http://www.ronpaulinstitute.org/archives/featured-articles/rss.aspx?blogid=3 Fri, 17 Aug 2018 04:59:45 GMT Fri, 17 Aug 2018 04:59:45 GMT America the Punitive Philip Giraldi http://www.ronpaulinstitute.org/archives/featured-articles/2018/august/17/america-the-punitive/

There has been a dramatic shift in how the United States government carries out its business internationally. Admittedly, Washington has had a tendency to employ force to get what it has wanted ever since 9/11, but it also sometimes recognized that other countries had legitimate interests and accepted there was a place for diplomacy to resolve issues short of armed conflict. The Bush Administration reluctance to broaden its engagement in the Middle East after it recognized that it had blundered with Iraq followed by Obama’s relaxation of tensions with Cuba and his negotiation of a nuclear agreement with Iran demonstrated that sanity sometimes prevailed in the West Wing.

That willingness to be occasionally accommodating has changed dramatically, with the State Department under Mike Pompeo currently more prone to deliver threats than any suggestions that we all might try to get along. It would be reasonable enough to criticize such behavior because it is intrinsically wrong, but the truly frightening aspect of it would appear to be that it is based on the essentially neoconservative assumption that other countries will always back down when confronted with force majeure and that the use of violence as a tool in international relations is, ultimately, consequence free.

I am particularly disturbed with the consequence free part as it in turn is rooted in the belief that countries that have been threatened or even invaded have no collective memory of what occurred and will not respond vengefully when the situation changes. There have been a number of stunningly mindless acts of aggression over the past several weeks that are particularly troubling as they suggest that they will produce many more problems down the road than solutions.

The most recent is the new sanctioning of Russia over the Skripal poisoning in Salisbury England. For those not following developments, last week Washington abruptly and without any new evidence being presented, imposed additional trade sanctions on Russia in the belief that Moscow ordered and carried out the poisoning of Sergey Skripal and his daughter Yulia on March 4th. The report of the new sanctions was particularly surprising as Yulia Skripal has recently announced that she intends to return to her home in Russia, leading to the conclusion that even one of the alleged victims does not believe the narrative being promoted by the British and American governments.

Though Russian President Vladimir Putin has responded with restraint, avoiding a tit-for-tat, he is reported to be angry about the new move by the US government and now believes it to be an unreliable negotiating partner. Considering the friendly recent exchanges between Putin and Trump, the punishment of Russia has to be viewed as something of a surprise, suggesting that the president of the United States may not be in control of his own foreign policy.

Turkey is also feeling America’s wrath over the continued detention of an American Protestant Pastor Andrew Brunson by Ankara over charges that he was connected to the coup plotters of 2016, which were allegedly directed by Fetullah Gulen, a Muslim religious leader, who now resides in Pennsylvania. Donald Trump has made the detention the centerpiece of his Turkish policy, introducing sanctions and tariffs that have led in part to a collapse of the Turkish lira and a run on the banking system which could easily lead to default and grave damage to European banks that hold a large party of the country’s debt.

And then there is perennial favorite Iran, which was hit with reinstated sanctions last week and is confronting a ban on oil sales scheduled to go into effect on November 4th. The US has said it will sanction any country that buys Iranian oil after that date, though a number of governments including Turkey, India and China appear to be prepared to defy that demand. Several European countries are reportedly preparing mechanisms that will allow them to trade around US restrictions.

What do Russia, Turkey and Iran have in common? All are on the receiving end of punitive action by the United States over allegations of misbehavior that have not been demonstrated. Nobody has shown that Russia poisoned the Skripals, Turkey just might have a case that the Reverend Brunson was in contact with coup plotters, and Iran is in full compliance with the nuclear arms agreement signed in 2015. One has to conclude that the United States has now become the ultimate angry imperial power, lashing out with the only thing that seems to work – its ability to interfere in and control financial markets – to punish nations that do not play by its rules.

Given Washington’s diminishing clout worldwide, it is a situation that is unsustainable and which will ultimately only really punish the American people as the United States becomes more isolated and its imperial overreach bankrupts the nation. As America weakens, Russia, Turkey, Iran and all the other countries that have been steamrolled by Washington will likely seek revenge. To avoid that, a dramatic course correction by the US is needed, but, unfortunately, is unlikely to take place.

Reprinted with permission from Strategic Culture Foundation.]]>
http://www.ronpaulinstitute.org/archives/featured-articles/2018/august/17/america-the-punitive/ http://www.ronpaulinstitute.org/archives/featured-articles/2018/august/17/america-the-punitive/ Fri, 17 Aug 2018 04:59:45 GMT
A Milestone in Afghanistan Richard Galustian http://www.ronpaulinstitute.org/archives/featured-articles/2018/august/17/a-milestone-in-afghanistan/

Sometime late next year, possibly as early as September, news crews will gather in Afghanistan for a unique event: To interview an American serviceman or woman who was not born when the war they are fighting began. He or she will not remember 9/11, and will have grown up with the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq as background noise. No doubt also a senior commander will be on hand to pronounce that the war against the Taliban is making progress, the same pronouncements the young recruit will have seen on TV all his or her life.

It will be a stark reminder that America has been at war for 225 of the 242 years of its existence: A handful of those conflicts -- the defeat of Hitler and Japan, for example  --  go down as "good wars." But most go down as operations that cost dearly in blood and treasure for little appreciable result.

In 1961, ​Dwight D. Eisenhower, the only American to make it to the highest offices in both politics and the military, warned, on leaving the presidency more than half a century ago, of the power of the  “military industrial complex”, and how war can become an end in itself.

“In the councils of government, we must guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought, by the military/industrial complex,” he warned. ”The potential for the disastrous rise of misplaced power exists and will persist.”

America’s future political leadership clearly didn’t listen. Eisenhower’s immediate successor John F. Kennedy reluctantly got the country embroiled in the Cuban debacle that was the Bay of Pigs and also the Vietnam war, with its eventual offshoots, after his death, in Cambodia and Laos. More misadventures followed: Lebanon, Grenada, Kosovo, Somalia and Libya spring to mind, before the disastrous Iraq and Afghanistan wars that remain with us courtesy of Bush and Blair.

Along with them have come several dozen proxy wars, among them Angola, Democratic Republic of the Congo, East Timor, Guatemala, Indonesia, Former Yugoslavia, Pakistan, Nicaragua, El Salvador, Syria, and Sudan. Millions have died, trillions of dollars have been spent, for little or no appreciable result. 

Some interventions are cynical, but even the well-meaning ones often end in disaster. Novelist Graham Greene offered a devastating portrait of a well-meaning, but clumsily disasterous, foreign service official in The Quiet American. You might think these repeated failures would wean the Pentagon off foreign adventures, and you would be totally wrong.

The US military budget is higher than the next seven big spenders in the world put together. Since 9/11, these wars have cost America $6 trillion. ​Just occasionally a dissident voice breaks through: A small but poignant example was Jon Voight’s film "Transformers’." There is a scene where US troops are attacked by a robot, and the line "bring 'em home" was inserted by the the Pentagon’s Hollywood liaison officer for nearly 30 years Phil Strub.

Bring 'em home to what?

This lavish spending is in contrast to the lack of care veterans get when they return home. The Pentagon has spent $250m a day since shortly after 9/11, yet support for those coming home is abysmal. Veterans make up ten percent of America’s homeless population, with 250,000 men and women who were once proud to wear the uniform now sleeping rough on the streets. Suicides rates amongst Vets are soaring.

The hard truth is that most of America’s military adventures are just that -- adventures. The last existential threat the United States faced was the Soviet Union in a Cold War that ended in 1991. Terrorists have exacted a grievous toll in attacks on America and Americans, but they do not threaten the continuance of the union. 

Yet a bloated navy patrols seas against a non-existant invasion threat.

The good news is that the penny has dropped with some of the Trump administration: The president has been asking, in his caustic style, just why the US has men and women in harm’s way in Syria, Iraq, and Afghanistan, places that pose no direct threat to the United States.

And Trump is asking also why America is expected to defend not just itself, but Europe also, where most of its NATO partners refuse to spend even two percent of their GDP on defence, despite pledging to do so years ago. 

Trump’s critics accuse him of isolationism, but reluctance to embark on military adventures abroad is not limited to the Republican president. Many Americans are wondering why America is in a constant state of war.

They could start with an assessment of what perils America really faces. 

Battling terrorists requires special forces and intelligence, not warships and tanks. Russia presents zero immediate threat.

The two rival nuclear powers, both China and Russia, have been careful, amid all the noise about election interference and tariffs, to offer no direct threat to the United States or international commerce, America’s lifeblood.​ 

Some of this has already filtered through not just to Trump but the remaining few sober heads on both sides of Congress, the likes of Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard and Senator Rand Paul, as they fight their way within Congress to a less interventionist military and an end to the philosophy of regime change.

Let's hope such politicians succeed. Don't hold your breath though!]]>
http://www.ronpaulinstitute.org/archives/featured-articles/2018/august/17/a-milestone-in-afghanistan/ http://www.ronpaulinstitute.org/archives/featured-articles/2018/august/17/a-milestone-in-afghanistan/ Fri, 17 Aug 2018 04:37:29 GMT
Special Report: Senator Rand Paul on His Recent Trip To Russia Daniel McAdams http://www.ronpaulinstitute.org/archives/featured-articles/2018/august/16/special-report-senator-rand-paul-on-his-recent-trip-to-russia/
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http://www.ronpaulinstitute.org/archives/featured-articles/2018/august/16/special-report-senator-rand-paul-on-his-recent-trip-to-russia/ http://www.ronpaulinstitute.org/archives/featured-articles/2018/august/16/special-report-senator-rand-paul-on-his-recent-trip-to-russia/ Thu, 16 Aug 2018 14:23:28 GMT
Russia Hysteria Undercuts Our Values, Impedes Relations Rep. Thomas Massie http://www.ronpaulinstitute.org/archives/featured-articles/2018/august/16/russia-hysteria-undercuts-our-values-impedes-relations/

The mainstream media and out-of-touch politicians and bureaucrats want us to believe that the Cold War never ended, it’s a crime to talk with a Russian, and we should all be fearful of any Russians here in the U.S. Apparently our $21 trillion national debt, lack of border security, and the threat of radical Islamic terrorism pale in comparison to the grave threat posed by Russia.

