I revisited a Douma brimming with life, and markets overflowing with fruit, vegetables, meat, and even fish – something that had not been available for ordinary civilians when Douma was occupied by one of the most extremist, sectarian armed groups in Syria, Jaish Al Islam (JAI).

One stall-holder described life under JAI. “The most important thing was hunger, people were starving, there was no food, no drink, no medicine, no medical care, people were starving.”

Another vegetable seller told me: “Now things became better thanks to God, as you can see, everything is functioning and we are happy, everything is very good, thank God. The situation was very bad, we wouldn’t feel safe to sit here the way we are sitting now. Now, thank God, it’s safe and secure, we go to Damascus, purchase our goods from there and come back here”

A thorough examination of what happened in Douma during April 2018 requires history and context including the Adra massacre of December 2013. At this time, Adra Al Balad (Adra City) and Adra Al-Ummaliyyeh (Adra’s industrial zone) were attacked by Jaish Al Islam and Nusra Front.

According to witness testimony, a bloodbath ensued that was barely reported by Western media. An official at the Syrian Information Ministry told me recently that only one mainstream media report on this heinous massacre was published at the time.

Workers in a bakery were executed and their bodies incinerated in the bread furnaces. Many of the predominantly Alawite civilians were executed and their severed heads suspended from trees according to reports from survivors. Many were kidnapped and transported to Tawba Jail in Douma (Repentance prison) where they were incarcerated for the next five years.

These civilians were subjected to terrible torture and humiliation during this time. Children were forced to dig the labyrinthine tunnels that snaked underground, connecting buildings of the prison complex.

In January 2019 I had the opportunity to interview three survivors from Tawba Jail. Their testimony has a particular bearing upon the April 2018 alleged chemical attack. I have focused on two of the interviews in this article:

Hassan Al-Othman was kidnapped from Adra Al-Ummaliyyeh on December 11, 2013 and he was held in a prison cell in the area by JAI and Nusra Front. He was systematically tortured for one month before being transferred to work in a building where JAI would bring civilians for execution.

Al-Othman told me: “They (JAI) used to take me into the building at 11pm and say to me: ‘you have to take the bodies out.’ I used to keep taking bodies out until 5am and put them in the bulldozer bucket. We used to take them out, and start burying them at 9 or 10 in the morning, I kept doing this job for two and a half or three months, burying bodies.”

Al-Othman told me that JAI took control of the police station in the area. One day they brought civilians to the station and executed them with a sword. Al-Othman was ordered to dispose of the decapitated bodies.

After five months of enduring the inhumane treatment of the JAI and Nusra Front gangs, Al-Othman was taken to Tawba Jail in Douma. There, he was detained in solitary confinement for three years, beaten every day and hung by his wrists from the wall for long periods of time.

After three years, Al Othman was allowed access to a “communal cell” where he was joined by one other prisoner. The campaign of torture continued if JAI decided that Al-Othman had violated their “rules”. When Al-Othman refused to persuade his own brother, former president of Adra City Council, to “repent” and join the armed groups, the torture intensified.

Al-Othman described the last moments before liberation by the Syrian Arab Army as terrifying. He had overheard JAI fighters discussing a plan to blow up the prison and blame it on the SAA. The Tawba Jail complex comprised roughly twelve buildings all housing hundreds if not thousands of kidnapped victims.

The massacre that began in Adra in December 2013 would have ended with the deaths of all survivors in Tawba Jail had the SAA not put enough pressure on JAI to flee the area and leave many prisoners alive or to take others with them to Idlib as part of the Russian brokered reconciliation deal.

Al-Othman told me: “If the Syrian Army hadn’t tightened the noose on them, they wouldn’t have released us […] They wanted to send us to Idlib. When we arrived to the Syrian Arab Army checkpoint in al-Mukhayyam, I turned myself in to the Army.”

Al-Othman explained that the SAA took him in and treated him well. He also told me that many of the JAI fighters were foreigners from Jordan, Somalia and Saudi Arabia among other countries.

He apologised frequently for “babbling”, for talking so much, but for many years he had endured terrible torture and abuse, he never expected to return home and now he needed to talk about his experiences.

Al-Othman also described the other prisons established by JAI. Al Batoun Prison (the concrete prison), also called Al-Khandaq (trench prison), was another site where prisoners were tortured and interrogated. Women were imprisoned separately to the men - their prisons were known as the 16th and 28th prison. 

