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Trump's Reckless Syria Folly

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Last year on the campaign trail, crowds roared when Donald Trump denounced his opponent as "trigger-happy" Hillary. But President Trump is rapidly incarnating the vice he condemned. Nowhere is this more evident than in Syria, where Trump’s recklessness risks dragging America into a major war.

US policy toward Syria has been a tangle of absurdities since 2012. President Obama promised 16 times that he would never put US "boots on the ground" in the four-sided Syrian civil war. He quietly abandoned that pledge and, starting in 2014, launched more more than 5,000 airstrikes that dropped more than 15,000 bombs on terrorist groups in Syria.

Four years ago, Trump warned in a tweet: "If the US attacks Syria and hits the wrong targets, killing civilians, there will be worldwide hell to pay." But the Trump administration has sharply increased US bombing while curtailing restrictions that sought to protect innocents. A British-based human rights monitoring group estimated Friday that US-led coalition strikes had killed almost 500 civilians in the past month — more than any month since US bombing began. A United Nations commission of inquiry concluded that coalition airstrikes have caused a "staggering loss of civilian life."

The carnage is sufficiently embarrassing that "the Pentagon will no longer acknowledge when its own aircraft are responsible for civilian casualty incidents,"Micah Zenko of the Council of Foreign Relations recently noted.
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Intel Behind Trump’s Syria Attack Questioned

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Legendary investigative reporter Seymour Hersh is challenging the Trump administration’s version of events surrounding the April 4 “chemical weapons attack” on the northern Syrian town of Khan Sheikhoun – though Hersh had to find a publisher in Germany to get his information out.

In the Sunday edition of Die Welt, Hersh reports that his national security sources offered a distinctly different account, revealing President Trump rashly deciding to launch 59 Tomahawk missiles against a Syrian airbase on April 6 despite the absence of intelligence supporting his conclusion that the Syrian military was guilty.

Hersh draws on the kind of inside sources from whom he has earned longstanding trust to dispute that there ever was a “chemical weapons attack” and to assert that Trump was told that no evidence existed against the Syrian government but ordered “his generals” to “retaliate” anyway.

Marine General Joseph Dunford, Chairman of the, Joint Chiefs of Staff, and former Marine General, now Defense Secretary James “Mad-Dog” Mattis ordered the attacks apparently knowing that the reason given was what one of Hersh’s sources called a “fairy tale.”

They then left it to Trump’s national security adviser Army General H. R. McMaster to further the deceit with the help of a compliant mainstream media, which broke from its current tradition of distrusting whatever Trump says in favor of its older tradition of favoring “regime change” in Syria and trusting pretty much whatever the “rebels” claim.
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The Age of No Privacy: The Surveillance State Shifts Into High Gear

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The government has become an expert in finding ways to sidestep what it considers “inconvenient laws” aimed at ensuring accountability and thereby bringing about government transparency and protecting citizen privacy.

Indeed, it has mastered the art of stealth maneuvers and end-runs around the Constitution.

It knows all too well how to hide its nefarious, covert, clandestine activities behind the classified language of national security and terrorism. And when that doesn’t suffice, it obfuscates, complicates, stymies or just plain bamboozles the public into remaining in the dark.

Case in point: the National Security Agency (NSA) has been diverting “internet traffic, normally safeguarded by constitutional protections, overseas in order to conduct unrestrained data collection on Americans.”

It’s extraordinary rendition all over again, only this time it’s surveillance instead of torture being outsourced.

In much the same way that the government moved its torture programs overseas in order to bypass legal prohibitions against doing so on American soil, it is doing the same thing for its surveillance programs.
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Republicans Still Pushing False Flags In Syria And Cold War With Russia

Seymour Hersh's shocking new investigative report shows that US intelligence knew there was no Assad chemical attack in April, but that President Trump was so influenced by media images (which may have been faked) that he fired 59 Tomahawk missiles into Syria anyway. Meanwhile, rank and file Democrat Members of Congress are growing frustrated over their leadership's continuing obsession with Russia as public opinion shifts on the issue. Republican Members are pushing for more Russia sanctions. Political shifts, on today's Liberty Report...
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Republican Healthcare Plan Fails the ‘Jimmy Kimmel Test’

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This week the Senate Republican leadership unveiled its Obamacare replacement plan. Like its House counterpart, the misnamed Senate plan retains most of Obamacare’s core features.

Both the House and Senate plans allow states to obtain waivers providing relief from some Obamacare mandates, although the waivers in both bills are too restrictive to be of much value. For example, the Senate's bill does not allow states to have waived two of Obamacare’s most destructive mandates — guaranteed issue and community ratings.
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Tyranny at Home to Fight Tyranny Abroad

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President Trump has reminded us of how the US government destroyed the liberty of the American people in the name of fighting tyranny abroad. Exercising the same dictatorial method that his predecessors have employed — executive decrees — he has made it illegal again for most Americans to travel to Cuba and spend money there.

Trump’s justification? The communist regime in Cuba is tyrannical and engages in human-rights abuses.

Think about that for a moment: A foreign regime is tyrannical and so what does a US president do? Through a decree-law, he imposes his own tyranny on his own citizenry by punishing Americans who travel to Cuba or do business there.

