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Philip Giraldi

For US Congress, Running a Torture Prison Is a Good Career Move

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Gina Haspel has now been confirmed as the new Director of the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) by a Senate vote of 54 to 45. She had previously been approved by the Senate Intelligence Committee by 10 votes to 5, with six Democrats joining all but three of the committee’s Republicans. Haspel seems fully qualified in terms of her experience to do the job, though it is admittedly difficult to make that judgement because her full professional biography has not been revealed by CIA. Claims by supporters seeking to enhance her record that she was “under cover” for 32 years are meaningless as many officers who serve at Agency Headquarters in Langley have that status.

Accurate information on Haspel is hard to come by. Access to a top secret memo reportedly prepared by Committee Democrats concerning her possibly illegal activities has been restricted even among Senators. Nevertheless, as the first woman to become head of the Agency one might reasonably say that Haspel has certainly broken through several glass ceilings to obtain her new position.

During the Senate Intelligence Committee hearings Haspel vowed that, if approved, she would never again permit torture to be employed by the Agency. It was, of course, a necessary though empty gesture in that it appears quite clear that she did not demur at torture being used in the past. Intelligence whistleblower Edward Snowden expressed his opinion with a tweet when news of the confirmation became public, writing that “Gina Haspel participated in a torture program that involved beating an innocent pregnant woman’s stomach, anally raping a man with meals he tried to refuse, and freezing a shackled prisoner until he died. She personally wrote the order to destroy 92 tapes of CIA torture.”
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Among the Persians

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I have just spent a week in Mashad and Tehran Iran, speaking at an international conference on the future of Jerusalem as well as other related issues while also meeting with a broad range of Iranians, including journalists, students and government officials. The conference was organized by a non-government organization called New Horizon. It was the sixth such conference, intended to bring together speakers from a number of countries to discuss issues involving Middle Eastern security and identity issues.

To be sure, Iran, threatened as it is from all sides, has certain aspects of a security state. And as what is essentially a partial democracy run along religious lines, it has very clear limits on what constitutes acceptable behavior. But I think the representatives of the thirty or so countries who attended the congress would agree that there was no attempt made to limit free speech or guide discussions. The only attempt to censor the conference and its content has been, I would note, the blocking of sponsor New Horizon’s website on Google and presumably elsewhere in the Zionist/US dominated social media and information-searching world. Indeed, the only coordinated activity that might have been noted at the conference itself was the loud hissing noise that accompanied any mention of the name John Bolton.

Indeed, there was clear criticism of the nature of the Iranian government openly expressed at the conference as well as very heated exchanges on a number of issues surrounding Jewish identity, Israel, the Palestinians, the status of Jerusalem and the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Agreement (JCPOA) on the Iranian nuclear program. Privately, many Iranians we encountered were quite free in expressing their dislike of the religious leadership and their desire for dramatic change. It should be noted that such comments were not provoked by anything that any of us said. We were indeed being careful not to offend the host country or to get the organizers in trouble, perhaps more cautious than we had to be.
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Will Trump’s Pyrrhic Victory End with America’s Role As Global Bully?

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I am in Iran speaking at a conference on the future of the Middle East. The timing for the meeting is particularly appropriate due to the recent American withdrawal from the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), which limited the Iranian nuclear program in exchange for suspension of sanctions. Initial discussions with Iranians revealed that they are less pessimistic about the development than are the Americans and Europeans present, believing as they do that the situation can somehow be reversed either by Congressional refusal to endorse the Trump decision or by rejection of the demands being made by the White House that all parties who were also signatories to the agreement (Britain, France, Russia, China and Germany) should also withdraw or themselves face secondary sanctions.

The Iranians concede that the move by President Donald Trump will bring with it additional economic suffering and will also likely upset the delicate political balancing act prevailing in their country, with President Hassan Rouhani being blamed by conservatives for having entered into the agreement in the first place. It was an agreement regarding which the president had expended considerable political equity, and he has also been accused of exaggerating its benefits, having claimed some months ago that all sanctions had been lifted, which was not the case. The stagnant state of Iran’s economy has produced considerable unrest in recent months and it is anticipated that more will be on the way as the economy continues to decline.