When I asked Al-Othman about the role played by the White Helmets in Douma, he became even more animated. He told me that he often saw them receive large amounts of dollars – “new notes in sealed packages” – and, according to Al-Othman, cash was their sole motivation.

He said: “Regarding the White Helmets, they are part of the terrorists, and they are the ones who are responsible for the misleading about the crimes that the terrorists are committing […] the West is very deluded by them, they are terrorists and Takfiris […] when they used to see an injured civilian, the White helmets would finish him […] for example, he would be still alive, and then they would slaughter him, or he would be choking and they would finish him, those were the White Helmets.”

Another of the Tawba Jail survivors spoke to me in Adra Al Balad. Kidnapped on December 14, 2013, Yasser Ali Al-Hweish was held for one year inside Al Batoun where he was interrogated and tortured on a daily basis before being transferred to Tawba Jail.

Al-Hweish told me that the prisoners were regularly used to stage alleged attacks by the SAA. The White Helmets would bring them outside and make them act out an attack, they would be filmed and then taken back inside the prison.

Hweish also claimed they would be taken out and told to rescue dead bodies from under the rubble, the White Helmets would film them and then film themselves taking credit for the rescue.

He said: “For example if someone was dead under the rubble, we would dig and take him out, and after we finish, they (White Helmets) would film themselves as if it was them who have done the work, but in the end, we were doing it, not them.”

Al-Hweish believes that the White Helmets were “subordinate” to JAI and were responsible for the PR and media campaigns to secure further financial support for the terrorist group. This claim is made more plausible by the fact that the UK Foreign Office was reported to be funding the PR for JAI via an international communications consultancy called Incostrat.

The UK FCO and intelligence agencies were also involved in the creation of the White Helmets in 2013 and their continued funding via the same Conflict Stability and Security Fund that siphoned money to Incostrat. Therefore it is no great leap of logic to make the connection between the UK FCO, the White Helmets and the PR campaign for JAI to whitewash their murderous, extremist reputation in Syria.

It is worth noting that these testimonies were not isolated. I interviewed many civilians from Eastern Ghouta after liberation both in Ghouta and outside in the camps for the internally displaced in the Damascus suburbs. Most of them echoed much of what Hweish and Al-Othman told me regarding the White Helmets and their collaboration with the armed extremist groups.

JAI had a reputation as one of the most savage and barbaric armed groups in the region. They had a history of suspected chemical attacks carried out against the Kurdish community in Sheikh Maqsoud, Aleppo in April 2016.

JAI had imprisoned Alawite kidnap victims in metal cages and used them as human shields to deter SAA military campaigns or aerial bombardments. Of the thousands of kidnap victims taken from Adra or from other areas of Eastern Ghouta, only an estimated 200 emerged alive when JAI finally evacuated their fighters to Idlib on the green buses.

I explored the Tawba Jail complex, it was a harrowing experience. I was accompanied by SAA soldiers for my own security as there is still a high risk of terrorist sleeper cells in Douma. One young soldier was entering the prison for the first time. He was shocked when we stumbled upon the heartbreaking graffiti on the walls of the cells and the caged outdoor spaces where prisoners were allowed short periods of sky and fresh air, seen through the bars of an iron cage.

He was photographing the scrawled messages, muttering “haram, haram” under his breath “shame, shame.”

Often we saw that prisoners were recording the number of days they had spent in prison but most of the messages were personal cries for respite and relief, sorrow at being parted from loved ones. Despair and hope expressed in poetry and verse.

One message was translated for me: “Please God help Maya and heal her. God we have nobody but you to help us. My daughter is very sick and I can’t bear to see her suffering. Please help us.”

BBC producer, Riam Dalati, who recently tweeted that the Douma “chemical attack” hospital scenes had been faked also alluded to the “brute and shifty” JAI-affiliated doctor, Dr Abu Bakr Hanan, who had been filming the media scenes.

Dalati further confirmed that JAI ruled the district with an “iron fist.” Dalati had also previously accused JAI-partisan “activists” of rearranging the bodies of children into a more appealing hug scenario when the alleged attack actually occurred. All of these elements must surely lead to questions over the role JAI played in the possible staging of the Douma “chemical attack” and indeed to what extent previous such attacks were staged or manipulated.

