Wed, 10 Aug 2022 16:46:34 GMT Wed, 10 Aug 2022 16:46:34 GMT New Poll: Americans Unmoved By Jan. 6th Hearings Daniel McAdams
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Welcome to the Third World Matt Taibbi
Secret service outside Mar-a-Lago Monday

[The Justice Department] must immediately explain the reason for its raid and it must be more than a search for inconsequential archives, or it will be viewed as a political tactic and undermine any future credible investigation and legitimacy of January 6 investigations.

— Former New York Governor Andrew Cuomo

Headline from Politics Insider this morning:

Feds likely obtained ‘pulverizing’ amount of evidence ahead of searching Trump's Mar-a-Lago home, legal experts say.

Pulverizing! Hold that thought.

We’ve reached the stage of American history where everything we see on the news must first be understood as political theater. In other words, the messaging layer of news now almost always dominates the factual narrative, with the latter often reported so unreliably as to be meaningless anyway. Yesterday’s sensational tale of the FBI raiding the Mar-a-Lago home of former president Donald Trump is no different.

As of now, it’s impossible to say if Trump’s alleged offense was great, small, or in between. But this for sure is a huge story, and its hugeness extends in multiple directions, including the extraordinary political risk inherent in the decision to execute the raid. If it backfires, if underlying this action there isn’t a very substantial there there, the Biden administration just took the world’s most reputable police force and turned it into the American version of the Tonton Macoute on national television. We may be looking at simultaneously the dumbest and most inadvertently destructive political gambit in the recent history of this country.

The top story today in the New York Times, bylined by its top White House reporter, speculates this is about “delayed returning” of “15 boxes of material requested by officials with the National Archives.” If that’s true, and it’s not tied to January 6th or some other far more serious offense, then the Justice Department just committed institutional suicide and moved the country many steps closer to once far-out eventualities like national revolt or martial law. This is true no matter what you think of Trump. Despite the early reports of “cheers” in the West Wing, the mood in center-left media has already drifted markedly from the overnight celebration. The Times story today added a line missing from most early reports: “The search, however, does not mean prosecutors have determined that Mr. Trump committed a crime.” There are whispers throughout the business that editors are striking down certain jubilant language, and we can even see this playing out on cable, where the most craven of the networks’ on-air ex-spooks are crab-crawling backward from last night’s buzz-words:
The hugeness of the story has become part of its explanation. An action so extreme, we’re told by expert after expert, could only be based upon “pulverizing” evidence.

Throughout the Trump years we’ve seen a numbing pattern of rhetorical slippage in coverage of investigations. The aforementioned Politics Insider story is no different. “Likely” evidence in the headline becomes more profound in the text. An amazing five bylined writers explain:
Regardless of the raid’s focus legal experts quickly reached a consensus about it: A pile of evidence must have backed up the warrant authorizing the search.
They then quoted a “former top official in the Justice Department’s National Security Division” — you’ll quickly lose track if you try to count the named and unnamed intel spooks appearing in coverage today — who said, “There’s every reason to think that there’s a plus factor in the quantum and quantity of evidence that the government already had to support probable cause in this case.”

Politico insisted such an action must have required a magistrate’s assent “based upon evidence of a potential crime.” CNN wrote how authorities necessarily “had probable grounds to believe a crime had been committed,” while the New York Times formulation was that “the F.B.I. would have needed to convince a judge that it had probable cause that a crime had been committed.” Social media was full of credentialed observers explaining what must be true. “The affidavit in support of the MAL search warrant must be something else,” said Harvard-trained former Assistant US Attorney Richard Signorelli, one among a heap of hyperventilating names...

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Repression, Terror, Fear: The Government Wants to Silence the Opposition John W. Whitehead & Nisha Whitehead

“Once a government is committed to the principle of silencing the voice of opposition, it has only one way to go, and that is down the path of increasingly repressive measures, until it becomes a source of terror to all its citizens and creates a country where everyone lives in fear.” — President Harry S. Truman

Militarized police. Riot squads. Camouflage gear. Black uniforms. Armored vehicles. Mass arrests. Pepper spray. Tear gas. Batons. Strip searches. Surveillance cameras. Kevlar vests. Drones. Lethal weapons. Less-than-lethal weapons unleashed with deadly force. Rubber bullets. Water cannons. Stun grenades. Arrests of journalists. Crowd control tactics. Intimidation tactics. Brutality. Lockdowns.

This is not the language of freedom. This is not even the language of law and order.

This is the language of force.

This is how the government at all levels—federal, state and local—now responds to those who speak out against government corruption, misconduct and abuse.

These overreaching, heavy-handed lessons in how to rule by force have become standard operating procedure for a government that communicates with its citizenry primarily through the language of brutality, intimidation and fear.

We didn’t know it then, but what happened five years ago in Charlottesville, Va., was a foretaste of what was to come.

At the time, Charlottesville was at the center of a growing struggle over how to reconcile the right to think and speak freely, especially about controversial ideas, with the push to sanitize the environment of anything—words and images—that might cause offense. That fear of offense prompted the Charlottesville City Council to get rid of a statue of Confederate General Robert E. Lee that had graced one of its public parks for 82 years.

In attempting to err on the side of political correctness by placating one group while muzzling critics of the city’s actions, Charlottesville attracted the unwanted attention of the Ku Klux Klan, neo-Nazis and the alt-Right, all of whom descended on the little college town with the intention of exercising their First Amendment right to be disagreeable, to assemble, and to protest.

That’s when everything went haywire.

When put to the test, Charlottesville did not handle things well at all.

On August 12, 2017, government officials took what should have been a legitimate exercise in constitutional principles (free speech, assembly and protest) and turned it into a lesson in authoritarianism by manipulating warring factions and engineering events in such a way as to foment unrest, lockdown the city, and justify further power grabs.

On the day of scheduled protests, police deliberately engineered a situation in which two opposing camps of protesters would confront each other, tensions would bubble over, and things would turn just violent enough to justify allowing the government to shut everything down.

This is not much different from what is happening on the present-day national scene.

Indeed, there’s a pattern emerging if you pay close enough attention.

Civil discontent leads to civil unrest, which leads to protests and counterprotests. Tensions rise, violence escalates, police stand down, and federal armies move in. Meanwhile, despite the protests and the outrage, the government’s abuses continue unabated.

It’s all part of an elaborate setup by the architects of the police state. The government wants a reason to crack down and lock down and bring in its biggest guns.

They want us divided. They want us to turn on one another.

They want us powerless in the face of their artillery and armed forces.

They want us silent, servile and compliant.

They certainly do not want us to remember that we have rights, let alone attempting to exercise those rights peaceably and lawfully, whether it’s protesting politically correct efforts to whitewash the past, challenging COVID-19 mandates, questioning election outcomes, or listening to alternate viewpoints—even conspiratorial ones—in order to form our own opinions about the true nature of government.

And they definitely do not want us to engage in First Amendment activities that challenge the government’s power, reveal the government’s corruption, expose the government’s lies, and encourage the citizenry to push back against the government’s many injustices.

Why else do you think Wikileaks founder Julian Assange continues to molder in jail for daring to blow the whistle about the US government’s war crimes, while government officials who rape, plunder and kill walk away with little more than a slap on the wrist?

This is how it begins.

We are moving fast down that slippery slope to an authoritarian society in which the only opinions, ideas and speech expressed are the ones permitted by the government and its corporate cohorts.

Watch and see: we are all about to become enemies of the state.

As I make clear in my book Battlefield America: The War on the American People and in its fictional counterpart The Erik Blair Diaries, anytime you have a government that operates in the shadows, speaks in a language of force, and rules by fiat, you’d better beware.

So what’s the answer?

For starters, we need to remember that we’ve all got rights, and we need to exercise them.

Most of all, we need to protect the rights of the people to speak truth to power, whatever that truth might be. Either “we the people” believe in free speech or we don’t.

Fifty years ago, Supreme Court Justice William O. Douglas asked:
Since when have we Americans been expected to bow submissively to authority and speak with awe and reverence to those who represent us? The constitutional theory is that we the people are the sovereigns, the state and federal officials only our agents. We who have the final word can speak softly or angrily. We can seek to challenge and annoy, as we need not stay docile and quiet… [A]t the constitutional level, speech need not be a sedative; it can be disruptive… [A] function of free speech under our system of government is to invite dispute. It may indeed best serve its high purpose when it induces a condition of unrest, creates dissatisfaction with conditions as they are, or even stirs people to anger.
In other words, the Constitution does not require Americans to be servile or even civil to government officials. Neither does the Constitution require obedience (although it does insist on nonviolence).

Somehow, the government keeps overlooking this important element in the equation.

Reprinted with permission from Rutherford Institute.]]> Wed, 10 Aug 2022 13:06:20 GMT
Police State? Armed Feds Raid Trump House Daniel McAdams
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NATO Learns Nothing and Forgets Nothing George Szamuely

NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg recently addressed the Workers Youth League (AUF) summer camp in Utøya, Norway. The AUF is Norway’s largest political youth organization and is affiliated with the Norwegian Labor Party. The AUF summer camp is of course famous for being the scene of the horrific terrorist attack perpetrated by neo-Nazi Anders Breivik in 2011.

Stoltenberg said little of note. Nonetheless, his speech was a remarkable demonstration of how little NATO has learned from the dramatic events of this year. A serious military conflict is taking place on the European continent, a conflict that NATO had played a substantial role in triggering through its unwavering insistence on scooping up as many countries in Europe, Central Asia and beyond into its military system, without any regard for the security concerns of others.

The war in Ukraine is moreover the second major conflict to break out on the European continent within the last 25 years. Both of these conflicts are inextricably linked to two NATO commitments: first, to limitless expansion and, second, to the elimination of Russia’s presence and influence from Europe once and for all. The war in Ukraine was triggered by the first commitment; the 1999 bombing of Yugoslavia by the second.

Bombing of Yugoslavia down the memory hole

Stoltenberg is of course cheerfully oblivious to any of this. At one point during his speech, he even had the insolence to say of the fighting in Ukraine:
We are seeing acts of war, attacks on civilians and destruction not seen since World War II. We cannot be indifferent to this.
Not “seen since World War II”? Stoltenberg, like most official front-men for NATOLand, has evidently forgotten the 11-week bombing campaign that NATO waged against Yugoslavia, the first bombing attacks on major European cities since Hitler. Some of NATO’s atrocities include: a daytime attack on a passenger train crossing the railway bridge over the Južna Morava river at Grdelica gorge, killing 14; the attack on the column of displaced civilians over a 12-mile stretch of road between Djakoviča and Decani in western Kosovo, killing 73; the attack on the Belgrade headquarters of Radio Television of Serbia, killing 16; the attack on a residential area in the southern town of Surdulica in southeastern Serbia, killing 16; the destruction of a passenger bus on Lužane bridge in Kosovo, killing at least 23; the daytime cluster bombing of the market in Niš, killing 15; the bombing of the Kosovo Albanian village of Koriša, killing 87; the attack on the Dragiša Mišović hospital in Belgrade, killing three; the attack on the bridge in Varvarin in south-central Serbia, killing three; the bombing of a sanatorium and a nearby old people’s home in Surdilica, killing 17; the attack on an apartment building in Novi Pazar in southwest Serbia, killing 10. 

The list can easily be extended. The point is that NATO continues to live in its own delusional world in which a 30-country-strong military alliance, armed with nuclear weapons, is purely “defensive” and wouldn’t in a million years dream of hurting a fly.