Iran’s hopes that Europe will develop a spine and will reject the American overtures, joined by China and Russia, is perhaps too optimistic as banks will be reluctant to lend money for Iranian projects and foreign companies will be unlikely to risk entering into anything but very short-term contracts with the Iranian government for much needed infrastructure improvement.
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The Ruinously Expensive American Military

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America’s Republican politicians complain that “entitlements,” by which they mean pensions and medical care, are leading the country to bankruptcy even as they fatten the spending on the Pentagon, which now takes 12 percent of the overall budget. And it should be noted that while workers contribute to the social programs during all their years of employment, the money that goes to the military comes straight out of the pockets of taxpayers before being wasted in ways that scarcely benefit the average citizen unless one seriously thinks that folks over in Syria, Iran, and Afghanistan actually do threaten the survival of the United States of America.

I was in a Virginia supermarket the other day checking out when the woman behind the cash register in a perky voice asked me “Will you give $5 to support our troops?” I responded “No. Our troops already get way too much of our money.” She replied, “Hee, hee that’s a funny joke” and I said “It’s not a joke.” Her face dropped and she signaled to her boss over in customer service and asked her to take over, saying that I had been rude.

If there is any group in the United States that exceeds the sheer greed of our politicians it is the military, which believes itself to be “entitled” as a consequence of its role in the global war on terror. I am a veteran who began service in a largely draftee army in which we were paid “twenty-one dollars a day once a month” as the old World War 2 song goes. When we got out, the GI Bill gave us $175 a month to go back to college, which did not cover much.
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Trump’s Pyrrhic Victory: the US Opts for a Path That Can Only Lead to War

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Nearly everyone loses by President Donald Trump’s decision on Tuesday to withdraw from the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) relating to Iran’s nuclear energy program and to reinstate the “highest level” of sanctions while also threatening secondary sanctions on any country that “helps” the Iranians. The whole world loses because nuclear proliferation is a disaster waiting to happen and Iran will now have a strong incentive to proceed with a weapons program to defend itself from Israel and the United States. If Iran does so, it will trigger a regional nuclear arms race with Saudi Arabia and Egypt undoubtedly seeking weapons of their own.
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Pompeo Rocks the Middle East: Lessons from a Former CIA Officer for the Secretary of State

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Former Central Intelligence Agency Director Mike Pompeo has recently completed his first trip to the Middle East as US Secretary of State. Perhaps not surprisingly as President Donald Trump appears prepared to decertify the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) limiting Iran’s nuclear program creating a possible casus belli, much of what Pompeo said was focused on what was alleged to be the growing regional threat posed by Iran both in conventional terms and due to its claimed desire to develop a nuclear weapon.

The Secretary of State met with heads of state or government as well as foreign ministers in Saudi Arabia, Israel and Jordan during his trip. He did not meet with the Palestinians, who have cut off contact with the Trump Administration because they have “nothing to discuss” with it in the wake of the decision to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.

During his first stop in Riyadh, Pompeo told a beaming Foreign Minister Adel Jubeir that Iran has been supporting the “murderous” Bashar al-Assad government in Damascus while also arming Houthi rebels in Yemen. He noted that “Iran destabilizes the entire region. It is indeed the greatest sponsor of terrorism in the world…”

In Israel, Pompeo stood side by side with an smiling Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and said“We remain deeply concerned about Iran’s dangerous escalation of threats to Israel and the region, and Iran’s ambition to dominate the Middle East remains. The United States is with Israel in this fight. And we strongly support Israel’s sovereign right to defend itself.”
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Congress Again Fails to Discover Collusion to Subvert the 2016 Election

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There have been a number of developments in the endless inquiry into possible collusion between the Russian government and Donald Trump to manipulate perceptions and voting relating to the two presidential candidates in the November 2016 election. In particular, it has been alleged that the Russians were, with the connivance of some in the Trump team, able to obtain information damaging to Hillary Clinton while also misusing social media to send a message critical of the Democratic Party candidate.