This article is by no means intended to be an in depth analysis of the OPCW report or of the events on the April 7, 2018. I hope it raises questions about the FFM (Fact Finding Mission) methodology which evaluates evidence only for one conclusion – a chemical attack. The possibility of staging or the possible use of civilian prisoners as props in the production is not taken into consideration even though, as I have shown here, there is ample reason to believe JAI to have been capable of such actions.

Professor Piers Robinson of the Working Group on Syria, Media and Propaganda told me: “The FFM final report for the OPCW fails to clearly establish the cause of death for the deceased civilians filmed and photographed by ‘media activists’ on the ground; it fails to account for the release of chlorine from yellow cylinders found at the two sites, and it presents a highly unlikely if not impossible scenario regarding the cylinder found at location 4. The report is anonymous, cites anonymous ‘experts’ and provides little clarity with respect to the information sources it relies upon. It also appears to downgrade and ignore Hassan Diab who was filmed having water poured over him in a hospital scene and famously testified that these scenes were staged. This FFM report, even more than previous ones, discredits OPCW as a source of impartial investigation and undermines it as an international institution.”

In fact the FFM final report arguably raises more questions than it has answered. The missing kidnap victims who were not released during the final stages of negotiation before the liberation of Douma are still unaccounted for. The bodies of alleged victims of the “chemical attacks” have not been exhumed or identified as far as we know.

JAI were a tyrannical organisation that routinely executed, abused, tortured and murdered civilians in the areas they occupied in Syria. It is well within the realms of possibility that JAI used prisoners to stage a “chemical attack” to delay the inevitable SAA victory in Douma.

It is also feasible that the White Helmets were fulfilling their media and PR role for JAI when staging the hospital scenes as part of an attempt to buy JAI time and international sympathy. Until all these alternative theories are fully explored, the Douma “chemical attack” case must remain open and the Western media rush to judgement and desire to circle their wagons around an increasingly shaky narrative must be condemned.

Reprinted with permission from RT.]]>
http://www.ronpaulinstitute.org/archives/featured-articles/2019/march/20/was-uk-paying-white-helmets-to-produce-syria-chemical-weapon-pr-as-cover-for-jaish-al-islam/ http://www.ronpaulinstitute.org/archives/featured-articles/2019/march/20/was-uk-paying-white-helmets-to-produce-syria-chemical-weapon-pr-as-cover-for-jaish-al-islam/ Wed, 20 Mar 2019 17:59:25 GMT
Trump Wants Brazil In NATO...To Help Oust Maduro? Daniel McAdams http://www.ronpaulinstitute.org/archives/featured-articles/2019/march/20/trump-wants-brazil-in-natoto-help-oust-maduro/
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http://www.ronpaulinstitute.org/archives/featured-articles/2019/march/20/trump-wants-brazil-in-natoto-help-oust-maduro/ http://www.ronpaulinstitute.org/archives/featured-articles/2019/march/20/trump-wants-brazil-in-natoto-help-oust-maduro/ Wed, 20 Mar 2019 16:26:24 GMT
Trump's Record Spy Budget - What Do We Really Get For $86 Billion? Daniel McAdams http://www.ronpaulinstitute.org/archives/featured-articles/2019/march/19/trumps-record-spy-budget-what-do-we-really-get-for-86-billion/
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http://www.ronpaulinstitute.org/archives/featured-articles/2019/march/19/trumps-record-spy-budget-what-do-we-really-get-for-86-billion/ http://www.ronpaulinstitute.org/archives/featured-articles/2019/march/19/trumps-record-spy-budget-what-do-we-really-get-for-86-billion/ Tue, 19 Mar 2019 17:27:46 GMT
Germany Backpedals On NATO Spending Promise As France Goes Full Throttle Tyler Durden http://www.ronpaulinstitute.org/archives/featured-articles/2019/march/19/germany-backpedals-on-nato-spending-promise-as-france-goes-full-throttle/

Germany is poised to renege on its promise to boost NATO spending, backtracking on a public commitment last year by Chancellor Angela Merkel to increase German military expenditure to 1.5 percent of gross domestic product by 2024 - bringing it closer to the 2 percent level set by NATO themselves, according to the Wall Street Journal.
If confirmed at a cabinet meeting on Wednesday, the move would mark a fresh step in the gradual estrangement between the US and its erstwhile loyal European ally and comes after Mr. Trump’s repeated attacks of North Atlantic Treaty Organization leaders for not meeting a 2 percent military-spending target. -WSJ
Berlin currently spends around €43 billion ($49 billion), equal to just over 1.2 percent of GDP on defense. Under a new plan unveiled on Monday by the finance ministry, the spending would rise to just 1.37 percent of GDP next year, then decrease again to 1.33 percent in 2019, 1.29 percent in 2022 and 1.25 percent in 2023.