This is yet another example of the disconnect between Beltway talking heads and the American people. Hard-working Americans — including constituents in my Kentucky district — care about jobs, paying the bills, putting food on the table, and leaving this country a better place for their children. The alleged “vast Russian conspiracy” harped upon by the Democrats and media since the election of President Trump is simply not a concern of normal Americans.

To date, “proof” of a Russian conspiracy to interfere in U.S. elections includes only Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s indictments of 13 Russian nationals and 12 Russian intelligence officers. The Russian nationals are accused of identity theft that allowed them to create fake social media accounts, and the 12 Russian intelligence officers are alleged to have hacked into the computers of the Democratic National Committee and Hillary Clinton’s campaign prior to the 2016 election. Most importantly, all indictments fail to allege that a single U.S. vote was changed.

Unfortunately, what began as only Russophobic rhetoric seems to have turned into a witch hunt, as President Trump calls it.

For example, the current hysteria may have motivated the recent arrest and indictment of Maria Butina, a former Russian graduate student at American University in Washington, D.C.  Unlike many accused of violent crimes, Butina (who has not been accused of harming anyone) was denied bail, and is now reportedly being held in solitary confinement in federal prison until her trial. The indictment claims she acted as an unregistered agent of the Russian government. Thin on substance, it oddly suggests, for example, that attendance at a National Prayer Breakfast is something nefarious.

My colleague Dana Rohrabacher and I met with the Russian delegation that attended the prayer breakfast last year. Congressman Rohrabacher, a former speechwriter for President Reagan during the Cold War, was once on the front lines with the mujahedeen when they fought the Soviets, yet even he now faces criticism for seeking better relations with Russia.

While our justice system has always upheld the presumption of “innocent until proven guilty,” the relentless negative press surrounding Butina’s arrest presumes her guilt. So far, the evidence mostly shows that she is simply a strong supporter of the right to bear arms, has advocated for this right in Russia, and genuinely hoped for improved Russia-U.S. relations. These are not crimes.

What if Russia decided to indict and imprison an American student in Russia based upon thin evidence and charges of acting as an “unregistered U.S. agent”? The Golden Rule applies to nations, not just individuals.

This is why the  recent visit to Russia by my fellow Kentuckian Rand Paul is so courageous. In attempting to keep the lines of communication open between our two countries, he demonstrates true statesmanship amid a new xenophobic isolationism sweeping the anti-Trump media.

Sen. Paul’s meeting with Mikhail Gorbachev reminds me of President Reagan’s summits with that former leader of the Soviet Union. Like Paul and President Trump, Ronald Reagan believed in the power of a willingness to talk with our adversaries. Many believe that Reagan’s cordial relationship with Gorbachev encouraged the policies of “perestroika” and “glasnost” -- an openness to freedom that led to communism’s downfall in Russia.

True leaders understand that dialogue is the quickest pathway to peace. As my colleague Rep. Rohrabacher says, “We need to find areas of cooperation and peace instead of constant belligerence that can only lead to war.” Contrary to what the D.C. elites would have you believe, Russia is not the biggest threat facing the United States today. The Russia scare is a distraction from our real threats, which include our massive national debt, porous borders, and an out-of-control federal government that claims the right to spy on Americans without a warrant.

It’s time to end the obsession with Russia. In the words of the famous English writer G.K. Chesterton, “A great nation ought not to be a hammer, but a magnet.” Let’s stop the bellicose rhetoric and instead start leading by example.

Thomas Massie is a Republican member of the House who has represented Kentucky’s 4th Congressional District since 2012.

Reprinted with permission from RealClearPolitics.
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http://www.ronpaulinstitute.org/archives/featured-articles/2018/august/16/russia-hysteria-undercuts-our-values-impedes-relations/ http://www.ronpaulinstitute.org/archives/featured-articles/2018/august/16/russia-hysteria-undercuts-our-values-impedes-relations/ Thu, 16 Aug 2018 14:07:16 GMT
Trump Strikes Back at ‘Ringleader’ Brennan Ray McGovern http://www.ronpaulinstitute.org/archives/featured-articles/2018/august/16/trump-strikes-back-at-ringleader-brennan/

There’s more than meets the eye to President Donald Trump’s decision to revoke the security clearances that ex-CIA Director John Brennan enjoyed as a courtesy customarily afforded former directors.  The President’s move is the second major sign that Brennan is about to be hoist on his own petard. It is one embroidered with rhetoric charging Trump with treason and, far more important, with documents now in the hands of congressional investigators showing Brennan’s ringleader role in the so-far unsuccessful attempts to derail Trump both before and after the 2016 election.

Brennan will fight hard to avoid being put on trial but will need united support from from his Deep State co-conspirators — a dubious proposition.  One of Brennan’s major concerns at this point has to be whether the “honor-among-thieves” ethos will prevail, or whether some or all of his former partners in crime will latch onto the opportunity to “confess” to investigators: “Brennan made me do it.”

Well before Monday night, when Trump lawyer Rudy Giuliani let a small bomb drop on Brennan, there was strong evidence that Brennan had been quarterbacking illegal operations against Trump.  Giuliani added fuel to the fire when he told Sean Hannity of Fox news:
“I’m going to tell you who orchestrated, who was the quarterback for all this … The guy running it is Brennan, and he should be in front of a grand jury.  Brennan took … a dossier that, unless he’s the biggest idiot intelligence agent that ever lived … it’s false; you can look at it and laugh at it.  And he peddled it to [then Senate Majority Leader] Harry Reid, and that led to the request for the investigation. So you take a false dossier, get Senators involved, and you get a couple of Republican Senators, and they demand an investigation — a totally phony investigation.”
The Fix Brennan Finds Himself In

After eight years of enjoying President Barack Obama’s solid support and defense to do pretty much anything he chose — including hacking into the computers of the Senate Intelligence Committee — Brennan now lacks what, here in Washington, we refer to as a “Rabbi” with strong incentive to advance and protect you.  He expected Hillary Clinton to play that role (were it ever to be needed), and that seemed to be solidly in the cards.  But, oops, she lost.

What needs to be borne in mind in all this is, as former FBI Director James Comey himself has admitted: “I was making decisions in an environment where Hillary Clinton was sure to be the next president.” Comey, Brennan, and co-conspirators, who decided — in that “environment” — to play fast and loose with the Constitution and the law, were supremely confident they would not only keep their jobs, but also receive plaudits, not indictments.

Unless one understands and remembers this, it is understandably difficult to believe that the very top U.S. law enforcement and intelligence officials did what documentary evidence has now demonstrated they did.

So, unlike his predecessors, most of whom also left under a dark cloud, Brennan is bereft of anyone to protect him. He lacks even a PR person to help him avoid holding himself up to ridicule — and now retaliation — for unprecedentedly hostile tweets and other gaffes.  Brennan’s mentor, ex-CIA Director George Tenet, for example, had powerful Rabbis in President George W. Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney, as well as a bizarrely empathetic Establishment media, when Tenet quit in disgrace 2004.

The main question now is whether the chairs of the House oversight committees will chose to face down the Deep State. They almost never do, and the smart money says that, if they do, they will lose — largely because of the virtually total support of the Establishment media for the Deep State. This often takes bizarre forms. The title of a recent column by Washington Post “liberal” commentator Eugene Robinson speaks volumes: “God Bless the Deep State.”

Reprinted with permission from ConsortiumNews.
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http://www.ronpaulinstitute.org/archives/featured-articles/2018/august/16/trump-strikes-back-at-ringleader-brennan/ http://www.ronpaulinstitute.org/archives/featured-articles/2018/august/16/trump-strikes-back-at-ringleader-brennan/ Thu, 16 Aug 2018 13:35:47 GMT
Trump Would be Stupid to Talk to Mueller Jacob G. Hornberger http://www.ronpaulinstitute.org/archives/featured-articles/2018/august/15/trump-would-be-stupid-to-talk-to-mueller/

The US mainstream press is obviously becoming increasingly anxious about Special Counsel (and former FBI Director) Robert Mueller’s efforts to bring an early end to Donald Trump’s presidency. After all, it has now been 15 months (and millions of taxpayer dollars) since Mueller received his special appointment, and he still has not charged Trump with any wrongdoing whatsoever.

What Mueller has done is secure indictments against a few Russians who, according to Wikipedia, supposedly attempted “to trick Americans into consuming Russian propaganda that targeted Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton and later President-elect Donald Trump.”

Big deal.  I can’t help wonder which Americans ended up being tricked by that dangerous, mind-altering Russian propaganda. Maybe they ought to sue their public schools for educational malpractice.

Currently, Mueller is spending his time and US taxpayer money going after former Trump campaign official Paul Manafort. The charges? Income-tax violations and bank fraud.

But isn’t it the job of the Justice Department to go after people who are accused of those types of crimes? Why is Mueller’s special team prosecuting Manafort? Could it be because Mueller is hoping to secure a conviction against Manafort that will enable him to squeeze Manafort into providing some incriminating evidence against Trump, even if involves matters that don’t relate to the anti-Russia brouhaha, such as tax or regulatory violations? Could it be that Mueller is hoping to turn Manafort into another Rick Gates, the man who Mueller has given special treatment for agreeing to rat out Manafort?

Meanwhile, increasingly desperate over the passage of 15 months and still no charges by Mueller against Trump, the mainstream press is doing its best to pressure and manipulate Trump into agreeing to be interviewed by Mueller. The New York Times, for example, titles its August 13 editorial with “There’s No Need to Fear Mueller, Mr. President — if You Have Nothing to Hide.”

Oh, but there is something to fear! It’s called a “perjury trap.” It’s a favorite tactic of federal prosecutors, especially ones who want to punish people but have insufficient evidence to convict them of what they want to convict them of.

Recall, for example, Martha Stewart. Federal officials told her that they just wanted to interview her about supposed “insider trading,” one of the ludicrous economic crimes on the federal books. Stupidly, she agreed to the interview. It turned out to be a perjury trap. They never charged her with “insider trading” but they did charge her for supposedly lying to federal investigators. She got convicted of lying, not insider trading, and they sent her away to federal jail.

That’s why Mueller wants to interview Trump. He’s hoping that Trump slips up and tells a lie, which will then enable him to go after Trump for the lie rather than supposedly “colluding” with Russia to defeat Hillary Clinton.

Let’s get one thing clear: Trump has no obligation whatsoever to help Mueller with his investigation. If Mueller can’t get enough evidence to charge Trump with unlawfully “colluding” with Russia, that’s his problem. He can’t expect Trump to sit down and assist him with his investigation of Trump.