Countries “can choose their own path”

President Putin, Stoltenberg claimed,
has attacked an entire innocent country and people, with military force, to achieve his political goals. What he is really doing is challenging the world order we believe in. Where all countries, large and small, can choose their own path. He does not accept the sovereignty of other countries.
It is easy—and not a little tedious—to list everything that is objectionable about that statement. Ukraine is hardly entirely “innocent”: The current government in Kiev came to power in 2014 through a violent coup against a legally-elected government; it has waged an eight-year war against its own people, in which some 13,000 (maybe more) people have been killed; it has imposed a blockade against the civilian population of its own country; it has refused to implement a peace agreement that it had signed and that was subsequently adopted by the U.N. Security Council in Resolution 2202 (2015).

As for using military force to “achieve political goals,” well, NATO has done an awful lot of that. NATO bombed the Serbs of Bosnia in 1995 in order to secure the creation of an artificial state in the Balkans that would effectively be under NATO’s control. Because NATO failed to achieve its desired goal, namely, the creation of a unitary state, it has been seeking to undermine the agreement that ended the war ever since. The Dayton Accords of 1995 crafted an unwieldy state of Bosnia and Herzegovina made up of two loosely-connected entities—the Muslim-Croat federation and the Republika Srpska. However, the Dayton agreement made no mention of the creation of joint Bosnian state institutions such a national army, still less of any prospective NATO membership. Yet the NATO powers have more than 25 years continued to pretend that any reluctance on the part of the state’s citizens (mostly the Serbs) to follow through on the creation of a national army and of course on applying for NATO membership or realizing their “Euro-Atlantic ambitions,” to use the preferred jargon is a violation of Dayton Accords. “We will not tolerate Republika Srpska’s secessionist policies, which endanger Bosnia and Herzegovina’s future and the stability in the region,” the democracy-loving G-7 foreign ministers thundered in a joint statement issued on May 14.

NATO also used military force to secure political goals when it bombed Yugoslavia in 1999. NATO sought to topple the government of President Slobodan Milošević and to seize the province of Kosovo from Serbia. This province, like Bosnia and Herzegovina, has remained under effective NATO occupation and serves as home to a giant, brand-new US military base in Europe, Camp Bondsteel.

NATO also used military force in 2011 when it launched an “unprovoked” bombing attack on Libya in order to get rid of independent-minded Libyan leader Muammar Qaddafi—long a thorn in the side of the West. There was some ludicrous talk at the time emanating from NATO and NATO governments that only a prolonged bombing campaign could save the residents of Benghazi from “genocide.” A subsequent U.K. House of Commons Foreign Affairs Committee report, “Libya: Examination of Intervention and Collapse and the U.K.’s Future Policy Options,” ridiculed the assertions NATO made in order to justify its attack:
Despite his rhetoric, the proposition that Muammar Gaddafi would have ordered the massacre of civilians in Benghazi was not supported by the available evidence. The Gaddafi regime had retaken towns from the rebels without attacking civilians in early February 2011….More widely, Muammar Gaddafi’s 40-year record of appalling human rights abuses did not include large-scale attacks on Libyan civilians.
Stoltenberg, protected by an obsequious NATO press corps, can rest easy that he will never be confronted with such unpleasant facts. The rest of Stoltenberg’s claims were standard Western cliches. “World order we believe in”? Who’s the “we”? The “we” obviously don’t include most of the countries of the world, the ones who have pointedly refused to join in the Western sanctions campaign against Russia.

As for countries’ right to choose “their own path,” that in NATO parlance only applies to countries that choose the path laid down by NATO. Serbia certainly didn’t enjoy that right in the 1990s. The most truthful explanation for NATO’s extraordinary hostility toward Yugoslavia during that decade, a hostility that culminated in a brutal bombing campaign, came straight from the horse’s mouth. John Norris, former communications director to Strobe Talbott, deputy secretary of state during the Clinton administration, wrote in his book, Collision Course: NATO, Russia, and Kosovo (2005):
It was Yugoslavia’s resistance to the broader trends of political and economic reform—not the plight of Kosovar Albanians—that best explains NATO’s war. Milošević had been a burr in the side of the transatlantic community for so long that the United States felt that he would only respond to military pressure. Slobodan Milošević’s repeated transgressions ran directly counter to the vision of a Europe “whole and free,” and challenged the very value of NATO’s continued existence….It was precisely because Milošević had been so adroit at outmaneuvering the West that NATO came to view the ever-escalating use of force as its only option….NATO went to war in Kosovo because its political and diplomatic leaders had [sic] enough of Milošević and saw his actions disrupting plans to bring a wider stable of nations into the transatlantic community
There it is: nothing to do with Kosovo, and everything to do with resistance to NATO/E.U. takeover of every piece of real estate in Europe. The Serbia of today, incidentally, has no more of a right to choose its own path than the Serbia of the 1990s had. Serbian political leaders, including Serbian President Alexander Vučić, have repeatedly spoken out about the pressure they have been subjected to by the NATO powers in order to get them to agree to imposing sanctions against their longstanding friend and ally, Russia. Doubtless, had Qaddafi not been murdered during NATO’s 2011 bombing campaign, he too could today adumbrate in some detail on the issue of Libya’s right to choose its own path.

In any case, an unconditional right to join NATO—the right to choose one’s own path—has never been considered the fundamental determinant of national sovereignty. There is no article in the U.N. Charter that says that every U.N. member-state has the right to join any military alliance it wants without regard to the security concerns of other U.N. member-states. It is certainly not a right that the United States recognizes, as evidenced by its recent furious response to the news that the Solomon Islands (nowhere near physically to the United States) had signed a security agreement with China, which might lead to China’s building a military base on the islands.

Read the whole article here.]]> Tue, 09 Aug 2022 14:16:33 GMT
Producing New Enemies for No Reason Whatsoever Philip Giraldi

A good friend of mine, learning of the impending visit of Speaker of the House of Representatives Nancy Pelosi to Taiwan, recalled Homer’s description of Helen of Troy, “The face that launched a thousand ships and burnt the towers of Ilium.” Well, Nancy ain’t no Helen of Troy, but she might nevertheless be in the business of launching warships and burning cities due to her bizarre interpretation of her foreign policy prerogatives as Speaker.

It is like watching a train wreck developing in slow motion. Witnessing the highly dangerous behavior of the Biden Administration and its acolytes in power like Pelosi, one feels compelled to ask whether the White House and Congress are now setting the stage for the elevation of China to the status of foreign enemy number one? Indeed, if one has been hanging around Washington for the past twenty-five years or so, it was hard to miss the often-surfaced bipartisan contention that China is America’s major over-the-horizon adversary, or even enemy, with its growing economy, its successful geopolitics, and its huge industrious population. I can still recall my shock at hearing Democratic Senator Jim Webb, an honorable and highly intelligent Iraq War critic, telling a conservative gathering in 2015 that the real future threat to the United States would be coming from China.

Fear of China, sometimes dubbed in racist language as the “Yellow Peril,” has a long tradition in the United States and in Europe. In the current context, the US government is certainly apprehensive about where the increasing rapprochement between China and Russia is going, summed up by Secretary of State Tony Blinken as “The deepening strategic partnership between the People’s Republic of China and the Russian Federation and their mutually reinforcing attempts to undercut the rules-based international order run counter to our values and interests.” Ironically enough, that development stems from the inept US diplomacy exemplified by Blinken’s tunnel vision that most recently allowed a negotiable crisis to develop into a full-fledged war over Ukraine.

But a much more significant development stems from the Chinese success when playing at what might be called the global geostrategy game. The Chinese Silk Road project threatens to create a new economic reality for Eurasia, squeezing the US out and creating unique networks for marketing, transportation, and the contractual exploitation of third world natural resources. Again ironically, the US was once upon a time the master at creating such networks to benefit the American economy and workers, but unmanageable debt plus inflation combined with outsourcing and lack of any industrial policy means that that advantage has largely vanished. To put it bluntly, China has outcompeted the United States, and whether that constitutes a threat depends on which side of the fence one is standing on.

NATO alliance Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg, is also part of the gamesmanship, observing how “China is substantially building up its military forces, including nuclear weapons, bullying its neighbors, threatening Taiwan … monitoring and controlling its own citizens through advanced technology, and spreading Russian lies and disinformation.” Stoltenberg and Blinken’s indictment of China was followed by a NATO issued “strategic concept” document that declared for the first time that China poses a “systemic challenge” to the alliance and declarations by the heads of the CIA and MI6 that China constitutes the “biggest long-term threat to our economic and national security.”

One would not expect China to be silent when confronted by the threats from the West and, indeed, Beijing has made clear that that Washington is “playing with fire” and that there would be “consequences.” Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian observed that the “so-called rules-based international order is actually a family rule made by a handful of countries to serve the US self-interest,” adding that “[Washington] observes international rules only as it sees fit.”

It would be correct to describe the US-China relationship as currently occupying a low point. The result has been to create an international crisis where there was none to start with, and it goes on. There have been two more interesting developments in the US versus China saga in the past two weeks. First came a video-link two hour and seventeen minute “summit” between US President Joe Biden and Chinese President Xi Jinping. Biden’s declared mission was to address those issues that impeded a more manageable relationship between the two countries, or at least that is how it was described.

The issues discussed by Biden and Xi included not taking any steps that would challenge the status quo re Taiwan as well as Chinese territorial claims in the South China Sea which the US maintains have inhibited “freedom of the seas” for foreign vessels transiting the area. China has responded that it is only exercising its sovereignty and stresses that its international presence is largely derived from its perfectly legal commercial and business activity. Other issues under discussion included what to do about climate change and the evolving situation in Ukraine. The possibility of rolling back some tariffs imposed by Donald Trump apparently was not discussed.

More provocative by far than the Biden phone call, which at least was ostensibly intended to mend fences, is the decision by Nancy Pelosi to make an August trip to Taiwan, which has now been completed. It was the first visit by an American official at that level since 1997 and it sought to confirm the US total commitment to defend the Taiwanese if China were to seek to establish full control of the Island. The proposed visit had been linked to moves by Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin, who shifted US military resources in the Far East to provide possible protection for Pelosi’s travel on a US Air Force plane if the Chinese were to attempt to block her by declaring a no-fly zone over the island. Austin ordered the Commander of US Forces in the Indo-Pacific region (aka INDOPACCOM) to send the Ronald Reagan Carrier Strike Group into the South China Sea as a “show of force,” which was construed as a deliberate demonstration to the Chinese that they have no actual sovereignty over Taiwan.

In the event, China responded to the Pelosi visit with a live fire military exercise in the air space and in the waters around Taiwan and whatever takes place next will have to be dealt with by the Taiwanese. The Pentagon is reportedly preparing “options” if China actually does choose to invade. But nevertheless, the visit, which cost the US taxpayer $90 million, was clearly intended to send certain signals to Beijing and those signals were not only not friendly but even threatening. Pelosi assured Taiwan’s president, Tsai Ing-wen, that there would be US support despite threats from China, saying “Today the world faces a choice between democracy and autocracy. America’s determination to preserve democracy here in Taiwan and around the world remains ironclad.” Sounds familiar, doesn’t it? It is also language that is largely intended to appeal to the domestic audience in the US with midterm elections coming up in November. It always is popular to take cheap shots at Russia, Iran or China.