"The commitment we have made to NATO states that spending should reach 2 percent if the budget conditions allow for it. We haven't abandoned the target but it remains a challenge that the federal government wants to master," said a senior government official. 

Berlin's change of heart is the second recent rebuke of President Trump - who publicly embarrassed Germany during a July 2018 bilateral breakfast over their reliance on Russian energy. 

Germany is "captive of Russia because it is getting so much of its energy from Russia," said Trump, adding "The former Chancellor of Germany is the head of the pipeline company that is supplying the gas." 

"Ultimately Germany will have almost 70 percent of their country controlled by Russia with natural gas. So you tell me, is that appropriate?" Trump asked. "It should have never been allowed to happen. So Germany is totally controlled by Russia." 

Berlin has not taken kindly to Trump's rhetoric, which includes criticism over Germany's decision to let Chinese technology giant Huawei build their next generation 5G mobile network.

"NATO members clearly pledged to move towards, not away, from 2 percent by 2024. That the German government would even be considering reducing its already unacceptable commitments to military readiness is a worrisome signal to Germany’s 28 NATO allies," said the US ambassador to Germany, Richard Grenell. 

France goes the other way

Speaking at the Atlantic Council in Washington, French armed forces minister Florence Parly said Monday that France "Fully support[s] the US insistence on the 2 percent," adding that French President Emmanuel Macron suggested that Europeans might enshrine this objective in a treaty. 

That said, Parly also knocked the United States for what she described as an increasingly transactional relationship with allies. 

"NATO’s solidarity clause is called Article 5, not Article F-35," said Parly, adding "I’m personally more concerned at the notion that the strength of NATO solidarity might be made conditional on allies buying this or that equipment. The alliance should be unconditional, otherwise it’s not an alliance."
Last year, Trump said he was willing to help smaller, less-wealthy countries purchase US weapons.

'We are not going to finance it for them but we will make sure that they are able to get payments and various other things so they can buy — because the United States makes by far the best military equipment in the world, the best jets, the best missiles, the best guns, the best everything,' he said at a news conference.

In his most recent budget proposal, Trump has also sought to revive a failed effort from the early days of the administration to offer flexible loans to countries to help them purchase everything from trucks to military training to fighter jets and drones. -Defense One
 To help smaller countries buy US military equipment, a State Department official said that it would be seeking up to $8 billion to "make US defense equipment a more competitive and more affordable option for partner countries."

Reprinted with permission from ZeroHedge.]]>
http://www.ronpaulinstitute.org/archives/featured-articles/2019/march/19/germany-backpedals-on-nato-spending-promise-as-france-goes-full-throttle/ http://www.ronpaulinstitute.org/archives/featured-articles/2019/march/19/germany-backpedals-on-nato-spending-promise-as-france-goes-full-throttle/ Tue, 19 Mar 2019 14:22:18 GMT
Attempt to Prosecute Assad at ICC is Aimed at Undermining Syrian Peace Process John Laughland http://www.ronpaulinstitute.org/archives/featured-articles/2019/march/19/attempt-to-prosecute-assad-at-icc-is-aimed-at-undermining-syrian-peace-process/

The announcement that “a group of Syrian refugees and their London lawyers” have found “a neat legal trick” to press for an indictment against Syrian President Bashar Assad by the International Criminal Court demonstrates, yet again, the dangerous corruption of international justice, against which I have been warning for over a decade.

