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US Ends CIA Program in Syria but Continues Preparations for Big War

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The news hits headlines. The Washington Post (WP) reports that President Trump has decided to discontinue the CIA’s covert program to arm and train "moderate" Syrian rebels battling the government of Bashar al-Assad, according to US officials. The program was authorized by  Trump’s predecessor in 2013. The move is described by media as a major concession to Russia. "This is a momentous decision," the WP cites an unnamed official, speaking on the condition of anonymity to discuss the secret program, "Putin won in Syria." Ned Price, a former CIA officer who served as senior director of the National Security Council under President Barack Obama, thinks "The White House appears content to kowtow to Moscow on any number of fronts — including in Syria." Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham tweeted that "if true – and I hope it’s not – it would be a complete capitulation to Assad, Russia, and Iran." But is it really a concession or a big policy change?

At first glance, the plans to oust the Assad government in Syria are shelved and there is nothing left but airstrikes against Islamic State (IS) militants and the Defense Department run train-and-equip program to support the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) dominated by Kurds. With the de-escalation zones coming into effect, the US is gradually reducing its involvement in the Syrian cauldron. But a deeper look into the matter leads to quite different conclusions.

The suspension of the CIA program is much ado about nothing, it was inefficient anyway. In fact, it does not change anything because the Pentagon program is in place. The US is not curtailing its involvement. To the contrary, it is increasing its military presence in Syria, and also in Iraq, by leaps and bounds.
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Trump Should Veto Congress’ Foolish New Sanctions Bill

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This week’s expected House vote to add more sanctions on Russia, Iran, and North Korea is a prime example of how little thought goes into US foreign policy. Sanctions have become kind of an automatic action the US government takes when it simply doesn’t know what else to do.
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Five Weird Conspiracy Theories from CIA Director Mike Pompeo

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In a tirade against Russia based news outlets RT and Sputnik, Donald Trump’s CIA Director Mike Pompeo blasted Russia for interfering not only in the 2016 US Presidential election but “the one before that and the one before that”. This would imply that Russia helped install Barack Obama in the White House even after his severely anti-Russian foreign policy became well known.

These statements are blasted by Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov in the following way:
If (Pompeo’s) statements mean that we interfered in the elections in 2008 and 2012 that means that President Obama owes us his victories. I’ll refrain from comment. In my opinion, this crosses the lines of what is reasonable.
Pompeo’s assertion came after a tirade in which he said that Russia’s current Chief of the General Staff Valery Gerasimov helped develop a ‘propaganda’ strategy which underlies RT and Sputnik’s alleged purpose. Pompeo further asserted that Gerasimov did this in the early 1970s. According to Pompeo:
His (Gerasimov’s) idea was that you can win wars without firing a single shot, with firing a very few shots in ways that are decidedly not militaristic. And that’s what happened

What changes is the cost to effectuate change through cyber and through RT and Sputnik, the news outlets and through other soft means has just really been lowered. It used to be expensive to run an ad on a television station. Now you simply go online and propagate your message, so they have found an effective tool, an easy way to go reach into our systems and into our culture to achieve the outcome they are looking for.
The ludicrousness of this claim can be easily debunked when one learns that General Gerasimov was born in 1955. If one can conservatively say that 1973 was the ‘early 1970s’, this means that Gerasimov developed a communications strategy that relied on the internet being up to 2017 standards when he was 18 years of age. There is simply no logic in Pompeo’s assertions.
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Syria Gas Attack and Russian Election Hacking...Debunking Fake News With Scott Ritter

Former Marine intelligence officer and UN Chief Weapons Inspector for Iraq, Scott Ritter, joins the Ron Paul Liberty Report today to shed light on the phony "17 intelligence agencies agree on Russian election hacking" story and to explain why in his vast intelligence and WMD experience why the UN "investigation" into the April "sarin gas" attack in Syria was deeply flawed and should not be believed. Also don't miss Ritter's fascinating explanation of the real purpose of the so-called "White Helmets" in Syria!
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Trump Ends Syrian Regime Change Campaign

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The headline in the Washington Post said it all: “Trump ends covert CIA program to arm anti-Assad rebels in Syria, a move sought by Moscow.” The madness that has infected what passes for journalism today could not be more starkly dramatized: everything is seen through the distorting lens of Russophobia. It doesn’t matter that that the program had failed to achieve its ostensible goal, and that the US-vetted rebels had for the most part defected to al-Qaedaal-Nusra, and ISIS. Atrocities committed by the “moderate” rebels go unmentioned. That real experts on the region like Joshua Landishailed the move as a step toward a peaceful settlement is ignored. The only thing that matters is that, as one unnamed “current official” cited in the article puts it, “Putin won in Syria.”

From this perspective, the Syrian people are merely pawns in a geopolitical game between Washington and Moscow. Elsewhere in the piece, the authors – Washington Post reporters Greg Jaffe and Adam Entous – bemoan the fact that the US has somehow “lost” Syria. Under the cover of citing anonymous former White House officials, they write:
Even those who were skeptical about the program’s long-term value, viewed it as a key bargaining chip that could be used to wring concessions from Moscow in negotiations over Syria’s future.