Interestingly, President Joe Biden, apparently supported privately by Austin, actually opposed the Speaker’s trip as it reportedly could disrupt his intention to actually meet Xi face-to-face at some point in the future. Pelosi, who lacks having any actual constitutional foreign policy role apart from approving budgets, has provided ammunition for those among the Chinese leadership who have come to believe that the United States cannot be trusted to honor any agreement made with a foreign government. The Speaker clearly had not heard about or understand the “One China Policy” and the “strategic ambiguity” that governs the relationship between China and the US over Taiwan to avoid any military escalation regarding that issue. Joe Biden, admittedly, has also muddied the waters by declaring three times that the US might have to use force to defend Taiwan if it is attacked as Ukraine was, even though he and his aides later insisted that he was not changing policy. The US, for its part, actually concedes the island is part of China, though “strategic ambiguity” has meant that Beijing has not yet sought to assert direct political control over it. Given that status and the threatening moves by Austin to protect Pelosi’s trip, one might imagine what the American reaction would be if China were openly making plans to fly its fighter jets into US airspace in order to forcibly land a senior Chinese official without an invitation from the State Department.

As always, there have been other possible developments, including reports that the US-funded National Endowment for Democracy (NED) is active in currently unstable Myanmar (Burma), fomenting trouble to distract China in its own backyard. NED is notorious for its role in regime change operations that were once the responsibility of the CIA, including the 2014 Maidan revolt in Ukraine. China is surely aware of the American involvement in regional meddling. Pushing from the other direction, North Korea is threatening to use nuclear weapons if it is attacked by the US and South Korea, which will inevitably involve China. Pyongyang was responding to reports that Seoul and Washington are planning war games that will include a “decapitation exercise” simulating the assassination of North Korea’s leader Kim Jong Un.

On balance, the United States has little to gain and much to lose by ratcheting up the pressure on China and its leadership in an attempt to create the “Pearl Harbor Moment” so much desired by the neocons and the hardliners in government. On the contrary, Nancy Pelosi should have stayed home and the White House should be working even harder to identify and pursue those opportunities for cooperation between the two countries. The ongoing bipartisan framing of China as an enemy of both the United States and of NATO is not the way to go, as it will literally force the Chinese to respond in kind. If one considers what is going on with Russia in terms of disruption of international trade, just imagine what would happen if the world’s biggest economy in China were to begin its own round of sanctions and selective withholding of manufactured goods. And then there is the risk of igniting yet another needless war, one that also comes with nuclear weapons as a last resort if either side were to perceive that it was “losing.” It is just not worth it, is it? But then again, it never is.

Reprinted with permission from Unz Review.]]> Tue, 09 Aug 2022 13:46:48 GMT
Armed Robbery: Anti-Inflation Bill To Unleash Massive IRS Army Daniel McAdams
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'Russian Propaganda' Just Means Disobedience Caitlin Johnstone

You can always tell how important narrative control is by watching the way people react when their control of the narrative is jeopardized.

Empire apologists are raging at Amnesty International for pausing its aggressive facilitation of western imperialism to issue one brief criticism of the way Ukrainian forces have been endangering civilian lives with their warfare tactics against the Russian military.

Amnesty is far from the first to highlight this extensively documented issue; that Ukrainian forces have been deliberately positioning themselves in civilian populations without taking proper measures to protect noncombatants is a concern that has been voiced repeatedly since the war began and reported on by both mainstream western news outlets and the United Nations.

Nevertheless, Amnesty’s claim that “Ukrainian forces have put civilians in harm’s way by establishing bases and operating weapons systems in populated residential areas, including in schools and hospitals” has drawn fire from Ukrainian officials, from mass media pundits, from the brainwashed rank-and-file on social media, and from President Zelensky himself.
A common criticism circulating among the outrage is that Amnesty is facilitating Russian propaganda, has been influenced by Russian propaganda, or has itself become an instrument of Russian propaganda.

The head of Amnesty International’s Ukrainian branch resigned as a result of the report, saying that “the organization created material that sounded like support for Russian narratives” and that in an effort to protect civilians, “this study became a tool of Russian propaganda.”

“It is a shame that the organization like Amnesty is participating in this disinformation and propaganda campaign,” tweeted Zelensky advisor Mykhailo Podolyak.

“Amnesty International can go to hell for this garbage,” tweeted Human Rights Foundation Chairman Garry Kasparov. “Or go to Ukraine, which Putin’s war is trying to turn into hell. As with their actions on Navalny, it reeks of Russian influence turning Kremlin propaganda into Amnesty statements.”

The Daily Mail called the Amnesty report “a coup for Vladimir Putin’s propaganda machine.”

“The organization gives a huge assist to Russian propaganda,” tweeted Oleksiy Sorokin, chief operating officer of the NATO propaganda outlet Kyiv Independent.

“Shameful victim-blaming. Russia invaded Ukraine and is committing unspeakable war crimes there. Please do not amplify Russian lies,” tweeted Paul Massaro of the US government’s Helsinki Commission.
The underlying premise behind these complaints, of course, is that it is Amnesty International’s job to help Ukraine win a propaganda campaign against Russia. Which is odd, because Amnesty’s reporting on the war has actually been overwhelmingly biased in favor of Ukraine this entire time.

“Anger directed at Amnesty is surprising given that it is the first critical piece the group has written on Ukraine since the war began,” reports Unherd. “Over the last six months, Amnesty has published 40 articles on Ukraine, nearly all of which condemn Russia’s invasion, with only one exception — its latest — that could be conceivably described as critical of Ukraine.”

Even the Amnesty report currently sparking all the outrage contains repeated condemnations of Russia’s actions in Ukraine, citing “indiscriminate attacks by Russian forces” and “war crimes” Amnesty has found Russia guilty of committing, as well as decrying the use of “inherently indiscriminate weapons, including internationally banned cluster munitions.”

But even ninety-nine percent loyalty to the official line is not enough for imperial spinmeisters and the empire’s useful idiots. Anything short of 100 percent compliance counts as Russian propaganda.
But that’s precisely the notion that has been drummed into western consciousness with ever-increasing fervor since 2016: that any dissent about US foreign policy is Russian propaganda. Don’t support western interventionism in Syria? You’re spouting Russian propaganda. Worried about nuclear war? Russian propaganda. Don’t think the fight for US unipolar domination is worth all this dangerous brinkmanship? Russian propaganda. Don’t like the idea of an expensive proxy war with no exit strategy whose economic fallout is making life harder and harder for more and more people all around the world? Russian propaganda.

I myself am accused of being a peddler of Russian propaganda many times per day, and have been for years. This despite my hardly ever consuming Russian media, never receiving a penny from Russia, and never having worked for the Russian government or any other government at any time. Russian media have at times chosen of their own initiative to amplify my work since I have a standing invitation for anyone to do so, but I’m literally just an Australian woman writing her opinions online with her American husband. I only qualify as “Russian propaganda” because I disagree with US foreign policy.

Ask anyone who says a criticism of the western empire’s Ukraine policy is “Russian propaganda” to name a critic of western Ukraine policy who they don’t consider a Russian propagandist. They won’t be able to. For them, disagreeing with one’s government about Ukraine is itself Russian propaganda.

For empire apologists the measure of what constitutes “Russian propaganda” about Ukraine has nothing to do with whether or not what’s being said is true or valid; it’s literally just a question of obedience to one’s government about the decisions it’s been making with regard to that nation.
If the measure of whether something qualifies as propaganda is defined entirely by whether it agrees with one’s government, then that measure is itself propaganda.

That’s exactly what’s happening with criticism of the west’s interventionism in Ukraine. Something doesn’t have to come from Russia to be considered Russian propaganda, and its source doesn’t need to have any connection to the Russian government. It doesn’t even have to be false. All it needs to be is disobedient.

We saw this illustrated this past June when The Guardian published a NATO-backed claim that journalist Aaron Maté was “the most prolific spreader of disinformation” among a “Russia-backed network of Syria conspiracy theorists,” despite being incapable of citing a single false thing in Maté’s Syria reporting, and despite The Guardian having to hastily edit out their “Russia-backed” claim.

We also saw this illustrated this past June in a University of Calgary briefing paper on “disinformation” about the war in Ukraine which warns about “five primary narratives” being circulated online:
1. Implying NATO expansionism legitimizes the Russian invasion

2. Portraying NATO as an aggressive alliance using Ukraine as a proxy against Russia

3. Promoting a general mistrust in institutions and elites

4. Suggesting that Ukraine is a fascist state or has extensive fascist influences

5. Promoting a specific mistrust of Canada’s Liberal government, and especially of Prime Minister Trudeau
There are arguments of varying strengths to be made for every one of those points, but more importantly it is self-evident that all of them are matters of opinion and none of them meet any sane definition of “disinformation”. They also can’t in and of themselves rightly be called either “Russian” or “propaganda”.
Russian propaganda certainly exists, and the Russian government certainly has a vested interest in influencing western thought in its strategic favor to whatever extent it is capable. But its capability is very, very limited, especially compared to the exponentially greater influence that western institutions have over our minds.

Russia has a few trolls and some media outlets that were barely viewed by westerners even before they were banned; the US-centralized empire has the billionaire media, Silicon Valley, Hollywood, and the education system. Comparing the two is like comparing a candle to the sun, and the sun ain’t Russia. But that’s the one whose influence over our minds we’re meant to worry about.

In reality we are swimming in propaganda that is favorable to the US empire our entire lives; it’s so ubiquitous that people don’t even notice it. Claiming your support for US foreign policy on an issue has nothing to do with being propagandized is like someone who was raised in the Westboro Baptist Church claiming it was pure coincidence that he happens to agree with the church on the sinfulness of homosexuality. It pervades our minds and shapes our society, but they want us all freaking out about the virtually nonexistent problem of “Russian propaganda”.

This is a thought-killing dynamic, and it is a major problem. It is not good that propaganda is shoved into our minds manufacturing consent for dangerous escalations between the world’s two greatest nuclear powers while anyone who opposes any part of it is dismissed as a Russian propagandist or a useful idiot of the Kremlin.
We should be using our minds more at this critical juncture, but these dynamics put in place by imperial narrative managers have instead got us using them a lot less.

Old joke:

A Russian and an American get on a plane in Moscow and get to talking. The Russian says he works for the Kremlin and he’s on his way to go learn American propaganda techniques.

“What American propaganda techniques?” asks the American.

“Exactly,” the Russian replies.

Reprinted with permission from
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]]> Mon, 08 Aug 2022 13:33:39 GMT
World Wars’ Shadows: the US Current Clash with Russia and China Oscar Silva-Valladares

The reasoning behind the US government’s current confrontations with Russia and China is very much debated, with explanations including sheer incompetence, short-term opportunism from a Democratic Party hellbent on pursuing a destructive geopolitical agenda for its own domestic ends, a blind urge to preserve world domination driven by a diminishing role in world affairs and, from those believing in more rational responses, containment and deterrence as a systematic but flexible response.

Not enough appears to have been said about the history lessons the US has learned - and appears to be trying to apply in the current conflicts in Ukraine and Taiwan - from its participation in the two world wars of the 20th century and how US worldwide domination derived from the way it positioned itself ahead of its involvement in those wars in 1917 and 1941. In both instances, the US skillfully observed from the distance the progression of hostilities and entered into them at a time, place and modus operandi of its choice. 

US participation in World War I, despite Woodrow Wilson’s affirmation that it was driven by a desire to make the world safer for democracy, was motivated by imperialistic pursuits masqueraded in the need to build a new world order to replace the so-called decadent European old regime. By entering the war during its third year and after substantial destruction, the US became the arbiter of Europe’s fate. From being its debtor, the US became Europe’s creditor as it accumulated more than half of the world’s gold. 

The weak political architecture that followed the Treaty of Versailles, including a limited League of Nations in which vanquished countries did not have a seat and in which Russia was also missing, was to a great extent the result of US actions and became one of the leading causes of World War II. The US successful military involvement in World War I led the ground for an advantageous positioning before World War II. Domestic isolationist sentiments during the 1930s provided a good excuse for the US government to intervene in the 1939-45 war at its own timing, and this strategy paid off handsomely as the collapse of Europe facilitated the US emergence in the 1950s with roughly 50 percent share of the world’s industrial output and as owner of the world’s reserve currency.