The Syrian war is nearly over, thanks to the military successes of the Syrian army and its Russian and Iranian allies. Exhaustion on both sides has probably helped. Diplomatic overtures have started to re-integrate Syria into the international system, starting at the regional level: the United Arab Emirates have re-opened their embassy in Damascus; the Sudanese president, Assad's near namesake, Omar Al-Bashir, has visited Syria, as have senior Egyptian officials; Syrian officials have attended pan-Arab summits; even Israel is maintaining its dialogue with Russia over Syria. In short, the situation is being slowly normalised as Syria herself embarks on the painful search for internal peace.

The attempt to get Assad prosecuted is an attempt to stamp out these seedlings of peace before they take root. Any prosecution against Assad would scupper, or at least severely damage, this slow acceptance that the Syrian president is part of the solution. When even the British government has accepted that Assad is here to stay, and that peace must be made with him, his implacable enemies fear that their prize is about to slip out of their grasp. They do not want peace, if that means keeping Assad.

We know that the goal is to sabotage any peace process because this kind of indictment is old hat in international criminal law. At the end of the Bosnian Civil War in 1995, indictments were issued against the Bosnian Serb leaders, especially Radovan Karadzic, specifically in order to remove them from the Dayton peace talks. Antonio Cassese, then president of the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia, said in 1995, just after the indictment was issued against Karadzic, that it had been issued for that reason: “The indictment means that these gentlemen will not be able to participate in peace negotiations” (quoted in the Italian daily L'Unità, 26 July 1995). Incidentally, Cassese had himself encouraged the prosecutor to bring these prosecutions even though he, as a judge and president of the tribunal, was supposed to be neutral.

The “legal trick” is designed to overcome the fact that Syria is not a state party to the Rome statute of the International Criminal Court and therefore not subject to its jurisdiction. Assad's enemies are seeking to sidestep the fact that Syria is beyond the ICC's reach by seeking to apply to Syria a principle which, unfortunately, the ICC itself applied to Burma last year. In September, the ICC judges agreed that a case could be brought against Myanmar (Burma), even though that country is not a state party to the Rome statute, because the crimes it had allegedly committed – deportation – had caused people to flee into Bangladesh, which is a state party. By analogy, Syria's enemies hope that the presence of Syrian refugees in Jordan, a state party to the ICC statute, will enable them to go after Assad. They seem not to care that this is the first time anyone has ever mentioned “deportation” in Syria, although Damascus has been accused of all manner of other crimes.

The ruling on Myanmar and Bangladesh illustrates everything that is wrong with international justice. Not only did the decision to apply jurisdiction to the Burmese authorities break the fundamental principles of international law, as expressed in the “treaty on treaties,” the 1969 Vienna Convention, which says that the principle of free consent is “universally recognized” and whose Article 34 says, “A treaty does not create either obligations or rights for a third state without its consent,” it also broke an even more fundamental principle by specifically claiming the right to define its own powers (referred to, in English texts, with the French and German expressions la compétence de la compétence and Kompetenz-Kompetenz). The Court described this as “a well-established principle of international law according to which any international tribunal has the power to determine the extent of its own jurisdiction.” In reality, it is no such thing.

On the contrary, the powers of all organisations are determined by law. Even sovereign governments are restricted by national laws in their powers. The idea that an international organisation has the legal right to determine its own powers, and to extend its jurisdiction to states that have not accepted it, is about as blatant a violation of the rule of law as one can imagine. In the past, such claims were equivalent to declarations of war, because a claim like this can only be settled by force. For example, on July 23 1914, Austria demanded the right for its police to carry out investigations inside Serbia for the assassination of the Archduke Franz-Ferdinand in Sarajevo on June 29. It sent an ultimatum to Belgrade to this effect, which Serbia refused. The result was the First World War, launched by Vienna in the name of the right to punish the perpetrators of that crime.

The ICC has already discredited itself massively after the Laurent Gbagbo fiasco. Having collaborated in the politically-motivated indictment of the president of Côte d'Ivoire in 2011 – a collaboration which gave legitimacy to the French military operation to oust him, just as it gave legitimacy to the NATO attack on Libya by also indicting Colonel Gaddafi at the same time – the Court was forced to acquit Laurent Gbagbo eight years later, in January of this year.

By seeking to extend its lamentable rule to Syria, and thereby to disrupt a barely embryonic peace there, the ICC risks destroying its reputation even further. For the rules limiting the jurisdiction of international organisations to states which have consented to accept them are not some arcane technicality of international law. Instead, they reflect the most basic principle of politics, which is that those who wield power need to be constitutionally linked to those over whom they wield it. International organisations which are not based on such consent violate that very basic principle flagrantly, and therefore start to resemble the very dictatorships they pretend to combat.