Would Mueller hesitate to get Trump on some other charge, like possible income-tax evasion, building-code violations, foreign construction-related bribery, or making some false statement to Mueller during an interview? Well, duh! After 15 months of failing to come up with charges against Trump for “colluding” with Russia, do you think he wants to issue a final report that lets Trump off the hook but trumpets his big “successes” in going after people for income-tax violations, bank fraud, or failing to comply with some 1938 FDR-era law requiring foreigners to register as foreign agents? After 15 months and millions of dollars, Mueller will take anything he can get that will enable him to charge Trump with something.

Trump would be stupid to talk to Mueller. All that he would be doing would be the same thing that Martha Stewart did — giving federal prosecutors the opportunity to go after him on some slip-up during the interview. Trump should continue telling Mueller to put up or shut up and to stop pleading with Trump to assist him with his ridiculous anti-Russia investigation against Trump.

Reprinted with permission from Future of Freedom Foundation.]]>
http://www.ronpaulinstitute.org/archives/featured-articles/2018/august/15/trump-would-be-stupid-to-talk-to-mueller/ http://www.ronpaulinstitute.org/archives/featured-articles/2018/august/15/trump-would-be-stupid-to-talk-to-mueller/ Wed, 15 Aug 2018 18:25:02 GMT
Senator Richard Burr: a Longtime Fan of Torture Ray McGovern http://www.ronpaulinstitute.org/archives/featured-articles/2018/august/15/senator-richard-burr-a-longtime-fan-of-torture/

Newly released official documents obtained by the National Security Archive showing that CIA Director Gina Haspel directly supervised waterboarding at the first CIA “Black Site” simply confirm what Senate Intelligence Committee Chair Richard Burr (R-NC) already knew as he orchestrated the charade that was Haspel’s confirmation hearing.  Burr allowed her to “classify” her own direct role in waterboarding and other torture techniques so that it could be kept from the public and secure her confirmation -- further proof that this Senate oversight committee has instead become an overlook committee.

That Haspel supervised the torture of Abd al-Rahim al-Nashiri at the first CIA “black site” for interrogation was already clear to those who had followed Haspel’s career, but she was able to do a song and dance when Sen. Sen. Diane Feinstein (D-CA) asked her about it. Haspel declined to reply on grounds that the information was classified. It was of course because Haspel herself had classified it. All the senators knew that only too well. Sen. Ron Wyden (D-OR) had strongly objected to this bizarre practice only minutes before. 

Witnessing this charade from the audience prompted me to stand up, excuse myself for interrupting, and suggest that the committee members were entitled to an honest answer since this was a public hearing with thousands watching on TV. The American people were also entitled to know whether or not Haspel was directly involved in torture. As I was calmly pointing out that any Senate Intelligence Committee member who prepared for the hearing already knew the answer, I was “escorted out,” manhandled and 
charged with disrupting Congress and resisting arrest.

Jeremy Scahill later did a good job on Democracy Now! in putting needed context around the free pass and encouragement CIA torturers continue to enjoy at the hands of co-conspirators like Sen. Burr.

I have now had time to read through the documents obtained by the National Security Archive via Freedom of Information Act requests. Suffice it to say they are so sad and sickening that I had to stop reading.

Corruption on Steroids

Burr was on the House Intelligence Committee, led by Porter Goss (R-FL) and later by Pete Hoekstra (R-MI), that winked at torture (not to mention blindly accepting the faux intelligence used to “justify” war on Iraq). Might the CIA remind Burr of his condoning of torture, were he to chose not to play along with the Haspel nomination?

Burr’s record on the Senate Intelligence Committee is equally dubious. In January 2015, as soon as he took the Senate Intelligence Committee chair from Feinstein, he recalled all copies of the four-year committee study based on official CIA documents, which not only exposed unimaginably heinous forms of torture but found no evidence that any actionable intelligence was obtained from them. To her credit, Feinstein had faced down both President Barack Obama and CIA Director John Brennan and got a long Executive Summary of the committee investigation published just before she had to relinquish the chair. 

Truth, Conscience, and Consequences

As an act of conscience, on March 2, 2006 I returned the Intelligence Commendation Medallion given me at retirement for “especially meritorious service,” explaining, “I do not want to be associated, however remotely, with an agency engaged in torture.” I returned the medallion to Hoekstra (R, Michigan), who was then-Chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, with a statement explaining my reasons.  

Hoekstra then secretly added to the Intelligence Authorization Act for FY’07 (HR5020) a provision enabling the government to strip intelligence veterans of their government pensions. HR5020 passed the full House, but Congress opted instead for a continuing resolution.

On December 11, 2014, I had an opportunity to tell Hoekstra exactly what I thought of his underhanded, Lone-Ranger attempt (he did not inform his House Intelligence Committee colleagues) to make it possible to revoke the government pensions of people like me. I confronted the former Congressman in person off-air, after we two were interviewed live on CCTV’s “The Heat” about the Senate Intelligence Committee findings regarding CIA torture. It was an uncommon chance to hold Hoekstra publicly accountable for condoning torture, and the Michigan congressman rose to the occasion. (See minutes 8:15 to 10:41) 

The bottom line?  The foxes have been guarding the chicken coop for many years now.  Haspel will fit right in. 
O Tempora, O Mores.

Reprinted with author's permission from ConsortiumNews.com.

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http://www.ronpaulinstitute.org/archives/featured-articles/2018/august/15/senator-richard-burr-a-longtime-fan-of-torture/ http://www.ronpaulinstitute.org/archives/featured-articles/2018/august/15/senator-richard-burr-a-longtime-fan-of-torture/ Wed, 15 Aug 2018 17:29:04 GMT
The US-Turkey Crisis: The NATO Alliance Forged in 1949 Is Today Largely Irrelevant Philip Giraldi http://www.ronpaulinstitute.org/archives/featured-articles/2018/august/13/the-us-turkey-crisis-the-nato-alliance-forged-in-1949-is-today-largely-irrelevant/

There has been some reporting in the United States mass media about the deteriorating relationship between Washington and Ankara and what it might mean. Such a falling out between NATO members has not been seen since France left the alliance in 1966 and observers note that the hostility emanating from both sides suggests that far worse is to come as neither party appears prepared to moderate its current position while diplomatic exchanges have been half-hearted and designed to lead nowhere.

The immediate cause of the breakdown is ostensibly President Donald Trump’s demand that an American Protestant minister who has lived in Turkey for twenty-three years be released from detention. Andrew Brunson was arrested 21 months ago and charged with being a supporter of the alleged conspiracy behind the military coup in 2016 that sought to kill or replace President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

Erdogan has asserted that the coup was directed by former political associate Fetullah Gulen, who lives in exile in Pennsylvania, but has produced little credible evidence to support that claim. In the aftermath of the coup attempt, Erdogan has had himself voted extraordinary special powers to maintain public order and has arrested 160,000 people, including 20 Americans, who have been imprisoned. More than 170,000 civil servants, teachers, and military personnel have lost their jobs, the judiciary has been hobbled, and senior army officers have been replaced by loyalists.

Gulen is a religious leader who claims to promote a moderate brand of Islam that is compatible with western values. His power base consists of a large number of private schools that educate according to his curriculum, with particular emphasis on math and sciences. Many of the graduates become part of a loose affiliation that has sometimes been described as a cult. Gulen also owns and operates a number of media outlets, all of which have now been shut by Erdogan as part of his clamp down on the press. Turkey currently imprisons more journalists than any other country.

It is widely believed that Erdogan has been offering to release Brunson in exchange for Gulen, but President Donald Trump has instead offered only a Turkish banker currently in a U.S. prison while also turning the heat up in the belief that pressure on Turkey will force it to yield. Washington began the tit-for-tat by imposing sanctions on two cabinet-level officials in Erdogan’s government: Interior Minister Suleyman Soylu and Justice Minister Abdulhamit Gul. Ankara has now also been on the receiving end of a Trump tweet and tariffs have been placed on a broad range of Turkish products, to include steel and aluminum.

The view that economic pressure will force the Turks to yield could be mistaken and demonstrates that the Administration does not include anyone who knows that Americans have been unpopular in Turkey since the Gulf War. The threats from Washington might actually rally skeptical and normally pro-western Turks around Erdogan but U.S. sanctions have already hit the Turkish economy hard, with the lira having lost 40% of its value this year and continuing to sink rapidly. Foreign investors, who fueled much of Turkey’s recent economic growth, have fled the market, suggesting that a collapse in credit might be on the way. Those European banks that hold Turkish debt are fearing a possible default.

It is a spectacle of one NATO member driving another NATO member’s economy into the ground over a political dispute. Erdogan has responded in his autocratic fashion by condemning “interest rates” and calling for an “economic war” against the U.S., telling his supporters to unload all their liquid valuables, gold and foreign to buy the plummeting lira, a certain recipe for disaster. If they do that, they will likely lose everything.

Other contentious issues involved in the badly damaged bilateral relationship are conflicting views on what to do about Syria, where the Turks have a legitimate interest due to potential Kurdish terrorism and are seeking a buffer zone, as well as Ankara’s interest in buying Russian air defense missile systems, which has prompted the U.S. to suspend sales of the new F-35 fighter. The Turks have also indicated that they have no interest in enforcing the sanctions on Iran that were re-imposed last week and they will continue to buy Iranian oil after the November 4th initiation of a U.S. ban on such purchases. The Trump Administration has warned that it will sanction any country that refuses to comply, setting the stage for a massive confrontation between Washington and Ankara involving the Turkish Central Bank.

In terms of U.S. interests, Turkey, which has the second largest army in NATO, is of strategic value because it is Muslim, countering arguments that the alliance is some kind of Christian club working to suppress Islam in the Middle East. And it is also important because of its geographic location close to hot spots where the American military is currently engaged. If the U.S. heeds Trump’s call to cut back on involvement in the region, Turkey will become less valuable, but currently, access to the Incirlik Airbase, near Adana and the Syrian border, is vital.

Indeed, Incirlik has become one of the flashpoints in the argument with Washington. Last week, a group of lawyers connected politically to Erdogan initiated legal action against U.S. officers at Incirlik over claimed ties to “terrorists” linked to Gulen. The “Association for Social Justice and Aid” has called for a temporary halt to all operations at the base to permit a search for evidence. The attorneys are asking for the detention of seven named American Colonels and Lieutenant Colonels. General Joseph Votel, head of U.S. Central Command based in Germany is also cited. If the lawyers are successful in court, it will mean a major conflict as Washington asserts the rights of the officers under the Status of Forces Agreement, while Turkey will no doubt insist that the Americans are criminals and have no protection.

