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Can Trump Rein In The CIA?

President-elect Donald Trump has said he wants to shrink and reform the CIA and much of the US intelligence community, which he has claimed has become very politicized. Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY) recently warned Trump about crossing the CIA, stating that, "You take on the intelligence community — they have six ways from Sunday at getting back at you." Will Trump try to really take on the destructive policies and actions of the CIA, or will he focus on re-arranging the deck chairs and putting his own people in positions of power? Our take in today's Liberty Report...
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Foreign Policy Blowback in Germany

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Ever since the 9/11 terrorist attacks, one of the things that has fascinated me most is the response of the mainstream media. Supporting the retaliatory invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq, ever-increasing budgets for the national-security establishment, and constantly expanding infringements on civil liberties and privacy, mainstream reporters, commentators, and pundits have steadfastly resisted focusing on the root cause of anti-American terrorism: deadly foreign interventionism on the part of the United States and other Western countries in the Middle East.

In fact, woe to those who have focused attention on U.S death and destruction in the Middle East as the motivating factor in the 9/11 attacks and the anti-American terrorist attacks that have come after 9/11. Whenever a libertarian has focused on terrorist blowback that comes with foreign interventionism, the response among the supporters of interventionism has been quick and fierce: “Are you blaming America for the terrorist attacks? Are you saying we are responsible for those attacks?”

Americans witnessed this phenomenon in the first Republican presidential debate in the 2008 presidential race. Referring to the blowback produced by US interventionism in the Middle East, Paul said something to the effect of “They came here to kill us because we were over there killing them.” By “we” Paul was referring to the US government.

As Paul immediately learned, he had committed the grave sin of focusing people’s attention on US foreign interventionism as the root cause of anti-American terrorism. His opponents, the mainstream press, and liberals and conservatives alike went on the attack with variations of “Oh, so you’re blaming us for the attacks? You think America is responsible for the attacks?”
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Facts Or Fakes: Can We Trust The Washington Post?

In November the Washington Post printed an article accusing some 200 independent media organizations of being "fake news" sites doing the bidding of the Kremlin. Their evidence? They had none, so very soon they were forced to walk back the story. On Friday they breathlessly reported that the Russians had hacked our energy grid, but it soon turned out they didn't bother to actually contact the company they reported hacked. It wasn't hacked. They had to walk back the story. Yes their credibility is shot, but they still churn out a steady stream of propaganda. What to do about their disintegrating credibility? Convince the US government that they should be in charge of vetting what is is fake news versus real news. It can't happen here? Tune in to today's Liberty Report...
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America or Israel? Quislings in Congress and the Media Need to Decide Which Comes First

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I am reluctant to write about the “Israel problem” at the heart of US foreign policy two weeks in a row but it seems that the story just will not go away as the usual suspects pile on the Barack Obama Administration over its alleged betrayal of America’s “best and greatest friend and ally in the whole world.”

Even as Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his gaggle of war criminals continue to foam at the mouth over the United Nations vote it is, in truth, difficult to blame Israel for what is happening. The Israelis are acting on what they see as their self interest in dominating their neighbors militarily and having a free hand to deal with the Palestinians in any way they see fit. And as for their relationship with Washington, what could be better than getting billions of dollars every year, advanced weapons and unlimited political cover in exchange for absolutely nothing?

Surely even Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu knows that the settlements are illegal under international law and are an impediment to any peaceful resolution with the Palestinians, which is what Resolution 2334 says. It has been US policy to oppose them since they first starting popping up like mushrooms, but Netanyahu has encouraging their expansion in full knowledge that he is creating facts on the ground that will be irreversible. He has also pledged to his voters that he will not permit the creation of a Palestinian state, so why should anyone be confused about his intentions?
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Good News: Washington Frozen Out of Syria Peace Plan

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As the US mainstream media obsessed last week about Russia's supposed “hacking” of the US elections and President Obama’s final round of Russia sanctions in response, something very important was taking place under the media radar. As a result of a meeting between foreign ministers of Russia, Iran, and Turkey last month, a ceasefire in Syria has been worked out and is being implemented. So far it appears to be holding, and after nearly six years of horrible warfare the people of Syria are finally facing the possibility of rebuilding their lives.

