http://www.ronpaulinstitute.org/archives/featured-articles/rss.aspx?blogid=3 Sat, 17 Feb 2018 15:11:24 GMT Sat, 17 Feb 2018 15:11:24 GMT There is No Justice in Our World Eric Margolis http://www.ronpaulinstitute.org/archives/featured-articles/2018/february/17/there-is-no-justice-in-our-world/ undefined

A gathering of rich oil Arabs pledged $30 billion this week at a meeting in Kuwait to start rebuilding war-shattered Iraq. Sounds nice but these kinds of conclaves are notorious for offering big but delivering little.

The event was billed as helping Iraq repair war damage caused by ISIS. In fact, most of the damage from that short-lived conflict was caused by US bombing and a few Russian air strikes. ISIS, as this column has long been crying in the wilderness, was largely a paper tiger confected by the US, Britain and France to justify their military re-entry into Syria. 

Iraq’s government says it needs at least $88 billion to rebuild war damage. What the US-imposed client regime in Baghdad won’t or can’t say is that the damage to Iraq is far greater than $88 billion and was largely inflicted by US air power in 1990-1991 and 2003.

Iraq was ravaged, as I saw myself while covering the wars. This small nation of 23-25 million souls, a third of whom were in permanent revolt against the Baghdad government, was pounded into rubble by US air power and cruise missiles. First in 1990-1991, then in 2003, everything of value was blown to bits: hospitals, schools, food factories, chemical plants making insecticide, bridges, and communications. In short, all the attributes of a modern state.

Most shocking to me, was the destruction of Iraq’s water and sewage treatment plants by US air strikes.

Their destruction resulted in epidemics of cholera and other water-born diseases. Children were the primary victims. The UN asserted that over 550,000 Iraqi children died as a result of contaminated water. US Secretary of State Madeleine Albright later notoriously asserted that these deaths were ‘a price worth paying.’ I call them a war crime.

In 2003, 900,000 US-directed troops massed in Kuwait, invaded Iraq to finish off, it was claimed, the "work that the first president Bush failed to achieve," the overthrow and lynching of Iraqi president, Saddam Hussein. If Saddam had any nuclear or broad-area biological weapons, the invader’s buildup in Kuwait and Saudi Arabia would have been a dream target.

But Saddam Hussein had no nuclear weapons, contrary to US and British claims. I discovered in Baghdad a group of British scientific technicians who had been sent by the UK Ministry of Defense to build outlawed biological weapons at Salman Pak. These included deadly anthrax and Q-fever – but only for use against Iran if a second Iraq-Iran War erupted.

It is now widely accepted that Iraq had no weapons of mass destruction pointed at the West, as George Bush and Tony Blair incessantly claimed. But this was the excuse for going to war against Iraq and destroying it. When no such weapons were found, the story from Washington and London was changed to "oops, it was an intelligence failure. Sorry about that."

Journalists like myself who asserted that Iraq had no weapons of mass destruction were fired or marginalized. I was blacklisted at CNN after the White House told the network to fire me at once. All the "presstitutes," who acted as government boosters for the war, were promoted and lauded. Welcome to the new Soviet media.

Since Iraq, one of the Arab world’s most developed countries, was laid waste by US bombing, and since the war was deemed a big mistake, who is responsible for trying to repair Iraq to its pre-war condition? The money offered last week in Baghdad by the Gulf Arabs was a drop in the bucket and designed to bring Iraq into the forming anti-Iran alliance.

If this war crime was being properly litigated, Washington would likely end up being assessed something like $100 billion in damages just to replace physical infrastructure destroyed in the two wars, never mind the deaths of so many Iraqi civilians. Iran would also have a claim against Iraq’s western and Arab backers for Baghdad’s 1980-1988 war of aggression against Iran that caused an estimated one million Iranian casualties.

"Oops, I’m sorry we destroyed your country and children" is not a sufficient mea culpa. The western leaders who engineered this criminal war against Iraq deserve to be brought to book. So far, they have gotten off scot free. In fact, the same terrible fate has since befallen Syria, Yemen and parts of Somalia. Were these disasters also mistakes due to faulty intelligence?

Reprinted with permission from EricMargolis.com

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http://www.ronpaulinstitute.org/archives/featured-articles/2018/february/17/there-is-no-justice-in-our-world/ http://www.ronpaulinstitute.org/archives/featured-articles/2018/february/17/there-is-no-justice-in-our-world/ Sat, 17 Feb 2018 15:11:24 GMT
The Result of Mueller’s Investigation: Nothing Paul Craig Roberts http://www.ronpaulinstitute.org/archives/featured-articles/2018/february/17/the-result-of-mueller-s-investigation-nothing/

Robert Mueller discredited himself and his orchestrated Russiagate investigation today (Friday, February 16, 2018) with his charges that 13 Russians and three Russian companies plotted to use social media to influence the 2016 election. Their intent, Mueller says, was to “sow discord in the US political system.” 

What pathetic results to come from a nine month investigation!

Note that the hyped Russian hacking of Hillary’s emails that we have heard about every day is no where to be found in Mueller’s charges. In its place there is “use of social media to sow discord.” I mean, really! Even if the charge were correct, considering the massive discord present in the last presidential election, with the Democrats calling Trump voters racist, sexist, homophobic white trash deplorables, how much discord could a measly 13 Russians add via social media?

Note also that the Trump/Putin conspiracy is also not present in Mueller’s charges. Mueller’s charges say that the Russians’ plan to sow discord began in 2014, before there was any notion that Trump would run for president in 2017. The link of the plot to Putin is reduced to the allegation that the plot was financed by a St. Petersburg restauranteur whose connection to Putin is that his business once catered official dinners between Russian officials and foreign dignitaries.

Finally, note that Mueller’s release of his charges in the face of dead news weekend means that Mueller knows that he has nothing to justify the massive propaganda onslaught against Trump for conspiring with Putin with which the presstitutes have regaled us. If the charges amounted to anything, they would have been released on Monday morning, and the presstitutes would have been handed by the FBI and CIA the news stories to file with their papers.

How did the 13 Russians go about sowing discord? Are you ready for this? They held political rallies posing as Americans and they paid one person (unidentified) to build a cage aboard a flatbed pickup truck and another person to wear a costume portraying Hillary in prison clothes.

How much money was lavished on this plot. A monthly budget of $1.2 million, a sum far too small to be seen in the $2.65 billion spent by Hillary and Trump and the $6.8 billion spent by all candidates for federal elective offices in the last election. 

Mueller claims to have emails from some of the 13 Russians. If the emails are authentic, they sound like a few kids pretending to friends that they are doing big things. One of the emails brags that the FBI got after them so they got busy covering up their tracks.

House Speaker Paul Ryan has fallen for Mueller’s ruse.

Remember what William Binney, the person who designed the NSA spy program, said: If any such Russiagate plot existed, NSA would have the evidence. No investigation would be necessary.

One can conclude that Mueller and Rosenstein are fighting for their lives now that it is known that their spy requests for FISA court approval were based on deception. Mueller has produced this silly indictment of individuals who are not the Russian government in the hope that it will keep the attention off the FBI’s deception of the FISA court.

As a special prosecutor Mueller has demonstrated the same lack of intergrity that he demonstrated as FBI director.

Reprinted with permission form PaulCraigRoberts.org.]]>
http://www.ronpaulinstitute.org/archives/featured-articles/2018/february/17/the-result-of-mueller-s-investigation-nothing/ http://www.ronpaulinstitute.org/archives/featured-articles/2018/february/17/the-result-of-mueller-s-investigation-nothing/ Sat, 17 Feb 2018 14:13:15 GMT
Dutch Lies Over Putin’s ‘Aggression’ Expose NATO War Agenda Finian Cunningham http://www.ronpaulinstitute.org/archives/featured-articles/2018/february/16/dutch-lies-over-putin-s-aggression-expose-nato-war-agenda/

Netherlands Prime Minister Mark Rutte was this week forced to bear a parliamentary vote of no confidence after his foreign minister finally came clean over a dangerous lie he has been telling for two years concerning Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Halbe Zijlstra quit in shame on Monday as the country’s foreign minister after admitting that a story he had peddled about personally hearing Putin plotting to create a “greater Russia” was false. That then forced premier Rutte to endure a “no confidence” motion from parliamentarians. In the end, Rutte survived the vote. If a majority had voted against his leadership, his coalition government may have collapsed.

But the deep damage done to the Dutch authorities will not be so easily repaired by Rutte’s survival as premier. What has been exposed this week is a senior member of government recklessly telling bare-faced lies in an attempt to slander Russia, poison international relations, and ratchet up already dangerous geopolitical tensions.

Zijlstra had claimed two years ago, in 2016, that he had personally witnessed Russian leader Vladimir Putin boasting about creating a “greater Russia” which, it is claimed, would incorporate Ukraine, the Baltic states, Belarus and Kazakhstan.

The newly resigned Dutch top diplomat claimed he heard Putin making the remarks while present with others at the Russian leader’s dacha (summer house) back in 2006.

This week, Zijlstra finally came clean and admitted before parliament that he hadn't in fact been present at the alleged gathering. He still maintains, however, that a confidante who was among the guests at Putin’s dacha informed him of the alleged “greater Russia” plan. But how can we now trust the word of a self-confessed liar?

Zijlstra’s boss, Prime Minister Rutte, also sought to downplay the debacle, claiming that his foreign minister had made “a big mistake” – but that “lying was not a deadly sin.”

Rutte is in for a rude awakening due to his complacent thinking. For indeed his government has been caught telling a very grave lie whose ramifications concern issues of war and peace in Europe.

Disgraced former minister Zijlstra stands accused of gross distortion of Russia’s foreign policy.

Since the US and European-backed illegal coup in Ukraine in early 2014, geopolitical reality has been turned upside-down. American and European corporate media have peddled relentless anti-Russia propaganda accusing Moscow of “aggression” and “expansionism” in Europe.

This torrent of Russophobia spewed out by Washington, the Pentagon, NATO, and the European Union has created the worst crisis in relations with Russia since the Cold War ended nearly three decades ago. There are real fears that the mounting crisis could escalate into an all-out war involving nuclear powers.

Zijlstra’s offense therefore is not merely a “mistaken” lie. His flagrant public distortion has contributed directly to the grave deterioration in geopolitical relations. One could even argue such reprehensible remarks amount to incitement of war, which is a cardinal crime under Nuremberg legal principles.

Lamentably, the mendacious senior Dutch politician is not an isolated case. Recall how former Polish foreign minister Radek Sikorski was caught out telling similar defamatory lies about Russia in 2014.

Sikorski, who has been an ardent supporter of NATO force build-up against Russia, reportedly claimed that he personally overheard Vladimir Putin in 2008 plotting to annex Ukrainian territory in a covert plot. Sikorski claimed that he heard Putin propositioning then Polish Prime Minister Donald Tusk with a carve-up deal of Ukraine between Poland and Russia.

Sikorski was obliged to swiftly retract the claims published in US media, and awkwardly admitting that he was not present at the alleged meeting with Putin, and that his quoted remarks were meant as a “surreal joke.”

But, again, this is no joke or mistake. It is deadly serious disinformation by senior government officials, which is recklessly inciting war tensions with Russia. Sikorski is prominently associated with pro-NATO think-tanks like the hawkish American Enterprise Institute. He is married to Anne Applebaum who makes a living from writing anti-Russian screeds for news outlets like the Washington Post.

Zijlstra and Sikorski join the ranks of Russophobia regurgitated by other European foreign ministers like Britain’s Boris Johnson who issued the outlandish claim earlier this year that Russia is “targeting” British infrastructure; or French foreign minister Jean-Yves Le Drian who has impugned Russia for chemical weapons use in Syria – only for the French President Emmanuel Macron to admit this week that his government has actually no evidence about the use of such weapons in Syria.