Let’s not forget, after all, that the US embargo on Cuba is, first and foremost, an attack on the freedom of the American people. That’s the way it has been since the very beginning of the embargo more than 50 years ago. If an American traveled to Cuba and spent money there, he didn’t need to fear the communists. He needed to fear federal investigators, prosecutors, and judges, who would have him indicted, prosecuted, convicted, and sent to federal jail for a long time.

Who’s the tyrant here?

After all, freedom of travel has always been considered one of the most fundamental natural, God-given rights of man. And as we libertarians have long held, so is economic liberty — the natural, God-given right of people to dispose of their own money any way they want.
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Snowden Part Two: Edward Interviews Ron!

As our interview last week with Edward Snowden ended, Edward asked Ron Paul a question while the cameras were still rolling that was so important and interesting that with his permission we decided to release the "after credit sequence." Why so important? As a former intelligence analyst and operative, Snowden wondered how well the intelligence community had done in its mission to keep US policymakers informed on important world events. Congressman Ron Paul had for more than two decades been theoretically a "consumer" of the intelligence community's products. Were they helpful? Listen to Dr. Paul's answer in the segment...
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The Saudi-Qatar Spat - An Offer To Be Refused

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After the crown prince of the Austia-Hungary monarchy Archduke Franz Ferdinand was shot and killed in Sarajevo the government of Austria waited three weeks to issue a 10 point ultimatum to Serbia which it held responsible for the incident. At least three of those points concerned the suppression of "propaganda against Austria-Hungary" and the Austrian Monarchy by private and state entities. It demanded a response within two days:
Sir Edward Grey, the British Foreign Secretary, commented that he had "never before seen one State address to another independent State a document of so formidable a character."
The Austrian ultimatum was an offer to be refused. But Serbia did not fall into that trap. It conceded on everything but two minor points. This was to no avail. The issues and plans Austria had were not about the assassination of [the disliked] Franz Ferdinand or the demands issued in the ultimatum. Two days later Austria-Hungary declared war against Serbia. Allies jumped to either side. World War I had started.

The now official demands by Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and some minor Gulf sheikdoms against Qatar have a similar smell to them. They are also "an offer to be refused."

The demands come late, three weeks after Saudi Arabia first accused Qatar of "supporting terrorism", three weeks after it closed the border and laid siege on the country.

(Qatar is surly "supporting terrorism". So is the US - the US Citizenship and Immigration Services just rejected an asylum request because the person in question has relations with the Free Syrian Army which it considers to be an "undesignated terrorist organization". The CIA built and supports the FSA. But the biggest terrorist sponsors of all are and have been the Saudis.)
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Groundhog Day in Iraq? Nope, Worse

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It’s a helluva question: “Tell me how this ends.”

It was a good question in 2003 when then Major General David Petraeus asked it as the United States invaded Iraq, an ironic one in 2011 when the US withdrew, worth revisiting in 2014 when the US reinvaded Iraq, and again in 2017 as Islamic State appears to be on its way out. Problem is we still don’t have a good answer. It could be Groundhog Day all over again in Iraq, or it could be worse.

Groundhog Day

The Groundhog Day argument, that little has changed from 2003 until now, is quite persuasive. Just look at the headlines. A massive Ramadan car bomb exploded not just in Baghdad, but in Karada, its wealthiest neighborhood, during a holiday period of heightened security, and all just outside the Green Zone were the American Embassy remains hunkered down like a medieval castle. Islamic State, like al Qaeda before it, can penetrate the heart of the capital city, even after the fall of their home base in Fallujah (2004, 2016.) Meanwhile, Mosul is under siege (2004, 2017.) Iranian forces are on the ground supporting the Baghdad central government. The Kurds seek their own state. American troops are deep in the fighting and taking casualties. The Iraqi Prime Minister seems in control at best only of the Shia areas of his country. Groundhog Day.

But maybe this time around, in what some call Iraq War 3.0, we do know how it ends.
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How America Armed Terrorists In Syria

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Three-term Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard of Hawaii, a member of both the Armed Services and Foreign Affairs committees, has proposed legislation that would prohibit any U.S. assistance to terrorist organizations in Syria as well as to any organization working directly with them.  Equally important, it would prohibit US military sales and other forms of military cooperation with other countries that provide arms or financing to those terrorists and their collaborators.

Gabbard’s “Stop Arming Terrorists Act” challenges for the first time in Congress a US policy toward the conflict in the Syrian civil war that should have set off alarm bells long ago: in 2012-13 the Obama administration helped its Sunni allies Turkey, Saudi Arabia, and Qatar provide arms to Syrian and non-Syrian armed groups to force President Bashar al-Assad out of power.  And in 2013 the administration began to provide arms to what the CIA judged to be “relatively moderate” anti-Assad groups—meaning they incorporated various degrees of Islamic extremism.

That policy, ostensibly aimed at helping replace the Assad regime with a more democratic alternative, has actually helped build up al Qaeda’s Syrian franchise al Nusra Front into the dominant threat to Assad.

The supporters of this arms-supply policy believe it is necessary as pushback against Iranian influence in Syria. But that argument skirts the real issue raised by the policy’s history.  The Obama administration’s Syria policy effectively sold out the US interest that was supposed to be the touchstone of the “Global War on Terrorism”—the eradication of al Qaeda and its terrorist affiliates. The United States has instead subordinated that U.S. interest in counter-terrorism to the interests of its Sunni allies. In doing so it has helped create a new terrorist threat in the heart of the Middle East.
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