The US strategic intents ahead of both world wars and its ultimate success has significant parallels with its current ongoing goal of preventing an economic alignment between Germany and Russia through competitive energy supplies from the latter to the former. US intervention in World War I had as one of its aims a desire to become the dominant foreign economic force in Czarist Russia at the expense of Germany, an objective unravelled by the October Revolution, and World War II led to the breakup of Germany as a means for the US to achieve supremacy in Western Europe.  It can be argued that Germany, Europe’s strongest country, is still perceived by the US as an adversary if it drives closer to Russia, therefore defeating a Russo-German prospective alliance in the energy field was in the US interest no matter how much it would contribute to Germany’s deindustrialization and to the deterioration of its population’s wellbeing. 

In the current confrontations with Russia on Ukraine and with China on Taiwan, the former taking place and the latter unfolding, broader similarities with history can be drawn. Ideally, the US would not like to be directly involved, at least from the beginning, but rather have Russia and China debilitated as a result of US and allies’ military support and economic sanctions to enable the US to continue having unchallenged world supremacy.

Nowadays Ukraine is a micro-cosmos of the debilitating effort played against Europe during World War II through the Lend-Lease Act, the ingenious scheme for US military support that indebted Europe for decades, which explains why the same device is been used again. The resurrection of Lend-Lease in Ukraine invokes the idea of the United States as the “arsenal of democracy,” as Franklin Roosevelt famously described in December 1940.

Despite historic lessons that are tempting to be replayed again, many things can go wrong for the US in the current crisis in Ukraine and Taiwan, including unintended effects caused by escalation and gross miscalculation. A US government led by an increasingly disabled president does not give confidence on successfully steering the ship in current dangerous waters. History has also been learned by Russia and China and both countries seem to believe they have a good understanding of US real intentions vis-à-vis its words. The US current economic weakness compared to its much stronger standing prior to the world wars also begs the question of whether the US would be able to come on top one more time. During the world wars the US fought for the growth, expansion, and consolidation of its world power, whereas today it seems to fight to preserve and defend an eroding global power base weakened by a loss of competitive economic and scientific edge, shrinking military power despite increasing budgets, racial and ethnic loyalty conflicts exacerbated by multiculturalism, declining affordability of food due to wage decline, and a steady deterioration of its middle class. This grim reality makes one wonder if, from the point of view of its people’s prosperity, the US has ever fought an existential conflict aside from the American Independence and the American Civil wars.

Oscar Silva-Valladares is a former investment banker who has lived and worked in North and Latin America, Western & Eastern Europe, Saudi Arabia, Japan, the Philippines, and Western Africa. He currently provides strategic consulting advisory on financial matters across emerging markets.]]> Mon, 08 Aug 2022 13:14:25 GMT
Pelosi’s Taiwan Trip Exposes Foolishness of Interventionism Ron Paul

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s “surprise” trip to Taiwan last week should be “Exhibit A” as to why interventionism is dangerous, deadly, and dumb. Though she claimed her visit won some sort of victory for democracy over autocracy, the stopover achieved nothing of the sort. It was a pointless gesture that brought us closer to military conflict with zero benefits.

As Col. Doug Macgregor said of Pelosi’s trip on a recent episode of Tucker Carlson Tonight, “statesmanship involves advancing American interests at the least cost to the American people. None of that is in play here. … Posturing is not statesmanship.”

Pelosi’s trip was no outlier. Such counterproductive posturing is much celebrated by both parties in Washington. Neoconservative Senators Bob Menendez and Lindsey Graham were thrilled with Pelosi’s stop in Taipei and used it as a springboard to push for new legislation that would essentially declare war on China by declaring Taiwan a “major non-NATO ally.”

The “one China” policy that, while perhaps not perfect, has kept the peace for more than 40 years is to be scrapped and replaced with one sure to provoke a war. Who benefits?

Foolishly taking the US to the brink of war with Russia over Ukraine is evidently not enough for Washington’s bipartisan warmongering class. Risking a nuclear war on two fronts, with both Russia and China, is apparently the only way for Washington to show the rest of the world it’s serious.

The Washington Post’s neoconservative columnist Josh Rogin accurately captures the mindset in Washington DC with a recent article titled, “The skeptics are wrong: The US can confront both China and Russia.”

For Washington’s foreign policy “experts,” those of us who don’t believe a war with both Russia and China is a great idea are written off as “skeptics.” Count me as one of the skeptics!

During the Cold War there were times of heightened tension, but even in the darkest days the idea that nuclear war with China and the Soviet Union could be a solution was held only by a few madmen. Now, with the ideological struggles of the Cold War a decades-old memory, such an argument makes even less sense. Yet this is what Washington is selling.

The US fighting a proxy war with Russia through Ukraine and Nancy Pelosi provoking China nearly to the point of war over Taiwan is meant to show the world how tough we are. In reality, it demonstrates the opposite. The drunken man in a bar challenging everyone to a fight is not tough. He’s foolish. He has nothing to gain and everything to lose from his display of bravado.

That is interventionism at its core: a foolish policy that provokes nothing but anger overseas, benefits no one in the US except the special interests, and leaves the rest of us much poorer and worse off.

There may be plenty to criticize about China’s government and policies. They are far from perfect, particularly in protection of civil liberties. But have we already forgotten that our own government shut down the country for two years over a virus, and then forced a huge number of Americans to take an experimental shot that is proving to be as worthless as it is dangerous? Let’s look at the log in our own eye before we start lobbing missiles overseas.]]> Mon, 08 Aug 2022 12:25:20 GMT
'We Regret Any Pain': CUNY Apologizes and Deletes Article On Depp Lawyer Jonathan Turley

For many who watched the Johnny Depp-Amber Heard trial, some of the most outstanding moments involved his defense counsel Yarelyn Mena. It was an extraordinary opportunity for the 29-year old graduated from CUNY (2015) and she was praised for her tough examination of Heard. It was considered the turning point of one of the most famous trials in modern history. It is something that should be a matter of great pride for the CUNY community and, not surprisingly, the website did an article on their graduate. However, it has now been deleted with an apology after people objected that they were upset or traumatized by the recognition due to Heard’s allegations of abuse.

The now deleted article told the intriguing story of how a young associate out of CUNY became a global sensation as a key member of the defense team. Yarelyn explain “I am a third year associate and am fortunate to have worked a trial so early in my career. Most cases don’t go to trial.” It is an extraordinary story for a woman who came with her family from the Dominican Republic. She proceeded to graduate from CUNY and then received her law degree from Fordham University. That is a quintessential American story of achievement that any institution should relish and highlight. She noted in the interview that “(Law) was the first career that I knew of before I even really understood what it was.”

Apparently, CUNY graduates and students were outraged and unwilling to separate the act of representation from the rivaling abuse allegations in the case. It turned out that neither could the school.

The school acknowledged the objections raised to “our newsletter featuring a recent CUNY graduate who worked on Johnny Depp’s legal team.” It then apologized:

“We understand the strong negative emotions this article elicited and apologize for publishing the item. We have removed it from our CUNYverse blog. The article was not meant to convey support for Mr. Depp, implicitly or otherwise, or to call into question any allegations that were made by Amber Heard. Domestic violence is a serious issue in our society and we regret any pain this article may have caused.”

The “pain” caused by the article was an account of a graduate doing her job as an advocate. We have gotten to the point that people are incapable of recognizing that everyone is entitled to a rigorous legal defense and that the lawyers are fulfilling essential roles in protecting the rule of law. The only thing that matters is that the lawyer represented someone accused of abuse (even though the jury clearly found that Heard lied with malice in the trial). Even lawyers defending a client must now be cancelled to protect others from the pain of dealing with a trial on spousal abuse.

The role of the school in such a cancellation effort is shocking. CUNY trains lawyers, including criminal defense lawyers. The message being sent to those students and graduates is that the school will shun you and disassociate itself if you represent a client in an unpopular cause.

This is disturbingly similar to the firing of House Dean Ronald S. Sullivan Jr, a Harvard Law professor, after he decided to represent accused sexual abuser Harvey Weinstein. As with Yarelyn Mena, the students and school could not separate Sullivan’s role as counsel from the alleged acts of his client.

The deletion was noted by Brooklyn College History Professor KC Johnson, who said with considerable understatement that the move is “not a good look for CUNY, to put it mildly.”
CUNY has previously been the center of controversies discussed on this site. That includes Law Dean Mary Lu Bilek cancelling herself for a single remark in a faculty meeting, a law school administration that believes that cancelling speakers is an exercise of free speech, a professor who views math and meritocracy to be products of white privilege, and the effort to block an honorary degree over a poet’s political views.

Reprinted with permission from]]> Sat, 06 Aug 2022 15:26:32 GMT
Kill Al-Zawahiri Eric Margolis

It is unsettling to see a democratic government like the United States beating its chest over the high-tech murder of a retired jihadist, Dr. Ayman al-Zawahiri.

The 71-year-old al-Zawahiri succeeded the assassinated Osama bin Laden as chief of the anti-US underground group, al-Qaeda. The mild-mannered, Egyptian had been a local doctor in Cairo, when the brutal secret police of US-backed dictator, Hosni Mubarak, arrested him. Though al-Zawahiri was not directly involved in the opposition, he was savagely tortured by Mubarak’s secret police, who were directly advised and financially assisted by US security experts and intelligence.

I never met Dr. al-Zawahiri, but I spent long hours with his teacher and mentor, Sheik Abdullah Azzam – who was also bin Laden’s spiritual guide and instructor. Call him the father of jihad.

After torture and jail, Dr. al-Zawahiri became radicalized, joining Osama bin Laden’s underground movement that was dedicated to ousting American influence from the Muslim world. Al-Zawahiri later joined bin Laden in Afghanistan, a free-fire zone for Islamic jihadists. According to Washington, any groups opposing US presence in the Mideast were without doubt `terrorists.’ Israel developed this terminology to discredit all Palestinian resistance groups.

The US claims Osama bin Laden and al-Zawahiri were the architects of the 9/11 attacks on New York and Washington. But bin Laden and al-Zawahiri denied being involved though they applauded the bloody attacks. Bin Laden stated the attack on New York was payback for Israel’s destruction of PLO-occupied West Beirut in its 1982 invasion of Lebanon. No one in the West paid any attention.

To this day, I question if bin Laden and his group were actually behind 9/11. Tapes of bin Laden discussing the attack on New York shown on CNN turned out to be poorly made fakes.

My contacts in Afghanistan and Pakistan insist the attack came from extreme anti-American groups in Saudi Arabia and were planned in Germany and Spain. Taliban had nothing to do with 9/11. Neither did Iraq, as the Bush administration falsely claimed. Hamid Gul, the former head of ISI, Pakistan’s intelligence service, told me that the Saudis were behind 9/11.

But why al-Zawahiri was openly living in Kabul – if he really was – remains a mystery. Relations between al-Qaeda and Taliban were always bad. So too with Iran. Yet al-Zawahiri supposedly chose to live in a downtown apartment surrounded by informers, spies, and former regime secret police with a $25 million price on his head? One also questions why Osama bin Laden was living in Abbottabad, a Pakistani military cantonment, openly and unguarded.

What we do know is that both bin Laden and al-Zawahiri were pretty much retired from being militants. Normally, they would have been playing golf or cricket and playing with their grandkids. Neither was well hidden or heavily protected. That’s curious, to say the least. Al-Qaeda had gone almost out of business. Both old jihadists were, ailing old men.