Macron has made his own contribution to Russophobia by leveling unsubstantiated allegations that his presidential election campaign last year was “hacked” by Kremlin agents. He has since banned Russian news media from attending his press conferences.

All these senior government figures are irresponsibly fueling a climate of demonization against Russia which is compounding other unhinged claims made by politicians in Washington and the Baltic states. Lithuanian President Dalia Grybauskaite, for example, recently claimed that Russian Iskander missiles based on Russian sovereign territory of Kaliningrad were targeting half of Europe, an alarmist claim which has been amplified by US secretary of defense James Mattis in the Pentagon’s recent Nuclear Posture Review.

The climate of hysteria – based on false, fevered official claims – is militating against normal political and diplomatic relations, which is, in turn, exacerbating the war in Ukraine and leading to wider war tensions with Russia across Europe.

A good question is why the ousted Dutch minister decided to own up this week to his lies about Putin.

The answer may be related to the bigger credibility crisis of the Dutch government and its NATO allies with regard to the whole Russophobia propaganda war.

Next month, the Netherlands is to hold a national referendum on extending powers of Dutch state intelligence to monitor public electronic communications. To convince the Dutch public to vote for more snooping powers, the authorities are relying on the hackneyed claims about Russian “meddling” and “interference”.

It seems significant that Dutch media reported last month that the country’s secret services allegedly “hacked into” Russian state hackers who were allegedly penetrating the American Democratic party’s databases during the US presidential elections back in 2015-2016. As usual, no evidence was provided to support the claims. We know from other credible reports that the Democratic party was quite possibly not hacked at all, but rather was leaked from inside by a Democrat staffer. So the Dutch intel story smearing Russia is highly dubious.

But it seems that the purported “good deed” performed by the Dutch intelligence services was pitched in the media as a way to ingratiate bona fides with the Netherlands public. The aim being to dispose the public toward voting in the referendum next month to give the Dutch state more intrusive powers over citizens to “protect” them from “nefarious Russians”.

Now, if the Dutch minister had held on to his office any longer there was a risk that his lies may have become public embarrassingly close to the March referendum, which could have resulted in the public rejecting the authorities’ desire for more snooping powers.

Perhaps then the decision was taken in high office for the minister to take the fall now in order to get rid sooner of an embarrassing story concerning his lies over Russia.

Whatever the explanation about the timing, the admission of Dutch government lying about Russian aggression in Europe is nevertheless an illuminating and appalling insight into how Russophobia and war is being fomented by the US and its European NATO allies.

Abominably, European government officials are willing to risk plunging millions of citizens into a war with Russia based on lies and warped, self-serving prejudices.

Reprinted with permission from Strategic Culture Foundation.]]>
http://www.ronpaulinstitute.org/archives/featured-articles/2018/february/16/dutch-lies-over-putin-s-aggression-expose-nato-war-agenda/ http://www.ronpaulinstitute.org/archives/featured-articles/2018/february/16/dutch-lies-over-putin-s-aggression-expose-nato-war-agenda/ Sat, 17 Feb 2018 00:53:16 GMT
Libya: Seven Years of Failed Western Diplomacy http://www.ronpaulinstitute.org/archives/featured-articles/2018/february/16/libya-seven-years-of-failed-western-diplomacy/

The approaching seventh anniversary of the "Libyan revolution," (where the celebratory date was last week arbitrarily moved to the 18th of February -- a bit like moving the 4th of July to the 8th) under what a majority of Libyans feel is an illegitimate, solely UN appointed government headed by a man not elected but chosen by foreigners, Prime Minister, Fayez Serraj, is a good time to reflect on the past seven years of abject failure of the West, UN, EU, and NATO in Libya.

At least the new French "boy" President had the honesty to declare recently that it was "a mistake" to remove Gaddafi from power. Most of the other countries involved who led the charge for regime change continue their delusional reflection of the good that has been achieved by their decision.

The UK in particular should be singled out for exceptional hypocrisy because of its insistence that the regime change in 2011 that followed the military action with NATO was a great success.

If polled, most Libyans will not be in any way celebrating the anniversary on now the 18th of February of their "revolution." Quite the opposite. 

That the UK should not admit the disastrous decision to "change" yet another leader of a sovereign nation, Libya, only says they, and America, are willing to participate in similar future follies in places like Syria, Iran, or Venezuela to name a few potential candidates for their continued enthusiasm for regime change.

But to refuse to learn from past mistakes is the ultimate in stupidity and will only mean that this crop of mediocre, sub-standard, inept Western leaders we have will inevitably send us into yet further wars in 2018 -- as if the 15 or so current conflicts directly or indirectly supported by Britain and America and its allies are not enough.

Have these politicians in the West no remorse, regret, or indeed shame for their failed military adventures? Obviously not.

Perhaps it suffices just to let the British Foreign and Commonwealth Office describe their idiosyncratic beliefs that are completely contradicted by reality or rational argument -- a symptom of what can only be described as a collective mental disorder.

So read their words and form your own judgement.
Change of Her Majesty’s Ambassador to Libya in February 2018

Mr Frank Baker will take up his appointment as Ambassador to Libya in February 2018.

Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson said:
The UK is at the forefront of diplomatic work with the Libyan government (Authors note: Which Libyan Government?) and our international partners to help bring stability to Libya. If left unchecked the violence and ungoverned space will only increase the challenges from illegal migration and terrorism. These are issues that matter to the people of Libya, but also to people here in the UK.

Frank has served the UK well as our ambassador to Iraq (Authors Note: a place where another successful regime change occurred...or perhaps not). I look forward to working together with him to help Libya make progress towards the political solution and more secure future it so deserves.
Commenting on his appointment, Mr. Baker said:
I am honoured to be the new British Ambassador to Libya. 

Britain and Libya have a long history.

Over the coming weeks I will listen to and learn from people across Libya and discuss how we can work together to achieve our common interests.
The vast majority of Libyan people would probably respond to him something like this:

“We don’t have weeks for your ‘on the job learning’ and by the way, please leave our country so we can solve our own problems.”

It is now abundantly clear that if there is to be any foreign involvement towards bringing peace to Libya it would not come from UN or EU efforts. The United Nations Support Mission in Libya (UNSMIL), the UK, and Europe’s plans for Libya are dead and gone for all realistic intents and purposes. They just haven’t bothered yet to organise the funeral.]]>
http://www.ronpaulinstitute.org/archives/featured-articles/2018/february/16/libya-seven-years-of-failed-western-diplomacy/ http://www.ronpaulinstitute.org/archives/featured-articles/2018/february/16/libya-seven-years-of-failed-western-diplomacy/ Fri, 16 Feb 2018 15:11:06 GMT
George W. Bush Doesn't Deserve the Media's Efforts at Rehabilitation James Bovard http://www.ronpaulinstitute.org/archives/featured-articles/2018/february/15/george-w-bush-doesnt-deserve-the-medias-efforts-at-rehabilitation/

"Our democracy is only as good as people trust the results,” former President George W. Bush declared in a presumably well-paid speech last week in the United Arab Emirates, a notorious Arab dictatorship. Bush is being exalted as if he is the second coming of George Washington thanks to his implied slams against the Trump administration. But Bush’s actions during his eight year reign did far more to ravage democracy at home and abroad than most people realize.

Thanks to gushing media coverage, Bush is enjoying one of the greatest comebacks in modern American history. In the summer of 2008, only 22 percent of Americans approved of Bush and 41 percent said he was the "worst president ever." Last month, a poll showed that 61 percent of Americans now approve of Bush, and his support among Democrats quintupled, from 11 percent in early 2009 to 54 percent now. If Americans want to understand current political challenges, they need to recall Bush’s forgotten debacles.


Speaking in New York in October, Bush called for “a new, 21st century American consensus on behalf of democratic freedom and free markets.” But when he was president, Bush’s policies assumed that spreading democracy gave him a license to kill.

Shortly before he invaded Iraq in 2003, Bush assured a Washington think tank:
The nation of  Iraq — with its proud heritage, abundant resources and skilled and educated people — is fully capable of moving toward democracy and living in freedom.
Though he invoked democracy to justify the war, U.S. military commanders three months after the fall of Baghdad “ordered a halt to local elections and self-rule in provincial cities and towns across Iraq, choosing instead to install their own handpicked mayors and administrators, many of whom are former Iraqi military leaders,” the Washington Post reported. Many Iraqis were outraged to see Saddam’s former henchmen placed back in power over them. But, as Noah Feldman, the Coalition Provisional Authority’s law advisor, explained, “If you move too fast, the wrong people could get elected.”

The Bush administration only agreed to Iraqi elections after massive street protests demanding the right to vote. Bush reportedly authorized massive covert aid to pro-American Iraqi parties and politicians. However, when senior members of Congress such as Nancy Pelosi were briefed on the plan, they vehemently objected. Bush canceled the formal plan but delivered covert aid anyhow, using back channels and undercover operators kept secret from Congress as well as the American public.

Iraq’s 2005 election was more akin to a Soviet Bloc referendum than a New England town meeting. As part of Operation Founding Fathers,American troops traveled around broadcasting a get-out-and-vote message at the same time they raided people’s homes. After soldiers passed out thousands of sample ballots, the top UN election officialcondemned U.S. military interference. Bush proclaimed the elections a “resounding success” but despite CIA handouts, pro-U.S. candidates were crushed by pro-Iranian parties. The animosities inflamed by the election campaign helped propel Iraq to civil war, which Bush invoked the following year to justify sending far more U.S. troops there.

Bush has recently fretted about Russian involvement in American elections but when he was president, Bush acted las if the United States was entitled to intervene in any foreign election he pleased. He boasted in 2005 that his administration had budgeted almost $5 billion “for programs to support democratic change around the world,” much of which was spent to tamper with foreign elections.

The Bush administration spent over $65 million to boost their favored candidate in the 2004 Ukraine election, including “helping to underwrite exit polls indicating he won a disputed runoff election,” according to the Associated Press. Yet, with boundless hypocrisy, Bush proclaimed that “any (Ukrainian) election … ought to be free from any foreign influence.”The Bush administration rushed $2 million to aid the ruling Fatah party to help them thwart Hamas in a 2005 Palestinian election, to no avail. U.S. government-financed organizations helped spur coups in Venezuela in 2002 and Haiti in 2004. Both of those nations remain political train wrecks.

Read the full article at The Hill.]]>
http://www.ronpaulinstitute.org/archives/featured-articles/2018/february/15/george-w-bush-doesnt-deserve-the-medias-efforts-at-rehabilitation/ http://www.ronpaulinstitute.org/archives/featured-articles/2018/february/15/george-w-bush-doesnt-deserve-the-medias-efforts-at-rehabilitation/ Thu, 15 Feb 2018 20:40:36 GMT
Christopher Steele: The Real Foreign Influence in the 2016 Election? Peter Van Buren http://www.ronpaulinstitute.org/archives/featured-articles/2018/february/15/christopher-steele-the-real-foreign-influence-in-the-2016-election/

Leaving aside the validity of what has become known as the “Steele dossier,” it’s important to look at how Christopher Steele was able to guarantee that the information in it would play a significant and ongoing role in American politics. 

Steele, who is British, did far more than simply provide opposition research to the Democratic National Committee. He was able to make sure it reached the most influential people possible in politics, media and government to shape and influence the growing narrative of the 2016 presidential election. In other words, as a skilled professional intelligence officer, Steele ran a full-spectrum information operation against the United States. One could even call it information warfare.

This is what separates his work creating the dossier  (which a decent journalist with friends in Russia could have done) from his work insinuating the dossier into the highest reaches of American government and political society. For that, you need a real pro, an intelligence officer with decades of experience running just that kind of operation. Looking for foreign interference in the 2016 election? Let’s take a closer look at Christopher Steele.