’People began thinking about ending the program, but it was not something you’d do for free,’ said a former White House official. ‘To give [the program] away without getting anything in return would be foolish.’
The Syrian people are mere “bargaining chips” as far as the movers and shakers of the American empire are concerned: they have no reality outside the cold calculations of power politics, the maneuvers of our know-it-all political class, who think they are qualified to run the world.
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US Urges All Nationals In North Korea To 'Depart Immediately,' Bans Tourists From Visiting

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Dennis Rodman will be disappointed to learn that the US is set to ban all citizens from traveling to North Korea, according to two agencies that operate tours there. Koryo Tours and Young Pioneer Tours said the ban would be announced on 27 July to come into effect 30 days later, the BBC reported. "After the 30-day grace period any US national that travels to North Korea will have their passport invalidated by their government." The ban comes one month after US student Otto Warmbier died following his imprisonment by the Kim regime.

China-based Young Pioneer Tours, which had taken Warmbier to North Korea, and Koryo Tours said the ban will come into force on July 27 - the anniversary of the end of the Korean War - with a 30-day grace period. Koryo Tours added that the Swedish embassy in Pyongyang, which handles consular affairs for the United States in the North, informed it of the ban, but did not say how long it would last. The U.S. embassy in the South Korean capital, Seoul, did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Rowan Beard said that the 30-day grace period would "give leeway for any [Americans] currently in the country as tourists or on humanitarian work". Simon Cockerill, of Koryo Tours, said: "It remains to be seen what the exact text is, but the indication is it's just a straight up ban on Americans going." Mr Cockerill told the BBC the agency would still conduct tours and take Americans until the ban came into effect.
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RPI's Peace and Prosperity 2017 Conference: 'Where We're Going and How We'll Get There!'

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We are witnessing a fascinating phenomenon that may signal that the neoconservative movement is nearing its "sell-by" date. As Glenn Greenwald documents in a recent article, there is a mass migration of neoconservative leaders back to the Democratic Party they left in the early 1970s. Why did they leave in the first place? The McGovernite peaceniks were destroying their party and they saw much potential in a Republican Party that had swung back and forth from the non-interventionism of the Taft wing to the big government, national-security-state Republicanism of the Buckleyites and others.
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40,000 Civilian Dead In Mosul?

Writing in The Independent, veteran journalist Patrick Cockburn reports that as many as 40,000 civilians were killed in the nine month siege of Mosul. That is tens of thousands more than the Pentagon is reporting. The reason for the high figure, Cockburn explains, is that bombs flattened multi-story housing structures, smashing everyone inside. The photos from Mosul are jarring. Who won? Watch today's Liberty Report...
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New Survey: Americans Afraid Of Major War. Whose Fault?

According to a new NBC News survey, some 76 percent of Americans are afraid of being drawn into a major war. That is a ten percent increase from just February. What's behind this increased fear? The country that Americans feel most threatened by is North Korea, which has a GDP half the size of the US state of Vermont (which has the smallest GDP in the union). Who's responsible for making Americans so afraid of relatively minor threats? The media? Neocons? Tune in to today's Liberty Report...
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Silencing War Criticism: The Iraq Invasion of 2003

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Jesse Ventura, former governor of Minnesota (1999-2003), was a hot media commodity as the Bush/Cheney administration was preparing for its invasion of Iraq in 2003.  Ventura, a US Navy veteran who gained notoriety as a professional wrestler before he entered politics, was both popular and outspoken.  MSNBC won the bidding war for his services in 2003, signing him to a lucrative three-year contract to create his own show – until, that is, the network learned he was against the Iraq war.  Ventura’s show quickly went away, even as the network paid him for three years to do nothing.

I heard this revealing story from a new podcast, the TARFU Report, hosted by Matt Taibbi and Alex Pareene.  By his own account, Jesse Ventura was bought off by the network, which back then was owned by General Electric, a major defense contractor that was due to make billions of dollars off the war.

Of course, Ventura was hardly the only war critic to run afoul of GE/NBC.  Phil Donahue, the famous talk show host, saw his highly rated show cancelled when he gave dissenters and anti-war voices a fair hearing.  Ashleigh Banfield, a reporter who covered the Iraq war, gave a speech in late April 2003 that criticized the antiseptic coverage of the war (extracts to follow below).  For her perceptiveness and her honesty, she was reassigned and marginalized, demoted and silenced.

So much for freedom of speech, as well as the press.

As Phil Donahue said, his show “wasn’t good for business.”  NBC didn’t want to lose ratings by being associated with “unpatriotic” elements when the other networks were waving the flag in support of the Iraq war.  In sidelining Ventura and Donahue, NBC acted to squelch any serious dissent from the push for war, and punished Ashleigh Banfield in the immediate aftermath of the war for her honesty in criticizing the coverage shown (and constructed) by the mainstream media, coverage that was facilitated by the US military and rubber-stamped by corporate ownership.
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