Bin Laden was buried at sea by the US Navy. According to Washington, this was done to prevent his burial site from becoming a shrine. If involved in the mass crime on 9/11, he should have been brought to New York to stand trial.

According to this writer, it was also done because, as pirates used to say, dead men tell no tales. Bin Laden used to be a US ally at one time, and no one wanted to hear about that. Al-Zawahiri had skeletons in his closet. As Stalin used to quip, ‘no man, no problem.’

Sheikh Abdullah Azzam told me when we were in Peshawar, Pakistan that ‘once we have liberated Afghanistan, we will go on to liberate Saudi Arabia from American rule.’ Azzam was a Palestinian refugee who had lost his family home to Israeli settlers. He was murdered by a car bomb outside that city before he could move against the Saudis. Who killed Azzam remains unknown. He had many enemies. Equally suspect are the Americans, Indians, Afghan Communists, Tajiks, Uzbeks, backers of Benazir Bhutto, or Soviet KGB.

Al-Zawahiri proved a lackluster leader and allowed al-Qaeda to fade almost to obscurity. The younger, more militant group, Islamic State, accused al-Qaeda of selling out to the western powers and becoming feeble and even attacked Taliban. Both al-Zawahiri and bin Laden had paled to insignificance by the time they were assassinated by the CIA. But even in death they remained potent symbols of resistance to western domination.

Reprinted with permission from]]> Sat, 06 Aug 2022 15:00:56 GMT
Reckless Taiwan Policy RT
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Chuck Schumer’s War on Free Speech Scott Ritter

In May, Rand Paul, the junior senator from Kentucky, held up a vote on a bill which sought to approve some $40 billion in aid for Ukraine. Paul wanted language inserted into the bill, without a vote, that would have an inspector general scrutinize the new spending.

“This would be the inspector general that’s been overseeing the waste in Afghanistan,” Paul said, “and has done a great job.”

While senators on both sides of the aisle bristled at Paul’s delay tactics, Christopher Tremoglie, a commentary fellow for The Washington Examiner, questioned the fact that
[w]hile much attention has been placed on Paul holding up the aid legislation, the more important issue is why are so many senators against ensuring that billions of taxpayer dollars aren’t being misused?
One of the senators who took umbrage over Paul’s actions was the senate majority leader, Chuck Schumer. Speaking from the floor of the Senate chamber, the senior senator from New York declared that “it is repugnant that one member of the other side, the junior senator from Kentucky, chose to make a show and obstruct Ukraine funding.”

Schumer added that Paul’s actions served to “strengthen [Russian President Vladimir] Putin’s hand.”

What Schumer didn’t say was that an inspector general, mandated to oversee how US taxpayer money authorized under the bill in question (the Additional Supplemental Appropriations Act of 2022, which became Public Law 117-128 on May 21), would have exposed the role that US funds played to exact political revenge on the man who tried to inject a modicum of accountability into how monies appropriated by Congress are spent, namely Rand Paul.

‘Countering Disinformation’

Some three weeks after Schumer helped push the bill into law, on July 14, Andriy Shapovalov, a Ukrainian civil servant whose salary was paid for by US taxpayer monies, convened a “round table” in Kiev on “countering disinformation.”

Shapovalov, in his role as the acting head of Ukraine’s Center for Countering Disinformation, published a list of the names of 72 people whom he accused of deliberately spreading disinformation about Ukraine. Shapovalov labelled them “information terrorists,” adding that Ukraine was preparing legislation so that such people can be prosecuted as “war criminals.”

The “round table” was organized by the US Civil Research and Development Fund (CRDF Global Ukraine), an ostensible nonprofit organization authorized by US Congress to promote “international scientific and technical collaboration.” It is supported by the US State Department, some of whose officials sat in attendance.

One of the people singled out by Shapovalov as an “information terrorist” targeted for criminal prosecution as a “war criminal” was none other than Rand Paul.

To recap: Chuck Schumer, the Senate majority leader, angered by Rand Paul daring to ask for accountability over how $40 billion in US taxpayer money was going to be spent in Ukraine, accused Paul — for doing his duty as a senator — of strengthening Putin’s hand, before allowing this very money, being doled out with zero oversight, to underwrite a Ukrainian entity which, with the active support of the US State Department and US-funded NGOs, labels Paul an “information terrorist” and threatens the Kentucky senator with prosecution as a “war criminal.”

If this doesn’t sicken you, you’re not much of an American.

There can be little doubt that a case can be made that Public Law 117-128, in so far as it finances and facilitates ongoing violations of individual civil liberties of American citizens and constitutes an ongoing effort to intimidate lawmakers from carrying out their legislative responsibilities under the Constitution, has, through the State Department-supported, Ukrainian Center for Countering Disinformation, created an ongoing criminal organization which is carrying out acts against US citizens for which it should be held criminally and civilly liable.

Whether the Justice Department would ever bring an investigation into this criminal enterprise is doubtful. After all, Schumer was able to shut down the creation of an inspector general capable of carrying out the required investigations.

But there is more.

Diane Sare

On May 31, Diane Sare, a LaRouche candidate challenging Schumer for his Senate seat in November, filed 66,000 signatures — well over the 45,000 required by law — with the New York State Board of Elections, thereby getting her name on the ballot.

Commenting on this achievement, Sare noted that “The successful petitioning campaign constitutes a major breakthrough, given that the new requirements were designed to prevent independent and minority party candidates from being able to comply.”

Diane Sare was singled out by the Schumer-funded, State Department-supported Center for Countering Disinformation as an “information terrorist” who should be prosecuted as a “war criminal” because of her public stance challenging the narrative about the Ukraine conflict.

That’s right — Chuck Schumer helped create the organizational structures which have attacked the reputation of a challenger for his Senate seat, threatening her with political violence and more for the “crime” of challenging Schumer on the issue of Ukraine.

This is the same Chuck Schumer who advocated impeaching President Donald Trump for a phone call Schumer claimed sought to pressure Ukraine into carrying out investigations that could have been damaging to the candidacy of Joe Biden in the 2020 presidential election. The same Chuck Schumer who once proclaimed from the Senate floor:
I strongly disagree with those who advocate harassing folks if they don’t agree with you. No one should call for the harassment of political opponents. That’s not right. That’s not American.
I couldn’t have said it any better — what Chuck Schumer has done in using US taxpayer money to attack his political opponents is un-American. One can only hope that the New York voters see it the same way come November.

It also appears to be illegal. As such, I hope that both Rand Paul and Diane Sare pursue whatever legal recourse is available to them to expose and shut down a Schumer-supported law that allows US taxpayer money to underwrite a campaign targeting US citizens, including serving senators and political challengers, with intimidation and more for the “crime” of exercising their First Amendment right of free speech.

Reprinted with author's permission from Consortium News.]]> Fri, 05 Aug 2022 14:20:52 GMT
US Audacity on Brittney Griner Jacob G. Hornberger

Only a person who is willfully blind cannot see that the US position on the Brittney Griner case is driven not by some compassionate concern for her welfare but rather by the extreme anti-Russia animus that has afflicted US officials for more than 75 years. 

Yesterday, a Russian judge sentenced Griner to 9 years in jail. This was after she pled guilty to illegally bringing a small amount of cannabis into the country, in violation of Russia’s drug laws. She faced a maximum sentence of 10 years. 

US officials are up in arms over the case. The US State Department has classified Griner as “wrongfully detained.”

Wrongfully detained? Doesn’t the State Department know that she pled guilty to the offense? Is the State Department claiming that her plea was coerced? If so, then why not just come out and say that, notwithstanding the fact that there is no evidence whatsoever of a coerced plea?

The mainstream media, which has re-adopted the extreme anti-Russia animus that has long afflicted the US national-security establishment, exclaims that Griner’s sentence is just too long. They are saying that the long sentence shows that Griner is just a “political hostage.” 

Really? Well, what about all the long jail sentences for non-violent drug offenses that have been meted out to American citizens by federal judges and state judges? What about the many people who are today rotting away in jail for long periods of their lives for simply possessing or distributing drugs, including marijuana?

I Googled the matter and quickly came up with this website: “Top 10 Non-Violent Life Sentences,” prepared by the Moorhead Law Group. Yes, you read that right: “Life” sentences. It lists:

John Knock, who received a life sentence for a non-violent cannabis conspiracy.

Michael Pelletier — life without parole for cannabis possession.

Ismael Lira — a life sentence for distribution of marijuana.

There are countless more cases similar to those. Where are the State Department statements of outrage and compassion in those cases? Where are the accusations of the mainstream media about holding political hostages in those cases?

Nowhere, that’s where. That’s because these people believe in their drug war. It’s one of their most beloved programs. They could have — and should have — legalized drugs decades ago, especially given drug war’s horror, its deadliness, and its destruction of liberty and privacy. Instead, they have intentionally kept it in existence, because they love it.

Think about it: What’s the point of their drug laws? Isn’t it to punish people who ingest drugs in the hop of stopping them and others from doing bad things to themselves? Given such, why aren’t they thanking the Russian authorities for punishing that drug user Brittney Griner. In fact, if Griner had gotten caught over here with her drugs, she’d almost certainly have received a longer jail sentence than what that Russian judge gave her, especially given that she’s black. And US officials and their acolytes in the mainstream press would have been cheering, just as they have for the past 50 years whenever any drug user has been convicted and sentenced to serve time.

I began my professional life as a civil and criminal trial attorney in South Texas. One of my first cases was a drug case in which a young man and two of his friends were charged by the feds in San Antonio with a one-count heroin conspiracy indictment. All three were all about 21 years old. 

Now, mind you, they weren’t charged with possession of heroin. They never possessed it or, for that matter, distributed it. All they did was talk about getting some heroin and then attempted, unsuccessfully, to get it. So, keep in mind: All they were charged with was agreeing among themselves to get some heroin.

All three were convicted of conspiracy. At sentencing, the federal judge announced: “15 years! 15 years! 15 years!” It was the maximum sentence they could receive for that one-count conspiracy indictment. Each of these three young men were being sentenced to spend the next 15 years of their lives in a federal penitentiary, notwithstanding the fact they had not possessed or distributed the drugs. That’s six years longer than what Brittney Griner has received from that Russian judge.

The federal judge who meted out those sentences was called “Maximum John.” The reason was that his policy was to hand out the maximum sentence in every single drug case that came before him. “Maximum John” was determined to do his part to win the beloved war on drugs. 

For their part, the federal prosecutors almost always would request federal judges to mete out extremely harsh jail sentences in drug cases. The prosecutors were convinced that high jail sentences would deter people from ingesting drugs.

How successful have all those federal judges and federal prosecutors been during the past 50 years? Oh, they have been extremely successful in getting convictions and long jail sentences. In fact, there is no doubt that they would have fit perfectly in Russia enforcing that country’s drug laws. 

But they have been total failures when it comes to getting people to stop taking drugs. Many of them retired on fat government pensions, while a new cast of “Maximum Johns” and federal drug-war prosecutors has taken their place. Those federal judges and federal prosecutors have accomplished nothing but contribute to the destruction of life and liberty, just like their drug-war counterparts in Russia.

Reprinted with permission from Future of Freedom Foundation.]]> Fri, 05 Aug 2022 13:53:52 GMT
Deja Vu: Fauci tells unvaxxed to expect 'trouble' this winter Jordan Schachtel

The “Public Health Experts” are at it again, and they’re singing the same tune as last year.

This week, Anthony Fauci has been making the media rounds warning of a severe winter of death and illness for the unvaccinated. Once more, he has warned of a heavy toll for those who refuse experimental gene injections that have been fraudulently represented as the cure to the coronavirus.

