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Assad Wins: Voting With Their Feet, Syrians Come Home

With the Syrian army's liberation of the southwest complete, there remains just a single province in control of ISIS and al-Qaeda in the country. The "bloodbath" that the "experts" warned about if Assad regained control not only did not come to pass, but tens and hundreds of thousands of Syrians are returning home. Once the neocons got it all wrong. So what's next? Join today's Liberty Report...
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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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Veteran Intel Officers to Trump: Intel on Iran Could be CATASTROPHIC

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Mr. President:

As the George W. Bush administration revved up to attack Iraq 15 years ago, we could see no compelling reason for war. We decided, though, to give President Bush the benefit of the doubt on the chance he had been sandbagged by Vice President Dick Cheney and others. We chose to allow for the possibility that he actually believed the “intelligence” that Colin Powell presented to the UN as providing “irrefutable and undeniable” proof of WMD in Iraq and a “sinister nexus” between Saddam Hussein and al Qaeda.

To us in VIPS it was clear, however, that the “intelligence” Powell adduced was bogus. Thus, that same afternoon (Feb. 5, 2003) we prepared and sent to President Bush a Memorandum like this one, urging him to seek counsel beyond the “circle of those advisers clearly bent on a war for which we see no compelling reason and from which we believe the unintended consequences are likely to be catastrophic.”

We take no satisfaction at having been correct — though disregarded — in predicting the political and humanitarian disaster in Iraq. Most Americans have been told the intelligence was “mistaken.” It was not; it was out-and-out fraud, in which, sadly, some of our former colleagues took part.

Five years after Powell’s speech, the Chair of the Senate Intelligence Committee minced few words in announcing the main bipartisan finding of a five-year investigation. He said: “In making the case for war, the Administration repeatedly presented intelligence as fact when in reality it was unsubstantiated, contradicted, or even non-existent. As a result, the American people were led to believe that the threat from Iraq was much greater than actually existed.”
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Southwest Syria Is Liberated - On To Idlib

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The Syrian Arab Army campaign in southwest Syria is coming to an end. The whole (green/black) area held by "rebels" and ISIS just six weeks ago is now liberated. After early resistance was overcome by a large force, many "rebel" groups gave up their fight and agreed to hand over their heavy weapons to the government forces. Those who accepted reconciliation agreements were granted amnesty, a few preferred to be evacuated to Idleb governorate.

The quarter million displaced persons the UN claimed to be in the area have not been found.

After the eastern half was cleaned and "rebels" in Daraa city defeated the fight continued in the Quneitra area along the ceasefire to the Israeli occupied Golan Heights. Here the early resistance was again strong but soon broke down. The "rebels" were offered a new alternative. They could attach their units to the Syrian army. More than 400 are now serving with the 4th Armored Division led by Maher Assad, the brother of Syria's president. Others were formed into the separate 'Ahmed' brigade. Many of these former "rebels" helped to overcome the resistance of the last ISIS fighters at the southwestern border with Jordan. A few of the ISIS nutters survived and were taken to prison (vid).

This model of converting "moderate rebels" into government soldiers to fight al-Qaeda, ISIS and other radical Islamist will be an important element in the upcoming operation to liberated Idleb.
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'President' Pompeo? Neocons Nix Trump/Rouhani Meeting

After a firey, all-caps Tweet warning Iran, President Trump did a 180 and said he'd meet with Iranian president Rouhani with no pre-conditions. Then his neocon Secretary of State Pompeo got wind of it and added a list of conditions to the meeting. Unsurprisingly, the Iranians balked at the offer. Is Trump in a box of his own making when it comes to his options on Iran? Tune in to today's Liberty Report:


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Have you gained or lost weight? Congrats, TSA is now tracking you for suspicious activity.

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If you fall asleep or use the bathroom during your next flight, those incriminating facts could be added to your federal dossier. Likewise, if you use your laptop or look at noisy children seated nearby with a “cold, penetrating stare,” that may be included on your permanent record. If you fidget, sweat or have “strong body odor” — BOOM! the feds are onto you.