Steele’s skill is revealed by the now familiar Nunes and Grassley memos, which show he used the same set of information in the dossier to create a collaboration loop, every intelligence officer’s dream, which is his own planted information used to surreptitiously confirm itself, right up to the point where the target country’s own intelligence service re-purposed it as evidence in the FISA (Foreign Intelligence  Surveillance Act) court.

Steele admits he briefed journalists off-the-record starting in summer and autumn 2016. His most significant hit came when in September 2016, journalist Michael Isikoff broke the story of Trump associate Carter Page’s alleged connections to Russia. Isikoff did not cite the dossier or Steele as sources, and in fact denied they were when questioned.

Isikoff’s story didn’t just push negative information about Trump into the public consciousness. It claimed U.S. intel officials were probing ties between a Trump adviser and the Kremlin, adding credibility, suggesting the feds themselves felt the info was worthwhile. Better yet for Steele, Isikoff claimed the information came from a “well-placed Western intelligence source,” suggesting it originated from a third-party and was picked up by Western spies instead of being written by one.Steele, either as a source himself or via colleagues passing around his information, saw to it the dossier information reached journalists at Mother Jones, the BBC,Guardian and others. An article by Harold Blum in Vanity Fair laid it out in April of last year:
It wasn’t long before, as The New York Times would write, the memos by the former spy “became one of Washington’s worst-kept secrets, as reporters . . . scrambled to confirm or disprove them.”
At the same time, Steele’s info reached influential people like Sen. John McCain, who could then pick up a newspaper and believe he was seeing the “secret” info from Steele confirmed independently by an experienced journalist. And how did McCain first learn about Steele’s work? At a conference in Canada, via Andrew Wood, former British Ambassador in Moscow. Where was Wood working at the time? Orbis, Christopher Steele’s research firm.

A copy of the dossier even found its way to the State Department, an organization which normally should have been far removed from U.S. election politics. A contact within State passed information from Clinton associates Sidney Blumenthal and Cody Shearer (both men also played active roles behind in the scenes feeding Clinton dubious information on Libya) to and from Steele. The Grassley memo suggests there is was a second Steele document, in addition to the dossier, already shared with State and the FBI but not made public.

Read the rest here.]]>
http://www.ronpaulinstitute.org/archives/featured-articles/2018/february/15/christopher-steele-the-real-foreign-influence-in-the-2016-election/ http://www.ronpaulinstitute.org/archives/featured-articles/2018/february/15/christopher-steele-the-real-foreign-influence-in-the-2016-election/ Thu, 15 Feb 2018 19:23:47 GMT
When Former Spies Turn into TV 'Experts' Philip Giraldi http://www.ronpaulinstitute.org/archives/featured-articles/2018/february/15/when-former-spies-turn-into-tv-experts/

Once upon a time in the United States there was a general perception that organizations like the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) were both apolitical and high-minded, existing only to calmly and professionally promote the safety and security of the nation. Directors of both organizations often retired quietly without fanfare to compose their memoirs, but apart from that, they did not meddle in politics and maintained low profiles. There was a widespread belief at CIA that former officers should rightly retire to a log cabin in the Blue Ridge Mountains where they could breed Labrador retrievers or cultivate orchids.

But the relative respectability of America’s national security agencies largely vanished in the aftermath of the 9/11 terrorist incidents. It was learned that both the CIA and FBI had made fatal mistakes in their investigations of the al-Qaeda group, putting in question their effectiveness, and the leaders of both organizations began to focus on pleasing their political masters. The appearance of CIA Director George Tenet at the United Nations supporting lies promoted by Secretary of State Colin Powell was a low point, but there were many more to follow.

The 2016 election brought out the worst in the CIA’s leadership, with its Director John Brennan lining up behind Hillary Clinton together with former Acting Director Michael Morell and former Director Michael Hayden. Morell even claimed that Trump was a Russian agent. Indeed, there has been remarkably little speculation regarding the possible roles of some senior intelligence officials, most notably CIA Director John Brennan and Director of National Intelligence James Clapper, both of whom were in office during the electoral campaign. In September 2016, the two men reportedly were involved in obtaining information on Page and it has also been suggested that Brennan sought and obtained raw intelligence from British, Polish, Dutch and Estonian intelligence services, which might have motivated FBI’s James Comey to investigate the Trump associates. Brennan and Clapper, drawing on intelligence resources and connections, might have helped the FBI build a fabricated case against Trump.

Currently the senior officials who were so hostile to Donald Trump have decided against going quietly into their generously rewarded retirements. Morell has long been a paid contributing “expert” for CBS news, Hayden has had the same role at CNN, and they are are now being joined by John Brennan at NBC. Brennan, an NBC “senior national security and intelligence analyst,” is an Obama-Clinton loyalist who can be relied upon to oppose policies and actions undertaken by the Trump Administration, admittedly not a bad thing, but he will be doing so from a strictly partisan perspective. And the danger is that his tag as former DCI will give him a certainly credibility, which, depending on the issue, might not be deserved or warranted. To be sure CIA interests will be protected, but they will be secondary to commentary from a partisan and revenge seeking John Brennan who is out to burnish his own sorry reputation. He looks perpetually angry when he is on television because he is.

Brennan has behaved predictably in his new role. In his first appearance on Meet the Press last Sunday he said that the Steele dossier did “not play any role whatsoever in the intelligence community assessment that was presented to President Obama…” which is a lie.  He denounced the release of the so-called “Nunes memo” by the House Intelligence Committee because it was “exceptionally partisan,” which is true, and because it exposes secrets, which it does not. Brennan is also a leader of the blame Russia movement. He has claimed without providing any evidence that Russia “brazenly interfered” in the 2016 election and he can be counted upon to be yet one more anti-Russian voice on the mainstream media.

Brennan, who was hated by much of the CIA’s rank-and-file during his tenure as director, does not have much of a reputation for truth-telling. He lied  about how the Agency under his leadership tried to spy on and disrupt the Senate’s investigation into CIA torture. He was also the driving force behind the Obama administration “kill list” of US citizens selected for assassination. Concerns that Brennan will represent the Agency’s viewpoint on NBC News are largely irrelevant as the network should have instead considered his credibility and judgment before hiring him.

Reprinted with permission from Strategic Culture Foundation.]]>
http://www.ronpaulinstitute.org/archives/featured-articles/2018/february/15/when-former-spies-turn-into-tv-experts/ http://www.ronpaulinstitute.org/archives/featured-articles/2018/february/15/when-former-spies-turn-into-tv-experts/ Thu, 15 Feb 2018 19:05:43 GMT
Making The Roads Great Again? Trump's Big Gas Tax Proposal Daniel McAdams http://www.ronpaulinstitute.org/archives/featured-articles/2018/february/15/making-the-roads-great-again-trumps-big-gas-tax-proposal/
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http://www.ronpaulinstitute.org/archives/featured-articles/2018/february/15/making-the-roads-great-again-trumps-big-gas-tax-proposal/ http://www.ronpaulinstitute.org/archives/featured-articles/2018/february/15/making-the-roads-great-again-trumps-big-gas-tax-proposal/ Thu, 15 Feb 2018 18:02:30 GMT
Is John Brennan the Mastermind Behind Russiagate? Mike Whitney http://www.ronpaulinstitute.org/archives/featured-articles/2018/february/14/is-john-brennan-the-mastermind-behind-russiagate/

The report (“The Dossier”) that claims that Donald Trump colluded with Russia, was paid for by the DNC and Hillary Clinton campaign.

The company that claims that Russia hacked DNC computer servers, was paid by the DNC and Hillary Clinton campaign.

The FBI’s counterintelligence probe into Trump’s alleged connections to Russia was launched on the basis of information gathered from a report that was paid for by the DNC and Hillary Clinton campaign.

The surveillance of a Trump campaign member (Carter Page) was approved by a FISA court on the basis of information from a report that was paid for by the DNC and Hillary Clinton campaign.

The Intelligence Community Analysis or ICA was (largely or partially) based on information from a report that was paid for by the DNC and Hillary Clinton campaign. (more on this below)

The information that was leaked to the media alleging Russia hacking or collusion can be traced back to claims that were made in a report that was paid for by the DNC and Hillary Clinton campaign.

The entire Russia-gate investigation rests on the “unverified and salacious” information from a dossier that was paid for by the DNC and Hillary Clinton Campaign. Here’s how Stephen Cohen sums it up in a recent article at The Nation:
Steele’s dossier… was the foundational document of the Russiagate narrative…from the time its installments began to be leaked to the American media in the summer of 2016, to the US 'Intelligence Community Assessment' of January 2017….the dossier and subsequent ICA report remain the underlying sources for proponents of the Russiagate narrative of “Trump-Putin collision. 
There’s just one problem with Cohen’s statement, we don’t really know the extent to which the dossier was used in the creation of the Intelligence Community Assessment. (The ICA was the IC’s flagship analysis that was supposed to provide ironclad proof of Russian meddling in the 2016 elections.) According to some reports, the contribution was significant. Check out this excerpt from an article at Business Insider:
Intelligence officials purposefully omitted the dossier from the public intelligence report they released in January about Russia’s election interference because they didn’t want to reveal which details they had corroborated, according to CNN. 
Bottom line: Despite the denials of former-CIA Director John Brennan, the dossier may have been used in the ICA.

In the last two weeks, documents have been released that have exposed the weak underpinnings of the Russia investigation while at the same time revealing serious abuses by senior-level officials at the DOJ and FBI. The so called Nunes memo was the first to point out these abuses, but it was the eight page “criminal referral” authored by Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley and Senator Lindsey Graham that gave credence to the claims. Here’s a blurb from the document:
It appears the FBI relied on admittedly uncorroborated information, funded by and obtained for Secretary Clinton’s presidential campaign, in order to conduct surveillance of an associate of the opposing presidential candidate. It did so based on Mr. Steele’s personal credibility and presumably having faith in his process of obtaining the information. But there is substantial evidence suggesting that Mr. Steele materially misled the FBI about a key aspect of his dossier efforts, one which bears on his credibility.
There it is. The FBI made a “concerted effort to conceal information from the court” in order to get a warrant to spy on a member of a rival political campaign. So –at the very least– there was an effort, on the part of the FBI and high-ranking officials at the Department of Justice, to improperly spy on members of the Trump team. And there’s more. The FBI failed to mention that the dossier was paid for by the Hillary campaign and the DNC, or that the dossier’s author Christopher Steele had seeded articles in the media that were being used to support the dossier’s credibility (before the FISA court), or that, according to the FBI’s own analysts, the dossier was “only minimally corroborated,” or that Steele was a ferocious partisan who harbored a strong animus towards Trump. All of these were omitted in the FISA application which is why the FBI was able to deceive the judge. It’s worth noting that intentionally deceiving a federal judge is a felony.

Most disturbing is the fact that Steele reportedly received information from friends of Hillary Clinton (supposedly, Sidney Blumenthal and others). Here’s one suggestive tidbit that appeared in the Graham-Grassley” referral:
…Mr. Steele’s memorandum states that his company 'received this report from REDACTED US State Department,' that the report was the second in a series, and that the report was information that came from a foreign sub-source who “is in touch with REDACTED, a contact of REDACTED, a friend of the Clintons, who passed it to REDACTED.

It is troubling enough that the Clinton campaign funded Mr. Steele’s work, but that these Clinton associates were contemporaneously feeding Mr. Steele allegations raises additional concerns about his credibility.”
What are we to make of this? Was Steele shaping the dossier’s narrative to the specifications of his employers? Was he being coached by members of the Hillary team? How did that impact the contents of the dossier and the subsequent Russia investigation?

