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Philip Giraldi

Bringing Down a President

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If anyone doubted that the top level of the intelligence agencies in Washington have dedicated themselves to ousting President Donald Trump, the past two weeks should have demonstrated precisely how such a plan of action is being executed. First came the leaked accounts of chaos in the Trump Administration derived from the Bob Woodward book Fear: Trump in the White House.

Then a New York Times op-ed entitled “I am part of the resistance inside the Trump administration” written by one Anonymous who claimed to be a senior official in the White House, exploded on the scene, describing how top officials were deliberately sabotaging Trump’s policies to protect the country.

Finally, another another op-ed “Why so many former intelligence officers are speaking out” by former CIA Acting Director John McLaughlin appeared, providing a rationale for intelligence officers to speak up against the White House.

There has been considerable chatter in the media regarding the Woodward book and the Anonymous op-ed, but relatively little concerning McLaughlin, who arguably has made the most serious case for pushback against Donald Trump from within the intelligence community. To sum up the op-ed, McLaughlin wrote that many former intelligence officers are beginning to speak out against the foreign policy of the Trump Administration because America’s institutions are being seriously damaged by an “extraordinarily unprecedented context” of threats emerging from both inside and outside the country due to a “president’s dangerous behavior.”


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Target Syria

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It’s official. The Syrian Army assisted by Russian air support is closing in on the last major pocket of terrorists remaining in the country in the province of Idlib near Aleppo. The United States, which has trained and armed some of the trapped gunmen and even as recently as a year ago described the province as “al-Qaeda’s largest safe haven since 9/11,” has perhaps predictably warned Syria off.
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American Warmongering and Opportunism on Parade

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The United States collectively speaking lost its mind last week during a multi-day orgy of smug self-satisfaction centered on the obsequies culminating in the state funeral of Senator John McCain. McCain became the Everyman American-style, embodying virtues that all red-blooded lovers of freedom should aspire to, a hero who fought “for the life and liberty of other people’s in other lands.” He was a man, according to the media, of matchless nobility who endured torture for love of country, a war hero who put down his sword before starting a long career in government service where he selflessly defended liberty and justice worldwide.

Unfortunately, very little of the story is true. The entire hagiographic saga of the warrior prince that has been woven around McCain by those in the media and the political world that want to use him to demonstrate the deficiency of those qualities in Donald Trump is little more than a work of fiction. John McCain was a monster, betraying his country while a prisoner in Hanoi and then his former comrades-in-arms after the war ended. From Vietnam he learned nothing, saying “I hate the gooks. I will hate them as long as I live.”

McCain subsequently embraced every war that came his way while also promoting regime change and doing his best to start new wars in places where America had no interests. Think Afghanistan, Iraq, Georgia, Ukraine, Somalia and Syria just for starters. A prosperous Libya was bombed into anarchy and is now ruled by gangs who have reopened slave markets. McCain was also an opportunist par excellence, parlaying his dubious war record into a political career and at the same time ditching a first wife whom he considered a liability to marry the daughter of a multi-millionaire Arizona beer distributor to finance his personal ambitions.
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Sources Go Quiet in Moscow

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A quite astonishing article recently appeared in the New York Times, astonishing even by the standards of that newspaper, which featured Judith Miller and Michael Gordon in the Pentagon-sponsored lie machine that led up to the catastrophic war against Iraq. The article, entitled “Kremlin Sources Go Quiet, Leaving CIA in the Dark about Putin’s Plans for Midterms,” claims that the United States has had a number of spies close to the Russian president “who have provided crucial details” that have now stopped reporting at a critical time with midterm elections coming up. The reporting is sourced to “…American officials familiar with the intelligence” who “…spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to reveal classified information.”

After reading the piece, my first reaction was that Judith Miller was back but the byline clearly read Julian E. Barnes and Matthew Rosenberg. Noms de plume, perhaps? The article is so astonishingly bad on so many levels that it could have been featured in Marvel Comics instead of the Gray Lady. First of all, if American intelligence truly has in the Kremlin high level human agents, referred to as humint, it would not be publicizing the fact for fear that Moscow would intensify its search for the traitors and discover who they were. No intelligence officer speaking either openly or anonymously would make that kind of fatal mistake by leaking such information to a journalist.

If indeed the source of the leak was a genuine intelligence officer it suggests a different, more plausible interpretation. The CIA might, in fact, have no high-level agents at all at the Kremlin level and is intent on having the Russians waste time and energy looking for the moles. There is additional evidence in the article that the agent story might be a fabrication. The authors assert that the CIA agents in Moscow provided critical information relating to the alleged Russian interference in the 2016 election.
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Will the Real John Brennan Please Stand Up?