Another trial balloon being floated by Erdogan is even more frightening in terms of the demons that it could be unleashing. Abdurrahman Dilipak, an Islamist columnist writing in the pro-government newspaper Yeni Atik, has suggested that there might well be a second terrorist attack on the United States like 9/11. Dilipak threatened that if Trump does nothing to reduce tension “…some people will teach him [to do] that. It must be seen that if internal tensions with the United States continue like this that a September 11 is no unlikely possibility.” Dilipak also warned that presumed Gulenist “U.S. collaborators” inside Turkey would be severely punished if they dared to go out into the streets to protest in support of Washington.

If recent developments in Turkey deteriorate further it might well suggest that Donald Trump’s instinct to disengage from the Middle East was the right call, though it could equally be seen as a rejection of the tactic being employed, i.e. using heavy-handed sanctions and tariffs to compel obedience from governments disinclined to follow Washington’s leadership. Either way, the Turkish-American relationship is in trouble and increasingly a liability for both sides, yet another indication that the NATO alliance forged in 1949 against the Soviet Union is today largely irrelevant.

Reprinted with permission from American Herald Tribune.
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http://www.ronpaulinstitute.org/archives/featured-articles/2018/august/13/the-us-turkey-crisis-the-nato-alliance-forged-in-1949-is-today-largely-irrelevant/ http://www.ronpaulinstitute.org/archives/featured-articles/2018/august/13/the-us-turkey-crisis-the-nato-alliance-forged-in-1949-is-today-largely-irrelevant/ Mon, 13 Aug 2018 12:54:57 GMT
Why Does Facebook Use NATO To Help Censor Users? Daniel McAdams http://www.ronpaulinstitute.org/archives/featured-articles/2018/august/13/why-does-facebook-use-nato-to-help-censor-users/
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http://www.ronpaulinstitute.org/archives/featured-articles/2018/august/13/why-does-facebook-use-nato-to-help-censor-users/ http://www.ronpaulinstitute.org/archives/featured-articles/2018/august/13/why-does-facebook-use-nato-to-help-censor-users/ Mon, 13 Aug 2018 12:43:03 GMT
Trump vs. His Own Administration? Ron Paul http://www.ronpaulinstitute.org/archives/featured-articles/2018/august/13/trump-vs-his-own-administration/ undefined

Are President Trump’s senior cabinet members working against him? It’s hard not to conclude that many of the more hawkish neocons that Trump has (mistakenly, in my view) appointed to top jobs are actively working to undermine the president’s stated agenda. Especially when it seems Trump is trying to seek dialogue with countries the neocons see as adversaries needing to be regime-changed.

Remember just as President Trump was organizing an historic summit meeting with Kim Jong-Un, his National Security Advisor, John Bolton, nearly blew the whole thing up by making repeated references to the “Libya model” and how it should be applied to North Korea. As if Kim would jump at the chance to be bombed, overthrown, and murdered at the hands of a US-backed mob!

It seems that Trump’s appointees are again working at cross-purposes to him. Last week, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo announced that he was invoking a 1991 US law against the use of chemical weapons to announce yet another round of sanctions on Russia over what he claims is Putin’s involvement in the poisoning of a former Russian spy and his daughter in the UK.

The alleged poisoning took place in March and only now did the State Department make its determination that Russia was behind it and thus subject to the 1991 sanction law. Was there new information that came to light that pointed to Russian involvement? According to a State Department briefing there was none. The State Department just decided to take the British government’s word for it.

Where do we get authority to prosecute Russia for an alleged crime committed in the UK, by the way?

President Trump’s own Administration is forcing him to accept the State Department determination and agree to sanctions that may well include, according to the 1991 law, a complete break of diplomatic relations with Russia. This would be a de facto declaration of war. Over unproven allegations.

Trump has authority to reject the imposition of new sanctions, but with his Democrat opponents continuing to charge that he is in league with the Russian president, how could he waive sanctions just before the November US Congressional elections? That would be a windfall for the Democrats seeking to take control of the House and Senate. 

The only way Russia could avoid the second, most extreme round of these sanctions in November is to promise not to use chemical weapons again and open its doors to international inspections. What government would accept such a demand when no proof has been presented that they used chemical weapons in the first place?

Certainly it is possible that President Trump is fully aware of the maneuverings of Bolton and Pompeo and that he approves. Perhaps he likes to play “good cop, bad cop” with the rest of the world, at the same time making peace overtures while imposing sanctions and threatening war. But it certainly looks like some of his cabinet members are getting the best of him.

If President Trump is to be taken at his word, that he welcomes dialogue “without pre-conditions” with leaders of Russia, North Korea, Iran, and elsewhere, he would be wise to reconsider those in his employ who are undermining him every step of the way. Otherwise, it is hard to believe the president is sincere. Let’s hope he does choose dialogue over conflict and clips the wings of those under him attempting to push him in the other direction.]]>
http://www.ronpaulinstitute.org/archives/featured-articles/2018/august/13/trump-vs-his-own-administration/ http://www.ronpaulinstitute.org/archives/featured-articles/2018/august/13/trump-vs-his-own-administration/ Mon, 13 Aug 2018 12:21:46 GMT
Butina Case: Neo-McCarthyism Engulfs America Philip Giraldi http://www.ronpaulinstitute.org/archives/featured-articles/2018/august/10/butina-case-neo-mccarthyism-engulfs-america/

The United States Department of Justice would apparently have you believe that the Kremlin sought to subvert the five-million-member strong National Rifle Association (NRA) by having two Russian citizens take out life memberships in the organization with the intention of corrupting it and turning it into a mouthpiece for President Vladimir Putin. Both of the Russians – Maria Butina and Alexander Torshin – have, by the way, long well documented histories as advocates for gun ownership and were founders of Right to Bear Arms, which is not an intelligence front organization of some kind and is rather a genuine lobbying group with an active membership and agenda. Contrary to what has been reported in the mainstream media, Russians can own guns but the licensing and registration procedures are long and complicated, which Right to Bear Arms, modeling itself on the NRA, is seeking to change.

Maria Butina, a graduate student at American University, is now in solitary confinement in a federal prison, having been charged with collusion with Torshin and failure to register as an agent of the Russian Federation. It is unusual to arrest and confine someone who has failed to register under the Foreign Agents Registration Act of 1938, but she has not been granted bail because, as a Russian citizen, she is considered to be a “flight risk,” likely to try to flee the US and return home. It is to be presumed that she is being pressured to identify others involved in her alleged scheme to overthrow American democracy through NRA membership.

Indeed, in any event, it would be difficult to imagine why anyone would consider the NRA to be a legitimate intelligence target. It only flexes its admitted powerful legislative muscles over issues relating to gun ownership, not regarding policy on Russia. In short, Butina and by extension Torshin appear to have done nothing wrong. Both are energetic advocates for their country and guns rights, which they appear to believe in, and Butina’s aggressive networking has broken no law except not registering, which in itself assumes that she is a Russian government agent, something that has not been demonstrated. To put the shoe on the other foot, will every American who now travels to Russia and engages in political conversations with local people be suspected of acting as an agent of the US government? Once you open the door, it swings both ways.

One might dismiss the entire Affair Butina as little more than a reflection of the anti-Russia hysteria that has been sweeping the United States since Hillary Clinton lost the 2016 election, but that would be unfair to those remaining honest FBI agents who may have investigated Butina and Torshin and come up with what they believed to be a plausible case for an indictment. There were possibly suspicious money transfers as well as email intercepts that might be interpreted as incriminating.

But two important elements are clearly missing. The first is motive. Did the Kremlin seriously believe that it could get anything substantial out of having a gun totin’ attractive young Russian woman as a life member in the NRA? What did the presumed puppet masters in Moscow expect to obtain apart from the sorts of group photos including Butina that one gets while posing with politicians at the annual NRA convention? Sure, the photo might even evolve into a cup of coffee together, but what is the end game?

Second is the lack of any of the hallmarks of an intelligence operation, which is referred to in the business as tradecraft. Spies meet secretly or at least outside the public eye with prospective agents whereas Maria operated completely in the open and she made no effort to conceal her love for her country and her desire that Washington and Moscow normalize relations. Spies also communicate securely, which means that they use encrypted systems or various cut-outs, i.e. mis-directions, when maintaining contact with those who are running them. Again, Maria did none of that, which is why the FBI has her emails. Also spies work under what is referred to as an “operating directive” in CIA-speak where they have very specific information that they seek to obtain from their contacts. There is no indication that Maria Butina in any way sought classified information or intelligence that would relate either to the security of the United States or to America’s political system. And finally, Maria made no attempt to recruit anyone and turn them into an actual controlled Russian agent, which is what spies eventually seek to do.

It has come down to this: if you are a Russian and you are caught talking to anyone in any way influential, there is potentially hell to pay because the FBI will be watching you. You are automatically assumed to be part of a conspiracy. Once “evidence” is collected, you will be indicted and sent to prison, mostly to send a message to Moscow. It is the ultimate irony that how the old Soviet Union’s judiciary used to function is now becoming standing operating procedure in the United States.

Reprinted with permission from Strategic Culture Foundation.]]>
http://www.ronpaulinstitute.org/archives/featured-articles/2018/august/10/butina-case-neo-mccarthyism-engulfs-america/ http://www.ronpaulinstitute.org/archives/featured-articles/2018/august/10/butina-case-neo-mccarthyism-engulfs-america/ Fri, 10 Aug 2018 04:44:08 GMT
What if a #MAGA Guy Ate Twitter’s Face? Peter Van Buren http://www.ronpaulinstitute.org/archives/featured-articles/2018/august/09/what-if-a-maga-guy-ate-twitter-s-face/

More than a few people have cited the exchange below as justification for my forever trip down the Memory Hole, my ban from Twitter. I used to be there as @wemeantwell.

My bad zombie joke about #MAGA, or anything else I wrote that was flippant, is not writing I’m proud of. But ask yourself if indeed what I was doing, in the words of Twitter’s auto-response to me, “harasses, intimidates, or uses fear to silence someone else’s voice,” or if I was just being rude and childish. Ask yourself if whatever I did means you can never read anything I’ve written on Twitter over the past seven years, if it means I should never be allowed to write there again.

Does it justify censorship?

Before you say yes, keep in mind that Twitter allows you to block me, mute me, never see me again. That’s your decision, and good for you, and good riddance to me. But censorship takes that decision out of your hands, and allows Twitter to make it on behalf of literally the entire planet.