These are just a few of the questions Steele will undoubtedly be asked if he ever faces prosecution for lying to the FBI. But, so far, we know very little about man except that he was a former M16 agent who was paid $160,000 for composing the dubious set of reports that make up the dossier. We don’t even know if Steele’s alleged contacts or intermediaries in Russia actually exist or not. Some analysts think the whole thing is a fabrication based on the fact that he hasn’t worked the Russia-scene since the FSB (The Russian state-security organization that replaced the KGB) was completely overhauled. Besides, it would be extremely dangerous for a Russian to provide an M16 agent with sensitive intelligence. And what would the contact get in return? According to most accounts, Steele’s sources weren’t even paid, so there was little incentive for them to put themselves at risk? All of this casts more doubt on the contents of the dossier.

What is known about Steele is that he has a very active imagination and knows how to command a six-figure payoff for his unique services. We also know that the FBI continued to use him long after they knew he couldn’t be trusted which suggests that he served some other purpose, like providing the agency with plausible deniability, a "get out of jail free" card if they ever got caught surveilling US citizens without probable cause.

But that brings us to the strange case of Carter Page, a bit-player whose role in the Trump campaign was trivial at best. Page was what most people would call a “small fish,” an insignificant foreign policy advisor who had minimal impact on the campaign. Congressional investigators, like Nunes, must be wondering why the FBI and DOJ devoted so much attention to someone like Page instead of going after the “big fish” like Bannon, Flynn, Kushner, Ivanka, and Trump Jr., all of whom might have been able to provide damaging information on the real target, Donald Trump. Wasn’t that the idea? So why waste time on Page? It doesn’t make any sense, unless, of course, the others were already being surveilled by other agencies? Is that it, did the NSA and the CIA have a hand in the surveillance too?

It’s a moot point, isn’t it? Because now that there’s evidence that senior-level officials at the DOJ and the FBI were involved in improperly obtaining warrants to spy on members of the opposite party, the investigation is going to go wherever it goes. Whatever restrictions existed before, will now be lifted. For example, this popped up in Saturday’s The Hill:
House Intelligence Committee lawmakers are in the dark about an investigation into wrongdoing at the State Department announced by Chairman Devin Nunes (R-Calif.) on Friday. …Nunes told Fox News on Friday that, 'we are in the middle of what I call phase two of our investigation. That investigation is ongoing and we continue work toward finding answers and asking the right questions to try to get to the bottom of what exactly the State Department was up to in terms of this Russia investigation.…'

Since then, GOP lawmakers have been quietly buzzing about allegations that an Obama-era State Department official passed along information from allies of former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton that may have been used by the FBI to launch an investigation into whether the Trump campaign had improper contacts with Russia.

'I’m pretty troubled by what I read in the documents with respect to the role the State Department played in the fall of 2016, including information that was used in a court proceeding. I am troubled by it,' Gowdy told Fox News on Tuesday. 
So the State Department is next in line followed by the NSA and, finally, the Russia-gate point of origin, John Brennan’s CIA. Here’s more background on that from Stephen Cohen’s illuminating article at The Nation:
….when, and by whom, was this Intel operation against Trump started?

In testimony to the House Intelligence Committee in May 2017, John Brennan, formerly Obama’s head of the CIA, strongly suggested that he and his agency were the first, as The Washington Post put it at the time, 'in triggering an FBI probe.' Certainly both the Post and The New York Times interpreted his remarks in this way. Equally certain, Brennan played a central role in promoting the Russiagate narrative thereafter, briefing members of Congress privately and giving President Obama himself a top-secret envelope in early August 2016 that almost certainly contained Steele’s dossier. Early on, Brennan presumably would have shared his 'suspicions' and initiatives with James Clapper, director of national intelligence. FBI Director Comey… may have joined them actively somewhat later….

When did Brennan begin his 'investigation' of Trump? His House testimony leaves this somewhat unclear, but, according to a subsequent Guardian article, by late 2015 or early 2016 he was receiving, or soliciting, reports from foreign intelligence agencies regarding 'suspicious "interactions" between figures connected to Trump and known or suspected Russian agents.' In short, if these reports and Brennan’s own testimony are to be believed, he, not the FBI, was the instigator and godfather of Russiagate. 
Regular readers of this column know that we have always believed that the Russiagate psyops originated with Brennan. Just as the CIA launched its disinformation campaigns against Saddam Hussein and Muammar Gadhafi, so too, Russia has emerged as Washington’s foremost rival requiring a massive propaganda campaign to persuade the public that America faces a serious external threat. In any event, the demonizing of Russia had already begun by the time Hillary and Co. decided to hop on the bandwagon by blaming Moscow for hacking John Podesta’s emails. The allegations were never persuasive, but they did provide Brennan with some cover for the massive Information Operation (IO) that began with him.

According to the Washington Times:
It was then-CIA Director John O. Brennan, a close confidant of Mr. Obama’s, who provided the information — what he termed the 'basis' — for the FBI to start the counterintelligence investigation last summer….Mr. Brennan told the House Intelligence Committee on May 23 that the intelligence community was picking up tidbits on Trump associates making contacts with Russians.
It all started with Brennan. After Putin blocked Brennan’s operations in both Ukraine and Syria, Brennan had every reason to retaliate and to use the tools at his disposal to demonize Putin and try to isolate Russia. The “election meddling” charges (promoted by the Hillary people) fit perfectly with Brennan’s overall strategy to manipulate perceptions and prepare the country for an eventual confrontation. It provided him the opportunity to kill two birds with one stone, to deliver a withering blow to Putin and Trump at the very same time. The temptation must have been irresistible.

But now the plan has backfired and the investigations are gaining pace. Trump’s allies in the House smell the blood in the water and they want answers. Did the CIA surveil members of the Trump campaign on the basis of information they gathered in the dossier? Who saw the information? Was the information passed along to members of the press and other government agencies? Was the White House involved? What role did Obama play? What about the Intelligence Community Assessment? Was it based on the contents of the Steele report? Will the “hand-picked” analysts who worked on the report vouch for its conclusions in or were they coached about what to write? How did Brennan persuade the reluctant Comey into opening a counterintelligence investigation on members in the Trump campaign when he knew it would be perceived as a partisan attempt to sabotage the elections by giving Hillary an edge?

Soon the investigative crosshairs will settle on Brennan. He’d better have the right answers.

Reprinted with permission from Unz.com.]]>
http://www.ronpaulinstitute.org/archives/featured-articles/2018/february/14/is-john-brennan-the-mastermind-behind-russiagate/ http://www.ronpaulinstitute.org/archives/featured-articles/2018/february/14/is-john-brennan-the-mastermind-behind-russiagate/ Wed, 14 Feb 2018 18:52:35 GMT
2019 Military Budget: Pentagon Wins, American Taxpayers Lose Daniel McAdams http://www.ronpaulinstitute.org/archives/featured-articles/2018/february/14/2019-military-budget-pentagon-wins-american-taxpayers-lose/
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http://www.ronpaulinstitute.org/archives/featured-articles/2018/february/14/2019-military-budget-pentagon-wins-american-taxpayers-lose/ http://www.ronpaulinstitute.org/archives/featured-articles/2018/february/14/2019-military-budget-pentagon-wins-american-taxpayers-lose/ Wed, 14 Feb 2018 17:38:51 GMT
Korea Olympic Charm Offensive - What's The Threat? Daniel McAdams http://www.ronpaulinstitute.org/archives/featured-articles/2018/february/13/korea-olympic-charm-offensive-whats-the-threat/
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http://www.ronpaulinstitute.org/archives/featured-articles/2018/february/13/korea-olympic-charm-offensive-whats-the-threat/ http://www.ronpaulinstitute.org/archives/featured-articles/2018/february/13/korea-olympic-charm-offensive-whats-the-threat/ Tue, 13 Feb 2018 18:02:20 GMT
If America Wasn’t America, the United States Would Be Bombing It Darius Shahtahmasebi http://www.ronpaulinstitute.org/archives/featured-articles/2018/february/13/if-america-wasn-t-america-the-united-states-would-be-bombing-it/

On January 8, 2018, former government advisor Edward Luttwak wrote an opinion piece for Foreign Policy titled “It’s Time to Bomb North Korea.”

Luttwak’s thesis is relatively straightforward. There is a government out there that may very soon acquire nuclear-weapons capabilities, and this country cannot be trusted to responsibly handle such a stockpile. The responsibility to protect the world from a rogue nation cannot be argued with, and we understandably have a duty to ensure the future of humanity.

However, there is one rogue nation that continues to hold the world ransom with its nuclear weapons supply. It is decimating non-compliant states left, right, and center. This country must be stopped dead in its tracks before anyone turns to the issue of North Korea.

In August of 1945, this rogue nation dropped two atomic bombs on civilian targets, not military targets, completely obliterating between 135,000 and 300,000 Japanese civilians in just these two acts alone. Prior to this event, this country killed even more civilians in the infamous firebombing of Tokyo and other areas of Japan, dropping close to 500,000 cylinders of napalm and petroleum jelly on some of Japan’s most densely populated areas.

Recently, historians have become more open to the possibility that dropping the atomic bombs in Hiroshima and Nagasaki was not actually necessary to end World War II. This has also been confirmed by those who actually took part in it. As the Nation explained:
Fleet Adm. Chester Nimitz, Commander in Chief of the Pacific Fleet, stated in a public address at the Washington Monument two months after the bombings that ‘the atomic bomb played no decisive part, from a purely military standpoint, in the defeat of Japan…’ Adm. William “Bull” Halsey Jr., Commander of the US Third Fleet, stated publicly in 1946 that ‘the first atomic bomb was an unnecessary experiment…. It was a mistake to ever drop it…. [the scientists] had this toy and they wanted to try it out, so they dropped it… 
A few months’ prior, this rogue country’s invasion of the Japanese island of Okinawa also claimed at least one quarter of Okinawa’s population. The Okinawan people have been protesting this country’s military presence ever since. The most recent ongoing protest has lasted well over 5,000 days in a row.

This nation’s bloodlust continued well after the end of World War II. Barely half a decade later, this country bombed North Korea into complete oblivion, destroying over 8,700 factories, 5,000 schools, 1,000 hospitals, 600,000 homes, and eventually killing off as much as 20 percent of the country’s population. As the Asia Pacific Journal has noted, the assaulting country dropped so many bombs that they eventually ran out of targets to hit, turning to bomb the irrigation systems, instead:
By the fall of 1952, there were no effective targets left for US planes to hit. Every significant town, city and industrial area in North Korea had already been bombed. In the spring of 1953, the Air Force targeted irrigation dams on the Yalu River, both to destroy the North Korean rice crop and to pressure the Chinese, who would have to supply more food aid to the North. Five reservoirs were hit, flooding thousands of acres of farmland, inundating whole towns and laying waste to the essential food source for millions of North Koreans.”
This was just the beginning. Having successfully destroyed the future North Korean state, this country moved on to the rest of East Asia and Indo-China, too. As Rolling Stone’s Matt Taibbi has explained:
We [this loose cannon of a nation] dumped 20 million gallons of toxic herbicide on Vietnam from the air, just to make the shooting easier without all those trees, an insane plan to win ‘hearts and minds’ that has left about a million still disabled from defects and disease – including about 100,000 children, even decades later, little kids with misshapen heads, webbed hands and fused eyelids writhing on cots, our real American legacy, well out of view, of course.
This mass murder led to the deaths of between 1.5 million and 3.8 million people, according to the Washington Post. More bombs were dropped on Vietnam than were unleashed during the entire conflict in World War II. While this was going on, this same country was also secretly bombing Laos and Cambodia, too, where there are over 80 million unexploded bombs still killing people to this day.