Reprinted with permission from RT.]]>
http://www.ronpaulinstitute.org/archives/featured-articles/2019/march/19/attempt-to-prosecute-assad-at-icc-is-aimed-at-undermining-syrian-peace-process/ http://www.ronpaulinstitute.org/archives/featured-articles/2019/march/19/attempt-to-prosecute-assad-at-icc-is-aimed-at-undermining-syrian-peace-process/ Tue, 19 Mar 2019 13:32:38 GMT
Trump To Leave 1,000 Troops In Syria? What’s The Strategy? Daniel McAdams http://www.ronpaulinstitute.org/archives/featured-articles/2019/march/18/trump-to-leave-1-000-troops-in-syria-what-s-the-strategy/
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http://www.ronpaulinstitute.org/archives/featured-articles/2019/march/18/trump-to-leave-1-000-troops-in-syria-what-s-the-strategy/ http://www.ronpaulinstitute.org/archives/featured-articles/2019/march/18/trump-to-leave-1-000-troops-in-syria-what-s-the-strategy/ Mon, 18 Mar 2019 20:40:51 GMT
Is Trump Really About to Attack Venezuela? Ron Paul http://www.ronpaulinstitute.org/archives/featured-articles/2019/march/18/is-trump-really-about-to-attack-venezuela/

Last week Secretary of State Mike Pompeo ordered the last of the US diplomats out of Venezuela, saying their presence was a “constraint” on US policy toward the country. The wording seemed intended to convey the idea that the US is about to launch military action to place a Washington-backed, self-appointed politician to the presidency. Was it just bluster, designed to intimidate? Or is the Trump Administration really about to invade another country that has neither attacked nor threatened the United States?

While US Administrations engaged in “regime change” have generally tried to mask their real intentions, this US-backed coup is remarkable for how honest its backers are being. Not long ago the National Security Advisor to the president, John Bolton, openly admitted that getting US companies in control of Venezuelan oil was the Administration’s intent. Trump Administration officials have gone so far as mocking the suffering of Venezuelans when a suspiciously-timed nationwide power failure heightened citizens’ misery.

According to media reports, Vice President Mike Pence is angry with the Venezuela coup leader, Juan Guaido, because he promised the whole operation would be a cake walk – just like the neocons promised us about Iraq. Guaido said hundreds of thousands of protesters would follow him to the Colombian border to “liberate” US aid trucks just over the border, but no one showed up. So Pompeo and the neocons made up a lie that Venezuelan president Nicolas Maduro’s thugs burned the aid trucks to prevent the people from getting relief from their suffering. Even the pro-war New York Times finally admitted that the Administration was lying: it was opposition protesters who burned the trucks.

Was the US behind the take-down of Venezuela’s power grid? It would not be the first time the CIA pulled such a move, and US officials are open about the US goal of making life as miserable as possible for average Venezuelans in hopes that they overthrow their government.

Congress has to this point been strongly in favor of President Trump’s “regime change” policy for Venezuela. Sadly, even though our neocon foreign policy of interventionism has proven disastrous – from Iraq to Libya to Syria and elsewhere – both parties in Congress continue to act as if somehow this time they will get it right. I have news for them, they won’t.

Even weak Congressional efforts to remind the president that Congress must approve military action overseas sound like war cries. In Rep. David N. Cicilline’s (D-RI) statement introducing his “Prohibiting Unauthorized Military Action in Venezuela Act” last week, he sounded more hawkish than John Bolton or Elliott Abrams! The statement makes all the arguments in favor of a US military attack on Venezuela and then – wink wink – reminds the president he needs authorization beforehand. As if that’s going to be a hard sell!