Though the “he called me human garbage first” excuse is pretty weak, it is useful to show the context of my allegedly game-changing Tweet. I think anyone who has dipped into the sticky waters of Twitter, or lived as an adult on earth, has heard much worse. I think also my line about a MAGA guy eating someone’s face can be seen by reasonable people as a rhetorical slap, not a literal invitation to zombie attack.

Think of it like people saying “Go kiss my ass!,” or “F*ck yourself.” I don’t think in those instances anyone expects you to contort and smooch the buttocks or to perform a unilateral sex act. There’s a difference between saying “Go jump in a lake” to end an argument and an invitation to go swimming.

But corporate censorship needs only the finest of hooks. Twitter is happy to allow calls for white genocide by New York Times editorial board member @SarahJeong, “understanding” they are not literal, while being shocked — Shocked! — to see me invoke a scene from Fear the Walking Dead.

And anyone who thinks I was banned for simply being rude on Twitter does not understand much about the point of censorship.


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Reprinted with permission from WeMeantWell.com.]]>
http://www.ronpaulinstitute.org/archives/featured-articles/2018/august/09/what-if-a-maga-guy-ate-twitter-s-face/ http://www.ronpaulinstitute.org/archives/featured-articles/2018/august/09/what-if-a-maga-guy-ate-twitter-s-face/ Thu, 09 Aug 2018 19:22:57 GMT
Pompeo Slaps On Major Russia Sanctions...Over Unproven UK Poisoning! Daniel McAdams http://www.ronpaulinstitute.org/archives/featured-articles/2018/august/09/pompeo-slaps-on-major-russia-sanctionsover-unproven-uk-poisoning/
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http://www.ronpaulinstitute.org/archives/featured-articles/2018/august/09/pompeo-slaps-on-major-russia-sanctionsover-unproven-uk-poisoning/ http://www.ronpaulinstitute.org/archives/featured-articles/2018/august/09/pompeo-slaps-on-major-russia-sanctionsover-unproven-uk-poisoning/ Thu, 09 Aug 2018 18:30:52 GMT
A Four Person NATO-Funded Team Advises Facebook On Flagging 'Propaganda' Tyler Durden http://www.ronpaulinstitute.org/archives/featured-articles/2018/august/08/a-four-person-nato-funded-team-advises-facebook-on-flagging-propaganda/

This is not at all comforting: during a week that's witnessed Alex Jones' social media accounts taken down by Facebook, Apple, Spotify and Google, and what appears to be a growing crackdown against alternative media figures including several prominent Libertarians, notably the Ron Paul Institute director, and the Scott Horton Show, who found their Twitter accounts suspended — we learn that the Atlantic Council is directly advising Facebook on identifying and removing "foreign interference" on the popular platform.

While the initiative was initially revealed last May through an official Facebook media release, more details of the controversial think tank's role have been revealed.

Supposedly the whole partnership is aimed at bringing more objectivity and neutrality to the process of rooting out fake accounts that pose the threat of being operated by nefarious foreign states.

And yet as a new Reuters report confirms, Facebook is now itself a top donor to the Atlantic Council, alongside Western governments, Gulf autocratic regimes, NATO, various branches of the US military, and a number of major defense contractors and corporations.

What's more is that the team of four total individuals running the Atlantic Council's Digital Forensic Research Lab (DFR Lab) is headed by a former National Security Council advisor for the last four years of the Obama administration, Graham Brookie, who is also its founder.

Apparently the group's work has already been instrumental in Facebook taking action against over two dozen "suspicious pages" flagged potential foreign actors such as Russia. According to Reuters:
Facebook is using the group to enhance its investigations of foreign interference. Last week, the company said it took down 32 suspicious pages and accounts that purported to be run by leftists and minority activists. While some US officials said they were likely the work of Russian agents, Facebook said it did not know for sure.
This is indeed the shocking key phrase included in the report:"Facebook said it did not know for sure." And yet the accounts were removed anyway.

The Facebook-Atlantic Council alliance reportedly springs from the social media giant's finding itself desperate for outside "neutral" help after a swell of public criticism, mostly issuing from congressional leaders and prominent media pundits, for supposedly allowing Russian propaganda accounts to operate ahead of the 2016 elections.
And in perhaps the most chilling line of the entire report, Reuters says, "But the lab and Atlantic Council bring geopolitical expertise and allow Facebook to distance itself from sensitive pronouncements." This is ostensibly to defuse any potential conflict of interest arising as Facebook seems a bigger presence in emerging foreign markets.

Facebook’s chief security officer Alex Stamos recently told reporters, “Companies like ours don’t have the necessary information to evaluate the relationship between political motivations that we infer about an adversary and the political goals of a nation-state.” He explained further that Facebook would collect suspicious digital evidence and submit it to "researchers and authorities".

Since at least May when the relationship was first announced, the DFR Lab has been key to this process of verifying what constitutes foreign interference or nefarious state propaganda.

But here's the kicker. Reuters writes of the DFR Lab's funding in the following:
Facebook donated an undisclosed amount to the lab in May that was enough, said Graham Brookie, who runs the lab, to vault the company to the top of the Atlantic Council’s donor list, alongside the British government.
Facebook employees said privately over the past several months that Chief Executive Mark Zuckerberg wants to outsource many of the most sensitive political decisions, leaving fact-checking to media groups and geopolitics to think tanks.

Facebook has defended the process as part of ensuring that it remains politically neutral, yet clearly the Atlantic Council itself is hardly neutral, as a quick perusal of its top donors indicates.

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Among the DFR Labs partners include UK-based Bellingcat, which has in the past claimed "proof" that Assad gassed civilians based on analyzing YouTube videos and Google Earth. And top donors include various branches of the US military, Gulf sates like the UAE, and notably, NATO.

The Atlantic Council has frequently called for things like increased military engagement in Syria, militarily confronting the "Russian threat" in Eastern Europe, and now is advocating for Ukraine and Georgia to be allowed entry into NATO while calling for general territorial expansion of the Western military alliance.

Further it has advocated on behalf of one of its previous funders, Turkish dictator Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and gave a “Distinguished International Leadership” award to George W. Bush, to name but a few actions of the think tank that has been given authorization to flag citizens' Facebook pages for possible foreign influence and propaganda.

Quite disturbingly, this is Mark Zuckerberg's outside "geopolitical expertise" he's been seeking.

Reprinted with permission from ZeroHedge.]]>
http://www.ronpaulinstitute.org/archives/featured-articles/2018/august/08/a-four-person-nato-funded-team-advises-facebook-on-flagging-propaganda/ http://www.ronpaulinstitute.org/archives/featured-articles/2018/august/08/a-four-person-nato-funded-team-advises-facebook-on-flagging-propaganda/ Wed, 08 Aug 2018 20:39:12 GMT
Senate Moves To Seize The Internet - Do We Need More Government Censorship? Daniel McAdams http://www.ronpaulinstitute.org/archives/featured-articles/2018/august/08/senate-moves-to-seize-the-internet-do-we-need-more-government-censorship/
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http://www.ronpaulinstitute.org/archives/featured-articles/2018/august/08/senate-moves-to-seize-the-internet-do-we-need-more-government-censorship/ http://www.ronpaulinstitute.org/archives/featured-articles/2018/august/08/senate-moves-to-seize-the-internet-do-we-need-more-government-censorship/ Wed, 08 Aug 2018 17:24:11 GMT
Senator Rand Paul Visits Russia to Encourage ‘Vital Engagement’ Between Lawmakers Arkady Savitsky http://www.ronpaulinstitute.org/archives/featured-articles/2018/august/08/senator-rand-paul-visits-russia-to-encourage-vital-engagement-between-lawmakers/

Donald Trump is not the only American politician to be striving for a better relationship with Moscow in defiance of multiple opponents who are raising a ruckus about his stance on Russia. The hysterical reaction to the US president’s summit with the Russian leader in Helsinki did not keep Republican Senator Rand Paul from doing what he believes is right — going to Moscow as the head of a US delegation, which also included Texas State Senator Don Huffines and the president of the Cato Institute, Peter Goettler, in order to spur contacts with Russian lawmakers.

During the talks in Moscow on Aug.6, he invited Russian senators to visit Washington.“Today, I met with Chairman Kosachev, and we agreed on the importance of continued dialogue. I invited the Russian Federation to send a delegation to the Capitol, and they have agreed to take this important next step,” Mr. Paul stated. It’ll be the first Russian parliamentary delegation to have traveled to Washington in nearly three years. The senator thinks "our biggest problem right now is no dialogue," emphasizing that"engagement is vital to our national security and peace around the world."

Last year, Rand Paul, who sits on the Foreign Relations Committee, was one of two senators who voted against the Countering America's Adversaries Through Sanctions Act, which included  massive sanctions against Russia. Prior to that, he had voted against Montenegro’s NATO membership, which was also opposed by Moscow. According to Sen. Paul, “Currently, the United States has troops in dozens of countries and is actively fighting in Iraq, Syria, Libya, and Yemen (with the occasional drone strike in Pakistan). In addition, the United States is pledged to defend twenty-eight countries in NATO. It is unwise to expand the monetary and military obligations of the United States given the burden of our $20 trillion debt.”

Unlike the majority of US lawmakers, he viewed the results of the Trump-Putin summit in Helsinki in a positive light. The event prompted him to make the decision to visit Moscow and thus make a contribution to the process of gradually turning the tide in the direction of the bilateral relationship. His intention was to find and discuss common ground with Russian leaders and help “prevent further, unnecessary escalation of tensions.” He claims that “millions of lives could be at stake.” The senator wants to improve “the hostile climate created by Russophobes,” which “has resulted in a vacuum in cultural, educational and even legislative exchanges.” 

Rand Paul has represented the state of Kentucky in the Senate since 2011. The senator is the son of former Republican Representative Ron Paul of Texas, a famous politician who sought the presidency three times, once running on the Libertarian Party ticket and twice as a candidate in the GOP primaries. He attracted attention for his criticism of the Federal Reserve System, the influence of bankers on political life, America’s aggressive foreign policy, and NATO, as well as the bloated state of government and the “Washington swamp.” Ron Paul has always enjoyed strong support among the ranks of the Republicans.