This country also decided to bomb YugoslaviaPanama, and Grenada before invading Iraq in the early 1990s. Having successfully bombed Iraqi infrastructure, this country then punished Iraq’s entire civilian population with brutal sanctions. At the time, the U.N. estimated that approximately 1.7 million Iraqis had died as a result, including 500,000 to 600,000 children. Some years later, a prominent medical journal attempted to absolve the cause of this infamous history by refuting the statistics involved despite the fact that, when interviewed during the sanctions-era, Bill Clinton’s secretary of state, Madeleine Albright, intimated that to this rogue government, the deaths of half a million children were “worth it” as the “price” Iraq needed to pay. In other words, whether half a million children died or not was irrelevant to this bloodthirsty nation, which barely blinked while carrying out this murderous policy.

This almighty superpower then invaded Iraq again in 2003 and plunged the entire region into chaos. At the end of May 2017, the Physicians for Social Responsibility (PSR) released a study concluding that the death toll from this violent nation’s 2003 invasion of Iraq had led to over one million deaths and that at least one-third of them were caused directly by the invading force.

Not to mention this country also invaded Afghanistan prior to the invasion of Iraq (even though the militants plaguing Afghanistan were originally trained and financed by this warmongering nation). It then went on to bomb Yemen, Syria, Libya, Pakistan, Somalia, and the Philippines.

Libya famously had one of the highest standards of living in the region. It had state-assisted healthcare, education, transport, and affordable housing. It is now a lawless war-zone rife with extremism where slaves are openly traded like commodities amid the power vacuum created as a direct result of the 2011 invasion.

In 2017, the commander-in-chief of this violent nation took the monumental death and destruction to a new a level by removing the restrictions on delivering airstrikes, which resulted in thousands upon thousands of civilian deaths. Before that, in the first six months of 2017, this country dropped over 20,650 bombs, a monumental increase from the year that preceded it.

Despite these statistics, all of the above conquests are mere child’s play to this nation. The real prize lies in some of the more defiant and more powerful states, which this country has already unleashed a containment strategy upon. This country has deployed its own troops all across the border with Russia even though it promised in the early 1990s it would do no such thing. It also has a specific policy of containing Russia’s close ally, China, all the while threatening China’s borders with talks of direct strikes on North Korea (again, remember it already did so in the 1950s).

This country also elected a president who not only believes it is okay to embrace this rampantly violent militarism but who openly calls other countries “shitholes” – the very same term that aptly describes the way this country has treated the rest of the world for decades on end. This same president also reportedly once asked three times in a meeting, “If we have nuclear weapons, why don’t we use them?” and shortly after proposed a policy to remove the constraints protecting the world from his dangerous supply of advanced nuclear weaponry.

When it isn’t directly bombing a country, it is also arming radical insurgent groups, creating instability, and directly overthrowing governments through its covert operatives on the ground.

If we have any empathy for humanity, it is clear that this country must be stopped. It cannot continue to act like this to the detriment of the rest of the planet and the safety and security of the rest of us. This country openly talks about using its nuclear weapons, has used them before, and has continued to use all manner of weapons unabated in the years since while threatening to expand the use of these weapons to other countries.

Seriously, if North Korea seems like a threat, imagine how the rest of the world feels while watching one country violently take on the rest of the planet single-handedly, leaving nothing but destruction in its wake and promising nothing less than a nuclear holocaust in the years to come.

There is only one country that has done and that continues to do the very things North Korea is being accused of doing.

Take as much time as you need for that to resonate.

Reprinted with permission from The Anti-Media.]]>
http://www.ronpaulinstitute.org/archives/featured-articles/2018/february/13/if-america-wasn-t-america-the-united-states-would-be-bombing-it/ http://www.ronpaulinstitute.org/archives/featured-articles/2018/february/13/if-america-wasn-t-america-the-united-states-would-be-bombing-it/ Tue, 13 Feb 2018 14:05:03 GMT
Lifting of US Propaganda Ban Gives New Meaning to Old Song Whitney Webb http://www.ronpaulinstitute.org/archives/featured-articles/2018/february/12/lifting-of-us-propaganda-ban-gives-new-meaning-to-old-song/

Though its ostensible purpose is to fund the US military over a one year period, the National Defense Authorization Act, better known as the NDAA, has had numerous provisions tucked into it over the years that have targeted American civil liberties. The most well-known of these include allowing the government to wiretap American citizens without a warrant and, even more disturbingly, indefinitely imprison an American citizen without charge in the name of “national security.”

One of the lesser-known provisions that have snuck their way into the NDAA over the years was a small piece of legislation tacked onto the NDAA for fiscal year 2013, signed into law in that same year by then-President Barack Obama. Named “The Smith-Mundt Modernization Act of 2012,” it completely lifted the long-existing ban on the domestic dissemination of US government-produced propaganda.

For decades, the US government had been allowed to produce and disseminate propaganda abroad in order to drum up support for its foreign wars but had been banned from distributing it domestically after the passage of the Smith-Mundt Act of 1948. However, the Modernization Act’s co-authors, Reps. Mac Thornberry (R-TX) and Adam Smith (D-WA, no relation to the Smith of the 1948 act), asserted that removing the domestic ban was necessary in order to combat “al-Qaeda’s and other violent extremists’ influence among populations.”

Thornberry stated that removing the ban was necessary because it had tied “the hands of America’s diplomatic officials, military, and others, by inhibiting our ability to effectively communicate in a credible way.” Yet, given that Thornberry is one of the greatest beneficiaries of weapon manufacturers’ campaign contributions, the real intent — to skeptics at least — seemed more likely related to an effort to ramp up domestic support for US military adventurism abroad following the disastrous invasions of Iraq and Libya.

Five years later, the effects of the lifting of the ban have turned what was once covert manipulation of the media by the government into a transparent “revolving door” between the media and the government. Robbie Martin — documentary filmmaker and media analyst whose documentary series,  “A Very Heavy Agenda,” explores the relationships between neoconservative think tanks and media — told MintPress, that this revolving door “has never been more clear than it is right now” as a result of the ban’s absence.

In the age of legal, weaponized propaganda directed at the American people, false narratives have become so commonplace in the mainstream and even alternative media that these falsehoods have essentially become normalized, leading to the era of “fake news” and “alternative facts.”

Those who create such news, regardless of the damage it causes or the demonstrably false nature of its claims, face little to no accountability, as long as those lies are of service to US interests. Meanwhile, media outlets that provide dissenting perspectives are being silenced at an alarming rate.

The effects of lifting the ban examined

Since 2013, newsrooms across the country, of both the mainstream and “alternative” variety, have been notably skewed towards the official government narrative, with few outside a handful of independently-funded media outlets bothering to question those narratives’ veracity. While this has long been a reality for the Western media (see John Pilger’s 2011 documentary “The War You Don’t See”), the use of government-approved narratives and sources from government-funded groups have become much more overt than in years past.

From Syria to Ukraine, US-backed coups and US-driven conflicts have been painted as locally driven movements that desperately need US support in order to “help” the citizens of those countries — even though that “help” has led to the near destruction of those countries and, in the case of  Ukraine, an attempted genocide. In these cases, many of the sources were organizations funded directly by the US government or allied governments, such as the White Helmets and Aleppo Media Centre (largely funded by the US and U.K. governments) in the case of Syria, and pro-Kiev journalists with Nazi ties (including Bogdan Boutkevitch, who called for the “extermination” of Ukrainians of Russian descent on live TV) in the case of Ukraine, among other examples. Such glaring conflicts of interests are, however, rarely — if ever — disclosed when referenced in these reports.

More recently, North Korea has been painted as presenting an imminent threat to the United States. Recent reports on this “threat” have been based on classified intelligence reports that claim that North Korea can produce a new nuclear bomb every six or seven weeks, including a recent article from the New York Times. However, those same reports have admitted that this claim is purely speculative, as it is “impossible to verify until experts get beyond the limited access to North Korean facilities that ended years ago.” In other words, the article was based entirely on unverified claims from the US intelligence community that were treated as compelling.

As Martin told MintPress, many of these government-friendly narratives first began at US-funded media organizations overseen by the Broadcasting Board of Governors (BBG) — an extension of the US state department.

Martin noted that US-funded media, like Voice of America (VOA) and Radio Free Europe (RFE), were among the first to use a State Department-influenced narrative aimed at “inflaming hostilities with Russia before it soaked into mainstream reporting.” Of course, now, this narrative — with its origins in the US State Department and US intelligence community — has come to dominate headlines in the corporate media and even some “alternative” media outlets in the wake of the 2016 US election.

This is no coincidence. As Martin noted, “after the ban was lifted, things changed drastically here in the United States,” resulting in what was tantamount to a “propaganda media coup” where the State Department, and other government agencies that had earlier shaped the narrative at the BBG, used their influence on mainstream media outlets to shape those narratives as well.

A key example of this, as Martin pointed out, was the influence of the new think-tank “The Alliance for Securing Democracy,” whose advisory council and staff are loaded with neocons, such as the National Review’s Bill Kristol, and former US intelligence and State Department officials like former CIA Director Michael Morell. The Alliance for Securing Democracy’s Russia-focused offshoot, “Hamilton 68,” is frequently cited by media outlets — mainstream and alternative — as an impartial, reliable tracker of Russian “meddling” efforts on social media.

Martin remarked that he had “never seen a think tank before have such a great influence over the media so quickly,” noting that it “would have been hard to see [such influence on reporters] without the lifting of the ban,” especially given the fact that media organizations that cite Hamilton 68 do not mention its ties to former government officials and neoconservatives.

In addition, using VOA or other BBG-funded media has become much more common than it was prior to the ban, an indication that state-crafted information originally intended for a foreign audience is now being used domestically. Martin noted that this has become particularly common at some “pseudo-alternative” media organizations — i.e., formerly independent media outlets that now enjoy corporate funding. Among these, Martin made the case that VICE News stands out.

After the propaganda ban was lifted, Martin noticed that VICE’s citations of BBG sources “spiked.” He continued:
One of the things I immediately noticed was that they [VICE news] were so quick to call out other countries’ media outlets, but yet — in every instance I looked up of them citing BBG sources — they never mentioned where the funding came from or what it was and they would very briefly mention it [information from BBG sources] like these were any other media outlets.”
He added that, in many of these cases, journalists at VICE were unaware that references to VOA or other BBG sources appeared in their articles. This was an indication that “there is some editorial staff [at VICE News] that is putting this in from the top down.”

Furthermore, Martin noted that, soon after the ban was lifted, “VICE’s coverage mirrored the type of coverage that BBG was doing across the world in general,” which in Martin’s view indicated “there was definitely some coordination between the State Department and VICE.” This coordination was also intimated by BBG’s overwhelmingly positive opinion of VICE in their auditing reports, in which the BBG “seemed more excited about VICE than any other media outlet” — especially since VICE was able to use BBG organizations as sources while maintaining its reputation as a “rebel” media outlet.

Martin notes that these troubling trends have been greatly enabled by the lifting of the ban. He opined that the ban was likely lifted “in case someone’s cover [in spreading government propaganda disguised as journalism] was blown,” in which case “it wouldn’t be seen as illegal.” He continued:
For example, if a CIA agent at the Washington Post is directly piping in US government propaganda or a reporter is working the US government to pipe in propaganda, it wouldn’t be seen as a violation of the law. Even though it could have happened before the ban, it’s under more legal protection now.
Under normal circumstances, failing to disclose conflicts of interests of key sources and failing to question government narratives would be considered acts of journalistic malice. However, in the age of legal propaganda, these derelictions matter much less. Propaganda is not intended to be factual or impartial — it is intended to serve a specific purpose, namely influencing public opinion in a way that serves US government interests. As Karl Rove, the former advisor and deputy chief of staff to George W. Bush, once said, the US “is an empire now, and when we act, we create our own reality.” This “reality” is defined not by facts but by its service to empire. 

Meanwhile, counter-narratives, however fact-based they may be, are simultaneously derided as conspiracy theories or “fake news,” especially if they question or go against government narratives.