So is President Trump about to attack Venezuela? At a recent US House hearing, one of the expert witnesses testified that such an invasion would require between 100,000 and 150,000 US troops, going up against maybe three times that number of Venezuelan troops in a country twice the size of Iraq. With a lot of jungle. All for a “prize” that has nothing to do with US security. If the president makes such a foolish move he might find the current war cheerleaders in the Democrat Party changing their tune rather quickly. Let’s hope Trump changes his tune and returns to his promises of no more regime change wars.]]>
http://www.ronpaulinstitute.org/archives/featured-articles/2019/march/18/is-trump-really-about-to-attack-venezuela/ http://www.ronpaulinstitute.org/archives/featured-articles/2019/march/18/is-trump-really-about-to-attack-venezuela/ Mon, 18 Mar 2019 20:17:55 GMT
Pompeo Announces Ban On International Criminal Court Officials Probing US War Crimes Tyler Durden http://www.ronpaulinstitute.org/archives/featured-articles/2019/march/17/pompeo-announces-ban-on-international-criminal-court-officials-probing-us-war-crimes/

The US has threatened to revoke visas for members of the International Criminal Court (ICC) at The Hague should they so much as investigate any criminal actions of American military personnel. The United States has never been a member of the ICC and considers it without authority over matters related to Americans or allies conducting joint operations. 

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo issued a scathing rebuke Friday following ICC statements that it would look into possible US war crimes in Afghanistan, and as pressures mount for the court to bring cases against Israel for human rights crimes against Palestinians. “We are determined to protect the American and allied military and civilian personnel from living in fear of unjust prosecution for actions taken to defend our great nation,” Pompeo said Friday.

Pompeo went to far as to specifically address ICC members and employees: “If you are responsible for the proposed ICC investigation of US personnel in connection with the situation in Afghanistan, you should not assume that you still have or will get a visa or will be permitted to enter the United States,” he said.

Washington has long relied on defense of "US sovereignty" when the international court has received allegations of torture by American forces or allies, or other war crimes like "mistaken" coalition bombings of civilians attending wedding parties or funerals in Afghanistan

The US position has been to say American courts and investigators can handle and prosecute if need be any allegations of US misconduct or war crimes, and has for years throughout the "global war on terror" viewed the Netherlands-based ICC with hostility.

During his Friday comments Pompeo said further the restrictions “may also be used to deter ICC efforts to pursue allied personnel, including Israelis, without the allies’ consent,” according to the AP

He also warned about potential economic sanctions against member and host nations "if the ICC does not change its course."

The ICC, for its part, has vowed to continue to operate "undeterred" by any US actions, and articulated that the court "is needed to prosecute cases when a country fails to do so or does an insufficient job of it," as the AP reported. 

Pompeo's words were also widely seen as a threat to the ICC prosecutor and personnel who last year formally requested of the court to open an investigation into war crimes allegations against US forces and intelligence, as well as allied Afghan national security forces, going all the way back to May 2003. 

According to the AP
The prosecution’s request says there is information that members of the US military and intelligence agencies “committed acts of torture, cruel treatment, outrages upon personal dignity, rape and sexual violence against conflict-related detainees in Afghanistan and other locations, principally in the 2003-2004 period.”
Among the more shocking actions the US has taken to prevent any attempted prosecution of Americans by the ICC was the Bush administration's American Servicemembers Protection Act of 2002, popularly derided as the "Hague Invasion Act".

The law was designed to protect all US military and intelligence members on the basis that Washington could at anytime use force to liberate them from ICC incarceration. 

Human Rights Watch described at the time of its being signed into law
US President George Bush today signed into law the American Servicemembers Protection Act of 2002, which is intended to intimidate countries that ratify the treaty for the International Criminal Court (ICC). The new law authorizes the use of military force to liberate any American or citizen of a US-allied country being held by the court, which is located in The Hague. This provision, dubbed the "Hague invasion clause," has caused a strong reaction from US allies around the world, particularly in the Netherlands.
With such significant threats, the ICC's actions against Americans, Israelis or allied forces will likely only remain symbolic and designed to drive media attention and scrutiny of American actions overseas. 

Meanwhile the pattern will remain of only third world, African, and Balkan warlords actually being brought to justice at the Hague, and never western officials. 

Reprinted with permission from ZeroHedge.]]>
http://www.ronpaulinstitute.org/archives/featured-articles/2019/march/17/pompeo-announces-ban-on-international-criminal-court-officials-probing-us-war-crimes/ http://www.ronpaulinstitute.org/archives/featured-articles/2019/march/17/pompeo-announces-ban-on-international-criminal-court-officials-probing-us-war-crimes/ Sun, 17 Mar 2019 13:04:55 GMT