Rand Paul belongs to those few in Congress who do not applaud the plans for NATO expansion, including into Montenegro. In support of his opposition to the idea, he has cited George Kennan, who wrote that NATO expansion would be a “fateful error” that would “inflame the nationalistic, anti-Western and militaristic tendencies in Russian opinion” and “restore the atmosphere of the cold war to East-West relations.” The senator wants the US-led NATO operation in Afghanistan to come to an end. As he put it, “I continue to encourage President Trump that he would be a hero if he could end the Afghan war.” In general, Rand Paul believes the time has come for a new American foreign policy.

Affiliated with the Tea Party and supported by the Republican Liberty Caucus, Rand Paul was also a candidate for the Republican presidential nomination in 2016. Back then, he said that if elected, his first foreign trip would be to Moscow or Beijing. Like his father, the senator is well-known for being an independent thinker and square shooter. He is one of those who marches to the beat of his own drum and was under no one’s influence as he was coming around to the point of view that the relations with Russia should be normalized. He believes US intelligence services have far too big a role in American politics. Rand Paul defends President Trump, criticizing the very idea of the “Russia investigation,” which he calls a “witch-hunt”.

As President Trump did in Helsinki, during his visit to Moscow Sen. Rand mentioned the need to address the problem of the erosion of arms control. Two of the men who vied for the Republican nomination in 2016 — Donald Trump and Rand Paul — support the idea of reversing the dangerous trends in the US-Russian bilateral relationship. In Moscow, Senator Paul promised to obstruct those in the Senate who want to toughen and expand the sanctions against Russia.

In July, a group of US senators visited Moscow before the Trump-Putin summit. Despite the tensions, the lawmakers of both countries are engaged in a dialog. President Trump is in a strong position and feels rather confident as the run-up to the November midterms begins. The more criticism he receives, the stronger he gets. Rand Paul is well aware he’ll come under attack upon returning home from his Russia trip, but he likely did what he did because he believes it’ll pay off.

Things change, and those who are under fire today may end up the winners tomorrow. Senator Paul stands out for his individual views on a number of issues, including Russia. So did presidential candidate Donald Trump. Few predicted he’d become president, but he won the election. Mr. Trump was lambasted for a lot of things and polling poorly at the beginning of his term, but that has all changed now. The GOP is predicted to do well during the midterm elections and those who support the president are expected to come out as winners. Although seemingly going against the tide today, Rand Paul may be getting off to a good start to launch a successful run for the presidency in 2024.

Reprinted with permission from Strategic Culture Foundation.]]>
http://www.ronpaulinstitute.org/archives/featured-articles/2018/august/08/senator-rand-paul-visits-russia-to-encourage-vital-engagement-between-lawmakers/ http://www.ronpaulinstitute.org/archives/featured-articles/2018/august/08/senator-rand-paul-visits-russia-to-encourage-vital-engagement-between-lawmakers/ Wed, 08 Aug 2018 14:57:39 GMT
VIPS Asks Twitter to Restore Van Buren’s Account Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity http://www.ronpaulinstitute.org/archives/featured-articles/2018/august/08/vips-asks-twitter-to-restore-van-buren-s-account/

August 8, 2018

TO: Twitter Board of Directors

FROM: Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity (VIPS)

SUBJECT: Suspension of VIPS Associate Peter Van Buren’s Twitter Account

We at Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity (VIPS) are greatly disturbed by the recent decision of your management to permanently suspend the Twitter account @WeMeantWell of our colleague Peter Van Buren. Peter is a highly respected former Foreign Service Officer possessing impeccable credentials for critiquing current developments that might lead to a new war in Eastern Europe or Asia, something which we Americans presumably all would like to avoid.

In 2011 our colleague Peter published a book, We Meant Well: How I Helped Lose the Battle for the Hearts and Minds of the Iraqi People, about the poor decision- making by both civilians and military that led to the disastrous occupation and faux-democracy development in Iraq. It is Peter’s concern that our country may well be proceeding down that same path again — possibly with Iran, Syria and other countries in the Middle East region.

It is our understanding that Peter became involved in an acrimonious Twitter exchange with several mainstream journalists over the theme of government lying. One of the parties to the exchange, reported to be Jonathan Katz of @KatzOnEarth — possibly joined by some of his associates – complained. Subsequently, and without any serious investigation or chance for rebuttal regarding the charges, Peter was suspended by you for “harass[ing], intimidate[ing], or us[ing] fear to silence someone else’s voice.” Peter absolutely denies that anything like that took place.

We have also learned that Daniel McAdams, Executive Director of the Ron Paul Institute for Peace and Prosperity and a highly respected former Congressional staffer, weighed in to defend Peter and was also suspended by you. And Scott Horton, editorial director of Antiwar.com Radio, was suspended for use of “improper language” against Katz. Horton and McAdams cannot add new tweets while under suspension, but Peter’s “permanent” suspension included deletion of all of his seven years’ archive of tweets, so the actual exchanges leading up to his punishment cannot currently be examined.

Your action suggests three possibilities — all of which are quite plausible given that your system for punishing users is far from transparent. First, you may be engaged in systematic manipulation if some of your users are able to complain and have their friends do likewise in order to sully the reputation of a Twitter user who is doing little more than engaging in heated debate over issues that concern all of us.

Second, there is a distinct possibility that you are responding to either deep pocketed or particularly strident advocacy groups that may themselves have agendas to silence opposition voices. We note that Google is currently working with some powerful foundations to censor content they object to which comes up in search engine results.

Finally – third — we also suspect a possible government hand in that companies like yours, to include Facebook, have become very sensitive to alleged “subversive” content, deleting accounts and blocking users. Kowtowing to government suggestions to silence critics of administration policies may well be considered a desirable proactive step by your management as well as by other social media companies, but censorship is censorship, no matter how you dress it up.

We Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity believe that systematic and/or institutionalized censorship of tweets and account users is fundamentally the wrong way to go unless there are very explicit and sustained threats of violence or other criminal behavior. The internet should be free, to include most particularly the ability to post commentary that is not mainstream or acceptable to the Establishment. That is what Peter has been doing and we applaud him for it. We respectfully request that you examine the facts in the case with the objective of reconsidering and possibly restoring the suspension of Peter Van Buren’s twitter account. Thank you.

For the Steering Group, Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity:

William Binney, former Technical Director, World Geopolitical & Military Analysis, NSA; co-founder, SIGINT Automation Research Center (ret.)

Richard H. Black, Senator of Virginia, 13th District; Colonel US Army (ret); former chief, Criminal Law Division, Office of the Judge Advocate General, the Pentagon (associate VIPS) (@SenRichardBlack)

Bogdan Dzakovic, former team leader of Federal Air Marshals and Red Team, FAA Security (ret.) (associate VIPS)

Philip Giraldi, CIA, Operations Officer (ret.) (@infangenetheof)

Larry C. Johnson, former CIA and State Department Counterterrorism Officer (ret.)

Michael S. Kearns, Captain, USAF (ret.); Wing Commander, RAAF (ret.); former intelligence officer and master SERE instructor (@msk6793)

John Kiriakou, former CIA Counterterrorism Officer and former senior investigator, Senate Foreign Relations Committee (@johnkiriakou)

Linda Lewis, WMD preparedness policy analyst, USDA (ret.) (associate VIPS) (@usalinda)

Edward Loomis, NSA, cryptologic computer scientist (ret.)

Ray McGovern, former US Army infantry/intelligence officer & CIA analyst (ret.) (@raymcgovern)

Annie Machon, former intelligence officer in the UK’s MI5 domestic security service (affiliate VIPS) (@anniemachon)

Elizabeth Murray, Deputy National Intelligence Officer for the Near East, CIA and National Intelligence Council (ret.) (@elizabethmurra)

Todd E. Pierce, Maj, US Army Judge Advocate (ret.) (@ToddEPierce)

Scott Ritter, former Maj., USMC; former UN weapons inspector, Iraq (@RealScottRitter)

Coleen Rowley, FBI Special Agent and former Minneapolis Division Legal Counsel (ret.) (@coleenrowley)

J. Kirk Wiebe, former Senior Analyst, SIGINT Automation Research Center, NSA (ret.) (@kirkwiebe)

Sarah Wilton, Commander, US Naval Reserve (ret.) and Defense Intelligence Agency (ret.)

Robert Wing, former Foreign Service Officer (associate VIPS)

Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity (VIPS) is made up of former intelligence officers, diplomats, military officers and congressional staffers. The organization, founded in 2002, was among the first critics of Washington’s justifications for launching a war against Iraq. VIPS advocates a US foreign and national security policy based on genuine national interests rather than contrived threats promoted for largely political reasons.]]>
http://www.ronpaulinstitute.org/archives/featured-articles/2018/august/08/vips-asks-twitter-to-restore-van-buren-s-account/ http://www.ronpaulinstitute.org/archives/featured-articles/2018/august/08/vips-asks-twitter-to-restore-van-buren-s-account/ Wed, 08 Aug 2018 14:09:07 GMT
Shocker: AP Reports On US/Al-Qaeda Coalition In Yemen Daniel McAdams http://www.ronpaulinstitute.org/archives/featured-articles/2018/august/07/shocker-ap-reports-on-usal-qaeda-coalition-in-yemen/
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http://www.ronpaulinstitute.org/archives/featured-articles/2018/august/07/shocker-ap-reports-on-usal-qaeda-coalition-in-yemen/ http://www.ronpaulinstitute.org/archives/featured-articles/2018/august/07/shocker-ap-reports-on-usal-qaeda-coalition-in-yemen/ Tue, 07 Aug 2018 16:51:13 GMT
More Lies About the White Helmets Philip Giraldi http://www.ronpaulinstitute.org/archives/featured-articles/2018/august/07/more-lies-about-the-white-helmets/

When is a terrorist group not a terrorist group? Apparently the answer is that it ceases to be terrorist when it terrorizes someone who is an enemy of the United States. The most prominent recent example is the Mujaheddin e Khalq (MEK), a murderous Iranian Marxist cult which assassinated five Americans in the 1970s as part of its campaign against the Shah’s government. It was removed from the State Department terrorist list in 2012 by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton after it had promised not to kill any more Americans but really because it had bought the support of prominent politicians to include Elaine Chao, Rudy Giuliani, Newt Gingrich, and John Bolton. It also had the behind the scenes endorsement of both the Israeli Mossad and CIA, both of whom have been using it in their operations to kill Iranians and damage the country’s infrastructure. Someone high up in the federal government, perhaps Hillary or even President Obama himself, must have decided that terrorists who kill only Iranians deserve a get out of jail free card from the State Department.