The revolving door

Another major consequence of the ban being lifted goes a step further than merely influencing narratives. In recent years, there has been the growing trend of hiring former government officials, including former US intelligence directors and other psyops veterans, in positions once reserved for journalists. In their new capacity as talking heads on mainstream media reports, they repeat the stance of the US intelligence community to millions of Americans, with their statements and views unchallenged.

For instance, last year, CNN hired former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper. Clapper, a key architect of RussiaGate, has committed perjury by lying to Congress and more recently lied about the Trump campaign being wiretapped through a FISA request. He has also mad racist, Russophobic comments on national television. Now, however, he is an expert analyst for “the most trusted name in news.” CNN last year also hired Michael Hayden, who is a former Director of both the CIA and the NSA, and former Principal Deputy Director of National Intelligence.

CNN isn’t alone. NBC/MSNBC recently hired former CIA director John Brennan — another key architect of RussiaGate and the man who greenlighted (and lied about) CIA spying on Congress — as a contributor and “senior national security and intelligence analyst.” NBC also employs Jeremy Bash, former CIA and DoD Chief of Staff, as a national security analyst, as well as reporter Ken Dilanian, who is known for his “collaborative relationship” with the CIA.

This “revolving door” doesn’t stop there. After the BBG was restructured by the 2016 NDAA, the “board” for which the organization was named was dissolved, making BBG’s CEO — a presidential appointee — all powerful. BBG’s current CEO is John Lansing, who – prior to taking the top post at the BBG – was the President and Chief Executive Officer of the Cable & Telecommunications Association for Marketing (CTAM), a marketing association comprised of 90 of the top US and Canadian cable companies and television programmers. Lansing’s connection to US cable news companies is just one example of how this revolving door opens both ways.

Media-government coordination out of the shadows 

Such collusion between mainstream media and the US government is hardly new. It has only become more overt since the Smith-Mundt ban was lifted.

For instance, the CIA, through Operation Mockingbird, started recruiting mainstream journalists and media outlets as far back as the 1960s in order to covertly influence the American public by disguising propaganda as news. The CIA even worked with top journalism schools to change their curricula in order to produce a new generation of journalists that would better suit the US government’s interests. Yet the CIA effort to manipulate the media was born out of the longstanding view in government that influencing the American public through propaganda was not only useful, but necessary.

Indeed, Edward Bernays, the father of public relations, who also worked closely with the government in the creation and dissemination of propaganda, once wrote:
The conscious and intelligent manipulation of the organized habits and opinions of the masses is an important element in democratic society. Those who manipulate this unseen mechanism of society constitute an invisible government which is the true ruling power of our country.
While this was once an “invisible” phenomenon, it is quickly becoming more obvious. Now, Silicon Valley oligarchs with ties to the US government have bought mainstream and pseudo-alternative media outlets and former CIA directors are given prominent analyst positions on cable news programs. The goal is to manufacture support at home for the US’ numerous conflicts around the world, which are only likely to grow as the Pentagon takes aim at “competing states” like Russia and China in an increasingly desperate protection of American hegemony.

With the propaganda ban now a relic, the once-covert propaganda machine long used to justify war after war is now operating out in the open and out of control.

Reprinted with permission from MintPressNews.]]>
http://www.ronpaulinstitute.org/archives/featured-articles/2018/february/12/lifting-of-us-propaganda-ban-gives-new-meaning-to-old-song/ http://www.ronpaulinstitute.org/archives/featured-articles/2018/february/12/lifting-of-us-propaganda-ban-gives-new-meaning-to-old-song/ Mon, 12 Feb 2018 18:57:05 GMT
Who Is The Aggressor In Syria? Daniel McAdams http://www.ronpaulinstitute.org/archives/featured-articles/2018/february/12/who-is-the-aggressor-in-syria/
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http://www.ronpaulinstitute.org/archives/featured-articles/2018/february/12/who-is-the-aggressor-in-syria/ http://www.ronpaulinstitute.org/archives/featured-articles/2018/february/12/who-is-the-aggressor-in-syria/ Mon, 12 Feb 2018 18:31:14 GMT
US Feels Uneasy About Inter-Korean Amity Melkulangara Bhadrakumar http://www.ronpaulinstitute.org/archives/featured-articles/2018/february/12/us-feels-uneasy-about-inter-korean-amity/

The North Korean leader Kim Jong-un has upset all doomsday predictions that once the Winter Olympics Games are over, the tensions on the Korean peninsula would reappear. Kim’s invitation to South Korean President Moon Jae-in to Pyongyang can be regarded as a "game changer." Moon has been non-committal, saying conditions need to be created first. The important thing is that Moon neither accepted Kim’s invitation nor declined. As a senior South Korean official put it, Moon has “practically accepted” the invitation. Thereby hangs a tale.

Left to himself Moon may want to visit Pyongyang. But a number of factors come into play. First and foremost, North Korea should refrain from missile tests, especially nuclear tests. Kim’s invitation to Moon implies that Pyongyang intends to hold back on missile and nuclear tests even after the Winter Games get over. On the contrary, if the joint US-South Korean military drills resume, all bets are off.

Therefore, Moon faces the daunting challenge of persuading the Trump administration to defer military drills. Now, that is not going to be easy. The US insists that North Korea should unilaterally suspend its missile and nuclear tests and does not accept any linkage with the US-South Korean military drills. Indeed, the sensible thing to do is to follow the suggestion by China and Russia on "double suspension" – ie., US and South Korea suspending military drills and North Korea reciprocally suspending missile and nuclear tests.

China can be expected to play a major role here in bridge-building. Xinhua news agency reported that during the visit by Chinese State Councilor Yang Jiechi to Washington on February 8-9, he “exchanged ideas on the nuclear issue on the Korean peninsula.” Yang was received by President Trump and he also had meetings with Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, National Security Advisor HR McMaster and the president’s senior advisor and son-in-law Jared Kushner. Xinhua cited Yang as calling for “global support for the inter-Korean rapport in a bid to maintain the tension-easing momentum on the peninsula.” Yang said Beijing hopes to keep “communication and coordination” with Washington with a view to seek a solution to the North Korean issue.

Significantly, Chinese president Xi Jinping also deputed a special envoy to meet Moon in the weekend. Accordingly, on Saturday Han Zheng, a member of the Standing Committee of the Political Bureau of the Communist Party of China Central Committee, met Moon. (Moon received Han before hosting a lunch for the high-ranking North Korean delegation led by Kim Yong Nam, president of the Presidium of the Supreme People’s Assembly on Saturday.) Xinhua reported Han as voicing support for the “conciliation and cooperation” between North and South Korea and expressing hope that “relevant parties would meet each other half way and make joint efforts to further ease tensions”

While things look hazy as of now and it is difficult to foresee how things may work out, the odds are that Moon will visit Pyongyang eventually. Put differently, South Korea may not be in a tearing hurry to resume the military drills with the US anytime soon. According to reports, Moon already had a testy exchange with the Japanese Prime Minister in the matter. They sparred, with Moon bluntly rejecting Abe’s call to resume the US-South Korean military drills without delay.

Meanwhile, the popular opinion in South Korea is visibly changing. It turned out to be a brilliant maneuver on the part of the North Korean leader to depute his younger sister Kim Yo Jong as part of the high-level delegation to attend the opening ceremony of the Winter Olympics. She is the first member of the ruling family in Pyongyang to visit the South since the Korean War broke out in 1950, and South Koreans were enthralled. Clearly, North Korea’s participation in the Olympics has already broken the momentum of the US’ pressure campaign. Some sanctions against North Korea are already suspended temporarily until the Winter Olympics ends. The big question is whether the US’ pressure campaign can be resumed in the changed climate between the two Koreas.

Moon is walking on eggshells. Surely, he won’t want to miss the window of opportunity for a peace engagement with Kim. But then, it is far too risky to go to Pyongyang unconditionally. By going out on a limb, not only would Moon be angering the Trump administration, but the reality is that Kim has not given any signals so far that he is willing to discuss denuclearization. Equally, it could be that Kim is simply buying time for this country’s nuclear weapon program. Above all, US backing is vital for Moon to negotiate with Kim.

However, Washington is not exactly pleased about the recent improvement in inter-Korean ties. There are already signs of discord in the US-South Korean alliance. Read a dispatch by Associated Press – Pence’s bid to isolate North Korea at Olympics falls flat.

Reprinted with permission from Indian Punchline.]]>
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E-Verify Threatens Us All Ron Paul http://www.ronpaulinstitute.org/archives/featured-articles/2018/february/12/e-verify-threatens-us-all/

In addition to funding for a border wall and other border security measures, immigration hardliners are sure to push to include mandatory E-Verify in any immigration legislation considered by Congress. E-Verify is a (currently) voluntary program where businesses check job applicants’ Social Security numbers and other Information — potentially including “biometric” identifiers like fingerprints — against information stored in a federal database to determine if the job applicants are legally in the United States.

Imagine how much time would be diverted from serving consumers and growing the economy if every US business had to comply with E-Verify. Also, collecting the relevant information and operating the mandatory E-Verify system will prove costly to taxpayers.

Millions of Americans could be denied jobs because E-Verify mistakenly identifies them as illegal immigrants. These Americans would be forced to go through a costly and time-consuming process to force the government to correct its mistake. It is doubtful employers could afford to keep jobs open while potential hires went through this process.

A federal database with Social Security numbers and other identifying information is an identify thief’s dream. Given the federal government’s poor track record for protecting personal information, is there any doubt mandatory E-Verify would put millions of Americans at risk for identity theft?

Some supporters of E-Verify deny the program poses any threat to civil liberties, as it will only be used to verify citizenship or legal residency. They even claim a system forcing individuals to have their identities certified by the government is not a national ID system. These individuals are ignoring the history of government programs sold as only affecting a particular group or being used for a limited purpose being expanded beyond initial targets. For example, Americans were promised that only the wealthiest Americans would ever pay income taxes. And some of the PATRIOT Act’s worst provisions that we were told would only be used against terrorists are routinely used to investigate drug crimes.

E-Verify almost certainly will be used for purposes unrelated to immigration. One potential use of E-Verify is to limit the job prospects of anyone whose lifestyle displeases the government. This could include those accused of failing to pay their fair share in taxes, those who homeschool or do not vaccinate their children, or those who own firearms.

Unscrupulous government officials could use E-Verify against those who practice antiwar, anti-tax, anti-surveillance, and anti-Federal Reserve activism. Those who consider this unlikely should remember the long history of the IRS targeting the political enemies of those in power and the use of anti-terrorism laws to harass antiwar activists. They should also consider the current moves to outlaw certain types of “politically incorrect” speech, such as disputing the alleged “consensus” regarding climate change.

Claiming that mandatory E-Verify is necessary to stop illegal immigration does not make it constitutional. Furthermore, having to ask the federal government for permission before obtaining a job is a characteristic of authoritarian societies, not free ones. History shows that mandatory E-Verify’s use will expand beyond immigration enforcement and could be used as a tool of political repression. All those who value liberty should oppose mandatory E-Verify.]]>
http://www.ronpaulinstitute.org/archives/featured-articles/2018/february/12/e-verify-threatens-us-all/ http://www.ronpaulinstitute.org/archives/featured-articles/2018/february/12/e-verify-threatens-us-all/ Mon, 12 Feb 2018 14:18:27 GMT
Make Sports, Not War Eric Margolis http://www.ronpaulinstitute.org/archives/featured-articles/2018/february/10/make-sports-not-war/

Considering that a nuclear conflict over North Korea appeared imminent in recent weeks, the winter Olympics at Pyeongchang, South Korea, is a most welcome distraction – and might even deter a major war on the peninsula.

The highlight of the games was the arrival of Kim Yo-jong, the younger sister of North Korea’s ruler, Kim Jong-un. This was the first time a member of North Korea’s ruling Kim dynasty had come to South Korea. Her handshake with South Korea’s president, Moon Jae-in was a historic and welcome moment.