“If they don’t get vaccinated or they don’t get boosted, they’re going to get into trouble,” the career bureaucrat told an LA radio station this week, warning of a brutal winter for the unvaxxed.
The NIAID boss has been on the warpath against the non compliant, blaming “social media misinformation and disinformation” for the fact that there is a significant contingent in the United States that refuses to comply with his demands. Fauci recently had a bad bout with COVID-19, despite taking four Pfizer injections and two full courses of Pfizer oral pills.
If this seems like an article from last year, or some form of deja vu, that’s because Fauci and his gang of pharmaceutical snake oil salesmen said virtually the exact same thing last year.

Last year, Fauci warned of a brutal winter for those who decided not to get injected with the gene juice. 

"You know, if we don't get people vaccinated who need to be vaccinated, and we get that conflating with an influenza season, we could have a dark, bad winter," Fauci said at the time. 

Moreover, President Biden infamously declared a coming “winter of death and severe illness for the unvaccinated.”
“For the unvaccinated, you're looking at a winter of severe illness and death—for yourselves, your families, and the hospitals you may soon overwhelm,” added former White House COVID coordinator Jeff Zients.

Of course, that 2021 winter of death and severe illness never came to fruition, and neither will the 2022 winter projection, to the devastation of the people in charge. The good news is that, according to polls, Americans are largely tuning out the Big Pharma-Government Health seasonal mRNA sales drive.

Reprinted with permission from The Dossier.
Subscribe to The Dossier here.]]> Fri, 05 Aug 2022 13:32:09 GMT
Most of the 'Fact-Checking' Organizations Facebook Uses in Ukraine Are Directly Funded by Washington Alan MacLeod

Most of the fact-checking organizations Facebook has partnered with to monitor and regulate information about Ukraine are directly funded by the US government, either through the US Embassy or via the notorious National Endowment for Democracy (NED).

In light of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, an information war as bitter as the ground fighting has erupted, and Meta (Facebook’s official name) announced it had partnered with nine organizations to help it sort fact from fiction for Ukrainian, Russian and other Eastern European users. These nine organizations are: StopFake, VoxCheck, Fact Check Georgia, Demagog, Myth Detector, Lead Stories, Patikrinta 15min, Re:Baltica and Delfi.

“To reduce the spread of misinformation and provide more reliable information to users, we partner with independent third-party fact-checkers globally,” the Silicon Valley giant wrote, adding, “Facebook’s independent third-party fact-checkers are all certified by the International Fact-Checking Network (IFCN). The IFCN, a subsidiary of the journalism research organization Poynter Institute, is dedicated to bringing together fact-checkers worldwide.”

The problem with this? At least five of the nine organizations are directly in the pay of the United States government, a major belligerent in the conflict. The Poynter Institute is also funded by the NED. Furthermore, many of the other fact-checking organizations also have deep connections with other NATO powers, including direct funding.


Perhaps the most well-known and notorious of the nine groups is StopFake. Established in 2014, StopFake is funded by NATO’s Atlantic Council, by the British Foreign and Commonwealth Office, the British Embassy in Ukraine and the Czech Foreign Ministry. It has also received money from the US via the National Endowment for Democracy, although that fact is far from trumpeted by either party.

One potential reason for this was alluded to in a 2016 article reprinted by StopFake itself. As the article notes, “in the case of when opponents want to insult the project, they immediately invoke National Endowment for Democracy donor support as evidence of US government and CIA involvement.”

In the wake of the Russian invasion, the NED pulled all public records of their Ukraine projects from the internet. Nevertheless, incomplete archived copies of those records confirm a financial relationship between the groups.

StopFake was explicitly set up as a partisan organization. As a glowing report on them from the International Journalists’ Network notes, the majority of StopFake’s fact-checks are on stories from Russian media, and the motivation for its creation was “Russia’s 2014 occupation of Crimea and a campaign to portray Ukraine as a fascist state where anti-Semitism, racism, homophobia and xenophobia thrived.”

While it is indeed incorrect to label Ukraine a fascist state, the country clearly has one of the strongest far-right movements anywhere in Europe. And unfortunately, StopFake itself is far from an apolitical bystander in that rise. Multiple established Western media outlets, including The New York Times, have reported on StopFake’s ties to white power or Nazi groups. When local journalist Ekaterina Sergatskova exposed these links, death threats from far-right figures forced her to flee her home.

Indeed, according to some, one of StopFake’s primary functions appears to be to promote the far-right. A long exposé by Lev Golinkin in The Nation cataloged what it called StopFake’s history of “aggressively whitewashing two Ukrainian neo-Nazi groups with a long track record of violence, including war crimes.”

Surely StopFake’s most famous former host is Nina Jankowicz. Jankowicz was briefly head of President Biden’s newly formed Disinformation Governance Board before public uproar caused her to resign. Dubbed the “Ministry of Truth”, both the board and Jankowicz generated strong opposition. Yet few mentioned the fact that, while at StopFake, Jankowicz herself had, on camera, enthusiastically extolled the virtues of multiple fascist paramilitaries.

In a 2017 TV segment about the Aidar, Dnipro-1 and Azov Battalions, Jankowicz presented the groups as heroic volunteers deafening Ukraine from “further Russian separatist encroachment.” As she stated,

The volunteer movement in Ukraine extends far beyond military service. Volunteer groups are active in supporting Ukraine’s military with food, clothing, medicine, and post-battle rehabilitation, as well as working actively with the nearly two million internal refugees displaced by the war in Ukraine,”

This framing jars with multiple reports from human rights groups such as Amnesty International, who claim that the Aidar Battalion is guilty of a litany of abuses, “including abductions, unlawful detention, ill-treatment, theft, extortion, and possible executions.” Amnesty also accuses Aidar and Dnipro-1 of “Using starvation of civilians as a method of warfare.”

Azov, meanwhile, is the most infamous organization of the lot. The group’s insignia is directly lifted from the 2nd Waffen-SS Panzer Division, a unit responsible for carrying out some of the worst crimes of Hitler’s holocaust. The Azov Battalion also dip their bullets in pig fat before battle as a calculated hate crime, attempting to block Jewish or Muslim enemies from a better afterlife. Andriy Biletsky, the group’s founder, said in 2010 that he believes Ukraine’s mission is to “lead the white races of the world in a final crusade … against Semite-led Untermenschen” – the word Hitler used to describe Jews, Poles, Ukrainians and other peoples he designated for extermination.

In February, Facebook announced that it was changing its rules on hate speech to allow praise and promotion of the Azov Battalion. Was this on StopFake’s recommendation? MintPress asked Meta/Facebook for comment on their fact checking partner’s ties to far right groups and if StopFake had influenced their decision to allow pro-Nazi content on their platform, but did not receive a reply.

As Golinkin noted in his article for The Nation, StopFake has also defended C14, another fascist paramilitary, describing it merely as a “community organization”, citing C14’s own denial of its pogroms against Roma people as “evidence” of its innocence. This designation clashes even with the US State Department, which classifies C14 as a “nationalist hate group.” The “14” in its name refers to the “14 words” white supremacist slogan.
StopFake has made a number of controversial claims, including that the rise in anti-semitism in Ukraine is “fake” – even going so far as to brand well-established outlets like NBC News and Al-Jazeera as printing fake news about the Azov Battalion’s role in this. In an article entitled “Russia as Evil: False Historical Parallels. Some peculiarities of Russian Political Culture,” it also insisted that Hitler’s concentration camps were modeled on Russian ones set up by Vladimir Lenin. In reality, the German government pioneered the use of concentration camps during their genocide of the Herero and Namaqua peoples between 1904 and 1908 in Namibia. The British and Spanish were also early adopters.

In addition, StopFake has close links with The Kyiv Post, a Ukrainian outlet directly funded and trained by the National Endowment for Democracy. Since 2016, the Post has published 191 StopFake reports.


Why receiving funding from the National Endowment for Democracy should immediately raise suspicions of any organization is because the NED was explicitly established by the Reagan administration as a front group for the Central Intelligence Agency.

Although it is funded by Washington and staffed by state officials, it is technically a private company and therefore not subject to the same legal regulations and public scrutiny as state institutions.

The CIA has used the NED to carry out many of its more controversial operations. In recent years, it has trained and funneled money to the leaders of the Hong Kong protesters to keep the insurrection alive, fomented a nationwide campaign of demonstrations in Cuba, and helped attempts to topple the government of Venezuela. Perhaps most importantly for this story, however, the NED was also involved in the 2014 coup that removed Ukrainian president Viktor Yanukovych from power. Regime change is, in short, one of its primary functions.

The NED does this by establishing, funding, supporting and training all manner of political, economic and social groups in target countries. According to its 2019 annual report, Ukraine is the NED’s “top priority”. The agency has (officially) spent over $22 million in Ukraine since 2014.

In their more candid moments, NED leaders are explicit about the organization’s role. “It would be terrible for democratic groups around the world to be seen as subsidized by the CIA,” Carl Gershman, NED president from 1984 to 2021 said, explaining why his organization was set up. NED co-founder Allen Weinstein agreed: “A lot of what we do today was done covertly 25 years ago by the CIA,” he told The Washington Post.

Read the rest here.
]]> Thu, 04 Aug 2022 14:26:25 GMT
Nancy Pelosi’s Utterly Reckless Election-Season Gambit David Stockman

We don’t know how it could have been any clearer than this warning from Chicom mouthpiece and ultra-hawk, Hu Xijin. Prior to America’s other senile leader putting herself in harms’ way by touching down in Taiwan today, Xijin let loose a volley of histrionics that left little doubt as to where Beijing stood:
'If US fighter jets escort Pelosi’s plane into Taiwan, it is invasion,' Hu Xijin of Global Times wrote on Twitter. 'The [Chinese military] has the right to forcibly dispel Pelosi’s plane and the US fighter jets, including firing warning shots and making tactical movement of obstruction. If ineffective, then shoot them down.'
For want of doubt, an official Chinese spokesman chimed in shortly thereafter:
At a daily press briefing on Tuesday, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying reiterated China’s opposition to Mrs. Pelosi’s visiting Taiwan……No matter for what reason Pelosi goes to Taiwan, it will be a stupid, dangerous and unnecessary gamble," Ms. Hua said. 'It is difficult to imagine a more reckless and provocative action.'
She got that right. Pelosi has now completed an utterly "stupid, dangerous and unnecessary gamble", and for what earthly purpose?

Mainly to provide obeisance to the dead hand of history, we’d say. Indeed, there is no more egregious case of the latter than Washington’s 75-year obsession with the political status of Taiwan.

Yet the latter is a geopolitically irrelevant piece of island real estate the size of Maryland that has everything to do with US domestic politics and nothing whatsoever to do with the safety, security and liberty of the American homeland.

So let’s start with the facts. The Chinese supremacists of the Middle Kingdom through the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644 AD) considered Formosa a pile of mud inhabited by savages and of no interest to China’s rulers. But when the Spanish and Portuguese colonized parts of the island, the successor Qing dynasty did an about face, expelling the Europeans and establishing administrative control over the territory from 1683 onwards.

The latter included the welcoming of Han and other Chinese settlers on Formosa, such that by 1811 an estimated 2 million Chinese immigrants had settled on the island. For all practical purposes, therefore, by the end of the 19th century today’s Taiwanese society and economy had become an integral part of China.

But that’s when history took a fateful turn that has everything to do with Beijing’s current hysteria about Pelosi’s blatant provocation. To wit, the Qing government was humiliated by defeat during the 1895 Sino-Japanese War and forced to cede Formosa to Japan in a one-sided peace treaty.