Welcome to the latest profiling idiocy from the Transportation Security Administration. TSA’s Quiet Skies surveillance program is spurring federal air marshals to target dozens of Americans each day on the flimsiest of pretexts. The secret program, first exposed by Jana Winter in The Boston Globe, is security theater at its best. 

What does it take to become a Quiet Skies target? “The criteria for surveillance appear fluid. Internal agency emails show some confusion about the program’s parameters and implementation,” The Globe noted.
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War Is A Racket: After 17 Years and Billions Wasted, US Seeks Peace With Taliban

Last week, US State Department officials met with Taliban leaders in Qatar. At the request of the Taliban, the US-backed Afghan government was not invited. The officials discussed ceasefires and an end to the war. Meanwhile, the US inspector general charged with monitoring US spending on Afghanistan reconstruction has reported that since 2008, the US has completely wasted at the least $15.5 billion. He believes that's just the tip of the iceberg, though. Will President Trump do the smart thing and negotiate peace and leave? Tune in to today's Liberty Report:


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Meet VIAB: Virginia’s Taxpayer-Funded Israel Lobby

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The Virginia-Israel Advisory Board VIAB has one key difference with scores of privately funded state chambers of commerce created to foster closer economic integration between the United States and Israel while supporting the Israeli government’s policy agenda.

Originally created by an uncodified act in 2001, VIAB has been funded by Commonwealth of Virginia taxpayers. Its charter is to “advise the Governor on ways to improve economic and cultural links between the Commonwealth and the State of Israel, with a focus on the areas of commerce and trade, art and education, and general government.” VIAB is a pilot for how Israel can quietly obtain taxpayer funding and official status for networked entities that advance Israel from within key state governments.

According to emails recently released under Virginia’s Freedom of Information Act, VIAB’s lofty claims about creating Virginia jobs and mutually beneficial business opportunities faced growing skepticism inside the governor’s office. VIAB also uses state resources to fight Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions. BDS is a nonviolent movement to pressure Israel to stop violating Palestinian human rights. VIAB faced intense scrutiny over its handling of funds by the Virginia State Attorney General. Resistance to public scrutiny and oversight led VIAB to lobby for more "independence" from the governor in early 2018. This move sounded alarm bells at another Israel advocacy organization which feared that VIAB could face public backlash.
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Perpetual War For Perpetual Greed - US Threatens Iran (Again)

Over the weekend, several news report have suggested that the US is planning an attack on Iranian nuclear facilities. Other reports suggest that the US is going to unleash the Saudis to do the fighting. What's behind the relentless -- going back 60 years -- US drive to intervene in Iran's internal affairs? Oil is a big factor...but not the only one. Tune in to today's Liberty Report...
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After A Week Online, NATO's Latest 'Counter-Disinfo' Facebook Game Is A Complete Flop

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We might consider this a bit of lighthearted weekend humor, but unfortunately it's all too real and all too lame, especially consideringsignificant funding and resources actually went into this. And given that it's NATO, somebody's tax dollars had to actually foot the bill. But even NBC's write-up of the story comes close to making fun of NATO's latest attempt to combat fake news in pointing out that "reaction... appears to muted."

NATO a week ago launched its newly unveiled "weapon in the disinformation battleground" to counter the big scary Russians and all others bent on manipulating the news toward their own sinister ends, as NBC explains:
Researchers at the defense alliance have developed a Facebook game that they believe can help people to be more discerning when sharing news online.

Initial reaction to the game, which is called The News Hero, appears to be muted. By Friday morning, it had received just 50 likes and one share.
The online game is designed to be played and shared on Facebook, and far from being some kind of action/spy or historical thriller (which might actually be somewhat interesting among the youth it aims to target), it places gamers in the position of being a news publisher in a professional newsroom.
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