So too the planned joint marches by North and South Korean athletes under a new reunification flag. For all Koreans, this was a deeply emotional and inspiring ceremony.

But not for US Vice President Mike Pence, who was sent by Trump to give the Olympics the evil eye. He even refused to stand for the joint marchers in a surly act that spoke volumes about his role. Whether he meets President Moon or Kim Yo-jong remains to be seen. Even a cup of tea between Pence and Kim could end all the crazy talk about nuclear war. Does anyone in Washington know that North Korea lies between China and Russia?

All this drama is happening as the Trump White House is advocating giving North Korea a "bloody nose."  Meaning a massive bombing campaign that could very likely include nuclear weapons. Trump, who received a reported five exemptions from military service because of a little bone spur in his foot, revels in military affairs and thinks a "bloody nose" will warn Kim Jong-un to be good. Trump is planning a big military parade at which he will take the salute.

This writer went through US Army basic and advanced infantry training with a broken bone in my foot, and has no sympathy with the president’s militaristic pretensions.

South Korea’s able president Moon is moving heaven and earth to prevent a war in which his nation would be the main victim. Some 2-3 million Korean civilians died in the 1950-53 Korean War. All North Korea and much of South Korea were bombed flat by US air power. Now, as tensions surge, US heavy bombers and nuclear weapons ring North Korea, ready to flatten the north and make the rubble bounce.

North Korea’s thousands of heavy guns dug into mountains just north of the DMZ (I’ve seen them) could flatten all of South Korea’s capitol, Seoul, north of the Han River, killing millions, not counting nukes and poison gas. South Korea, the world’s eleventh industrial power, would again pay the terrible price for a new war on the peninsula.

One of VP Pence’s main missions is to whip up support among rightwing South Koreans who bitterly oppose any peace deal between the two Koreas and support attacking the north. Many on South Korea’s hard right are evangelical Christians. It’s no coincidence that Mike Pence, an ardent fundamentalist Protestant, was sent to show the flag and rally opposition to any détente with North Korea. Whatever happened to "turn the other cheek?"

Washington does not want a lessening of tensions between the two Koreas. And much less, talk of potential reunification. If the two Koreas came to peace, what justification would the US have for keeping powerful air, land and naval forces in strategic South Korea, often called "America’s unsinkable aircraft carrier." Japan is no more favorable to a united Korea.

South Korean President Moon has been calling for a new, positive era in north-south relations. He has been adamant in opposing any chance of war on the peninsula. But Washington has simply ignored Moon or brushed aside his objections to threats of war against North Korea. The North Koreans routinely accused the south of being "American puppets."  Pyongyang is the only "legitimate, truly independent Korean government," charges the north.

Interestingly, in the event of war, South Korea’s 655,000-man active armed forces and 4 million-man reserves come under the command of a four-star US general. US nuclear weapons can be moved through South Korean bases. The so-called joint US-South Korea joint command is mere window dressing.

It’s hard to say how close the US was to attacking North Korea. Trump certainly backed himself into a corner by all his foolish threats to unleash "fire and fury" on North Korea. The Olympics delayed the rush to war against North Korea. But once they are over, the war drums will resume beating. President Trump is probably thinking about a dandy parade after a short, devastating attack on North Korea – provided, of course, that the troublesome northerners don’t manage to retaliate by landing a few nuclear warheads on Japan and Washington.

Reprinted with permission from LewRockwell.com.]]>
http://www.ronpaulinstitute.org/archives/featured-articles/2018/february/10/make-sports-not-war/ http://www.ronpaulinstitute.org/archives/featured-articles/2018/february/10/make-sports-not-war/ Sat, 10 Feb 2018 17:24:45 GMT
Guilt by Musical Association James Bovard http://www.ronpaulinstitute.org/archives/featured-articles/2018/february/10/guilt-by-musical-association/

Should the feds be permitted to treat anyone who is not a choirboy like a criminal suspect? Unfortunately, local, state, and federal agencies have a long history of targeting, harassing, and entrapping fans of untraditional music. Because so many innocuous activities have become criminalized in recent decades, it has never been easier for the feds to tar any group they please. Precedents established against devotees of unruly music could be used in the future against peaceful libertarians.

From the 1930s onwards, the feds often went after jazz musicians in part because of their frequent use of marijuana — which was proscribed nationally by the Marijuana Tax Act of 1937. After the end of Prohibition, there were plenty of unemployed federal agents, and the launch of a new war — spurred by films such as Reefer Madness — provided full employment for meddlers with guns and badges.

In the 1980s and 1990s, the feds launched vendettas against Grateful Dead fans. Although the name “Deadhead” sounds ominous, Dead- heads tended to be aging hippies or naive college kids in ancient Volkswagen buses, lost souls who loved to talk about peace and nature and happiness and love. Cynics often joked that Deadheads should “Get a life!” Instead, the DEA acted as if Deadheads deserved prison sentences long enough to destroy their lives. Use of LSD — a hallucinogen — was widespread among Deadheads.

Between 1990 and 1994, LSD arrests tripled nationwide; most of those arrested were Deadheads. By 1994, roughly 500 Grateful Dead fans were serving terms for LSD violations in state prisons. Julie Stewart, director of Families Against Mandatory Minimums, observed, “In the last round of Grateful Dead concerts on the East Coast, there was a trail of people left in jail afterwards.” When the Dead played in Louisville in 1993, local police arrested 272 fans within two days. Some arrests resulted because police scouted campsites used by Deadheads and discovering 13 persons using marijuana.

Gene Haislip, DEA’s chief of LSD enforcement, told USA Today, “We’ve opened a vein here. We’re going to mine it until this whole thing turns around.” Yet, although federal agents are working ’round the clock to wreck hundreds of people’s lives with long prison sentences for selling speckles of LSD, LSD itself killed only three people in 1992, according to the federal National Institute of Drug Abuse. Far more lives were destroyed as a result of the Deadhead crackdown than as the result of using the drug.

The purge against the Deadheads was spurred by a peculiar perversion in federal drug-sentencing laws. These laws, known as mandatory minimums, dictate that a prison sentence be determined by the weight of drugs sold.

LSD is usually sold in sugar cubes or on blotter paper. Federal prosecutors count the weight of the sugar or paper as if it were pure LSD. (The LSD dose itself is usually smaller than a pinhead.) As a result, a person who sells a single cube of sugar — with only 50 cents’ worth of LSD — faces a mandatory five years in federal prison if convicted. Someone who sells five sugar cubes faces 10 years in prison. Stanley Marshall of El Paso, Texas, was arrested in 1988 for possessing less than a gram of LSD. But, since the drug was on 113 grams of paper, Marshall got a 20-year federal prison sentence.

But it wasn’t necessary to traffic in banned substances to end up in the slammer. Many busts occurred because undercover drug agents aggressively encouraged Deadheads to sell them illicit drugs. Even if someone casually referred an undercover federal agent at a concert to someone rumored to be selling drugs, the person could be convicted of being part of a conspiracy to distribute illicit drugs. Dennis McNally, the publicist for the Grateful Dead, groused, “It’s much easier to arrest some hippie kid than it is to walk into a crack den in the inner city, where somebody might open the door with a semiautomatic.”

>Juggalos

After lead singer Jerry Garcia died in 1995, the Grateful Dead faded away. But new bands have arisen that have raised the hackles of law enforcement, such as the Insane Clown Posse (ICP) — a white rapping duo out of the Detroit area. In 2011, a Federal Bureau of Investigation National Gang Threat Assessment tagged the Posse’s fans — known as Juggalos — as “a loosely-organized hybrid gang, rapidly expanding into many U.S. communities…. Many Juggalos subsets exhibit gang-like behavior and engage in criminal activity and violence.” But there were only sporadic reports of Juggalo-related criminality at that time. The FBI report noted, “Crimes committed by Juggalos are sporadic, disorganized, individualistic, and often involve simple assault, personal drug use and possession, petty theft, and vandalism.” Juggalos’ conduct was nothing remotely comparable to that of notorious gangs such as MS-13 or the Crips or Bloods.

The FBI report noted, “Social networking websites are a popular conveyance for Juggalo sub-culture to communicate and expand.” This may be the real source of the feds’ ire. It is understandable why the Juggalos would make law enforcement nervous. The band’s logo is the Hatchet Man. The band’s lyrics radiate homicidal hatred towards rednecks, anyone displaying a Confederate flag, and plenty of other targets. The pervasive profanity in ICP’s lyrics make George Carlin sound like a choirboy.

Though the band initially scoffed at the FBI gang designation, it quickly produced catastrophic results as Juggalos suffered “job losses, dismissal from military service, eviction, lost child custody and constant harassment” thanks to the Hatchet Man logo on their clothing, cars, or elsewhere. Shaggy 2 Dope, one of the band’s two singers, complained in August, “We have trouble booking tours now, because no one wants gang-related sh*t. And if you do book a tour, it’s next to impossible to get people to insure it, because it’s a gang rally.”

In 2014, the Michigan branch of the American Civil Liberties Union filed suit to overturn the gang designation, noting, “The Juggalos are fighting for the basic American right to freely express who they are…. Branding hundreds of thousands of music fans as gang members based on the acts of a few individuals defies logic and violates our most cherished of constitutional rights.” The case was initially dismissed by a judge, revived by an appeals court, and slapped down again, and is awaiting re-hearing by a federal appeals court.

As the evidence piled up of Juggalos’ lives being ruined by the federal smear, the band decided to conduct a march on Washington. This past September, thousands of Juggalos assembled in front of the Lincoln Memorial to protest the FBI gang label and to heartily cuss the government.

The ICP and their fans believe the feds are unjustly censoring them. As Violent J (Joseph Bruce), half of the ICP duo, told the Juggalos at the Washington rally, “Taking away someone’s opinion is no different than sewing a man’s bu**hole shut.” The Juggalos responded by shouting “whoop whoop!” (a trademark for the band’s supporters) and various snappy anti-FBI phrases unfit for a family magazine like this one.

The protest march stirred a torrent of support for the cause in the media, including National Public Radio and the Washington Post. A headline on one popular online site declared, “Juggalos have become the darlings of the left and the new face of anti-racist activism.” An Antifa crew showed up at their Washington rally with a banner emblazoned, GREAT LAKES ANTIFA. One team member held up a sign proclaiming “Nazi Lives Don’t Matter” (a tricky sentiment, when Antifa sometimes equates Trump supporters with Nazis). The group struck some menacing poses for photographers and then wandered off, perhaps to apply some clown face paint. But most of the attendees I spoke with were either unaware or nonsupportive of Antifa’s violent antics in Berkeley or Boston.

The rousting

Despite their tattoos, wacky hair styles, and violent slogans, the Juggalos at the rally were much friendlier than the typical attendees at a Washington formal dinner. As I was walking a mile from the nearest Metro stop to the event, I saw ahead a burly, long-haired 20ish guy wearing an oversized shirt with the slogan, “Merry F***in X-mas.” I asked if he was heading to the Juggalo event and he responded warily that he was. Maybe my press pass raised his defenses. It turned out he was from the distant Virginia suburbs and that his brother lived in my old hometown. I mentioned that that locale was originally known as “Helltown” and he replied, “It still is.” I said I had worked in the 1970s for the Virginia highway department heaving dead deer off the road and into the bushes near where his brother now lived.

That sufficed to open him up. He told me that his name was James and that he was not wearing any clown face paint because he had heard that Virginia considered that a misdemeanor. He said he had been continually hassled by the police. Last year, he was driving home from his job when a cop lurking in his suburban neighborhood pulled him over. James asked why he was pulled over — “and I could see that he was scanning my car looking for the pretext for having pulled me over.” The cop eventually noticed that James had a small Hatchet Man metal logo dangling from his rear-view mirror. James said that Virginia prohibits anything hanging from rear-view mirrors — though that pine-scented car air fresheners are understandably pervasive in much of the state. He related being handcuffed for no reason another time simply because he was suspected of gang affiliations.