Moreover, for the next 50-years Formosa became the industrial and military launch pad for Imperial Japan’s relentless and ruthless expansion into China and southeast Asia generally, including the occupation of Manchuria and Korea. By the height of the the Allies’ WWII battle against Japan, in fact, Taiwan became known as the "unsinkable aircraft carrier" that enabled Japan’s brutal attacks on China’s main cities.

Accordingly, a major provision of the Cairo Declaration of 1943, which established the Allies war aims in the Pacific, was the return of Formosa to Chinese control. And from the viewpoint of Chinese patriots, nationalists and communists alike, the very idea of Formosa being controlled by a hostile foreign power became a "never again" line in the sand.

As it happened, Formosa was returned to China under a United Nation’s mandate at the end of WWII. The only question which remained was who would rule the mainland and therefore Formosa too – the nationalists under Chiang Kai-shek or the communists under Mao Tse-tung.

That question was settled with the communist victory in 1949, and that should have been the end of the matter. But by then the Cold War was turning red hot and the out-of-power Republicans, egged on by the Luce publishing empire and the so-called China Lobby, waged a vicious "who lost China" campaign that ultimately degenerated into the McCarthy witch hunts and America’s equally foolish participation in the Korean War.

Stated differently, had Washington possessed the sense to recognize that Mao’s red totalitarianism was destined to become a social and economic basket case that posed no threat whatsoever to America’s security, the status of Formosa would have never mattered. In that event, Washington could have allowed Chiang Kai-chek’s band of butchers and bandits to whither on the vine on their island redoubt and eventually disappear from the face of history.

In fact, without continuous, fulsome US diplomatic, military and economic assistance, that is exactly what would have happened during the long-decades of the brutal Kuomintang dictatorship after 1950. And America’s security would have been no worse for the wear.

Ironically, approximately 25-years later it took the worst of the red-baiters and who-lost-China demagogues, Richard Nixon, to partially correct Washington’s pro-Taiwan mistake. Owning to his historic election year trip to China in February 1972 and President Jimmy Carter’s subsequent abrogation of the mutual defense treaty with the Republic of China on Taiwan in 1979, any legal or moral obligation to defend Taiwan against China lapsed 43 years ago!

So again, that should have ended the matter once and for all. Without Washington’s constant diplomatic support and weapons sales, the post-Kuomintang leaders of Taiwan would have eventually recognized the handwriting on the wall and made some kind of affiliation arrangements with Beijing. After all, a few years later, Maoist economics was officially abandoned and Mr. Deng set China firmly on a path of export-led economic growth. Taiwan would have likely been its most prosperous province.

But the Washington China Lobby remained in business, wrapping itself in a bureaucratic stupidity called "strategic ambiguity":
Our military posture has been one of 'strategic ambiguity.' We will not commit to go to war to defend Taiwan, nor will we take the war option off the table if Taiwan is attacked.
What cockamamie nonsense. As Pat Buchanan rightly asks:
We would be risking our own security and possible survival to prevent from being imposed on the island of Taiwan the same regime lately imposed on Hong Kong without any US military resistance.

If Hong Kong, a city of 7 million, can be transferred to the custody and control of Beijing without resistance from the US, why should it be worth a major US war with China to prevent that same fate and future from befalling 23 million Taiwanese?
So, yes, Hong Kong residents may not be as free as they were five years ago and certainly much less so than before the city-state’s reversion to China in July 1997.

But so what? That’s the way the cookie of world history crumbles. America’s security does not depend upon upholding freedom in every distant precinct of planet earth – no matter how loudly the hegemonists, the neocons and Warfare State lobbyists insist.

The fact is, the safety and security of the citizens in Springfield MA and Spokane WA have not been diminished a whit since the 1997 event. That’s because our freedom is the unique product of our constitution, our history, the great Atlantic and Pacific moats and America’s industrial and technological prowess, which makes a foreign invasion of the homeland inconceivable.

Nice as freedom might have been for the residents of Hong Kong previously and for the citizens of Taiwan today, when push comes to shove our liberties do not depend upon who governs these historic provinces of Greater China. And it is most certainly not the role of desperate, vote-seeking Washington pols like Nancy Pelosi to poke in the eye the rulers of China after they have made it unequivocally clear that political meddling in their backyard is distinctly unwelcome.

So it’s time to un-clench the dead hand of history. Washington policy-makers did not "lose" China back in 1949 because it was never theirs to loose. Nor did America’s security ever depend upon the decades of domestic political machinations over the status of the Chinese province of Taiwan.

At least now the stupidity of the whole affair has been made starkly evident by Nancy Pelosi’s utterly reckless election-season gambit. Her trip had no other purpose than to bolster the Dems’ flagging prospects come November.

After all, at least when the self-confessed warmonger, then Speaker Newt Gingrich, made the Taiwan stop back in 1997 he did so after completing his official visit to Beijing first. The Chinese leaders of the day tolerated his second stop in Taiwan only after he threatened to otherwise skip Beijing on his itinerary.

Even then, the former Speaker recently revealed that Beijing had one precondition for him, which he complied with: Namely, that he wouldn’t fly directly to Taiwan from the Chinese mainland. So after he wrapped up meetings in Beijing and Shanghai, including with senior Chinese leaders, Mr. Gingrich flew to Tokyo and then to Taipei.

Needless to say, a lot of water has gone over the dam of US/China relations during the last 25 years – much of it needlessly un-constructive. So if there was any time for the Washington War Party to exercise a modicum of restraint, now was that time.

Yet America’s crushing $1 trillion per year Empire of global hegemony and intervention would wither and die without constant provocations against foreign adversaries.

And this one was among the most dangerous and shameless yet.

Reprinted with author's permission from David Stockman’s Contra Corner.]]> Wed, 03 Aug 2022 14:16:35 GMT
Did the FBI Swing the 2020 Election? James Bovard

Joe Biden won the 2020 election as a result of 43,000 votes in three states. The election was far closer than the media has usually admitted. There were plenty of dubious factors that could have tipped the scales for a Biden victory, including machinations by the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

The long history of FBI abuse

Though the media usually portray the FBI as the ultimate good guys, the bureau has long history of intervening in presidential elections. Shortly after taking office after Franklin Roosevelt’s death, President Harry Truman commented in his diary: “We want no Gestapo or Secret Police. FBI is tending in that direction. They are dabbling in sex-life scandals and plain blackmail…. This must stop.” But FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover outfoxed Truman and every subsequent president.

In the 1948 presidential campaign, Hoover brazenly championed Republican candidate Thomas Dewey, leaking allegations that Truman was part of a corrupt Kansas City political machine. In 1952, Hoover sought to undermine Democratic presidential candidate Adlai Stevenson by spreading rumors that he was a closet homosexual.

In 1964, the FBI illegally wiretapped Republican presidential candidate Barry Goldwater’s presidential headquarters and plane and conducted background checks on his campaign staff for evidence of homosexual activity. The FBI also conducted an extensive surveillance operation at the 1964 Democratic National Convention to prevent embarrassing challenges to President Lyndon Johnson.

In 2016, the FBI whitewashed Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton, protecting her despite her various crimes regarding handling of classified information and destruction of emails and other evidence from her time as secretary of state. An Inspector General report revealed in 2018 that the key FBI agents in the investigations were raving partisans. “We’ll stop” Donald Trump from becoming president, lead FBI investigator Peter Strzok texted his mistress/girlfriend, FBI lawyer Lisa Page, in August 2016. One FBI agent labeled Trump supporters as “retarded” and declared “I’m with her” [Hillary Clinton]. Another FBI employee texted that “Trump’s supporters are all poor to middle class, uneducated, lazy POS.” The FBI failed to make any audio or video recordings of its interviews with Clinton aides and staffers. It also delayed speaking to Clinton until the end of the investigation and planned to absolve her “absent a confession from Clinton,” the Inspector General noted.

The FBI failed to stop Trump from winning in 2016, but FBI officials devoted themselves to crippling his presidency with fabricated evidence implying that Russia had illicitly intervened in the presidential election. One top FBI lawyer was convicted for falsifying evidence to secure a Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act warrant to target Trump campaign officials. FBI chief James Comey leaked official memos to friendly reporters, thereby spurring the appointment of Special Counsel Robert Mueller to investigate Trump. Mueller’s investigation generated endless allegations and controversies and helped Democrats capture control of the House of Representatives in 2018 prior to admitting in 2019 that there was no such Russian conspiracy. Not one FBI official has spent a single day in jail for the abuses.

The ongoing Hunter Biden laptop scandal

In December 2019, FBI agents came into possession of a laptop that Hunter Biden had abandoned at a Delaware computer repair shop. That laptop was a treasure trove of crimes, including evidence that Hunter and other Bidens had collected millions in payments from foreign sources for providing access in Washington and other favors. That laptop provided ample documentation that Joe Biden could be compromised by foreign powers.

When news finally leaked out about the laptop in October 2020, 50 former intelligence officials effectively torpedoed the story by claiming that the laptop was a Russian disinformation ploy. The FBI knew that the laptop was bona fide but said nothing to undercut the falsehoods by the former spooks. The Justice Department commenced an investigation of Hunter Biden in 2019, but Attorney General William Barr made sure that information did not surface publicly before the 2020 election. (The investigation is ongoing.)

The FBI has continued its pro-Democrat campaigns

The FBI’s most brazen intervention in the 2020 election consisted of fabricating a ludicrous plot to kidnap Michigan governor Gretchen Whitmer, one of Biden’s favorite governors. Michigan was a swing state in the election. Whitmer enraged many Michiganders by placing the entire state under house arrest after the outbreak of COVID-19. Anyone who left their home to visit family or friends risked a $1,000 fine, and business owners faced three years in prison for refusing to close their stores. Unemployment soared to 24 percent statewide, but Whitmer’s policies failed to prevent more than 2 million Michiganers from contracting COVID.

The FBI exploited the anger against Whitmer to try to add some scalps to their collection. A few weeks before the 2020 election, the FBI announced the arrests of individuals who had been lured by FBI informants and undercover agents to talk about capturing Whitmer and putting her on trial. After the arrests were announced, Whitmer speedily denounced Trump for inciting “domestic terrorism” and declared, “When our leaders meet with, encourage, and or fraternize with domestic terrorists, they legitimize their actions. They are complicit.”

Joe Biden claimed that the arrests showed President Trump’s “tolerance of hate, vengeance, and lawlessness to plots such as this one.” Former FBI official Frank Figluzzi told MSNBC that Trump should be investigated for “aiding and abetting” the Michigan plot. Former FBI deputy director Andrew McCabe announced on CNN: “The person most responsible for fomenting this kind of unrest, this sort of division, this sort of violence in this country right now is the president of the United States.” Law professor Jonathan Turley noted:
The media went into a frenzy, declaring that the case proved that: ‘Trump’s rhetoric and policies have unleashed a second pandemic in the form of far-right domestic terrorism.’ The breathless accounts of this plot by three ‘Boogaloo’ militiamen fit like a glove with the narrative just before the election.
There was plenty of reason to doubt the plot from the start. As I noted in an American Institute for Economic Research article on the day after the arrests were announced, “The alleged Michigan plot is almost too idiotic to believe.”

A Michigan jury in April effectively concluded that the plotters had been entrapped in an FBI-fabricated plot. There were as many FBI informants and undercover agents involved in the plot as private citizens. From the start, the FBI steered the participants into saying and doing things that would supposedly seal their legal doom. Stephen Robeson, an FBI informant with a list of felonies and other crimes, organized key events to build the movement. Dan Chapel, another FBI informant who was paid $54,000, became second-in-command and masterminded the military training for the group, even as he helped the feds wiretap their messages.