There are other examples of cynical doublespeak from the Syrian conflict, including labeling rebels against the Damascus government “freedom fighters” when in reality they were as often as not allied with the al-Qaeda affiliated group Al-Nusra or even with ISIS. Frequently they received training and weapons from Washington only to turn around and either join Al-Nusra and ISIS as volunteers or surrender their weapons to them.

But perhaps there is no bigger fraud making the rounds than the so-called White Helmets. The recent media coverage derives from the documentary The White Helmets, which was produced by the group itself and tells a very convincing tale promoted as “the story of real-life heroes and impossible hope.” It is a very impressive piece of propaganda, so much so that it has won numerous awards including the Oscar for Best Documentary Short last year and the White Helmets themselves were nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize. More to the point, however, is the undeniable fact that the documentary has helped shape the public understanding of what is going on in Syria, describing the government in Damascus in purely negative terms.

The fawning Hollywood and Congressional depictions of the group go something like this: “the White Helmets are an heroic impartial non-government humanitarian volunteer group that engages in 'first response' emergency rescue and medical treatment for all those who have been impacted by the fighting in Syria. The Syrian government hates the group because it assists victims of the fighting who are either rebels or living in rebel held areas. Recently, with the Syrian Army closing in on the last White Helmet affiliates still operating in the country, the Israeli government, assisted by the United States, staged an emergency humanitarian evacuation of the group’s members and their families to Israel and then on to Jordan.”

Virtually all the mainstream media coverage of the White Helmets is bogus, but by far the most ridiculous account of the Exodus from Syria came from the BBC. For those who are not familiar with it, the BBC, which once upon a time had a reputation for journalistic integrity, has become one of the worst pro-government propaganda shills of all time. Reading its articles is even worse that having a similar go at The Washington Post, which is the prime newspaper exemplar of fake news and phony journalism pretending to be a respectable news source in the United States. Let’s face it, Donald Trump has a point. Nearly all of the mainstream media lies persistently these days but some sources are worse than others. People complain about Fox, and rightly so, but CNN is the absolute pits when it comes to slanting its coverage, as is MSNBC.

BBC’s article is entitled Syria conflict: White Helmets evacuated by Israel. It makes the following statements, many coming directly from Israeli official sources, regarding the White Helmets, its activities and the group’s relationship to some governments, to include Britain:
The IDF said they had ‘completed a humanitarian effort to rescue members of a Syrian civil organization and their families’, saying there was an ‘immediate threat to their lives.’ The transfer of the displaced Syrians through Israel was an exceptional humanitarian gesture.

Although Israel is not directly involved in the Syria conflict, the two countries have been in a state of war for decades. Despite the intervention, the IDF said that ‘Israel continues to maintain a non-intervention policy regarding the Syrian conflict.’

A statement from Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt and International Development Secretary Penny Mordaunt said: ‘White Helmets have been the target of attacks and, due to their high profile, we judged that, in these particular circumstances, the volunteers required immediate protection. We pay tribute to the brave and selfless work that White Helmet volunteers have done to save Syrians on all sides of the conflict.’

Their official name is the Syrian Civil Defense and it began in early 2013 as an organization of volunteers from all walks of life, including electricians and builders. Its main task soon became to rescue civilians in war zones in the immediate aftermath of air strikes, and it says its volunteers have saved the lives of more than 100,000 people during the civil war.
The BBC story could have been written by the White Helmets themselves or by their press department. Or alternatively by the Israeli Foreign Ministry. First of all, the Israelis do not do humanitarian gestures. They helped bail out the White Helmets at the request of the US because capture by the Syrians would have produced embarrassing revelations about how the group was funded and what its affiliation with terrorists was all about. And Israel’s denial of involvement in Syria is nonsense, unless one considers demonstrated collaboration with the terrorist groups punctuated by nearly weekly bombing and missile attacks to be non-involvement.

The British too are into the deception up to their eyeballs. The comment by Hunt and Mordaunt is complete fabrication regarding what the White Helmets represent. The same goes for the BBC account of how the group developed, which comes directly from the White Helmet’s own propaganda division as amplified by Hollywood and the US and U.K. governments.

Just as important as what is said about the White Helmets’ activities is the exclusion of a great deal of credible negative reporting on the group. The carefully edited scenes of heroism under fire that have been filmed and released worldwide conceal the White Helmets’ relationship with the al-Qaeda affiliated group Jabhat al-Nusra and its participation in the torture and execution of “rebel” opponents. Indeed, the White Helmets only operate in rebel held territory, which enables them to shape the narrative both regarding who they are and what is occurring on the ground.

Exploiting their access to the western media, the White Helmets thereby de facto became a major source of “eyewitness” news regarding what was going on in those many parts of Syria where European and American journalists were quite rightly afraid to go. It was all part of a broader largely successful “rebel” effort to manufacture fake news that depicts the Damascus government as engaging in war crimes directed against civilians, an effort that led to several attacks on government forces and facilities by the US military.

The White Helmets travel to bombing sites with their film crews trailing behind them. Once at the sites, with no independent observers, they are able to arrange or even stage what is filmed to conform to their selected narrative which consistently promotes tales of government atrocities against civilians to encourage outside military intervention in Syria and bring about regime change in Damascus. The White Helmets were, for example, the propagators of the totally false but propagandistically effective claims regarding the government use of so-called “barrel bombs” against civilians.

Peter Ford, British Ambassador in Damascus from 2003-2006, recently described the group in an audio interview saying, “The White Helmets are jihadi auxiliaries. They are not, as claimed by themselves and by their supporters… simple rescuers. They are not volunteers. They are paid professionals of disinformation.” He noted particularly the large size of the organization’s “press department”, saying, “This gives us an idea what the priority is for this very dubious organization… All their activities are directed at mobilizing Western opinion behind the jihadis with whom they associate. They co-locate their centers with the Al-Qaeda organization known as Al-Nusra and with other militant groups such as Jaish al-Islam. They have in the past been shown associating with and waving the flags of ISIS.”

The group is currently largely funded by a number of non-government organizations (NGOs) as well as governments, including the United States, Britain and some European Union member states. The US has directly provided $23 million through the USAID (US Agency for International Development) as of 2016 and almost certainly considerably more indirectly. Max Blumenthal has explored in some detail the various funding resources and relationships that the organization draws on, mostly in Europe and the United States.

Perhaps the most serious charge against the White Helmets consists of the evidence that they actively participated in the atrocities, to include torture and murder, carried out by their al-Nusra hosts. There have been numerous photos of the White Helmets operating directly with armed terrorists and also celebrating over the bodies of execution victims and murdered Iraqi soldiers. The group’s jihadi associates regard the White Helmets as fellow “mujahideen” and “soldiers of the revolution.”

So Israel’s celebrated rescue of the White Helmets was little more than a theatrical performance intended to perpetuate the myth that the al-Assad government was thwarted in an attempt to capture and possibly kill an honorable non-partisan group engaged in humanitarian relief for those caught up in a bloody conflict seeking to oust a ruthless dictator. The reality is quite different. The White Helmets were and are part and parcel of the attempt to overthrow a legitimate government and install a regime friendly to western, American and Israeli interests. For Israel in particular the ongoing chaos in Syria was and is part of its plan for dividing all of its neighbors into warring ethnicities and sects, making them less viable as threats to the Jewish state.

The 800 White Helmets rescued reportedly will be resettled in the US, Britain and Germany. One hopes those coming to America can end up in Los Angeles, where they would presumably mingle with Hollywood big shots and the usual snowflakes while working on their next documentary. As some of them are most certainly radical Jihadists, it will be interesting to observe exactly how that will play out.

Reprinted with permission from Unz.com.]]>
http://www.ronpaulinstitute.org/archives/featured-articles/2018/august/07/more-lies-about-the-white-helmets/ http://www.ronpaulinstitute.org/archives/featured-articles/2018/august/07/more-lies-about-the-white-helmets/ Tue, 07 Aug 2018 12:50:29 GMT
Institutionalizing Intolerance: Bullies Win, Freedom Suffers When We Can’t Agree to Disagree John W. Whitehead http://www.ronpaulinstitute.org/archives/featured-articles/2018/august/07/institutionalizing-intolerance-bullies-win-freedom-suffers-when-we-can-t-agree-to-disagree/

“Whoever would overthrow the liberty of a nation must begin by subduing the freeness of speech.” ― Benjamin Franklin

What a mess.

As America has become ever more polarized, and those polarized factions have become more militant and less inclined to listen to—or even allow for the existence of—other viewpoints, we are fast becoming a nation of people who just can’t get along.

Here’s the thing: if Americans don’t learn how to get along—at the very least, agreeing to disagree and respecting each other’s right to subscribe to beliefs and opinions that may be offensive, hateful, intolerant or merely different—then we’re going to soon find that we have no rights whatsoever (to speak, assemble, agree, disagree, protest, opt in, opt out, or forge our own paths as individuals).

In such an environment, when we can’t agree to disagree, the bullies (on both sides) win and freedom suffers.

Intolerance, once the domain of the politically correct and self-righteous, has been institutionalized, normalized and politicized.

Even those who dare to defend speech that may be unpopular or hateful as a constitutional right are now accused of “weaponizing the First Amendment.”

On college campuses across the country, speakers whose views are deemed “offensive” to some of the student body are having their invitations recalled or cancelled, being shouted down by hecklers, or forced to hire costly security details. As The Washington Post concludes, “College students support free speech—unless it offends them.”

At Hofstra University, half the students in a freshman class boycotted when the professor assigned them to read Flannery O’Connor’s short story “Artificial Ni**er.” As Professor Arthur Dobrin recounts, “The boycotters refused to engage a writer who would use such an offensive word. They hadn’t read the story; they wouldn’t lower themselves to that level. Here is what they missed: The story’s title refers to a lawn jockey, a once common ornament of a black man holding a lantern. The statue symbolizes the suffering of an entire group of people and looking at it bring a moment of insight to a racist old man.”

It’s not just college students who have lost their taste for diverse viewpoints and free speech.

In Charlottesville, Va., in the wake of a violent clash between the alt-right and alt-left over whether Confederate statues should remain standing in a community park, City Council meetings were routinely “punctuated with screaming matches, confrontations, calls to order, and even arrests,” making it all but impossible for attendees and councilors alike to speak their minds.

In Maryland, a 90-year-old World War I Peace Cross memorial that pays tribute to the valor, courage and sacrifice of 49 members of the Prince George community who died in battle is under fire because a group of humanists believes the memorial, which evokes the rows of wooden Latin Crosses that mark the graves of WW I servicemen who fell on battlefields far away, is offensive.