“Russiagate” was born out of a desire to explain how Trump was able to defeat the Establishment candidate Clinton and it quickly focused on emails in possession of Wikileaks and meetings of Trump associates with Russians as a plausible explanation for the electoral result. The media opined that “It had to be the Russians,” who also had motive in their recognizing that Clinton was the stronger candidate whose harsh and steely glare was focused on the various crimes and misdemeanors alleged to be committed by Kremlin President Vladimir Putin in places like Ukraine and Georgia, not to mention Syria. Clinton’s campaign message was that she was prepared to do something about Putin while Trump was instead arguing that a good relationship with Moscow was a sine qua non for American foreign policy.

There are currently three investigations proceeding simultaneously looking into the Russian-Trump collusion, though one of them has finally come to an end. The House of Representatives’ Intelligence Committee investigation has concluded that there was no evidence that there had been “collusion, conspiracy, or coordination between the Trump campaign and the Russians” to influence or subvert the outcome of the election. The committee did, however, accept that there had been Russian “active measures” interference, apparently based largely on assumptions about WikiLeaks and the alleged activities of employees of Putin confidant Yevgeny Prigozhin’s Internet Research Agency on social media sites.
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How False Flag Operations Are Carried Out Today

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False Flag is a concept that goes back centuries. It was considered to be a legitimate ploy by the Greeks and Romans, where a military force would pretend to be friendly to get close to an enemy before dropping the pretense and raising its banners to reveal its own affiliation just before launching an attack. In the sea battles of the eighteenth century among Spain, France and Britain hoisting an enemy flag instead of one’s own to confuse the opponent was considered to be a legitimate ruse de guerre, but it was only “honorable” if one reverted to one’s own flag before engaging in combat.
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Scarier Than John Bolton? Think of Nikki Haley for President!

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The musical chairs playing out among the senior officials that make up the President Donald Trump White House team would be amusing to watch but for the genuine damage that it is doing to the United States. The lack of any coherence in policy means that the State Department now has diplomats that do not believe in diplomacy and environment agency heads that do not believe in protecting the environment. It also means that well-funded and disciplined lobbies and pressure groups are having a field day, befuddling ignorant administrators with their “fact sheets” and successfully promoting policies that benefit no one but themselves.

In the Trumpean world of all-the-time-stupid, there is, however, one individual who stands out for her complete inability to perceive anything beyond threats of unrelenting violence combined with adherence to policies that have already proven to be catastrophic. That person is our own Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley, who surfaced in the news lately after she unilaterally and evidently prematurely announced sanctions on Russia. When the White House suggested that she might have been “confused” she responded that “With all due respect, I don’t get confused.” This ignited a firestorm among the Trump haters, lauding Haley as a strong and self-confident woman for standing up to the White House male bullies while also suggesting that the hapless Administration had not bothered to inform one of its senior diplomats of a policy change. It also produced a flurry of Haley for higher office tweets based on what was described as her “brilliant riposte” to the president.

One over-the-top bit of effusion from a former Haley aide even suggested that her “deft rebuttal” emphasizes her qualities, enthusing that “What distinguishes her from the star-struck sycophants in the White House is that she understands the intersection of strong leadership and public service, where great things happen” and placing her on what is being promoted as the short list of future presidential candidates.
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The Mainstream Media Fueled Military Action in Syria and Reprisals against Russia over the Skripals

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The complicity of America’s Fourth Estate in the evolution of the national security warfare state is often mentioned in passing but rarely analyzed in any detail. But a recent article on Lobe Log by Adam Johnson is refreshing in that it does just that, looking at the editorials in 26 leading newspapers relating to the April 13th strike against Syria for the alleged use of chemical weapons. All of the papers supported the attack in the belief that Syria and its Russian and Iranian allies had done something wrong and had to be punished. Some of the endorsements went well beyond the actual strike itself, urging the White House to do more. The article quotes the Toledo Blade’s assertion that:
Make no mistake, this was a warning to Vladimir Putin as well as Bashar al-Assad. The United States and its two longtime allies redrew the red line that had been obliterated by a failure of nerve by the US and the West generally: There will be cost for your barbarities…. But in the larger sense, the West did what it should have done a long time ago. It stood up for decency and international law. It stood up for those who are defenseless. It stood up for itself, and for simple humanity, and redeemed some self-respect.
Another recent editorial intended to stir up hysteria about perfidious Moscow appeared in theNew York Times on March 12th. It was entitled Vladimir Putin’s Toxic Reach.
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