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The battle between many former intelligence chiefs and the White House is becoming a gift that keeps on giving to the mass media, which is characteristically deeply immersed in Trump derangement syndrome in attacking the president for his having stripped former CIA Director John Brennan of his security clearance. One of the most ludicrous claims, cited in the Washington Post on Sunday, was that the Trump move was intended to “stifle free speech.” While I am quite prepared to believe a lot of things about the serial maladroit moves and explanations coming out of the White House, how one equates removing Brennan’s security clearance to compromising his ability to speak freely escapes me. Indeed, Brennan has been speaking out with his usual vitriol nearly everywhere in the media ever since he lost the clearance, rather suggesting that his loss has given him a platform which has actually served to enhance his ability to speak his mind. He should thank Donald Trump for that.

Indeed, Brennan’s retaining a Top Secret code word clearance had nothing to do with free speech and everything to do with enhancing his market value for those poor sods who actually pay him to mouth off as an “expert” on television and in the newspapers. Are you listening New York Times and NBC? Brennan’s clearance did not mean that he had any real insight into current intelligence on anything, having lost that access when he left his job with the government. It only meant that he could sound authoritative and well informed by relying on his former status, enabling him to con you media folks out of your money on a recurrent basis.

It has sometimes been suggested that free speech is best exercised when it is somehow connected to the brain’s prefrontal lobes, enabling some thought process before the words come out of the mouth. It might be argued that Brennan has been remarkably deficient in that area, which is possibly why he looks so angry in all his photographs. Even John Brennan’s supporters are shy about defending the former CIA Director’s more extravagant claims. James Clapper, the ex-Director of National Intelligence, has described Brennan’s comments as “overheated.”
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America the Punitive

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There has been a dramatic shift in how the United States government carries out its business internationally. Admittedly, Washington has had a tendency to employ force to get what it has wanted ever since 9/11, but it also sometimes recognized that other countries had legitimate interests and accepted there was a place for diplomacy to resolve issues short of armed conflict. The Bush Administration reluctance to broaden its engagement in the Middle East after it recognized that it had blundered with Iraq followed by Obama’s relaxation of tensions with Cuba and his negotiation of a nuclear agreement with Iran demonstrated that sanity sometimes prevailed in the West Wing.

That willingness to be occasionally accommodating has changed dramatically, with the State Department under Mike Pompeo currently more prone to deliver threats than any suggestions that we all might try to get along. It would be reasonable enough to criticize such behavior because it is intrinsically wrong, but the truly frightening aspect of it would appear to be that it is based on the essentially neoconservative assumption that other countries will always back down when confronted with force majeure and that the use of violence as a tool in international relations is, ultimately, consequence free.

I am particularly disturbed with the consequence free part as it in turn is rooted in the belief that countries that have been threatened or even invaded have no collective memory of what occurred and will not respond vengefully when the situation changes. There have been a number of stunningly mindless acts of aggression over the past several weeks that are particularly troubling as they suggest that they will produce many more problems down the road than solutions.
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The US-Turkey Crisis: The NATO Alliance Forged in 1949 Is Today Largely Irrelevant

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

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

Erdogan has asserted that the coup was directed by former political associate Fetullah Gulen, who lives in exile in Pennsylvania, but has produced little credible evidence to support that claim. In the aftermath of the coup attempt, Erdogan has had himself voted extraordinary special powers to maintain public order and has arrested 160,000 people, including 20 Americans, who have been imprisoned. More than 170,000 civil servants, teachers, and military personnel have lost their jobs, the judiciary has been hobbled, and senior army officers have been replaced by loyalists.
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Butina Case: Neo-McCarthyism Engulfs America

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

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

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

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When is a terrorist group not a terrorist group? Apparently the answer is that it ceases to be terrorist when it terrorizes someone who is an enemy of the United States. The most prominent recent example is the Mujaheddin e Khalq (MEK), a murderous Iranian Marxist cult which assassinated five Americans in the 1970s as part of its campaign against the Shah’s government. It was removed from the State Department terrorist list in 2012 by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton after it had promised not to kill any more Americans but really because it had bought the support of prominent politicians to include Elaine Chao, Rudy Giuliani, Newt Gingrich, and John Bolton. It also had the behind the scenes endorsement of both the Israeli Mossad and CIA, both of whom have been using it in their operations to kill Iranians and damage the country’s infrastructure. Someone high up in the federal government, perhaps Hillary or even President Obama himself, must have decided that terrorists who kill only Iranians deserve a get out of jail free card from the State Department.

There are other examples of cynical doublespeak from the Syrian conflict, including labeling rebels against the Damascus government “freedom fighters” when in reality they were as often as not allied with the al-Qaeda affiliated group Al-Nusra or even with ISIS. Frequently they received training and weapons from Washington only to turn around and either join Al-Nusra and ISIS as volunteers or surrender their weapons to them.
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Revolving Door: How Security Clearances Perpetuate Top-Level Corruption in the United States

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President Donald Trump is threatening to take away the security clearances of a number of former senior intelligence and security officers who have been extremely critical of him. Most Americans were unaware that any ex-officials continued to hold clearances after they retired and the controversy has inevitably raised the question why that should be so. Unfortunately, there is no simple answer.
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