Prior to the Washington protest, some conservative media outlets portrayed Juggalos as just another mob of violent leftists. Not this guy: he mentioned that he had a concealed-carry permit in Virginia but would never consider packing heat in the District. He was a big supporter of the National Rifle Association and was well aware of several recent firearm controversies. I asked if he considered himself at least somewhat of a libertarian. He replied, “I am my own person — I have my own beliefs.” James typified the nonpolitical nature of Juggalos at the event.

Juggalos are hopeful that the FBI will rescind its defamatory label. But the real problem is that, thanks to sovereign immunity, federal agencies can smear almost anyone or any group they please. Libertarians, constitutionalists, and gun-rights advocates have been defamed by reports from federal Homeland Security-funded Fusion Centers, which portrayed them as terrorist threats. Regardless of the lack of evidence for such charges, the allegation reverberates around the Internet and eventually is treated with deference, if not recognized as an Officially Revealed Truth.

If the feds can vilify Deadheads and Juggalos, it could be only a question of time before Washington also tars bluegrass fans or Phish followers. The issue is not whether freaky folks with too many tattoos get unfairly vexed by petty bureaucrats. The real issue is that federal agencies have no right to demonize Americans peacefully pursuing their own vision of happiness.

Reprinted with permission from Future of Freedom Foundation.]]>
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Is the Steele Dossier Full of ‘Russian Dirt’ – or British? James George Jatras http://www.ronpaulinstitute.org/archives/featured-articles/2018/february/09/is-the-steele-dossier-full-of-russian-dirt-or-british/

With text messages between US Justice Department (DOJ) conspirators Peter Strzok and his adulterous main squeeze Lisa Page now revealing that then-President Barack Obama “wants to know everything we’re doing,” it now appears that the 2016 plot to subvert the rule of law and corrupt the US organs of state security for political purposes reached the very pinnacle of power. To call the United States today a “banana republic” increasingly may be seen as a gratuitous insult to the friendly spider-infested nations to our south.

Still, don’t expect to see Barry Hussein Saetoro doing the perp walk anytime soon or even being deported back to Kenya. Don’t expect to see orange prison suits on Strzok, Page, former FBI Director James Comey, former Associate Deputy Attorney General Bruce Ohr, former Deputy FBI Director Andrew McCabe, and others implicated in putting a political thumb on the scales to, first, get Hillary Clinton elected, and then, when that failed, to neuter Donald Trump’s presidency with a phony Russiagate probe.

Officials’ getting “former-ed” is one thing, their getting prosecuted quite another. (Just imagine if a GOP administration had similarly skewed the supposedly non-political law enforcement and intelligence services for partisan reasons. We’d have Watergate on steroids. The New York Times, Washington Post and CNN would be calling for hanging, drawing, and quartering.)

Indeed, it’s not even clear the Russiagate investigation itself will be impacted. After all, the narrative may have flipped on one variable – from Trump campaign collusion to Democratic and FBI collusion – but the constant remains the same: Russia. Trump’s defenders are as insistent as his detractors that the real culprit is Russia! Russia! Russia!

Sean Hannity of Fox News has been particularly hyperventilative that the entire Steele Dossier lying at the black heart of the mess consists of “phony, fake-news Russian propaganda” and “Russian intelligence lies” from British MI6 (supposedly “former”) spymaster Christopher Steele’s “Russian sources.” Even level-headed observers like Paul Sperry and Patrick Buchanan characterize the file as a “Kremlin-aided smear job” and “Russian dirt [that] Steele was spoon-fed by old comrades in the Kremlin’s security apparatus.”

Christopher Steele is not Russian

But what do we really know about Steele’s claimed sources? Not much.

Sure, maybe Vladimir Putin personally whispered every word of the dossier into Steele’s ear. Or maybe Steele invented his supposed sources from whole cloth: your clients are paying for sleaze, you give them sleaze. Or anything in between: maybe Steele consulted some imaginative Russian cranks with only a marginal, and most likely adversarial, relationship to the Russian authorities, whose “inside knowledge” Steele padded to justify his fee. (Steele claims he didn’t pay his “sources” – assuming they exist at all – but that’s no more worthy of credit than anything else he says.)

As analyzed by Russia expert Stephen F. Cohen:
Where, then, … did Steele get his information? According to Steele and his many stenographers – which include his American employers, Democratic Party Russiagaters, the mainstream media, and even progressive publications – it came from his 'deep connections in Russia,'  specifically from retired and current Russian intelligence officials in or near the Kremlin. From the moment the dossier began to be leaked to the American media, this seemed highly implausible (as reporters who took his bait should have known) for several reasons:
- Steele has not returned to Russia after leaving his post there in the early 1990s. Since then, the main Russian intelligence agency, the FSB, has undergone many personnel and other changes, especially after 2000, and especially in or near Putin’s Kremlin. Did Steele really have such “connections” so many years later? [JGJ: Is it credible that the head of MI6’s Russian branch is on a first-name basis with top Kremlin insiders? Turn the identities around and ask whether the chiefs of the US section of Russian or Chinese intelligence are on intimate speaking terms with the US president’s top advisers or with the leadership of the CIA or FBI. Hardly.]

- Even if he did, would these purported Russian insiders really have collaborated with this “former” British intelligence agent under what is so widely said to be the ever-vigilant eye of the ruthless “former KGB agent” Vladimir Putin, thereby risking their positions, income, perhaps freedom, as well as the well-being of their families?

- Originally it was said that his Russian sources were highly paid by Steele. Arguably, this might have warranted the risk. But subsequently Steele’s employer and head of Fusion GPS, Glenn Simpson, wrote in The New York Times that “Steele’s sources in Russia…were not paid.” If the Putin Kremlin’s purpose was to put Trump in the White House, why then would these “Kremlin-connected” sources have contributed to Steele’s anti-Trump project without financial or political gain – only with considerable risk?

- There is the also the telling matter of factual mistakes in the dossier that Kremlin “insiders” were unlikely to have made, but this is the subject for a separate analysis.
And indeed we now know that Steele had at least three other 'sources' for the dossier, ones not previously mentioned by him or his employer. There was the information from foreign intelligence agencies provided by Brennan to Steele or to the FBI, which we also now know was collaborating with Steele. There was … a 'second Trump-Russia dossier' prepared by people personally close to Hillary Clinton and who shared their 'findings' with Steele. And most intriguingly, there was the 'research' provided by Nellie Ohr, wife of a top Department of Justice official, Bruce Ohr, who, according to the Republican memo, 'was employed by Fusion GPS to assist in the cultivation of opposition research on Trump. Ohr later provided the FBI with all of his wife’s opposition research.' Most likely, it found its way into Steele’s dossier. (Mrs. Ohr was a trained Russian Studies scholar with a PhD from Stanford and a onetime assistant professor at Vassar, and thus, it must have seemed, an ideal collaborator for Steele.)
The reference to “people personally close to Hillary Clinton and who shared their ‘findings’ with Steele” dovetails with another intriguing suggestion from former Clinton insider Dick Morris, who knows the modus operandi of the Clinton lie generator better than anyone else. On the Fox News “Ingraham Angle” show, Morris suggested to host Laura Ingraham that the bulk of the dossier was invented by veteran political dirty tricksters and Clinton-machine hatchet men Sid Blumenthal and Cody Shearer, who then engaged “former” spook Steele, because of the Brit’s known relationship with the FBI, as their conduit to give their garbage credibility. (Never underestimate the residual “colonial” mentality of Yanks to find any sort of gibberish convincing if delivered with a British accent, as confirmed by the ubiquity of posh Brit voices in American advertising.)

Andrew Wood is not Russian

But Steele isn’t the only limey link to #Dossiergate. In late 2016, after Trump’s election victory, Andrew Wood, a former British ambassador to Russia, told US Senator John McCain about the existence of compromising material on Donald Trump, according to Wood’s account to BBC4. Wood then set up a meeting between Steele and David Kramer, an associate of McCain’s. It’s unclear whether McCain already knew about the dossier at that point or whether Wood alerted the Senator to its existence.

For what it is worth – not much – Wood states that McCain had obtained the documents from the Senator’s own sources. “I told him I was aware of what was in the report but I had not read it myself, that it might be true, it might be untrue. I had no means of judging really,” and that he served only to inform McCain about the dossier contents: “My mission was essentially to be a go-between and a messenger, to tell the Senator and assistants that such a dossier existed,” Wood told Fox News. Wood elsewhere relates that McCain was “visibly shocked” at his description and expressed interest in reading the full report. That doesn’t sound as though McCain had already obtained the dossier from his “own sources” but, rather, that Wood was the instigator.

So which is it? Did McCain already know about the dossier, and if so how did it “happen” to get raised with a British diplomat? Conversely, was the initiative from Woods to induce the Senator – known to be a strong Trump critic as well as for his hostility to Russia – to pass the dossier on in Washington? Keep in mind that the dossier had already been used to secure a Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) warrant to monitor Carter Page, a peripheral asteroid in the Trump orbit, and that Trump had already been elected. By this time the conspiracy’s purpose had shifted from preventing Trump’s victory to tying down his incoming administration, especially with respect to blocking any opening to Moscow as Trump said he intended to do. What better way to set the cat among the pigeons than for a supposedly totally non-political British diplomat (certainly no intelligence officer, he!) to quietly peddle the material from Steele (whom Wood called a “very competent professional operator … I do not think he would make things up.”) to the right man in Washington?

GCHQ is not Russian

Finally, while it’s clear the dossier served to get a FISA warrant for American services to spy on the Trump campaign and later the transition team, US agencies’ might not have been the only eyes and ears monitoring them. Amid all the hubbub over Michael Wolff’s slash-and-burn Fire and Fury, little mention (other than a heated denial on the floor of the House of Commons, from the notoriously truth-challenged former prime minister Tony Blair, and from the relevant British agency itself!) has been made of the suggestion that the UK’s Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ) – Britain’s version of the NSA – was spying on Trump and providing their sister agencies in the US with additional data. Keep in mind the carefully worded deflection last year from James Clapper, former Director of National Intelligence (DNI), that “there was no wiretap against Trump Tower during the campaign conducted by any part of the national intelligence community... including the FBI,” thus begging the question of whether Trump was spied on not by a US “national” agency but by one of the Anglosphere “Five Eyes” agencies – most likely GCHQ – which then passed the information back to their American colleagues. With Steele’s and Wood’s involvement, and given the virtual control of America’s manifestly corrupted agencies of their counterparts in satellite countries like the United Kingdom, involvement by GCHQ and perhaps other “friendly” foreign agencies cannot be dismissed out of hand.

Madame Prime Minister is not Russian

To be sure, in 2016 the majority opinion in Russia was that Donald Trump’s election would be preferable to Hillary Clinton’s for the simple reason that the former openly advocated better relations with Moscow while the latter was a notorious warmonger. But there was also a strong minority view, especially among more pro-Western elements of the Russian establishment, that Hillary – “the devil you know” – was preferable to rolling the dice on an unpredictable and unknown quantity. Plus, Hillary was delightfully corrupt, with the Clinton Foundation an open invitation for many foreign powers to buy influence.

There was no ambiguity in the position of the British government, however. In 2016 Prime Minister Theresa May, like her German counterpart, made little effort to hide her disdain for the “just plain wrong” Trump and her preference for Hillary Clinton, whom she expected to win (as did most other observers). Why should anyone be surprised that her MI6 and GCHQ minions would share the same views and perhaps acted on them to provide some helping “hands across the water” to their US counterparts whose anti-constitutional conspiracy now stands exposed?

Reprinted with permission from Strategic Culture Foundation.]]>
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