FBI operatives took the participants, who prattled idiotically about stealing a Blackhawk helicopter, for drives near Whitmer’s vacation home, which supposedly proved they were going to nab the governor and unleash havoc. Shortly before that excursion, an FBI agent texted instructions to Chapel: “Mission is to kill the governor specifically.”

The conspiracy began unraveling even before the trial began in March. Robert Trask, the lead FBI agent and “the public face” of the kidnapping case, was fired after he was arrested for “beating his wife during an argument over an orgy that the two had attended at a hotel in Kalamazoo, Mich.,” the New York Times reported. Two other key FBI agents were sidelined from the case for misconduct (including creating a side hustle with their own cybersecurity firm).

Thanks to Supreme Court rulings minimizing entrapment defenses, federal Judge Robert Jonker blocked defense attorneys from informing the jury of almost all the evidence of federal misconduct in the Whitmer case.

As BuzzFeed’s Ken Bensinger reported, the jury refused to convict “despite the government’s extraordinary efforts to muzzle the defense…. Prosecutors went to extraordinary lengths to exclude evidence and witnesses that might undermine their arguments, while winning the right to bring in almost anything favorable to their own side.” BuzzFeed also noted that the judge “ruled that defendants could not inquire about the past conduct of several FBI agents, though the government would be allowed to question the defendants about episodes in their own past.”

The jury saw enough to smell a federal rat. As Turley wrote:
The Whitmer conspiracy was a production written, funded, and largely populated by FBI agents and informants. At every point, FBI literally drove the conspirators and controlled their actions. That is worthy of investigation by Congress, but neither house seems even marginally interested.
The Michigan jury verdict spurred plenty of howls by the friends of Leviathan. Former Justice Department lawyer Barbara McQuade lamented, “This verdict concerns me because it could embolden other anti-government extremists to engage in dangerous conduct in the name of vigilante justice. In a time when we see a growing number of threats of violence against public officials, it is important to hold such conduct accountable.” But the establishment media has perennially disregarded holding government officials accountable for violating Americans’ rights.

The ongoing FBI threat to liberty

Shortly before the Michigan trial began, the New York Times noted that it was “being closely watched as one of the most significant recent domestic terrorism cases, a test of Washington’s commitment in the wake of the Jan. 6 attack on the US Capitol to pursue far-right groups who seek to kindle a violent, anti-government insurgency or even a new civil war.” FBI chief Christopher Wray told Congress last year that the FBI has 2,000 ongoing domestic terrorism investigations. How many additional crimes or conspiracies is the FBI fomenting at this moment? Will Americans ever learn what role, if any, the FBI had in goading some of those arrested in the Jan. 6 Capitol clash into committing a crime? And what about Team Biden’s efforts to continually expand the definition of “dangerous extremist” to sanctify its power? Last June, the Biden administration revealed that guys who can’t get laid may be terrorist threats due to “involuntary celibate–violent extremism.” No wonder the terrorist watch list is expanding at breakneck pace.

The Founding Fathers wisely did not create a national police force, but federal law-enforcement agencies have multiplied like mushrooms. Almost 100 years ago, the American Civil Liberties Union warned that the FBI had become “a secret police system of a political character.” Neither Congress nor federal courts have since effectively reined in the most powerful domestic federal agency. What mischief will the FBI commit to influence future elections? And what are the odds that Americans will know about it before the polling booths close?

Reprinted with permission from Future of Freedom Foundation.]]> Wed, 03 Aug 2022 13:51:26 GMT
Policing the World Is a Full-Time Job Philip Giraldi

Every leader and top official now in power in the so-called Western World seems to have forgotten that the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) was founded in 1949 as an alliance that was ostensibly defensive in nature, intended to counter the expansion of Soviet style communism in Europe. That role continued to be the raison d’etre of the organization until communist governments themselves collapsed in both Russia and in the Eastern European states that collectively made up the Warsaw Pact during the 1990s. After that point, NATO no longer had any reason to exist at all as the alleged military threat posed by the Kremlin and its allies vanished virtually overnight.

But clever politicians were quick to put the alliance on life support instead of simply dismantling it. Lacking the threat posed by the Warsaw Pact, NATO was forced to come up with other reasons to maintain military forces at levels that could quickly be enhanced and placed on a wartime footing. Washington and London took the lead in this, citing the now shopworn defense of a “rules based international order” as well as of “democracy” and “freedom.” And fortunately for the national defense industries and the generals, it soon proved possible to find new enemies that provided justification for additional military spending. The first major engagement outside the obligations defined by the original treaty took place in Europe to be sure, but it was in the Balkans where of NATO during the 1995 Operation Deliberate Force. The war ended after the signing of the General Framework Agreement for Peace in Bosnia and Herzegovina in Paris on December 14th 1995. Peace negotiations were finalized a week later but fighting resumed between Kosovo and Serbia in the following year, which led to another NATO intervention that eventually ended with the restoration of Kosovo’s autonomy and the deployment of NATO forces, which bombed the Serbs to compel their compliance with a draft cease fire agreement.

NATO also played a role improbably enough in the US invasion and occupation of Afghanistan, which was justified by claiming that an Afghanistan free to set its own course would become a hotbed of terrorism which would inevitably impact on the United States and Europe. It was a paper-thin argument, but it was the best they could come up with at the time and it also eventually involved soldiers from additional friendly countries like Australia. As we have subsequently seen, however, it was all an argument without merit as Afghanistan became a money pit and a graveyard for thousands of locals and foreign soldiers. It is now again in the hands of the Taliban after a bungled withdrawal of US forces and the collapse of the puppet government in Kabul that Washington had installed.

Turn the clock forward to the present. As everyone but President Joe Biden has recognized, the United States and NATO are currently engaged in a proxy war against Russia in Ukraine, which many observers already believe has some of the attributes of World War III. As Russia neither threatened nor attacked any NATO member state, the argument that the response in arming and training Ukraine was defensive was rendered irrelevant. Nor can it be credibly be claimed that Russia is a haven for terrorists, quite the contrary. Nevertheless, Biden has stated that the US will be in the fight on behalf of Ukraine for “as long as it takes.” Does he mean years, and all done without a declaration of war by Congress as required by the US Constitution?

And more appears to be coming. Joe Biden, during last week’s trip to Israel, made clear that the United States is “prepared to use all elements of its national power” to stop Iran from getting a nuclear weapon and has signed a pledge with the Israeli government to commit itself to do so. If Biden presses the argument that Iran is an international threat due to its impending development of nuclear weapons, will he appeal to NATO to support a joint military option to disarm it? I believe he just might do that. And he might just want to consider how the entire set-up and framing of the issue by Israel is somewhat of a trap. Israel considers Iran’s current nuclear program to be intended to create a weapon, which “they continue to develop,” and there are plenty in the US Congress who would agree with that.

So, if Iran is clearly creating a thermonuclear device, the time to strike is now, isn’t it? And bear in mind how the US/Israeli campaign to condemn is multifaceted. Shortly before the meetings held by Biden and his crew with the Israelis, US government sources set the stage for what was to come by going on the offensive regarding reports that Iran may be selling highly capable offensive drones to Russia for use in Ukraine as well as subsequent claims coming out of Washington that the Iranians are seeking to assassinate senior US officials in revenge for the killing of Revolutionary Guards General Qassem Soleimani in January 2020. One wonders why they waited so long and why the White House has chosen to publicize these stories at this point.

And the US and NATO are also getting involved with China’s geopolitical policies, on a path that Beijing is warning is extremely hypocritical and which might lead to armed conflict. The signs that the Chinese might be targeted by NATO, possibly over the Taiwan independence issue, came following a stark warning by US Secretary of State Tony Blinken delivered at the NATO summit in Madrid at the end of June. Blinken accused China of “seeking to undermine the rules-based international order,” the same type of critique recently leveled against Russia and Iran. Blinken’s comment was elaborated on by NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg, who observed how “China is substantially building up its military forces, including nuclear weapons, bullying its neighbors, threatening Taiwan … monitoring and controlling its own citizens through advanced technology, and spreading Russian lies and disinformation.”

Stoltenberg’s indictment of China was followed by a NATO issued “strategic concept” document last that declared for the first time that China poses a “systemic challenge” to the alliance, alongside a primary “threat” coming from Russia. The document copied Blinken’s language, citing “The deepening strategic partnership between the People’s Republic of China and the Russian Federation and their mutually reinforcing attempts to undercut the rules-based international order run counter to our values and interests.”

Finally, the US and British governments collaborated to condemn China as the “biggest long-term threat to our economic and national security.” The declaration came in a July 6th joint news conference in London, where Christopher Wray, director of the FBI, and Ken McCallum, director general of Britain’s MI5, accused China, like Russia, of interfering in US and UK elections. Wray also warned the business leaders in the audience that the Chinese government has been “set on stealing your technology, whatever it is that makes your industry tick, and using it to undercut your business and dominate your market.”

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian initially responded a few days after the NATO summit, observing that the “so-called rules-based international order is actually a family rule made by a handful of countries to serve the US self-interest,” adding that “[Washington]observes international rules only as it sees fit.” Addressing the issue of the role of NATO specifically, Zhao accused Blinken of using NATO to “hype up competition with China and stoke group confrontation.” He added that “The history of NATO is one about creating conflicts and waging wars…arbitrarily launching wars and killing innocent civilians, even to this day. Facts have proven that it isn’t China that poses a systemic challenge to NATO, and instead it is NATO that brings a looming systemic challenge to world peace and security. Thirty years after the end of the Cold War, [NATO] has not yet abandoned its thinking and practice of creating ‘enemies’ … It is NATO that is creating problems around the world.”

China has a point. What NATO is threatening is war, as it is a military alliance. The Chinese appear to understand that NATO is the world’s largest military bureaucracy which has developed since 1991 an overriding institutional commitment to ensuring its permanent existence, if not expansion, even after it has clearly outlived its own usefulness. So Beijing might justifiably wonder, how does China – on the other side of the globe – fit into NATO’s historic “defensive” mission? How are Chinese troops or missiles now threatening Europe or the US in ways they weren’t before? How are the Americans and Europeans suddenly under military threat coming from China?

The Chinese appear to understand that if there is no threat to “defend” against, then a threat must be manufactured, and that is precisely what we are seeing vis-à-vis Russia, China, Iran and even Venezuela. Washington has become addicted to war and NATO is the chosen tool to give those wars the patina of legitimacy. To launch those conflicts requires either inventing an imaginary threat, or, as in the case of Russia, provoking the very threat the “defensive” bureaucracy was designed to deter or thwart. All indications are that NATO – now embracing 30 countries – is doing both and the results could easily be disastrous for all parties involved. Former congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard particularly abhors the cynical recklessness of the Biden Administration driving the process, explaining how “The reality is, President Biden, members of Congress, leaders in our country, the wealthy, they will have a safe place to be in the event of a nuclear war that they are behind causing while the rest of us in America and Russia, people around the world, will be decimated from this event.”

Prize winning journalist Chris Hedges has also defined the unthinkable that is at stake, and it is past time for Americans and Europeans to take note and stop the madness. Hedges opines that “The massive expansion of NATO, not only in Eastern and Central Europe but the Middle East, Latin America, Africa and Asia, presages endless war and a potential nuclear holocaust.” One might also note that New Yorkers are now being informed about what to do if there is a nuclear attack. Yes, that is precisely the problem – we have an administration in Washington that should be protecting the people living in this country, not setting up scenarios that might lead to their slaughter. Will someone please point that out to Joe Biden?

Reprinted with permission from Unz Review.]]> Tue, 02 Aug 2022 13:38:19 GMT