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Reporting (or Not) the Ties Between US-Armed Syrian Rebels and Al Qaeda’s Affiliate

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A crucial problem in news media coverage of the Syrian civil war has been how to characterize the relationship between the so-called “moderate” opposition forces armed by the CIA, on one hand, and the Al Qaeda franchise Al Nusra Front (and its close ally Ahrar al Sham), on the other. But it is a politically sensitive issue for US policy, which seeks to overthrow Syria’s government without seeming to make common cause with the movement responsible for 9/11, and the system of news production has worked effectively to prevent the news media from reporting it fully and accurately.

The Obama administration has long portrayed the opposition groups it has been arming with anti-tank weapons as independent of Nusra Front.  In reality, the administration has been relying on the close cooperation of these “moderate” groups with Nusra Front  to put pressure on the Syrian government. The United States and its allies–especially Saudi Arabia and Turkey–want the civil war to end with the dissolution of the government of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, who is backed by US rivals like Russia and Iran.

Reflecting the fact that Nusra Front was created by Al Qaeda and has confirmed its loyalty to it, the administration designated Nusra as a terrorist organization in 2013.  But the US has carried out very few airstrikes against it since then, in contrast to the other offspring of Al Qaeda, the Islamic State or ISIS (Daesh), which has been the subject of intense air attacks from the US and its European allies.  The US has remained silent about Nusra Front’s leading role in the military effort against Assad, concealing the fact that Nusra’s success in northwest Syria has been a key element in Secretary of State John Kerry’s diplomatic strategy for Syria.
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My Too-Intimate Relations With The TSA

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Airport security or Gitmo? Transportation security requires competence not sexual assault.

The Transportation Security Administration finally obeyed a 2011 federal court order March 3 and issued a 157 page Federal Register notice justifying its controversial full-body scanners and other checkpoint procedures. TSA’s notice ignored the fact that the “nudie” scanners are utterly unreliable; TSA failed to detect 95% of weapons and mock bombs that Inspector General testers smuggled past them last year while the agency continues to mislead the public about its heavy-handed treatment of travelers.

The Federal Register notice is full of soothing pablum about how travelers have no reason to fear the TSA, declaring that “passengers can obtain information before they leave for the airport on what items are prohibited.” But it neglects to mention that TSA can invoke ludicrous pretexts to treat innocent travelers as suspicious terrorist suspects.

Flying home from Portland, Ore., on Thanksgiving morning, I had a too-close encounter with TSA agents that spurred me to file a Freedom of Information Act request. On March 5, I finally received a bevy of TSA documents and video footage with a grope-by-grope timeline.
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Brussels Attack, Back To Iraq - What Would Reagan Do?

What does today's bombing in Brussels have to do with ISIS in Iraq? Both feed the usual calls for military escalation in response to a problem created by military escalation in the first place. If ISIS is in Iraq as a result of the ill-fated 2003 US military action in Iraq, how can more military action in Iraq solve the problem? Likewise, if Europe's slavish adherence to the Washington-led interventionist foreign policy has resulted in blowback attacks, how does signing on to more of what the Beltway neocons have to offer going to remedy the problem? Perhaps, strangely enough, we can learn from what President Reagan did in a similar situation...
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Obama in Cuba - Too Soon Or Too Late?

President Obama's trip to Cuba is making history: it has been nearly a century since an American president set foot on Cuban soil. But if the trip is to lead to a real normalization in relations, both governments need to back off and let people-to-people diplomacy take over. Today's Liberty Report on the good news and bad news of Obama's Cuban visit...
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Google This! Hillary Clinton and the Syrian Regime-Change Conspiracy

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If you’d have said a year ago that the US State Department, Google, and Al Jazeera had been collaborating in pursuance of regime change in Syria, chances are you’d have been casually dismissed as a "crank" and a ‘conspiracy theorist."

Syria was a people’s uprising against a wicked genocidal Russian-backed dictator and the West had nothing to do with the bloodshed which engulfed the country. If you thought otherwise then you were considered an "Assad apologist."

However, thanks to Wikileaks, the Freedom of Information Act, and Hillary Rodham Clinton’s use of a private, non-secure email server, we can see what was really going on behind the curtain.

Overall, 30,322 emails and attachments dating from June 30, 2010 to August 12, 2014, including 7,570 written by Clinton herself, have been published.

They haven’t made much of an impact in the mainstream media, which is not surprising considering their explosive content.

The emails reveal how the US State Department, "independent" media, and Silicon Valley have worked together to try and achieve foreign policy goals.



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Soros Disruption: American-Style

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Eastern Europeans and Arabs are all-too-familiar with the political street hooliganism sponsored by global “provocateur” George Soros and his minions. Lately, middle-class Americans have had a taste of the type of violent protest provocations during the current US presidential campaign that have previously been visited upon governments from Macedonia and Moldova to Syria and Libya. 

Recently, Donald Trump campaign rallies have seen highly-coordinated and well-planned political demonstrations in Chicago, Cleveland, St. Louis, Dayton, and other cities. The rallies were disrupted by highly-coordinated and well-planned protesters waving freshly-printed protest signs before awaiting television cameras. Such “rent-a-mob” actions are trademark signs of the involvement of George Soros and the “godfather” of political street violence, Gene Sharp, in disrupting the normal political process. 