On Twitter, President Trump has repeatedly called for the NFL to penalize players who take a knee in protest of police brutality during the national anthem, which clearly flies in the face of the First Amendment’s assurance of the right to free speech and protest (especially in light of the president’s decision to insert himself—an agent of the government—into a private workplace dispute).

On Facebook, Alex Jones, the majordomo of conspiracy theorists who spawned an empire built on alternative news, has been banned for posting content that violates the social media site’s “Community Standards,” which prohibit posts that can be construed as bullying or hateful.

Jones is not alone in being censured for content that might be construed as false or offensive.

Facebook also flagged a Canadian museum for posting abstract nude paintings by Pablo Picasso.

Even the American Civil Liberties Union, once a group known for taking on the most controversial cases, is contemplating stepping back from its full-throated defense of free (at times, hateful) speech.

“What are the defenders of free speech to do?” asks commentator William Ruger in Time magazine. 

“The sad fact is that this fundamental freedom is on its heels across America,” concludes Ruger. “Politicians of both parties want to use the power of government to silence their foes. Some in the university community seek to drive it from their campuses. And an entire generation of Americans is being taught that free speech should be curtailed as soon as it makes someone else feel uncomfortable. On the current trajectory, our nation’s dynamic marketplace of ideas will soon be replaced by either disengaged intellectual silos or even a stagnant ideological conformity. Few things would be so disastrous for our nation and the well-being of our citizenry.”

Disastrous, indeed.

You see, tolerance cuts both ways.

This isn’t an easy pill to swallow, I know, but that’s the way free speech works, especially when it comes to tolerating speech that we hate.

The most controversial issues of our day—gay rights, abortion, race, religion, sexuality, political correctness, police brutality, et al.—have become battlegrounds for those who claim to believe in freedom of speech but only when it favors the views and positions they support.

Free speech for me but not for thee” is how my good friend and free speech purist Nat Hentoff used to sum up this double standard.

This haphazard approach to the First Amendment has so muddied the waters that even First Amendment scholars are finding it hard to navigate at times.

It’s really not that hard.

The First Amendment affirms the right of the people to speak freely, worship freely, peaceably assemble, petition the government for a redress of grievances, and have a free press.

Nowhere in the First Amendment does it permit the government to limit speech in order to avoid causing offense, hurting someone’s feelings, safeguarding government secrets, protecting government officials, insulating judges from undue influence, discouraging bullying, penalizing hateful ideas and actions, eliminating terrorism, combatting prejudice and intolerance, and the like.

Unfortunately, in the war being waged between free speech purists who believe that free speech is an inalienable right and those who believe that free speech is a mere privilege to be granted only under certain conditions, the censors are winning.

We have entered into an egotistical, insulated, narcissistic era in which free speech has become regulated speech: to be celebrated when it reflects the values of the majority and tolerated otherwise, unless it moves so far beyond our political, religious and socio-economic comfort zones as to be rendered dangerous and unacceptable.

Protest laws, free speech zones, bubble zones, trespass zones, anti-bullying legislation, zero tolerance policies, hate crime laws and a host of other legalistic maladies dreamed up by politicians and prosecutors (and championed by those who want to suppress speech with which they might disagree) have conspired to corrode our core freedoms, purportedly for our own good.

On paper—at least according to the US Constitution—we are technically free to speak.

In reality, however, we are only as free to speak as a government official—or corporate entities such as Facebook, Google or YouTube—may allow.

Emboldened by phrases such as “hate crimes,” “bullying,” “extremism” and “microaggressions,” the nation has been whittling away at free speech, confining it to carefully constructed “free speech zones,” criminalizing it when it skates too close to challenging the status quo, shaming it when it butts up against politically correct ideals, and muzzling it when it appears dangerous.

Free speech is no longer free.

The US Supreme Court has long been the referee in the tug-of-war over the nation’s tolerance for free speech and other expressive activities protected by the First Amendment. Yet the Supreme Court’s role as arbiter of justice in these disputes is undergoing a sea change. Except in cases where it has no vested interest, the Court has begun to advocate for the government’s outsized interests, ruling in favor of the government in matters of war, national security, commerce and speech. 

When asked to choose between the rule of law and government supremacy, the Supreme Court tends to side with the government.

If we no longer have the right to tell a Census Worker to get off our property, if we no longer have the right to tell a police officer to get a search warrant before they dare to walk through our door, if we no longer have the right to stand in front of the Supreme Court wearing a protest sign or approach an elected representative to share our views, if we no longer have the right to voice our opinions in public—no matter how misogynistic, hateful, prejudiced, intolerant, misguided or politically incorrect they might be—then we do not have free speech.

What we have instead is regulated, controlled speech, and that’s a whole other ballgame.

Just as surveillance has been shown to “stifle and smother dissent, keeping a populace cowed by fear,” government censorship gives rise to self-censorship, breeds compliance, makes independent thought all but impossible, and ultimately foments a seething discontent that has no outlet but violence.

The First Amendment is a steam valve. It allows people to speak their minds, air their grievances and contribute to a larger dialogue that hopefully results in a more just world.

When there is no steam valve—when there is no one to hear what the people have to say—frustration builds, anger grows and people become more volatile and desperate to force a conversation. By bottling up dissent, we have created a pressure cooker of stifled misery and discontent that is now bubbling over and fomenting even more hate, distrust and paranoia among portions of the populace.

Silencing unpopular viewpoints with which the majority might disagree—whether it’s by shouting them down, censoring them, muzzling them, or criminalizing them—only empowers the controllers of the Deep State.

Even when the motives behind this rigidly calibrated reorientation of societal language appear well-intentioned—discouraging racism, condemning violence, denouncing discrimination and hatred—inevitably, the end result is the same: intolerance, indoctrination and infantilism.

It’s political correctness disguised as tolerance, civility and love, but what it really amounts to is the chilling of free speech and the demonizing of viewpoints that run counter to the cultural elite.

We’ve allowed ourselves to be persuaded that we need someone else to think and speak for us. And we’ve allowed ourselves to become so timid in the face of offensive words and ideas that we’ve bought into the idea that we need the government to shield us from that which is ugly or upsetting or mean.

The result is a society in which we’ve stopped debating among ourselves, stopped thinking for ourselves, and stopped believing that we can fix our own problems and resolve our own differences.

In short, we have reduced ourselves to a largely silent, passive, polarized populace incapable of working through our own problems with each other and reliant on the government to protect us from our fears of each other. 

So where does that leave us?

We’ve got to do the hard work of figuring out how to get along again.

Charlottesville, Va., is a good example of this.

It’s been a year since my hometown of Charlottesville, Va., became the poster child in a heated war of words—and actions—over racism, “sanitizing history,” extremism (both right and left), political correctness, hate speech, partisan politics, and a growing fear that violent words would end in violent actions.

Those fears were realized when what should have been an exercise in free speech quickly became a brawl that left one activist dead.

Yet lawful, peaceful, nonviolent First Amendment activity did not kill Heather Heyer. She was killed by a 20-year-old Neo-Nazi who drove his car into a crowd of pedestrians in Charlottesville, Va.

Words, no matter how distasteful or disagreeable, did not turn what should have been an exercise in free speech into a brawl. That was accomplished by militant protesters on both sides of the debate who arrived at what should have been a nonviolent protest armed with sticks and guns, bleach bottles, balloons filled with feces and urine and improvised flamethrowers, and by the law enforcement agencies who stood by and allowed it.

This is what happens when we turn our disagreements, even about critically and morally important issues, into lines in the sand.

If we can’t agree to disagree—and learn to live with each other in peace and speak with civility in order to change hearts and minds—then we’ve reached an impasse.

That way lies death, destruction and tyranny.

Now, there’s a big difference between civility (treating others with consideration and respect) and civil disobedience (refusing to comply with certain laws as a means of peaceful protest), both of which Martin Luther King Jr. employed brilliantly, and I’m a champion of both tactics when used wisely.

Frankly, I agree with journalist Bret Stephens when he says that we’re failing at the art of disagreement.

As Stephens explains in a 2017 lecture, which should be required reading for every American:
To say the words, ‘I agree’—whether it’s agreeing to join an organization, or submit to a political authority, or subscribe to a religious faith—may be the basis of every community. But to say, I disagree; I refuse; you’re wrong; etiam si omnes—ego non—these are the words that define our individuality, give us our freedom, enjoin our tolerance, enlarge our perspectives, seize our attention, energize our progress, make our democracies real, and give hope and courage to oppressed people everywhere. Galileo and Darwin; Mandela, Havel, and Liu Xiaobo; Rosa Parks and Natan Sharansky — such are the ranks of those who disagree.
What does it mean to not merely disagree but rather to disagree well?

According to Stephens, “to disagree well you must first understand well. You have to read deeply, listen carefully, watch closely. You need to grant your adversary moral respect; give him the intellectual benefit of doubt; have sympathy for his motives and participate empathically with his line of reasoning. And you need to allow for the possibility that you might yet be persuaded of what he has to say.”

Instead of intelligent discourse, we’ve been saddled with identity politics, “a safe space from thought, rather than a safe space for thought.”

Safe spaces.

That’s what we’ve been reduced to on college campuses, in government-run forums, and now on public property and on previously open forums such as the internet.

The problem, as I make clear in my book A Government of Wolves: The Emerging American Police State, is that the creation of so-called safe spaces—where offensive ideas and speech are prohibited—is just censorship by another name, and censorship breeds resentment, and resentment breeds conflict, and unresolved, festering conflict gives rise to violence.

Charlottesville is a prime example of this.

Anticipating the one-year anniversary of the riots in Charlottesville on August 12, the local city government, which bungled its response the first time around, is now attempting to ostensibly create a “safe space” by shutting the city down for the days surrounding the anniversary, all the while ramping up the presence of militarized police, in the hopes that no one else (meaning activists or protesters) will show up and nothing (meaning riots and brawls among activists) will happen.

What a mess.

Reprinted with permission from the Rutherford Institute.]]>
http://www.ronpaulinstitute.org/archives/featured-articles/2018/august/07/institutionalizing-intolerance-bullies-win-freedom-suffers-when-we-can-t-agree-to-disagree/ http://www.ronpaulinstitute.org/archives/featured-articles/2018/august/07/institutionalizing-intolerance-bullies-win-freedom-suffers-when-we-can-t-agree-to-disagree/ Tue, 07 Aug 2018 04:14:27 GMT