What is so important about this particular ceasefire? It was planned, agreed to, and implemented without the participation of the United States Government.
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Russia Hysteria Infects WashPost Again: False Story About Hacking US Electric Grid

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The Washington Post on Friday reported a genuinely alarming event: Russian hackers have penetrated the US power system through an electrical grid in Vermont. The Post headline conveyed the seriousness of the threat:
Russian operation hacked a Vermont utility, showing risk to U.S. electrical grid security, officials say
The first sentence of the article directly linked this cyber-attack to alleged Russian hacking of the email accounts of the DNC and John Podesta – what is now routinely referred to as “Russian hacking of our election” –  by referencing the code name revealed on Wednesday by the Obama administration when it announced sanctions on Russian officials: “A code associated with the Russian hacking operation dubbed Grizzly Steppe by the Obama administration has been detected within the system of a Vermont utility, according to U.S. officials.”

The Post article contained grave statements from Vermont officials of the type politicians love to issue after a terrorist attack to show they are tough and in control.
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Another 50 Years of Mideast Strife

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One of my favorite literary expressions is the term "Parthian shaft." It refers to the favored tactic of the Parthians, a Persian people, of turning while on horseback and firing arrows while retreating.

The Roman consul Crassus, who defeated Spartacus, may have died from such a Parthian shaft after his defeat at the battle of Carrhae in 53 BC.

This week, outgoing President Barack Obama loosed his own Parthian shaft at Israel’s leader, Benjamin Netanyahu, by refusing, for once, to veto a UN Security Council resolution condemning Israel’s ongoing expropriation of Arab land on the occupied West Bank.

There was no mention of similar expropriation and ethnic cleansing on the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights which legally belong to Syria.

For the past eight years, the Obama administration has discreetly argued with Israel over its settlement building on the West Bank and Jerusalem. In public, the Obama government maintained the ludicrous but convenient fiction that fruitful talks were under way that would lead to creation of two states in historic Palestine.
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Symbolic Failure Point: Female Afghan Pilot Wants Asylum In The US

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History loves little markers, tidy packages of symbolism that wrap up a big, complex thing.

You know, the helicopter on the roof of the American Embassy in Saigon standing in for years of failed war, the Berlin Wall being knocked down to visually note the end the Cold War, that sort of thing.

Well, the never-ending-gobsmacker of the Afghan War may have gotten its iconic moment.

Crash and Burn

Afghanistan’s first female pilot, Captain Niloofar Rahmani, above, has applied for asylum in the US, citing worsening security conditions, and harassment by male colleagues. Rahmani says her family faces serious death threats from the Taliban and her father has had to go into hiding to avoid being killed. The Afghan government even stopped paying Rahmani’s salary, despite earmarks from the US government for funding.
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Obama Under 'Intense Pressure' To Release Evidence Proving Russians Hacked The Election

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As noted previously, at some point today the White House is set to unveil new sanction, and other retaliatory "measures" against Russia and specifically the Kremlin, in retaliation for what according to a constantly repetitive narrative has been Russian hacking of the US election. Obama will do so by using a 2015 executive order that would allow the president to freeze the US assets of Russians overseas who have engaged in cyber acts, even though such order only applies to actions that have threatened US national security or financial stability, neither of which have yet been invoked in the current "hacking" scandal. Further, per a "senior administration official," use of the existing law would require (1) actual election infrastructure to be designated as 'critical infrastructure' and (2) the administration to prove that such infrastructure was actually "harmed," conditions which the National Security Council say have not been met.

The problem is that if the administration relies on the 2015 Executive Order to launch this latest round of diplomatic "retaliation", it will also have to demonstrate some proof that the individuals or entities it names were involved in the scheme, and until now, the White House has provided no documentation to back up its official October assessment that the Russian government was attempting to “interfere” in the US election besides just repeating the allegation over and over and over, as if that somehow makes it true.

Which perhaps is why this morning The Hill writes that the Obama administration is "under intense pressure to release evidence confirming Russian interference in the presidential election before leaving office."
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Does the Cause of Peace Have a Future?

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The full wrath of the Beltway neocons is about to hit my Institute for Peace and Prosperity. 

Congress snuck language into this year's Defense Authorization Bill that enables President Obama (or a future president) to crack down on critics of Washington's disastrous foreign policy. 

All they have to do is claim an organization pushes "foreign propaganda" and a new task force including the State Department, Pentagon, the CIA, and other federal agencies will move to shut it down. Do they need proof? Evidence? No! 

Just last month the Washington Post put out a blacklist of 200 websites, including major outlets like the Drudge Report, LewRockwell.com, ZeroHedge...and my Institute for Peace and Prosperity!
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