One of the favored methods proposed by Sharp and embraced by Soros-financed groups is the taunting of individuals. Sharp’s advice to taunt speakers is being played out in the US presidential campaign: “instead of predominantly silent and dignified behavior... people may mock and insult officials, either at a certain place or by following them for a period.” Sharp suggests that taunting individuals, such as presidential candidates, be combined with a refusal to disperse when either asked or ordered to do so. Sharp claims that these methods are “non-violent.” However, when the US Secret Service, charged with protecting presidential candidates from assassination or bodily harm, order protesters to leave a campaign venue and there is a subsequent refusal to do so, violence is a certainty.
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Beltway Conservative Budget Plans Are Big Spending and Anti-Liberty

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According to a recent poll, 73 percent of all Americans oppose increases in federal spending. Since this anti-government spending sentiment is a major reason Republicans control the House and Senate, one would expect the Republican Congress to hold the line on, or even cut, government spending. Yet, despite the Republican leadership’s rhetoric about "fiscal responsibility," this year’s House Republican budget spends $104 billion more than the GOP’s 2013 budget.

Some conservatives, most notably the Heritage Foundation, have criticized the GOP budget. Heritage and the conservative House Republican Study Committee (RSC) have both prepared conservative alternatives to the official Republican budgets. Unfortunately, neither the Heritage nor the RSC budgets meaningfully reduce federal spending.
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The Kurdish Genie - A Case of Complexity Papered Over by Arrogance and Ignorance

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One of the unintended consequences of the US invasions of Iraq in 1991 and 2003 -- and their aftermaths -- has been the unleashing of the Kurdish nationalist genie in the Middle East. Today, a de-facto Kurdish statelet exists in northeast Iraq, one is emerging in northern Syria, and, after a period of attempted reconciliation, the Kurdish-Turkish violence is metastasizing again throughout Turkey. Only the Kurdish region in northwestern Iran is quiet.

The Kurdish genie has its origin in the breakup of the multi-ethnic Ottoman Empire, in the self-referencing ideas for self-determination in President Woodrow Wilson’s Fourteen Points, and in the failure (see pgs. 5 & 6) of the Versailles Peace Conference (1919) to appreciate Kurdish national aspirations. The Versailles Conference made a mockery of Wilson’s ideas, particularly in the Middle East. In truth, the question of an independent Kurdish nation has been bottled up since the (1) Sykes-Picot Agreement (1916) proposed to carve up the Ottoman Empire in the interest of the European colonial powers, (2) Treaty of Sèvres (1920) tried to effect that division, and (3) the Treaty of Lausanne (1923) undid the proposed partition of Anatolia by establishing the borders of modern Turkey. 

Together, these event buried Kurdish national aspirations in southeast Turkey by incorporating that part of Kurdistan into the Turkish Republic and the League of Nations’ mandates of Syria and Iraq. The modern multi-ethnic states of Turkey, Syria, Lebanon, and Iraq, as well as Jordan, and Israel emerged from the confused detritus of the interaction of Wilson’s naive idealism [1] with the cynical machinations of the European colonial powers.
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The Islamic State Is Pretext To Again Mug Libya

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There are currently two governments in Libya. A "moderately Islamist" one in the west in Tripoli and one in the east in Tobruk. The eastern one is internationally recognized and "secular" but also supported by some Salafist groups. Both governments have their own parliament and various supporting militia. In the middle of the long east-west coastline the Islamic State led by some cadres from Iraq and Syria has taken a foothold in Sirte. It is recruiting followers from north Africa and moving to capture nearby oilfields to finance its further expansion.

The "west" is alarmed about this development and wants to intervene with military force. But both governments and their parliaments do not wantsuch foreign intervention.

The UN or someone came up with the glorious idea of creating a third government which is supposed to supersede the two existing ones. The task of this third government will be to "invite" foreign forces and to rubber-stamp whatever they will do. That third government is now constituted in Tunisia and has zero power on the ground in Libya...
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The Conceit of Humanitarian Intervention

Rajan Menon’s new book, “The Conceit of Humanitarian Intervention,” (Oxford) launches a timely argument against a dominant argument lying behind so much of modern American foreign policy—“humanitarian intervention” or “liberal interventionism.” We are, of course, well familiar with Republican and neocon readiness to go to war, but the reality is that many Democrat Party leaders have been no less seduced into a series of optional foreign military interventions, with increasingly disastrous consequences. Hillary Clinton is today one of the leading exponents of the idea, but so are many of the advisors around President Obama.

Menon offers powerful argumentation skewering the concept of “humanitarian intervention,” demonstrating how it operates often as little more than a subtler form of an imperial agenda. Naked imperial ambitions tend to be recognizable for what they are. But when those global ambitions are cloaked in the liberal language of our “right to protect” oppressed peoples, prevent humanitarian outrages, stop genocide, and to topple noxious dictators, then the true motives behind such operations become harder to recognize. What humanitarian could object to such lofty goals? Yet the seductive character of these “liberal interventionist” policies end up serving—indeed camouflaging—a broad range of military objectives that rarely help and often harm the ostensible objects of our intervention.
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